Recent Excavations In Western Asia And The Dawn Of Chaldaean History

In the preceding pages it has been shown how recent excavations in Egypt

have revealed an entirely new chapter in the history of that country,

and how, in consequence, our theories with regard to the origin of

Egyptian civilization have been entirely remodelled. Excavations have

been and are being carried out in Mesopotamia and the adjacent countries

with no less enthusiasm and energy than in Egypt itself, and, although

it cannot be said that they have resulted in any sweeping modification

of our conceptions with regard to the origin and kinship of the early

races of Western Asia, yet they have lately added considerably to our

knowledge of the ancient history of the countries in that region of the

world. This is particularly the case in respect of the Sumerians, who,

so far as we know at present, were the earliest inhabitants of the

fertile plains of Mesopotamia. The beginnings of this ancient people

stretch back into the remote past, and their origin is still shrouded in

the mists of antiquity. When first we come across them they have already

attained a high level of civilization. They have built temples and

palaces and houses of burnt and unburnt brick, and they have reduced

their system of agriculture to a science, intersecting their country

with canals for purposes of irrigation and to ensure a good supply of

water to their cities. Their sculpture and pottery furnish abundant

evidence that they have already attained a comparatively high level in

the practice of the arts, and finally they have evolved a complicated

system of writing which originally had its origin in picture-characters,

but afterwards had been developed along phonetic lines. To have attained

to this pitch of culture argues long periods of previous development,

and we must conclude that they had been settled in Southern Babylonia

many centuries before the period to which we must assign the earliest of

their remains at present discovered.

That this people were not indigenous to Babylonia is highly probable,

but we have little data by which to determine the region from which

they originally came. Prom the fact that they built their ziggurats, or

temple towers, of huge masses of unburnt brick which rose high above

the surrounding plain, and that their ideal was to make each "like a

mountain," it has been argued that they were a mountain race, and the

home from which they sprang has been sought in Central Asia. Other

scholars have detected signs of their origin in their language and

system of writing, and, from the fact that they spoke an agglutinative

tongue and at the earliest period arranged the characters of their

script in vertical lines like the Chinese, it has been urged that

they were of Mongol extraction. Though a case may be made out for this

hypothesis, it would be rash to dogmatize for or against it, and it is

wiser to await the discovery of further material on which a more certain

decision may be based. But whatever their origin, it is certain that the

Sumerians exercised an extraordinary influence on all races with

which, either directly or indirectly, they came in contact. The ancient

inhabitants of Elam at a very early period adopted in principle

their method of writing, and afterwards, living in isolation in the

mountainous districts of Persia, developed it on lines of their own. [*

See Chap. V, and note.] On their invasion of Babylonia the Semites

fell absolutely under Sumerian influence, and, although they eventually

conquered and absorbed the Sumerians, their civilization remained

Sumerian to the core. Moreover, by means of the Semitic inhabitants of

Babylonia Sumerian culture continued to exert its influence on other

and more distant races. We have already seen how a Babylonian element

probably enters into Egyptian civilization through Semitic infiltration

across the Straits of Bab el-Mandeb or by way of the Isthmus of Suez,

and it was Sumerian culture which these Semites brought with them.

In like manner, through the Semitic Babylonians, the Assyrians, the

Kassites, and the inhabitants of Palestine and Syria, and of some

parts of Asia Minor, Armenia, and Kurdistan, all in turn experienced

indirectly the influence of Sumerian civilization and continued in a

greater or less degree to reproduce elements of this early culture.

It will be seen that the influence of the Sumerians furnishes us with

a key to much that would otherwise prove puzzling in the history of the

early races of Western Asia. It is therefore all the more striking to

recall the fact that but a few years ago the very existence of this

ancient people was called in question. At that time the excavations in

Mesopotamia had not revealed many traces of the race itself, and its

previous existence had been mainly inferred from a number of Sumerian

compositions inscribed upon Assyrian tablets found in the library

of Ashur-bani-pal at Nineveh. These compositions were furnished with

Assyrian translations upon the tablets on which they were inscribed,

and it was correctly argued by the late Sir Henry Rawlinson, the late M.

Oppert, Prof. Schrader, Prof. Sayce, and other scholars that they were

written in the language of the earlier inhabitants of the country whom

the Semitic Babylonians had displaced. But M. Halevy started a theory to

the effect that Sumerian was not a language at all, in the proper sense

of the term, but was a cabalistic method of writing invented by the

Semitic Babylonian priests.

Drawn up by an Assyrian scribe to assist him in his studies

of early texts. Photograph by Messrs. Mansell & Co.

The argument on which the upholders of this theory mainly relied was

that many of the phonetic values of the Sumerian signs were obviously

derived from Semitic equivalents, and they hastily jumped to the

conclusion that the whole language was similarly derived from Semitic

Babylonian, and was, in fact, a purely arbitrary invention of the

Babylonian priests. This theory ignored all questions of inherent

probability, and did not attempt to explain why the Babylonian priests

should have troubled themselves to make such an invention and afterwards

have stultified themselves by carefully appending Assyrian translations

to the majority of the Sumerian compositions which they copied out.

Moreover, the nature of these compositions is not such as we should

expect to find recorded in a cabalistic method of writing. They contain

no secret lore of the Babylonian priests, but are merely hymns and

prayers and religious compositions similar to those employed by the

Babylonians and Assyrians themselves.

But in spite of its inherent improbabilities, M. Halevy succeeded in

making many converts to his theory, including Prof. Friedrich Delitzsch

and a number of the younger school of German Assyriologists. More

conservative scholars, such as Sir Henry Rawlinson, M. Oppert, and Prof.

Schrader, stoutly opposed the theory, maintaining that Sumerian was a

real language and had been spoken by an earlier race whom the Semitic

Babylonians had conquered; and they explained the resemblance of some of

the Sumerian values to Semitic roots by supposing that Sumerian had

not been suddenly superseded by the language of the Semitic invaders

of Babylonia, but that the two tongues had been spoken for long periods

side by side and that each had been strongly influenced by the other.

This very probable and sane explanation has been fully corroborated

by subsequent excavations, particularly those that were carried out at

Telloh in Southern Babylonia by the late M. de Sarzec. In these mounds,

which mark the site of the ancient Sumerian city of Shirpurla, were

found thousands of clay tablets inscribed in archaic characters and in

the Sumerian language, proving that it had actually been the language of

the early inhabitants of Babylonia; while the examples of their art and

the representations of their form and features, which were also afforded

by the diggings at Telloh, proved once for all that the Sumerians were

a race of strongly marked characteristics and could not be ascribed to a

Semitic stock.

