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IN 1849-52, 





' Why dost thou build the hall, son of the winged days?— Thou lookest from thy tower to-day : yet a few 
years, and the blast of the desert comes ; it howls in thy empty court." — Ossian. 







OP KAES, BART., K.C.B., M.P., ETC., 

is i0lttm^ is Instrib^^, 






745 '.35 


The following pages are due to researches in that 
remote, and but partially explored region, which, 
from our childhood, we have been led to regard as 
the cradle of the human race. 

The matter they contain is the result of two 
visits to the countries in question : first, in con- 
nexion with the Turco-Persian Frontier Commis- 
sion in 1849-52, under the orders of Colonel, now 
Major-General Sir W. F. Williams, Bart., of Kars; 
and secondly, in conduct of the Expedition sent 
out by the Assyrian Excavation Fund, at the end 
of the year 1853. 

On returning to England in the middle of last 
year, I hoped that the Committee of the above 
Society would have published in extenso, and in 


anotlier form, tlie fruits of its investigations in 
Chaldaea and Assyria ; but, tliis plan having been 
abandoned, I am induced to embody the records 
of some portion of my journeys and researches in 
the following pages. 

Although this volume does not chronicle the 
discovery of sculptured palaces, such as the sister- 
land of Assyria has yielded, yet it comprises 
accounts of cities existing centuries before* the 
greatness of Nineveh rose to astonish the Eastern 
world, and of sites containing the funereal remains 
and relics of primaeval races. With the more 
important of those great necropolis-cities I hope 
to make the reader familiar. 

In my account of Warka, I have, for the sake of 
brevity, combined the results of my three visits ; 
and, since the modern Sheah custom of burial, to 
a certain extent, corresponds with that which pre- 
vailed at the great Chaldsean cemeteries, I have 
introduced, in the early part of the work, a de- 
scription of the celebrated Persian shrines and 
cemeteries at Meshed 'Ali and Kerbella. 

Although the ruins of Babylon have been 
repeatedly described, I have made a brief allusion 
to them, and mentioned the most recent discoveries 
made there, because a work on Chaldsea would be 


necessarily imperfect mtlioiit some reference to, 
or description of, its great capital. In doing this, 
I have touched upon some points which have not 
hitherto been noticed. 

The discoveries made at Shush, during the 
progress of the Frontier Commission, are equally 
interesting in a biblical, as in an historical sense, 
for they identify, beyond reach of cavil, the exact 
position of "Shushan the palace," where the events 
recorded in the book of Esther took place, and 
settle many difficult questions connected with the 
topography of Susa, and the geography of the 
Greek campaigns in Persia, under Alexander the 
Great and his successors. 

In the course of the work, I have had repeated 
occasion to refer to the labours, and quote the 
opinions of others ; in doing so, I trust that I have 
accorded to each his due share in Chaldsean 

Since there appears to be no golden rule for the 
orthography of Oriental names — at any rate, as 
each wTiter on Eastern subjects adopts his own 
method of spelling, I have chosen one which, 
while it approximates as nearly as possible to the 
native pronunciation, agrees likewise with the 
written orthography. In carrying this out, I am 


deeply indebted to Mr Redlioiise for his valuable 
corrections; and, altbougli many well-known names 
appear here in somewhat different guise from that 
which they usually wear, I conceive that it is 
better to risk the charge of pedantry than to per- 
petuate errorso I am, nevertheless, fully aware 
that there are several inaccuracies in this respect, 
because the late severe illness of Mr Redhouse 
prevented my asking his aid until some of the 
early sheets had passed through the press. These 
it is proposed to amend, if another edition of the 
work be required. If, however, the accented 
vowels be attended to, the reader will approach 
very nearly to the native pronunciation. The a 
is equivalent to the French a: the e to the French 
e; i corresponds to the sound of ee; u to that of 
00 ; and the guttural aspirate is represented in 
such words as ' Ali and Musad. 

It gives me great pleasure here to record my 
sincere obligations to others of my friends who 
have aided me with their advice and corrections 
wliile the work was in the press ; more especially to 
the Rev. Dr Hamilton, Mr J. F. Nicholson, Mr 
Radford, ^Ir Birch, Mr Vaux, and Mr Boutcher. 
To the last-named gentleman I am likewise in- 
debted for the careful copies on wood of his own 


original drawings, made on tlie spot for the 
Assyrian Excavation Society, and also of those 
(now in the British Museum) made by the friend 
and companion of my first journey, Mr H. A. 

I here likewise take the opportunity of acknow- 
ledging the aid and encouragement aiForded to me 
on the field of my researches. To General 
Williams I am in an especial manner indebted for 
the facilities which, as British Commissioner, he 
invariably granted to me in carrying out such 
plans as were advantageous to the success of my 
labours. During the more recent Expedition on 
behalf of the Assyrian Excavation Fund, my 
efforts were materially aided by the position 
assigned me by the Earl of Clarendon, as an 
Attach^ of our Embassy at Constantinople during 
the continuance of the Expedition, for which I 
return my grateful acknowledgments. My thanks 
are also due to his Excellency Lord Stratford de 
RedclifFe, the first patron of Assyrian research, 
who, amidst other and most onerous duties, applied 
to the Porte for, and obtained, new firmans for 
excavation. And, lastly, to Sir Henry Rawlinson 
I desire to express my obligations for the assist- 
ance rendered me in his then official capacity, as 


Consul-General at Baghdad, by liis influence with 
the Turkish authorities and native Arab chiefs. 

In conchision, I hope that the new facts and 
observations which I am enabled to lay before the 
reader will insure me some consideration for my 
literary inexperience. 

W. K. L. 

Norwood, December 1856. 



London to Baghdad — Turkish and Persian Troubles — Colonel 
Williams and the Frontier Commissioners — Constantinople 
— Mesopotamia — A Flowery Wilderness — The City of Ha- 
runu-'r-Reshid — Pestilence — Nedjib and Abdi Pashas . 1 

Baghdad to Babylon — ^The Khan — Canals and Ancient Fertility — 

Shapeless Mounds — ^Fulfilment of Prophecy . . .13 

Hillah — Tahir Bey and the Turkish Brass Band — The Oven 
Dance — Martial Escort — Bridge of Boats — Birs Nimrud — Its 
true Theory — Sir H. Rawlinson's Discoveries — The Seven- 
coloured Walls of the Temple of the Spheres — Chaldee 
Astronomy ......... 21 

View from Birs Nimrud — KefSl — Ezekiel's Tomb — Children of 
the Captivity ......... 33 


The Marshes of Babylon — Khuzeyl Arabs — The Euphrates, and its 
Canals — Semiramis — Nebuchadnezzar — Cyrus — Alexander — 
Shujah-ed-Dowla, and the Indian Canal .... 38 




Kufa— A Fiery Eide— Nedjef, and the Tomb of 'Ali— Tte 
Ghya\vr in the Golden Mosque — Fanaticism of the Sheahs — 
Far-travelled Coffins and Costly Interments — How the Prime- 
Minister got a Grave at a Great Bargain — Turkish Torpor and 
Cleanliness versus Persian Dirt and Vivacity , . . 47 


Kerbella — The Governor's Dejeuner — The "Martyr" Huss^yn, 
and his Mosque — Siege and Massacre — ^The " Campo Santo " 
at Kerbella — Oratory of 'Ali — Magnificent Sunrise — Eastern 
Ladies, Mounted and on Foot — The Ferry . . • , • 59 

Climate of Chaldsea — Christmas in Baghdad — Departure for the 
South — Mubarek's Misadventure — The Kyaya of Hiilah — 
Bashi-Bazuks 72 


From HiUah into the Desert — Sand-drifts — Bridge-building — The 
Surly Sheikh, and his Black Slave — Coffee-making — Rhubarb 
and Blue PiU— New Year 1850 80 

The Mighty Marsh — The Reed-Palace — Shooting-match — 
NifFar — Theory on the Chaldseans — Probable Ethiopic Origin 
— Niffar, the Primitive Calneh, and Probable Site of the 
Tower of Babel — Beni Rechab, the Rechabites of Scripture 91 

DfwSnfyya — Camp of Abdi Pasha — Mulla 'Ah, the Merry Ogre — 
Sheep-skin Rafts — Statue-hunting — Hammam — Solemn Gran- 
deur of Chaldfean Ruins — The Statue — Tel Ede — Alarm of 
the Arabs — First Impressions of Warka , . • .105 

Bedouins — MubSrek becomes useful — Ruins of Mugeyer — Cy- 
linders — Chedorlaomer ? — Bclshazzar — The Author and his 
Guides put to flight their Turkish Escort — Busrah — An-ival 
in Persia 126 




Plans and Preparations for Excavating in Warka — ^The Party — 
Arrival at Suk-esh-Sheioukh. — Fahad, Sheikh of the Mun- 
tefik — Reception Tent — Falcons — The Letter and Escort . 139 

Winter — Camel-foals — ^Tuweyba Tribe — Old Friends — Harassing 
Labours — Dissatisfaction — Budda, the Grave-digger and Gold- 
finder — Arab Kindness — Warka in 1854 — Difficulties — 
Scarcity of Food and Water — Patriarchal Life in Abraham's 
Country — Misery and Rapacity — Sand-storms , . .146 


" The Land of Shinar "—Warka, the Ancient " Erech "— " Ur of 
the Chaldees" — Scene of Desolation and Solitude — Enormous 
Extent of Ruins — The Buwariyya — Reed-mat Structiu:e . 159 

" Wuswas " Ruin — The Earliest Explorer — Rude Ornamentation 
— Columnar Architecture — Palm Logs the Probable Type — 
New Light on the External Architecture of the Babylonians 
and Assyrians — Interior of Wuswas — The Use of the Arch in 
Ancient Mesopotamia — Search for Sculptures — ^The Warrior 
in Basalt 171 


New Styles of Decorative Art — Cone-work — Pot-work — Arab 
Aversion to Steady Labour — Blood-Feud between the Tuweyba 
and El-Bej — The Encounter Frustrated — The Feud Healed — 
Diversions after the Work of the Day • , . . 187 

The absence of Tombs in the Mounds of Assyria — Their abundance 
in Chaldaea — W^arka a vast Cemetery — Clay Sarcophagi of 
various forms — Top-shaped Vase, or " Babylonian Urn" — 
Oval Dish-cover Shape — Slipper-shape — Difficulties of Re- 
moval — Excitement of the Arabs — Gold Ornaments — Coins — 
Vases — Terra-Cotta Penates — Light-fingered Arabs — The Or- 
deal — Endurance of Pain — Earliest Relics . . . .198 



Bank-notes of Babylon — Relics Injured by Fire — A Fruitful 
Mound — Chamber containing Architectural Ornaments — 
Origin of the Saracenic Style — Clay Tablets with Seal Im- 
pressions and Greek Names — Continuance of Cuneiform until 
B.C. 200 — Himyaric Tomb-stone — Conical Mounds — Style for 
Writing Cuneiform — The Shat-el-Nil — General Results of the 
Excavations at Warka — Probable Relics still Buried there . 221 

Siukara — Decamping — Ride in a Sand-drift — The Negro Lion- 
slayer — A Nocturnal Visiter — Dull uniformity of Sinkara — 
The Temple of Pharra — The Dream and its Fulfilment — 
Nebuchadnezzar and Nebonit rebuilders of Temples — ^Another 
great Necropolis — Tablets and their Envelopes of Clay — 
Babylonian Arithmetic — Pictorial Records — Boxers in the 
Land of Shinar — The Dog-devourer ..... 240 

Treasiu-es found at Tel Sifr — Juvenile Footpads — Medina — Ytisuf 
and his Excavations at Tel Sifr — Large Collection of Curio- 
sities in Copper — Private Records, B.C. 1500 — Female Ex- 
cavators — The Works in Chaldsea abruptly interrupted-r- 
Leave-taking — Grateful Labourers — Embarkation on the 
Euphrates — River-craft and Amphibious Arabs — " The 
Mother of Mosquitoes" 263 

Mohammerah — Intense Heat — Sickness — Legion of Blood-suckers 
— Colony of Alexander the Great — Charax — The Delta of the 
Tigris and Eui)hrates — Disputes between the Turks and Per- 
sians — The Chab Aiabs and their Territories . . .279 

Setting out for Susa — The Sulky Ferryman — Coffee-cups and In- 
fidels — Ahwiiz — A False Alarm — Shilster-— Dilajiidation and 
Dirt — ShSpiir and the Ca[)tive Emperor Valerian — Their 
Grand Hydraulic Works — Festivities at Shuster — Tea — The 
Forl)idden Beverage — Climate of Shuster — Failure in Diplo- 
macy 287 




Departure from Shuster — Change of Scenery and Animal Life — 
Huge Lizards — Botany — Geology of the Persian Steppes — 
Shah-abttd — Dizful — Subterranean Conduits — Costume of the 
People— The 'All Kethir Guide— The Bridge of the Biz— 
Encampment at Shush — A Conflagration . . . ,306 


The Tomb of the Prophet Daniel — Arabic Traditions regarding 
him — Benjamin of Tudela's Account — Present State of the 
Sepulchre — Spies and Persian Fanaticism — Charge of Sacri- 
lege — Ferment in Dizful and the Neighbourhood — The 'Ali 
Kethir Arabs — An accident befals the Author — Compelled to 
abandon the Mounds of Shush — Battle between the 'Ali Kethir 
and Beni Lam — Suleyman Khan the Christian Governor of a 
Mohammedan Province — Arrival of Colonel Williams . .317 

Early History of SusA — From the days of Cyrus, Susa the Win-, 
ter-residence of the Persian Kings — Ahasuerus identical with 
Xerxes — Lumense wealth found by Alexander — Power of 
Susa decUnes — Its Ruins at the present day — Abundance of 
WUd Beasts — Imposiag aspect of Susa in early times , . 335 


Excavations commenced by Colonel Williams — A Burglar — Con- 
viction and Punishment — Gigantic Bell-shaped Bases of 
Columns discovered — A Year's Interruption — Proposed Re- 
sumption in 1852 — Journey under the Protection of the Beni 
Lam — The Segwend Lurs — Hiring of Native "Navvies" — 
Opposition of the Priesthood — The Cholera ascribed to the 
late researches — The New Viceroy, Khfinler JVIirza . . 349 

The Great Palace of Darius at Susa — Columns with Double-bvdl 
Capitals — Trilingual Inscriptions of Artaxerxes Mnemon — 
" Court of the Garden" of Esther — Columnar and Curtain 
Architecture — Origin of the Susian and Persej)olitan Style — 
Worship of Tanaitis or Venus » 364 




Hostility and Reconciliation — An Arrival — Tlie Lur Workmen — 
Insurrection of Seyids — Administration of Justice — ^Novel 
Method of Smoking — Colonel Williams' Horses Stolen — An 
Arab attack Repelled — The Haughty Hmnbled — Besieged by 
a H^em 381 

A Long Trench — Enamelled Bricks — Masons' Marks — A Hoard 
of CoLas — ^Was Susa destroyed by Alexander? — Greek In- 
scriptions — Pythagoras and the Persian Daric — Unexpected 
Visit from the Guardian of the Tomb — Inscriptions and other 
Early Relics on the Great Mound — ^Alabaster Vases of Xerxes 
— Egyptian Cartouch — Mr Birch's Remarks thereon — Sculp- 
tured Trough 396 


The " Black Stone" — Its Discovery and Adventures — Its Con- 
nexion with the Welfare of Khuzistan — The Plot for its Re- 
moval Defeated — Investigations among the Rivers of Susa — 
Identification of the " Ulai," or Eulseus — Bifurcation of 
Modern Rivers — Sheikh AbduUa Forgiven — Friendly Parting 
between the Arabs and the Frank 416 

Chronologicax Table 435 



London to Baghdad— Turkish and Persian Troubles — Colonel Williams 
and the Frontier Commissioners — Constantinople — Mesopotamia — 
A Flowery WUdcrness — Tlie City of Harunu-'r-Eeshid — Pestilence 
— Nedjib and Abdi Pashas. 

For many centuries the extensive frontier between Turkey 
and Persia lias been in an unsettled state, continually 
changing its limits as the strength or influence of 
either Government for the time prevailed. The afiablo 
Persian naturally regards the haughty Osmanli in the 
light of an intruder upon those rich plains which owned 
obedience to the might of the Kayanians and Sassanians 
in the days of Darab and Shapiar, Eeligious difference, 
moreover, adds to the political animosity of the two great 
Mohammedan powers. The phlegmatic Turk quietly 
smokes his chibiik, swears by the beard of Omar, and 
thanks the omnipotent Allah for all the blessings he 
enjoys ; on the other hand, the ardent follower of the 
martyred 'AH curses the orthodox believer, and takes 
every opportunity to insult his patron saints. It may be 
easily conceived that such political and religious disagree- 
ments are frequently productive of a state of anarchy and 
bloodshed, when the subjects of the two nations come into 



close contact. To add to tlie difficulties attending any- 
proposed reconciliation, the frontier is inhabited by various 
predatory races, who regard both Turk and Persian with 
equal hatred, and who are only too happy to exercise their 
plundering propensities by incursions into either territory. 
The internal divisions and jealousies which exist among 
these warlike tribes fortunately prevent them from com- 
bining, as in the days of the Parthians, and proving 
formidable competitors for the possession of Oriental 

In 1839-40, the outbreak of serious hostilities between 
the Turkish and Persian Governments, arising from the 
causes above mentioned, was imminent, and likely, in 
the course of time, to endanger the tranquillity of the 
whole world. The Cabinets of England and Russia, in- 
fluenced doubtless by the proximity of their own fron- 
tiers in India and Georgia to the regions in question, and 
therefore interested in the maintenance of peace, offered 
their friendly mediation for the purpose of restraining 
the bellio-erent attitude of their Mohammedan neio;hbours. 
The proposal was accepted, and commissioners from the 
four powers assembled at Erzeriim, who, after sitting four 
years, eventually concluded a treaty, one article of which 
determined that representatives should be sent to survey 
and define a precise line of boundary which might not 
admit of future dispute. A joint commission was conse- 
quently aj^pointed to carry out tins article. The P)ritish 
Government selected Colonel Williams, R.A.,'"' to this ser- 
vice, his previous experience during the protracted con- 
ferences at Erzeriim having eminently qualified him for 
the task now assigned him. Colonel Tcherikoff, the 
Russian commissioner, although not a party to the treaty, 

• Throughout this vohunc, "the Hero of Kars" is alhuled to uutler 
the nuik ho held at the time as Commissioner for the delimitatiou of the 


was equally well chosen to represent the Czar. With 
these officers were associated Dervish Pasha, and Mirza 
Jafer Khan, the commissioners for Turkey and Persia 
respectively. Both had been educated in Europe. The 
former enjoyed the reputation of being the most learned 
savant among his countrymen, an excellent linguist and 
chemist. The latter soon endeared himself to the mem- 
bers of the various parties by his obliging manners and 
many acts of kindness and attention. 

In January 1849, I was attached by Lord Palmerston 
as geologist to the staff of Colonel Williams, and directed 
to lose no time in joining my chief. On reaching Constan- 
tinople, and presenting myself, according to instructions, 
to Lord Stratford de Redcliffe (then Sir Stratford Canning), 
I learned that Colonel Williams and his party had set out 
from thence on Christmas-day, and that letters had been 
received, dated Siwas, giving a deplorable account of the 
state of the weather and roads. The snow had fallen to 
such an unprecedented depth, that the greatest difficulty 
beset their journey, and at several places it was found 
necessary, after many days' detention, to cut roads for the 
passage of the mules. . Under these circumstances, the 
ambassador detained me at Constantinople for a few 
Aveeks, in the hope that the return of spring would open 
the communications with the interior, and admit of my 
travelling with more rapidity. 

On the 7th of March I left the shores of the Bosphorus. 
After the usual disagreeable voyage in a Black Sea 
steamer, and a cold protracted ride across the Taurus, 
upon which the snow still lay uncomfortably deep, I at 
length reached Diarbekir, whence, proceeding down the 
swollen Tigris on a "kelek," or raft of skins, I arrived 
at Mosul on the 5th April, and there joined the British 

It is no part of my intention to detain my readers 


with any description of " Nineveh, that great city." This 
has been already done by another and more able pen than 
mine. Let it suffice to state, that we beheld those asto- 
nishing " heaps built by men's hands," and admired the 
perseverance and determination of our countryman, 
Layard, who, from these shapeless mounds, exhumed the 
wondrous series of Assyrian sculptures which now forms 
sucli an important feature in our national collection of 
antiquities. We visited the four great mounds of Koy- 
unjuk, Khorsabad, Karamles, and Nimrud, ma^rking the 
angles of the parallelogTam which is supposed to aiclose 
Nineveh. The time spent in our visit consumed exactly 
three days, and it is probably to a similar circuit .of its 
extent that the passage refers — " Now Nineveh was an 
exceeding great city of three days' journey." '"" 

Baghdad was appointed for the rendezvous of the com- 
missioners ; and, as the British party was in advance of 
the others, we floated down the Tigris on rafts, visiting 
at our leisure all those points of interest so admirably 
described by Rich in his " Narrative of a Residence in 
Koordistan," and subsequently by other travel! ers.t All 
being new to us, we fully enjoyed the opportunity, granted 
to so few. We rambled over the desolate mound of 
Kal'a Shergat, the ancient capital of Assyria ; we 
landed at Tekrit, celebrated as the birth-place of the 
romantic >Saladin, the Arab hero of the Crusades ; and we 
stood on the plain of Dura, recalling to mind the golden 
image erected by Nebuchadnezzar, and the unflinching 
faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. 

• Jonah iii. 3. This expression may, however, refer to the thinly in- 
habited district between the river Zab on the south, and the Khdbfir on 
the north, which, there is equal reason to believe, constituted the Nineveh 
of Jonah's mission. The journey between these two rivers occupies exactly 
three days. 

t Mr Layard gives a short description of the numerous ancient sites be- 
tween Mosul and Bdghddd in his " Nineveh and Babylon," p. 404, ct scq. 


It was midspring. Instead of the arid sands, which 
the word *' desert " implies to the uninitiated in Meso- 
potamian travel, broad plains of the richest verdure, 
enlivened \yii\i flowers of every hue, met our delighted 
gaze on either side of the noble river. Coleopterous 
insects swarmed upon the banks, cuUing the sweets of 
the fleeting vegetation. The cry of the velvet-breasted 
francolin, and the sand -grouse '" rushing overhead like an 
irresistible wind, enticed the most ardent of our party to 
land, and indulge the love of their favourite sport. The 
result was not unsuccessful, and little trouble was expe- 
rienced in providing for our commissariat. Now and 
then a herd of wild boars was discovered among the 
jungle, or observed crossing the river : it was seldom that 
they escaped unsaluted by a voUey of bullets, with more 
or less effect. A bend of the stream sometimes brought 
us suddenly upon a large Bedouin encampment, whence, 
on observing the raft, a score or so of swarthy Arab 
dames, with piercing black eyes and never-failing rows of 
the whitest teeth, launched forth on inflated sheep skins, 
and paddled out to meet the " keleks." They bore on 
their heads bowls of milk or delicious lebben,t which they 
disposed of in return for a few small coins. Although 
the general aspect of the country is monotonous, there 
is always something to amuse the traveller. Never did 
a merrier party than ours float do^\Ti the Tigris upon a 
fragile raft. 

As Baghdad is approached, the pendent branches of 
the graceful date-tree, and the refreshing green of the 
pomegranate, with its bright red flowers, become more 
and more frequent until, many miles above the city, the 
river flows through one continuous grove. At length 
the mosques and minarets appear ; the goal so long 

• The FrancoUmis vulgaris and Pterocles arenarius of naturalists. 
t Sour clotted milk — the usual Arab beverage. 



wislierl-for is witliin siglit at last. He must be wholly 
void of poetry and sentiment in whom the first glimpse 

BiJglid^d and the Tigris. 

of those shining domes does not excite at least some spark 
of emotion. Who is there that does not recall that city 
where the lively imagination of his youthful days was wont 
to revel amid palaces shining in splendour, groups of blind 
beggars, and the glories of the khalifat 1 Who is there 
that does not exclaim, " Is this the Baghdad of Harunu- 
'r-Eeshid and the '^Arabian Niolits ' 1 " Alas ! how fallen !. 
The blind beggars, it is true, still cluster in the bazaars, 
and are met at every corner of the streets — the misery 
and filth remain — but where are the palaces and the 
justice of the Prince of the Faithful 1 Few relics of its 
quondam magnificence survive to remind us of the past. 
A single minaret, a couple of gateways, the wall of a 
college, and the conical tomb of the beautiful Zobeid, 
are nearly all that exist of Baghdad as it was in the days 
of its gi-eatness. To the just khalif has succeeded a race 
of Tuikish pashas having no interest but their own 
aggrandizement — no thought but how they can most 


efFectiially cheat the revenue, enrich themselves, and pass 
their time in gross debauchery. Exaction and vice are the 
order of the day. Now and then honourable exceptions 
occiu' to this general rule, but these, alas ! are few and far 
between. But of this more anon. 

At the date of our arrival (May 5) the whole popula- 
tion of Baghdad was in a state of the utmost alarm and 
apprehension. In consequence of the rapid melting of 
the snows on the Kurdish mountains, and the enormous 
influx of water from the Euphrates through the Segiawiyya 
canal, the spring-rise of the Tigris had attained the unpre- 
cedented height of 22^ feet. This was about five feet 
above its ordinary level during the highest season, even 
exceeding the great rise in 1831, when the river broke 
down the walls and destroyed no less than 7000 dwellings 
during a single night, at a time when the plague was com- 
mitting the most fearful ravages among the inhabitants. 

Nedjib Pasha had, a few days previously to our 
arrival, summoned the population en masse to provide 
against the general danger by raising a strong high 
mound completely round the walls. Mats of reeds were 
placed outside to bind the earth compactly together. 
The water was thus restrained from devastating the inte- 
rior of the city — not so eflectually, however, but that it 
filtered throuoh the fine alluvial soil, and stood in the 
serdabs, or cellars, several feet in depth. It had reached 
within two feet of the top of the bank ! On the river 
side the houses alone, many of which were very old and 
frail, prevented the ingress of the flood. It was a critical 
juncture. Men were stationed night and day to watch 
the barriers. If the dam or any of the foundations had 
failed, Baghdad must have been bodily washed away. 
Fortunately the pressure was withstood, and the inunda- 
tion gradually subsided. The country on all sides for 
miles was under water, so that there was no possibility 


of proceeding beyond the dyke, except in the boats which 
were established as ferries to keep up communication 
across the inundation. The city was for the time an 
island in a vast inland sea, and it was a full month 
before the inhabitants could ride beyond the walls. 

As the summer advanced, the malaria arising from the 
evaporation of the stagnant water, produced such an 
amount of fever that 12,000 died from a population of 
about 70,000. The mortality at one time in the city 
reached 120 per day — and no wonder, when a person 
on being first attacked was made to swalloAAT a large 
quantity of the juice of unripe grapes ! The streets 
presented a shocking spectacle of misery and suffering. 
The sick lay in every direction — at the doors of houses, 
in the bazaars, and open spaces ; while those recently 
smitten or just recovering were to be seen staggering 
along by the wall sides or supported with sticks. The 
gates of the city were beset with biers — some carried on 
men's shoulders to the adjacent cemeteries, others on the 
backs of mules to the sacred shrines of Meshed 'AH and 

Although our quarters were fixed in a small summer- 
house and garden at Gherara, an hour's distance from the 
city, the party was not exempt from the prevailing epide- 
mic. All in turn suffered from fever, and at times there 
was scarcely a servant, out of our large suite, able to 
attend upon the sick. 

In consequence of the delay arising from the Turkish 
commissioner's non-arrival at the appointed time, and 
from certain intricate questions which required a reference 
to the home Governments, the idea was abandoned of pro- 
ceeding to the frontier until the summer shoidd be past. 
In fact, it would have been impossible at that season to bear 
the fearful heat at the head of the Persian Gulf. Even 
at Baghdad, during the day, in summer, the thermometer 


in the shade often rises to 117^ Fahr. ; and frequently, 
when the wind blows from the south, the oppression on 
the senses is so great as to be almost unendurable.""'' The 
atmosphere is, however, dry, consequently the lassitude 
produced is not to be compared with that experienced 
in a moist climate, hke that on the sea-coast of India, or 
of the Gulf. The heat of the day is relieved in some 
measure by the agreeable temperature of the night. 

Our time was spent in making preparations for the ap- 
proaching campaign, purchasing horses and mules, hiring 
servants, and obtaining information likely to be useful 
in the course of our future wanderings. Much of our 
leisure was passed in the agreeable society of the English 
residents at Baghdad ; and our sojourn there must ever 
be a subject of pleasing reminiscence to the members of 
the commission. Nothing could exceed the attention and 
hospitality lavished upon us by the consul-general, Colonel 
(now Sir Henry) Rawlinson, Captain Felix Jones, and that 
small party of Enghshmen whose lot it was to make the 
city of the khalifs their temporary home. 

Baghdad has been so frequently described, that it forms 
no part of my intention to dwell upon it. Other and less- 
visited spots invite our notice. 

The state of the pashalic was anything but satisfactory 
at this period. The cruel exactions and oppressive con- 
duct of Nedjib Pasha, who had for many years farmed 
the revenues, were at length producing their inevitable 
fruits. Revolt and disaffection reigned everywhere 
among his subjects. The Beni Lam Arabs, along the 
lower course of the Tigris, broke out into open rebellion, 
in consequence of the pasha having placed that tribe 
under their sworn foes, the Montefik, and thrown into 

* "We now had positive evidence of the statement made to us in the 
mountains concerning Biighddd, that birds were so distressed by the heat, 
as to sit on the date-trees with their mouths open, panting for fresh air ! 


prison the two sons of their sheikli, Metlikilr — his hos- 
tages at Baghdad — because he was several years in arrear 
of his customary tribute. Tliey seized all native vessels 
laden with merchandise passiug up and down the Tigris. 
All conmnmication was interrupted between Baghdad 
and Busrah. Caravans were detained, and the hair of 
the camels shorn, it being the proper season for this pro- 
cess. But the Arabs, at least, had some sense of justice — 
the cargoes of the boats and the camels' hair were care- 
fully laid aside, to be honourably restored to their owners 
as soon as matters might be satisfactorily arranged ; and 
British property was respected. 

The Khuzeyl Arabs, inhabiting the marsh lands on the 
west of the Euphrates, had torn down the dams which 
restrained the "great river" within its proper limits, 
and, by flooding their lands, placed themselves, for the 
time being, utterly beyond the power of the Turkish 

The wild Madan tribes, in lower Meso^^otamia, were on 
the point of following the example of their neighbours on 
either side. The Bedouin Arab, taking advantage of the 
general confusion, made formidable incursions into the 
pashalic, and plundered all parties indiscriminately, thus 
retaining his character as the descendant of Ishmael, and 
fulfilling the prediction, that " his hand will be against 
every man, and every man's hand against him."'"' The 
prospects of the Turks in their southern province were 
dark in the extreme. Strong representations were, how- 
ever, made to the Porte, and resulted in the dismissal 
of Nedjib Pasha, the instalment of the Seraskier Abdi 
Pasha in his room, and the abolition of the system of 
fanning the revenue by the substitution of a regular and 
liberal salary to the new governor. The change was hailed 
with delight throughout the whole province, and by slow 

* Gcucsis xvi. 12. 


degrees tranquillity was restored. Nedjib Pasha shortly 
afterwards took his departui'e for Constantinople, leaving, 
it was said, an enormous amount of private debts unpaid, 
but taking with him a large sum of money. It was by 
his orders that Sofiik, the celebrated Shammar Arab chief, 
was treacherously slain, while under safe-conduct ; and a 
host of other serious crimes could be established against 
him. Nevertheless, Nedjib Pasha was a politic governor ; 
his severities being frequently well-timed, insurrection 
was prevented in the bud. It was only by an unexpected 
chain of disorders, which he had not the power to queU, 
that he was driven from his long dominion. 

Acting in direct opposition to the orders of his superior, 
Abdi Pasha exhibited so much tact and good feeling dur- 
ing his mission with the troops into the Khuzeyl territories, 
that those refractory tribes were subdued without blood- 
shed, and returned to their allegiance. This circumstance 
had such weight with the Porte, that he was considered 
the fittest person to succeed Nedjib Pasha. He was, 
however, soon found wanting in those qualities which 
constitute a good governor. As a soldier, he had per- 
formed his part admirably ; but no sooner did he assume 
the civil power than his firmness forsook him, Eesigning 
himself to the luxury of his new position, he submitted 
to be guided by a favourite eunuch — a sort of buffoon 
whose gross gestures and language were unendurable by 
Europeans. The sagacious Arabs were not long in dis- 
covering that they might act almost as they pleased ; and 
they did not fail soon afterwards to take advantage of 
the circumstance. 

Such was the state of affairs at the end of summer in 
the pashalic of Baghdad, when, as soon as the intensity 
of the heat permitted, Colonel Williams determined to 
relieve the monotony and lassitude attendant on our long 
detention by carrying out a contemplated trip to the 


ruins of Babylon, and to the celebrated Persian shrines. 
Our arrangements being effected, and the day fixed for 
departure, we quitted our wearisome abode at Gherara, 
crossed the ferry over the Tigris by starlight, and at 
Khan-i-Za'ad were joined by the Russian and Turkish 
parties, who had expressed a desire to accompany us. 


Baghdad to Babylon— The Khan— Canals and Ancient Fertility— Shape- 
less ]\Iounds — Fulfilment of Prophecy. 

The distance between Baghdad and the ruins of Babylon 
is about fifty miles, across a barren desert tract. Large 
khans occur at convenient intervals, to provide for the 
security of travellers against the roving Bedouins who at 
times scour the surrounding country. A description of 
one of these khans wiU suffice. It is a large and substan- 
tial square building, in the distance resembling a fortress, 
being surrounded with a lofty waU, and flanked by round 
towers to defend the inmates in case of attack. Passing 
through a strong gateway, the guest enters a large court, 
the sides of which are divided into numerous arched 
compartments, open in front, for the accommodation of 
separate parties, and for the reception of goods. In the 
centre is a spacious raised platform, used for sleeping upon 
at night, or for the devotions of the faithful during the 
day. Between the outer waU and the compartments are 
wide-vaulted arcades, extending round the entire building, 
where the beasts of burden are placed. Upon the roof of 
the arcades is an excellent terrace, and, over the gateway, 
an elevated tower containing two rooms — one of which is 
open at the sides, permitting the occupants to enjoy every 
breath of air that passes across the heated plain. The 
terrace is tolerably clean ; but the court and stabling 
below are ankle deep in chopped straw and filth. Each 


khau Is supplied with a well, dug tlirougli the gravel into 
the gypsiferous deposits beneath, invariably affording bad, 
brackish Avater, which tastes, as one of our party aptly 
described it, like a solution of leather! During the long 
summer, these khans are frequently crowded to excess by 
pilgrims from Persia on their way to the shrines. Each 
caravan brings with it numbers of felt-covered coffins, 
containino- dead bodies sent for burial in the sacred ceme- 
teries. As pilgrims, coffins, and animals are shut up 
together all night — or all day, as the case may be — within 
the khans, it may be conceived that the atmosphere, 
impregnated with noxious gases, deals death and destruc- 
tion around. It is estimated that, in healthy seasons, a 
fifth of the travellers, overcome with fever and other 
diseases, find their graves in the desert ; while, ifi times 
of cholera and epidemics, the average is much larger of 
those who fail to return to their distant homes. 

In former days the vast plains of Babylonia were 
nourished by a complicated system of canals and water- 
courses, which sjDread over the surface of the country like 
net-work. The wants of a teeming population were sup- 
plied by a rich soil, not less bountiful than that on the 
banks of the EgyjDtian Nile. Like islands, rising from a 
golden sea of waving corn, stood frequent groves of palms 
and pleasant gardens, affording to the idler or the traveller 
their grateful and highly- valued shade. Crowds of pas- 
sengers hurried along the dusty roads to and from the 
busy city. The land was rich in corn and wine. How 
changed is the aspect of that region at the present day ! 
Long lines of mounds, it is true, mark the courses of 
those main arteries which formerly diffused life and vege- 
tation along their banks, l)ut their channels are now 
bereft of moisture and choked with drifted sand ; the 
smaller offshoots are wholly effaced. " A drought is upon 
her waters," says tlie prophet, " and they shall be dried 


up.'"'^ All tliat remains of that ancient civilization — that 
"glory of kingdoms," " the praise of the whole earth" — 
is recognizaljle in the numerons mouldering heaps of brick 
and rubbish which overspread the surface of the j)lain. 
Instead of the luxuriant fields, the groves and gardens, 
nothing now meets the eye but an arid waste — the dense 
population of former' times is vanished, and no man 
dwells there. Instead of the hum of many voices, silence 
reigns profound, except when a few passing travellers or 
roving Ai'abs flit across the scene. Destruction has swept 
the land, and the hand of man been made the instrument 
by which God has efi^ected his punishment.t But for the 
curse upon it, there is no physical reason why it should 
not be as liountiful and thickly inhabited as in days of 
yore ; a little care and labour bestowed on the ancient 
canals would again restore the fertility and population 
which it originally possessed. It w^ould require no immense 
expenditure of funds to clear the channels of the loose 
sands, which have accumulated during so many centuries, 
and to render them navigable for the shallow vessels of 
the country. Such a work of supererogation is not, how- 
ever, to be expected from the existing race of Turkish 
ofiicials, and must be left until the time when the curse 
upon it shall be removed, and European civilization, with 
its concomitant advantages, shall penetrate into those 
distant wilds. May that time soon arrive ! 

I have been' led into this digression by the fact that 
the Nahr Malka, one of the four main arteries which sup- 

* Jer. 1. 38. 

t In a review of " Johnston's Physical (Geography," contained in the 
Edinhurgh Magazine for April 1849, the writer has well remarked that 
" war and barrenness of soil are not the chief obstacles to population. 
Insecurity of property implied in tyrannical governments is the great 
depopulator. Men will not labour when they cannot be certain of the 
fruits of their labour ; they sink into lassitude, indolence, and beggary." 
This is a true picture of the present state of Turkey, and more especially 
applicable to Babylonia, which has passed through so many vicissitudes. 


plied Babylonia with the waters of the Euphrates, passed 
close to Khan-1-Za'ad, and is still traceable by a slight 
depression. It should be remarked, that the beds of 
navigable canals are below the level of the surrounding 
country, wdiile those of the secondary or irrigating canals 
are above that level. This arises from the comparatively 
shallow depth of the latter, and the rapid accumulation 
of matter held in suspension by the water, which, on 
deposition, raises their channels each successive year. 
Now and then the beds of canals in action at the present 
day are cleaned out, and the deposit, forming embank- 
ments at the sides, prevents the flooding of the cultivated 

Between Khan-i-Za'ad and the little village of Mohawil 
there is nothing to interest the traveller, but soen after 
passing the date-trees and modern canal of the latter 
place, a small mound afl"ords from its summit the first 
glimpse of the ruins of Bab3don. Truly said the prophet 
concerning her, " Babylon shall become heaps, an astonish- 
ment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant." ''' Unsightly 
mounds alone remain of that magnificence which Scrip- 
ture so frequently dilates upon, and which the pages of 
Herodotus so carefully describe. Who can recognise in 
those shapeless piles, exposed to the ravages of time and 
the destructive hand of man during twenty centuries, 
any of its former grandeur ? 

We learn from Herodotust that the great city was built 
in the form of a square, each side of which was defended 
by an enormous wall, measuring 120 stadia, or about 
15 miles in length, and furnished with twenty-five 
gates of brass ; the interior being arranged in squares 
by streets intersecting each other at right angles. The 
Euphrates divided the city into two parts, which were 
connected by a bridge of immense length and width. 

* Jer. li. 37. t Lib. i. c. 178, et seq. 

X---.. I 

J L____.l 1 It 

c hrtA TO vsmdh 


According to Diodorus Siculus,'" a palace stood at eitlicr 
extremity of the bridge : that on the eastern side measur- 
ing 3f miles in circumference — that on the western being 
7^ miles. He also speaks of the temple of Belus on the 
latter side. Herodotus, however, mentions but one palace 
and the temple of Belus. 

