At Nippur (the ancient Calneh) the research undertaken by the university of Pennsylvania resulted in the discovery, under a ziggurat dated from 4000-4500 B.C., of a barrel-vaulted tunnel, in the floor of which were found terra-cotta drain pipes with flanged mouths. At a later date (3750 B.C.) Naram-Sin, the son of Sargon, had built over the older ziggurat a loftier and larger temple, above which was a third built by Ur Gur (2500 B.C.), which still retained its burnt brick casing, 5 ft. thick. Crowning all these was the Parthian palace mentioned in the section on Parthian architecture below. The result of these researches has not only carried back the date of the earlier settlements to a prehistoric period quite unknown, but has suggested that if similar researches are carried out in other well-known mounds, among which the great city of Babylon should be counted as the most important, further revelations may still be made.
But we have now to pass to the principal cities of the Assyrian monarchy on the river Tigris. At Nineveh, the capital, which is about 250 m. north of Babylon, the remains of three palaces have been found, those of Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.), Esarhaddon (681-668 B.C.), and Assurbanipal (668-626 B.C.). At Nimrud (the ancient Calah, founded by Assur), 20 m. south of Nineveh, are also three palaces, one (the earliest known) built by Assurnazirpal (885-860 B.C.), the others by Shalmaneser II. (860-825 B.C.) and Esarhaddon. At Balawat, 10 m. east of Niniveh, was a second palace of Shalmaneser II., and at Khorsabad, 10 m. north-east of Nineveh, the palace (fig. 8) built by Sargon (722-705 B.C.), which was situated on the banks of the Khanser, a tributary of the Tigris. As this palace is one of the most extensive of those hitherto explored, its description will best give the general idea of the plan and conception of an Assyrian palace.
The palace was built on an immense platform, made of sun-dried bricks, enclosed in masonry, and covering an area of nearly one million square feet, raised 48 ft. above the town level. The principal front of the palace measured 900 ft., there being a terrace in front. The approach was probably by a double inclined ramp which chariots and horses could mount. A central and two side portals (fig. 9), flanked with winged human-headed bulls (now in the British Museum), led to the principal courtyard (A), measuring 300 ft. by 240 ft. The block (B) on the left of the court, containing smaller courts and rooms, constituted the harem; that on the right the offices (C); those in the rear the halls of state (DDD), the residences of the officers of the court (E), the king’s private apartments (F) being on the left, facing the ziggurat or temple (G). In the extreme rear were other state rooms with terraces probably laid out as gardens and commanding a view of the river and country beyond.
Fig. 9.—Entrance gateway, Palace of Khorsabad.
Fig. 10.—Bas-relief of group of buildings at Kuyunjik. (After Layard.)
As there must have been nearly 700 rooms in the palace, the destination of the greater number of which it would be difficult to determine, it will be sufficient to refer only to those state rooms in which the principal sculptured slabs were found, and which decorated the lower 9 ft. of the walls. The two chief factors to be noted are (1) the great length of the halls compared with their width, the chief hall being 150 ft. long and 30 ft. wide, and (2) the immense thickness of the walls, which measured 28 ft. The only reason for walls of this thickness would be to resist the thrust of a vault, and as La Place, the French explorer, found many blocks of earth of great size, the soffits of which were covered with stucco and had apparently fallen from a height, he was led to the conclusion, now generally accepted, that these halls were vaulted. These discoveries, and the fact that in none of the palaces excavated has a single foundation of the base of any column been found, quite dispose of Fergusson’s restoration, which was based on the palaces of Persepolis. Moreover, the two climates are entirely different. In the mountainous country of Persia the breezes might be welcomed, but in Mesopotamia the heat is so intense that every precaution has to be taken to protect the inmates of the house or palace. Thick walls and vaults were a necessity in Nineveh, and even the windows or openings must have been of small dimensions. No windows have been found, nor are any shown on the bas-reliefs, except on the upper parts of towers. It is possible therefore that the light was admitted through terra-cotta pipes or cylinders, of which many were found on the site, and this is the modern system of lighting the dome in the East. Although no remains have ever been found of domes in any of the Assyrian palaces, the representation of many domical