The system of writing invented by the ancient Sumerians was adopted by

the Semitic Babylonians, who modified it to suit their own language.

Moreover, the archaic forms of the characters, many of which under the

Sumerians still retained resemblances to the pictures of objects from

which they were descended, were considerably changed. The lines, of

which they were originally composed, gave way to wedges, and the number

of the wedges of which each sign consisted was gradually diminished, so

that in the time of the Assyrians and the later Babylonians many of the

characters bore small resemblance to the ancient Sumerian forms

from which they had been derived. The reading of Sumerian and early

Babylonian inscriptions by the late Assyrian scribes was therefore an

accomplishment only to be acquired as the result of long study, and it

is interesting to note that as an assistance to the reading of these

early texts the scribes compiled lists of archaic signs. Sometimes

opposite each archaic character they drew a picture of the object from

which they imagined it was derived. This fact is significant as proving

that the Assyrian scribes recognized the pictorial origin of cuneiform

writing, but the pictures they drew opposite the signs are rather

fanciful, and it cannot be said that their guesses were very successful.

That we are able to criticize the theories of the Assyrians as to the

origin and forms of the early characters is in the main due to M. de

Sarzec's labours, from whose excavations many thousands of inscriptions

of the Sumerians have been recovered.

The main results of M. de Sarzec's diggings at Telloh have already been

described by M. Maspero in his history, and therefore we need not go

over them again, but will here confine ourselves to the results which

have been obtained from recent excavations at Telloh and at other sites

in Western Asia. With the death of M. de Sarzec, which occurred in his

sixty-fifth year, on May 31, 1901, the wonderfully successful series of

excavations which he had carried out at Telloh was brought to an end. In

consequence it was feared at the time that the French diggings on this

site might be interrupted for a considerable period. Such an event would

have been regretted by all those who are interested in the early history

of the East, for, in spite of the treasures found by M. de Sarzec in the

course of his various campaigns, it was obvious that the site was far

from being exhausted, and that the tells as yet unexplored contained

inscriptions and antiquities extending back to the very earliest periods

of Sumerian history.

Opposite each the scribe has drawn a picture of the object

from which he imagined it was derived. Photograph by Messrs.

Mansell & Co.

The announcement which was made in 1902, that the French government had

appointed Capt. Gaston Cros as the late M. de Sarzec's successor, was

therefore received with general satisfaction. The fact that Capt. Cros

had already successfully carried out several difficult topographical

missions in the region of the Sahara was a sufficient guarantee that the

new diggings would be conducted on a systematic and exhaustive scale.

The new director of the French mission in Chaldaea arrived at Telloh in

January, 1903, and one of his first acts was to shift the site of the

mission's settlement from the bank of the Shatt el-Hai, where it had

always been established in the time of M. de Sarzec, to the mounds where

the actual digging took place. The Shatt el-Hai had been previously

chosen as the site of the settlement to ensure a constant supply of

water, and as it was more easily protected against attack by night.

But the fact that it was an hour's ride from the diggings caused an

unnecessary loss of time, and rendered the strict supervision of the

diggers a matter of considerable difficulty. During the first season's

work rough huts of reeds, surrounded by a wall of earth and a ditch,

served the new expedition for its encampment among the mounds of Telloh,

but last year these makeshift arrangements were superseded by a regular

house built out of the burnt bricks which are found in abundance on the

site. A reservoir has also been built, and caravans of asses bring water

in skins from the Shatt el-Hai to keep it filled with a constant supply

of water, while the excellent relations which Capt. Cros has established

with the Karagul Arabs, who occupy Telloh and its neighbourhood, have

proved to be the best kind of protection for the mission engaged in

scientific work upon the site.

The group of mounds and hillocks, known as Telloh, which marks the site

of the ancient Sumerian city of Shirpurla, is easily distinguished from

the flat surrounding desert. The mounds extend in a rough oval formation

running north and south, about two and a half miles long and one and a

quarter broad. In the early spring, when the desert is covered with a

light green verdure, the ruins are clearly marked out as a yellow spot

in the surrounding green, for vegetation does not grow upon them. In the

centre of this oval, which approximately marks the limits of the ancient

city and its suburbs, are four large tells or mounds running, roughly,

north and south, their sides descending steeply on the east, but with

their western slopes rising by easier undulations from the plain. These

four principal tells are known as the "Palace Tell," the "Tell of the

Fruit-house," the "Tell of the Tablets," and the "Great Tell," and,

rising as they do in the centre of the site, they mark the position of

the temples and the other principal buildings of the city.

An indication of the richness of the site in antiquities was afforded

to the new mission before it had started regular excavation and while

it was yet engaged in levelling its encampment and surrounding it with a

wall and ditch. The spot selected for the camp was a small mound to the

south of the site of Telloh, and here, in the course of preparing the

site for the encampment and digging the ditch, objects were found at

a depth of less than a foot beneath the surface of the soil. These

included daggers, copper vases, seal-cylinders, rings of lapis and

cornelian, and pottery. M. de Sarzec had carried out his latest

diggings in the Tell of the Tablets, and here Capt. Cros continued

the excavations and came upon the remains of buildings and recovered

numerous objects, dating principally from the period of Gudea and

the kings of Ur. The finds included small terra-cotta figures, a

boundary-stone of Gamil-Sin, and a new statue of Gudea, to which we will

refer again presently.

In the Tell of the Fruit-house M. de Sarzec had already discovered

numbers of monuments dating from the earlier periods of Sumerian history

before the conquest and consolidation of Babylonia under Sargon of

Agade, and had excavated a primitive terrace built by the early king

Ur-Nina. Both on and around this large mound Capt. Cros cut an extensive

series of trenches, and in digging to the north of the mound he found a

number of objects, including an alabaster tablet of Ente-mena which had

been blackened by fire. At the foot of the tell he found a copper helmet

like those represented on the famous Stele of Vultures discovered by

M. de Sarzec, and among the tablets here recovered was one with an

inscription of the time of Urukagina, which records the complete

destruction of the city of Shirpurla during his reign, and will be

described in greater detail later on in this chapter. On the mound

itself a considerable area was uncovered with remains of buildings

still in place, the use of which appears to have been of an industrial

character. They included flights of steps, canals with raised banks,

and basins for storing water. Not far off are the previously discovered

wells of Bannadu, so that it is legitimate to suppose that Capt. Cros

has here come upon part of the works which were erected at a very early

period of Sumerian history for the distribution of water to this portion

of the city.

An early Semitic king of the city of Kish in Babylonia. The

photograph is taken from M. de Morgan's Delegation en Perse,

M'em., t. i, pi. ix.