The ruins at present existing stand upon the eastern 
bank of the Euj)hrates, and are enclosed within an irre- 
gular triangle formed by two lines of ramparts and the 
river, the area being about eight miles. This space contains 
three great masses of building — the high pile of unbaked 
brickwork called byRicht "IMiijellibe," but which is known 
to the Arabs as " Babel ;" the building denominated the 
" Kasr," or palace ; and a lofty mound upon which stands 
the modern tomb of Amram-ibn-'Ali. Upon the western 
bank of the Euphrates are a few traces of ruins, but none 
of sufficient importance to give the impression of a palace. 
It will therefore be seen that the ancient and modern 
descriptions of Babylon do not agree, unless we are to 
consider the mounds within the triangular space above- 
mentioned as constituting a single palace and its offices. 
If so, where are we to look for the walls of Babylon fifteen 
miles square 1 It has been suggested, that, by regarding 
the great tower of the Birs Nimriid on the south, and 
the conical mound of El Heimar on the east, as two 
corners of a vast square, we should thus get over the 
difficulty ; but unfortunately we have no evidence of the 
existence of any walls around the square thus traced. 

There are various causes to account for the complete- 
disappearance of the walls and so much of the buildings. 
Upwards of 2300 years ago, Darius, the son of Hystaspes,| 
caused them to be demolished in consequence of a rebel- 
lion in the city, thus bringing about the fulfilling of the 
prophecy — " The wall of Babylon shall fall ;" " her Avails are 

* Lib. ii. c. 8. t "^femoir on the Ruins of Bab^-lon." + Herod, iii. 150. 



thrown down ;" " tlie broad walls .... shall be utterly 
broken."'"" Diiring that period, likewise, the ruins were 
used as a never-failing brick field — city after city was 
built from its materials. Ctesiphon, Kiifa, Kerbella, 
Hillah, Baghdad, and numerous other places — them- 
selves now scarcely to be recognized — derived their supph^' 
of bricks from Babylon ! The floods of the Eu2:)hrates and 
the rains of winter, too, have exercised their share in bury- 
ins and disinteoratino; the materials. All these ao-encies 
at work have combined to render Babylon a byword 
and a reproach among nations. Eich, and, but recently, 
Fresnel and Layard, endeavoured by excavation to recover 
some information from the existing mounds, lj\it they 
encountered such inextricable confusion that they gave 
up their several attempts in despair. 

In my opinion — and I have examined the ruins on four 
several occasions — it is now utterly impossible to recog- 
nize one single point in them as the remains of any of 
those sumptuous palaces described by the early historians. 
Eich,t whose account and measurements are models of 
careful examination, has misled himself and others by his 
enthusiasm in endeavouring to identify certain of the 
ruins with the descriptions of Herodotus. I grant that 
it is a most pleasing sul)ject to speculate upon, but it is 
perfectly hopeless, at this distance of time, to trace out any 
plan of the ancient city as it existed in its greatness and 
glory .| It must not be inferred from these remp.rks that 
any douljt exists as to the identity of the ruins in ques- 
tion with those of the sci-iptural Babylon. There cannot 
be two opinions on that subject. Independently of the 

• Jeremiah li. 44, 58 ; 1. 15. + "Memoir on the Ruins of Babylon." 
X In 1854-55 a minute survey of Babylon and its environs was made at 
the request of Sir Henry Rawlinson, by Captain Jones, I.N., assisted by Dr 
Hyslop and Mr T. K. Lynch. The public will doubtless ere long be put in 
possession of the important information which, it is said, was obtained 
during the progress of this examination. 


fact that universal tradition points to this locality as the 
seat of the Babylonian capital, no other site can be so 
appropriately determined on. 

During Mr Layard's excavations at Babylon in the 
Avinter of 1850, Babel, the northern mound, was investi- 
gated;""' but he failed to make any discovery of importance 
beneath the square mass of unbaked brickwork except a 
few piers and walls of more solid structure. According 
to the measurement of Eich, it is nearly 200 yards square, 
and 141 feet high. It may be suggested that it was the 
basement upon which stood the citadel. From its summit 
is obtained the best view of the other ruins. On the south 
is the large mound of Miijellibe, so called from its " over- 
turned" condition. The fragment of ancient brick 
masonry called the Kasr, which remains standing on its 
surface, owes its preservation to the difficulty experienced 
in its destruction. The bricks, strongly fixed in fine 
cement, resist all attempts to separate the several layers. 
Their under sides are generally deeply stamped with the 
legend of Nebuchadnezzar. Not far from this edifice is 
the well-known block of basalt, roughly cut to represent 
a lion standing over a prostrate human figure. This, 
together with a fragment of frieze, are the only instances 
of has reliefs hitherto discovered in the ruins. The last, 
discovered by Mr Layard, exhibits two figures of deities, 
with head-dresses resembhng those peculiar to PersepoHs 
and Khorsabad. 

On the south of the MujeUibe is the mound of Amram, 
from which Mr Layard obtained the remarkable series of 
terra-cotta bowls, with inscriptions in ancient Chaldsean 
characters, supposed to have been charms used by the 
Jews during the captivity to ward off" the Evil Ona 
These are among the most interesting relics procured 
from Babylon. 

• * Nineveh and Babylon," p. .')04-5k 



Various ranges of smaller mounds fill up tlie inter- 
vening space to the eastern angle of the walls. The 
pyramidal mass of El Heimar, far distant in the same 
direction — and the still more extraordinary pile of the 
Birs Nimrud in the south-west, across the Euphrates — 
rise from the surrounding plain like two mighty tumuli 
designed to mark the end of departed greatness. Mid- 
way between them, the river Euphrates, wending her 
silent course towards the sea, is lost amid the extensive 
date-groves which conceal from sight the little Arab 
town of Hiilah. All else around is a blank waste, recall- 
ing the words of Jeremiah : — " Her cities are ^ desolation, 
a dry land, and a wilderness, a land wherein* no man 
dwelleth, neither doth any son of man pass thereby." """ 

It would be useless here to enter into a more ^detailed 
description of the ruins, because the works of Eich and 
Layard yield all the information which is known on the 
subject, and to them my readers must be referred. 

* .Teremiah li. 43 


Hillah— Tahir Bey and the Turkish Brass Band— The Oven Dance- 
Martial Escort — Bridge of Boats — Birs Nimrud — Its true Theory — 
Sii- H. Rawliiison's Discoveries — The Seven-coloured Walls of the 
Temple of the Spheres — Chaldee Astronomy. 

The camp of our party was pitched on the southern 
extremity of the mounds, near the village of Jumjiima, 
where we were joined by Tahir Bey, the military gover- 
nor of Hillah, one of the very few men in Turkey who 
have devoted their time to study the profession of a 
soldier. He was known as a dashing officer, and pos- 
sessed that frankness and off-hand manner which stamped 
the correctness of the character he had obtained. He was 
a general favourite, and soon made himself at home 
with us. He placed a guard of fifty men to look after 
our safety during the night ; and, to ajBTord some 
amusement, ordered out the brass band of the garrison 
under his command, which at intervals enlivened us with 
selections and remarkable variations from Bellini, Doni- 
zetti, and even Strauss ! This, as may be imagined, was 
not quite consonant to the feelings of the European por- 
tion of the assembly, who would infinitely rather have 
dispensed with such frivolities, and have indulged in 
quiet contemplation on the extraordinary scene which 
we had that day for the first time beheld. But, as there 
was no help for it, we were obliged to conform to the 
feelings of the majority, and to respect the attentions 
which Tahir Bey lavished upon us. 

At such times as the band ceased its somewhat dubi- 



ous melody, one of tliose never-failing accompaniments 
of Oriental fetes— a dancer — was introduced to add to 
the amusement of tlie evening. He proved to be no 
ordinary buffoon, such as usually exhibits to an Eastern 
audience. Hamza of Hillah was celebrated far and near 
for his grace and modesty. He might have been about 
eighteen years old, and was not only dressed, but ap- 
peared like a girl, tall and slightly built. His costume re- 
sembled that of a Spanish dancer, consisting of a tight vest 
with loose sleeves of red silk, and a skirt of the same 
material, which reached to below the knees, and was 
ornamented with alternate rings or flounces of led, blue, 
and yellow, edged with Persian shawl. This skirt was 
called " tennur," from its resemblance to an Arab " oven." 
On his head was a fez, with long, full blue tassel ; and 
from his neck and breast hung numerous chains and large 
medals of silver — presents, doubtless, from his ardent 
admirers. The backs of his hands were adorned with 
silver studs, and his fingers with rings, of which he made 
the most dexterous use as an accompaniment to the 
^ound of the touitom. Oriental dances are usually gross 
and indecent in the extreme : it was therefore with no 
little surprise and pleasure that we remarked Hamza's 
movements were entirely free from this objection, and 
might have been witnessed by the most fastidious. His 
grace would indeed have amused, if not charmed, any 
audience, and, if exhibited in England, he would soon 
have made his fortune. There not being space sufficient 
in the reception-tent for the full display of Hamza's 
powers, an adjournment took place to the open air. A 
large circle was formed around a torch adapted for the 
occasion. It was a round iron grate, raised upon a jdoIo 
to the height of six feet from the ground. The fire was 
fed with the bouo;hs and leaves of date-trees, which cast 
a strong lurid light upon the spectators. 


The people of Hillah, hearing of our arrival, and judg- 
ing that there was something to be seen, collected in 
considerable numbers into a motley group. There was 
the old Turk, chibiik in hand, with his venerable white 
beard, well-wound turban, and scrupulously clean person 
and apparel — the "dirty Arab, with his gay keffieh, striped 
abba, and constant companion, the long spear— the 
nearly naked water-carrier, bearing a huge bullock's skin 
upon his broad back, and announcing his ever-welcome 
presence by the sound of little brass bells-— here and there 
a stray Persian, in pointed lambskin cap and long blue 
robes, as worn ages past by his forefathers — and lastly, 
our own attendants, exhibiting every variety of race, 
caste, and costume between Malta and Baohdad — a com- 
plete Babel among themselves- Tm"kisli sentinels at re- 
gular intervals, musket in hand, kept the ring. 

liamza now stepped into the circle and commenced 
the performance of what was esteemed his most wonder- 
ful feat — the favourite of the Turks. He began, dervish- 
like, to move slowly round upon one spot, gradually 
increasing his speed as the music quickened, until at length 
he spun round with amazing velocity. He then proceeded 
to partially divest himself of his numerous ornaments and 
garments, but each article was taken off so slowly and 
carefully, and the speed with which he turned was so 
great, that, when he rapidly passed it into the hands of a 
person stationed to receive it, the movement was scarcely 
perceptible. Each portion of his dress thus disappeared 
until only his under-clothing remained. Throwing a 
shawl over his person, he now actually increased his speed 
to a fearful velocity, until he appeared as though fixed on 
a pivot. He then dressed ; and, after half an hour of this 
violent exertion, suddenly ceasing his gyrations, he made 
two or three elegant movements, salaamed the strangers, 
and retired amidst nhouts of applause. Although not 


exhibiting the grace of his dance in the tent, as an 
example of bodily endurance it surpassed anything of the 
sort I had ever before witnessed. 

This exhibition over, and the din of the tomtom ceased, 
a profound stillness took possession of the camp, varied 
only by the regular tread and challenge of the sentinel. 
It was long, however, before I closed my eyes. The 
excitement of visiting a spot so remarkable in the history 
of the human race was such, that I lay awake for a length 
of time, recalling to my mind all the wonderful events 
which had beMlen " the golden city," and the astounding 
fulfilment of those prophecies which refer in so remark- 
able a manner to its present crumbling condition. No 
one who reflects seriously on such a subject and o;i such 
a scene can fail to be impressed with the truth of Scrip- 

The whole camj) was early astir on the following morn- 
ing, and we proceeded in great state towards Hillali, 
the little capital of the surrounding Arab district. The 
procession was led by the mounted escort which had 
accompanied us from Baghdad, and by the detachment of 
infantry sent from the to^vn overnight by Tahir Bey. I 
must give them the credit of being by far the cleanest, 
most orderly, and soldier-like fellows I had seen in 
Turkey — vastly superior to the ill-clad wretches who 
hung about the streets of Stambul before the war. Their 
dress and accoutrements were good and clean, their 
muskets and long bayonets shining as brightly as any 
rigid disciplinarian could desire. The only thing which 
detracted from their appearance, and rendered them some- 
what uncouth to look upon, was, that their European-cut 
white trousers were inconveniently small to contain the 
Oriental baggy drawers within. Next in order were three 
led horses of the pasha, covered with black trappings, 
and ornamented with plates and beads of bright silver. 


having much the appearance of palls appertaining to a 
funeral procession. Behind these were two kettle-drum- 
mers, who kejDt up an incessant tomtomming until the 
ears ached with the intolerable din — these, of course, 
immediately preceded the three commissioners and a 
motley group of officers, in such costumes as each thought 
most suitable for affordins; shelter ao;ainst the increasino- 
heat of the rising sim. In the background came servants 
of all classes, exhibiting as picturesque an array as can be 
well conceived. Long strings of mules with the baggage 
closed the procession. 

Hillah is approached from the Baghdad road, by a nar- 
row avenue, passing through the extensive date-gardens 
which border on the river. The trampHng of so many feet 
enveloped us in a cloud of the finest and most penetrating- 
dust, which all were compelled to endure while almost 
suffocated by it. At the suburbs we were received by our 
friend the governor, who had preceded us, by the band, and 
the bulk of the garrison. Although the dust was very an- 
noying, it was impossible not to enjoy a scene so strange 
and new. The sun was just beginning to shed his warming- 
influence upon the beautiful yellow clusters of ripening- 
dates, which hung like so many bunches of pure gold 
collected round the ends of the tall stems. The luxuriant 
tufts of feathery branches, and their elegantly pendent 
form, appeared to spring from the trees, as if solely in- 
tended to relieve the monotonous aspect of an Arab desert, 
or to prevent the fruit under their bounteous shade from 
being scorched and dried up under the vertical sun. 

A few dilapidated houses and a small bazaar, chiefly 
stocked with water-melons and cucumbers, guard the 
eastern approach to the bridge of Hillah. The crossing 
this bridge — if it could deserve the title — produced con- 
siderable wavering and consternation among the horse- 
men ; many of whom, it was observed, wisely dismounted, 


lest a false step or other accident slioiild precipitate both 
horse and rider into the rapid Euphrates. The bridge was 
one of boats — infirm and old — covered, like Noah's ark, 
" without with pitch" derived from the bitumen springs 
of Hit. From boat to boat was laid down a roadway 
of date timber ; but so full of holes was it, that a broad- 
stepped ladder would have answered the same purpose. 
The oscillation produced by the passage of so many 
horsemen, the plunging and kicking of the animals, and 
the state of the bridge itself, rendered it a matter of no 
small difficulty to reach the opposite bank of the river in 
safety. As if for the sake of amusing themselves at our 
expense, and to create as much confusion as possible, the 
authorities in the town placed two large guns in such a 
position as to enfilade both sides of the bridge, and fired 
a succession of salutes — sufficient to have done honour to 
three sultans, instead of three commissioners ! Having 
escaped all the dangers consequent on the passage of the 
Euphrates, we assembled at the seray, where pipes and 
coffee were duly provided, and a few minutes' rest was 
allowed us to collect our scattered thoughts. The seray is 
said to have been a palace of the khalifs ; and certainly, 
if its dilapidated condition be any warrant for this report, 
its antiquity is undoubted. There is nothing remarkable 
about the town of Hillah, except that, from its situation 
on the Euphrates, it is somewhat more picturesque than 
most Arab towns. The bazaars are extensive, and exhibit 
the usual amount of blindness, poverty, and filth. If 
there be one thing more tlian another which strikes the 
visitor to Hillah, it is the large immber of Jews who 
inhabit the place, and secure a livelihood by collecting 
and selling antiques from the neighbouring mounds. 
They are tlie degraded and persecuted remnant of the ten 
thousand, whom Nebuchadnezzar carried off from Jerusa- 
lem, still hovering around the scene of the captivity ! 


It has been often suggested, that, in consequence of the 
frequent changes in the course of the Euphrates, the 
western portion of Babylon was gradually washed away, 
and that its place is now occupied by the alluvial plain. 
Mr Layard is of this opinion."^^' But this mode of account- 
ing for the entire disappearance of such large edifices as 
we know, from the historical accounts, to have existed 
on the west of the great river, is highly unsatisfactory. 
Upon the same supposition, we should expect the eastern 
ruins to have likewise disappeared. The opposition of- 
fered by such a massive pile as Babel or Mujellibe could 
not be wholly overcome, even during a lapse of centuries. 
The result of the river's flowing at its base would simply 
be the disintegration of a very small portion of its mass. 
The surface of the ground between Hillah and the Birs 
Nimriid, a distance of six miles, shews the remains of 
old canals derived from near the present course of the 
Euphrates, which is quite opposed to this theory. It is 
more probable, in my opinion, that the river has not much 
altered its channel, but that the western division of the 
ruins, being more accessible to brick-hunters, was com- 
pletely demolished. It appears, however, to have escaped 
general observation, that there are mounds within the date- 
groves of Hillah itself indicating the existence of older 
foimdations. These may eventually prove to be a por- 
tion of the lost western half of ancient Babylon. 

There are few ruins in the world which have excited 
such general interest and speculation regarding their object 
and origin as the vitrified brick edifice which crowns the 
summit of Birs Nimriid. The old Jewish traveller, Ben- 
jamin of Tudela, in the twelfth century, regarded it with 
devout reverence as part of the identical tower of Babel 
destroyed by fire when the Lord scattered man abroad 
upon the face of the earth as a punishment for his auda- 

* « Nineveh and Babylon," p. 492-3. 


city. Many authors consider it to be the great temple of 
Belus, described by Herodotus as having been partially 
destroyed by Darius, about 500 B.C., and afterwards plun- 
dered by his son Xerxes. Others, again, were inclined to 
look on it as an observatory erected by the Chaldsean 
priests for astronomical purposes. 

It is, however, to the sagacity and learning of Sir 
Henry Eawlinson that we are indebted for a correct 
determination of this remarkable edifice. The excavations 
conducted there under his directions, in 1854, confirm 
the correctness of the observations made by Eich, Ker 
Porter, and Buckingham, as to the existence of several 
stages which they conceived to be visible under the 
accumulation of fallen bricks. Sir Henry Eawlinson 
ascertained that the structure consisted of six distinct 
platforms or terraces. Each terrace was about 20 feet in 
height, and 42 feet less horizontally than the one below 
it. The Avhole were so arrano;ed as to constitute an 
oblique pyramid — the terraces in front being 30 feet in 
depth, while those behind were 12 feet, and at the sides 21 
feet each. Upon the sixth story stands the vitrified mass, 
concerning which such discussion has arisen, and which, 
it is now suggested, was the sanctum of the temple. 
Built into the corners of the stories were cylinders of 
Nebuchadnezzar, designating the whole structure, " the 
Stages of the Seven Spheres of Borsippa." Each story was 
dedicated to a planet, and stained with the colour pecu- 
liarly attributed to it in the works of the Sabaean astro- 
logers, and traditionally handed down to us from the 
Chaldfieans. The lowest stage was coloured black, in 
honour of Saturn ; the second orange, for Jupiter ; the 
third red, for Mars ; the fourth 3TII0W, for the Sun ; the 
fifth green, for Venus ; the sixth blue, for Mercury ; and 
the temple was probably white, for the Moon ! 

It may not perhaps prove unacceptable to my readers 


if I here give Sir Henry Eawlinson's translation from tlie 
cuneiform record upon the cylinders, which is to the fol- 
lowing effect : — 

" I am Nabu-kudim-uzur, King of Babylon, the estab- 
lished governor, he who pays homage to Merodach, 
adorer of the Gods, glorifier of Nabu, the supreme chief, 
he who cultivates worship in honour of the Great Gods, 
the subduer of the disobedient man, repairer of the temples 
of Bit-Shaggeth and Bit-Tzida, the eldest son of Nabu- 
pal-uzur. King of Babylon. Behold now Merodach, my 
great Lord, has established men of strength and has urged 
me to repair his buildings. Nabu, the guardian over the 
heavens and the earth, has committed to my hands the 
sceptre of royalty therefore. Bit-Shaggeth, the palace of 
the heavens and the earth for Merodach the supreme chief 
of the Gods, and Bit Kua, the shrine of his divinity, and 
adorned with shining gold, I have appointed them. Bit- 
Tzida also I have firmly built. With silver and gold and 
a facing of stone ; mth wood of fir, and plane, and pine I 
have completed it. The building named the Planisphere, 
"« hich was the wonder of Babylon, I have made and 
finished. With bricks enriched with lapis lazuli I have 
exalted its head. Behold now the building named the 
Stages of the Seven Spheres, which was the wonder of 
Borsippa, had been built by a former king. He had com- 
pleted 42 cubits (of height), but he did not finish its head. 
From the lapse of time it had become ruined ; they had 
not taken care of the exits of the waters, so the rain and 
wet had penetrated into the brickwork. The casing of 
burnt brick had bulged out, and the terraces of crude 
brick lay scattered in heaps ; then Merodach, my great 
Lord, inclined my heart to repair the building. I did not 
change its site, nor did I destroy its foundation platform, 
but in a fortunate month, and upon an auspicious day, I 
undertook the building of the crude brick terraces, and the 


burnt brick casing of the temple. I strengthened its 
foundation, and I placed a titular record on the part I had 
rebuilt. I set my hand to build it up and to exalt its 
summit. As it had been in ancient times, so I built up 
its structure ; as it had been in former days, thus I exalted 
its head. Nabu, the strengthener of his children, he who 
ministers to the Gods, and Merodach, the supporter of 
sovereignty, may they cause this my work to be estab- 
lished for ever ; may it last through the seven ages, and 
may the stability of my throne and the antiquity of my 
empire, secure against strangers, and triumphant over 
many foes, continue to the end of time. Under the 
guardianship of the Eegent who presides over the spheres 
of heaven and tlie earth, may the length of my days pass 
on in due course. I invoke Merodach, the king *of the 
heavens and the earth, that this my work may be pre- 
served for me under thy care in honour and respect 
May Nabu-kuduri-uzur, the royal architect, remain under 
thy protection." 

The record further states, that " Nabu-kuduri-uzur's" re- 
storation took place 504 years after the original foundation 
by Tiglath Pileser I., who dates as far l^ack as 1100 B.C. 

Antiquarians had long previously pronounced the 
Birs Nimnid to be Borsippa, the city to which Alex- 
ander the Great retired when warned by the Chaldaean 
priests not to enter Babylon from the east. Every brick 
hitherto obtained from the ruin is impressed with the 
legend of Nebuchadnezzar. The attempted identification 
with the tower of Babel therefore falls to the ground, 
unless it shall be hereafter shewn that the temple restored 
by Nebuchadnezzar was erected upon the site of a stiU 
earlier structure.* 

* Nebuchadnezzar was a great builder and restorer. His records are dis- 
covered in every part of Babylonia, and abound in the immediate vicinity of 
Babylon — corroborating to the fullest extent the words of Scripture : " Ib 
not this great Babylon that I have built ?" &c. — Dan. iv. 30. 


The peculiarities displayed in the architecture of the 
BIrs Nimriid agree so faithfully with the Greek descrip- 
tions of the temple of Belus at Babylon, that there can 
be no doubt of the two buildinfrs havino; been erected on 
the same general plan, and that, when w^e look upon the 
existing edifice, we regard a fac-simile of the one which is 
now destroyed. 

As a discovery in art or science always leads to further 
knowledge and information, so the seven coloured stories 
of the Temple of the Spheres enable us fully to compre- 
hend the hitherto dubious account of the seven coloured 
walls of the city Ecbatana in Media, described by 
Herodotus."^' As regards the mode in which the colours of 
the bricks in each stage were produced, it may be sug- 
gested that chemical ingredients were added to the clay 
before the bricks were burned in the fuj;nace. It is more 
difficult to explain the cause of the vitrification of the 
upper building. My late talented friend. Captain New- 
bold, assistant-resident in the Deccan, originated an 
idea when we examined the Birs Nimriid in company, 
which is, I believe, now beginning to be adopted, that, 
in order to render their edifices more durable, the Ba- 
bylonians submitted them, when erected, to the heat of 
a furnace. This will account for the remarkable condi- 
tion of the brickwork on the summit of the Blrs Nimrild, 
which has undoubtedly been subjected to the agency of 
fire. No wonder that the early explorers, carried a^^^ay 
by their feelings of reverence, should have ascribed the 
vitrified and molten aspect of the ruins to the avenging 
fire of heaven, instead of to a more natural agency. It 
is worthy of notice, that in several places where vitrified 
bricks occur in Babylonia, they are associated with a 
tradition that Nimrod there threw the patriarch Abra- 

* Lib. i. 98. 


liam into a furnace. There appear, therefore, to be some 
grounds for Captain Newbold's suggestion. 

The Birs Nimrild, then, was a temple dedicated to the 
heavenly bodies, where " the wise men of the Chaldees," 
prompted by their adoration of the countless orbs, were 
naturally led to the study of astronomy. The Chaldseans 
were the first people who reduced their observations to a 
regular system. On the authority of Berosus,''" it is re- 
corded, that when Alexander took Babylon, Callisthenes 
forwarded to his relative Aristotle in Greece a cataloo-ue of 
eclipses which had been observed at Babylon during the 
pre\T.ous 1 903 years. Ptolemy refers to eclipses in the year 
720 B.C., which were derived from a Chaldaean source. It is 
to those early astronomers we are indebted for the zodiac 
and the duodecimal division of the day. 

The expansive plains of Babylonia possess such natural 
advantages for the study of astronomy, that we cannot 
wonder at their ha\dng become the birth-place of that 
science. The remarkable dryness and regularity of the 
climate, the serenity of the sky, and the transparency of 
the atmosphere, particularly point to that region as admir- 
ably adapted for studies and investigations of this nature. 
Constellations of the eighth magnitude are distinctly 
visible to the naked eye, while between May and Novem- 
ber meteors fall in countless numbers. Under these circum- 
stances, when ol)servatories are being established in various 
less favourable localities, it appears not a little strange 
that " the land of the Chaldees " is passed over in utter 
forgetfulness. With the appliances and correctly-adjusted 
instruments which the march of civilization has produced, 
what additions to our knowledge of astronomy and me- 
teorology might we not attain by erecting an observatory 
at such a sjDot as Baghdad or Babylon ! 

* Consult Porphyr., apud Simplic, i. 2 ; also, Pliny, vii. 67. 


View from Bii-s Nimrucl — Keffil — Ezcldel's Tomb — Children of the 


The ^dew from the summit of tlie Birs Nimriid is very 
extensive, and its utter desolation has been the theme of 
frequent observation. No one can stand there and sur- 
vey the scene around without being struck with the 
literal fulfilment of Isaiah's prophecy — " I will make it a 
possession for the bittern, and pools of water ; and I will 
sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the Lord of 
hosts."'"" Spreading out like a vast sea upon the north 
and west is a marsh, which all the labours of the ancient 
and modern rulers of the country have never been able 
to subdue. In certain seasons, the waters of the Euphrates 
rise above their ordinary level, and flood the whole surface 
of the low lands of Chaldgea, confirming every word of 
the prophet. 

Bordering upon this marsh, a few spots attract the eye 
and relieve the lono- level of the horizon. Due south 
stands the little tomb of the prophet Ezekiel, and at the 
distance of fifty miles, in the mirage of early morning, 
may be discerned the mosque of the sainted 'Ali, glisten- 
ing like a speck of gold as the beams of the rising sun 
play upon its surface. Nearer at hand, on the north- 
west, are the twin domes of Kerbella, the burial-place of 
'All's slaughtered sons. The edge and islands of the 

* Isaiah xiv. 23. 



marsh are at times dotted with encampments of Khuzeyl 
Arabs ; and with the telescope may be distinguished 
their numerous flocks of sheep and camels, while the hum 
of busy voices can be distinctly heard a distance of full 
six miles across the waters. 

From the Birs Nimriid southwards, a road runs along 
the raised bank, which here in a measure restrains the 
marsh within bounds. A succession of large canal 
courses, now dry, are crossed during a ride of twelve 
miles to the Httle town of Keffil, which, from its want of 

Keffil, and the Tomb of the Prophet Ezekiel. 

luxuriant trees and vegetation, looks dull and sombre in 
the extreme — a fitting place for the sepulchre of a captive 
prophet in a strange land. There have been trees at 
some time or other, as a few stunted palms bear witness ; 
but, like the town itself, they have witnessed more 
flourishing times. They are ludicrous specimens of their 
race, and stand with their branches projecting straight 
upwards into the air, giving them the appearance of 
gigantic brooms. The town of Keflil is protected by a 
high wall, and defended at intervals by small towers. An 
old broken-down mosque, with minaret to match, stooping 


to its fall — ^the spire of tlie prophet Ezekiel's tomb — and 
the tops of the houses peeping above — are all that invite 
further approach. Except when a crowd of pilgrims 
collect at the annual festival, the exterior of the place is 

The spire of the sacred tomb is the frustum of an 
elongated cone, tapering to a blunted top by a succession 
of divisions or steps, cut and embellished in a peculiar 
manner. Similar spires frequently occur upon tombs 
throughout the East, where, as is well known, forms and 
customs alter but little. I am therefore inclined to 
regard the spire of the Arab tomb as analogous to the fir 
cone so repeatedly represented on the bas-reliefs at Nine- 
veh. The eagle-headed and other figures of the sculptures 
appear to present the cone of Indian corn — an emblem of 
the first-fruits of the earth — as an ofiering to the Deity 
in the form of the sacred tree. May not the spire of the 
modern tomb have some similar symbolical meaning 
attached to it ? 

There is no reason to believe that the tradition is un- 
worthy of credence, which assigns to Keffil the honour of 
possessing the bones of the prophet Ezekiel. The con- 
tinued residence of the Jews in the land where their 
forefathers were consigned in exile, and the respect with 
which the tomb has for so many centuries been regarded, 
not only by the Jews themselves, but by the Mohamme- 
dans, ought to be considered a sufficient guarantee for the 
correctness of the tradition. The Jewish traveller, Ben- 
jamin of Tudela, in the middle of the twelfth century, 
tells us, that "the monument was covered by a large 
cupola, and the building was very handsome. It was 
erected by Jeconiah, King of Judah, and the 35,000 Jews 
who accompanied him." Of course, the edifice of the 
Jewish monarch, if such ever existed, has long since fallen 
to ruin, and the present edifice is comparatively modern. 


It is remarkably plain, both externally and internally, 
containing two vaulted apartments — the roof of the 
outer one being supported by heavy columns. The 
sepulchre is cased in a large wooden box of considerable 
age, which measures ten feet long l^y four feet high. Its 
decoration consists of a piece of English chintz and small 
red and green flags. The chamber itself is square, the 
side walls being extremely dirty and greased with oil. 
The floor is covered with a filthy matting. The vaulted 
ceiling is very prettily ornamented with scrolls of gold, 
silver, and bronze. Built into one corner is an ancient 
Hebrew copy of the Pentateuch. A scanty lightr is ad- 
mitted from above, and an ever-burning lamp sheds a 
solemn gloom into the sanctuary. The flat terrace or 
roof afi'ords a good view of the marshes extending to 
the base of the little elevation upon which the town of 
Keffil stands. The flooring of the terrace is, however, in 
such a state of lamentable filth that the Jews might, with 
every justice, be charged with paying little or no respect 
to the memory of their prophet. The interior of the 
town, in fact, is redolent with odours none of the most 

A large proportion of the inhabitants are Jews, a host 
of whom, surrounding the door of the sanctuary, looked 
daggers as our large party, booted and spurred from the 
journey, crossed the sacred threshold. The Oriental Jews 
delight in wearing none but the very gayest colours, so 
that the group which we encountered contrasted strangely 
with the duU aspect of the place. A number of Jewish 
ladies, carefuUy veiled from the profane eyes of strangers, 
were also assembled on our arrival, but they had, one and 
aU, vanished before our return from the interior of the dim 
tomb into the glaring light of day. 

Kefiil, being on the verge of the recently disturbed dis- 
trict, had just been the scene of some hard fighting. The 


place was held by a small garrison of Turkish troops as 
an advanced post. The Arabs in rebellion attacked and 
took it, putting the whole garrison of sixty men to the 
sword. On its being retaken a few days afterwards by 
the Turks, the bodies of the poor fellows were found 
still unburied and barbarously treated by their savage 


The Marshes of Babylon — Khuzeyl Arabs — The Euphrates, and its Canals 
— Semiramis — Nebuchadnezzar — Cyrus — Alexander — Shujah-ed- 
Dowla, and the Indian Canal. 


A NIGHT spent at Keffil during the montli of September, 
is by no means to be envied ; the mosquitoes, malaria, 
and damp of the marshes being all but certain to lay in 
the seeds of fever, which is not long in appearing. 

In order to reach IMeshed 'All, it is necessary to cross 
the marsh. For this purpose boats are always to be pro- 
cured at Keffil. They are heavy clumsy vessels, con- 
structed of Indian teak, about 40 feet in length, with high 
pointed prows and sterns, and flat bottoms for enabling 
them to skim over the shallows. Each is guided by two 
nearly naked Arabs, one of whom manages the cumbrous 
and primitive rudder, while the other attends to a huge 
lug-sail — if such term can be applied to a patchwork of 
every shape and colour, fiUed with innumerable holes. 

The stream flows, at the rate of four or five miles an 
hour, through a continuous rice-field, which is prevented 
from being completely overflooded by means of dams, 
constructed of stakes and reed matting. Sometimes, 
when the rise of the Euphrates exceeds its usual level, 
the country is a vast inundation. On such occasions, 
whole families of Arabs, with their frail dwellings of reeds 
and tents, are swept away in a single night. These 
calamities are but too frequent. Upon a few elevated 


spots, small mud forts serve as citadels for refuge in case 
of inundation or attack. The Arab inhabitants of these 
marshes are a fine manly race, and their noble forms are 
particularly striking. Their half-naked and deeply-bronzed 
bodies, nourished by scanty fare, shew every muscle to 
advantage as they propel their vessels with long poles in 
the shallows against the wind or stream, dexterously run- 
ning along the edge of the boat. The keflfieh, or head-dress, 
is useless among those marshes, for the long, thick, stream- 
ing hair of the Khuzeyl Arab acts as the most natural 
covering, and is admirably adapted for keeping off the 
rays of the sun. 

In sailing along, every now and then we encountered a 
noisy party in a crowded boat, who gazed with wonder, 
not unmixed mth alarm, upon the European fleet. All 
appeared life and activity around us in those fens — the 
men, not languidly smoking their pij)es like the dwellers 
in cities and loungers in bazaars, but busy at their daily 
employments, as agriculturists should be. The women 
were engaged about their tents with duties not less arduous 
than those of the stronger sex.. Notwithstanding their 
labour and acti^vdty, they are evidently in a wretched state 
of misery, and ground down by heavy exactions. The 
only power they possess of resisting injustice is that of 
flooding their marshes, but this is only temporary, for 
without cultivating, how are they and their families to 
exist during the ensuing year"? There is not a more 
industrious race throughout the Turkish empire, and if 
their rulers knew but how to treat them, both would be 
highly benefited Justice and security of property and 
person are all that is required to effect this ; but know- 
ingly, and with impunity, the Turkish authorities permit 
the farmers of their revenues to oppress their temporary 
subjects, and evince no desire to protect the labouring 
classes. Under an enlightened government, as I have 


previously remarked, sucli things could not be. In the 
secluded provinces, however, the rulers are less scrupulous 
than those nearer to the capital. The Pasha of Baghdad 
is, as it were, an independent prince, and his words are 
law. His emissaries, while carrying out his claims, 
seldom fail to enrich themselves, if not to the loss of the 
Government, at least to the oppression of the subject. 
No wonder, therefore, that the province is in constant 
disturbance, and that the Arabs are at times driven to 
revolt and to the commission of barbarous acts, not 
characteristic of their otherwise honourable and kindly 
nature. To those who are most conversant with the Arab 
character, it is well known that these sons of the desert 
may be giiided like children by kindness and firmness. 

The marshes of the Khuzeyl have j)layed so important 
a part in the history of the Euphrates, from the earliest 
times of which we have authentic records, dowTi to the 
present day, that a few remarks upon them and their 
connexion with " the great river " may not be unin- 

During the 530 miles of its course through the flat 
alluvial plains of Babylonia, the Euphrates does not 
average a greater fall than three inches in the mile,'"' the 
consequence of which is, that the low lands on either side 
are frequently flooded during the periodical rises of the 
river. In order, therefore, to check the dangerous super- 
abundance of the water, and to distribute it advantage- 
ously for the purpose of beneficial irrigation, dikes and 
canals w^ere instituted at a very early period in the history 
of the country, and were, m fact, essential to its very 

* The Volga maybe compared with the Euphrates as regards its fall. It 
has its origin in a small lake on the slopes of the platei. i of Valdai, at an 
elevation of 550 feet above the level of the ocean, whence it flows in a gently 
inclined bed to its termination in the Caspian Sea, 83 feet below the level of 
the Euxine. Its entire fall, over a course of 2400 miles, therefore, amounts 
to only G33 feet, or to 3-16 inches per mile. 


existence.*'^ The once fabulous Queen Semiramis,! we are 
told, cut two artificial canals at a considerable distance 
above Babylon, and turned the superfluous waters of the 
Euphrates into the Tigris, by this means obviating the 
damage which the city and surrounding country pre- 
viously sustained from inundation. To facilitate the 
building of brick walls cemented with bitumen along both 
banks of the river, the same queen caused the whole body 
of the stream to be diverted by a large canal into a pro- 
digious lakej forty miles square, which she caused to be 
dug on the west of Babylon. 

In the days of Nebuchadnezzar, when Babylon was a 
land of traffic and "a city of merchants," § considerable 
attention was paid to the proper distribution of the waters 
of the great river. The primary canals of Nahr Malka 
and Pallacopas are attributed to that monarch. It seems 
probable, however, that the latter work was merely the 
re-opening of the canal dug by Semiramis, and its exten- 
sion to the sea — thus giving two distinct branches to the 

During the effeminate dominion of the succeeding 
Persian dynasty, it is inferred that little or nothing was 
done towards restoring the river to its natural course, 
so that it continued to flow into the marshes west of 
Borsippa, or Birs Nimrud, enlarging the PaUacopas 

* Herodotus, i. 185. Strabo, xvi. 740. Pliny, vi. 26. Diodorus Siculus, 
ii. 100, et seq. Arrian, vii. 21 : see note, p. 42. 

t An inscription upon a statue of the god Nebu, discovered at Nineveh, 
bears the names of Phukikh and Sammuramit, leading to the supposition 
that the queen, re^ii-esented under the Greek name of Semiramis, was the 
Sammuramit of the cuneiform record, the wife of the scriptural Pul (the 
Belochus of the Greeks), who reigned about B.C. 750. See the Athenaum, 
Nos. 1388, 1476, 1503. 

+ Herodotus, i. 184-5. This exaggerated description undoubtedly refers 
to the Bahr or Sea of Nedjef. 

§ Ezekiel xvii. 4. 


Xenophon,^'" in describing the march of the Greeks to the 
assistance of Cyrus the Younger, along the eastern side of 
the Euphrates, mentions four great canals crossed by the 
advancing army, viz : — the Nahr-raga, the Nahr Sares, 
the Nahr Malka, and the Niihr Kiitha. He, of course, 
knew nothing of other channels on the opposite side of 
the river ; but if, in addition to the above, it be considered 
that the Pallacopas carried off a great portion of the 
Euphrates towards the marshes on the west, we can per- 
fectly comprehend that which afterwards occurred. 

When Alexander the Great returned from his Indian 
campaign, and desired to restore Babylon to 'her. fonner 
grandeur, he found so little water passing through the 
city, that there was scarcely depth for small boats. He 
therefore determined on effectually closing the mouth of 
the Pallacopas — which, according to Arrian, was 800 
stadia, or about 90 miles, cibove Babylon — and on digging 
a new canal, where the nature of the ground was favour- 
able to his purpose. His historian says, " When he had 
proceeded 30 stadia (or three miles), the ground was 
observed to be rocky." t The passage is interpreted in 

* Cycrop. i. p. 261-266. 

t Arriau's account of the Pallacopas is so quaint and interesting, that I 
venture to give a literal translation of the passage : — 

" But in the meantime, while vessels are being constructed, and a harbour 
dug at Babylon, Alexander was conveyed by the Euphrates from Babylon 
to the river Pallacopas. This is distant from Babylon about 800 stadia. 
Moreover, this Pallacopas is a channel cut from the Euphrates, not a river 
rising from springs. For the Eujjhrates, flowing from the mountains of 
Armenia, flows during the winter between banks, inasmuch as it has not 
much water ; but when spring sets in, and much more under the heat of 
summer, it increases greatly, and, overflowing its banks, inundates the plains 
of Assyria. For then the snows melting in the mountains of Armenia 
increase its waters in a wonderful manner ; and thus raised to a great height, 
it overwhelms the Avhole region adjoining, unless any person turning it 
aside should discharge it through the Pallacopas into the lakes and marshes 
— which indeed, by the entrance of this channel, even to the region neigh- 
bouring on Arabia, and from thence into stagnant places, and at length by 
many and unknown windings, is carried to the sea. But, when the snows 


several different ways ; but I believe that it means 30 
stadia above Babylon/' which might well refer to the 
modern channel called the Hindleh — the ancient city 
extendino; to within three miles of its mouth ; and it is a 
curious coincidence, that near that point sandstone rocks 
rise through the alluvium to the sm^face ! 

