« PreviousContinue »
river was at the lowest. The amount of decrease, for each other, and sometimes they are limited
trict of Accad, or Sittacene. It is bounded on the There is an allusion to the overflowing of the south by the marshes of Lemlun, and on the Tigris in the book of Nabum. That prophet, de- north by the Median wall, which, according to nouncing the destruction of Nineveh, says: Xenophon, was fifty-eight miles in length.
This plain, (so celebrated as the spot to which “ The gates of the rivers shall be opened,
the descendants of Noah attached themselves, And the palace shall be dissolved.”—Nah. ii. 6.
and as involving the fall of empires, and the deAnd again :
struction of cities,) in ancient times, and even as
late as the days of Xenophon, was a highly cul“But with an overrunning flood
tivated and fertile country. This did not arise He will make an utter end of the place thereof,
from the fertilizing influences of the atmosphere, And darkness shall pursue his enemies."- Nah. i. 8.
nor from the inundations of the river Euphrates, Both these passages mark distinctly the agency
but from artificial means. Herodotus says, that of an inundation in opening the way to the be
the inhabitants either watered the country by the siegers (the Medes) of Nineveh. Diodorus says, hand, or dug trenches, or canals, for its refreshthat the king of Assyria was greatly encouraged
ment and fecundation. Hence it was, combined by an ancient prophecy, That Nineveh should with the richness of its soil and an excellent clinever be taken until the river became its enemy; and mate, that it was aptly compared by this author that when the Tigris overflowed its banks, and to Egypt. swept away about twenty furlongs of its wall, he was filled with such consternation and despair, that, recalling to memory the words of the pro- The antiquity of the canals of Babylonia dates phecy, he gave all up for lost.
from the remotest period of the Chaldæo-BabyThis historian does not specify the time of year lonian monarchy. The great empire of Babylonia in which this inundation of the Tigris occurred; arose upon this alluvial plain, amid a system of irhence it is not certain by which of the causes rigation and draining, which spread like net-work (which still periodically operate in swelling its over the land. It was crossed by innumerable streams, and which sometimes occasion it to over- canals in all directions, the largest of them being flow its banks to an alarming extent) it was pro- navigable, and feeding others; diminishing in duced. In autumn it is swollen by rains, and in importance as they receded from the trunk. the spring by the melting of the snows in the These, as well as the parent river, were bordered mountains of Armenia. The latter cause reple- with vast numbers of hydraulic machines, by nishes the river more than the former, and more
which the water was raised and distributed into frequently causes inundations; hence, it is sup- the fields and gardens. The exact number of posed, it was by this the proud walls of Nineveh these canals it is now impossible to determine, as were cast down. A circumstance, remarkably the ancients are not only confused, but often conillustrative of this event, occurred A.D. 1831, to
tradict each other in their descriptions of them. the great city Bagdad, that now exists on the Their number would, indeed, depend much upon same river. While the inhabitants were antici- the political state of the country. Doubtless, pating a siege, the river overflowed its banks, they were most numerous, and kept in the best producing one of the most extensive and destruc- repair, during the flourishing period of the Astive river inundations recorded in history. In syrian and Babylonian dynasties. When Nione night, a great part of the city wall, with a neveh was destroyed, however, and Babylon great number of the houses, were overthrown by ceased to be the capital of an empire ; when the the irruption of the waters, and thousands of the seat of royalty was transferred to Susa and Persleeping inhabitants perished.
sepolis; and the navigation of the Euphrates from
the sea was stopped by the Persians; and the BABYLONIA, OR CHALDEA.
cities on the Euphrates and Tigris were mouldering
away ; the prosperous state of the canals would This portion of the Assyrian empire was a be interrupted, and some of them would probably part of that territory called in Scripture, “the
But when the seat of power, during land of Shinar," Gen. xi. 2; a name it retained the Parthian and Sassanian dynasties, was once till the days of the prophet Daniel, Dan. i. 2. more transferred to the Tigris, the canals would The name of Babylonia is generally supposed be repaired and new ones excavated, as new cities to have been borrowed from the town of Babel, arose in the vicinity. Hence, in the days of Juand the name of Chaldea from the Chaldeans, or lian, Ammianus Marcellinus describes the country Chasdim. Sometimes, these two names extend of Babylonia, called Assyria by him, as being to the whole country, being taken indifferently | full of populous cities, date gardens, and canals.
go to ruin.