In the Palace Tell Capt. Cros has sunk a series of deep shafts to

determine precisely the relations which the buildings of Ur-Bau and

Gudea, found already on this part of the site, bear to each other, and

to the building of Adad-nadin-akhe, which had been erected there at

a much later period. Prom this slight sketch of the work carried out

during the last two years at Telloh it will have been seen that the

Prench mission in Chaldaea is at present engaged in excavations of a

most important character, which are being conducted in a regular and

scientific manner. As the area of the excavations marks the site of the

chief city of the Sumerians, the diggings there have yielded and

are yielding material of the greatest interest and value for the

reconstruction of the early history of Chaldaea. After briefly describing

the character and results of other recent excavations in Mesopotamia and

the neighbouring lands, we will return to the discoveries at Telloh and

sketch the new information they supply on the history of the earliest

inhabitants of the country.

Another French mission that is carrying out work of the very greatest

interest to the student of early Babylonian history is that which is

excavating at Susa in Persia, under the direction of M. J. de Morgan,

whose work on the prehistoric and early dynastic sites in Egypt has

already been described. M. de Morgan's first season's digging at Susa

was carried out in the years 1897-8, and the success with which he met

from the very first, when cutting trenches in the mound which marks

the acropolis of the ancient city, has led him to concentrate his main

efforts in this part of the ruins ever since. Provisional trenches cut

in the part of the ruins called "the Royal City," and in others of the

mounds at Susa, indicate that many remains may eventually be found there

dating from the period of the Achaemenian Kings of Persia. But it is in

the mound of the acropolis at Susa that M. de Morgan has found monuments

of the greatest historical interest and value, not only in the history

of ancient Elam, but also in that of the earliest rulers of Chaldaea.

In the diggings carried out during the first season's work on the site,

an obelisk was found inscribed on four sides with a long text of some

sixty-nine columns, written in Semitic Babylonian by the orders

of Manishtusu, a very early Semitic king of the city of Kish in

Babylonia.[* See illustration.] The text records the purchase by the

King of Kish of immense tracts of land situated at Kish and in

its neighbourhood, and its length is explained by the fact that it

enumerates full details of the size and position of each estate, and the

numbers and some of the names of the dwellers on the estates who were

engaged in their cultivation. After details have been given of a number

of estates situated in the same neighbourhood, a summary is appended

referring to the whole neighbourhood, and the fact is recorded that the

district dealt with in the preceding catalogue and summary had been duly

acquired by purchase by Manishtusu, King of Kish. The long text upon

the obelisk is entirely taken up with details of the purchase of the

territory, and therefore its subject has not any great historical value.

Mention is made in it of two personages, one of whom may possibly

be identified with a Babylonian ruler whose name is known from other

sources. If the proposed identification t should prove to be correct,

it would enable us to assign a more precise date to Manishtusu than has

hitherto been possible. One of the personages in question was a certain

Urukagina, the son of Engilsa, patesi of Shirpurla, and it has been

suggested that he is the same Urukagina who is known to have occupied

the throne of Shirpurla, though this identification would bring

Manishtusu down somewhat later than is probable from the general

character of his inscriptions. The other personage mentioned in the text

is the son of Manishtusu, named Mesalim, and there is more to be said

for the identification of this prince with Mesilim, the early King of

Kish, who reigned at a period anterior to that of Eannadu, patesi of


The mere fact of so large and important an obelisk, inscribed with a

Semitic text by an early Babylonian king, being found at Susa was

an indication that other monuments of even greater interest might be

forthcoming from the same spot; and this impression was intensified when

a stele of victory was found bearing an inscription of Naram-Sin, the

early Semitic King of Agade, who reigned about 3750 B.C. One face of

this stele is sculptured with a representation of the king conquering

his enemies in a mountainous country. [* See illustration.] The king

himself wears a helmet adorned with the horns of a bull, and he carries

his battle-axe and his bow and an arrow. He is nearly at the summit of

a high mountain, and up its steep sides, along paths through the

trees which clothe the mountain, climb his allies and warriors bearing

standards and weapons. The king's enemies are represented suing for

mercy as they turn to fly before him. One grasps a broken spear, while

another, crouching before the king, has been smitten in the throat by an

arrow from the king's bow. On the plain surface of the stele above the

king's head may be seen traces of an inscription of Naram-Sin engraved

in three columns in the archaic characters of his period. From the few

signs of the text that remain, we gather that Naram-Sin had conducted

a campaign with the assistance of certain allied princes, including the

Princes of Sidur, Saluni, and Lulubi, and it is not improbable that

they are to be identified with the warriors represented on the stele as

climbing the mountain behind Naram-Sin.

In reference to this most interesting stele of Naram-Sin we may here

mention another inscription of this king, found quite recently at

Susa and published only this year, which throws additional light on

Naram-Sin's allies and on the empire which he and his father Sargon

founded. The new inscription was engraved on the base of a diorite

statue, which had been broken to pieces so that only the base with

a portion of the text remained. From this inscription we learn that

Naram-Sin was the head of a confederation of nine chief allies, or

vassal princes, and waged war on his enemies with their assistance.

Among these nine allies of course the Princes of Sidur, Saluni, and

Lulubi are to be included. The new text further records that Naram-Sin

made an expedition against Magan (the Sinaitic peninsula), and defeated

Manium, the lord of that region, and that he cut blocks of stone in the

mountains there and transported them to his city of Agade, where

from one of them he made the statue on the base of which the text was

inscribed. It was already known from the so-called "Omens of Sargon

and Naram-Sin" (a text inscribed on a clay tablet from Ashur-bani-pal's

library at Nineveh which associates the deeds of these two early rulers

with certain augural phenomena) that Naram-Sin had made an expedition

to Sinai in the course of his reign and had conquered the king of the

country. The new text gives contemporary confirmation of this assertion

and furnishes us with additional information with regard to the name of

the conquered ruler of Sinai and other details of the campaign.

That monuments of such great interest to the early history of Chaldaea

should have been found at Susa in Persia was sufficiently startling,

but an easy explanation was at first forthcoming from the fact that

Naram-Sin's stele of victory had been used by the later Elamite king,

Shutruk-Nakhkhunte, for an inscription of his own; this he had engraved

in seven long lines along the great cone in front of Naram-Sin, which is

probably intended to represent the peak of the mountain. From the fact

that it had been used in this way by Shutruk-Nakhkhunte, it seemed

permissible to infer that it had been captured in the course of a

campaign and brought to Susa as a trophy of war. But we shall see later

on that the existence of early Babylonian inscriptions and monuments in

the mound of the acropolis at Susa is not to be explained in this way,

but was due to the wide extension of both Sumerian and Semitic influence

throughout Western Asia from the very earliest periods. This subject

will be treated more fully in the chapter dealing with the early history

of Blam.