For twenty-one centuries, since the time of Alexander, 
the Euphrates has fluctuated between its original channel 
through Babylon and this new opening, until at length, 
the navigation of the latter having become interrupted, 
an Indian prince, named Niiwab Shujah-ed-Dowla, re- 
opened its channel one hundred years ago. Since that 
date it has been called, after him, the " Hindleh," and has 

are dissolved, especially about the setting of Vergilise, the Euphrates grows 
small ; but, nevertheless, a great part of it is drained by the Pallaccpas into 
the marshes. Unless, therefore, some one should again block up the chan- 
nel of the Pallacopas, so that the water, repulsed near the banks (dams), 
remains in the channel, it may so greatly drain the Euphrates into it, that 
thus the fields of Assyria cannot be irrigated by it. Wherefore, a gover- 
nor of Babylonia, with much labour, blocked up the exits of the Euphrates 
into the Pallacopas (although they are not opened with much difficulty) ; 
because in those parts the soil is marshy and for the most part muddy, 
seeing that it is well washed by the water of the river, it may allow of the less 
easy shutting out of the water : — so that they may have occupied more than 
10,000 Assyrians three whole months at this work. When these things 
were told to Alexander, they incited him to meditate something to the 
advantage of Assyria. Therefore, at the point where the flow of the 
Euphrates is drained into the Pallacopas, he resolved to dam its mouth 
firmly up. When he had proceeded thirti/ stadia, the ground was observed 
to be rocky, of such kind that, if a cutting were carried to the ancient 
channel of the Pallacopas, the water might be prevented from overflowing 
by means of the firmness of the soil, and that its escape might be able to 
be effected without difficulty at a stated period of the year. Therefore, 
Alexander both sailed to the Pallacopas, and descended by it to the marshes, 
into the region of Arabia. There, having fixed on a certain convenient 
locality, he built a city, and surrounded it with walls, and conveyed to it a 
colony of Greek mercenaries, volunteers, and others, who, by reason of 
their age or any debility, had become useless in war." — Arrian, Be Exp. 
Alex., lib. vii. c. 21. 

* Many authors place the Pallacopas and Alexander's cutting helow Baby- 
lon, and so it is laid down upon many of our maps, but this is quite con- 
trary to the ancient accounts. 


caused an infinity of expense and annoyance to the pashas 
of Baghdad. 

The mouth of this interesting canal is situated about 
two miles below the khan at Mtisseib, and about six- 
teen miles above the commencement of the existing 
ruins of Babylon, at a point where the natural channel 
of the Euphrates makes a slight eastern bend. When 
greatly flooded, the violence of the stream frequently 
breaks down the artificial barriers erected to reoTilate the 
influx of water, and enlarges the entrance of the Hindieh. 
Immense sums of money are expended by the Turkish 
Government in rebuilding, repaiiing, and strengthening 
the dam, because the river has a tendency to quit the 
Babylon channel, and to flow westward into the marshes, 
as in the days of Alexander. The natural efi"ect is to 
deprive the eastern side of the Euphrates of its due irri- 
gation, by reducing all the canals below the point of 
bifurcation ; the villages become deserted, and the fields 
uncultivated. On the western side, the rice-grounds of 
the Khuzeyl Arabs are overflowed, and cultivation is 
entirely out of the question. The chief revenues of Bagh- 
dad being derived from these regions, it is of the utmost 
importance that the equilibrium of the two branches of 
the Euphrates shoidd be properly cared for. 

Soon after the accession of Abdi Pasha to the govern- 
ment of the pro\T.nce, like aU his predecessors, his attention 
was directed to this subject. The force of the stream, 
caused by the extraordinary rise of the river, had carried 
away every trace of the former dams, and enlarged the 
mouth of the Hindieh to such an extent, that the 
Euphrates bid fair to disapj)ear into the western marshes. 
He therefore cut a new channel, 120 feet broad, at a 
short distance above the bifurcation, wliich relieved the 
pressure, and enabled him to effect the building of a new 
and strong dam of osiers, reeds, and earth, at the mouth 


of tlie Hinclieli, while tlie quantity of water admitted 
into the new cut was regulated by two solid brick piers, 
with sluice-gates eighty feet wide. 

Notwithstanding all this expense and trouble, the river 
in 1854 overcame all obstacles, and once more regained 
possession of the marshes. Flowing southwards a few 
miles, a deep stream, 180 feet wide, with banks 10 or 20 
feet high, the Hindieh enters and is lost in the great 
inundation, extending on the north and west of the Birs 
Nimrud, passes Keffil and the ruins of Kiifa, and ulti- 
mately debouches into the great inland freshwater sea of 

No modern traveller has yet succeeded in following the 
entire course of the ancient Pallacopas, but traces of its 
channel are still visible on the east of the town of 

The great sheet of water, the Bahr-i-Nedjef, extends 
forty miles in a south-easterly direction, and at its south- 
ern extremity gives out two considerable streams, Shat- 
el-Khilzif and Shat-el-Atchan, which subsequently unite, 
and are known by the latter name. Further to the south, 
five laroe bodies of water have their origin from the 
Atclian, and, uniting, constitute the Huran. This, after 
flowing about thirty miles, eventually joins the Atchan, 
and the two rivers form what is called the AVestern or 
Semava branch of the Euphrates. All the above branches 
are navigable when the mouth of the Hindieh is open, and 
it is by them that merchandise is conveyed from Busrah 
to Hillali. When the great annual rise of the Euj)hrates 

* The marshes between the mouth of the Hindieh and the Bdhr-1-Nedjef 
were first surveyed by Mr T. K. Lynch of Baghdad, who there frequently 
met with the banks of an ancient canal — the Nahr-Algam — which may be 
the veritable channel of the Pallacopas. This gentleman communicated an 
interesting memoir on his researches to the Royal Geographical Society. 
The region has been since examined in more detail during the survey of the 
environs of Babylon by Captain Jones, I.N. 


occurs, thewliole region, from the Bahr-i-Nedjef to Semava, 
is one continuous inundation, called the " Khor Ullah," or. 
Marshes of God/'' Here and there it is dotted with 
thousands of small islands, separated from each other by 
an infinity of streamlets. It was amid the innumerable 
channels of these Paludes BabylonicB that Alexander was 
overtaken by a storm, and all but lost, during his sail 
down the Pallacopas.t 

It is only when the mouth of the Hindleh is opened by 
the destruction of the dams that the modern traveller is 
enabled to see the Paludes Babylonice as Alexander saw 
them. When, however, the Hindieh is closed effectually for 
a time, the Khiizif and Atclian cease altogether to exist, and 
the toAvn of Semava is supplied by two smaU canals derived 
from the HiUah branch of the Euphrates, near Dlwanleh. 
Such was probably the case during the labours of the 
officers in the Euphrates expedition under Colonel Chesney, 
as the streams flomng from the Bahr-i-Nedjef are not laid 
down on any map. Instead of them, however, there is 
the course of an extinct river-bed passing east of the 
Bahr-1-Nedjef to Semava, which may represent the Palla- 
copas of Alexander in a portion of its course. 

* Between Semdva and the southern extremity of the B4hr-i-Nedjef, the 
marshes were, I beheve, wholly unexplored, until T succeeded in sailing in 
a native vessel up the Hdrdn and Atchdn, to Shindfieh, the residence of 
the Khuzeyl Sheikh. They are for the first time laid down on the map 
which accompanies this volume. 

t Arrian, vii. 22, and Strabo. 


Kufa— A Fiery Ride— Nedjef, and the Tomb of 'Ali— The Ghyawr in 
the Golden Mosque — Fanaticism ot the Sheahs — Far-travelled 
Coffins and Costly Interments — How the Prime-Minister got a 
Grave at a Great Bargain — Turkish Torpor and Cleanliness versus 
Persian Dirt and Vivacity. 

A SAIL of four hours and a half from Keffil clown the 
stream brings the pilgrim to a little tomb dedicated to 
Nebbl Yunus (not the prophet of Nineveh, but a much 
more modern personage). Here the freights are dis- 
charged from the boats, and the journey to the shrine of 
'All again commences by land, passing over a spot cele- 
brated in modern history. 

Sa'ad ibn 'Abu Wakkas, after the signal battle obtained 
by the Moslems at Kadessiyya, and the capture of the 
wealthy city Madayn, would fain have pursued Yezde- 
glrd, the last of the Sassanian kings, to the Persian 
mountain fortress of Hoi wan. He was restrained from 
doing so by the cautious Khallf Omar, who feared lest his 
generals, in the flush and excitement of victory, might 
hurry forward beyond the reach of succour. The climate 
of Madayn proving unhealthy to his troops, Saad was 
ordered by the khallf to seek some favourable site on the 
western side of the Euphrates, where there was good air, 
a well-watered plain, and plenty of grass. Sa ad chose 
for this purpose the village of Kiifa, which, according to 
tradition, was the spot where the angel Gabriel alighted 
upon earth and prayed — where the waters of the deluge 


first burst forth from the ground — and where Noah 
embarked in the arl^ ! The Arabs further pretend that 
the serpent, after tempting Eve, was banished to this 
place. Hence, they say, the guile and treachery for which 
the men of Kiifa were proverbial. The city which rose 
upon this spot became so celebrated, that the branch of 
the Euphrates upon which it stood was generally denomi- 
nated Nahr Kiifa. The most ancient characters of the 
Arabic alphabet are termed Kufic to the present day. It 
was here, too, that the unfortunate 'Ali — the son-in-law 
and successor of the Prophet — was assassinated, in the 
fifth year of his khalifat, by the three fanatic loaders of 
the Karigites.'"' Of Kufa there now only remain a few 
low mounds and a fragment of wall. Although the city 
is said to have extended to Kerbella, forty-five miles dis- 
tant, there are fewer relics of its greatness now visible 
than of Babylon, which was in ruins upwards of a thou- 
sand years before the foundation of Kufa ! Whatever may 
have been the fertility of Kufa in the days of Sa'ad ibn 
'Abil Wakkas, it has none to boast of now. 

From Kufa to Meshed 'Ali is a distance of 7 miles, over a 
gravelly soil, utterly devoid of vegetation. It was one of 
the hottest rides I ever remember to have experienced. 
There was not the slightest breath of air to dissipate the 
heat. The dome and minarets of Meshed 'All quivered 
in the mirage. The gravel reflected the sun's rays 
so powerfully as to cause men and animals to seek for 
temporary shelter under the scanty shade of the little 
round towers which at intervals guard the road. Our 
very dogs howled piteously being obliged to follow us, 
lest they should be left behind. Whenever the eye rested 
for an instant on any object, it felt scorched and 

* For an interesting account of the scenes with which KAfa is connected 
at the commencement of the Mohammedan era, see the " Lives of the Suc- 
cessors of Mohammed," by Washington Irving. 


bloodshot. An umbrella was useless, for, altliougli it 
served to break the vertical heat of the mid-day sun, it 
concentrated the rays reflected from the ground, and 
afforded a welcome shade to the few flies which were able 
to exist in such a fiery atmosphere. Never was I more 
gratified than in gaining the tents, already pitched in a 
large oblong space within the walls, and near one of the 
gates of the town of Nedjef. Tahir Bey, who accom- 
panied us, had insisted upon this arrangement; he would 
not be answerable for our security in the desert outside, 
because many roving parties of Bedouins were reported 
to be in the neighbourhood. 

Nedjef was founded on the site of ancient Hira, which, 
in the early part of the first century, gave origin to a race 
of Arab kings, who subsequently acknowledged allegiance 
to the Persians, and acted as lieutenants of Irak. During 
the third century, many Jacobite Christians, driven by per- 
secutions and disorders in the Church, took refuge at 
Hira ; and, shortly before the birth of Mohammed, the 
king of Hira and all his subjects had embraced Christi- 
anity. Much is said of the splendour of the capital, 
which possessed two large palaces of extraordinary 
beauty. When 'Abil Beker, in the second year of the 
khalifat, undertook to execute the injunction of the 
Prophet, and to carry out the gigantic task submitted to 
him of converting the whole world to Islamism, he 
entrusted the conquest of Hira to the energetic Khaled. 
The city was speedily taken, its palaces stormed, its king 
killed in battle, and 3,n annual tribute of 7000 pieces of 
gold imposed upon the kingdom. This was the first 
tribute ever levied by Moslems in a foreign land, and 
Hira was the first place beyond the confines of Arabia 
occupied by their advancing hosts.'"* 

* See Washington Irving's " Lives of the Successors of Mohammed,'" 
already referred to. 



Nedjef is at the present day, however, far more cele- 
brated as the spot where the body of the murdered 'All 
was consigned to the tomb, and that magnificent mosque 
erected over it, which annually attracts thousands of 
Sheah Mohammedans to perform a pilgrimage to its 
shrine, invariably known to the Persian as "Meshed 'All." 

The town is situated on a cliff of reddish sandstone 
and gravel forty feet high, overlooking the Bahr-i-Nedjef. 
It is said to bear a striking resemblance to Jerusalem in 
its general appearance and position. The walls are in 
excellent repair, and surrounded by a deep and wdde 
moat, now without water. On one side, this moat follows 
the line of a natural ravine, exhibiting a good geological 
section on its sides. The water of the Bahr, when con- 
nected with the Euphrates, is sweet and drinkable, but 
when the mouth of the Hindieh is completely closed, it 
becomes very unpalatable, and the people of Nedjef are 
then obliged to convey water from Kiifa. This condition 
of the water arises, as previously stated, from its con- 
nexion with rocks of the gypsiferous series. The level of 
the sea, observed from Nedjef, has undoubtedly under- 
gone considerable change — two distinct ranges of cliffs 
mark its former extent at different epochs. 

It is seldom that a Christian has the opportunity of 
entering a Mohammedan place of worship, much less such 
a sacred mosque as that of Meshed 'All. We were all 
naturally anxious to visit it, and experienced no very 
insuperable objection on the part of our Silnni compa- 
nions to aid in the accomplishment of our wish. Tahir 
Bey, like most others of his sect and race, took a pleasure 
in causing the Sheah Persians to " eat dirt" at the hands of 
the Ghyawr. As military governor of the district, he had 
accompanied us with a strong escort, for the double pur- 
pose of guarding and doing honour to our party. The 
troops were now drawn up under the latter pretext, but 


in reality to conduct us to the mosque, and be prepared 
for any emeute wliicli migiit arise in consequence of our 
temerity. The inhabitants, in accordance with their 
Oriental customs, rose and saluted, or returned the salutes 
of Dervish Pasha and Tahir Bey as we passed through 
the bazaars ; but they bestowed a very doubtful and 
scrutinizing glance on the large party of Firenghis. A 
crowd gathered as we marched onward, and, on approach- 
ing the gate of the outer court, the threatening looks and 
whispered remarks of the groups around made it evident 
that we were regarded with no especial favour. The 
troops drew up outside the gate, and, as any hesitation on 
our part might have produced serious consequences, we 
boldly entered the forbidden threshold. 

It is all but impossible to convey to the mind of an- 
other the impression produced on the senses by the first 
inspection of a Persian mosque. The extreme richness 
and brilliancy of the polychromatic decoration, and the 
exquisite harmony of the whole, cannot fail to leave a 
lasting impression. 

It has been said, and is generally recognized, that the 
Arian races, among whom the Persians are included, 
are wanting in originality of design. This is not, how- 
ever, borne out by facts, because no Oriental people 
exhibit more original taste than the Persians in beauty 
of design and the power of expressing it, as exhibited in 
their edifices and works of art. Mr Fergusson, in his 
" Hand-Book of Architecture," "' well remarks on this 
subject, that '' they are now too deeply depressed to 
attempt much ; but it only seems to require a gleam of 
returning sunshine to enable them again to rival in art 
the ancient glories of Ninoveh and Persepolis." 

Like the generality of mosques, that of Meshed 'Ali is 
arranged in the form of a rectangle. The mausoleum 

♦ Vol. i., p. 411. 


stands nearly in the centre of a large court, the walls 
of which, as well as those of the principal building, are 
adorned from top to base with square encaustic tiles. 
The design on these is a succession of scrolls, leaves, and 
doves wrouglit into the most intricate patterns. The 
colours, though bright, are so admirably and harmoniously 
blended and softened down by lines of white, that the 
surface appears like a rich mosaic set in silver. Each wall 
is divided by two tiers of blind arches, ornamented 
throughout in sunilar manner, above each of which are 
texts from the Koran, written in letters of gold. Two 
highly-decorated gateways, deeply set in lofty fiat 4)anels, 
give admission to the great court of the mosque, and 
serve to relieve the otherwise monotonous aspect of the 
enclosure. The summit of the mausoleum walls are like- 
wise surrounded by passages from the Koran. At three 
corners are minarets, two of which in front are covered 
throughout with gilt tiles, said to have cost two tomans 
(£1 sterling) each. These, together with a magnificent 
dome of the same costly material, give to the tout 
ensemhle a gorgeous appearance. Seen in the distance, 
with the sun shining upon it, the dome of Meshed 'All 
might be mistaken for a mound of gold rising from the 
level deserts. Before the door of the shrine stands an 
elegant fountain of brass, bright and poHshed like the 
dome itself. 

If the court of this remarkable building be so gorge- 
ously and extravagantly adorned, we may perhaps credit 
the accounts of its internal richness and magnificence. 
Slabs of the purest gold are said to pave the floor- 
ing of the sanctuary, and utensils innumerable and 
of unknown value — the gifts of the pious — to decorate 
the shrine. If all be true which Oriental tongue speaks, 
we are called on to believe that a mint of untold treasure 
lies concealed in the vaults below. The tomb of the 


great saint was not for infidels to approach and defile ; 
but the Gliyawr were perfectly content with the sight 
they were permitted to behold in the court of the mosque, 
in wliich there was more than sufficient to engage atten- 
tion and excite admiration. It is exceedingly strange 
to remark how the same observances have prevailed 
unchanged from early times. We read that, eighteen 
centuries ago, our Saviour went up to Jerusalem, " and 
found in the temple those that sold oxen, and sheep, and 
doves, and the changers of money sitting." ^'' So in the 
court of Meshed 'All a constant fair is carried on at stalls, 
which are supphed with every article likely as offerings 
to attract the eye of the rich or pious — among these 
white doves are particularly conspicuous. 

We did not tarry long, as it was evident, from the 
demeanour of those around us, that we Avere not welcome 
pilgrims to the holy shrine ; we therefore slowly retired, 
casting a last lingering glance on this noble and fasci- 
nating specimen of Persian art. It was only on emerging 
from the gateway that we for the first time perceived the 
object for which the Turkish troops had accompanied 
us. Aware of the excitable feelings of the Persian crowd, 
Tahir Bey had taken all parties unawares, by marching us 
direct to the mosque before the people could comprehend 
his intention, or collect for the purpose of resistance. He 
subsequently acknowledged that in returning he was not 
a httle alarmed at the aspect of the populace. Kindly 
feeling and hospitality were certainly not at that moment 
engraven on their countenances. It is difficult to forget 
the expression of passion which greeted any of the party 
who accidentally brushed against the robe of a " true 
believer." The injm^ed " professor of the faith " hastily 
drew back, muttered an audible curse on the unclean 
Firenghi, and proceeded on his way to wash and cleanse 

• John ii. 14. 


himself from tlie polluted touch, or put his hand on the 
handle of his broad-bladed dagger, as if about to inflict 
summary vengeance for the insult he had received.- 
Nedjef and Kerbella are notorious for the fanatics who 
congregate to those places from all quarters. If they had 
been aware of Tahir Bey's intention to admit us to the 
mosque, there is no doubt that they would have collected 
in front of the gates and made open resistance to such an 
iniquitous proceeding on the part of a Mohammedan. As 
it was, we had the satisfaction of beholding the interior 
of a mosque, to which but few Europeans are ever likely 
to obtain access. 

The profound veneration in which the memory of 'Ali 
is regarded by his followers, causes Nedjef to be the 
great place of pilgrimage for the Sheah Mohammedans, 
by whom the town is entirely supported. At a low 
average, 80,000 persons annually flock to pay their vows 
at the sacred shrine, and from 5000 to 8000 corpses are 
brought every year from Persia and elsewhere to be buried 
in the ground consecrated by the blood of the martyred 
khalif. The dead are conveyed in boxes covered with 
coarse felt, and placed two on each side upon a mule, or 
one upon each side, with a ragged conductor on the top, 
who smokes his kaliyun and sings cheerily as he jogs along, 
quite unmindful of his charge. Every caravan travelling 
from Persia to Baghdad carries numbers of coflins ; and it 
is no uncommon sight, at the end of a day's march, to 
see fifty or sixty piled upon each other on the ground. As 
may be imagined, they are not the most agreeable com- 
panions on a long journey, especially when the unruly 
mule carrying them gets between the traveller and the 
wind ! 

The fee charged by the authorities of the mosque 
for burial varies from 10 to 200 tomans (£5 to £100), 
and sometimes much more. It is entirely at the discre- 



tioii of the mullas, and they proportion it according to 
the wealth or rank of the deceased. On the arrival of a 

Carriage ol Corpses. 

corpse, it is left outside the walls, while the relatives or 
persons in charge of it (frequently the muleteer of the 
caravan) endeavour to make a bargain for its final rest- 
ing-place. Several days are frequently spent in vain over 
these preliminaries. At length one party or other gives 
way — generally the relatives — as the corpse, after many 
days' and frequently months' carriage in a powerful sun, 
has disseminated disease and death among its followers, 
who are glad to rid themselves of its companionship. 
The place of sepulture for the lower classes, or for those 
whose friends are unwilling to pay for a vault within the 
sacred precincts of the mosque, is outside the walls on the 
north side of the city, where the graves are neatly con- 
structed with bricks, and covered with gravel or cement 
to preserve them from injury. When the corpse is to be 


buried withiii the walls, it is conveyed into the town. 
The officers of interment then generally find some pretext 
for breaking the former compact, and the unfortunate 
relatives are under the necessity of striking a fresh and 
much harder bargain. 

The same system of official fleecing is adopted at the 
adjoining city of Kerbella, where a story is told of the 
manner in Avhich Hadji Mirza Aghassi, a rascally ex- 
prime minister of Persia, outwitted the cuj)idity of the 
hard-hearted cemetery authorities. He was known to be 
enormously wealthy, and had gone to Kerbella that the 
sanctity of the spot, where he proposed to lay his bones, 
mio;ht in some measure atone for the crimes he had com- 
mitted. On his deathbed, he sent to inquire what sum 
would be demanded for a vault within the moscjlie, and 
was informed that no less than 2000 tomans (£1000) was 
expected from so great a man as an ex-prime-minister. 
He then sent to ask the fee for a hole outside the town. 
Thinking he was joking at their expense, the mullas 
replied in dudgeon "a keran" (one shilling). The old 
fellow at once closed the bargain, and was actually buried 
in the common ground ! His tomb is marked by a simple 
brick monument, which attracts much attention because 
it covers the bones of a " great" scoundrel. 

But to return to Nedjef. The constant influx of Persians 
is vastly enriching the place, as proved by its recent en- 
largement, and the rebuilding of new walls round a great 
part of its circuit. To remedy the inconvenience at times 
resulting from the want of good water, a new canal is in 
course of construction direct from the Euphrates, which, 
being excavated in solid rock to the depth of fifty feet, 
will, when finished, reflect great credit on their skill 
as engineers. Workmen are seen busily engaged in 
building and restoring houses, and tradespeople appear 
to thrive. But there is always a remarkable contrast 


betAveeii tlie life and activity of a Persian and the dulness 
and decay of a Turkish city. There is, however, one 
point in which the better-clad Turk surpasses his Eastern 
neighbour ; he always exhibits the flowing sleeve of a 
clean under garment, but the Persian has no regard what- 
ever for personal cleanliness, and even a royal prince sel- 
dom indulges in the luxury of a change of linen. 

The curiosity of the inhabitants of Nedjef was exhibited 
more than is usually the case with Orientals. They col- 
lected in large numbers at a respectful distance from our 
tents ; some even went so far beyond their ordinary 
habits, as to bring their harems to indulge in a prolonged 
stare at the wonderful Ghyawr who had the audacity to 
enter their mosque. The night was oppressively hot, and, 
confined within the close walls, we felt it doubly so from 
previously sleeping in the open desert. 

The governor took every precaution against danger and 
insult, by placing a strong guard around our tents — sen- 
tinels being stationed at very short intervals apart. But 
for this foresight, it is possible to conceive what the 
audacity and fanaticism of the Shealis might have dared 
and effected during the darkness of night. All, however, 
pas,sed off quietly, and long before dawn the Firenghi 
camp was astir. While the tents were being struck, we 
were suddenly assailed by the most foul and unbear- 
able stench ; several persons retched violently, all being 
more or less affected. It was afterwards ascertained that 
a large pile of coffins, which had stood for several days in 
the fierce sun, waiting for the concluding bargain between 
their owners and the authorities, had been hastily removed 
on the previous day to afford space for our camp. They 
were placed out of sight in an adjoining empty space, 
enclosed by a high wall, but the morning breeze blowing 
from that direction, unfortunately revealed that which it 
was never intended should be made known to us. It was 


fortunate this did not occur during the night, or we 
might have been smitten with severe illness. Welcome 
was the bugle sound that summoned us to mount our 
steeds and ride forth once more into the pure atmosphere 
of the Arab desert. 

On quitting Nedjef the commissioners were, of course, 
saluted by the garrison, who were drawn up outside 
the gate for the purpose, and by the cannon from the 
w^alls. As the red light momentarily flashed upon the 
golden dome of the mosque, the effect, viewed through 
the column of white smoke, was such as few artists can 
paint. The dead gold mass was for the instant ilUmiined 
with a colour rivalHng even that of Mont Blanc viewed 
from Geneva at sunset. There was a sublimity about 
the scene which did not fail to impress the minds of all 
who witnessed it. As if for the sake of contrast, the sun 
immediately afterwards rose, and with his rays enveloped 
the mosque in a flood of dazzling brilliancy. 


Kerbella — The GoYomor's Dejeuner — The "Martyr" Husseyn, and Ms 
Mosque — Siege and Massacre — The " Campo Santo " at Kerbella — 
Oratoiy of 'All — Magnificent Sunrise — Eastern Ladies, Mounted and 
on Foot — The Ferry. 

The direct road from Nedjef to Kerbella runs along tlie 
skirt of the great Arabian desert, but is little frequented 
on account of the danger from Bedouin plunderers — none 
but large and well-armed parties daring to follow it. 
Within sight on the east are the marshes of the Hindieh, 
otherwise the route is entirely without water. We met 
nothing, and saw nothing worthy of notice to relieve the 
tedium of this desert journey, except here and there an 
Arab tomb, with a few reeds stuck into the sand in lieu 
of gravestones, and now and then a human skull or 
the skeleton of a camel— the remains probably of some 
poor wretches overcome by fatigue and thirst, whose 
strength failed them before the long-coveted draught 
could be attained. 

The approach to Kerbella is somewhat more hvely than 
that to Nedjef An abundance of date-trees surround 
the town, and several buildings erected outside the walls 
imply a greater amount of security from the roving tribes. 
At the outskirts are several kilns, where bricks of similar 
size and form to those of Babylon are made for modern 

Here a reception and scene awaited us much resem- 


bling that which greeted our arrival at Hillah. The 
civil governor came forth to pay his respects, accom- 
panied by the mullas and grandees of the mosques, in 
extensive tiu'bans of the finest and cleanest white muslin, 
embroidered with gold, and otherwise most picturesquely 
attired. In truly Oriental style, they informed us that 
their houses and all they possessed were at our disposal, 
a compliment which, in common with many others, means 
nothing, or, as the Osmanli would express it, " bosh." As 
before, a band endeavoured to execute its best airs on the 
joyful occasion, but, as every man played his own tune, 
at his own time, and with all the lungs whicli nature had 
endowed him with, it is totally impossible to say what 

was the orioinal air. Seldom is heard such a discordant 


din ; it was laughable beyond endurance. With this too 
great attention, in a cloud of dust we entered the gates 
of Kerbella, and dismounted at the seray, where, after 
coffee and pipes, the worthy governor, who had been 
previously informed of our expected arrival, announced 
that he would be highly honoured by our taking break- 

The tents had but just arrived, so there was little 
prospect of our meal being prepared for some time. The 
invitation was therefore accepted, and we were duly 
ushered into an adjoining room, where, around a huge 
tray, raised a foot from the ground, we sixteen hungiy 
travellers sat down upon the cushioned floor. The com- 
ponents of the entertainment were pillaf, a few vegetables 
cooked in a variety of ways, and one small dish of meat 
— all, it is true, pleasantly flavoured with lemon, but so 
overwhelmed with grease, %that, unless the guests had been 
hungry beyond description, they would have fared but 
badly. Each dish, however, was rapidly emptied of its 
contents, as hand after hand was thrust into the well- 
piled heaps. The whole entertainment was concluded 


with a large bowl of — not intoxicating liquors (Moham- 
medan hospitahty, of course, does not admit of such 
forbidden draughts) ; but — mild innocuous sherbet, into 
which we dived strange-shaj^ed wooden spoons, one being 
supplied to every two or three persons present. When 
the satisfied guests ceased from their labom^s and looked 
around upon their friends, the mutual examination was 
repaid by the sight of greasy hands and well-oiled beards. 
This ample feast duly fitted us for a ramble through the 
town and a visit to such " lions " as Kerbella contained. 

Throughout the East news flies with unaccountable 
rapidity, and it is frequently impossible to trace its 
origin. An instance of this occurred at Kerbella on the 
occasion of our visit. Although we had travelled in the 
most speedy manner from Nedjef, our proceedings at 
that place had got wind, and we found the gateway of 
the great mosque of Husseyn filled with a crowd of raga- 
mufiins, most forbidding in appearance, armed with 
clubs, sticks, and daggers to oppose our entry. At the 
head of the group stood a dervish ^\ith demoniacal 
expression of countenance. A tuft of shaggy hair hung 
from the top of his otherwise bald head, and his felt 
garment, scarcely sufticient to cover his nakedness, was 
patched with divers colours, and in every direction. 
With his legs astride, a dagger in one hand, and a for- 
midable bludgeon over his shoulder, he looked the picture 
of a rascal capable of any mischief, and ready to excite 
the multitude to commit any excess. During our stay 
at Kerbella, this dervish acted as a species of evil spirit, 
watching our movements, and following us about from 
place to place. The mullas from the interior made a 
sign that we should not apjDroach. We were therefore 
oblio;ed to rest contented with a distant view. Tahir 


Bey dared not to force a passage ; nor would it have 
been prudent to do so, as it was clear that the populace 


was prepared for resistance. Although the soldiers might 
have beaten off an undisciplined mob, we should not have 
been justified in the attempt. Tolerably good views of 
the mosques were, however, obtained from houses in their 
immediate vicinity. Two or three of our Christian 
attendants, favoured by some of their Mohammedan 
fellows, succeeded in gaining admission to the mosque of 
Husseyn ; but they were soon discovered, beaten with 
sticks, stoned, and turned out along with their intro- 
ducers. They might congratulate themselves in getting 
off so easily. A short account of the origin of these 
monuments may not be without interest to ' th^ unini- 
tiated in Arab history. 

On the death of 'All, the fourth khalif, according to 
the Sunnis, in the fortieth year of the Hegira, his eldest 
son Hassan was elected as his successor ; but, lacking the 
energy and courage necessary during the civil wars that 
distracted the early periods of the Moslem empire, he 
shortly afterwards abdicated in favour of Moawyah, his 
father's great opponent, and was murdered nine years 
afterwards at the instigation, it is supposed, of Yezid, the 
son of Moawyah. When Yezid succeeded his father in 
the khalifat, his first aim was to secure undisputed pos- 
session of power. He therefore endeavoured to extract 
an oath of fealty from, or to compass the death of, Hus- 
seyn, the second son of 'All, who inherited the daring 
character of his father. Husseyn discovered the plot, and 
escaped with his brothers and family to Mecca, where he 
declared himself openly in opposition to Yezid. On 
receiving overtures of assistance from the people of Kilfa, 
he set out for that city with a small force ; but soon dis- 
covered that the Kufites were fickle and faithless. Obeid- 
'allah, the governor, acting with promptitude, sent out 
strong forces to intercept Husseyn's approach, whose little 
party was surrounded at Kerbella, and cut off from the 


waters of the Euphrates, so that they suffered the extre- 
mities of thirst. After various parleys, orders were issued 
by Obeid'allah to 'Amar, in command of the khalif s forces : 
— " If Husseyn and his men submit and take the oath of 
allegiance, treat them kindly ; if they refuse, slay them — 
ride over them — trample them under the feet of thy 
horses ! " Husseyn, seeing that all hope of honourable 
terms was vain, resolved to die, but to die bravely. His 
little band determined to share his desperate fortunes. 
A general assault was at length made upon his camp, 
which, being skilfully arranged, was for a time success- 
fully defended. Numbers, however, ultimately prevailed, 
and Husseyn, faint from loss of blood, sank to the earth, 
and was stripped ere life was fled. Thirty wounds were 
counted on his body. His head was sent to Obeid'allah ; 
and Shemr, who carried the order for his death, with his 
troops, rode forward and backward over the body, as he 
had been ordered, until it was trampled into the earth. 
Seventy-two followers of Husseyn were slain, seventeen 
of whom were descendants of Mohammed's only daughter, 
— among them Husseyn's brother ^Abbas. The only per- 
sons who escaped from this massacre were the women 
and children, with 'All-ezgher, the son of Husseyn, from 
whom are descended the modern " Seyids." ""' 

The Persians hold the memory of Husseyn in great 
veneration, entitling him Shahid, or the Martyr. He 
and his lineal descendants for nine generations are en- 
rolled among the twelve Imams or pontiffs of the Persian 
creed. The first ten days of the month of Moharrem are 
held sacred, in commemoration of the strife between 
Husseyn and his enemies, and are called " 'Ashiera," 
the tenth day being kept with great solemnity as the an- 

* This interesting, but cruel, episode in Moslem history is given, with 
affecting details, in Washington Irving's " Lives of the Successors of Mo- 
hammed," from which the above account is partially extracted. 


uiversaiy of his martyrdom/'' A splendid mosque was 
erected in after years on the spot where he fell, and to 
which, it is said, the body of his brother Hassan was 
removed. An inferior one was dedicated to 'Abb^s, their 
brother, who shared the fate of Husseyn.t 

The mosque of Husseyn is very similar in plan to that 
of Meshed 'All, but cannot be compared with it for rich- 
ness of decoration, cleanliness, or state of repair. The 
dome only is gilded. One of the three minarets appears 
in imminent danger of falling into the court below, the 
walls of which are in a most dilapidated condition. This 
state of things arises from the occupation of ttie gity by 
the Turkish troops under Daoud Pasha of Baghdad. 
Nedjef and Kerbella, being sanctuaries of high repute, 
were resorted to by every class of ruffians and ba*d cha- 
racters, the extent of whose outrages became so glaring 
that it was necessary to suppress and root them out 
from their places of concealment. The pasha made him- 
self master of Nedjef ; but Kerbella, being thus rein- 
forced by the expelled " Yerrimasis," held out during a long 
siege. An approach was made to the weakest part of the 
walls, where a breach was eventually effected. The sol- 

* These fetes are celebrated among the Persians with theatrical represen- 
tations of the scenes attendant on the death of Huss6yn, for an account of 
which I may refer the reader to Lady Sheil's amusing " Glimpses of Life 
and Manners in Persia," p. 125. 

t At the distance of a day's gallop from Kerbella is another site of 
extreme interest in the history of the Arab conquest, El Kadder, the 
ancient Kddessiyya, where Sa'ad ibn 'Abd Wakkds, the founder of Ktifa, 
utterly vanquished the vast Porsian host, and seized the sacred standard 
of the Dardfash-1-K4wdni, the loss of which was regarded as a symbol of 
the loss of power by the Persians. With the disaster at Kddessiyya the 
rule of the Sassanian kings terminated, and the religion of Mohammed 
spread unchecked throughout L-^n. Kddesslyya has been visited by two 
Englishmen — Messrs W. B. Barker and Boulton — who met with extensive 
ruins and halls. These are ornamented with a range of masks, carried 
round the archivolts of the arched roofs, in the same style as at Al Hddhr 
in the desert near Mosul, where they present such a remai'kable feature in 
Sassanian architecture. 


diers entered, and the place was given over to pillage, 
when the most dreadful scenes took place. The troops 
poured volleys among unoffending women and children, 
and massacred the inhabitants within the very mosques. 
Tahir Bey himself was an officer at this cruel siege, and 
received his promotion in consequence. With his own 
hand he cut do'v^Ti three of the Yerrimasis, while his men, 
dragging forth seventy from among a party of women, with 
whom they had taken shelter, shot them on the spot ! 

The marks of this celebrated siege are still visible in 
various parts of the town. Opposite to the seray, the 
houses demolished have never been rebuilt, but exhibit a 
wretched scene of destruction. The mosques suffered 
seriously, and the ravages of the cannon-balls are dis- 
tinctly traceable on their domes, as well as in the walls 
of the town, where the holes made have not been repaired. 
The date-trees also exhibit evident marks of the injuries 
received from a cross fire, which for a leng-th of time 
prevented the batteries of the Turks from making the 
breach. Several have holes through the centre of their 
stems, others have large pieces torn from their sides ; one 
still flourishes, although the branches are merely con- 
nected with the stem by a narrow strip of wood on one 
side ; some have never recovered the effect of theii" 
wounds, but stand like stunted poles, without foliage."' 

The arrangements for the disposal of the dead at Ker- 
bella are on the same system as at Meshed 'Ali ; but the 
numbers conveyed thither yearl}^ are considerably larger 
— Kerbella being, for some reason or other, both pecu- 
liarly aristocratic and popular. It is always alluded to 
by the Persians in preference to Meshed 'Ali. Little 
respect is shewn to the dead in committing them to th-^ir 

* It was chiefly in consequence of this siege, that hostilities had almost 
taken place between the Turkish and Persian Governments, as stated in the 
opening chapter of this volume. 


66 *' TENT " OF 'ALf. 

last resting-place, a grave being dug of barely sufficient 
depth to cover tbe coffin, which is hastily and unceremo- 
niously covered up. Cemeteries throughout the East are 
generally kept in tolerable order; but at Kerbella no 
care is exhibited, the brickwork of the graves has fallen 
in, and the ravages of dogs, jackals, and hyaenas may be 
observed in the holes they have made, and in the foul 
shreds of every hue and colour torn from the coffins and 
bodies of the corpses. It might be thought that, seeing such 
a disgusting sight, the thousands of pilgrims who return 
to their homes would be induced to discountenance the 
system of conveying the remains of their friends to this 
place. Such, however, is not the case ; and the desire to 
be buried on a spot rendered sacred by the blood of a 
martyr, prevails over all other considerations, and a 
tomb at Kerbella, or Meshed 'All, is looked on as an 
expiation for the greatest crimes, and a surety that, at 
the day of judgment, the pardoned sinner will rise into 
the seventh heaven.'"' 

This system of forming cemeteries, and com^eying the 
dead for interment to some distant and sacred spot, has 
prevailed from very early times among different nations. 
I shall, have, ere long, to describe some remarkable ancient 
cemeteries, which, from their magnitude, could never have 
originated from a fixed population in the immediate 
neighbourhood, unless aided by an accumulation from 
many distant localities. 