But a change once more took place under the the province of Irak, where the text of the Talbaneful influence of Mohammedanism ; and al- mud, in Bava Vathra, says, that the patriarch though during the khalifate of Bagdad, a tem- Abraham was imprisoned three years. porary prosperity was experienced, yet that Besides these canals, which are termed the was soon overthrown by the ravages of the canals of Xenophon, there were many others, Turks and Tartars, and a country which was the names of which are unknown. Thus below once as the garden of Eden, lovely in appear. Samarra, once the regal seat of several Abasside ance, became remarkable for sterility, poverty, khalifs, there was a large canal drawn to a conand neglect.
siderable distance to the west of the Tigris, and On the map of Rennell, there are eight of these which extended from thence as far south as the communicating canals, exclusive of smaller ones, canals of communication, three of which were the traces of several of which are still visible, intersected by this large branch, and the third of but many more have been destroyed. In the which reconveyed its waters at the place now days of the khalifate, four canals of communica- called Imaum Musa, three miles above the bridge tion are recorded by Abulfeda to have existed ; of Bagdad, and at the termination of the Median but at present, and for several ages back, one wall. The space included by this large canal only has remained open, and even that one runs
between Samarra and Imaum Musa was denomionly during the period of the floods of the nated by both Greek and Roman geographers, Euphrates. This is called the
Mesene, or “ the island,” and Apamia Mesene, Nahar Isa, or the canal of Isa. This was the from the city of Apamia, below Samarra. This first and most northerly of these ancient canals, was a beautiful, fertile, and populous tract, being and it was derived from the Euphrates, at a place also intersected with other canals, drawn from called Dehmah, near Anbar, the Macepracta of the large canal to the Tigris. It was navigable, Julian. In the time of Abulfeda, it lost itself in and from its size was called Didjel, or “ Little the Tigris, in the heart of western Bagdad. By Tigris.” From the Euphrates, two other canals Ammianus Marcellinus it was called Barax, or were drawn to the Didjel. The first of these Baia Malchi ; its modern name was derived commenced about thirty geographical miles from from Isa Ibn Abdullah Ibn Abbas.
the Pass of Pylæ ; the second, seen by Balbi, Nahar Sarsar.—No traces of the Sarsar canal, commenced four geographical miles below this. which existed under the khalifs, are now visible. Two other canals are mentioned by Xenophon, It seems to have been a very ancient canal, as it as occurring in the space of three parasangs, or is one of those mentioned by Xenophon, which about eight miles from this. joined the Tigris immediately below Sittace, and Canals of Babylon.—In the time of Abulfeda, which seems to have been the shortest of all the when the Nahar Malcha ceased to carry off a canals between the two rivers. It derived its main part of the waters of the Euphrates, this sources below the Isa, and flowed into the Tigris river is described as dividing, after passing the above Madayn, which corresponds to the modern Nahar Kulbah by six parasangs, or about fifteen Zimberaniyah. Ammianus notices a canal be- miles, into two streams, previous to which, it tween Macepracta and Perisabor, on the Nahar parted with more canals, which belonged to the Malcha, which is identified with the Sarsar. He city of Babylon Proper. The quarter of Babylon denominates it Maogamalcha, and mentions a called Bosippa, or Bursif, had its canal ; and city of that name in connexion with it.
Abulfeda describes the main stream of the EuNahar Malcha.—The bed of the Nahar Mal- phrates as flowing to the city of Nil, that quarter cha, or Royal Canal, is still traceable, and must in which Babylon was situated, and giving off have occupied the same position in Macedonian the canal of Nil, after which it is called Nahar and Roman times, as in those of the khalifate. Sirat. The mounds of Babel, and the Mujelibe, Tradition attributes its excavation to Nimrod, and or“ overturned,” are nearly surrounded by two by Tabari it is described as the work of Cush, canals which bear that name at the present date. king of Babel ; from which we may conclude that The Euphrates, moreover, in all probability, its origin is coeval with the earliest period of the flowed between the Kasr, or palace, and the AmBabylonian monarchy.* The Nahar Malcha ex- ram, which is identified with the western palace tended from Macepracta, on the Euphrates, to of Diodorus. On the authority of Abulfeda, the Seleucia, on the Tigris, and it was the canal by Euphrates, after passing the Nahar Kulba by the which Trajan and Julian transported their re- distance before mentioned, and giving off the Nil, spective armies to Ctesiphon. Herodotus says was divided into two streams, the southernmost of it was of sufficient breadth and depth to be navi- which passed into Kufah, and going beyond it, gable for merchant vessels; hence it is, that some was lost in the marshes of the Rumiyah. Antheological writers have considered it as the an- terior to the days of this geographer, it flowed cient bed of the Euphrates.