The upper surface of the tell of the acropolis at Susa for a depth of

nearly two metres contains remains of the buildings and antiquities

of the Achaemenian kings and others of both later and earlier dates.

In these upper strata of the mound are found remains of the

Arab, Sassanian, Parthian, Seleucian, and Persian periods, mixed

indiscriminately with one another and with Elamite objects and materials

of all ages, from that of the earliest patesis down to that of the

Susian kings of the seventh century B.C.

The most northern of the mounds which now mark the site of

the ancient city of Babylon; used for centuries as a quarry

for building materials.

The reason of this mixture of the remains of many races and periods is

that the later builders on the mound made use of the earlier building

materials which they found preserved within it. Along the skirts of the

mound may still be seen the foundations of the wall which formed the

principal defence of the acropolis in the time of Xerxes, and in many

places not only are the foundations preserved but large pieces of the

wall itself still rise above the surface of the soil.

Stele of Naram-Sin, an early Semitic King of Agade in

Babylonia, who reigned about B. C. 3750. From the photograph

by Messrs. Mansell & Co.

The plan of the wall is quite irregular, following the contours of the

mound, and, though it is probable that the wall was strengthened and

defended at intervals by towers, no trace of these now remains. The

wall is very thick and built of unburnt bricks, and the system of

fortification seems to have been extremely simple at this period.

The group probably represents Babylon or the Babylonian king

triumphing over the country's enemies. The Arabs regard the

figure as an evil spirit, and it is pitted with the marks of

bullets shot at it. They also smear it with filth when they

can do so unobserved; in the photograph some newly smeared

filth may be seen adhering to the side of the lion.

The earlier citadel or fortress of the city of Susa was built at the top

of the mound and must have been a more formidable stronghold than that

of the Achaemenian kings, for, besides its walls, it had the additional

protection of the steep slopes of the mound.

Below the depth of two metres from the surface of the mound are found

strata in which Elamite objects and materials are, no longer mixed with

the remains of later ages, but here the latest Elamite remains are found

mingled with objects and materials dating from the earliest periods of

Elam's history. The use of un-burnt bricks as the principal material

for buildings erected on the mound in all ages has been another cause

of this mixture of materials, for it has little power of resistance to

water, and a considerable rain-storm will wash away large portions

of the surface and cause the remains of different strata to be mixed

indiscriminately with one another. In proportion as the trenches were

cut deeper into the mound the strata which were laid bare showed remains

of earlier ages than those in the upper layers, though here also remains

of different periods are considerably mixed. The only building that has

hitherto been discovered at Susa by M. de Morgan, the ground plan of

which was in a comparatively good state of preservation, was a small

temple of the god Shu-shinak, and this owed its preservation to the

fact that it was not built of unburnt brick, but was largely composed of

burnt brick and plaques and tiles of enamelled terra-cotta.

But although the diggings of M. de Morgan at Susa have so far afforded

little information on the subject of Elamite architecture, the separate

objects found have enabled us to gain considerable knowledge of the

artistic achievements of the race during the different periods of

its existence. Moreover, the stelae and stone records that have been

recovered present a wealth of material for the study of the long history

of Elam and of the kings who ruled in Babylonia during the earliest



Showing the depth in the mound to which the diggings are


The most famous of M. de Morgan's recent finds is the long code of

laws drawn up by Hammurabi, the greatest king of the First Dynasty of

Babylon.* This was engraved upon a huge block of black diorite, and

was found in the tell of the acropolis in the winter of 1901-2. This

document in itself has entirely revolutionized current theories as to

the growth and origin of the principal ancient legal codes. It proves

that Babylonia was the fountainhead from which many later races borrowed

portions of their legislative systems. Moreover, the subjects dealt

with in this code of laws embrace most of the different classes of the

Babylonian people, and it regulates their duties and their relations

to one another in their ordinary occupations and pursuits. It therefore

throws much light upon early Babylonian life and customs, and we shall

return to it in the chapter dealing with these subjects.

* It will be noted that the Babylonian dynasties are

referred to throughout this volume as "First Dynasty,"

"Second Dynasty," "Third Dynasty," etc. They are thus

distinguished from the Egyptian dynasties, the order of

which is indicated by Roman numerals, e.g. "Ist Dynasty,"

"IId Dynasty," "IIId Dynasty."

The American excavators at Nippur, under the direction of Mr. Haynes,

have done much in the past to increase our knowledge of Sumerian and

early Babylonian history, but the work has not been continued in

recent years, and, unfortunately, little progress has been made in the

publication of the material already accumulated. In fact, the leadership

in American excavation has passed from the University of Pennsylvania to

that of Chicago. This progressive university has sent out an expedition,

under the general direction of Prof. R. F. Harper (with Dr. E. J. Banks

as director of excavations), which is doing excellent work at Bismya,

and, although it is too early yet to expect detailed accounts of their

achievements, it is clear that they have already met with considerable

success. One of their recent finds consists of a white marble statue of

an early Sumerian king named Daudu, which was set up in the temple of

E-shar in the city of Udnun, of which he was ruler. From its archaic

style of workmanship it may be placed in the earliest period of Sumerian

history, and may be regarded as an earnest of what may be expected to

follow from the future labours of Prof. Harper's expedition.

At Fara and at Abu Hatab in Babylonia, the Deutsch-Orient Gesellschaft,

under Dr. Koldewey's direction, has excavated Sumerian and Babylonian

remains of the early period. At the former site they unearthed the

remains of many private houses and found some Sumerian tablets of

accounts and commercial documents, but little of historical interest;

and an inscription, which seems to have come from Abu Hatab, probably

proves that the Sumerian name of the city whose site it marks was

Kishurra. But the main centre of German activity in Babylonia is the

city of Babylon itself, where for the last seven years Dr. Koldewey has

conducted excavations, unearthing the palaces of Nebuchadnezzar II on

the mound termed the Kasr, identifying the temple of E-sagila under the

mound called Tell Amran ibn-Ali, tracing the course of the sacred way

between E-sagila and the palace-mound, and excavating temples dedicated

to the goddess Ninmakh and the god Ninib.

In the middle distance may be seen the metal trucks running

on light rails which are employed on the work for the

removal of the debris from the diggings.