Outside the gates of Kerbella is a small oratory, said to 
have been erected on the spot where the great 'All had a 
celebrated vision in his tent, and, from that circumstance, 
it is called " the tent of 'Ali." It is a dodecagon, having 
six entrances, and is surrounded by a covered veranda 

• These are not, however, the only sacred burial-places to which the 
Persians resort. Kathemd'in near B%hddd, Sdmdra, Meshed, and Koom 
are all likewise hallowed from possessing the bones of the descendants of 


supported on columns. Judging from the cracks in the 
building, it is not destined to stand for any great length 
of time. The whitened walls were written over with 
many extracts from Persian poets and modern effusions, 
but the place was anything but clean. Two cunning- 
looking Persian muUas received us, but objected to our 
entering with our boots. Having no desire to insult theii- 
prejudices we abstained from going beyond the veranda : 
but the Turkish officer accompanying us took no notice of 
the objection, and walked boldly in. " By 'Mi's beard ! 
why do you enter this clean and holy place to pol- 
lute it with your unclean feet ?" said one of the guar- 
dians, in angry expostulation. " My boots are quite as 
clean as your filthy floor ! Look — see the dirt upon it ! 
AVhen you clean your floor Pll take off my boots ; but I 
am not going to soil my feet to please you," was the 
answer returned, to the intense disgust of the mullas. 

The bazaars of Kerbella are well supplied with all 
kinds of grain, and articles from every part of the world 
carried thither by the pilgrims. It is celebrated for the 
manufacture of filio;ree-work, and for elaborate ens-ravins: 
upon the nacreous valves of the pearl oyster {avicula 
margaritifera), obtained from the fisheries at Bahreyn, in 
the Persian Gulf. 

Travellers love to descant on the beauties of Eastern 
cities ; but it is seldom that it falls to their lot to witness 
such wonderful effects of light as fell under my own 
observation on this short journey. Early on the morn- 
ing of departure from Kerbella, I took a stroll to a little 
distance from the Avails, and beheld a magnificent spec- 
tacle as "the glorious orb of day" rose above the hori- 
zon, and gradually lighted up the golden dome of the 
great mosque. The dark and comparatively sombre green 
surface of tliat which enshrines the bones of 'Abbas still 
remained enveloped in a thick curtain of blue mist, until 


an orange or deep red tint crept slowly over the principal 
features of the edifice. This continued during the space 
of at least two minutes, when the strange and fairy-like 
effect was dispelled by the bright sunshine. While it 
lasted, it was truly imposing and enchanting. 

From Kerbella our party returned direct to Baghdad, 
followino; for a considerable distance the course of a canal 
derived from the Euphrates, which, on account of its 
flowing to the tomb of the saint, is called Husseynlyya, 
The quantity of earth deposited, and frequently thrown 
out of its bed, is so great as to form an enormous line of 
mound on either side. Unless attention in this reject is 
paid to iriigating canals, they soon become choked with 
sediment, and cease their operations. The path to Miis- 
seib, being traversed by so many pilgrims and caravans 
on their Avay to and from Kerbella, is completely cut up 
by parallel tracks, and more beaten than any other 
throughout the East. It is, however, generally considered 
unsafe, and a large caravan was said to have been bodily 
carried off by the Bedouins two days before we passed 
along it. Fearing a like fate, some Persian ladies, with 
their attendants, begged they might be permitted to take 
advantage of our escort. 

The custom, universally adopted by Oriental ladies, of 
riding astride like a man, is certainly the most ungrace- 
ful that can be conceived. Enveloped in the ample folds 
of a blue cotton cloak, her face (as required by the strict 
injunctions of the Koran) concealed under a black or 
white mask, her feet encased in wide yellow boots, and 
these in turn thrust into slippers of the same colour, her 
knees nearly on a level with her chin, and her hands 
holding on by the scanty mane of the mule — an Eastern 
lady is the most nncouth and inelegant form imaginable. 
On foot, too, her appearance is not much improved ; for 
the awk\v< rd l^oots and slippers compel her to slide and 


roll along in such an ungainly manner as forcibly to 
remind tlie beholder of a duck waddling to a pond, or of 
a bundle of clothes on short thick stilts. To complete 
the picture, it must be left to those European ladies who 
have had the fortune to gain admission to the privacy of 
a harem, to state whether the tone and conversation of 
their Mohammedan friends is more pohshed and elegant 
than their external appearance ; many a fair form is 
concealed beneath a rough exterior ; but, if we may judge 
of the fair sex of Islam by the native Christian ladies, 
I fear the answer will not be satisfactory. I remember 
on one occasion seeing an Armenian beauty at a fete 
presented with a choice bouquet. On receiving it, she 
languidly rose from the embroidered ottoman, and then 
— ^to the utmost surprise and indignation of the giver — 
deliberately sat upon it ! 

The Euphrates at Miisseib is crossed by ferry-boats — 
huge, unwieldy apparatuses, roughly built of planks over- 
laid with bitumen, and each capable of containing some 
dozen loaded animals, and a motley throng of human 
beings, men, women, and children. A low projecting bow 
acts as a landing-jetty, and the craft is guided by a rud- 
der of most complicated construction, sufficiently large to 
steer a vessel three times its size. Men, with poles in the 
shallow water and rude oars in the stream, propel the 
mass onwards ; and thus, after an infinity of shouting, 
and screamino;, and invocations of 'All, the boat reaches 
the opposite shore. A throng of ragged pilgrims, on 
their return from Kerbella, had just preceded our party, 
and were squabbling who should first enter one of these 
Noah's arks, when our cavasses — with the usual prompti- 
tude and small sense of justice which these officers possess 
in so pecuhar a manner — rushed into the crowd, and, by 
dint of tongue and stick, fighting their way through it, 
seized the beleaguered boat for our especial use. Ex- 


eluded from it, the struggle for supremacy was trans- 
ferred to the craft alongside, and the usual scene at 
a ferry occurred. Every would-be passenger endea- 
vours to obtain a footing for himself and his animal, 
whether horse, mule, or — still more useful "friend of 
man" — the donkey, whose slit nostrils and raw hide 
prove that his services are scarcely appreciated as they 
ought to be. Footing once secured, the difficulty is, how 
to induce the frightened animals to raise their other three 
feet from terra firma into the same position, but caresses 
and hard thumps, kicks and curses, usually effect the 
desired object. When the boat is crammed so full that 
no restless animal can stir, the boat is shoved off, and the 
living mass takes its chance of floating or sinking, "as 
Allah wills it" — the gunwale within an inch or two of the 
water-level. The animals of our party, however, usually 
crossed the river in the more expeditious and primitive 
manner represented in the Assyrian bas-reliefs. The 
common herd was driven into the water, and compelled 
to swim the stream, but grooms led the more valuable 
horses by their halters into the river, and swam across 
with them, urging the unwdlling with barbarous grunts, 
such as can only proceed from an Arab mouth. The pads, 
saddles, and bridles were passed over with the baggage 
in the boats. All crossed safely to the opposite side. 

Miisseib is a miserable but busy place, supported 
entirely by the traffic to and from Kerbella. Large 
quantities of grain from the land adjoining the Euphrates 
were being thrashed, and a number of women were em- 
ployed in grinding it with the ordinary stone hand-mill 
of the country. Nearer to the river, men were mending 
kiifahs — those round boats described by Herodotus as 
used in his time upon the rivers of Babylonia, — made 
of reeds, coated inside and out Avith melted bitumen, 
derived from the springs of Hit, higher up the Euphrates. 


Others were employed in making baskets from the stems 
of the liquorice-plant [Glycyrrhiza glabra), which they 
adeptly twisted together. Above the village, on the 
eastern side, a sud or dam of earth had been recently 
constructed at a point where the river had, during the 
season of flood, burst upon the land, and swept all before 
it as far as the ruins of Babylon. At a few miles from 
Miisseib we rejoined the road previously traversed be- 
tween Baghdad and Hillah, and reached the former place 
without new adventure. 


Climate of Chaldaea — Christmas in BdghdSd — Departure for the South 
— Mubarek's Misadventure — The Kyaya of Hillah — ^Bashi-Bazuks. 

Further political questions detained the coniniisj^ioners 
at Baghdad until the end of December, when the decree 
was issued for our proceeding to the frontier. It was 
arranged that the H.E.LC/s armed steamer, Nitocris, 
under the command of Captain Fehx Jones, whose inti- 
mate knowledge of the country and amiable disposition 
are so well known to travellers in that remote region of 
the globe, should convey the whole party to Mohammerah, 
the southern point of the disputed boundary line. The 
mules, horses, and servants were to proceed by land, 
guarded by the troop of cavalry appointed by the 
Turkish Government as its due portion of an escort to 
accompany the commissioners during the progress of 
their labours. It was proposed that this party should 
travel by the direct route through Lower Mesopotamia, 
instead of the more beaten track along the western side 
of the Euphrates. As the route by the Jezlreh'"" had 
been scarcely visited by Europeans, I naturally felt a 
strong desire to take advantage of the opportunity now 
afforded of breaking new ground. I was influenced by a 
twofold object : that of examining the geology of the 
Chaldsean marshes, and that of exploring the ruins of 

• Jezireh means " island," and, although a misnomer, is aj^plied to the 
whole of Mesopotamia between the two rivers Tigris and Euphrates. 


Warka, to which native tradition assigns the honour of 
being the birthplace of the patriarch Abraham. Colonel 
Williams, ever ready to afford facilities to scientific enter- 
prise, not only granted a willing consent to my proposal 
to join the overland party, but also suggested that Mr 
Churchill should accompany me. 

In order that some idea may be formed of the difficul- 
ties and dangers attending a journey into Lower Baby- 
lonia or Chaldsea Proper, I may here mention, that, 
during spring and summer, when the Hindieh branch 
of the Euphrates is closed, the greater part of the country, 
from above lat. 32°, is a continuous marsh towards the 
south, quite impassable except in canoes called ter- 
radas. In these the natives are enabled to keep up com- 
munication among themselves on the spots of elevated 
land which raise their heads above ihe surrounding 
swamps. The heat, however, prevents the approach of 
travellers. In autumn these inundations rapidly subside, 
but the resultant malaria is so great as to deter any 
European from invading this terra (if it can be so caUed) 
incognita. The only season of the year, therefore, which 
frees Chaldsea from water and fever is the winter, when the 
air becomes rarified. The great alternations in tempera- 
ture which here take place are scarcely to be credited. 
No sooner does the ardent heat of summer abate, than 
cool breezes begin to blow, and the thermometer quickly 
falls below the freezing point. This is due to the fact 
that the soil of the marshes is a comparatively recent 
deposit from the retiring sea of the Persian Gulf, and is 
therefore highly impregnated with marine salts, across 
which the wind in its passage is rendered intensely cold. 
T have myself seen the Arabs, completely benumbed, drop 
from their saddles. But during winter another obstacle 
opposes progress. A very large portion of the country, 
which was a few months previously covered with inunda- 


tion, is now waterless, sometimes for two or three days' 
journey. The Arab tribes, too, are perfectly wild and 
uncontrolled, regarding strangers among them with in- 
finite suspicion. 

Under such unpromising circumstances, it is not at 
all surprising that this region has been so little visited, 
and that so many monuments of its past history still 
remain to be explored. In no other part of Babylonia is 
there such astonishing proof of ancient civilization and 
denseness of population. Some lofty pile is generally 
visible to mark the site of a once-important city ; while 
numerous little spots, covered with broken potte«"y, point 
to the former existence of villages and of a rural popula- 
tion. Traces of old canal-beds prove the care with which 
the whole country was watered when the marshes were 
confined within proper limits, and the land of the Chaldees 

Christmas-day was spent in great festivity at the hos- 
pitable and well-ordered board of the British Eesidency, 
where all the Europeans at Baghdad met, as customary, 
to celebrate our great Christian festival. On the. second 
morning afterwards, a gathering took place outside the 
gates of the city, at the little bridge over the Mess'iidi 
canal, preparatory to our long journey. The caravan was 
of considerable size, being composed of the servants and 
animals belonging to the four commissions — the whole 
escorted by four light guns, and one hundred well- 
mounted, well-armed Turkish cavalry. The little red 
and white pennants attached to the lances of the soldiers 
imparted a gay and lively appearance to the cavalcade as 
it moved along. 

We pursued the road previously travelled to Hillah, 
which place we reached in a heavy shower of rain on the 
third day. Here an accident happened, which was near 
proving fatal to a wild Dhefyr Arab, named Miibarek, 


whom I had taken into my service, at the suggestion of 
Captain Jones, for the purpose of protecting my little 
party in case of any temporary separation from the main 
body during my researches. I was unwilling to be entirely 
dependent on the troops for guidance and safe-conduct, 
and it is always advisable, on entering an unknown 
region, to secure the protection of a native, or one well 
acquainted with the people amongst whom the traveller 
has to pass. The Dhefyr Arabs belong to the true 
Bedouin tribes, and roam from the western shores of the 
Persian Gulf, along the banks of the Lower Euphrates, 
far into the deserts of Arabia. They bear the character 
of being more cruel and bloodthirsty than the generality 
of Bedouins ; but they claim a species of freemasomy 
among other tribes — any ragamuffin among them enjoy- 
ing the privilege of protection in an extraordinary way. 

In the present instance, however, the Dhefyr proved to 
be rather an embarrassment than a gain to my party ; for 
his depredations had so frequently been extended into the 
marshes on the east of the Euphrates, that there w^as no 
good feeling manifested towards him. Of this, however, 
I was not aware at the time of engaging him. Miibarek 
was not one of the brightest nor most prepossessing of 
Arabs. He was little in stature, ugly in couiitenance, 
dirty in person, and his abba and kejffieh were both in the 
last stage of decay. He brought with him another of his 
tribe — a half-witted fellow, named Mayiif, whose drolleries 
served to amuse the tedium of the barren, cheerless 
desert. Just before reaching the point at which the road 
turns through the gardens towards the bridge, Miibarek's 
horse, a spirited little animal, with only a halter on his 
head, took fright, leaped a wall, and tore away at a 
furious pace among the thickly-planted date-trees. The 
Arab, of course, had no control over his steed, and ran 
the chance of getting his brains dashed out by coming 


in contact with a tree. The horse rushed onwards 
nothing daunted by the labyrinth he had to tliread, until 
his feet becoming entangled in the work of some cotton- 
spinners, he threw his rider with great violence. The 
poor fellow lay senseless, with the blood streaming from 
his mouth and nostrils, when an Arab bystander hastened 
to bring him round in the most approved native manner. 
Eaising the injured man in his arms, he shook him 
exactly as a farmer shakes a sack of wheat to settle down 
the grain ! By so doing, it was supposed that the blood 
would be expelled from the head into its right place. 
After several repetitions of the operation, the, patient 
opened his eyes, gave a deep exclamation of "Allah! 
Allah !" picked up his spear, and then, apparently little 
the worse for his accident, staggered after his truant and 
unmanageable steed. 

On gaining the western side of the bridge, we learned 
that the Tui^kish officers of Dervish Pasha's suite had 
kindly exerted themselves in obtaining quarters for my- 
self and companion at the house of Sheblb 'Agha, the 
Kyaya of Hillah, a venerable gentleman with long flow- 
ing beard of the purest white, whose visible family con- 
sisted of his brother — a fac-simile of himself — and three 
sons, varying from nine to twelve years of age. The 
boys, all handsome little fellows, standing with the ser- 
vants in the presence of their father and his guests, pre- 
sented us with coffee and the usual accompaniments on 
our arrival. Our kind host insisted on supplying our- 
selves, servants, and animals, with food and provender 
during our stay in Hillah. Anxious to obtain as much 
information as possible on the subject of our journey, I 
inquired concerning our line of route, and ascertained 
that he had visited Niffar, one of the great ruins in 
the centre of the Jezlreh. I therefore asked if he had 
seen the stone obelisk which is said to lie near the mound. 

SHEBfB 'aGHA. 77 

Shebib 'Agba stroked his beard, considered for a moment, 
and then replied, that — " By Allah ! he did not remember 
to have seen any such stone ; but the Arabs tell a story 
that sometimes they see a boat jutting out of the ruins, 
which shines like gold, with a flame of fire proceeding 
from its centre ; but, Mashallah ! the Arabs are so alarmed 
at the sight, they dare not approach ! " He could, of 
course, give no further information concerning this won- 
derful apparition. 

The rain continuing to fall in torrents during the greater 
part of the day, we were confined to the house. In the 
interval three Jews called on the kyaya, and entered 
into a long but animated discussion with him on the 
subject of an overcharge of taxes. One of the Israehtes 
was a voluble and accomplished orator, rolling forth the 
Arabic gutturals with all the roundness and fluency of a 
true son of the desert. He certainly made use of his 
talents to the utmost, but whether with or without effect 
on the purse-strings of the kyaya, I cannot say, because 
I quitted the house before his oration was concluded. I 
may here notice a fact, which must infallibly occur to 
the observation of travellers. When two Englishmen 
meet, the "weather" is generally the introduction to 
other topics of conversation, but is soon forgotten in the 
interest of other subjects. Throughout the East, how- 
ever, " money" is the all-absorbing theme. Money begins 
and ends a conversation. The word " piastre," " keran," 
or "fluce," invariably occurs within the first few sen- 
tences, and as invariably ends the debate ! Frequently, 
after a lengthened discussion on the subject, a little dirty 
bag is produced from the inner folds of the dress, and 
two or three small coins are counted out with the greatest 

I was now informed, to my great disappointment and 
vexation, that the troops had received counter-orders, 


and were to proceed by the ordinary road from Hillah 
by the west of the Euphrates. Thus all my plans and 
arrangements appeared in a fair way of being frustrated. 
I was not, however, disposed to resign them without an 
effort, and therefore set out mth my companion to con- 
sult with our good friend Tahir Bey, who fortunately 
happened to be in the town. He was as frank and 
hearty as ever, but strongly endeavoured to dissuade me 
from my intention. He represented truly the kind of 
country we should have to traverse : the great inunda- 
tions, and the wild character of the native Arabs, likely 
to rebel against the government at any m^me^t. See- 
ing, however, that his representations did not alter my 
determination, he recommended me to take a few Bashi 
B^ziiks, or irregular horsemen. On my assenting to this, 
he immediately issued his orders, and, moreover, volun- 
teered to furnish me with letters to certain sheikhs, 
through whose tribes we should have to pass. I felt 
highly pleased at the promptitude he shewed in meeting 
my wishes, and took leave, anticipating the delightful 
prospect before me of entering on ground hitherto un- 
trodden by Eiu'opean foot. 

It was arranged that the bulk of our animals should 
proceed with the troops under the charge of a cawas, 
the mir-i-akhor (master of the horse), and the greater 
number of servants, while a small proportion was set 
apart as our own especial convoy. 

At sunset, we sat do^vn to an Arab dinner provided 
by our host. After much entreaty the old gentleman 
consented to sit with, instead of waiting upon us. We had 
already discussed one greasy dish, and were waiting for 
another, when my servant unfortunately placed wine 
upon the table. Sheblb Agha, like a good Mussulman, 
jumped up as if shot through the heart ; nor could all our 
entreaties, nor even the removal of the alarming bottle of 


forbidden liquid, prevail on liim to resume his seat at the 
board. He had sat with Grhyawr who drank wine ; they 
were not therefore fitting companions for one of the 
faithful ! 

The continued rain during the night delayed the ap- 
pearance of our future escort, which did not shew itself 
till the sun shone forth late the following morning, Avhen 
eight well-mounted Bashi Bazuks, with two drummers, 
mustered before the door of Shebib 'Agha's house. There 
is something irresistibly absurd to the European traveller 
for the first time riding out of a town preceded by his 
guard and a couple of fellows beating a monotonous 
sound out of a pair of bad kettle-drums. It was with 
some difficulty, under such circumstances, that we could 
compose our risible faculties so as to act our parts with 
due and proper decorum, while the shopkeepers and 
passengers in the bazaars stood in respectful attitudes 
and received the salutes to which they were entitled. I 
was not sorry, when, outside the date-groves, the musi- 
cians announced their intention of returning into town. 
On the receipt of a small " bakhshish," they hastened to 
the bosom of their families, while we made for the heart 
of the desert. 


From Hillah into the Desert — Sand-drifts — Bridge-building — ^The Surly- 
Sheikh, and his Black Slave — Coffee-making — Rhubarb and Blue 
Pm— New Year 1850. 


Directing our course towards the ruins of Niffar, our 
first two days' journey was, for the most part, across 
a level and sandy desert, intersected by an infinity 
of ancient water-courses, whose streams had centuries 
back ceased to flow, their very existence being sometimes 
only faintly indicated by the darker colour of the soil, 
arising from the salts contained in it. Now and then a 
low mound or a few fragments of pottery, bricks, and 
glass, assisted us to beguile the time by speculations and 
discussions on the former inhabitants of the land, and 
in making comparisons between the past and present. 
Like Paley's watch on the heath, what reflections may not 
a fragment of pottery stir up ! In this manner, and in 
taking careful notes and observations of the route, the hours 
passed rapidly, and we fully enjoyed the novelty of the 
scene before us in that deserted and barren plain — for 
so it may be called, because the inhabited and cultivated 
spots are so few and far between, in comparison with the 
wide expanse of rich land uninhabited and uncultivated, 
throughout Mesopotamia. Independently, however, of 
the strange associations called forth by bricks and pot- 
tery, the journey was delightful, from the very uncer- 
tainty attending its course, from the excitement of 


knowing that an unexplored region lay before us, and 
from the enjoyment of the pure freshness of the desert 
air after the recent rain. Even the scanty Arab tents — 
although presenting the usual scene of squalid filth, and 
(as one is disposed to conceive) consequent misery — had 
some variety in their character and disposition. Deter- 
mined on being pleased with anything, it would have 
been a sad pity if we had been disappointed. 

The only point worthy of notice during the first day's 
journey was a remarkable range of low sandhills, which 
alter their form according to the direction of the wind. 
It has been conceived that their presence is due to springs 
of water below the surface ; but Mr Layard offers another 
explanation. During his journey in 1850-51, across this 
region, he mentions having passed two or three places 
where the sand, issuing from the earth like water, is 
called " Aioun-er-rummel," sand-springs.^" I observed no 
such phenomenon ; but consider these hills as the van- 
guard of those vast drifts which, advancing from the 
south-east, threaten eventually to overwhelm Babylon 
and Baghdad. Further in the interior, these drifts are 
largely developed, and spread over large tracts of country 
not occupied by the marshes. They are temporarily 
arrested at this particular locality by the decayed stumps 
of numerous tamarisk bushes, that project and appear 
to be the nuclei around which the drifts accumulate. 

The advancing and destructive progress of the sand is 
seen at the little hamlet of Bashiyya, about five miles 
farther. The square walls of an enclosure gave shelter 
and security to a few families, who supplied us, during 
our first night's encampment, mth fowls and milk — the 
usual luxuries of Arab life. A large grove of date-trees, 
also surrounded by walls, flourished along the bank of an 
old canal-bed, and shaded an old Arab tomb. The term 

• " Nineveh and Babylon," p. 546. 



" khithr " (verdure) is peculiarly appropriate to spots 
where a patch of green, or even a single tree, relieves 
the dull monotony and continued glare of a desert soil — 
and it is therefore frequently applied to these oases. 

On subsequently visiting Bashiyya, in January 1854, a 
great change had come over it ; the sands, drifting from 
the south-east, had produced a desolation as imposing as 
that of Nineveh or Babylon. Its inhabitants were gone, 
the walls were barely visible above mounds of sand, 
the canal courses were utterly extinguished, and the 
date-trees rapidly dying from the lack of necessary 

The invasion of this drift-sand is also observable at 
Niliyya,'"" about nine miles east from Bashiyya. This 

Mohammedan Ruins at Nflfyya 

famous Arab city is mentioned by 'Abiil-Fedah as existing 
in his time upon the great canal of Nil, from which it 

• Duringmy journey in 1854, through the Jezlreh, in charge of the expe- 
dition sent out under the auspices of the Assyrian Excavation Society, I 
visited these ruins in company with Messrs Lyncli and Boutchcr. They 
were of great size, but so concealed under the sand-drifts that it was im- 
possible to ascertain their full extent. The principal buildings remaining, 
are a few fragments of an old mosque, and some piers of a bridge over the 


took its name. In 1848, the sand began to accumulate 
around it, and in six years the desert, within a radius of 
six miles, was covered with little undulating domes, while 
the ruins of the city were so buried that it is now impos- 
sible to trace their original form or extent. This feature 
is to be expected in a low flat country, recently (in a geo- 
logical point of view) reclaimed from the sea, as we know 
to have been the case with Chaldaea. 

For the next few days, pointed or domed buildings, 
erected over the bones of some imam (holy man, or 
influential chief), served at intervals for marks to guide 
our path, being of infinite value to the traveller in these 
deserts. They indicate Hkewise that a much larger popu- 
lation obtained in comparatively modern times. During 
two days' journey from Hillah, several of these white 
tombs dot the horizon, and are known by the name of 
the saint buried at each, such as Imam Khithr, Imam 

The son of the sheikh at Bashlyya undertook to guide 
the party to the tents of Sheikh Mulla 'All, to whom we 
carried letters from Tahir Bey. A vast inundation from 
the Shumeli Canal, derived from the Euphrates, obliged 
us to make a considerable detour before reaching the 
bridge by which all traflic is carried on. It proved to be 
a single date log thrown across the stream ; but it 
afibrded such a precarious footing, that the first mule 

bed of the Nil, which passed through the centre of the city. There was no 
appearance of any relics earlier than the Mohammedan era ; if such exist, 
they are buried under the more modern debris. Seen from Niliyya are the 
following mounds : — 

Zibbar, four miles distant, bearing 


El Bershieh, 











■ni Tri -o r , J two ruuied buudmgs, 

El Khitheriat, ) ^ ' . . . . 

Habil-i-Sakr, a large ruin of black stone, said to be six or 

seven hours from Bdgdddieh, on the Tigris. ... 41 


on attempting to cross slipped and fell sideways on the 
bank. The cook's stores, onions and lemons, pots and 
kettles, were seen floating in joint fellowship down the 
canal. My people and the Bashi Bazuks endeavoured to 
raise the prostrate beast, but to no purpose. A few 
Arabs from the adjoining tents gathered round, but 
shewed no disposition to assist, until the soldiers had 
recourse to their whips, and thus secured a few volunteers. 
The mule raised, they were next set to repair their own 
bridge, which otherwise would have been allowed to rot. 
Several labourers returning from the plough were also 
gently pressed into the service. In a quarter of an hour 
the bridge was completed, by laying a second date log 
parallel with the first — a quantity of camel's thorn being 
then thrown down as a foundation, and loose earth placed 
on the top. 

When all were safely across, we soon reached the large 
encampment of MuUa 'All, whose great black tents spread 
along the bank of the canal. Our arrival was the signal 
for the gathering of a crowd, and we were regarded 
somewhat in the light of monkeys or dancing dogs in a 
rural English village. The amazement and curiosity of 
the Arab community was great while they paived the 
strange garments of the Firenghis, and expressed odd 
notions concernins; their make and fabric. The little 
naked children seemed to partake of the general excite- 
ment. After a steady survey of a few seconds, the youth- 
ful fry, with their stomachs swelled to deformity from 
eating rice, and their mouths besmeared with dates, 
scampered off to relate their impressions to their mothers, 
who» afraid of the evil eye, scrutinized our persons and 
movements from behind the recesses of their tents. 

Having a long journey before us, we did not dismount : 
in fact, it was useless to do so ; the sheikh being a very 
old man, and on the point of death. I therefore merely 

SHEIKH SAID's tent. 85 

requested that a guide might accompany us to the next 
encampment on the road to NifFar. In due time four 
Arabs were added to the party, and we travelled onwards 
to the camp of Sheikh Said. In the east, at the distance 
of about ten miles, a great mass of unbaked brickwork, 
the ancient mound of Zibliyya/"' shone brightly against 
the setting sun. 

Darkness overtook the party before arriving at the 
camp of the sheikh, conveniently situated near the tomb 
of an imam, on the verge of the great AfFej marshes. The 
sheikh himself, a tall, stout, short-necked bull of a fellow, 
with a decided enlargement of one eye, which gave a very 
sinister expression to his countenance, advanced to the 
entrance of his tent to bid us welcome, and invited us to 
take a seat at his fire while our own tents were being 
pitched. We were accordingly ushered in. Two exceed- 
ingly greasy pillows of striped silk were placed on an 
equally dirty fragment of Turkey carpet, and we were 
duly installed into the seats of honour. As we entered, 
fresh fuel was added to the blazing fire upon the ground, 
producing a smoke so dense, that our eyes, not having 
served an apprenticeship in such an atmosphere, were 
completely blinded, and we remained for some time in 
utter ignorance of the sort of den we were in. When at 
length my vision had in some measure overcome the pun- 
gency of the smoke and penetrated through its density, 
I discovered that w^e sat under a huge black goats'-hair 
tent, sixty feet long and twenty feet broad, supported in 
the centre by poles fourteen feet high. The sides were 
all pegged closely to the ground, so that the only means 

* I likewise visited Zibliyya in 1854. It appears to be an edifice, measur- 
ing forty-four paces square at the base, and fifty feet high, raised upon a 
low mound of similar construction. From the relics discovered around, it 
probably belongs to the Parthian era. Mr Layard visited Zibliyya in 1851, 
— the year following the journey above described, — and it is mentioned at 
l)age 569 of his " Nineveh and Babylon." 


of exit for the smoke were througli tlie entrance and the 
wide meshes of the tent itself. Rather less than one- 
third of the space was partitioned off by a screen of the 
same black stuff. This was the private apartment of the 
sheikh and his family, although I could perceive no bright 
eyes of Araby maids peering at us from behind it. As 
soon as our seats were taken, numerous dusky forms 
stalked in, made a haughty salaam, and took their several 
places in silence on the ground around the fire. It was 
impossible to resist a smile as we surveyed the group and 
observed ourselves to be the focus of their attraction. A 
hundred black eyes, with every expression from utter 
astonishment to utter rascality, stared at us uninter- 
ruptedly, from fifty heads, stretched forward from the 
bodies to which they severally belonged, the better to 
examine our strange physiognomies and still stranger 
garments. Each soon began to make personal remarks 
in a whisper to his neighbour, or expressed them openly 
for the benefit of the assembled divan. Never had I 
before seen such a levee of savages — villany, deceit, and 
crime appeared to be the distinguishing characteristics of 
their features. This is the result of oppression. How 
different were these Madan Arabs from the free and 
noble Bedouin, who treats the Turkish pasha as an 
equal ! 

My first visit to a large Arab tent prepossessed me in 
favour neither of Arab cleanliness nor of Arab hospitality, 
as the event will shew. In due time there appeared a 
nearly naked black slave, with legs and arms so lengthy 
and disproportioned that he might have been a resusci- 
tated figure from the temples of Rameses or Amenophis ! 
Stalking up to the fire, he commenced the important 
operation of preparing coffee. He first arranged in line a 
series of coffee-pots, of every size from the great grand- 
father of coffee-pots, black with age and fire, to the 


infant coffee-pot just made, and bright from the hands of 
the tinman. Then came the j^f^^ter-familias — a huge old 
fellow, wrapped up in the most careful manner in an old 
piece of abba stuff. As the kawaji unwound the nume- 
rous dirty folds, I was at a loss to conceive the meaning 
of all this care, but it eventually proved that pater- 
familias was the receptacle into which were collected the 
dregs and leavings of all the great coffee drinkings of the 
Kerbiil tribe from time immemorial. This was placed 
on the fire, and the operator, in the most theatrical 
manner, then bared his arms and legs, tucked his abba 
under him, and commenced the scientific process of roast- 
ing and pounding. A large iron utensil, having some 
relationship to a gigantic spoon on three legs, was next 
produced, and also put upon the fire. The negro then 
thrust his hand into some inscrutable corner of his robe 
and drew forth a small bag, from which he extracted 
two handfuls of coffee-berries, looking round at the same 
time, as much as to say, " You observe they're genuine 
Mocha!" These he threw into the capacious spoon, and 
continually turned them over with a flat shovel until the 
aromatic flavour, permeating through the tent to the olfac- 
tories of every person present, pronounced them to be 
duly roasted. Then the berries were pounded in a wooden 
mortar with a copper pestle — and here it was that the 
negro exhibited his skill, as he rang out various notes in 
the most scientific and artistic manner from the rude 
instruments on which he performed. When sufiiciently 
pulverized, the coffee was confided to the gTcat grand- 
father of pots, and a quantity of the delectable fluid 
above mentioned was poured upon it. Then all the 
family of coffee-pots took their turn at boiling it until 
the infant in his juvenile brightness had performed his 
part, and the negro skeleton advanced to present a cup 
of the beverage for my consideration. 


The behaviour of the sheikh was, however, so extraor- 
dinary during all the above process, that it was evident 
we were not welcome guests. From the time of our arrival, 
he kept giving a continued succession of orders to his ser- 
vants, in an unpleasant manner and flustering voice, turning 
his back most uncivilly upon his guests, and scarcely deign- 
ing to answer the few questions which were addressed to 
him. In order to shew we were aware of his incivility, 
and also offended by it, we rose when the coffee was handed, 
took a haughty leave of the astonished sheikh, and retired 
to our tents, which were by that time ready for our recep- 
tion. This movement had the desired effect. ^Ve had 
scarcely reached our tents when, as anticipated, the sheikh 
followed. He was received very coldly, and scarcely 
received a reply to his oft-repeated question — " Wallah ! 
Beg, what is the matter '? " At last he added, " I hope 
you are not offended. I should not have treated you so 
ill, but I did not understand who you were ! " He then 
begged us to forget what had occurred, and to take 
coffee with him, which was brought before he received a 
reply. Having reduced the uncivil fellow to reason, it 
was unnecessary to take further notice of the intentional 
insult we had received. I therefore accepted his coffee ; 
after which he became communicative, and endeavoured 
to make himself agreeable. 

He was not long in asking if either of us were an 
hekim, or doctor, and if we possessed any medicine. His 
gross body had an enormous boil on an indescribable 
portion of his carcass, for which he required some remedy, 
and begged so energetically, that I at length agreed to give 
him a blue pill and a dose of rhubarb, but I quite forgot 
to see him swallow the former. Most jDrobably it was 
wrapped in a dirty rag, and laid aside among his treasures 
until some of his friends might be ill, when, whether the 
malady were fever or cholera, a spear wound or dysentery, 


the sheikh would produce his supposed talisman for all 
ills, and, possibly, kill his patient. 

As to our visiting NifFar, he recommended our going 
forward to the next encampment of the Affej tribe, which 
was nearer to the ruins ; but, as I was desirous of spending 
New Year's day on the mounds, I endeavoured to persuade 
him to furnish us with guides. After presenting various 
obstacles, he at length agreed that his son and four horse- 
men should accompany us. There was no further cause, 
for the night at least, to complain of incivility or Avant of 
attention. Ourselves, servants, and animals were supplied 
with every requisite which an Arab camp can furnish. 

The New Year of 1850 was ushered in with a fog 
so dense that the sheikh again endeavoured to dissuade 
us from our purpose, but, being determined on the sub- 
ject, we started as arranged overnight. We rode for about 
an hour, while the sheikh's son continually urged me to 
give up my visit till another opportunity, and I began to 
suspect that he never intended we should reach Niffar. 
I was at length confirmed in this view by discovering oui 
own tracks on the ground, and that we had been led 
a complete circuit round Sheikh Said's camp ! I was 
naturally highly incensed at this conduct, and, on the 
guides declaring it impossible to reach the ruins and return 
before dark, I required them to conduct me to Shkyer, 
the abode of a sheikh of that name, brother of Aggab, 
chief of the Affej. I had afterwards reason to know that 
Sheikh Said was at feud with the tribes between his camp 
and Niffar : hence his great unwillingness to aid us in 
visitinsf the ruins. On reachino; within half a mile of 
Shkyer, our guides left us to introduce ourselves to the 
amphibious inhabitants of the Affej marshes. 

Hitherto our journey had been through the districts of 
the Zobeid Arabs and their tributaries. Their chief, who 
farmed the revenues for the pasha, boasted of a Turkish 


title to his name, and was called the Wadi Bey. In con- 
sequence, however, of his oppressive conduct and extor- 
tionate demands, the tribes over whom he ruled — for they 
included others besides the Zobeid — were continually in 
rebellion. They complained, and with justice, that the 
Wadi robbed them and debauched their families, leaving 
neither food nor honour for themselves. In making 
known their complaints to the pasha, they exclaimed, 
"Send soldiers, slay us, cut off our heads, we will not 
obey him any longer." In consequence of these com- 
plaints, the Wadi Bey had recently been deposed by Abdi 
Pasha, and was then in prison at Miisseib to' answer the 
charges brought against him. It was generally under- 
stood that the pasha intended taking the government of 
the tribes into his own hands — an arrangement which 
appeared to be perfectly satisfactory to the iU-used Arabs. 
Great jealousy and mistrust reigned, however, among the 
various neighbouring tribes during the interregnum, and 
it was on this account that the son of Sheikh Said refused 
to accompany us into the village of Shkyer. Before reach- 
ing it, we exjDerienced the awkwardness of travelling 
among marshes. Our animals were slipping and sliding 
about, out of one buffalo track into another, and had the 
greatest difficulty in keeping on their feet. An hour's 
scrambling in this way at length brought us to the village, 
where we were honourably and hospitably received by 
the aged Sheikh Shkyer and his numerous sons. 


Tlie Mighty Marsh — The Reed-Palace — Shooting-Match — Niffar — 
Theory on the Chaldaeans — Probable Ethiopic Origin — Niffiir the 
Primitive Calneh, and Probable Site of the Tower of Babel — Beni 
Eechab, the Rechabites of Scripture. 

We had now reached the commencement of those 
immense marshes which extend almost uninterruptedly 
to the Persian Gulf, and which, as I have previously said, 
cause the country under their influence to be a complete 
terra incog^iita. The swamps occupied by the Affej 
Arabs stretch, during the low season, from the Euphrates 
on the west, into the very heart of the Jezireh, and in 
some places even join those of the Tigris. It is impos- 
sible to state their area ; but it is calculated that they 
support a population of 3000 families, who pay an annual 
tribute of 100,000 piastres (above £900) to the Pasha of 
Baghdad. Abdi Pasha, however, thinking they were able 
to bear a considerable increase of taxation, proposed to 
double the above sum for the following year. The Affej 
were in no small state of fermentation and alarm — com- 
plaining bitterly of the treatment they had at various 
times received from the authorities of Baghdad. Nedjib 
Pasha had thrice blown their fragile towns about their 
ears with cannon. These consist entirely of reed huts, 
the reeds being tied in large bundles, and neatly arched 
overhead. This primitive construction is covered exter- 
nally with thick matting, impervious to rain. The riches 


of the AfFej are indicated by rows of huge reed cylin- 
drical baskets, containing the grain upon which they 
subsist. Rice is produced in great abundance along the 
edges of the marsh ; but the whole of their fields were, 
at the season of our visit and for a third of the year, 
entirely under water. Communication is kept up, as on 
the marshes of the Hindieh, by means of long, sharp, 
pointed terradas, constructed of teak, and measuring 
twelve or fourteen feet long, by a yard in width. The 
AfFej tribe is divided into two nearly equal parts, governed 
by two brothers, Aggab and Shkyer — the former being 
the accredited head of the whole. " , 

We were conducted to the muthif, or reception-hut of 
the chief, which resembled the other habitations of the 
place, but was of gigantic size, forty feet long, and eighteen 
feet high. It boasted the almost fabulous ao-e for a reed 
building (if the Arabs might be credited) of no less than 
half a century, and appeared likely to last as lo7ig again, 
but its interior was black with soot and smoke from the 
fire which invariably burned under the arch, and had no 
means of exit but the entrance facing the marsh. After 
sitting a short time in this primitive palace, the sheikh 
himself, an old man of seventy on crutches, came to wel- 
come us ; three of his sons having, in the interim, done 
the honours of hospitality. The manly and open counte- 
nances of the AfFej are remarkably striking, and differ so 
much from those of the Zobeid that they are at once pi'o- 
nounced to be of another orioin. Their rich scarlet dresses 
— for the AfFej are great dandies — and brightly stri^Ded 
kefFiehs produced a remarkably brilliant and gay scene as 
they sat with their backs against the sides of the long 
milthif. The manners of the AfFej are much more prepos- 
sessing and polished than the other tribes of the Jezireh. 