by Ur, or Orchoe, being joined in the parallel of Kutha Canal.- According to Abulfeda, this Duvamyeh by the Pallacopas of Alexander, and canal was derived from the Euphrates, a little ultimately emptied itself into the sea in the below the Nahar Malcha, and it watered the ter- neighbourhood of Teredon. The same authority ritory of Irak. It is mentioned by Ahmed Ibn describes the prolongation of the larger branch Yusuf, and is the same as the Kawa of Rennell. of the Euphrates, beyond the Kasr Ibn Hobierah, It derived its name from Kutha, near Babel, in by the name of Nahar Sares. This name means
“fetid river,” and it appears to have been given * Abydenus attributes it to Nebuchadnezzar, who ex.
to that portion of the Euphrates which lay below cavated it, he says, to convey the waters of the Euphrates,
the Royal Canal, at a time when that derivative when it overflowed, into the Tigris, before they reached carried away a large part of the waters of the Babylon.
Great River. The remainder, flowing sluggishly
onward, by Babel and Suza, to lose itself in the The total course of the Euphrates is estimated marshes of Babylon, became impure from stag- at 1,755 British miles. Its breadth from Bir to nation, and hence it obtained its name.
its junction with the Tigris, varies from 300 to 450 yards, though it is occasionally little more than half that breadth. At times, where islands
occur in the middle of the stream, it widens to Among the canals of more recent date, accord- 800 yards, and in some instances to three-quaring to Ai Brissi, was that of the Rehoboth of ters of a mile in breadth. Concerning the Scripture, Gen. x. 11 ; and, upon the same au- breadth of rivers, lakes, and inlets of the sea, thority, and that of most oriental geographers, however, the guesses of ordinary travellers are the canal Al Kadder, or Alcator. Two other generally vague. The comparative size of the canals are mentioned, under the names of the basin of the Euphrates, including that of the Kerbelah, and the Nesjiff canal. The Kerbelah Tigris, is forty-two times larger than that of canal derived its name from Kerbelah, a populous the Thames, and its annual average discharge town in the time of Abdul Khurrim. This canal
108,000 cubical feet per second, or sixty times was reopened by Hassan Pasha, of Bagdad, at that of the Thames. Of itself, the basin of the an expense of 20,0001, sterling, after the Per- Euphrates may be considered as enclosing an sians had retreated to the tomb of their prophet, area of 108,000 geographical miles. from the oppressions of Nadir Shah. The Nes- The stream of the Euphrates flows at the rate jiff canal was constructed by the Nadir Shah; of five miles an hour, in the season of the flood; and, according to Abdal Khurrim, it is sixteen but at other times it does not exceed three miles parasangs, or about forty miles, from Kerbelah, an hour in the greater part of its course. Rich and one from Kufali. Of the present appear- | however, says, that at Hillah, the maximum ance of Babylonia, Ainsworth says—“ The great velocity of the Euphrates is seven miles an hour ; extent of the plain of Babylonia is every where and Ainsworth reports, that the rapidity of the altered by artificial works : mounds rise upon stream varies in different places. He says, in the otherwise uniform level; walls, and mud the depressions of the alluvial plain, it is often ramparts, and dykes intersect each other; ele- not a mile an hour, but over the high ground, vated masses of friable soil and pottery are suc- as at Kalat Gerah, it runs nearly three miles an ceeded by low plains, inundated during great hour; that at Hillah, where the stream is conpart of the year; and the antique beds of fined, it flows four knots through the bridge, canals are visible in every direction. There and that the Upper Euphrates averages from is still some cultivation, and some irrigation. three to four miles. Flocks pasture in meadows of the coarse grasses, The Euphrates flowing, in the lower portion (sedges and cyperaceæ ;) the Arabs' dusky en- of its course, through a vast plain between low campments are met with here and there; but, banks, the periodical increase of its waters except on Euphrates' banks, there are few re- causes it to overflow, like the Nile, sometimes mains of the date groves, the vineyards, and inundating the country to a great extent, and the gardens, which adorned the same land in leaving extensive lakes and marshes in its neighthe days of Artaxerxes; and still less of the bourhood, after the river has retired to its chanpopulation and labour, which must have made a nel. The rise of the Euphrates begins in March, garden of such a soil, in the times of Nebuchad- and continues till the commencement of June, at nezzar."