Dr. Andrae, Dr. Koldewey's assistant, has also completed the excavation

of the temple dedicated to Nabu at Birs Nimrud. On the principal mound

at this spot, which marks the site of the ancient city of Borsippa,

traces of the ziggurat, or temple tower, may still be seen rising from

the soil, the temple of Nabu lying at a lower level below the steep

slope of the mound, which is mainly made up of debris from the

ziggurat. Dr. Andrae has recently left Babylonia for Assyria, where

his excavations at Sher-ghat, the site of the ancient Assyrian city of

Ashur, are confidently expected to throw considerable light on the early

history of that country and the customs of the people, and already he

has made numerous finds of considerable interest.


Since the early spring of 1903 excavations have been conducted at

Kuyunjik, the site of the city of Nineveh, by Messrs. L. W. King and R.

C. Thompson on behalf of the Trustees of the British Museum, and have

resulted in the discovery of many early remains in the lower strata of

the mound, in addition to the finding of new portions of the two palaces

already known and partly excavated, the identification of a third

palace, and the finding of an ancient temple dedicated to Nabu, whose

existence had already been inferred from a study of the Assyrian

inscriptions.* All these diggings at Babylon, at Ashur, and at Nineveh

throw more light upon the history of the country during the Assyrian and

Neo-Babylonian periods, and will be referred to later in the volume.

* It may be noted that excavations are also being actively

carried on in Palestine at the present time. Mr. Macalister

has for some years been working for the Palestine

Exploration Fund at Gezer; Dr. Schumacher is digging at

Megiddo for the German Palestine Society; and Prof. Sellin

is at present excavating at Taanach (Ta'annak) and will

shortly start work at Dothan. Good work on remains of later

historical periods is also being carried on under the

auspices of the Deutsch-Orient Gesellschaft at Ba'albek and

in Galilee. It would be tempting to include here a summary

of the very interesting results that have recently been

achieved in this fruitful field of archaeological research,

for it is true that these excavations may strictly be said

to bear on the history of a portion of Western Asia. But the

problems which they raise would more naturally be discussed

in a work dealing with recent excavation and research in

relation to the Bible, and to have summarized them

adequately would have increased the size of the present

volume considerably beyond its natural limits. They have

therefore not been included within the scope of the present



Meanwhile, we will return to the diggings described at the beginning

of this chapter, as affording new information concerning the earliest

periods of Chaldaean history.

A most interesting inscription has recently been discovered by Capt.

Cros at Telloh, which throws considerable light on the rivalry which

existed between the cities of Shirpurla and Gishkhu, and at the same

time furnishes valuable material for settling the chronology of the

earliest rulers whose inscriptions have been found at Mppur and their

relations to contemporary rulers in Shirpurla.


The cities of Gishkhu and Shirpurla were probably situated not far from

one another, and their rivalry is typical of the history of the early

city-states of Babylonia. The site of the latter city, as has already

been said, is marked by the mounds of Telloh on the east bank of the

Shatt el-Hai, the natural stream joining the Tigris and Euphrates, which

has been improved and canalized by the dwellers in Southern Babylonia

from the earliest period.


The site of Gishkhu may be set with considerable probability not far to

the north of Telloh on the opposite bank of the Shatt el-Hai. These

two cities, situated so close to one another, exercised considerable

political influence, and though less is known of Gishkhu than of

the more famous Babylonian cities such as Ur, Brech, and Larsam, her

proximity to Shirpurla gave her an importance which she might not

otherwise have possessed. The earliest knowledge we possess of the

relations existing between Gishkhu and Shirpurla refers to the reign of

Mesilim, King of Kish, the period of whose rule may be provisionally set

before that of Sargon of Agade, i.e, about 4000 B.C.

At this period there was rivalry between the two cities, in consequence

of which Mesilim, King of Kish, was called in as arbitrator. A record of

the treaty of delimitation that was drawn up on this occasion has been

preserved upon the recently discovered cone of Entemena. This document

tells us that at the command of the god Enlil, described as "the king

of the countries," Ningirsu, the chief god of Shirpurla, and the god of

Gishkhu decided to draw up a line of division between their respective

territories, and that Mesilim, King of Kish, acting under the direction

of his own god Kadi, marked out the frontier and set up a stele between

the two territories to commemorate the fixing of the boundary.

This policy of fixing the boundary by arbitration seems to have been

successful, and to have secured peace between Shirpurla and Gishkhu

for some generations. But after a period which cannot be accurately

determined a certain patesi of Gishkhu, named Ush, was filled with

ambition to extend his territory at the expense of Shirpurla. He

therefore removed the stele which Mesilim had set up, and, invading the

plain of Shirpurla, succeeded in conquering and holding a district named

Gu-edin. But Ush's successful raid was not of any permanent benefit to

his city, for he was in his turn defeated by the forces of Shirpurla,

and his successor upon the throne, a patesi named Enakalli, abandoned a

policy of aggression, and concluded with Eannadu, patesi of Shirpurla, a

solemn treaty concerning the boundary between their realms, the text of

which has been preserved to us upon the famous Stele of Vultures in the


* A fragment of this stele is also preserved in the British

Museum. It is published in Cuneiform Texts in the British

Museum, Pt. vii.

According to this treaty Gu-edin was restored to Shirpurla, and a deep

ditch was dug between the two territories which should permanently

indicate the line of demarcation. The stele of Mesilim was restored to

its place, and a second stele was inscribed and set up as a memorial

of the new treaty. Enakalli did not negotiate the treaty on equal terms

with Eannadu, for he only secured its ratification by consenting to pay

heavy tribute in grain for the supply of the great temples of Nin-girsu

and Nina in Shirpurla. It would appear that under Eannadu the power

and influence of Shirpurla were extended over the whole of Southern

Babylonia, and reached even to the borders of Elam. At any rate, it is

clear that during his lifetime the city of Gishkhu was content to remain

in a state of subjection to its more powerful neighbour. But it was

always ready to seize any opportunity of asserting itself and of

attempting to regain its independence.

The characters of the inscription well illustrate the

pictorial origin of the Sumerian system of writing.

Photograph by Messrs. Mansell & Co.