In approaching the reed town, along the edge of the 
marsh, my companion had dismounted to shoot a fran- 


colin, and his fame as a flying-sliot spread far and near. 
Sucli a prodigy had never before been seen among the 
AfFej marshes. The double-barrelled gun was handed 
round the miithif, and examined amid exclamations of 
surprise and delight ; but the percussion caps were a 
complete puzzle to the whole assemblage. The springs of 
the powder-flask and shot-belt were equally a source of 
astonishment. A shooting-match was proposed ; and 
shortly afterwards, Churchill and Mohammed, the sheikh's 
eldest son, were skimming about on the marsh in a narrow 
terrada, the depth of the water generally not exceeding 
three feet. The Eno;lishman fired six times to the Arab's 
once, amidst rounds of applause and loud clapping of 
hands. The powder and shot of the latter were separately 
weighed in a rude scale, from one end of which was sus- 
pended a piece of lead, and from the other a hollow reed 
closed at one extremity ; the process of loading his heavy 
unwieldy gun was therefore long and tedious ; and the 
result of his day's sport anything but satisfactory to his 
self-esteem. The wondrous performance of my fellow- 
traveller spread far and near ; and, four years afterwards, 
they reminded me of the manner in which he brought 
down the flying birds. The shooting-match is a subject 
of conversation to this day. 

In the course of the day our guide, Miibarek, who, it 
will be remembered, was engaged to conduct us and 
secure our safety during the journey, was recognized by 
the Arabs couching in a dark corner of one of the tents, 
as a Bedouin thief, notorious for stealing by night. His 
tribe, too, was at blood-feud with the Affej. Had it not 
been that he was attached to my party, his life would 
have paid the penalty of his temerity in venturing among 
his enemies. Well knowing this, he did not therefore 
dare to shew his face outside the tent all the time of my 
stay at Shkyer. 


It is altogether beyond the comprehension of an Arab 
that a person should travel several days for the mere 
purpose of gratifying his curiosity by the sight of an 
ancient mound — they are always under the impression 
that a search for treasure is the true but concealed object ; 
and it is next to an utter impossibility to shake this 

From some cause or other, the ruins of Niffar appear 
to be an object of peculiar dread to the Arabs ; the 
inhabitants of Shkyer exhibited the same disinclina- 
tion to accompany us as Sheikh Said's people had pre- 
viously done. Before quitting Baghdad, I had been 
warned that difficulties of every kind would be thrown 
in my way, and that I should be very fortunate in suc- 
ceeding. After a long conversation to no purpose, I 
declared my determination to set out for Niffar alone, if 
the sheikh would not oblige me by sending a guide. It 
was thereon arranged that his second son, Bulath, and 
a few horsemen of the tribe, should be ready at day- 

We were up betimes on the following morning, but 
the promised escort was by no means ready. It was then 
for the first time explained that the whole tribe could not 
muster more than three horses — buffaloes they had in 
plenty, but they were not available for such a ride as was 
before us. It was therefore necessary to accommodate 
them with our own animals ; and at length, after consi- 
derable delay, the party started from the village. The 
expedition consisted of ourselves, young Sheikh Billath, 
two servants, six Bashi Baziiks, and six Arabs. The 
road being, as a matter of course, pronounced insecure, 
we were armed to the teeth, and might easily have been 
mistaken for a plundering party, instead of antiquarians 
on our way to visit an old ruined city. Once free from 
the mud and water of the marshes, we hastened over the 

THE NIL. 95 

plain at a merry rate, in order to liave time at the mounds. 
We were assured that the way was long, and truly so we 
found it. In order to avoid the marsh on the south of 
us, it was necessary to make a detour of at least seven- 
teen miles. Several considerable mounds, and various 
old canals, were crossed — one of which, bearing directly 
from Zibliyya, was of considerable size, and must have 
been a main stream. It was called Derb-el-Jababara,'''' 
or "the Giant's road." The Euphrates is described by 
the Arab historian, Abiil-Fedah, as in his time striking 
off from the modern channel immediately above the 
mound of Babel at Babylon. Its sunken bed may still 
be traced on the west of the red pile of El Heimar, which 
some authors include within the circumference of the 
great city of Nebuchadnezzar. Its course terminated in 
the Tigris above Kut-el-'Amara, the ancient Apamea. A 
main artery, derived from the old Euphrates near the 
city of Niliyya, flowed southwards towards NifFar. Its 
channel is now, however, lost in the marshes at the base of 
the mounds, but is again traceable near Warka. The waters 
had but recently retired from the surface of the desert, 
and our horses sank deep into the soft and yielding soil.t 
On approaching a hollow among the ruins, we came 
suddenly upon two or three Zobeid shepherds and their 
flocks, who, notwithstanding the assurance of our friendly 
disposition, made a precipitate retreat to their distant 

As Niffar is supposed to stand upon the northern con- 
fines of Chaldfea, it will not be out of place here to give 

* The word "jabbar," or "giant." is the particular title used in the 
Hebrew Scripture as applied to Nimrod. The name occurring at Niffar is 
an additional reason why the reputed antiquity of the site should be re- 
garded as authentic. 

t The best approach to Niffar is from the Tigris, on which side the 
ground is firm ; but the distance is great, and the desert entirely with- 
out water. Sir Henry Eawlinson, I believe, twice visited Niffar from that 
direction, and placed it in latitude 32° ?' 3" N. 


briefly an account of its early inhabitants, and their 
origin — as far, at least, as our present knowledge con- 
cerning them will admit of. The Chaldseans are alluded 
to in the Bible under various conflicting denominations. 
At one time they are spoken of as colonists ; "' at another 
as priests and astrologers ; t and, lastly, as a conquering 
nation from the north.J Hence has arisen a diversity of 
opinion as to who and what they were. 

The recent researches made in the interpretation of 
the primitive cuneiform inscriptions have led to the not 
inconsistent belief, that, in the earliest ages previous to 
the historic period (which commenced with the empire oi 
Nimrod), the region on the north of the Persian Gulf was 
probably inhabited by a Semitic race, which was gra- 
dually dispossessed by a powerful stream of invasion or 
colonization from the south. The Hamitic or Scythic 
element, which prevails in the most ancient cuneiform 
records throughout Babylonia and Susiana, points to 
Ethiopia as the mother country of the new settlers. 
They appear to have crossed the Bed Sea and the penin- 
sula of Arabia, leavins; traces of their mioTation alonej 
the shores of the Persian Gulf. In the language of the 
inscriptions, they are called "Akkadim" — a name pre- 
served in one of their cities, the Accad of Genesis — and 
their first settlements are concluded to have been Erech 
and Ur, the modern sites of which are represented by 
the ruins of Warka and Miigeyer. The existence of a 
Hamite race in this region is confirmed by Herodotus,§ 
who distinguishes the Eastern Ethiopians of Asia from 
the Western Ethiopians of Africa by the straight hair of 
the former and the curly hair of the latter. Homer || 
speaks of them as "a divided race — the last of men — 

* Genesis xi. 31 ; xii. 1-4 ; xv. 7. t Daniel i. 4 ; ii. 2 ; iv. 7 ; v. 7-11. 
X Jer. X. 22 ; Hab. i. 6, &c. § Book vii. 69, 70. 

II Odysa., i. 22. 


some of tliem at the extreme west, and others at the 
extreme east." Memnon, who aided Priam against the 
Greeks at the siege of Troy, is mentioned as an Ethiopian ; 
but his seat of empire was at Susa, which was called, 
after him, " the Memnonium." 

In the name of Kudur-Mapula, who had the title of 
" ravager of Syria," Sir Henry Eawlinson identifies the 
Chedorlaomer of Scripture.'"" In his father's name, Sinti- 
Shil-Khah, and in that of TirBiak on the Susa records, 
the last element, hhak, is in all probability the hah or hyc 
of the shepherd-kings who overran Lower Egypt B.C. 

These coincidences are, to say the least, very extra- 
ordinary, and certainly denote a common origin between 
the Chaldseans of Scriptiu^e and the Eastern Ethiopians. 

At this distance of time it is, of course, impossible to 
define the original limits of Chaldsea, but it seems probable 
that, from a minute settlement at first, the dominion of 
the Chaldees extended over the loAver plains of the great 
rivers into the mountains of Elymais and Media, Hamitic 
dialects being recognised in the rock inscriptions of Mai 
Amir in Persia, westward to Malatia in the centre of 
Asia Minor, and as far north as the lakes of Van and 

With the rise of the Assyrian power in the thir- 
teenth century B.C., the Semitic races appear to have in 
turn gained the ascendency, and spread over the low 
countries ; at the same time, the language gradually 
acquired a Semitic character, but still maintained an ad- 
mixture of Hamitic roots. Into the mountainous region, 
however, the Semites found difficulty in penetrating, and 
it is doubtless to the Hamites still dwelling there, retain- 
ing aU their warlike propensities, and constituting the 
flower of the Babylonian army, that the Jewish Scriptures 

* Genesis siv,. 


refer when they say, " I will bring evil from the north, 
and a great destruction,"""' meaning the destruction of 
Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, "king of the Chaldees."t 

But it is in a more restricted sense that Isaiah J alludes 
to " the Chaldeans, whose cry is in their ships" — a people 
of aquatic habits and maritime position, agreeing well 
with the descriptions given by Ptolemy § and Strabo, || of 
a people bordering on Arabia and the Persian Gulf, and 
into the marshes of whose territories, according to Pliny, t 
the Tigris emptied itself in its course to the sea. From 
these authorities we are led to conclude, that Chaldsea 
Proper extends from about the latitude of HiUah to the 
Persian Gulf, xnd from the verge of the great Arabian 
deserts on the ivest, across the plains and marshes of tbe 
Mesopotamian rivers, to the parallel of Hawiza: on the 
confines of ancient Susiana. 

With regard to the language of this early people, 
whether we call them Hamites, Scyths, or Chaldees, I 
cannot do better than quote from the writer of an inte- 
resting article in a recent periodical : ''''""" — 

" They were in reality the inventors of the cuneiform 
character, having first made rude pictures of natural 
objects, after the manner of hieroglyphs, which in pro- 
cess of time assumed the form of letters, possessing a 
phonetic power, and having some correspondence with 
the title of the original object which they were intended 
to represent. It seems likely that this alphabet had been 
in use at least a thousand years before it was employed 
to represent the sounds of a language like the Assyrian, 
difiering wholly in structure and character from that for 
which it was originally invented. Hence it happened, 
that -when the Semitic people began to make this use of 

• Jer. iv. 6. t 2 Chron. xxxvi. 17. X Chap, xliii. 14. 

§ Book vi. 20. II Book i. 4. 1 Book vi. 27. 

** Nctice of Colonel Rawlinson's researches in " The Monthly Review of 
Literature, Science, and Art," vol. i. page 45. 


it, they found it necessary to retain the old Scythic values 
of the letters, and therefore only modified the existing 
alphabet in such a manner as to give to each character 
the power which belonged to the Semitic synonym for 
the original Scythic term." The science of Assyria, even 
to the latest times, appears to have been recorded in the 
old Hamite language, so that the acquisition of this 
tongue was regarded as an essential part of Assyrian 

At the present day, it is well known there are some 
tribes in the highlands of Kurdistan called KaldanI, or 
Chaldseans, who profess Christianity, and are a brave, 
hardy race. One theory concerning their origin is, that 
they are the descendants of the original inhabitants of 
Chaldaea, who were driven into those fastnesses by the 
after-spread of the Semitic races.'"* 

The original colonists are, it is supposed, alluded to by 
Moses under the name of "Nimrod," which signifies 
" those who are found," or, " the settlers." Their Hamitic 
descent is confirmed by the application of the name Cush 
(the father of Nimrod), under various modifications, to 
different sites in the territory north and east of Baby- 
lonia — for instance, Sh\lsh, Cutha, Kiishasdan, Shiister, 
Cossoea, &c. 

The frequent mention of the Chaldseans as priests and 
astrologers may be accounted for by their having brought 
with them, in their migration, a knowledge of the sciences 
at that time far advanced in Egypt. Hence it was that 

* The various theories advanced concerning the Chaldseans have been so 
frequently quoted in other recent works, that I refrain from a repetition of 
them in this volume. The reader may, therefore, be referred to Baillie 
Fraser's " Mesopotamia and Assyria," and Vaux's valuable resum^ of mo- 
dern discoveries, entitled " Nineveh and Persepolis." The discussion in 
detail will be found in Faber's "Origin of Pagan Idolatry," Beke's "Origines 
Biblicse," Bochart's " Geographia Sacra," Dr Grant's " Lost Tribes," and 
Ainsworth's reply, MichaeUa' " Specim. Geograph. Hebrseor. Ext.," Layard'a 
" Nineveh," &c. &c. 

100 NIFFAR. 

there existed at Bahylon in tlie time of Alexander the 
Great a record of eclipses which had taken place from the 
year 2234 B.C.'" — a date nearly corresponding with that 
assigned to the commencement of Nimrod's empire as 
given in the marginal references of our Scriptures. We 
are also told by Strabo,t that the Chaldseans had two 
schools for the study of astronomy ; whence the learned 
men were called Borsippeni and Orchoeni, 

A further proof of the Eg}^otian origin of the Chal- 
dees is derived from the fact, that, in addition to the 
ordinary lunar year, they made use of a solar one for as- 
tronomical purposes, wliich was divided, aftei? the manner 
of the Egyptians, into montlily sections. The adoration 
of the heavenly bodies, which we know to have prevailed 
among the Hamite tribes, appears to have introduced a 
system of polytheism among the Semites, whose religion 
in its primitive state consisted in the worship of one 
supreme and omniscient Creator. This subject is not, 
however, one for me to investigate. 

It may not l^e uninteresting at this point to state the 
opinion of Sir Henry Rawliuson on the important ruins ot 
Niffar. He considers that " the names of the eiglit primeval 
cities, preserved in the tenth chapter of Genesis, are not 
intended to denote capitals then actually built and named, 
but rather to point out the localities where the first colo- 
nies were established by titles which became famous 
under the empire, and which were thus alone familiar to 
the Jews." He regards the site of Niffar as the primitive 
Calneh — the capital of the whole region. It was dedi- 
cated to Belus, and was called the city of Belus. Hence 
he concludes that this was the true site of the Tower of 
Babel ; and that from it originated the Babylon of Nebu- 
chadnezzar, on the banks of the Euphrates, at Hillah. The 
existing remains were built by the earliest king of whom 

* On the authority of BerosuB. t Book xvi. 739. 


we have any cuneiform monuments, about 2300 B.C., but 
whose name cannot be read with certainty. It was then 
called Tel Anu, from the god Anu, our scriptural Noah, 
who was worshipped there under the form of the Fish 
God Oannes, of whom we have representations on the 
bas-reliefs of Nineveh ; the name Nifhir was subse- 
quently given to it. The old titles were retained when 
the Talmud was composed, the writers of which say that 
Calneh was NifFar, and they call the place Nineveh ; but 
the Nineveh of Assyria was certainly at Mosul — "Out 
of that land went forth Ashur and builded Nineveh.""^'' 

The present aspect of NifFar is that of a lofty platform 
of earth and rubbish, divided into two nearly equal parts 
by a deep channel — apparently the bed of a river — about 
120 feet wide. Nearly in the centre of the eastern por- 
tion of this platform are the remains of a brick tower of 
early construction, the dehris of which constitutes a conical 
mound rising seventy feet above the plain. This is a 
conspicuous object in the distance, and exhibits, where 
the brick-work is exposed, oblong perforations similar to 
those seen at the Birs Nimriid, and other edifices of the 
Babylonian age. The western division of the platform 
has no remarkable feature, except that it is strewed with 
fragments of pottery, and other relics of a later period 
than the tower above alluded to. At the distance of a 
few hundred yards on the east of the ruins, may be dis- 
tinctly traced a low continuous mound — the remains, 
probably, of the external wall of the ancient city. As to 
the obelisk, the particular object of my visit, the Arabs 
positively declared that there was one, but none of them 
had seen it, or could indicate its position in the mounds. 

* For the above notices on the origin of the Chaldaeans and early history 
of NifFar, I am mainly indebted to Sir Henry Eawlinson's numerous me- 
moirs, contained in the publications of the Royal Asiatic Society, in the 
" Proceedings of the Royal Geogr. Society for 1856," p. 47, and pages of the 
" Athenaeum." 


It is unnecessary to dwell at greater length on these 
ruins, because Mr Layard has given a detailed account 
of his researches there in 1851.'"' I myself visited NifFar 
a second time in 1854, when his trenches were scarcely 
recognizable — in a year or two more they will be entirely 
filled up with drifted sand. Although no very remarkable 
discovery has yet been made at NifFar, it cannot be 
regarded as thoroughly explored ; and the extensive area 
of the ruins encourages the hope that at some future 
period excavations may be successfully resumed. 

On the west and south of Niffar there extends a region 
of marshes, hitherto un visited — a complete chain otnatural 
defences for the wild Madan Arabs, who dwell among 
them upon the slightly elevated ridges which at inter- 
vals raise their heads above the inundation. It is entirely 
owing to the presence of these swamps that the tribes 
in the interior are so little under the dominion of the 
Turkish Government. Joining to the AfFej district are 
the territories of the Beni Eechab,t whose independent 
chief, named the Amir or Prince, claims descent from the 
original possessors of the soil. He is the sworn ally of 
the great Muntefik sheikh ; and when that tribe is at war, 
the followers of the Amir, with their long muskets, fight 
side by side with those of the modern King of the Arabs. 
The Beni Eechab are a remarkable race, and in them we 
may probably recognize the descendants of the Rechab- 
ites, who, in the days of Jehoiakim, King of Judah, were 
made an example to the Jews of a people who, unlike the 
chosen race, obeyed the precepts of their forefathers. 
When wine was placed before them in the temple by 
Jeremiah, they refused to partake of it, saying, " Thus 
have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Eechab 
our father in all that he charged us, to drink no 

* " Nineveh and Baloylon," chap. xxiv. 
t Literally, " sons of the stirrup." 


wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our 
daughters ; nor to build houses for us to dweU in : 
neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed : but we 
have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done accord- 
ing to all that Jonadab our father commanded us. But 
it came to pass, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon 
came up into the land, that we said. Come, and let us go 
to Jerusalem for fear of the army of the Chaldeans, and 
for fear of the army of the Syrians : so we dwell at Jeru- 
salem/' ■^'* 

It is by no means improbable that at the taking of 
Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar a few years later, the 
Eechabites were oblio;ed to follow the fallen fortunes of 
their allies the Jews, and that the Chaldsean marshes 
were assigned to them as a residence in the land of their 
conquerors.t Their descendants are still to be found in 
the same locality, but instead of being a dependent, they 
have become an independent race. But whatever may 
have been the result of their intercourse with the Jews, 
the observance of their ancient customs remains un- 
changed, like that of all the wild Arab hordes. There is 
not sufficient proof, in the name alone, that the modern 
tribe of Beni Eechab are the Eechabites of the Scriptures, 
but the tradition of their early possession of the country, 
the title of Ainlr so unusually applied' to an Arab chief 
of this region, and the peculiarity of feature which distin- 
guishes the tribe, certainly afford some ground for the 
opinion here advanced. 

The Beni Eecliab are extremely jealous of strangers, as 
I once experienced, and it is not safe to venture among 
them without the Amir's protection. In countenance they 

* Jer. XXXV. 8-11. 

t Whether these Beni Rechdb are related to the tribe of the same name 
whom the Jewish traveller, Benjamin of Tudela, mentions as dwelling in 
the deserts of Yemen, and observing the precepts of the Talmud, I am 
unable to say. They may be divisions of the same tribe. 


bear a strong resemblance to the Jews, and may easily be 
distinguished from the surrounding Arab tribes ; I am not 
aware, however, that they have any traditions of a former 
connexion with the Jewish nation. Unlike their aflable 
neighbours of the Affej, they are sullen and morose, un- 
willing to give information, and infinitely more addicted 
to plunder than to any other occupation. The sway of 
the Amir extends from the Afiej southwards to near the 
mounds of Hammam hereafter mentioned, and as far 
east as the Tigris, along the banks of which he exacts 
black-mail from all native vessels plying between Baghdad 
and Busrah, although he himself pays no tribute to the 
Turkish Government. 

Amono' the marshes of the Beni Eechab are several 
important ruins, of which Bismya, distant about twenty- 
five miles south-east of NifFar, is the most remarkable. 
These two ancient sites, however, are separated by a 
great extent of marsh, so that Bismya is still unex- 
plored. I have seen it at the distance of about ten 
miles, and, from its low but spreading outline, I believe 
it to be of very ancient origin. This form is, for the 
most part, common to mounds of remote age in Chaldsea, 
and proves that after-generations have not built upon the 
older remains. 

Phara is another of the Beni Eechab mounds, abound- 
ing in small antiques, such as signet-cylinders, rude 
bronzes, and figures carved in stone. According to the 
Amir, such articles " flow like water " from the mound. 
It is consequently much resorted to by antique-hunters, 
who find a ready sale for their treasures among the 
Europeans at Baghdad. At Phara I obtained a very 
interesting Egyptian amulet. 


Diwaniyya — Camp of Abdi Pasha — Mulla 'All, tlie Merry Ogre — Sheep- 
skin Rafts — Statue-huntiiig — Hamraam — Solemn Grandeur of Chal- 
dsean Paiins — The Statue — Tel Ede — ^Alarm of the Arabs — Fkst 
Impressions of Warka. 

After a minute inspection of the ruins of NifFar, we 
returned to Slikyer, whicli we reached before sunset. 

Had it not been that we were the bearers of letters 
to Abdi Pasha, who was then at Diwaniyya, I should 
have made an effort to penetrate through the Beni 
Rechab. As it was, however, our course lay south-east- 
ward from Shkyer, encountering considerable difficulties 
by the way. The marsh was wide, and, although not 
generally deep, intersected by numerous streamlets from 
the Euphrates, which rendered the passage of the horses 
and baggage-mules no easy task. Sheikh Shkyer under- 
took that some of his people should conduct them by a 
circuitous route, so as to avoid the main inundation, 
but they were still obliged to ford in three feet water 
for an hour, and to swim across the deeper streams. 
The baggage and saddles were conveyed with ourselves 
in terraclas through the open marsh and straight long 
lanes or ditches of reeds, only sufficiently wide to admit 
of two boats passing each other. The reeds formed walls 
on either side to the height of twelve or fourteen feet, 
and excluded every breath of pure air. 

The animals having at length joined us, we mounted, 


and traversed some groves of fine tamarisks to the little 
hamlet of Yiisufiyya, surrounded by date-trees, upon the 
left bank of an important trunk stream of the same name. 
This canal, derived from the Euphrates a few miles above 
the town of DIwanl}ya, conveys a deep flow of water into 
the interior for the purposes of irrigation in those locali- 
ties where the elevation of the land is uninfluenced by 
the rise or fall of the marshes. The Yiisufiyya, at about 
seventeen miles from its source, is divided into three parts 
— one of which, called the Shat-el-Kahr, falls into the 
marshes of the Shat-el-Hie, at the junction of that branch 
of the Tigris with the Euphrates. None of these streams 
are fordable, consequently the depth and width of the 
Yiisufiyya is considerable. It is crossed in a rude boat at 
the village, beyond which Diwanlyya is an hour distant. 

Our tents were pitched after sunset above the town, on 
the left bank of the Euphrates. The pasha, with a camp 
of 3000 men, was stationed on the opposite side, having 
just concluded one of those Sisyphian labours, previously 
mentioned, which each successive governor of Baghdad is 
obliged to undergo, namely, the reconstruction of the 
dam at the mouth of the Hindieh. He was now sta- 
tioned at Diwaniyya for the fourfold purpose of testing 
the result of his work, of arranging matters consequent 
on the AVadI Bey's deposition, of curbing the universal 
disposition to rebel against the Ottoman rule, and, lastly, 
of collecting arrears of tribute. 

When daylight on the following morning revealed our 
position, the appearance of tents on the opposite side of 
the river caused a considerable stir in the camp of His 
Excellency : for it was beyond the comprehension of 
the Turks that ordinary travellers could surmount 
the su})posed insuperable difliculties of the marshes ; 
and — unless we liad dropped from above — there was no 
other method by which we could have got there. Mes- 



senger after messenger arrived in kufalis to satisfy the 
curiosity of their masters concerning the rank, quality, 
and destination of the new comers. In due time, having 
previously announced our arrival to the pasha, we crossed 
the river, and were received on landing by an officer in 
waiting. Instead, however, of conducting us to the pre- 
sence of the pasha, he led us — probably bribed to do so 
— to the tent of MuUa 'Ali, the little eunuch and buffoon, 
of whom I have abeady spoken as possessing the confi- 
dence of the governor. His purpose, no doubt, was to 
satisfy himself on the objects of our journey, and the 
cause of our visit to the pasha, 

Mulla 'Ali was originally a slave of a former pasha, 
but his antics and jokes were so efiective that he obtained 
his freedom, and subse- 
quently rose high in favour 
with 'All and Nedjib Pa- 
shas. It was impossible 
to guess his age, but, as he 
sat doubled up on a carpet, 
covered with a huge furred 
cloth tunic and an enor- 
mous dark -green turban, 
he was one of the most 
repulsive creatures which 
the eye could well encoun- 
ter. His face more resem- 
bled that of the monkey 
tribe than anything else 
I can conceive. His mouth 

stretched nearly from ear to ear, and the latter append- 
aoes stood out from each side like those of an ass. 
Teeth he had none, so that his tongue, as if too large for 
his mouth, frequently lolled out, giving him the appear- 
ance of an idiot. His face, thin in the extreme, was 

Mulla 'AH. 


puckered into a thousand wrinkles, the bones projecting, 
and the skin of the colour and consistency of hard leather. 
The whole of his features were condensed into an expres- 
sion of low cunning, cupidity, cruelty, and lust, which no 
one could behold without shuddering. His character did 
not belie his appearance. He was at one time made chief 
over certain Khuzeyl tribes, but his conduct was such that 
it was found necessary to remove him. Money was his. 
chief object, and he extorted it without scruple. When 
he failed by the usual means, he tried torture, and took 
as much delight in the sufferings of his unfortunate vic- 
tims as either Nero or Caligula, His favourite punishment 
was to bury an offender alive with his hands tied, leaving 
only his shaven head above ground, but this was smeared 
over with honey to attract reptiles and insects 1 The wretch 
took his pleasure in frequently going to grin and make 
faces at the poor victim, who, however, without food, 
and under an almost vertical sun, was soon relieved by 
death from the tortures and atrocities he suffered. It is 
difficult to comprehend how a man so kind and himiane 
as Aljdi Pasha could consent to the companionship of a 
creature so ^dle and abominable, but wherever he went, 
JMulla 'Ali accompanied him, whatever state-matter he 
had to transact, MuUa ^Ali was consulted. It is true 
that the eunuch was full of anecdote, and his drolleries 
made the staid pasha laugh in the midst of the most 
sober affairs, but that was no excuse for giving coun- 
tenance to a creature who had lost all human feelings. 
However gross or insulting the buffoon's jests might be, 
the paslia was always ready with a hoarse laugh. On 
one occasion, I remember seeing IMuUa 'All, like a huge 
toad, publicly spit upon the person of an European gentle- 
man. The pasha, as usual, exercised his merriment ; but 
in an instant afterwards looked serious, for it occurred to 
him that this was a matter beyond a joke. 


This paragon of ugliness and cruelty received liis visi- 
tors without rising, merely motioning us to be seated on 
the carpet near him. Salutations and compliments were 
soon dispensed wdth, by his abruptly demanding in one 
breath, " where we had come from, where we were going, 
and what we wanted 1 " The answer appeared to amuse 
him exceedingly, for he burst forth into an inordinate fit 
of laughter, in which he was joined by his attendants, who 
gathered behind their master to ascertain the subject of 
gossip for the day. A more out-at-heel squad can seldom 
be seen. Every one grinned from ear to ear, in imitation 
of their master, at the very idea of two Englizi passing 
through the Madan country, into which no Turk ever yet 
dared to venture — being pronounced beyond the pale of 
the pasha's authority. Midla 'Ali became guinea-yellow 
with excitement at the bare possibility of such an attempt 
being successful, and at the greater probability of our 
being spitted on Arab spears. He told some horrid stories 
of cruelties perpetrated by the Madan tribes ; but these 
were so contrary to their nature, that I set them down 
as instances of his own barbarity. Not finding us dis- 
posed to believe all he said, he endeavoured to amuse his 
audience at our expense by turning round and remark- 
ing : — " What a pleasure it would be to hear that the 
Arabs had made donkeys of them ! " The reply was, that 
" if the Arabs did so, he should not," and so we left him 
huddled up in his furs. 

We found the Pasha of Baghdad sitting on the edge of 
a high bank overlooking the river, with that expression 
of utter stolidity which characterizes the Turkish features. 
Ask a grave old Turkish gentleman what he is thinking 
about, and his answer will invariably be, " By Allah ! 
what should I think of 1 Nothing." So, doubtless, Abdi 
Pasha thought of " nothing" as our approach woke him 
from the slumber into which his cogitations had fallen. 


He received us graciously, but could by no means com- 
preliend tlie object of our proposed journey on the easteim 
side of the Euphrates. As to Warka, or the region where 
it is situated, although within his own territories, he knew 
nothing whatever. The official map called for gave no 
further explanation ; whereupon he seemed to conclude 
that Warka must be an exceedingly dangerous place, for 
he remarked in a decided manner, " You cannot go ; I will 
not be answerable for your safety." Expostulation had 
little or no effect, and although I repeatedly released him 
from all responsibility, the same answer was returned — 
" It is impossible ; you must travel with the troops and 
animals by way of Semava." Seeing that no good could 
be effected by reasoning on the absurdity of his fears for 
our safety, I merely asked for a small party of Bashi 
Baziiks, in lieu of those who had brought us to Diwaniyya, 
and firmly stated my intention of continuing my journey 
as previously arranged at Baghdad. Having done so, I 
left him biting his lip and wondering at European obsti- 
nacy. My impression was, that he did not wish strangers 
to see the little authority he exercised over the tribes. 

During the remainder of the day, the necessary pre- 
parations were made for entering an unknown region. 
Several skins were purchased to enable our crossing any 
streams and marshes which might fall in our way. The 
services of a Jebur Arab Sheikh, called Mahmild, whose 
camp lay on our route near the verge of the Amir's terri- 
tories, were secured ; and, early on the following morning, 
nothing was wanting but the promised escort. It was 
some time before the pasha could be prevailed on to con- 
form to my wishes, but at length sixteen rudely equipped 
horsemen crossed the river, and we sallied forth from the 
groves of Diwaniyya in search of novelty and adventure, 
exulting at the result of continued obstinacy and deter- 


For three days our road lay across a level and un- 
interesting desert, at times interrupted by a detour to 
avoid a marsh, or by a halt to cross a broad and deep 
water-course. In such case the loads were unpacked, 
and the inflated sheep-skins tied to our tent-poles or 
branches of tamarisk — thus forming a primitive raft. 
Reeds were then placed on this framework in order to 
keep the passengers and luggage dry. In this manner 
aU were floated across to the opposite side, while the 
horses and mules swam over. Sometimes, when the 
stream was very rapid, the kelek or raft was attached 
to a rope, and prevented from floating down the current. 

One of the most important water-courses was the 
Fawar, derived from the Yusiifiyya, and terminating in 
the marshes on the banks of the Euphrates. The Fawar, 
in its turn, gave ofl" a considerable branch called the 
Turunjiyya, which supplied some smaU kal'as and the 
cultivated land adjoining them. The Arab owners, how- 
ever, declining the payment of their taxes, had endea- 
voured to shew their independence by destroying a dam 
so that the water of the Fawar might be transferred 
to the channel of the Turunjiyya, and subsequently into 
a marsh surrounding their abodes. Abdl Pasha had sent 
Mustapha Bey, the kyaya of Baghdad, with a large force 
to bring these refractory Arabs to reason. His first care 
was to close the mouth of Turunjiyya with a strong dam 
of earth and brushwood, and afterwards to attack a fort 
to which the Arabs retreated. He was successful in his 
efforts, and took possession of the fort on the very day 
we passed — the defenders ha^dng decamped during the 
night, carrying with them all their goods and chattels. 

We crossed the Fawar at the ruins of a modern town 
caUed Siik-el-Fawar (Fawar Market), once a consider- 
able and thriving place — the centre of a large district 
like Suk-esh-Sheioukh. It originally belonged to the 


Mimtefik x\ral.)S, and was surrounded at intervals by 
small martello towers, for defence against more unsettled 

I have already had occasion to allude to the effect 
produced by the destruction of the dam on the Eu- 
phrates above Babylon, at the mouth of the Hindleh.^' 
Nowhere is this effect better observed and understood 
than at Siik-el-Fawar. In consequence of the breaking 
of that dam about twenty-five years ago, the water 
deserted the channels and streams on the east of the 
Euphrates. Siik-el-Fawar, among other places, became 
a sufferer by the catastrophe, and was soon ^afterwards 
abandoned. Decaying date-trees, and ruins of well-built 
mud huts, extend half-a-mile along both sides of the 
channel, harbouring only wild beasts and reptiles! The 
pasha's recent work had restored a copious stream to the 
bed of the Fawar, and water was flowing towards spots 
which had for many years been without moisture. 

On the third day's journey from Diwanlyya, we reached 
a deep river-bed, now dry, called by the Arabs " Slikain," 
or " Es-Sahain," which was said to have also become dry at 
the same time as the Fawar. The great size of the chan- 
nel, measuring 270 feet wide by 15 or 20 deep, shews its 
importance. Whether it had ever been the course of the 
Eupln-ates, it was difficult to decide on a casual examina- 
tion. It is by no means improbable that it is a continua- 
tion of the ancient Nil, previously lost to sight in the 
marshes of Niffar. At any rate, its course singularly 
coincides in a'cneral direction with that of the Nil. 

Parallel with our road could be traced the course of 
the Shat-el-Kahr — a continuation of the Yusiifiyya — 
here and there indicated on our east by a mud fort or 
enclosure. Numerous small mounds, too, began to spring 
up in advancing southward, while the path was constantly 

* Seo page 44. 


strewed with fragments of bricks and pottery. It was 
evident that we were approaching the seats of ancient 
civiHzation, and the neighbourhood of once populous 
cities. The further we proceeded, the more clearly was 
this manifested. 

Our new guide, M4hmud, having mentioned the exist- 
ence of a large statue at a ruin named Hammam,''^ I deter- 
mined on directing our course to the east of the road we 
were pursuing, in order to ascertain the truth of his 
account, because little reliance can usually be placed on 
Arab information upon such points. After passing several 
coni=?i'lerable mounds on either side, we at length, before 
sunrise on the morning of the fourth day's ride from 
Diwanlyya, caught a glimpse of the goal we sought. 

I know of nothing more exciting or impressive than 
the first sight of one of those great Chaldsean piles loom- 
ing in solitary grandeur from the surrounding plains and 
marshes. A thousand thoughts and surmises concern- 
ing its past eventful history and origin — its gradual rise 
and rapid fall — naturally present themselves to the inind 
of the spectator. The hazy atmosphere of early morning 
is peculiarly favourable to considerations and impres- 
sions of this character, and the gray mist intervening 
between the gazer and the object of his reflections, im- 
parts to it a dreamy existence. This fairy-like effect is 
further heightened by mirage, which strangely and fan- 
tastically magnifies its form, elevating it from the ground, 
and causing it to dance and quiver in the rarefied air. 
No wonder, therefore, that the beholder is lost in pleasing- 
doubt as to the actual reality of the apparition before 

The ruins of Hammam measure about a mile in diame- 

♦ The site of Hammdm, " a bath," is believed by Sir Henry Rawliiison 
to represent the Gulaba of cuneiform inscriptions. See Proceedings of 
Royal Geographical Society for April 1856, p. 47. 




ter, and consist of a series of low undulations around a 
orand central tower, whose remarkable form cannot fail 

Ruins of Hamm^im. 

to attract attention. Owing to the falling away of the 
brickwork at its sides and base, and to the projection of 
its upper parts, this building has, in the distance, under 
the influence of mirage, the appearance of a gigantic 
nuishroom. Its total height is about fifty feet, of which 
twenty is a conical mound supporting a mass of unbaked 
brickwork. Its original form has evidently been square, 
but the sides are now reduced to seventy-eight feet each, 
and the angles are rounded off. Judging by other ruins 
of similar character, and by the numerous broken frag- 
ments lying upon the sloping sides of the mound, it was 
probably faced externally with kiln-baked bricks. The 
most northerly angle points twenty degrees east of north. 
A deep channel, formed by the rains of winter, divides 
each side into equal parts, and leaves the angles projectino- 
like four rounded turrets. The action of the weather, 
too, has likewise worn away these apparent towers, and 


exposed a layer of reeds at tlie summit of each. The 
bricks used in the construction of this edifice measure 
fourteen and a-half inches square by five, or five and 
a-half inches thick, and are composed of sun-dried clay, 
mixed with barley-chaff and chopped straw. Each row 
is separated by a layer of reeds, which project and shelter 
the bricks beneath them from the influence of the weather. 
It is difficidt to conceive the purpose of this and simi- 
lar edifices throughout Babylonia, unless we assume them 
to have been platforms for the erection of temples, such 
as may be seen in a state of better preservation at Birs 
Nimriid and Mugeyer. That the ruin at Hammam was 
a portion of a temple devoted to the worship of a Chal- 
dsean divinity, is moreover inferred from the statue which 
lay about two hundred yards from the north-west corner 
of the ruin ; this bore all the characteristics of a sacred 
idol. Unfortunately it has suffered much from ill-usage, 
being not only l^roken, but otherwise maliciously defaced. 
According to the information of our guide, this inte- 
resting statue was perfect about two years previously, 
but was broken with large hammers by a tribe "^'^ who 
work in iron near Stik-esh-Sheioukh, in the expectation 
of finding gold in its interior. It had likewise been used 
as a target by the Arabs for ball-practice , but the frac- 
tures bore evidence of having been effected at an earlier 
period than my informant admitted. ' 

* B3' this description must be implied tlie Sabseans or Christians of St 
John — a strange race of whom Uttle is known. They are probably a relic 
of the old inhabitants of the country. I doubt their ability to break so 
large a block of stone ; and it is not their custom to travel about with the 
large implements of their trade. My friend Professor Peterniann, the emi- 
nent Oriental linguist and savant of Berlin, passed nearly the whole of the 
year 1854 at Si^ik-esh-Sheioukh among the Sabl. We may shortly expect 
some valuable information from his jjen concerning them. A few families 
reside at Shuster and Dizful, where they ai-e dreadfully persecuted by both 
Persians and Arabs. General Williams, with the humanity which distin- 
guishes him, obtained a firman from the Shah for their protection. 


^ Tliis statue represents a male human figure, of tlie 
natural size and correct proportions, cut out of finely- 
grained black granite, and executed with remarkable skill. 
The torso is broken at the waist, where the hands are 
clasped in front, as if holding a garment thrown loosely- 
over the left shoulder. The right shoulder is bare, with 
a defaced inscription in Babylonian characters cut upon 
it. The head'"' and arms are unfortunately gone. This 
frao-ment measures sixteen inches from the neck to the 
waist, and nineteen inches between the shoulders. The 
second piece, representing the lower part of the body, has 
been severed from the former, and measures two feet six 
inches. The surface is much broken ; but upon the 
right hip and side there is another defaced inscription, 
bordered with a deep fringe similar to that represented 
on the Assyrian sculptures. The third and last fragment 
is a shapeless block, thirteen inches long and ten inches 
wide, polished on one side, and exhibiting a trace of gar- 
ment fringe. 

Statues of Babylonian workmanship being extremely 
rare, I packed the pieces in the best manner which 
circumstances would admit, and brought the awkward 
loads on the backs of our mules to Busrah, whence 
they were shipped for England. These fragments, 1 
believe, are the only specimen of an undoubted Baby- 
lonian statue in Europe ; but I am sorry to remark that 
they still lie neglected in the vaults of the British Mu- 
seum. t 

Want of time prevented my making a thorough exa- 
mination of the other ruins of Hammam. As they do 
not appear to have been occupied by succeeding dynas- 

* In the possession of Captain Lynch, C.B., I.N., is a very beautiful head 
of similar stone, which probably belongs to this statue, having been repre- 
sented to him as obtained from this neighbourhood. 

+ In 1854 I obtained a similar, but smaller, statue from the neighbouring 
mound of Yokha, which wa.s likewise sent to England. 

mAdan alarm. 117 

ties, they will probably afford valuable information con- 
cerning the Chaldasan period. If excavations are ever 
again undertaken in those regions, Hammam is one of 
those sites which deserves early attention.'"' 

AVithin sight of Hammam, about six miles distant in 
the south-south-west, rises another lofty and imposing 
pile, called Tel Ede, or Yede. Towards it our course was 
next directed. 