which time, there is nowhere less than from This leads to a notice of
twelve to sixteen feet depth of water. In the low season, it is generally from six to ten feet; but in some places, even at this season, it is
eighteen feet. In describing the average depth, The original Hebrew name of this river was the natives are accustomed to say, that it is Phrat, by which name it is locally distinguished equal to the height of two men.
The water is to the present day, the elements of which still lowest in November and the three succeeding remain in that we have adopted from the Greek. / months ; but sometimes there is a slight increase
In Scripture, the Euphrates is frequently men- in January. tioned as “the great river,” to which distinction Ainsworth, in describing the alluvial soil, which it is fully entitled. The stream of the Euphrates the Euphrates, like the Nile, brings down in its rises in two widely separated sources, one in the course, says: “The period at which the waters elevated regions of Armenia, near Erzeroum, of Euphrates are most loaded with mud, are in the and the other near the town of Bayazid, on the first floods of January; the gradual melting of Persian frontier. The junction of these streams the snows in early summer, which preserve the takes place in the recesses of the Taurus, near high level of the waters, do not, at the same the town of Kebban. After having pierced the time, contribute much sedimentary matter. From mountains, the river continues its south-western numerous experiments made at Bir, in Decemcourse towards the Mediterranean ; but being ber and January, 1836, I found the maximum of repelled by the mountains near Samosata, it sediment mechanically suspended in the waters, inclines a little to the south-east, and afterwards to be equal to 1-80th part of the bulk of fluid, takes more decidedly that direction, which it or every cubic inch of water contained 1-80th pursues, until it ultimately joins the Tigris at part of its bulk of suspended matters ; and from Korna, in Irak Arabi. The united stream then similar experiments, instituted in the month of takes the name of Shut ul Arab, or River of the October of the same year, at the issue of the Arabs, and finally enters the Persian Gulf, above waters from the Lemlun Marshes, I only obtainseventy miles below the city of Bussora.
ed a maximum of 1-200th part of a cubic inch
of water (mean temp. 74°.) The sediments of ing, in the days of Xenophon and Ammianus Marthe river Euphrates, which are not deposited in cellinus, have disappeared with the villages, and the upper part of the river's course, are finally are only to be found in and about the principal deposited in the Lemlun Marshes. In navigat- towns, a few instances excepted, where they mark ing the river in May, 1836, the water flowing the site of a place not long deserted. In the city into the marshes was coloured deeply by mud, of Babylon itself, which, according to ancient but left the marshes in a state of comparative historians, contained within the walls much spare purity, and this is equally the case in the Chal-ground that was cultivated and ploughed for corn, dean Marshes, below Orun el Bak, the “ Mother there are now no pastures; thus literally fulfilling of Musquitoes.”
prophecy, which saith :According to Pliny, the ancient method of navigating the Euphrates was very remarkable.
“ Neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; The vessels used were round, without distinction
Neither shall the shepherds make their fold there."
Isa. xiii. 20. of head or stern, and little better than wicker baskets coated over with hides, which were The soil of Irak Arabi, which, as the reader guided along with oars or paddles. These ves- has seen in a former page, nearly corresponds to sels were of different sizes, and some of them ancient Babylonia, may in general be characcapable of carrying burdens of palm wine or terized as a sandy clay, covered with the rubbish other merchandize, to the weight of 5,000 talents, of ruined towns and canals. The banks of the (equal, according to Bishop Cumberland's calcu- Euphrates and Shat-al-Hie are not so perfectly lation, to about sixty-two tons English,) having, desolate as those of the Tigris; but it is only near according to their size, beasts of burden on board. rivers and canals that we may expect any reWhen the vessels had thus fallen down the river deeming features in the landscape. On the Euto Babylon, the crew unloaded their cargo, and phrates, the territory of the Khezail Arabs consold their vessel, but kept the hides, and, loading tains rich pastures and good cultivation, and their beasts with them, returned home by land, many villages. But this territory is very limited, the force of the stream preventing their back- and all the remaining portion of the plain bears ward course by water: steam navigation alone its testimony to the truth of Holy Writ, which can overcome this disadvantage.