Accordingly, after Eannadu's death the men of Gishkhu again took the

offensive. At this time Urlumma, the son and successor of Enakalli, was

on the throne of Gishkhu, and he organized the forces of the city

and led them out to battle. His first act was to destroy the frontier

ditches named after Ningirsu and Nina, the principal god and goddess of

Shirpurla, which Eannadu, the powerful foe of Gishkhu, had caused to be

dug. He then tore down the stele on which the terms of Eannadu's treaty

had been engraved and broke it into pieces by casting it into the fire,

and the shrines which Eannadu had built near the frontier, and had

consecrated to the gods of Shirpurla, he razed to the ground. But

again Shirpurla in the end proved too strong for Gishkhu. The ruler

in Shirpurla at this time was Enannadu, who had succeeded his brother

Eannadu upon the throne. He marched out to meet the invading forces

of the men of Gishkhu, and a battle was fought in the territory of

Shirpurla. According to one account, the forces of Shirpurla were

victorious, while on the cone of Ente-mena no mention is made of

the issue of the combat. The result may not have been decisive, but

Enannadu's action at least checked Urlumma's encroachments for the time.

It would appear that the death of the reigning patesi in Shirpurla was

always the signal for an attack upon that city by the men of Gishkhu.

They may have hoped that the new ruler would prove a less successful

leader than the last, or that the accession of a new monarch might give

rise to internal dissensions in the city which would weaken Shirpurla's

power of resisting a sudden attack. As Eannadu's death had encouraged

Urlumma to lead out the men of Gishkhu, so the death of Enannadu seemed

to him a good opportunity to make another bid for victory. But this time

the result of the battle was not indecisive. Entemena had succeeded his

father Enannadu, and he led out to victory the forces of Shir-purla. The

battle was fought near the canal Lumma-girnun-ta, and when the men of

Gishkhu were put to flight they left sixty of their fellows lying dead

upon the banks of the canal. Entemena tells us that the bones of these

warriors were left to bleach in the open plain, but he seems to have

buried those of the men of Gishkhu who fell in the pursuit, for he

records that in five separate places he piled up burial-mounds in which

the bodies of the slain were interred. Entemena was not content with

merely inflicting a defeat upon the army of Gishkhu and driving it back

within its own borders, for he followed up his initial advantage and

captured the capital itself. He deposed and imprisoned Urlumma, and

chose one of his own adherents to rule as patesi of Gishkhu in his

stead. The man he appointed for this high office was named Hi, and he

had up to that time been priest in Ninab. Entemena summoned him to his

presence, and, after marching in a triumphal procession from Girsu

in the neighbourhood of Shirpurla to the conquered city, proceeded to

invest him with the office of patesi of Gishkhu.

Entemena also repaired the frontier ditches named after Ningirsu and

Nina, which had been employed for purposes of irrigation as well as for

marking the frontier; and he gave instructions to Hi to employ the men

dwelling in the district of Karkar on this work, as a punishment for

the active part they had taken in the recent raid into the territory of

Shirpurla. Entemena also restored and extended the system of canals

in the region between the Tigris and the Euphrates, lining one of the

principal channels with stone.

Socket Bearing An Inscription Of Entemena, A Powerful

Patesi, Or Viceroy, Of Shirpurla. In the photograph the

gate-socket is resting on its side so as to show the

inscription, but when in use it was set flat upon the ground

and partly buried below the level of the pavement of the

building in which it was used. It was fixed at the side of a

gateway and the pivot of the heavy gate revolved in the

shallow hole or depression in its centre. As stone is not

found in the alluvial soil of Babylonia, the blocks for

gate-sockets had to be brought from great distances and they

were consequently highly prized. The kings and patesis who

used them in their buildings generally had their names and

titles engraved upon them, and they thus form a valuable

class of inscriptions for the study of the early history.

Photograph by Messrs. Man-sell & Co.

He thus added greatly to the wealth of Shirpurla by increasing the area

of territory under cultivation, and he continued to exercise authority

in Gishkhu by means of officers appointed by himself. A record of his

victory over Gishkhu was inscribed by Entemena upon a number of clay

cones, that the fame of it might be preserved in future days to the

honour of Ningirsu and the goddess Nina. He ends this record with a

prayer for the preservation of the frontier. If ever in time to come the

men of Gishkhu should break out across the frontier-ditch of Ningirsu,

or the frontier-ditch of Nina, in order to seize or lay waste the lands

of Shirpurla, whether they be men of the city of Gishkhu itself or men

of the mountains, he prays that Enlil may destroy them and that Ningirsu

may lay his curse upon them; and if ever the warriors of his own city

should be called upon to defend it, he prays that they may be full of

courage and ardour for their task.

The greater part of this information with regard to the struggles

between Gishkhu and Shirpurla, between the period of Mesilim, King of

Kish, and that of Entemena, is supplied by the inscription of the latter

ruler which has been found written around a small cone of clay. There is

little doubt that the text was also engraved by the orders of Entemena

upon a stone stele which was set up, like those of Mesilim and Eannadu,

upon the frontier. Other copies of the inscription were probably

engraved and erected in the cities of Gishkhu and Shirpurla, and to

ensure the preservation of the record Entemena probably had numerous

copies of it made upon small cones of clay which were preserved and

possibly buried in the structure of the temples of Shirpurla. Entemena's

foresight in this matter has been justified by results, for, while his

great memorials of stone have perished, the preservation of one of his

small cones has sufficed to make known to later ages his own and his

forefathers' prowess in their continual contests with their ancient rival


After the reign of Entemena we have little information with regard to

the relations between Gishkhu and Shirpurla, though it is probable that

the effects of his decisive victory continued to exercise a moderating

influence on Gishkhu's desire for expansion and secured a period

of peaceful development for Shirpurla without the continual fear of

encroachments on the part of her turbulent neighbour. We may assume that

this period of tranquillity continued during the reigns of Enannadu II,

Enlitarzi, and Lugal-anda, but, when in the reign of Urukagina the men

of Gishkhu once more emerge from their temporary obscurity, they appear

as the authors of deeds of rapine and bloodshed committed on a scale

that was rare even in that primitive age.

In the earlier stages of their rivalry Gishkhu had always been defeated,

or at any rate checked, in her actual conflicts with Shirpurla. When

taking the aggressive the men of Gishkhu seem generally to have confined

themselves to the seizure of territory, such as the district of Gu-edin,

which was situated on the western bank of the Shaft el-Hai and divided

from their own lands only by the frontier-ditch. If they ever actually

crossed the Shaft el-Hai and raided the lands on its eastern bank, they

never ventured to attack the city of Shirpurla itself. And, although

their raids were attended with some success in their initial stages, the

ruling patesis of Shirpurla were always strong enough to check them; and

on most occasions they carried the war into the territory of Gishkhu,

with the result that they readjusted the boundary on their own terms.