We had by this time reached the limits of the Mun- 
tefik territories, inhabited by the wildest of those Md- 
dan tribes who acknowledge fealty to the great sheikh. 
As we advanced in a compact party, we were espied by a 
few Arab shepherds tending their flocks, which find 
excellent grazing on the short grass produced by the 
early rains among the sand-hills. Alarmed at the sight 
of so many horsemen, they took up their position on a 
small mound, elevated a black keffieh upon a spear, sang 
their war-cry, and danced like spirits demented. In a few 
minutes they were joined by others of their tribe, who 
joined in the song and dance, until they were almost lost 
to our sight in the dense cloud of dust created by their 
frantic evolutions. When they considered their numbers 
sufficiently strong, this half-naked band of savages — 
their abbas bound round their waists, their heads bare, 
and their long black locks flowing wildly in the breeze — 
formed in the most approved style of Arab array, and ran 
at a rapid pace, with spear and club in hand, to meet the 
supposed enemy. 

The whole neighbourhood was in a state of the 
greatest excitement and alarm. The sheep and cattle 
were being driven towards the tents for protection; 

* When I i^assed through the country a second time in 1854, it was my 
intention to have commenced operations at Hammdm on behalf of the 
Assyrian Excavation Society ; but the want of water in the Shat-el-Kahr, 
which flows within a few miles of these ruins, compelled my seeking a more 
ehgible locality. 

118 mAdAn alarm. 

tlie women collected in numbers together upon the 
mound which their heroes had just quitted, urging 
them on to brave deeds by their shriU and constant 
tahlehl — a sound intermediate between a haUoo, a whistle, 
and a scream, which rings through the nerves like a gal- 
vanic shock. The warriors approached us in admirable 
order, as if they had passed through many a field-day, 
and were quite prepared to do or die, as brave hearts 
should, in defence of their ladies fair. Arranging them- 
selves in two long lines, at equal intervals apart, in num- 
ber about sixty, they then advanced, in New Zealand 
fashion, with a kind of running dance, chanting .their 
war-song, and throwing their weapons high into the air, 
to catch them again, with inimitable dexterity, in their 
descent. Tliey were apparently led by an old man with 
a luxuriant white beard, who sang the solo parts, and 
was otherTvdse exceedingly active in the whole business. 
]\lahmud rode forward to exj)lain that we came in peace, 
and not in war ; whereupon the announcement was 
received with a jeH of indescribable expression. One of 
our horsemen foohshly fired a pistol while they danced 
rou]id about our party, which added tenfold to the 
general excitement. Positive exhaustion alone obliged 
them to desist. Then came inquiries and explanations, 
which resulted in their insisting on our taking up our 
quarters for the night at their encampment, shewing 
that genuine hospitality to strangers which does so much 
honour to the Arab character. They would take no 
excuse, and, seizing the bridles of our horses, were about 
to drag us thither with good-humoured force. I was not, 
however, inclined to forego my visit to Tel Ede, and 
therefore entered into an amicable arrangement, by which 
they agreed to conduct the mules and baggage to their 
tents, while we rode forward to the ruins. 

The gxeat pile of Tel Ede much disappointed my ex- 



pectations. It is a huge artificial mass of solid sand, 
ninety feet high, the circumference of its base measuring 

Tcl Ede. 

2500 feet. Its form is irregular, and its largest diameter 
from north-west to south-east. Its highest point is at the 
north-west. The south-west face is steep and inacces- 
sible ; while that on the opposite side is furrowed by deep 
rain-channels. The north-west side is much weathered, 
and exhibits a section of its compact sandy mass.'"" The 
effect of rain and wind is to cut large holes deeply into 
the surface. The long ridge-like ranges of small mounds 
at its north-east base are covered with the usual relics 
— such as fragments of bricks, pottery, and glass — but 
they are still unexamined by the spade, and await the 
investigation of some future adventurer. 

At first sight, I was almost induced to consider Tel Ede 
a continuation of a range of sand-hills which bear away 
from it towards the south-east ; but its dimensions and 

* Mr Taylor excavated deeply into a similar conical mound, called Um- 
wdweis. A high wind arising during the night, completely carried away its 
summit : so light were the particles when loosened. 


coiupactness, as well as its evident connexion with tokens 
of ancient remains at its base, do not confirm this suppo- 
sition. Moreover, I afterwards ascertained that similar 
conical mounds occur in various parts of Chaldaea, in- 
variably surrounded by, or connected with, lesser mounds 
undoubtedly artificial. They appear to have been citadels 
or temples of the same period as the adjacent ruins ; but 
it is remarkable that they bear on their summits no trace 
of brickwork, and are merely cones of solid earth and 
sand. In two instances, I caused excavations to be made 
into similar but smaller conical mounds at Warka ; but 
from top to base they exhibited no change of character ; 
nor did they contain the slightest clue to their origin. 
Until such be obtained, we must remain in ignorance on 
the subject. 

Having completed our casual survey, we regained the 
baggage and servants at the Arab camp, two miles dis- 
tant, where our tents were already pitched among the 
sand-hills. Our hosts belonged to the Madan Arabs — 
those of the lowest caste, who are emjDloyed by the supe- 
rior Arabs in tending buffaloes and cattle, or in cultivat- 
ing maize on the edges of the inundations. Ignorant and 
despised, they live in the most primitive state of bar- 
barism, their only wants being those of absolute necessity. 
At times, when the Euphrates fails in its annual rise to 
overflow their lands, the destitution of the Madan is 
extreme, and they are even reduced to the alternative of 
digging up roots to support a miserable state of poverty 
and hunger. Their ignorance is extreme ; and I could 
scarcely believe that very few among them had ever seen 
a mule, until their genuine surprise was evident at those 
which carried our ba2;o;ao;e ! Suk-esh-Sheioukh and 
Semdva are immense cities in their estimation ; Baghdad 
and Busrah are far beyond the limits of their peregrina- 
tions ; Stambiil and the Sultan they have barely heard of. 


Like hyaenas or jackals, they congregate amid the burial- 
places, or pitch their tents upon the ruined cities of the 
past, without the slightest reverence for or knowledge of 
the people by whom those monuments were raised. These 
mounds yield them utensils for their camp and frequently 
gold from a ransacked tomb, which is disposed of to 
wandering Jews for a few dates, valueless cotton fabrics, 
or rude ornaments for their women. Unlike the Bedouins, 
Httle reliance can be placed upon their word, and they do 
not scruple to plunder, both openly and secretly, from 
their enemies and friends without distinction. It is true, 
that during my subsequent stay among them nothing was 
positively taken from my teot ; but they could not resist 
the desire to pilfer whenever opportunity was afforded 
them. Cupidity is their weak point ; for a trifle they 
will cringe Hke the most abject slave, and condescend to 
the meanest artifices to obtain what they crave. Fickle 
and almost unmanageable, few persons can conceive the 
difficulties to be encountered in undertaking excavations 
among them. It was only by employing parties from 
several tribes, and pitting one against the other, that I 
succeeded in carrying on researches in the region they 
occupy. Jealousy and ill-wiU had great effect upon them. 
The Jebiir and other tribes employed in the excavations 
at Nineveh are comparatively civilized ; but the Madan 
of Chaldsea are little superior to the buffaloes they tend, 
and are regarded as destitute of feeling by the superior 
class of Arabs. Yet they are not altogether without 
good qualities. Merry and good-humoured, they contrast 
advantageously with the neighbouring tribes of the 
Amir, and the sullen Beni Lam across the Shat-el-Kalir. 
Their hospitality knows no bounds, and they wiU willingly 
share with the passing traveller the little stores they pos- 
sess, until the whole has disappeared. In the present 
instance, our large party quickly demolished tlieir stock of 


barley, aucl before morning all the rice of tlie encamp- 
ment was consumed by our animals."^' 

The Madan are slightly built, but well-formed, strong, 
and active. Their skin, exposed to all temperatures, from 
25° to 150° Fahr., is tanned to a deep swarthy hue, and 
seldom, even in the coldest weather, covered with more 
tlian a single abba, made of goat's hair. Keffiehs or 
head-dresses appear to be despised ; their hair, hanging 
in thick plaits, or more commonly in a state of nature, 
is so plentiful, that it alone affords sufficient pro- 
tection from the summer's sun. Their eyes, wild but 
expressive, shine with a brightness seldom mtnessed in 
oiu? own humid climate ; while their teeth, from eating 
only vegetable food, can vie in whiteness with the purest 
ivory. Fire-arms are ahnost unknown among the Madan ; 
but no man leaves his tent without a favourite spear or 
bitumen-headed club, of which he is prepared to make 
good use whenever opportunity arises or necessity re- 
quires. Feuds are of continual occm-rence, either with 
their neighbours or among themselves. The -period of 
our visit, notwithstanding the warnings of the pasha and 
the Turkish authorities, was peculiarly favom^able ; a 
peaceful cahn prevailed after the raging storm which had 
just ceased with the change of governors. 

Throughout this journey, the only real annoyance I 
experienced was from the Bashi Baziiks. Accustomed to 
plunder and abuse all who came in their way, they were 
with difficulty restrained from ill-treating their kind 
Arab hosts ; and it was only by constant entreaties and 
threats that they were compelled to desist. The Arabs 
frequently complained to me of their conduct ; and often, 
when I expressed a probability of my returning among 
them, I was greeted with the remark, " Come, Beg, we 
shall be glad to receive you as a brother, but do not 

• See chapter xiv. for further description of the ]\Idddu Arabs. 


bring the nizam (soldiers) with you. We will guard you 
better than they I " I took their advice on my return 
among them, and did not, in this case, regret having 
trusted to their word. 

As an instance of the security of a stranger in an Arab 
camp, a scene may be related which took place at this 
locality. Guards had, as usual, been placed around our 
tents, and every person had retired to rest, when — by 
accident or design, whether by friend or foe it is impos- 
sible to say — a pistol was fired in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of my tent. The whole encampment was in- 
stantly roused, and a report spread that an enemy was 
in the neioiibourhood. The war chant of our hosts was 
echoed on all sides from distant encampments ; the 
sounds, at first low and indistinct, gradually becoming 
louder and nearer, at length made us aware that large 
bodies of the Madau were advancing to the rescue. The 
efiect was startling and grand, as the dead silence of 
night was broken by an excitement of this natm^e. Two 
or three hundred men were speedily gathered round our 
tents, and joined in the same wild chant, grunting, yell- 
ing, and dancing without cessation. At length it was 
discovered that an enemy did not exist, and each party 
slowly retired to its own encampment, but it was long- 
before all became once more still. 

From our night's resting-place, the outhne of the 
lofty and imposing mounds of Warka was distinctly 
visible. The magnitude of the ruins determined me to 
send on the baggage a couple of hours further to another 
Arab camp, so that, if requisite, we might have the op- 
portunity of renewing acquaintance with them on the 

On again emerging from the low sand-hills upon the 
open plain, we crossed a plot of ground, covered with a 
natm-al carpet of the richest green. The grass, incited 


by the few liglit showers recently fallen, was being 
eagerly cropped by numerous herds of graceful gazelle, 
which left their browsing as the party approached, and 
bounded off in long lines to search for a quieter retreat. 
The scene before us was exciting. Even the staid Bashi 
Bazuks were moved beyond their wont, and, packing up 
their long chibiiks, set spurs to their horses. Uttering 
wild cries, they vainly attempted to overtake the frighted 
herds, or played at jerid among themselves for their 
own and others' amusement, leaving deep tracks in ^he 
soft green sward. The scene, too, was doubly enjoyable 
by comparison with the sterile and glaring desert, at the 
commencement of our journey : while the sight of Warka 
within a few miles' distance, and the discussion naturally 
raised by its proximity, created a measure of excitement 
and delight in my companion and myself which none but 
ardent antiquarians on new ground can fully appreciate. 
Three massive piles rose prominent before our view 
from an extensive and confused series of mounds, at once 
shewing the importance of the ruins which we — their 
first European visitors — now rapidly approached. The 
whole was surrounded by a lofty and strong line of 
earthen ramparts, concealing from yiew all but the 
principal objects. Beyond the walls were several conical 
mounds, resembling, in their general form, that of Tel 
Ede — one of which equalled in altitude the highest struc- 
ture within the cii'cumscribed area. Each step that we 
took, after crossing the walls, convinced me that Warka 
was a much more important place than had been hitherto 
supposed, and that its vast mounds, abounding in objects 
of the highest interest, deserved a thorough exploration. 
I determined, therefore, on using every effort to make 
researches at Warka, which, of all the ruins in Chald£Ba, 
is alone worthy to rank with those of Babylon and 


All tliat could be effected at this visit was to make a 
careful map of the place, and to take such general notes 
as mio-ht be hereafter useful. Its most remarkable feature 
is the enormous accumulation of sepulchral remains of 
extraordinary character, which at once prove it to have 
been a vast necropolis, dating probably from times the 
most remote. As the importance of Warka requires a 
separate chapter to describe its wonders, I shall defer 
that account for the present. 

On this occasion, Mr Churchill and myself spent nearly 
two days upon the ruins, and succeeded in obtaining 
several small articles and executing some drawings which 
indicated the great antiquity of the site. With these we 
once more resumed our journey, fearing lest, by a longer 
stay, we might be too late to rejoin the Turkish troops 
accordino; to arrano-ement at Suk-esh-Sheioukh. It was 
with no little regret, therefore, that we were compelled 
to leave a spot so replete with interest. 


Bedouins — Mubjirek becomes useful — Euins of Mugeyer — Cylinders — 
Chedorlaomer ? — Belshazzar — The Author and his Guides put to 
flight their Turkish Escort — Busrah — Arrival in Persist. 

From Warka we rode nine miles in a south-soutli-east 
direction, over a desert frequently covered with marsh, 
to a new kal'a called Diiraji,'"' on the banks of the 
Euphrates, near which our road passed over low rough 
ground, dead rushes, and old channels of the river — the 
evidences of former inundations. Here we encamped for 
the night, within sight of three remarkable piles of past 
greatness — Tel Ede, Warka, and Sinkara — the last of 
which I succeeded in visiting on subsequent occasions, 
and which will be described in due time. 

Our course from Duraji followed along the left bank 
of the Euphrates to the marshes at the confluence of the 
Shat-el-Hie and Shat-el-Kahr with that river. At the 
parallel of Baghdad, the level of the Euphrates is so 
much above that of the Tigris, that the water of the for- 
mer flows into the latter by a canal called the Seglawiyya. 
As the two rivers pursue their course southward, the 
Euphrates descends with more rapidity, and, at 3 1 " north 
latitude, is for the first time joined by the water of the 
Tigris through the channel called the Shat-el-Hie, which 
bifurcates from the main stream at Kut-el-'Amara. The 
Shat-el-Hie, in conjunction with the Shat-el-Kahr, forms 

* From the number of " francolin" which abound there. 


an extensive marsli, out of which a single stream finds its 
way to the Euphrates. Just above the point of junction 
a kufah ferry is maintained, by means of which we 
crossed to the western side, where we suddenly found 
ourselves among a number of Bedouin encampments of 
Aneiza and Dhefyr tribes, Avho, for the sake of the water 
and vegetation of the Euphrates, usually frequent its 
banks at that season of the year. It was then that we 
experienced the benefit of Miibarek's escort. Several 
times strong parties of horsemen, attracted by the sight 
of a caravan, were in the act of swooping down upon our 
little party, when the wild fellow, whose eye always first 
detected their movements, urged his horse to full speed 
and rode forth to meet them. An embrace from each of 
the Arabs usually greeted our friend, a short conversation 
ensued, and they quietly retired in the direction from 
which they had come, while Miibarek returned in 
triumph to announce the success of his interview. With 
his aid we passed unmolested over some cultivated lands 
belonging to a tribe of Agayl Arabs, opposite Imam 
Sherifeh, Avliose hospitality we sought for the night 
within sight of the great temple of Milgeyer. At this 
point commences the line of date-groves which extend 
in uninterrupted succession along both banks of the river 
to its embouchure at the head of the Persian Gulf. A 
messenger from the sheikh of the Muntefik was here aw^ait- 
ing the arrival of the Turkish troops and animals, which, 
notwithstanding our zigzag route and detention at Warka, 
liad not yet arrived at the rendezvous. 

The unexpected delay of the Turkish escort afforded 
me the much-coveted opportunity of turning aside to 
examine the jVTiigeyer, of which Mr Eaillie Eraser gives 
a short description in his volume on " Mesopotamia and 
Assyria."""' Erom the Agayl camp to the ruins was a 

* Pa<?e 148. 



distance of nine miles, but at a point further to the south 
the Euphrates approaches within six miles. During the 
high inundations of the river, however, ]\Iugeyer is com- 
pletely surrounded by water, and is, like Warka, unap- 
proachable on any side except in boats. 

The ruins consist of a low series of mounds, of oval 
form, the largest diameter from north to south measuring 
rather more than half a mile. 

The name Mdgeyer is, however, peculiarly given to a 
remarkable building, seventy feet high, which stands 
near the north end of the mounds, and is the only 
example of a Babylonian temple remaining in goojil pre- 
servation, not wholly covered by rubbish. It is built 
of large bricks, and from their being " cemented with 
bitumen " originates the modern name of Miigeyer."'" It 

consists of two distinct but 
massive stories, having the 
plan of a right-angled paral- 
lelogram, the longest sides of 
which are the north-east and 
south-west. One angle points 
due north, which feature, I 
may remark, is observable 
in all edifices of true Chal- 
dsean origin. As each story 
rises, it gradually slopes in- 
wards at an angle of nine 
degrees, for the purpose, 
doubtless, of bearing great 
superincumbent pressure, and 
to this fact may be attribu- 
ted the remarkably perfect 
condition of the whole remaining edifice. The lower 
story is, moreover, supported by buttresses thirteen inches 

* Frequently, but incorrectly, called Umgheir. 

Plan of the Grout Temple of Mflgeyer. 


deep, and, with the exception of those at the angles, 8 
feet wide. The longest sides — the north-east and south- 
west — measure 198 feet each; the others only 133 feet. 
The number of buttresses on the south-west are nine, 
and on the north-west six. Those of the other sides 
are concealed in rubbish. Whether intentional or not, 
the above measurements and numbers are in the ratio 
of 3 : 2. 

The basement or lower story is 27 feet in height, and 
exhibits but one entrance, 8 feet wide, on the north-east 
side, which leads from the base to the summit of the 
building. Between the stories is a gradual, stepped in- 
cline, about 7 feet in perpendicular height, which may,, 
however, be accidental, and arise from the destruction of 
the upper part of the lower story. 

The upper story is 1 4 feet in height, surmounted by 
about 5 feet of brick rubbish. As far as I could ascer- 
tain, the sides of this story are without supporting but- 
tresses, measure respectively 119 by 75 feet, and recede 
several feet from the lower wall ;'^'* but the whole of the 
south-east side of the edifice is in ruins, so that it is 
impossible to say whether the length of the upper story 
exceeded 119 feet. It rather struck me, however, from 
the gradual incline from top to base, that a grand stair- 
case, of the same width as the upper story, occupied this- 
side of the structure. 

Various piles of rubbish occur at different parts, and 
render it difficult to give detailed measurements. The 
Miigeyer appears to stand on a mound about 20 feet high. 
The exterior of the whole edifice is faced, to the thickness 

• Mr Taylor remarks that " the second story is close up to the northern 
end of the first." There are, however, 30 feet between the summit edge of 
the first and the base of the second. Mr Taylor must intend to say that the 
second story is closer up to the edge of the first at its north-west end 
than at its south-east, the respective measurements being 30 feet and 4T 

130 MR Taylor's cylinders. 

of 10 feet, with red kiln-baked bricks, but tlie whole 
mass of the interior is built of partially burnt, or sun-dried 
bricks. Those of the lower story are smaller than those 
in the upper, and are cemented with bitumen, while the 
hitter are fixed with ordinary lime mortar. These differ- 
ences arise from the fact that the two stories were not 
erected by the same monarch. The whole surface is 
pierced with oblong apertures resembling those at the 
Bii's Nimriid, Akker Kiif, El-Heimar, and numerous other 
Chaldaean edifices. 

Subsequently to this visit, at the request of Sir Henry 
Eawlinson, excavations were undertaken in 1854 /or the 
British Museum at the Milgeyer by my friend Mr Taylor, 
her Majesty's Vice-Consul at Busrah, while I was myself 
engaged at Warka for the Assyrian Excavation Fund. 
I again took the opportunity of revisiting the site. Mr 
Taylor,'^ with astonishing patience and perseverance, 
penetrated through the solid mass of brick-work to the 
very heart and base of the edifice without discovering any- 
thing to reward his labours, or to throw light on its con- 
struction or object ; until, in excavating at the south 
corner of the upper story, he found, at a depth of six 
feet below the surface, a perfect inscribed cylinder, stand- 
ing on one extremity in a niche formed by the omission 
of one of the bricks in the layer. He afterwards sank 
shafts at the other corners, and secured a precisely similar 
record from each, all of which are now deposited in the 
British Museum. This discovery at Milgeyer convinced 
him that the commemorative cylinders of the founders 
were always deposited at the corners of Babylonian edi- 
fices. With this knowledge before him, Sir Henry Raw- 
linson, in the following autumn, at once disinterred his 
beautiful cyUnders of Nebuchadnezzar from the corners 

• See that gentleman's Memoir on the result of his excavations, in the 
•Tournal of the Royal Asiatic Society," vol. xv., p. 260. 


of one of the lower platforms at the Birs Nimriid, to the 
great amazement of his Arab workmen. "^^ 

From his examination of the numerous brick and 
cylinder inscriptions obtained at Mugeyer, Sir Henry 
Eawhnson reo;ards this as one of the earhest, if not the 
very earliest, of the sites colonized by that Ethiopic or 
Scythic invasion, to which reference has already been 
made.t Tliese records bear the names of a series of kings 
from Urukh, B.C. 2230, to Nabonidus, B.C. 540. Among 
others, is that of Kudur-mapula or Chedorlaomer. The 
temple was dedicated to Sin or " the moon," which 
element was preserved by the Greeks in the name 
Mesene, applied by them to the surrounding region ; 
and also in that of Camarina, derived from the Arabic 
word Tcamar, " the moon," assigned by Eupolemus to 
either Miigeyer or Warka. The most important identifi- 
cation, however, is that of IMiigeyer with the Biblical Ur 
of the Chaldees, which Sir Henry EawlinsonJ supposes to 
be complete, from having read the name Hur upon the 
cylinders. In support of this proposed identification, he 
states that one particular parish of this place was called 
Ihra, from which he supposes Abraham to have set out 
on his journey to Canaan, and from whence originated 
the word Hebrew.^ This appellation is usually supposed 
to be derived from Heher, the alleged ancestor of Abraham, 
or from a Hebrew verb which signifies to pass over, in 
consequence of the patriarch having crossed the Euphrates. 
This latter, however, cannot be the correct derivation, 

* See the " Athenaeum," No. 1421, for Jan. 20, 1855, p. 84. 

t At page 95. 

X This great authority has elsewhere frequently expressed his belief that 
Warka is Ur of the Chaldees, deriving his opinion from the fact that it was 
known to the Talmudists and early Arabs as the birthplace of Abraham, 
and that it is even named Ur by the early Arab Geographers. See " Jour- 
nal of the Royal Asiatic Society," vol. xii., p. 481 ; and " Twenty-ninth An- 
nual Report," p. 16. 

§ See " Proceedings of Royal Geographical Society," vol. i, p. 47. 


because, whether Abraham previously resided at Mugeyer 
or Warka, it would have been unnecessary to pass over 
the great river, if in his time it flowed, as some suppose, 
considerably eastward of those places and joined the 
Tigris, as before stated, at Kiit-el-Amara. The above 
proposed derivation of the word is therefore equally rea- 
sonable with one of the two usually adopted ; but at the 
same time, it must be confessed that the ordinary accep- 
tation of Hebrew as a patronymic from Heher is still 
more worthy of credit. 

The cylinder inscriptions of Mugeyer are invaluable 
documents in confirming the authenticity and truth of 
Scripture. They not only inform us that Nabonidus, last 
king of Babylon, repaired the Great Temple of the Moon 
at Hiir, but they also explain who Belshazzar was, con- 
cerning whom the early Bible critics have in vain endea- 
voured to reconcile conflicting statements. In the Book 
of Daniel,*"' he is alluded to as the king of the Chaldees 
when Babylon was taken by the united armies of the Medes 
and Persians. The account of Berosus does not, however, 
agree with that of Scripture. It states that Nabonidus, 
after being utterly routed in the open plains by Cyrus, 
shut himself up in the city of Borsippa, but was soon 
obliged to surrender his person to the conqueror, t From 
Daniel, therefore, we are led to conclude that Belshazzar 
was the last Chaldaean monarch ; while Nabonidus is 
represented in the same capacity by Berosus. Hero- 
dotus only adds to the difficulty by calling Belshazzar 
and his father Labynetus — which name is certainly a cor- 
ruption of Nabonidus.J 

Sir Henry Rawlinson's reading of the Mugeyer cylin- 
ders entirely reconciles these discrepances. The records 

♦ Daniel v. 30. t In Joseph. « Contr. Apion.," i. 20. 

X It is likewise stated in Joseplms, Antiq., x. 11, 2, that Baltasar was 
called Naboandel by the Babyloiiinns. 


distinctly state that Bel-shar-ezer (Belshazzar) was the 
eldest son of Nabonidus, and tlaat lie was admitted to a 
share of the government. 

When Cyrus took Nabonidus, Belshazzar was regent or 
governor of Babylon, and, to all intents and purposes, 
king of the Chaldees. 

Amongst other discoveries made by Mr Taylor at 
Mugeyer was that of a house or oratory, in a small 
mound covered with clay and scoria, near the eastern 
angle of the great temple, erected on a mound or foun- 
dation of sun-dried bricks. The ground plan of the 
edifice is that of a cross. The exterior was ornamented 
with perpendicular stepped recesses, thickly coated with 
bitumen. This coating may have arisen from the oozing 
out of that material between the bricks during the de- 
struction of the edifice by fire, of which there were evident 
symptoms. Many of the outer faces of the bricks were 
inscribed. A thin coating of enamel or gypsum-plaster 
appears to have been laid over the surface, upon which 
the characters were stamped. These were remarkably 
fine ; but the material was too brittle to admit of their 
being well preserved, and chipped off with a touch from 
the finger-nail — a sufficient proof of the antiquity of the 
edifice in which these bricks occurred, because, in like 
manner, they could not have been extracted from any 
other place without damage to the inscriptions. 

This building, too, has settled the important architec- 
tural question, whether the Babylonians were acquainted 
with the arch. Two regularly constructed semicircular 
arches, running through the entire thickness of the walls, 
are in admirable preservation — the bricks being wedge- 
shaped to form the voussoirs. 

Mr Taylor also ascertained that the rest of the oval 
space occupied by the ruins was a cemetery of the primi- 
tive ages ; his account of the tombs and their contents 


forms by far the most interesting portion of his memoir 
on the subject.'" As I shall have occasion to refer to 
similar objects in the accoimt of my own researches, it 
is unnecessary to allude to them further in this place, 
except to remark that they are all referable to the Baby- 
lonian epoch. 

About two hundred yards from the north-east side of the 
great temple, Mr Churchill discovered three large blocks 
of black granite projecting from the ground. On clearing 
the earth from around them, some parts exhibited a :dne 
polish, but they were too much broken to admit of their 
original form being distinguished. They probably^ be- 
longed to an altar. One bore a fragment of inscription ; 
another had a plain upper surface, with a moulding, 
eight inches in depth rounded off at the angles, passing 
along the top of each side : two ojDposite surfaces bore in 
high relief an ornament resembling the capital letter A 
reversed, and supporting the moulding : of the other 
two sides, one was plain and the other broken. Like the 
fragments of the statue at Hammam, they probably be- 
longed to the slu'ine of the deity, which stood upon the 
principal building.t From the summit of Miigeyer are 
distinctly discernible the ruins of Abii-Shehreyn, also sub- 
sequently examined by Mr Taylor. 

During the time we were exploring the ruins, the 
Turkish escort passed us at the distance of two or tliree 
miles. Some of the most intelHgent officers, seeing the 
huge edifice on their flank, formed a small party and 
gallojDcd towards it. Having reached within a mile of 
Miigeyer, they were surprised to observe two or three 
human beings upon the summit apparently regarding the 

* " Notes on the Ruins of M6geyer," in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic 
Society, vol. v., p. 260. 

t Mr Churchill's drawings, with copies of the inscriptions here discovered, 
were deposited iu the British Museum. 


movements of the troops. Under tlie impression that 
the place was a deserted ruin, this unexpected apparition 
alarmed them. They halted, and watched for a few 
minutes. Two more figures were seen scrambling up 
from the opposite side, which served to confirm their 
fears. Eiding back with all speed, they gave the alarm 
that a large body of Arabs were lying in ambush to 
attack the party. Preparations were therefore duly made 
for a stout resistance. The mules, servants, and bas-sage 
wefe placed in the centre, the troops arranged around 
them in square, the four guns placed at the corners so as 
to receive the enemy with a cross fire. Thus in a compact 
mass, they marched rapidly across the desert to Arjah, 
where we rejoined them, and then for the first time 
learned the commotion and alarm that we had unwit- 
tingly occasioned. It appeared that while I was engaged 
with Mr Churchill in taking measurements and notes on 
the ruins, some of our escort had climbed upon the sum- 
mit, and given rise to the idea that an ambush was pre- 
pared for the Turks. It was a subject of considerable 
merriment for the rest of the journey, that two English- 
men, one servant, half-a-dozen Bashi Baztiks, and an Arab, 
had caused the retreat of a squadron of well-armed Turkish 
cavalry ! 

From Arjah, we all travelled in company to Swaij, the 
usual residence of the Sheikh of the Muntefik — a distance 
of only a few miles — where we rested for the remainder 
of the day, and made arrangements for crossing the desert 
to Busrah. Swaij is within a mile of the Arab town of 
Siik-esh-Sheioukh ; but, as is well-known, an Arab chief 
infinitely prefers the freedom and security of the open 
country to the treachery of town walls. In accordance 
with this feeling, Fahad, the then Sheikh of the powerful 
tribe of the ]\Iuntefik, pitched his tent, and held his royal 
state, like his predecessors, at Swaij. His immediate 


retainers were encamped around liim, and thus he lived 
with his flocks and herds patriarchal as Abraham him- 
self. He behaved with princelike hospitality, supplying 
the whole of the caravan and troops mth provisions, 
not only for that day, but for the three days' journey 
before us. 

He exhibited his independence, however, by receiv- 
ing the Turkish officers witliput rising, and scarcely 
deigning to speak to them — an indignity which they 
did not readily forget, and which, it is said, in common 
vdih. other causes of complaint, shortly afterwards re- 
sulted in his being removed by order of the government. 
He also issued an order that no Turkish officer or soldier 
on horseback should enter the town of Suk-esh-Sheioukh 
upon any pretext. 

It was my intention to have paid my respects to this 
King of the Arabs, but he unfortunately retired to his 
harem sooner than usual, probably to shew his dignity, 
and also to rid himself of his Turkish guests, who did not 
fail to remind him of the suzerainty of the Porte. On 
sending my regrets at not having had the opportunity 
of waiting upon him, I received a gracious answer — a 
cup of hot bitter coffee — and a gracious visit from his 

At Suk-esh-Sheioukh the Bashi Bdzilk horsemen and 
our Dhefyr guides left us, carrying with them ample pre- 
sents for their services. Mubarek, who on first quitting 
Baghdad was rather in the way than otherwise, proved 
eventually not only useful as a guide but as a safeguard 
from the Bedouins. He soon became attached to our 
party, and sang as merrily as his cousin Mayiif On 
making him a present, I remarked that — as he had eaten 
the bread of the Firenghi, been saved from his enemies 
the Affej, and treated well during the journey — I 
hoped he would not forget these circumstances, but 


return good for good, by looking after the safety of any 
unfortunate European who might happen to fall into the 
clutches of his tribe. Drawing himself up to his full 
height, he replied : — " Beg ! the Dhefyris have heard in 
their deserts that the Englizi speaks the truth, but they 
have never met with such a wonder. I shall tell them, 
inshallah ! on my return, what I did not before credit, 
that the Englizi never lies — his word is as straight as my 
spear ! For the kindness you have shewn me, the Dhefyr 
will prove his gratitude when a Firenghi crosses his path ! 
For your sake he shall be my brother ! " The last 1 heard 
of the wild fellow was, that, with the present received, 
he had purchased a swift-footed delul, and set out to re- 
join his tribe on a plundering expedition. 

Between Siik-esh-Sheioukh and Busrah is a distance of 
about seventy miles across an undulating tract of gravel 
and gypsum. A few wells alone supply small parties 
with bad brackish water, but these were totally insufficient 
for so many men and horses as composed our caravan ; 
it was, therefore, necessary to strike a more easterly 
course towards the marshes of the Euphrates. After 
suffering thirty-two hours' thirst under a hot sun, 
our poor animals were completely exhausted, and could 
with difficulty be prevented from over-filling themselves, 
when they reached the inundation. Three troop-horses 
died in the course of the night from the effect of drink- 
ing to repletion. 

I need not detain my readers with an accoimt of the 
remainder of the journey. We reached Zobeir in safety, 
crossed the great inundation which threatens shortly to 
overwhelm the declining city of Busrah, passed through 
its mouldering walls and pestilential atmosphere, and 
floated down its narrow inlet shrouded in groves of 
pomegranates, dates, and acacias to the noble Shat-el- 
Arab— the combined stream of the Tigris and Euphrates. 


Fleets of merchant vessels a few years ago used to anchor 
in the deep channel of this magnificent river ; but, owing 
to the neglect and ignorance of the Turkish authorities, 
commerce is now at a stand-still, and the only vessels, 
which annually enter the commodious port, are two 
belonging to English merchants resident at Baghdad, and 
occasionally a frigate of the East India Company's squad- 
ron in the Persian Gulf. 

From the eastern bank of the Shat-el-Ar4b, a six hours' 
ride across the desert brought us to the camp of the fron- 
tier commissioners, outside the extensive date-groves of 
Mohammerah in Persia. 


Plans and Preparations for Excavating in Waeka — The Party — Arrival 
at Suk-esh-Sheiouldi — Faliad, Sheikh of the Muntefik — Reception 
Tent — Falcons — The Letter and Escort, 

As soon as Colonel Williams was made acquainted with 
the results of this journey, and had examined the relics, 
plans, and drawings brought from Warka, he readily 
listened to my suggestions that excavations should be 
conducted on a small scale at those ruins. To his libe- 
rality and patronage of science are due the first-fruits 
of Chaldgean exploration. Supplying the necessary funds 
for the purpose, he directed me, after a few days' rest, 
to return to Warka, with instructions more especially to 
procure specimens of the remarkable coffins of the loca- 
lity, and such objects as might be easily packed for trans- 
mission to the British Museum. 

I hastened to Busrah, purchased implements, and laid 
in a little store of trifling articles — such as keff'iehs, 
dresses, tobacco, pipes, needles, dates, &c., which I might 
give to the Arabs as presents, or barter for small anti- 
quities in their possession. 

On setting out from Busrah, my party consisted of 
nine. First, my servant Ovannes, a shrewd Armenian 
Christian, who spoke seven of the native languages ^nth 
fluency, and who served me faithfully during the con- 
tinuance of the frontier commission ; he had previously 
been in the service of Colonel Rawlinson, and spent 
the greatest part of his life with Englishmen ; he was 


one of the most thoughtful, useful fellows I met with 
during nearly six years' experience in the East. There 
were, besides, a c^was, a groom, a tent-pitcher who also 
acted as cook, three muleteers, and two guides, with 
fifteen horses and mules. The dislike exhibited by the 
Arabs to the Turkish troops told me that I should be 
safer and more welcome alone. I therefore declined to 
apply for letters from the Pasha of Busrah, and set out 
without so much as either asking or requiring his aid or 

After a tedious and uninteresting journey of little more 
than three days, without adventure worth recording, we 
once more arrived at Suk-esh-Sheioukh. The cawas was 
sent forward with a message to the Sheikh of the Munte- 
fik at Swaij, that one of the English officers, who had 
passed through a few days previously with the Turkish 
troops, desired an interview with him. On my arrival, I 
learned that Fahad was in his harem, and about to per- 
form his devotions, it being just mid-day ; but he sent me a 
polite invitation into his reception-tent, which stood upon 
the open desert, accessible to the whole tribe. It was a 
large white canvas tent supported on two poles, with a 
lining of pink calico and doulile roof, the lower of which 
served as a kind of canopy, and was edged mth what had 
been gold fringe, but which had now assumed every colour 
of the rainbow. This tent was a recent present from the 
new pasha, when friendship was re-estabhshed between 
the noble house of Muntefik and the government of 
Baghdad on the accession of Abdi Pasha to power. The 
sides of the tent were spread with narrow carpets, and, 
at the upper end, the seat of honour was indicated by a 
large cushion of striped silk backed with two pillows of 
blue plush. Upon these I took up my position, and 
endeavoured to amuse myself until the sheikh had con- 
cluded his prayers. 


An ugly black slave seems usually chosen to perform 
the office of kawaji to a great sheikh, as though his 
colour were peculiarly fitted for presiding over cinders 
and cooking utensils. This worthy soon made his ap- 
pearance, and forthwith proceeded with his important 
functions, surrounded by his family of coffeepots close 
outside the tent. Attracted by the sight of these 
preliminaries, and knowing from them that some 
guest had arrived to the tribe, the elders and warriors 
began to collect, sit down in the tent, and stare with 
untired gaze at the strangely accoutred traveller. After 
an interval of half-an-hour the sheikh was announced, 
and all rose to receive him while yet distant some hun- 
dred paces from the tent. Two or three of the assembly 
tried by repeated gestures to induce me to follow their 
example, but, as dignity would have been compromised 
by a too hasty show of obedience, I retained my seat, to 
their utmost consternation, until Fahad was close at hand. 
Although his harem was not 500 yards from the recep- . 
tion-tent, he rode a magnificent black mare, hung round 
with red tassels and Arab paraphernalia, and was 
attended by about fifty of his immediate followers. In 
approaching, he saluted the crowd, and was received by 
each man present with his hand on his heart, but a proud 
inclination of his body, as much as to imply, " We reve- 
rence you as the head of our tribe ; but you are, never- 
theless, only a man like ourselves." While he dismounted 
and advanced towards me, an opportunity was aflbrded 
of observing his appearance. 

Sheikh Fahad (the tiger) was a tall, stout, handsome 
man, forty-five or fifty years of age, with regular features, 
and the slightly aquiline nose so peculiar to the high-class 
Arab. His forehead was lofty and expansive, full of 
thought and energy. The expressive black eyes, as they 
glanced from one to another of the party, beamed with 


kindness and good liumour ; but it was not difficult to 
conceive them assuming a very different aspect on other 
occasions. Conscious of his importance, high Ijirth, 
and dignity, he Ijestowed his salaams with the grace and 
pride of a monarch saluting his abject slaves, rather than 
as the head of a little republic where fraternity, liberty, 
and equahty prevailed. Yet the Muntefik were proud of 
their sheikh. He was just such a man as a powerful and 
warlike race desire for their chief. He was brave in 
battle, sage in council, hospitable and generous ; but un- 
bearable in his demeanoLu: towards the Turks, whom he 
treated with the utmost contempt and disdain. Although 
he had recently sworn fealty to the pasha at Baghdad in 
humbled pride, he now assumed the state and dignity of 
an independent prince in his native wilds. It was the 
true Arab feeling which induced him to treat the Turkish 
officers with such rudeness on their late visit, mingled 
probably with a desire to gain more effectually the hearts 
of his tribe — to the sheikhship of which he had but recently 
succeeded by the death of his brother Bender, He wore 
the usual striped keffleh, and black abba embroidered on 
one shoulder with gold. 

He bade me welcome with the greatest affability as we 
seated ourselves on the silken lahdf. A salaam to the 
assembly was the signal for all to be seated. Coffee 
and pipes were duly handed to the principal parties, and 
the conference then commenced. My object in visiting 
him was to secure his protection while in his territories. 
Knowing that Arabs care nothing for the antiquities of 
their deserts, provided they are not golden treasures, I 
concluded that it was best to be frank and open with him. 