THE PRODUCTIONS OF BABYLONIA.
“Behold, the hindermost of the nations shall be
A wilderness, a dry land, and a desert.-Jer. I. 12."
Herodotus declares that, of all the countries he The banks of the rivers, and particularly the had visited, none was so suitable as Babylonia Tigris, are skirted to a great extent with the for cultivation ; and he says that the return was tamarisk shrub, which in some places attains the generally two, and sometimes three hundred height of twenty or twenty-five feet. The comfold, in which testimony Strabo, the first of an- mon tamarisk of the country, the Athleh, or Alte, cient geographers, agrees. This fertility arose of Sonini, is the Tumarisk Orientalis of Forskal. from the system of irrigation before described, The solitary tree of a species which, Heeren says, as well as from the richness of the alluvial soil is altogether strange to this country, and which of the plain, and the salubrity of the climate. It Rich calls Lignum Vita, found growing upon the does not appear, however, that the plains of Ba- ruins of the Kasr at Babylon, and which has bylonia abounded in the various luxuries of life. been supposed to be a last remnant or offspring The contrary, indeed, appears from the song of of the sloping or hanging gardens, that appeared the captive Hebrews, while sitting on the margin to Quintus Curtius like a forest, is also a tamerof its waters. This song shows how acutely | isk, but it differs from the Athleh in size. This they regretted their exile from their own pleasant tree possesses scaly branches and long slender land, the land of the olive and the vine, (which petioles, with few leaves; the appearance, howBabylonia is not, in the strict sense of the word,) ever, is supposed by some to have been produced and their own possessions and high enjoyments by a scanty supply of water and great age, from there. See Psa. cxxxvii.
whence they argue that it may belong to the The productions for which Babylonia was common species. Curtius says this tree was chiefly celebrated were the date palm, which eight cubits, near fifteen feet in girth. The tree flourished naturally through the breadth of the bears every mark of antiquity in appearance, plain, and which afforded the Babylonians meat, situation, and tradition. By the Arabs it is rewine, and honey; sesame, which afforded them garded as sacred, from a tradition that it was oil instead of the olive; barley, millet, and wheat. preserved by the Almighty from the earliest For grain, it exceeded every other land. The times, to be a refuge in after ages for the khalif Ali, millet and the sesame, says Herodotus, grew up who, fainting from fatigue at the battle of Killah, as trees, and the leaves of the barley and wheat reposed in security beneath its shade. It must were four fingers broad. Babylonia, indeed, for have been more than 1,000 years old at the revegetable productions, in ancient times, might puted time of the engagement, so that it may be be justly compared with Egypt. But it is not so supposed a germ from the royal gardens at Ba
According to the prediction of the pro- bylon. phet, the sower is cut off from Babylon, and a The willow and the poplar appear in Babydrought is upon her waters, and they are dried lonia, but they rather resemble shrubs than trees, up, Jer. 1. 16. 38.
All is now an arid desert, and are more rare than the former plants. The offering only some few patches of cultivation willow was doubtless more abundant on the banks near the few settlements which it contains. The of the Euphrates, in ancient times; for the Hegrove trees, so numerous, beautiful, and flourish- | brews, in their captivity,
Sun. Lowest. Highest. Lowest. Highest. Lowest. Highest. o
113 73 94 71 108 80 122 87 98 79 109 86 125 89 102 84 113 90 134 93 104 87 119 95 140 88 97 77
89 127 70
90 61 100 72 121 59 77 45
84 54 102 57 64 51 67 58 90
“ High on the willows, all untuned, unstrung,
Open Shade. Their harps suspended.” Isaiah speaks of Babylonia as “ The brook April of the willows,” or, as Prideaux and Bochart May would render it, “ The valley of the willows,” July Isa. xv. 7. Ainsworth says, however, that the August weeping willow, Salix Babylonica, is not met
October ... with in Babylonia, and that a poplar, Gharab, November with lanceolate and cordate leaves on separate December
1831. parts of the same branch, has been mistaken for
January... a willow.
