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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 2.djvu/220

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BABYLONIA


180


BABYLONIA


ably gave its name to Southern Babylonia — Sungir, Shumer, or, in Gen., x, 10, Sennaar. (6) Gishban (read also Gish-ukh) , a small city a little north of Shir- •purla, at present the mounds of Iskha, is of importance .only in the very earliest liistory of Babylonia.

(7) The site of the important city of Isin (read also Nisin) has not yet been determined, but it was prob-

ably situated a'little north of Erech. (8) Calneh, or

Nippur (in D. V., Gen., x, 10, Cala,ine), at present Nuffar, was a great religious centre, with its Bel tem- ple, unrivalled in antiquity and sanctity, a sort of Mecca for the Semitic Babylonians. Recent Ameri- •can excavations have made its name as famous as Frencli excavations made that of Tello or Shirpurla. (9) In North Babylonia we have again, southern- most, the city of Kish, probably the Biblical Cush (Gen., X, 8); its ruins are under the present mound El-Ohemir, eight miles east of Hilla. (10) A little •distance to the north-west lay Kutha, the present Telli Ibrahim, the city whence the Babylonian colo- nists of Samaria were taken (IV Kings, xvni, 30), and which played a great role in Northern Babylonia be- fore the Amorite dynasty. (11) The site of Agade, i. e. Akkad (Gen., x, 10), the name of whose kings was dreaded in Cyprus and in Sinai in 3800 B. c, is unfortunately unknown, but it must have been not far from (12) Sippara; it has even been suggested that this was one of the quarters of that city, which was scarcely thirty miles north of Babylon and which, as early as 1881, was identified, through British .excavations, wdih the present Abu-Habba. (13) Lastly, Babylon, with its twin-city Borsippa, though probably founded as early as 3800 B. c, played an insignificant role in the countrj-'s history until, under Hammurabi, about 2300 b. c, it entered on that career of empire which it maintained for almost 2000 years, so that its name now stands for a country and a civilization which was of hoary antiquity before Babylon rose to power and even before a brick of Babylon was laid.

E.\RLY History. — At the dawn of history in the middle of the fifth millennium before Christ we find in the Euphrates Valley a number of city-states, or rather city-monarchies, in rivalry with one another and in such a condition of culture and progress, that this valley has been called the cradle of civilization, not only of the Semitic world, but most likely also .of Egypt. The people dwelling in this valley were certainly not all of one race; they differed in tj^ie and language. The primitive in- habitants were probably of Mon- golian ancestry, they are styled Sumerians, or in- habitants of Sumer, Sungir, Sennaar. They invented the cune- iform script, built the oldest cities, and brought the country to a great height of peaceful prosperity. They were gradually overcome, dis- possessed, and absorbed by a new race that entered the plain between the two rivers, the Semites, who pressed on them from the north from the kingdom of Akkad. The Semitic invaders, however, eagerly adopted, improved, and widely spread the civilization of the race they had conquered. Although a number of arguments con\'erge into an irrefragable proof that the Sumerians were the aboriginal inhabitants of Babylonia, we have no historical records of the time


when they were the sole occupants of the Euphrates Valley; at the dawn of history we find both races in possession of the land and to a certain extent mixed, though the Semite was predominant in the North while the Sumerian maintained himself for centuries in the South. Whence these Sumerians came, can- not be decided, and probably all that will ever be known is that, after a nomadic existence in moun- tainous districts in the East, they found a plain in the lands of Sennaar and dwelt in it (Gen., xi, 2). Their first settlement was Eridu, then a seaport on the Persian Gulf, where their earliest myths repre- sent the first man, Adapu, or Adamu (Adam?), spend- ing his time in fishing, and where the sea-god taught them the elements of civilization. It is certain, how- ever, that they possessed a considerable amount of culture even before entering the Babylonian plain; for, coeval with, the first foundations of their oldest temples, they possessed the cuneiform script, which can be described as a cursive hand developed out of picture-signs by centuries of primeval culture. From whence the Semitic race invaded Babylonia, and what was its origin, we know not, but it must be noted that the language they spoke, though clearly and thoroughly Semitic, is yet so strikingly different from all other Semitic languages that it stands in a cate- gory apart, and the time when it formed one speech with the other Semitic tongues hes immeasurably far back beyond our calculations.

The earliest records, then, show us a state of things not unlike that of our Saxon heptarchy: petty princes, or city-monarchies successfully endea\'ouring to ob- tain lordship over a neighbouring town or a group of towns, and in turn being overcome by others. And, considering that most of these towns were but a score of miles distant from one another and changed rulers frequently, the history is somewhat confusing. The most ancient ruler at present known to us is Ens- hagkushanna, who is styled King of Kengi. Owing to the broken state of the sherd on which the in- scription occurs, and which possibly dates soon after 5000 B. c, the name of his capital is unknown. It probably was Shirpurla, and he ruled over Southern Babylonia. He claims to have won a great victory over the City of Kish, and he dedicated the spoil, including a statue of bright silver, to Mullil, the god of Calanne (Nippur). It seems likely that Kish was the most southern city captured by Semites; of one of its kings, Manishtusu, we possess a mace-head, as a sign of his royalty, and a stele, or obelisk, in archaic cuneiforms and Semitic Babylonian. Somewhat later Mesilim, the King of Kish, retrieved the defeat of his predecessor and acted as suzerain of Shirpurla. Another probable name of a King of Kish is Urumush, or Alusharshid, though some make him King of Ak- kad. Whereas our information concerning the d}-- nasty of Kish is exceedingly fragmentary, we are some- what better informed about the rulers of Shirpurla. About 4500 b. c. we find Urkagina reigning there and, somewhat later, Lugal {lugal, "great man", i. e. "prince", or "king") Shuggur. Then, after an in- terval, we are acquainted with a succession of no fewer than seven Kings of Shirpurla: Gursar, Gunidu, I'r- Nina, Akur-Gal, Eannatum I, Entemena and Ean- natum II — which last king must have reigned about 4000 B. c. De Sarszec found at Tello a temple-wall some of the bricks of which bore the clear legend of Ur-Nina, thus leaving on record this king's building activity. Thanks to the famous stele of the vultures, now in the Louvre, to some clay steles in the British Museum, and a cone found at Shirpurla, we have an idea of the warlike propensities of Eannatum I, who subdued the people of Gishban by a crushing defeat, made them pay an almost incredible war-indemnity of corn, and appointed over that city his own viceroy, "who placed his yoke on the land of Elam", "and of Gisgal", and who is represented as braining with