He was evidently in good humour — a white day on his 
calendar — so, in oriental style, I endeavoured to gain his 
good opinion with a few pointed compliments. I thanked 
him for Jiis attention and liospitality on my former visit, 


and regretted not having had the opportunity of person- 
ally expressing my obligations on that occasion ; adding, 
that a favour shewn to me was, in fact, an exhibition of 
friendship and esteem towards the Saltan of my country. 
This little speech had the desired effect. He was thence- 
forward, in Eastern phrase, " my friend, my servant, my 
— anything I pleased ! What could he do for me V On 
expressing my desire to visit Warka, and that he would 
send some of his people to accompany and protect me, he 
instantly replied : — " I am your slave. Some Arabs are 
dogs, but the tribes of the Muntefik are my servants. 
You and your property are as safe with them, as in the 
shelter of my own tent." He immediately called two of 
his nobles by name, who stepped forward, made their 
salaams, and received his orders to bring their mares to 
the tent. Durino; their absence, the followino; conversa- 
tion ensued : — " Do many Europeans pass through Siik- 
esh-Sheioukh ?" — "No! what should induce them to 
come so far from their own homes in Firengistan'?" — 
" The Arab loves the shade of his own tent, and the 
Firenghi is equally attached to the land of his birth, but 
the latter travels into far distant countries, to see the 
world, gain instruction, and impart it to his friends on 
his return. Some travel on business — others for pleasure. 
Many, like myself, are partial to visiting old ruins, like 
Babel, Niffar, and Warka. The Arabs think us mad for 
our pains !" — "Perhaps so. What is the use of your see- 
ing them V — " They afford us many relics — such as writing 
on bricks — ^which throw hght on the past not otherwise 
obtainable. From them we learn that our forefathers 
were yours also \" He seemed to doubt this fact, for how 
could a Ghyawr be related to a good Mussulman ! At this 
stage of the conversation, one of the bystanders stepped 
forward, and said that I had already been to Warka, and 
got some small antiques from the Madan. "for which, 


masliallali ! the Firenglii paid nine herdns, when they 
were not worth a fice. By Allah ! what I say is true \" 
Fahad appeared pleased that I had spent money among 
his people ; but his informant, after true Arab fashion, 
had magnified the amount ninefold ! The sheikh, how- 
ever, understood the object of this information, and said, 
laughingly : — " You had better go with the Beg, and see 
if you can't find something worthy of his acceptance, for 
which he will pay you at the same rate." 

The secretary was sent for, and ordered to write a 
letter to Sheikh Debbi, at Diiraji, instructing him to re- 
ceive me safely across the Euphrates, and to attend ^le to 
Warka, Sinkara (which place had not been mentioned), 
and any ruin I desired to visit within the hmits of his 
jurisdiction. When I might be pleased to return, he was 
to see me again safely conveyed across the Euphrates. 

Diuins: all this time the Arabs continued to arrive, 
until there were about two hundred within the tent. 
Each man on entering advanced into the centre, made 
his salaam to the sheikh, and then retired to take his 
place, either among the free Arabs who sat on the narrow 
carpets, or among the servants and slaves who stood 
behind. A large semicircular space was thus left in 
front of the chief. It was higjily amusing to watch 
the free Arab, marching straight to a spot where it ap- 
peared impossible for him to wedge himself into the 
crowded row. The occupants, however, invariably arose, 
and in an instant the wedge was inserted and seen squat- 
ting upon the carpet. The decorum of the whole assembly, 
and the implicit obedience and respect paid to the chief, 
struck me particularly. If such were not mere outward 
shew, and faith were really to be placed in his followers, 
the Sheikh of the Muntefik is no mean personage, and is 
not to be despised by the Turkish or any other govern- 
ment* Better to have him a friend than a foe. It is 

THE sheikh's charge. 145 

asserted that in a few hours he is able to raise a body of 
50,000 well-armed men. 

Fahad was an ardent sportsman, and kept his leash of 
falcons. As a portion of his state, the beautifid birds were 
placed in the centre of the area ; while the falconer, in 
his crimson dress and plaited locks, shewed off the docility 
and grace of his pet birds, amid the frequent plaudits of 
the sheikh and the assembled Muntefijis. 

At length the secretary finished the letter, and the seal 
of the sheikh was duly affixed thereto. The two guides, 
having brought their black mares to the tent, were then 
called in, and received the letter in charge with the in- 
junction : — " You see this Beg sitting by my side ; attend 
him wherever he i)leases to go, let him do what he wishes 
at Warka and Sinkara, and take care to bring him back 
in safety to this tent." Then turning to me he said :— 
" All that you required is done." Taking this as a hint, 
I returned thanks, paid my salaam, and departed — the 
sheikh rising as much as, in his opinion, a strict Mussul- 
man consistently could do towards a Christian. I left 
the tent much pleased with my reception and the result 
of the interview. 


Winter — Camel -foals — Tuweyba Tribe — Old Friends — Harassing La- 
bours — Dissatisfaction — Budda, the Grave-digger and Gold-finder — 
Arab Kindness — Warka in 1854 — Difficulties — Scarcity of Food and 
Water — Patriarchal Life in Abraham's Country — Misery and Rapa- 
city — Sand-storms, • 

It was now winter in the Arab plains, and the thermo- 
meter stood below freezing-point as we advanced north- 
ward from the sheikh's encampment. On quitting the 
date-groves, clouds concealed the sun, and the wind 
blew so keen and cuttingly across the level desert, that 
it was necessary frequently to dismount and walk, that 
the blood might be kept in proper circulation. Al- 
though I had crossed the snows of the Alps and the 
Taurus, I never before experienced such an intensity of 
cold. I was almost paralyzed, not from the lowness of 
the temperature, but from the passage of the wind over 
the soil impregnated with saltpetre ; we were as if in a 
spacious refrigerator. The Arabs, with their bare feet 
resting in large iron stirrups, were completely benumbed 
and useless, frequently falling from their faithful mares, 
and requiring to be again lifted into their saddles. 
Wherever we passed an encampment, a ^vl'etclled camels'- 
dung fire imparted a degree of warmth to the half-clad 
Arabs, which only caused them to feel the cold more 
acutely. They sat shivering and grinning, their faces 
alone visible from beneath their rags, and bearing more 
resemblance to monkeys than living human beings. All 


had dreadful coughs, and their constant barking jarred 
horribly on the ear. It is almost incredible that the Arab 
of the Tigris and Euphrates can endure such extremes of 
temperature as there prevail — at one season scorched 
under a burning sun, at another almost frozen to death. 
The same coarse abba which shades him from the heat in 
summer is his only protection against the cold of winter ! 
We again crossed the Euphrates. 

The Sheikh of the Muntefik was at this time about 
taking stock, and the banks of the river were covered with 
immense flocks of camels, sheep, and cattle. Many were 
the inquiries made whether the bridge of boats was yet 
built which was to convey them across the great stream 
to Swaij. It was the foaling season, and the camel-herds 
were actively engaged in protecting the young. Numbers 
recently foaled, and unable yet to walk, were being care- 
fully carried in arms to the tents for protection from the 
killing wind. 

On the second day from Swaij, I alighted at the reed 
muthif of Sheikh Debbi, at Dilraji, whom I had seen on 
my previous visit. The Madan tribes above Suk were 
governed by a deputy of Fahad's. For many years this 
honour — and profit — were enjoyed alternately by two 
brothers, Sa'dun and Debbi. The former was then in 
power, and Debbi was his lieutenant. In authority the 
latter was a great tyrant, and delighted in inflicting 
severe punishments for small crimes. Many poor wretches 
were shewn me as instances of his cruelty — one had lost 
his hand, another his foot, and a third was hamstrung 
and appeared on crutches dragging behind him the use- 
less limb ! 

Debbi received the great sheikh's letter with becoming 
respect, and did the honours of hospitality right nobly. 
A few minutes sufiiced to prepare a bountiful meal, of 
which I was not sorry to partake, for the cold and wind 


had given me a ravenous appetite. A dirty reed basket 
was speedily laid on the ground, containing freshly-baked 
flaps of bread, and the grilled shoulders of a young lamb, 
accompanied with a bowl of lebban, or soured milk. In 
true Arab style, I set to with fingers and teeth — the 
native knife and fork — and enjoyed a delicious meal. 
My two Arab guards and Debbi himself seemed to do 
tlie same, for, between us, the eatable contents of the 
basket effectually disappeared. The bones, however, were 
destined to undergo another polishing, for, on removal 
from the banqueting-hall, I saw them between the teeth 
of two or three Arabs seated near the entrance, while an 
expectant crowd stood round awaiting their turn. 

The nearest Arab encampment to the ruins of Warka, 
was that belonging to the Tuweyba tribe of the Beni 
Hacheym,'"' situated on the right bank of the Euphrates, 
at the distance of six miles. To this, therefore, it was 
arranged that I should proceed, and pitch my tent during 
my temporary stay. Debbi, in conformity with the orders 
of his liege lord, mounted his mare and accompanied me. 
We travelled north-westward about ten miles, among a 
succession of ravines cut by the river during its seasons 
of flood, and ultimately arrived at our destination. 

I was soon recognised by the Arabs, who proved to be 
those I had previously made acquaintance with upon the 
ruins, and from whom I had purchased several antiques. 
Their bright eyes and smiles satisfied me that I was 
regarded as a welcome guest. The sheikh, Azayiz-es- 
Salem, was ill in bed, but his son-in-law, Hennayin, came 
out to greet me, and held the bridle of my horse while I 

* The names of the Beni Hdcheym tribes are — 

1. Thfidlem 4. El-Ezowyer 7. Mtish'dla 

2. El-bti-Hassd,n 5. El-'Abbds 8. Jii'dber 

3. Ez-Zaydd 6. El-Hadjll 9. Tuweyba. 

The last-named tribe possesses about 100 tents, or 500 souls. Concerning 
the other tribes, I could obtain no positive information. 


dismounted. One of Fahad's men, as a superior being, 
adcbessed liim and the crowd, which unceremoniously- 
seated itself in a circle around the new comers : — " Doo;s : 
this Beg is an officer of the Sultan's ; if any harm happens 
to him, or if the least article belonging to him is stolen, 
you and your wives shall be taken w^ith your hands 
bound to Sheikh Fahad, and you will not soon forget the 
punishment you will receive." All bowed their heads, in 
impUcit obedience to the great power, with exclamations 
of " Wallah \" Hearing the guides giving imperious 
orders, I feared the Arabs might imagine they were to 
supply everything in Oriental style — gratis, and therefore 
called the sheikh's representative aside, to tell him that 
it was my wish to pay for all articles, at a reasonable 
price, and even a little above actual value. If, however, 
he attempted to be exorbitant in his demands, I threat- 
ened to leave the settlement of his account to the Sheikh 
of the Muntefik. Hennayin seemed to be delighted, but 
in a short time, Arab-like, asked six shamies (9s.) a-day 
for each worlanau, the ordinary wage being a twelfth 
part of that sum — to which he at length decreased his 

On the follomng morning I started with a party of 
excavators for the ruins, and continued my labours for 
three wrecks. My work was harassing in the extreme. 
At sum'ise I set out with the Arabs for the mounds, a 
distance of six miles, and never left them during the 
whole day. The soil was so light that, in walking from 
trench to trench, my feet were buried at each step. The 
Arabs required constant direction and watching. It was 
usually long after sunset ere we returned to camp, 
stumbling every instant over the broken ground. A few 
minutes sufficed for me to swallow the food my cook had 
prepared, when, almost tired to death, I was obliged to 
lay down plans from mv rough notes, write my journal, 


and pack the objects procured in the course of tlie day. 
On many occasions, it was two o'clock in the morning 
before I retired to rest, perfectly benumbed from the in- 
tensity of the cold, which even the double walls of my 
little tent could not exclude. 

Debbi on the second day begged j^ermission to return to 
Duraji, pretending that he had received a pressing mes- 
sao'e from his brother Sa'dun. He left behind him a 
servant to look after my safety, kissed the hands of 
Fahad's people, and prayed them, by all that was holy 
and sacred, to take the greatest care of my precious 
person and goods, " for," said he, " should anything hap- 
pen to him, woe betide me !" Two days later, the Mun- 
tefik guides themselves also asked permission to return 
home, because Fahad and all his people were about to set 
out in a few days for the pastures beyond JMugeyer with 
all their flocks and herds, and they natiu-ally desired to 
accompany them. I was not sorry to lose these gentry, 
for they evidently rough-rode the poor Tuweyba tribe, 
treating them like " dogs " as they had styled them. 

No sooner, however, were my protectors gone than my 
troubles began. The fickle character of the Madan re- 
quired fresh excitement ; many of them were soon tired 
of their new employment ; they desired another scene. 
A portion of the tribe had already departed to commence 
their cultivation on the flooded banks of the Shat-el- 
Kahr, Avhich had now for the first time overflowed for 
several years ; the rest were all anxiety to follow. Daily 
they became more importunate, but were still detained 
by the sheikh's son-in-law, Hennayin, whom I had gained 
over to second all my plans, it beiAg no part of my 
intention to quit Warka until the objects of my journey 
were secured. Hennayin, at my instigation, sounded the 
feelings of the Arabs, and found that more than half their 
number was willing to remain and work. The remainder, 

DANGER. 151 

headed by the sheikh's brother, insisted on going and 
taking all the tribe with him, although the poor sheikh 
himself was too ill to bear the fatigue of a joui-ney, and 
wished to remain. 

At length the dissatisfied portion of the community 
contented themselves by decamping during the night — 
not, however, before they had set fire to the brushwood 
at the back of my tent with an evident desire to burn it 
down. Each following day shewed a decrease in the size 
of our little encampment, until at length Sheikh Azayiz 
sent me word to say, that he would no longer be respon- 
sible for my safety, as his tribe was at feud with all around, 
and nothingwould delight his enemies more than to pounce 
upon him in his present undefended state. He suggested 
that we should all decamp to Duraji, promising to remain 
with the workmen who adhered to my party. This ar- 
rangement was carried out, and, during the remainder of 
my stay, my tent was pitched under the walls of Sheikh 
Debbi's kala'a, nine miles from the ruins. 

Of the Arabs who remained with me there were some 
who had passed their lives in ransacking the ruins for 
gold, and who consequently were acquainted with every 
hole and corner of the place. Among these was an old 
fellow, named Budda, whose locks had grown gray during 
his avocation as a "grave-digger." Shrewd, active, and 
energetic, the head of every piece of fun or mischief, 
whether in leading a chorus or in attacking the enemy, 
old Budda was regarded as the father of his tribe, and 
had much more positive influence over his fellows than 
either Azayiz or Hennayin. Whenever a quarrel took 
place, Budda was appealed to as judge : whenever an 
opinion was required, Budda was the counsel employed : 
in fact, Budda was the genius of the Tuweyba tribe, and 
at his death will doubtless be dubbed an Imam! He soon 
became as necessary to me as he was to his own people ; 



and all works requiring particular care were confided to 
Budda's direction. He delighted when the day's labour 

was over to steal softly 
into my tent, sip a cup 
of coffee, and recount 
his wild adventures. 
His httle gray eyes 
sparkled, and his 
wrinkled smihng face 
beamed with delight, 
when he was informed 
that he was appofnted 
sheikh of the work- 
men. His favourite 
position was to sit on 
his heels and place 
upon his knees his 
bony hands, which, 
from continual grub- 
bing in the earth, had 
grown long and sharp 
hke. those of a mole. His dress was a respectable white 
abba, which he wore round his waist, his head being 
wrapped in an ample keffieh, almost the only one in the 

Next in intelligence was his son Gunza with the squeaky 
voice, a miserable, lanky fellow, having sharjD hatchet fea- 
tiu-es, and long jet-black locks, well greased and plaited 
by his newly-married wife. He too was a general favour- 
ite ; and, next to his father's, the falsetto voice of Gunza 
was heard a-bove all others in their wild yells and songs. 
He was a good workman, extremely docile, affectionate 
and obliging. His skin was as brown as his abba, which 1 
never saw on his shoulders ; keffieh he scorned to wear. 
His father had brought him up to be a professed coffin- 

\i(S ^^ 



breaker, and it was incredible with what cunning and 
cleverness he set about his work. He was a perfect ferret, 
and might frequently be seen burroAving in a hole into which 
it seemed almost impossible that he could have crept. 

Then came his cousin Suweyd, a tall handsome fellow, 
who delighted in a short spear and a thick head of hair, 
which, being seldom combed, hung about his ears and 
neck ad libitum. Suweyd was fond of cringing, and was 
frequently ill-tempered, but he was strong, and esteemed 
a good warrior as well as an active workman. 

With these three and Hennayin, who was deputed to 
use the influence and power of his father-in-law Sheikh 
Ajzayiz, and who rendered me valuable assistance, I con- 
trived to guide the unwieldy spirits of the Tuweyba.. 
Notwithstanding their wild looks and bad character, they 
exhibited many good traits. They could not understand 
my ha^T-Ug any other object but that of searching for gold 
like themselves, and were disappointed at my not having 
found any. Soon after commencing excavations, Gunza 
one mornino' came to me with the foUowino' offer : — 
" Beg ! you have now been with us several days, and spent 
much mone)/" to no purpose : let us choose a place where 
to dig, and, inshallah ! we shall soon find heaps of gold !" 
It is needless to say that these heaps existed only in his 
good-natured imagination. 

In returning from the ruins at night I always made it 
a practice to ride along with the Arabs and enter into the 
spirit of their amusements. This, I believe, told strongly 
in my favour. Often, when a franpolin sprang up before 
the party, and a well-aimed shot with a bitumen-headed 
club or stick brought down the game, the lucky sports- 
man would throw it on the ground before my horse and 
beg my acceptance of it. Occasionally one of my wild 
friends would rush into my tent, holding out a hen's 
egg : — " We receive presents from you. Beg, daily, but 

154 WARKA IN 1854. 

have nothing to give in retiu-n worthy of your accep- 
tance. What else but food have we to offer? All I 
possess is a hen ! See, she has just laid an egg ; pray, 
Beg, accept it." Similar instances of a kind disposition 
evinced themselves ; and I passed a pleasant time on the 
whole with this rude and primitive tribe. 

During the month spent at the camps of Azayiz and 
Debbi, my first collection of antiquities was sent from 
Warka to the British Museum, but my principal dis- 
coveries were effected during a subsequent visit, when, 
accompanied by Mr Boutcher the artist, I passed the 
three first months of the year 1854 at the same locality, 
in charge of the expedition sent out under the auspices of 
the Assyrian Excavation Fund. Few explorers can have 
more difficulties to experience than I had on that occa- 
sion. After having passed, with numerous adventures and 
mishaps from Niffar, through the intricate marshes of the 
Affej, the unknown swamps under the independent sway 
of the Amir, and a three-days' waterless desert, I found 
that a little revolution had taken place around AVarka 
during my absence. The Tuweyba tribe had been driven 
out of Mesopotamia across the Euphrates, Sheikh Debbi 
had fled with his people from Kala'a Duraji, and there 
were no Arabs nearer the ruins than at the httle village 
of El-Kliithr on the Euphrates, nine miles distant, conse- 
quently too far off to admit of my carrying on effective 
operations for any length of time. To this place I was, 
however, driven, in order to make my preparations and 
collect a staff of workmen. The sheikh at El-Khithr 
proved to be an ignorant cross-grained fellow, evincing 
no desire to aid me, and exorbitant in all his demands. 
It is true that he permitted some of his tribe to work in 
the ruins for a few days at high wages : but there was no 
dependence to be placed in liim, and he at last absolutely 
refused to supply me with workmen. 


Hearing that my Tuweyba friends were encamped about 
a day's journey off, I despatched a messenger to Azayiz, 
who speedily made his appearance in company with ohi 
Budda. Loving were the greetings that passed between 
us, and many were the hugs which Azayiz bestowed on 
me. Budda, however, as an inferior, contented himself 
with imprinting two respectful kisses on my left shoulder. 
Azayiz was willing to place his tribe at my disposal : but 
it was in fearfully bad odour with all around, more espe- 
cially with the Wadi, into whose hands the Warka terri- 
tory had now passed. On my promise to give him a 
written guarantee for his security, he brought over about 
thirty men, and pitched his tent near mine. This num- 
ber not being, however, sufficient for my purpose, more 
were sent for. I likewise accepted an offer of labourers 
from Tamar, Sheikh of E1-' Abbas tribe, which was sta- 
tioned near the junction of the Semava and Hillah streams 
of the Euphrates. Finding that my force was increasing, 
the El-Khithr tribe rebelled against the authority of their 
sheikh, and voluntarily offered their services : I selected 
as many men as were required, and at once decided on a 
change of quarters. 

AVhile these arrangements were in progress, a few Arabs 
were employed in digging wells midway between El- 
Khithr and the ruins, in the dry deep channel of an old 
offshoot from the Euphrates. The experiment succeeded, 
and a supply of brackish water was obtained, sufficing 
for a time to satisfy our wants. The camp was then 
removed from the bank of the great river into the desert 
beside these wells, which was the nearest position to the 
ruins affording water. Azayiz brought his tent, but the 
workmen contented themselves with rude shelters of 
camel's thorn, fetched from the side of the Euphrates, 
and interposed between themselves and tlie wind, which 
at times blew most bitterly cold. Fuel was procured by 


digging up decayed roots of tamarisk, which were here 
and there to be found under the sandy soil. This served 
to keep in their bodies some sparks of warmth, as they 
sat shivering over their watch-fires at night. The water, 
however, at length became undrinkable — even the Arabs 
refused to touch it. It was, therefore, necessary to pur- 
chase camels, by means of which valuable animals sweet 
water from the Euphrates was daily conveyed, not only 
to the camp, but also to the working parties at the 

Nothing could exceed the primitive mode of life which 
we led in this region of Abraham's birthplace. In the 
patriarchal style, we were surrounded by our people — our 
flocks and herds, asses and camels, were daily driven 
to browse by the river side in the morning, and back to 
the camp at night. A few of the Arabs brought their 
wives with them, who baked flat loaves of barley bread 
in their native ovens for the wants of the community. 
Little enough, it is true, had the poor Arabs : and we 
were frequently obliged to provide for them out of our 
scanty store when their own was exhausted. The extreme 
scarcity of food Avas, perhaps, oiu* greatest difiiculty. In 
consequence of the river having failed to overflow its 
natural banks for the four years since my former visit, 
the small plots of cultivation which formed the chief 
support of the Madan tribes had utterly failed, and 
reduced them to a state of the most abject destitution. 
They had httle or nothing to support life beyond the 
roots dug out of the ground, or the plunder obtainable 
from neighbouring tribes. A dearth of provisions every- 
where prevailed along the banks of the Lower Eu- 
phrates, so that barley had risen fourfold beyond its 
usual price. On first commencing operations, the oflal 
thrown out from our cook's tent was greedily seized and 
devoured by the poor, half-starved wretches, who, how- 


ever, fared better as tlie excavations progressed, and ttey 
received the reward of their daily labours. Hunger 
makes all men selfish, and in most cases alters all the 
better feelings of our nature. The Tuweyba tribe, which 
were previously in comparatively affluent circumstances, 
and had engaged my sympathies on account of their 
good-natured hospitality, were now become perfect demons 
of avarice and rapacity. They insisted on being paid 
their wages every night, so that, as there was much diffi- 
culty in obtaining coin, I was frequently obliged to reduce 
my customary number of hands until a fresh supply 
reached me. There was not sufficient small clianoe to 
pay each man separately, so that a deputy was chosen for 
parties of four or five, and the wages were handed over 
to him in their presence. Then began a violent discus- 
sion about the due partition of the spoil. Each man 
tried to cheat the other, and argued his own case, at the 
full pitch of his voice, in rich, round Arab gutturals. 
The furious gesticulations that accompanied the dispute 
seemed frequently to threaten an open breach of the 
peace, but only ended in talk and abuse. They would sit 
for hours over their watch-fires, discussing the knotty 
question implicated in a black ^3/ce ; and often, when it 
appeared to be settled, and the angry voices had subsided 
to their natural tone, the smothered flame woidd break 
out afresh with more impetuosity than before. Half the 
night was frequently spent in such debates, which invariably 
ended in some poor fellow being defrauded by his friend. 
The scenes which these quarrels gave rise to, under the 
light of the pale moon and the red glare of the tamarisk 
fire, were such as would have formed a fine subject for the 
painter. Each man was the guardian of his own wealth, 
and dared not trust liis little skin of flour to the care of 
his neighbour : whether in camp or on the ruins, every 
one carried his supply tied up in his abba, which, when 


measured out to be made into bread by the women, never 
passed out of its owner's vision V' 

The great difficulty was, as I have said, how to buy 
provisions, for, on account of the scarcity, not a single 
article could be obtained in the neio'hbourhood for love 


or money. It was therefore necessary to send for all our 
suj^plies to Suk-esh->Sheioukh, a distance of sixty miles ; 
and, as the desert did not furnish a blade of grass, our 
animals, too, were obliged to be provided with barley and 
straw from the same place. 

In ordinary seasons, the inundation of the Euphrates 
extends to the very base of the mounds, and renciers 
approach impossible from the east except by boat. It is 
upon the newly-deposited soil left by the retiring waters, 
that the Arabs cultivate crops of maize for their next 
year's subsistence ; it may therefore be well conceived 
that their condition was not enviable when their hus- 
bandry failed for several successive years, and they had 
no other means of support. 

Another difficulty considerably impeded excavations. 
It was my desire to have encamped amid the mounds 
themselves ; but this was impossible, in consequence of 
the frequency of sand-storms induced by the slightest 
breath of air. While all around was in comparative 
stillness, Warka was enveloped in a dense cloud of impal- 
pable sand, which occurred at least twice or thrice a- week, 
and rendered our situation at times extremely disagree- 
able. The workmen were driven from the trenches, and 
these were drifted up in the course of a few hours. So 
densely was the air impregnated with the flying atoms, 
that the Arabs themselves often lost their way in return- 
ing to camp. Yet, beyond a certain distance from the 
ruins, scarcely a breath of wind was perceptible, and the 
atmosphere remained clear and tranquil. 

* For a farther account of the character of the Mdddn, see page 122. 


"The Land of Slilnar "— Warka, the Ancient " Erecli "— " Ur of the 
Clialdees" — Scene of Desolation and Solitude — Enormous Extent 
of Euins — The Buwariyya — Reed-mat Structure. 

Of tlie primeval cities founded by Nimrod, tlie son of 
Cusli, four are represented, in Genesis x. 10, as giving 
origin to the rest : — " And tlie beginning of liis kingdom 
was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the 
land of Shinar." 

The position of this land of Shinar is a much disputed 
point, and grave discussion has arisen concerning its 
identification. Some writers, from similarity of nam.e, 
contend that it refers to the modern district called Sinjar, 
in Mesopotamia, between Mosul on the Tigris, and Biron 
the Euphrates ; but the coincidence goes no further, for 
Shinar is described in the Bible as "a plain," whereas 
Sinjar is an undulating, rocky region, traversed by a range 
of lofty limestone mountains. Under these circumstances, 
the supposed identity fails, and we are compelled to look 
elsewhere for the first settlements. 

Others, with more reason, point to a district much 
further to the south, where are the remains of innumer- 
able ancient cities, regarded by Jewish tradition as the 
country Shinar, from whence that nation originally pro- 
ceeded. In confirmation of this, Babylonia, in the old 
cuneiform inscriptions, is called by the same name, — 


Shinar, and it is likewise still preserved in the important 
ruins of Sinkara. 

The site of Babel is, moreover, traditionally assigned to 
the same region, and the large ruins near Hillah on the 
Euphrates are generally supposed to represent it. If this 
l^e admitted, we ought naturally to seek for the other 
three cities of the primitive kingdom in the adjacent 
region. Without, however, attempting to identify Accad 
or Cahieh, which would be foreign to onr purpose, let us 
see if there be any site which will correspond with the 
biblical Erech — ^the second city of Nimrod. 

About 120 miles south-east of Babylon, are ^ome 
enormous piles of mounds, which, from their name and 
importance, appear at once to justify their claim to .con- 
sideration. The name of Warka is derivable from Erech 
without unnecessary contortion. The original Hebrew 
word "Erk," or "Ark," is transformed into "Warka," either 
by changing the aleph into van, or by simply prefixing the 
vau for the sake of euphony, as is customary in the 
conversion of Hebrew names to Arabic. If any depen- 
dence can be placed upon the derivation of modern from 
ancient names, this is more worthy of credence than most 
others of like nature. 

Some persons derive Warka from the Arabic root Hrh, 
" a branch or vein," from whence originates the modern 
name of the region — Irak-Arabi ; but it must be remem- 
bered that the Arabic language is not to be depended 
on for the root of such an ancient name as Erech. 
" Country of arteries" would otherwise be a very apj)ro- 
priate name for a region intersected with canals. 

Sir Henry Rawlinson states his belief that Warka is 
Erech, and in this he is supported by concurrent testimony. 
Although he has been unable to read its cuneiform name 
with precision, it is generally designated as " the city," jpar 
excellence. He therefore ascribes to Warka a very high 

If if ^¥ W^ 

(ancient erech .) 


Larifr Ruiti 
FartJuatt ■'! Tmrr 
Rrhtirr of Chru-s __ 


(email mound (eaccavaud ) F 
i^cf.k & Parthian mound C 

Sivria nieundd . H 

Snilpturein Basait.^ I 

Xiift'iaji . 


Tpwerot'Bnck Jtfajos 
SW.Siputre nunaxd' 
TahleC taraff 

bed called 

1 Ni^ 


f>^ ^ 



. o 







antiquity, and regards it as the motlier-city from wliicli 
all others sprang.'"' It is not improbable that Herodotus re- 
fers to Warka when he speaks of Arderikka,t corresponding 
with the Chaldsean Ar'a de Erek, or Land of Erech. 

A trace of the same name appears to exist in Orchoe of 
Alexander's time. We are told by Pliny| that the inha- 
bitants of that city diverted the waters of the Euphrates 
for the purpose of irrigating their lands ; and it is likewise 
mentioned by Strabo§ as a city which possessed an 
university for the study of astronomy, from whence 
originated the sect of Chaldaean philosophers called 
Orchoeni, in contradistinction to those of Borsippa. The 
near correspondence of the two names, the discovery of 
very early cuneiform, as well as of Greek, records at 
Warka, the immensity of its ruins, and the sacred 
character attached to them, are certainly highly favour- 
able to the identity of Warka with the primitive Erech, 
and the Greek Orchoe. 

It has been elsewhere observed, || that previous to the 
discovery of the Mugeyer cylinders. Sir Henry Eawlinson 
definitely concluded that Warka was, moreover, Ur of 
the Chaldees, from whence Abraham migrated into Syria. 
He remarks that a very ancient and valuable manuscript 
in his library determinately connects the ruins of Warka 
with Ur : — " The traditionists report that Abraham was 
born at El Warka, in the district of Edh-Dhawabi,1F on 
the confines of Kaskar, and that his father afterwards 
moved to. Nimrod's capital, which is in the territory of 
Kutha. As-sudi, however, states that when the mother 
of Abraham found herself pregnant, Azer (the biblical 
Terah) feared lest the child should perish, so he went out 

* See page xvi. of the Twenty-ninth Annual Report of the Royal Asiatic 
Society, 1852 ; and Proceedings of the Royal Geogr. Society, vol. i., page 47« 
t Herodotus, i. 185. % Pliny, vi. 27. § Strabo, xvi. 739. 

II At page 131, IF Dowab, in Persiaji, means " two rivers." 



with her to a country between Kufa and Wasit, which 
was called Ur."'"" This tradition of Abraham's birth- 
place at Warka, however, originated not with the Arabs, 
but with the Jews, and is therefore more deserving 

Without desiring to claim for Warka more honour 
than the place is duly entitled to, may we not, although 
admitting the correctness of the reading " Hur" on the 
Mugeyer cylinders, still, consistently with this ancient 
tradition, regard Warka as Ur, on the supposition that 
this name is apphed — not to a city — but to a district of 
the Chaldees, which included both the ruined sites of 
Warka and Mugeyer '? In this light " Ur of the Chaldees" 
is, I believe, regarded by some authorities on this subject. 

If Mugeyer be Ur, we have likewise the same root in the 
name Orchoe. I therefore agree with Mr Baillie Fraser,t 
in his remark that " Warka may possibly represent 
Orchoe of the Chaldaeans, while the term Orchoe may be 
nothing more than a mere modification of the ancient 
Erech, and Warka or Irka a more modern pronunciation 
of both." 

Having made these preliminary remarks on the still 
obscure origin and history of Warka, I proceed to describe 
the present aspect of these very remarkable ruins. They 
stand in latitude about 31° 19' N. and in longitude about 
45° 40' E., and are distant four miles from the nearest 
point on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. An elevated 
tract of desert soil, ten miles in breadth, is slightly 
raised above a series of inundations and marshes caused 
by the annual overflowing of the Euphrates. Upon this 

* "Journal of Royal Asiatic Society," vol. xii., p. 481 ; note. 

t " Mesopotamia and Assyria," p. 115. In several recent works, the names 
Mdgayah, El-Asayleh, or " the place of pebbles," and Senkereh are, on the 
authority of Colonel Chesney, applied to the ruins of Warka. The Arabs 
of the locality, however, do not know them by any such names ; and Sinkara 
is an independent ruin, 15 miles east-south-east of Warka. 


are situated not only Warka, but Sinkara, Tel Ede, and 
Hammam — all unapproachable, except from November 
to March, during which months the river assumes its 
lowest level, and occasionally admits of access. This belt 
of elevated soil extends from a few miles south of Warka, 
in a N.E. direction, to the meres of the Affej already men- 
tioned. Towards the south and east the land of Chaldaea 
is swallowed up in a chain of marshes, through which, at 
long intervals, an island or an ancient mound appears 
above the horizon of waters. This character of the dis- 
trict appears from historical evidence to have obtained 
from the earliest times, and is duly represented in the 
Nineveh sculptures during the period of Sennacherib. 
While the inundation prevails, reeds and coarse grass 
skirt the border of the water, and a few stunted tamarisk 
bushes flourish for a time at a little higher level ; but 
with the retiring of the water vegetation rapidly dies, 
and in a few short weeks nothing but dried rushes and 
leafless twigs are to be seen on a parched sandy desert. 

The desolation and solitude of Warka are even more 
striking than the scene which is presented at Babylon 
itself. There is no life for miles around. No river 
glides in grandeur at the base of its mounds ; no green 
date groves flourish near its ruins. The jackal and the 
hyaena appear to shun the dull aspect of its tombs. The 
king of birds never hovers over the deserted waste. A 
blade of grass or an insect finds no existence there. The 
shrivelled lichen alone, clinging to the weathered surface 
of the broken brick, seems to glory in its universal 
dominion upon those barren walls. Of all the desolate 
pictures which I have ever beheld, that of Warka incom- 
parably surpasses all. There are, it is true, lofty and 
imposing structures towering from the surrounding piles 
of earth, sand, and broken pottery, but all form or plan 
is lost in masses of fallen brickwork and rubbish. These 


only serve to impress the mind more fully with the 
complete ruin and desertion which have overtaken the 
city. Its ancient name even is lost to the modern tribes, 
and little is kno\\Ti with certainty of its past history. 
Nineveh, Babylon, and Susa have their peculiar traditions, 
but ancient Warka and its sanctity are forgotten as though 
they had possessed no previous existence. 

Standing upon the summit of the principal edifice called 
the Buwariyya,'"" in the centre of the ruins, the beholder is 
struck with astonishment at the enormous accumulation 
of mounds and ancient relics at his feet. An irregular 
circle, nearly six miles in circumference, is defined hf the 
traces of an earthen rampart, in some places forty feet 
high. An extensive platform of undulating mounds^ 
brown and scorched by the burning sun, and cut up by 
innumerable channels and ravines, extends, in a general 
direction north and south, almost up to the wall, and 
occupies the greatest part of the enclosed area. As at 
Niffar, a wide channel divides the platform into two 
unequal parts, which vary in height from twenty to 
fifty feet ; upon it are situated the principal edifices of 
Warka. On the western edge of the northern portion 
rise, in solemn grandeur, masses of bricks which have 
accumulated around the lower stories of two rectangular 
buildings and their various ofiices, supposed to be temples, 
or perhaps royal tombs. The bleached and lichen-covered 
aspect of the surface attests the long lapse of ages which 
has passed since the enterprising hand of man reared 
them from above the surrounding level desert. Detached 
from the principal mass of platform are several irregularly- 
shaped low mounds between it and the walls, some of 
which are thickly strewed with lumps of black scoria, as 
though buildings on their summits had been destroyed 
by fire. At the extreme north of the platform, close to 
* A on General Plan. 


the wall, a conical mound'"- rears its head from the sur- 
rounding waste of ruins — the barrow probably of some 
ancient Scyth. Warka, in the days of her greatness, was 
not, however, confined within the limit of her walls ; her 
subiu'bs may be traced by ruined buildings, mounds, and 
pottery, fully three miles beyond the ramparts into the 
eastern desert. Due north, at the distance of two miles 
from the Buwariyya, is the dome-shaped pile of NufFayji,t 
which rivals the central ruin itself in height, and stands 
the advanced guard of the city. Near it several smaller 
barrows are strewed around without apparent order or 
design. On the north-east is another large mound,J re- 
sembHng, but smaller than, Nuffayji. 

Forlorn splendour and unbroken solitude reign undis- 
turbed on the ruins. AVith the exception of the Tuweyba 
tribe, the Arabs shun a site which is held to be the abode 
of evil spirits, and none will dare to pass a night upon the 
doleful spot. 

The view of the surrounding horizon is not more cheer- 
ino- than that of the desolate scene within the walls. 


During seasons of drought (for I have visited Warka at 
no other time), seldom is an Arab tent or herd of cattle 
discernible on any side. In the clear sky of morning or 
evening it is only possible to make out a few spots which 
mark the winding course of the Euphrates at the junction 
of the Hillah and Semava streams, El-Khithr trees and 
Kala'a Duraji — old settlements casually inhabited. 

Tel Ede on the north-north-east, Sinkara on the east- 
south-east, and a few date-trees on the marshes of the 
Kahr, are all that the eye finds to dwell upon in the 
opposite direction. The intervening space is a dry, barren 
and dismal desert, void of water, vegetation, and inhabi- 
tants. The prophecy of the coming desolation of Babylon 
is equally applicable to AVarka : — " It shaU never be 
* F on Plan. t J on Plan. X M on Plan. 


inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to 
generation : neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there ; 
neither shall the shepherds make their fold there/"'' For 
probably eighteen centuries, Warka has stood deserted and 
in ruins as she now appears. No wonder therefore, that 
her history is lost in the oblivion of the past ! 

The external walls of sun-dried brick enclosino; the 
main portion of the ruins may be traced without much 
difficulty throughout their entire circuit. They assume 
the form of an irregular circle five-and-a-half miles in 
circumference, with shghtly perceptible angles towards 
the cardinal points. • 

They attain their highest elevation on the north-east 
side,t where they are between forty and fifty feet q,bove 
the plain, but the great quantity of rubbish lying at their 
base proves that their original height was considerably 
more. The width may have been perhaps twenty feet. 

From this point they trend away towards the south, 
gradually decreasing in height until they become level 
with the desert, exhibiting at intervals traces of the brick- 
work itself. For the most part, however, they have long 
Bince lost all marks of their origin, and cannot be distin- 
guished from a simple earthen ramj)art. Many breaks 
occur along this portion of the walls, some of which were 
undoubtedly entrances. 

From south to west the course of the wall is only dis- 
cernible from the desert itself by the darker colour of the 
soil and the remains of semi-oval turrets, fifty feet apart. 
These were open towards the city, and possessed walls 
from four to five-and-a-half feet in thickness. 

Towards the north-west the wall may be followed over 

several large mounds, covered with black slag and scoria, 

like the refuse of a glass factory. It is not improbable 

that this was the site of the furnaces where the glazed 

• Isaiah xiii. 2(1^ f Near the conical mound marked F on the Plan. 


pottery hereafter alluded to wets made. Pottery, vitrified 
and inscribed bricks, scoria, and glass, are elsewhere found 
in abundance on the surface of the ruins. 

Of the three great edifices'"' which rise conspicuously 
from the surface of the ruins, that called Buwariyya is not 

The BuwSriyya Euin at Warka. 

only the most central, but the most lofty and ancient. 
At first sight it appears to be a cone, but further exa- 
mination proves it to be a tower, 200 feet square, built 
entirely of sun-dried bricks. On excavating at its base- 
ment there was discovered, on the centre of each side, a 
massive buttress of peculiar construction, erected for the 
purpose of supporting the main edifice. Unlike Milgeyer 
and other Babylonian structures, the lower tower of the 
Buwariyya is without any external facing of kiln-baked 
brickwork, its place being, however, supplied by the 
above-mentioned buttresses. This, together with the pri- 
mitive manner in which the central portion is arranged, 
leads to the supposition that it is a very early struc- 
ture. Sir Hemy Rawlinson confirms this conclusion, by 
reading the name of King Urukht upon the brick legends 

* A, B, and C on the Plan. 

t See inscriptions page 169. This king also built Mligeyer and NifFar. 