February.. Tradition states that the castor oil plant once March grew luxuriantly in the plains of Babylonia, but there is only one specimen existing, and that
At three in the afternoon, during the heat of grows as a tree on the site of ancient Ctesiphon. the summer, it was found that the temperature The Asclepias Syriaca is tall and abundant in in inhabited cellars was two or three degrees some places, and when young, though deemed by less than it had been in the ordinary rooms at us poison, it is eaten by the Arabs. The Carob eight o'clock in the morning of the days when it plant sometimes attains the height of six or seven
was taken. feet. Camel-thorn is very common, and the Arabs express a sweet juice from it, and eat the leaves as we do spinach. Among other plants which grow in this desolate region, are a rare
CHAPTER II. species of rue, colacynth, chenopodium, macronatum; a beautiful species of mesembrianthemum, TOPOGRAPHICAL HISTORY OF ASSYRIA. carex, alopecarus, centaurea, lithospermum, helio- | UNDER this section, the reader will find all the trope, lycium, and a beautiful twining species of principal places mentioned in the sacred writsolanum. The marshes near the Tigris are thickly ings, and by profane writers, as belonging to the covered with the blossoms of the white floating empire of Assyria. We commence with those crowfoot. Of the cultivated fruit trees, near the mentioned in the inspired volume, Gen. x. and xi. towns, the date palm is the most important, as it contributes largely to the subsistence of the po
TOWER OF BABEL. pulation. Grapes, figs, pomegranates, quinces, etc., are good; but apples, pears, oranges, etc.,
After the deluge, it appears from the sacred are of inferior size and quality. Melons, cucum- writings, that the children of Noah congregated, bers, onions, and other plants of this family are in their first emigration, upon the banks of the abundant and excellent. But these only grow, as
Euphrates, in “ the land of Shinar,” and in that stated before, in certain parts of the district. The part of the land which has been defined under plains of Babylonia, for the most part, are cha
the term Babylonia. While there, they conracterized, according to the sure word of pro
sulted together, to build a very lofty tower. “Go phecy, by desolation, as the reader will discover to,” said they, “let us build us a city and a tower, more at large in the ensuing pages.
whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon
the face of the whole earth,” Gen. xi. 4. The CLIMATE.
plan was put into execution, the tower was reachBabylonia, generally speaking, enjoys a salu- ing towards heaven, when the work was stopped brious and wholesome air, though at certain sea- by the Almighty. He confounded the language sons, no air can be more dangerous. Plutarch of the builders, and, by this new dispensation, relates, that the heats were so extraordinary, that scattered them abroad upon the face of the earth, the rich were accustomed to sleep in cisterns of ver. 5—9. water. The country is exposed to a pestilential We should take a narrow view of the works of wind, called the Samiel. This wind is popularly the Almighty, if we supposed that he looked with considered to prevail during forty days, but its jealousy on this impotent attempt. Although the actual duration is often twice as long. During works of man may appear fair and magnificent in this period, it commonly rises about noon, or his own eyes, yet to Him they are nothing; for somewhat earlier, and continues until three or in his sight four o'clock in the afternoon. It is felt like a
“ The nations are as a drop of a bucket, fiery breeze which has passed over the mouth of
And are counted as the small dust of the balance : a lime-kiln. It seldom or never rains in Baby- Behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing." lonia, during the space of eight months; and it
Isa. xl. 15. has been known not to rain for two years and a half. Rauwolf says, the inhabitants reckon, that
It was not the building, but the object, which if it rains two or three times in the year, it is
was displeasing in the sight of the Almighty; sufficient for their purpose. An idea may
and hence the result of his displeasure, their thered of the temperature of the air of the plains
dispersion. of Babylonia from the following table, which was " When Babel was confounded, and the great taken at Bagdad, situated in its vicinity, in the Confederacy of projectors, wild and vain, years 1830 and 1831.
Was split into diversity of tongues,