But it would appear that all these primitive Chalaean cities were subject

to alternate periods of expansion and defeat, and Shirpurla was not an

exception to the rule. It was probably not due so much to Urukagina's

personal qualities or defects as a leader that Shirpurla suffered

the greatest reverse in her history during his reign, but rather to

Gishkhu's gradual increase in power at a time when Shirpurla herself

remained inactive, possibly lulled into a false sense of security by the

memory of her victories in the past. Whatever may have been the cause of

Gishkhu's final triumph, it is certain that it took place in Urukagina's

reign, and that for many years afterwards the hegemony of Southern

Babylonia remained in her hands, while Shirpurla for a long period

passed completely out of existence as an independent or semi-independent


The evidence of the catastrophe that befell Shirpurla at this period is

furnished by a small clay tablet recently found at Telloh during Captain

Cros's excavations on that site. The document on which the facts in

question are recorded had no official character, and in all probability

it had not been stored in any library or record chamber. The actual spot

at Telloh where it was found was to the north of the mound in which

the most ancient buildings have been recovered, and at the depth of two

metres below the surface. No other tablets appear to have been found

near it, but that fact in itself would not be sufficient evidence on

which to base any theory as to its not having originally formed part of

the archives of the city. Its unofficial character is attested by the

form of the tablet and the manner in which the information upon it is

arranged. In shape there is little to distinguish the document from the

tablets of accounts inscribed in the reign of Urukagina, great numbers

of which have been found recently at Telloh. Roughly square in shape,

its edges are slightly convex, and the text is inscribed in a series of

narrow columns upon both the obverse and the reverse. The text itself

is not a carefully arranged composition, such as are the votive and

historical inscriptions of early Sumerian rulers. It consists of a

series of short sentences enumerating briefly and without detail the

separate deeds of violence and sacrilege performed by the men of Gishkhu

after their capture of the city. It is little more than a catalogue or

list of the shrines and temples destroyed during the sack of the city,

or defiled by the blood of the men of Shirpurla who were slain therein.

No mention is made in the list of the palace of the Urukagina, or of any

secular building, or of the dwellings of the citizens themselves. There

is little doubt that these also were despoiled and destroyed by the

victorious enemy, but the writer of the tablet is not concerned for the

moment with the fate of his city or his fellow citizens. He appears to

be overcome with the thought of the deeds of sacrilege committed against

his gods; his mind is entirely taken up with the magnitude of the

insult offered to the god Ningirsu, the city-god of Shirpurla. His bare

enumeration of the deeds of sacrilege and violence loses little by its

brevity, and, when he has ended the list of his accusations against the

men of Gishkhu, he curses the goddess to whose influence he attributes

their success.

No composition at all like this document has yet been recovered, and as

it is not very long we may here give a translation of the text. It will

be seen that the writer plunges at once into the subject of his

charges against the men of Gishkhu. No historical resume prefaces

his accusations, and he gives no hint of the circumstances that have

rendered their delivery possible. The temples of his city have been

profaned and destroyed, and his indignation finds vent in a mere

enumeration of their titles. To his mind the facts need no comment,

for to him it is barely conceivable that such sacred places of ancient

worship should have been defiled. He launches his indictment against

Gishkhu in the following terms: "The men of Gishkhu have set fire to the

temple of E-ki [... ], they have set fire to Antashura, and they have

carried away the silver and the precious stones therefrom! They have

shed blood in the palace of Tirash, they have shed blood in Abzubanda,

they have shed blood in the shrine of Enlil and in the shrine of the

Sun-god, they have shed blood in Akhush, and they have carried away the

silver and the precious stones therefrom! They have shed blood in the

Gikana of the sacred grove of the goddess Ninmakh, and they have carried

away the silver and the precious stones therefrom! They have shed blood

in Baga, and they have carried away the silver and the precious stones

therefrom! They have shed blood in Abzu-ega, they have set fire to

the temple of Gatumdug, and they have carried away the silver and the

precious stones therefrom, and have destroyed her statue! They have set

fire to the.... of the temple E-anna of the goddess Ninni, and they

have carried away the silver and the precious stones therefrom, and have

destroyed her statue! They have shed blood in Shapada, and they have

carried away the silver and precious stones therefrom! They have....

in Khenda, they have shed blood in the temple of Nindar in the town

of Kiab, and they have carried away the silver and the precious stones

therefrom! They have set fire to the temple of Dumuzi-abzu in the town

of Kinunir, and they have carried away the silver and the precious

stones therefrom! They have set fire to the temple of Lugaluru, and they

have carried away the silver and the precious stones therefrom! They

have shed blood in E-engura, the temple of the goddess Nina, and they

have carried away the silver and the precious stones therefrom! They

have shed blood in Sag..., the temple of Amageshtin, and the silver

and the precious stones of Amageshtin have they carried away! They have

removed the grain from Ginarbaniru, the field of the god Ningirsu,

so much of it as was under cultivation! The men of Gishkhu, by the

despoiling of Shirpurla, have committed a transgression against the god

Ningirsu! The power that is come unto them, from them shall be taken

away! Of transgression on the part of Urukagina, King of Girsu, there

is none. As for Lugalzaggisi, patesi of Gishkhu, may his goddess Ni-daba

bear on her head (the weight of) this transgression!"

Such is the account, which has come down to us from the rough tablet of

some unknown scribe, of the greatest misfortune experienced by Shirpurla

during the long course of her history. Many of the great temples

mentioned in the text as among those which were burnt down and despoiled

of their treasures are referred to more than once in the votive and

historical inscriptions of earlier rulers of Shirpurla, who occupied the

throne before the ill-fated Urukagina. The names of some of them, too,

are to be found in the texts of the later pate-sis of that city, so

that it may be concluded that in course of time they were rebuilt and

restored to their former splendour. But there is no doubt that the

despoiling and partial destruction of Shirpurla in the reign of

Urukagina had a lasting effect upon the fortunes of that city, and

effectively curtailed her influence among the greater cities of Southern


We may now turn our attention to the leader of the men of Gishkhu, under

whose direction they achieved their final triumph over their ancient,

and for long years more powerful, rival Shirpurla. The writer of our

tablet mentions his name in the closing words of his text when he curses

him and his goddess for the destruction and sacrilege that they have

wrought. "As for Lugalzaggisi," he says, "patesi of Gishkhu, may his

goddess Nidaba bear on her head (the weight of ) this transgression!"

Now the name of Lugalzaggisi has been found upon a number of fragments

of vases made of white calcite stalagmite which were discovered by Mr.

Haynes during his excavations at Nippur. All the vases were engraved

with the same inscription, so that it was possible by piecing the

fragments of text together to obtain a more or less complete copy of

the records which were originally engraved upon each of them. From

these records we learned for the first time, not only the name of

Lugalzaggisi, but the fact that he founded a powerful coalition of

cities in Babylonia at what was obviously a very early period in the

history of the country. In the text he describes himself as "King of

Erech, king of the world, the priest of Ana, the hero of Nidaba, the

son of Ukush, patesi of Gishkhu, the hero of Nidaba, the man who was

favourably regarded by the sure eye of the King of the Lands (i.e.

the god Enlil), the great patesi of Enlil, unto whom understanding was

granted by Enki, the chosen of the Sun-god, the exalted minister of

Enzu, endowed with strength by the Sun-god, the worshipper of Ninni, the

son who was conceived by Nidaba, who was nourished by Ninkharsag with

the milk of life, the attendant of Umu, priestess of Erech, the servant

who was trained by Ninagidkhadu, the mistress of Erech, the great

minister of the gods." Lugalzaggisi then goes on to describe the extent

of his dominion, and he says: "When the god Enlil, the lord of the

countries, bestowed upon Lugalzaggisi the kingdom of the world, and

granted unto him success in the sight of the world, when he filled the

lands with his power, and conquered them from the rising of the sun unto

the setting of the same, at that time he made straight his path from the

Lower Sea of the Tigris and Euphrates unto the Upper Sea, and he granted

him dominion over all from the rising of the sun unto the setting of the

same, so that he caused the lands to dwell in peace."

Now when first the text of this inscription was published there existed

only vague indications of the date to be assigned to Lugalzaggisi and

the kingdom that he founded. It was clear from the titles which he bore,

that, though Gishkhu was his native place, he had extended his authority

far beyond that city and had chosen Erech as his capital. Moreover,

he claimed an empire extending from "the Lower Sea of the Tigris and

Euphrates unto the Upper Sea." There is no doubt that the Lower Sea here

mentioned is the Persian Gulf, and it has been suggested that the Upper

Sea may be taken to be the Mediterranean, though it may possibly have

been Lake Van or Lake Urmi. But whichever of these views might be

adopted, it was clear that Lugalzaggisi was a great conqueror, and had

achieved the right to assume the high-sounding title of lugal halama,

"king of the world." In these circumstances it was of the first

importance for the study of primitive Chaldaean history and chronology

to ascertain approximately the period at which Lugalzaggisi reigned.

The evidence on which such a question could be provisionally settled was

of the vaguest and most uncertain character, but such as it was it

had to suffice, in the absence of more reliable data. In settling all

problems connected with early Chaldaean chronology, the starting-point

was, and in fact still is, the period of Sargon I, King of Agade,

inasmuch as the date of his reign is settled, according to the reckoning

of the scribes of Nabonidus, as about 3800 B.C. It is true that this

date has been called in question, and ingenious suggestions for amending

it have been made by some writers, while others have rejected it

altogether, holding that it merely represented a guess on the part of

the late Babylonians and could be safely ignored in the chronological

schemes which they brought forward. But nearly every fresh discovery

made in the last few years has tended to confirm some point in the

traditions current among the later Babylonians with regard to the

earlier history of their country. Consequently, reliance may be placed

with increased confidence on the truth of such traditions as a

whole, and we may continue to accept those statements which yet await

confirmation from documents more nearly contemporary with the early

period to which they refer. It is true that such a date as that assigned

by Nabonidus to Sargon is not to be regarded as absolutely fixed, for

Nabonidus is obviously speaking in round numbers, and we may allow for

some minor inaccuracies in the calculations of his scribes. But it is

certain that the later Babylonian priests and scribes had a wealth of

historical material at their disposal which has not come down to us. We

may therefore accept the date given by Nabonidus for Sargon of Agade

and his son Naram-Sin as approximately accurate, and this is also the

opinion of the majority of writers on early Babylonian history.

The diggings at Nippur furnished indications that certain inscriptions

found on that site and written in a very archaic form of script were

to be assigned to a period earlier than that of Sargon. One class of

evidence was obtained from a careful study of the different levels at

which the inscriptions and the remains of buildings were found. At a

comparatively deep level in the mound inscriptions of Sargon himself

were recovered, along with bricks stamped with the name of Naram-Sin,

his son. It was, therefore, a reasonable conclusion roughly to date the

particular stratum in which these objects were found to the period of

the empire established by Sargon, with its centre at Agade. Later on

excavations were carried to a lower level, and remains of buildings

were discovered which appeared to belong to a still earlier period

of civilization. An altar was found standing in a small enclosure

surrounded by a kind of curb. Near by were two immense clay vases which

appeared to have been placed on a ramp or inclined plane leading up to

the altar, and remains were also found of a massive brick building in

which was an arch of brick. No inscriptions were actually found at this

level, but in the upper level assigned to Sargon were a number of texts

which might very probably be assigned to the pre-Sargonic period. None

of these were complete, and they had the appearance of having been

intentionally broken into small fragments. There was therefore something

to be said for the theory that they might have been inscribed by the

builders of the construction in the lowest levels of the mound, and that

they were destroyed and scattered by some conqueror who had laid their

city in ruins.

But all such evidence derived from noting the levels at which

inscriptions are found is in its nature extremely uncertain and liable

to many different interpretations, especially if the strata show signs

of having been disturbed. Where a pavement or building is still intact,

with the inscribed bricks of the builder remaining in their original

positions, conclusions may be confidently drawn with regard to the age

of the building and its relative antiquity to the strata above and below

it. But the strata in the lowest levels at Nippur, as we have seen, were

not in this condition, and such evidence as they furnished could only be

accepted if confirmed by independent data. Such confirmation was to be

found by examination of the early inscriptions themselves.

It has been remarked that most of them were broken into small pieces,

as though by some invader of the country; but this was not the case with

certain gate-sockets and great blocks of diorite which were too hard

and big to be easily broken. Moreover, any conqueror of a city would be

unlikely to spend time and labour in destroying materials which might

be usefully employed in the construction of other buildings which he

himself might erect. Stone could not be obtained in the alluvial plains

of Babylonia and had to be quarried in the mountains and brought great


Socket Bearing An Inscription of Uk-Engur, An Early King

of The City Of Ur. Photograph by Messrs. Mansell & Co.

From any building of his predecessors which he razed to the ground, an

invader would therefore remove the gate-sockets and blocks of stone for

his own use, supposing he contemplated building on the site. If he left

the city in ruins and returned to his own country, some subsequent king,

when clearing the ruined site for building operations, might come across

the stones, and he would not leave them buried, but would use them for

his own construction. And this is what actually did happen in the case

of some of the building materials of one of these early kings, from the

lower strata of Nippur. Certain of the blocks which bore the name of

Lugalkigubnidudu had been