1 68 THE buwArIyya. 

of the buttresses, which record the dedication of the edifice 
to " Sin," or the " JMoon," by that monarch, who is sup- 
posed to have lived about 2230 B.C. The total height of 
the Buwariyya is perhaps 100 feet above the desert plain, 
but only 27 feet of the internal brickwork emerges from a 
mass of rubbish, w^hich slopes in a gradual descent from 
the summit and entirely covers up the buttresses. The 
sides are deeply cut and furrow^ed by rain channels and 
ravines. The sun-dried bricks are of various shapes and 
sizes, which is contrary to the custom in later edifices. 
They are rudely moulded of very incoherent earth, mixed 
with fragments of pottery and fresh-water shells,* and 
vary in size from 7 to 9 inches long by 7 inches wide, 
and 3 or 3^ inches in thickness. 

The name "Buwariy^^a," in Arabic, signifies "reed mats," 
which term is similarly applied to other mounds in Meso- 
potamia, in the construction of which the reed matting is 
used as a new foundation for the successive layers of 
bricks. Eeeds are placed at intervals of 4 or 5 feet, and 
serve to protect the earthen mass from disintegration, by 
projecting beyond the external surface. Four or five 
rows of bricks are laid horizontally under and upon each 
layer, and cemented in mud, but the remainder are placed 
lengthwise on edge, with their flat surfaces and narrow 
edges facing outwards. The same oblong apertures, wdiich 
usually characterize edifices of this description, are ob- 
servable here. The summit of the existing ruin is per- 
fectly flat, and measures 68 feet from north to south. At 
one point are traces of a brick superstructure, with inscrip- 
tions of Sin-shada, who lived about 1500 B.C., and the 
rubbish, mixed with bitumen, on the exterior, appears to 
have faUen from it. We therefore conclude that Sin- 
shada repaired or rebuilt the upper terrace of the.Buwari^'ya 
which had been erected 800 years previously by his pre- 
decessor, Urukh, in the same manner as Nebuchadnezzar, 



at a later period, repaired the terraces of the Birs Nimrud, 
constructed 500 years before liis time. 

The buttresses which have been referred to are 19 feet 
high, and each is divided into two equal parts, by an 
inter v^ening space of 1 

foot 9 inches. Each 
portion is 2 feet 2 
inches thick, and pro- 
jects 7^ feet from the 
unbaked central mass, 
against which the two 
parts of the buttress 
are united by a strong 
wall. The flat bricks 
are cemented with 
thick layers of bitu- 
men, so firmly adher- 

Stamped Inscription of Urukh iu Monograms. 

ing together that they can with difficulty be separated. 
Each brick is inscribed with eight lines of complicated 
mouogrammic characters, peculiar to the earher cunei- 
form inscriptions. 
The greater num- 
ber are stamped, 
but in some the 
inscriptions are 
written, and ex- 
hibit the manner 
in Avhich the 
stamped mono- 
grams are consti- 

I destroyed a 

PTPat nOVtion of a inscription of Uruth in ordinary cuneiform characters. 

buttress, and dug a considerable distance into the western 
angle of the internal mass of brickwork, for the piu'pose 


of discovering the dedicatory cylinders, which IVIr Tay- 
lor's excavations at Mugeyer proved to be deposited at 
the corners of Babylonian edifices. It is, however, pro- 
bable that they had long previously been destroyed by 
the fall of brickwork, and therefore my search for these 
valued records was fruitless. 

The Buwariyya stands at the western angle of a large 
enclosiure, 350 feet long by 270 feet wide, which evidently 
extended around it, and reached to the south-east edge 
of the great platform. Distinct walls of vitrified bricks, 
bearing the name of Merodach-gina, 1400 B.C., ^ are trace- 
able in different places. 

"Without extensive excavations it would be impossible 
to understand the original plan or disposition of the nu- 
merous walls which appear from under masses of unbaked 
brick. It is probable that they acted as supports, and 
served to prevent outward pressure. 

The south-east portion of the enclosure is traversed by 
numerous ravines, which penetrate deeply into the mound, 
and expose several of these walls. Wherever trenches 
were opened at this locality they revealed the same un- 
baked mass intersected by rectangular walls cemented in 


"Wuswas" Ruin — The Earliest Explorer — Rude Ornamentation — 
Columnar Architecture — Palm Logs the Probable Type — New Light 
on the External Ai'chitecture of the Babylonians and Assyrians — 
Interior of Wuswas — The Use of the Arch in Ancient Mesopotamia 
— Search for Sculptm-es — The Warrior in Basalt. 

By far the most interesting structure at Warka is that 
called " Wuswas." ''' It is contained in a spacious walled 
quadrangle, the eastern corner of which is 840 feet from 
the Buwariyya. Its north-western side is on the edge of 
the great platform. The enclosure is oblong, and includes 
an area of more than 7^ acres ; the north-west and south- 
east sides respectively measure 650 feet and 500 feet. 
All the buildings at Warka point with one corner to the 
true north, and, this being likewise the case at Mugeyer, 
I presume that such arrangement obtained generally 
in Chaldsean architecture, perhaps for astronomical pur- 
poses. The walls of the enclosure are now reduced to 
long, high ridges of bricks and mortar. A large court on 
the level of the platform occupies the eastern corner, and 
is approached by an entrance through each of its external 
walls. A third gateway on the south-west led to a ter- 
race in front of the principal building. 

A second court, at a lower level, occupies a correspond- 
ing position at the north angle, and likewise approaches 
the main structure, probably by a flight of steps. A large 

* B on Plan. 



gateway gives entrance to this court from the north- 

The remainders of the north-west and south-east sides 
are elevated terraces, parallel with the walls of the prin- 
cipal edifice, that on the north-west being of considerable 

The most important and conspicuous portion of this 
great enclosure is the structure on the south-west side, 
which gives its present name to the i-uin. It is said to 
be derived from a negro called Wuswas, who, a few years 
ago, observed a wall on the south-west side, and began 

to make an exca- 
vation, under the 
impression that he 
would find gold 
within. After pe- 
netrating fifteen 
feet through soKd 
brick-work he dis- 
covered a valu- 
iihle ring, but one 
of the saints of 
the Mohammedan 
calendar appeared 
in a vision, and 
warned him that 
his act of spolia- 
tion was sinful, 
and that, if he 
still persisted in 
his wicked pro- 
ject, paradise and its hiiris would not be his future lot. 
Wuswas was alarmed, but, unwilling to part with the 
treasure he had already acquired, disappeared, and it is to 
this day unknown whether he had been torn to pieces 

The Excavation at TVuswas. 


by wild beasts, or wlietlier tlie Moliammedan saint liad 
forthwith transported him to the seventh heaven. The 
superstitious Arabs have never since dared to enter the 
excavation, although they have no hesitation in ejecting 
the bones of the dead from the tenements where they 
have for ages reposed. The excavation made by Wuswas 
shewed an act of patience and perseverance foreign to the 
Arab character, and exposed a thickness of walling which 
is, at first sight, likely to lead to the erroneous conclusion 
that the great pile was a solid mass. This ruin is 246 
feet long by 174 feet wide, and stands 80 feet above the 
plain. On three sides are terraces of different elevations, 
but the fourth or south-west presents a perpendicular 
facade, at one place 23 feet in height. 

Like all Babylonian and Assyrian ruins, the Wuswas 
building is elevated on a lofty artificial platform 50 feet 
high, which has perhaps been added to that of the Buwa- 
riyya. The enormous amount of rubbish which encumbers 
its summit, sides, and base, gives some slight idea of the 
magnitude of the edifice, and excites unbounded surprise. 
It rises from 2 to 6 feet above the building, completely 
fills every chamber, measures from 20 to 30 feet from 
the base of the external walls, and extends down the 
slope of the mound — a truncated pyramid of broken 
bricks and mortar. 

At my second visit, on returning from Mohammerah, 
I remarked certain architectural peculiarities, which sub- 
sequently induced me to undertake excavations on the 
site of Wuswas's labours. Trenches were therefore di- 
rected against the fa§ade, where there appeared a proba- 
bility that an entrance might be efi"ected into the interior. 
The immense accumulation of fallen brickwork rendered 
excavation a work of considerable danger, and required 
the greatest care to prevent the workmen being buried 
up by the giving way of the loose material. Appliances 



like stays or shoring were 
unprocurable in the de- 
serts ; we laboured in the 
most primitive manner. 

The edge of a broken 
wall was, in the first place, 
laid bare at the summit, 
and the uniformity of its 
outline induced me to ex- 
cavate at four difierent 
localities, but . it soon 
I became evident * that 
I neither entrance nor 
I window ever existed on 
^ this side ; at the same 
i time, it afforded the first 
I glimpse of Babylonian 
I architecture, exhibiting 
I peculiarities so remark- 
\ able and original as to 
I pronounce at once its 
I undoubted antiquity. It 
I furnishes a new page to 
I the annals of architec- 
^ tural art. 

The facade measures 
174 feet in length, and, 
as before stated, in some 
places 23 feet in height. 
With this elevation, it is 
not difficult to complete 
a restoration of the entire 
front to that height. Al- 
though the portions un- 

The right half of the Plan is a horizontal section through the columns— 


covered possess no beauty comparable with, the artistic 
conceptions and productions of subsequent ages, a broad 
air of grandeur must have attended the immense size and 
heio-ht of the edifice. Such buildino;s as those at Warka 
must have been imposing in the extreme. 

At the base of the ruin a narrow terrace, 3-|- feet wide, 
coated with a thin layer of white plaster, runs the entire 
length of the facade. From this, in one unbroken per- 
pendicular line, without a single moulding, rises the main 
wall, which is subdivided by slight recesses 1 2^ feet long. 
Nothing can be more plain, more rude, or, in fact, more 
unsightly than the decoration employed upon this front ; 
but it is this very aspect — this very ugliness, which 
vouches for the originality of the style. It has long been 
a question whether the column was employed by the 
Babylonians as an architectural embellishment. The 
Wuswas fa9ade settles this point beyond dispute. Upon 
the lower portion of the building are groups of seven 
half-columns repeated seven times — the rudest perhaps 
which were ever reared, but built of moulded semicircular 
bricks, and securely bonded to the wall. The entire 
absence of cornice, capital, base, or diminution of shaft, 
so characteristic of other columnar architecture, and the 
peculiar and original disposition of each group in rows 
like palm logs, suggest the type from which they sprang. 
It is only to be compared with the style adopted by 
aboriginal inhabitants of other countries, and was evi- 
dently derived from the construction of wooden edifices. 
The same arrangement of uniform reeds or shafts, placed 
side by side, as at Wuswas, occurs in many Egyptian 
structures, and in the generality of Mexican buildings 
before the Spanish invasion. It is that which is likely to 

the other half a section through the recesses of the upper story. The only 
portion of the fagade exposed before the excavations was around the hole 
dug by the negro, of which an engraving is given on page 172. 


originate among a rude people before the introduction of 
the arts. 

There is not a line in the facade to which foreign 
influence can be traced. In place of a plinth, a fillet of 
plaster, 1^ inch high, re-connects the line of wall broken 
by the successive groups of columns. In similar manner 
above them a horizontal band passes flush with the wall. 
The otherwise monotonous character of this portion of the 
front is in some measure varied by the nearer arrange- 
ment of the two outward groups of columns. 

From the horizontal band, immediately above the three 
central columns of each group, rises a stepped recess If 
foot deep, surmounted by a larger and a smaller crescent 
— a sacred emblem of Chaldsean worship. On either side 
of these recesses, over the first and seventh columns of 
each series, is a chasing, containing, in its upper half, a 
column similar to those before described. 

The rest of the front at intervals is perpendicularly 
subdivided by chasings 7 inches deep, extending unin- 
terruptedly from the terrace to the highest point of the 
building now remaining. This chasing occurs in many 
other Chaldeean ruins — at the small oratory at Mugeyer 
and on the great temple at Sinkara — and may be regarded 
as a chief characteristic of Babylonian architectural 

The whole front has been undoubtedly coated with 
white plaster from 2 to 4 inches thick, which seems to 
have suffered more from the fall of the upper portion of 
the building than from its anterior exposure to the 
weather. It exhibits no trace of colour. 

I have entered upon the above details, because we 
previously knew little or nothing regarding the external 
architecture of the Babylonians, or of the Assyrians. It 
is true that the lower story of the great temple at Mugeyer 
has stood exposed for centuries in good preservation, but 


it is without the peculiar features above described. At 
the Birs Nimrud, too, so little of the edifice was visible 
under the superincumbent pile of rubbish, and that little 
in such a deplorable state of ruin, that it is impossible to 
gain any light upon the subject. These were the only 
two Babylonian edifices which, previous to the discovery 
of Wuswas, exhibited any external features. Neither Mr 
Layard's excavations at Koyunjuk and Nimrud, nor 
those of M. Botta at Khorsabad, furnished any idea as to 
the exteriors of the Assyrian palaces. Except at the 
grand entrance of Sargon's palace at Khorsabad, and that 
of Sennacherib at Koyunjuk, guarded by their colossal 
bulls and attendant human figures, no portion of the 
outer walls of an Assyrian palace had ever, up to that 
time, been uncovered. For the first time, then, Wuswas 
advances some positive data by which to reconstruct the 
exterior of a Ninevite palace. It is not, however, extra- 
ordinary that this had previously escaped discovery. 
The walls of the palaces erected by the Assyrian kings 
were merely composed of unbaked bricks, which, in a 
more humid climate than that of Chaldsea, crumbled 
away when they ceased to be cared for, forming a com- 
pact mass with the earth and rubbish under which they 
were eventually buried. Khorsabad, however, appears 
to have escaped the destruction which befell the other 
palaces of Assyria, and to have continued in a remarkably 
perfect condition when explored by the French Govern- 
ment. To the perseverance of M. Victor Place, the late 
French Consul at Mosul, is due the credit of having first 
discovered and exposed the exterior of an undoubted 
Assyrian edifice. It is remarkable that not only was the 
discovery made about the time of my excavations at 
Wuswas, but also that the architectural peculiarities of 
the two edifices are so similar that no possible doubt can be 
thrown on their common origin. The whole exteriors of 



the tower and harem of Sargon, at Khorsab^d, exhibit a 
modified representation of the Wuswas fa9ade ; the same 
rude cohimns, without capital or base, are ranged in sets 
of seven together, side by side ; and the same dentated 
recesses or chasings separate the groups, varied only by the 
insertion of a single column, or a cluster of three, between 
them. The wall at Khorsabad unfortunately terminates 
before the columns have attained their full height; con- 
sequently, this portion of the Wuswas design with its 
crescents are not visible. Wuswas therefore still remains 
the most perfect exterior of its class. 

I several times subsequently uncovered columns ar- 
ranged in Hke manner, with chasings at their sides, on the 
exterior of the south-east palace at Nimrud. 

At a later date. Sir Henry Rawlinson ascertained that 
the same system of half-column groups and chasings 
occurs on the lowest terrace or story of the Birs Nimrud ; 
but the results of his discoveries at that locality are as yet 
only partially made public. 

That groups of columns and double recesses were the 
prevailing type of Assyrian and Babylonian external 
architecture there can be little doubt, and future excava- 
tions in those countries may develop the fact more fuUy."^^' 

This native style ceased with the introduction of Greek 
art and its chaste ornamentation during the occupation 
of the country under the Seleucidae ; but a slight revival 
probably took place under the Sassanians. We have 
several edifices of the latter period, such as the Tauki Kesra 
at Ctesiphon, and the Palace of Firuzabad in Southern 
Persia, which in all essential particulars so much resemble 
Wuswas as to prove that the Sassanians borrowed most 

* In several Koyunjuk sculptures, one of ■which is engraved in Mr 
Layard's " Nineveh and Babylon," p. 647, the double recesses or chasings 
are i)reuisely delineated, and afford further proof — if such be required — 
of their adaptation to the exterior of Assyrian edifices. 



is not 

of their peculiarities from earlier native examples.* In 
the two buildings mentioned, we have the same dull, 
heavy aspect, without break or window, and the same 
repetition of inelegant columns and narrow arches, which 
take the place of stepped recesses in the earlier edifices. 

Having said thus much on the external character of 
Wuswas, it is time to explore its interior. Here, however, 
I experienced much difficulty. It has been already 
stated that the enormous thickness of the south-west wall, 
and the accumulation of bricks, are likely to lead to the 
conclusion that the 
building is of solid 
construction. Sub- 
sequent excava- 

that this 

the case, 
but that a prin- 
cipal entrance,t 
with plain brick 
jambs, conducts 
into a laro;e outer 
court, with cham- 
bers on either side. 
Beyond it is an- 
other haU similar- 
ly arranged. My 
excavations were 
commenced on the 
summit, at the 
south - west side, 

where certain hollows and lineal elevations of bricks 
indicated faint outlines of rooms. But the immense 

• Fergusson's " Illustrated Handbook of Architecture," vol. i., p. 373. 
t Ate. 

Plan of the Great Edifice at Wiiswas. 


tliic'kuess of the walls compared witli tlie size of the 
chambers, for a length of time defeated my purpose, and 
I was almost incHned to the belief that the great mass of 
bnildino; was a solid block of brickwork. Success, 
however, ultimately rewarded my labours, and I had 
the satisfaction of at least tracing the walls of nearly 
seven chambers, the general arrangement of which 
resembles, in a remarkable manner, that of the Assyrian 
palaces, as respects want of uniformity in size and shape, 
and the position of the doorway at the sides rather than 
the centres of the rooms. The largest chamber or hall ''"' 
measures fifty-seven feet by thirty feet ; and the smallest, t 
adjoining it, nine feet by thirty feet. A shaft was dug in 
the former, and the rul^bish entirely cleared out o^" the 
latter to the depth of twenty-three feet and a half. The 
walls were rudely plastered, but did not exhibit any trace 
of colour. Portions of date-wood were found in the small 
chamber, and apertures for beams are traceable in the 
walls twelve feet from the brick pavement. These extend, 
however, only partially the length of the room, leaving a 
space by which light may have passed to the lower 
apartment, or by which a stair may have communicated 
between the upper and ground-floor rooms. The other 
chambers must have been in some measure lighted from 
above, but the precise mode is conjectural, eince there is 
neither window nor door along the whole leng-th of the 
front by which light could have been admitted.| 

* A of Plan. t B of Plan. 

1 In the above description of the architectural peculiarities of the 
Wuswas edifice, I have largely availed myself of the valuable and concise 
report which, at my request, Mr Boutcher prepared on the spot for the 
Committee of the Assyrian Excavation Fund. I take this opportunity of 
expressing my obligations to that gentleman for the great assistance he 
afforded me in my labours both in Chaldeeaand Assyria, and of directing 
attention to the very beautiful collection of drawings which he made dur- 
ing the continuance of the expedition. These drawings are now deposited 
in the British Museum, and in the collection of the Eoyal Asiatic Society, 


The rubbish, as I have before mentioned, completely 
filled every chamber ; so that, having ascertained the 
non-existence of sculptures in two apartments, I did not 
deem it advisable to explore further. This extent of 
rubbish, taken in connexion with the great thickness 
and arrangement of the walls, gives some idea of the size 
and roof of the fallen superstructure. On reference to the 
plan, it will be observed that there is a great dispropor- 
tion in the relative thickness of the flank and front walls 
of the building, but, if we consider the wall of the fa9ade 
to be the side waU. of the two large chambers, its thickness 
may be accounted for. On further examination we shall 
find the jianh walls of every chamber thicker or slighter 
in proportion to the width of the chamber, which is 
precisely what would be necessary, if, as I believe, each 
chamber were covered with a brick arch, 

I am here induced to make a few remarks on the con- 
struction of the Assyrian palaces. In his admirably 
conceived restorations, Mr Fergusson"' everywhere adopts 
the conclusion that, as the span between the walls was 
frequently too great to admit of the roof being supported 
by horizontal beams, the Assyrians had recourse to 
columns in preference to all other modes of building. He 
supports his arguments by examples derived from India, 
Persia, and elsewhere, and his reasoning is clear and 
satisfactory, as far as it goes. It may be presumptuous 
in me to differ from one who has so intimately investi- 
gated this and similar subjects, but it strikes me, from 
actual observation of these ruins, that Mr Fergusson's 
theory is founded in error. It is perfectly true that the 
Assyrians used the column, because the bases are still 
found — but always at doorways and not within the 

and will well repay the examination of those interested in the subject of 
Chaldaean and Assyrian antiquities. 
• " Nineveh and Persepolis Restored," p. 270 at seq^. 

182 THE ARCH Versm the column in ASSYRIA, 

rooms ; — they have never yet been discovered in the latter 
position. When Mr Fergusson arrived at this conclusion 
he was not aware that the Assyrians really made use of 
the arch on a grand scale ; but this has since been fully 
proved at Khorsabad, where magnificent arches, of sun- 
dried brick, still rest on the massive backs of the colossal 
bulls which guard the great gateways leading into the 
city, and shew that, not only did the Assyrians under- 
stand the construction ot an arch, but also its use as a 
decorative feature. 

However admirably an open chamber, supported on 
columns, might be suited to the lofty or cooler regions of 
Persia or India, w^here refreshing breezes at intervals 
relieve the heat of the day, they are not well adapted to 
the continuous sultriness of an Assyrian climate. The 
natives of Mosul, at the present day, do not use columns 
in preference to arches, and my belief is that customs 
have not much altered in that region since the days of 
Sennacherib. To exclude heat and rain, nothing can 
be better adajDted than the lofty arch, as it is still there 
employed. The Hght is frequently admitted by small 
windows, immediately under the spring of the arch. A 
similar mode of lighting, I have no doubt, prevailed in 
the ancient palaces, than which a better system could not 
be adopted for the display of their wonderful bas-rehefs. 
These never look so well as in a trench, with the sub- 
dued light admitted through a small hole above. The 
great thickness of the walls in the Nineveh palaces is, I 
am convinced, due to the fact that the rooms were 
vaulted, as first suggested by M. E. Flandin.'"' An 
arch, constructed of such mud bricks as those still 
standing at Khorsabad, would in its fall cover up and 
preserve the sculptures uninjured, exactly as they are 
disclosed to us by the excavations. This, too, will account 
• " Kevue des Deux Mondes." 


for the great quantity of earth which fills all the chambers 
of the palaces.'"' This is precisely what has happened at 
Wuswas with the brickwork of the superstructure, and 
which I have little doubt was vaulted. 

The bricks used ill the construction of this edifice mea- 
sure twelve and a half inches square by three inches thick. 
Each is marked on its under side wdth a deeply impressed 
triangular stamp or wedge, which may here be regarded 
as a sacred emblem, as it certainly is upon the altar in 
the National Library at Paris, and on many Babylonian 
cylinders. This Rtamp undoubtedly indicates the charac- 
ter of the edifice in which it so repeatedly occurs. 

In addition to this wedge-shaped stamp, a few bricks 
are likewise impressed with an oblong die, bearing thirteen 
lines of minute cuneiform characters, resembling those 
which occur on clay cylinders, but so extremely indistinct 
that it is quite impossible to copy the legend. Sir Henry 
Eawlinson, on examining one of these, was inclined, 
from the apparent simplicity of a few characters, to regard 
them, not as Babylonian, but as Parthian, or even late 
Sassanian ; and he therefore pronoimced the building of 
Wuswas to belong to a post-Babylonian age. He argTied, 
too, that there was nothing Babylonian in the character, 
design, or architecture of the building, which W'Ould 
favour the idea of its greater antiquity. This was, 
however, pre^dous to M. Place's discoveries at Khorsabad, 
and to Sir Henry KawHnson's own excavations at the 

* The vaulted roofs of the houses and mosques at Mosul are, however, 
constructed of gypsum plaster and broken bricks, the terraces being covered 
with mud and earth. Such may have been the case in the palaces of 
ancient Nineveh, The numerous fragments of bricks and lumps of decom- 
posing gypsum in the soil above the sculptures, is strong presumptive 
evidence that this plan of constructing their roofs was adopted by the 
Assyrians, This explanation w'ould entirely do away with the necessity for 
columns, and the difficulty of erecting vaulted arches of mud bricks over 
rooms thirty-three feet wide, which is the chief objection raised to the sys- 
tem of arched roofing at Nmeveh. 


Bii's Nimriid — at both which places, as I have elsewhere 
mentioned, precisely the same architectural features were 
met with in edifices of undoubted Assyrian and Baby- 
lonian origin. Admitting the possibility that the Sassanians 
adopted in full the style of the Babylonians, it is extremely 
improbable that it should have remained wholly unin- 
fluenced by the introduction of a more classic taste during 
the Greek occupation of Mesopotamia ; and that a style 
so rude and unsightly should have endured unchanged 
even during the dominion of the Persians, who, long pre- 
vious to the Parthians and Sassanians, were far advanced 
in art. Such, we know, was not the case ; and, altlit)ugh 
they may have retained the elements of the Babylonian 
style, all the Sassanian edifices with which w^e. are 
acquainted exhibit a decided advance in art, and an 
adaptation of the more elegant designs of the "West. 

I cannot therefore conform to the opinion that the Wus- 
was temple is either a Parthian or a Sassanian structure. 
Although it has hitherto yielded no records to decide 
the point satisfactorily, I would fain believe that such 
will ultimately be recovered to prove its undoubted 
Babylonian origin. It is impossible at present to assign 
to it other than an approximate date. From the discovery 
of a few fragments of bricks, bearing the name of Sin- 
Shada — probably derived from the upper story of the 
Buwariyya, and built into the entrance jamb — it cannot be 
older than 1500 B.C. (the probability is that it is much 
later), and, as the style of architecture seems to have been 
at its height in the times of Sargon and Nebuchadnezzar, 
Wuswas temple was perhaps erected about the seventh or 
eighth century B.C. 

With regard to the object for which this immense 
edifice was built, it is, of course, presumptuous to pro- 
nounce an opinion with so little to guide us. The wedge, 
as a sacred emblem, might equally well be applied to a 


palace, a temple, or a royal tomb. It will, I fear, be long 
before auy positive data can be obtained to decide the 
question. The fact, however, that Warka was a great 
Necropolis, and that the Greek historian Arrian says that 
the Assyrian kings were buried somewhere in the Chal- 
dgean marshes, rather tends to the supposition that two at 
least of the monster edifices at Warka were among the 
tombs of the kings to which Arrian alludes.''" 

With the exception of several fragments of coloured 
enamelled bricks, similar to those found on the ruins of 
the Kasr at Babylon, there was nothing in or around the 
edifice which indicated the mode of decoration employed ; 
and as Wuswas failed to yield sculptured bas-reliefs, we 
must, I fear, give up all hope of discovering works of this 
nature in Babylonia. It is not, however, surprising that 
the palaces and temples of this region should be without 
sculptured slabs, because the alluvial plains of the lower 
Tigris and Euphrates do not furnish stone suited to the 
purjDose. Any that might be used must have been pro- 
cured at great expense, and conveyed a considerable 
distance down the river. Bricks and plaster, therefore, 
naturally took the place of the gypsum slabs which 
adorned the palaces of Assyria, and were obtainable in 
any quantity from the quarries in the neighbourhood of 

Warka, however, is not without one specimen of ancient 
sculpture. My friend Mr T. Kerr Lynch (who took ad- 
vantage of my last journey to accompany me from Bagh- 
dad on a Adsit to the ruins) in passing over the mounds, 
directed my attention to an isolated lump of basalt pro- 
jecting through the soft and yielding soil. It lay about 
400 feet south of the Buwariyya upon the slojDe of the 
great platform. t On turning over the block, it proved 

* Arrian de Exped. Alex., vii. 22. 
t At I on the General Plan. 


to be a fragment of coarse columnar basalt, nearly 
four feet long, but broken into four pieces. Three sides 
were uncut, but the fourth bore upon it a rude figure 
in low relief. A warrior was represented in short tunic, 
confined round the waist with a girdle. In the belt 
was a short sword or dagger. The long hair was bound 
round the head Avith a narrow fillet. The left arm 
crossed the breast, while the right, raised and wielding a 
short spear, was in the act of striking a prostrate foe or 
animal, which did not, however, appear on the sculpture. 
The design was very spirited, and the outline remarkably 
correct, but the execution was rough and unfinished. 
There was a certain archaic character about the bas-rehef 
which marked it as one of the earliest relics on the ruins. 
The Arabs, seldom accustomed to see blocks of stone upon 
the mounds, invariably regard them as talismans or trea- 
sures. The sculpture in question was so looked on by 
my Tuweyba friends, who have little respect for any- 
thing but gold. In hope of finding its interior filled 
with gold, they had lighted fires around it at various 
times ; but, observing the little efiect thus produced, 
they managed to break it by other means. It had suf- 
fered considerably from exposure and iU-usage, and was 
valueless to bring away as a work of art. 

This discovery caused me to expend much time and 
labour in its vicinity, searching for the locality from 
whence it had been derived, and where I imagined there 
might be other specimens of a similar kind. My work, 
however, resulted in total disappointment. 


New Styles of Decorative Art — Cone-work — Pot-work — Arab Aversion 
to Steady Labour — Blood-Feud between the Tuweyba and El-Bej 
— The Encounter Frustrated — The Feud Healed — Diversions after 
the Work of the Day. 

About one hundred feet north of tlie sculpture just 
described, close to tlie southern angle of the Buwariyya 
enclosure, I was fortunate in meeting with the remains 
of an edifice,''" which bears analogy to that of Wuswas, 
and is, without exception, perfectly unique in its con- 
struction. Situated nearly on a level with the desert, 
it may also be regarded as of early origin, and although 
only a fragment, it yields to none in interest. I had 
frequently noticed a number of small yellow terra-cotta 

Terra-cotta Coue, natural size. 

cones, three inches and a half long, arranged in half 
circles on the surface of the mound, and was much 
perplexed to imagine what they were. They proved 
to be part of a wall, thirty feet long, entirely composed 
of these cones imbedded in a cement of mud mixed 
* At E ou Plan. 



with chopped straw. They were fixed horizontally with 
their circular bases facing outwards. Some had been 
dipped in red and black colour, and were arranged in 
various ornamental patterns, such as diamonds, triangles, 
zigzags, and stripes, which had a remarkably pleasing 
effect. The wall which these cones ornamented consisted 

_J^1_J.. I -l.-L_!-, 

Elevation and Plan of the Terra-cotta Coue "Wall, Warka. 

of a plane surface fourteen feet ten inches long, broken away 
for a short space in the centre, and projecting one foot nine 
inches beyond a series of half-columns, arranged precisely 
as in the Wuswas facade side by side. Two of these 
columns appeared on one side of the projection, and six on 
the other. Each differed from its next neighbour in design, 
but that first from the plane wall only measured one foot 
eio;ht inches in diameter, while the others were each two feet 
six inches. It would have been interestino- to have ascer- 
tained that the number of columns in each group agreed 
with those at Wuswas, but unfortunately the wall ceased 
before completing the number — seven, and the height of 
the whole did not exceed six feet. Trenches in various 
directions failed to discover other portions of this edifice ; 
neither could any trace of walling behind the cones be 
distinomished from the surroundino- mass of earth. That 
some supporting wall formerly existed is, however, evi- 
dent from the slender nature of the remainino- fabric. 


In ancient Egyptian tombs, similar but much larger 
cones are found, with hieroglyphs stamped upon their 
bases, several specimens of which are in the British Mu- 
seum. They are supposed to have a sepulchral character, 
and to have been let into the wall at the entrance of the 
tomb, although they have never been observed in that 
position. The hieroglyphs are probably the names of the 
deceased. No marks or inscriptions occur on these Warka 
cones, but there is every reason to suppose that they were 
in a similar manner connected with the burial of the 
dead. The ascertained fact, before noticed, that the site 
was a vast cemetery, is strong presumptive evidence in 
favoiu' of this conclusion. 

Cones of the same kind are of frequent occurrence upon 
the ruins of the great platform, sometimes firmly fixed 
together in strong white plaster or cement, but no other 
building w^as observed with them in situ. There is, how- 
ever, little doubt that several might be discovered by 
largely excavating in the mounds. Similar cones are 
found in many other ruins of undoubted Babylonian age, 
which, unlike Warka, have escaped being built upon by 
succeeding races. Mr Taylor discovered them plentifully, 
both at Mugeyer and Abu Shehreyn, at which latter place 
they occurred ten inches in length, composed of limestone 
and marble, and sometimes with a rim round the edge 
filled with copper.'"' They were, undoubtedly, much used 
as an architectural decoration in Lower Chaldsea, and 
always in connexion with sepulchral remains. 

Cones, or rather horns of baked clay, frequently occur 
on the same ruins, inscribed round the thick part of 
the circumference in early and complicated cuneiform 
characters. They, however, appear to have been attached 
to some other object, and are usually bent at the summit 

* See Mr Taylor's Memoirs on the I\Iligeyer and Abu Slielireyn, in the 
"Journal of the Eoyal Asiatic Society," vol. xv., pages 268, 274, 411, 416. 


of the cone. One of these, obtained by me at Warka, 
bears on it the name of Bel or Belus. It is engraved in 
Mr Layard's "Nineveh and Babylon," p. 564, and is now 
in the British Museum. 

Warka is a complete mine for extraordinary and un- 
heard-of modes of decoration in architecture. Within a 
stone's throw of the south-west fa9ade at Wuswas, is 
another mound crowned with a curious building, which 
has some points of resemblance to the cone-brick structure 
last described. It rises abruptly from the base of the 
artificial mound'"* on which the AVuswas ruin stands, and 
appears to have been a tower of unbaked brick. • My 
attention was particularly directed to it by the enormous 
quantity of broken pottery and conical ends of. jars 
which lay around. On excavating midway up its north 
side, I came upon a kind of basement or perhaps terrace 
of mud-brick abutting against a mass of compact earth. 
Upon the latter was raised a wall composed entirely of 
unbaked bricks, and a peculiar species of conical vase, the 
fragments of which lay strewed on the surface. This wall 
was traced about one hundred feet, but was extremely 
irregular in plan, at one point projecting forward four feet, 
then roundino; off" and recedins; eioht feet. It afterwards 
assumed its original direction for forty-three feet, then 
made an obtuse angle, and finally bore away as before, 
when I ceased to follow it further. Above the foundation 
were a few layers of mud-bricks, superimposed on which 
were three rows of these vases, arranged horizontally, 
mouths outward, and immediately above each other. 
This order of brick and pot-work was repeated thrice, 
and was succeeded upwards by a mass of unbaked bricks. 
The vases vary in size from ten to fifteen inches in length, 
with a general diameter at the mouth of four inches. 
The cup or interior is only six inches deep, consequently 

♦ At L oil the General Plan. 


the conical end is solid. The cup was formed by a 
regular turning apparatus. These vases, from their great 
thickness throughout, are capable of bearing very con- 
siderable pressure, although the greatest proportion of 
them was broken by the superincumbent mass of earth. 
With their circular mouths outwards they produced a 
very strange effect — more striking even than that of the 
painted cone edifice already described. 

It is difficult to conceive the piu-pose for which these 
vases were designed. We know, however, that large in- 
flated vases were sometimes built into the walls of the 
Greek rooms, for the purpose of making the choruses 
resound during their revels ; but in this case the vases 
were within, not outside a chamber, and had spacious, 
instead of extremely narrow and shallow cups. The 
vases at AVarka could not therefore have been applied to 
the same use. Excepting as another apphcation of the 
cone for an ornamental design, it is difficult to conceive 
their utility, but it is not improbable that the same system 
of architectural embellishment may be traced in the 
tasteful designs of vases and pipe-tiles, which form such 
elegant open-work patterns in the terrace walls of Mosul 
and other Eastern towns on the tops of the houses, 
where the natives sleep during the hot nights of summer. 
The interior of this structure appeared to be wholly 
composed of mud bricks and earth. An excavation was 
made into its centre without yielding any further infor- 

Separated on the south from this incomprehensible build- 
ing and from that of Wuswas by a deep ravine, is a second 
immense structure"' which resembles Wuswas in area and 
general disposition of its plan and offices, except that it 
has no external court. The bricks are of the same size 
and make, and are impressed with a similar triangular 
♦ C on the General Plan. 


stamp. It is in like manner encumbered with nibbish 
which covers its summit and sides, but it is more 
massive and lofty than AVuswas, and consequently more 
imposing in the distance. Both edifices were probably 
erected about the same time, and for a similar purpose, 
and fell to ruins together. Having failed to make any 
discoveries of importance in the interior of Wuswas, I did 
not attempt excavations at this edifice, because the 
immense exjDense and danger attending the removal of 
the bricks were scarcely counterbalanced by the probability 
of any adequate residt being obtained. 

The Arabs, moreover, were unused to such severe 
labour, and could with difficulty be persuaded to work in 
these piles of bricks. Their whole lives had been ^pent 
in the open desert with their clubs and spears, either 
attacking their foes or defending their tents. They could 
scarcely brook the degradation of being employed like 
fellahs or day-labourers, — while the continuous work, 
without any corresponding result, was almost beyond the 
endurance of their sanguine temperaments. It would 
have been impossible to have kept them at the excavations 
had there not been a constant dread of attack from without, 
— and mutual jealousy among the three tribes employed. 
The simial that human beino-s were seen in the horizon 
was hailed by me with pleasure, because the excitement 
of a few minutes relieved the ill-suppressed grumbling 
of hours. The appearance of one of my workmen on the 
summit of the Buwariyya, waving a piece of black rag on 
a spear, produced a general ferment. Implements were 
thrown aside, the war-cry was raised, and a general rush took 
place to the central ruin. Each party ranged itself round 
its acknowledged sheikh, dancing, yelling, grunting, and 
throwing their spears and clubs into the air in a state of 
the most extraordinary excitement, which did not cease 
till they were completely exhausted. When the supposed 


danger passed away, all returned to their work with re- 
newed goodwill and energy. 

On one occasion only was there any positive danger. 
A strong party of the Suweyd division of El Bej Be- 
douins, numbering about two hundred tents, crossed the 
Euphrates, and encamped with their flocks, herds, and 
at least one thousand camels, within sight of my Uttle 
settlement and the ruins. How their flocks found sub- 
sistence in that barren desert was utterly beyond my 
comprehension. They must have speedily demolished all 
the scanty supply of camel's thorn on the bank of the 
river, because in a few days they again decamped east- 
wards. The day after their arrival, one of the inferior 
sheikhs, mtli a small party of the tribe, passed through 
the ruins on his way to pay his respects to the Sheikh of 
the Muntefik. The Tuweyba workmen were in a dreadful 
state of alarm, because there was blood-feud between 
them and El Bej, wliich arose when Sa'dun, the patron 
of the Tuweyba, was at enmity with the Wadi four years 
previously. At his instigation the Madan tribes attacked 
and robbed these Bedouius of their cattle, several men 
being kUled on either side. The Tuweyba audaciously 
defied all the laws of honour, and outraged all the fine 
feelings of the high-class Arabs, by stripping the wife of 
the Wadi, whom they accidentally encountered, of every 
article of clothing and jewellery upon her person. Nothing 
could excuse such an indignity. It is for acts such as this 
that the Madan are regarded by the Bedouins and more 
honourable Arabs in the light of beasts and " dogs," as 
they were called by my Muntefik guards. The sheikh, 
however, behaved well when he encountered his foes at 
Warka, and promised there should be no fighting while 
the Tuweyba were under my iDrotection, adding : — " You 
are a stranger in the land, and El Bej has no desire to act 
inhospitably to strangers; — but for your presence the 



Tuweyba would have been attacked long ago 1 ** On 
departing, lie left a horseman behind to look after the 
safety of my excavators. 

On the day following this meeting, a scene took place 
which might have resulted in serious consequences. It 
so happened that I had remained in camp to prepare for 
the departure of a messenger conveying letters to Bg-gh- 
dad. A large number of Bedouins went up from their 
tents to the mound with the evident intention of creating 
mischief. They first of all accosted my servant Ovannes, 
peremptorily demanded tobacco, and followed him from 
trench to trench, repeating their demand with much in- 
solence and abuse, and finally turning upon the Tuwey- 
ba, whom they endeavoured to excite by threats and 
hard names. The horseman, who had been left to care 
for our safety, without hesitation seized the ringleader, 
and would have tied and beaten him with the assistance 
of the Tuweyba, if Ovannes had not very properly in- 
terfered. The Tuweyba were highly exasperated at the 
insults heaped on them, and were with the greatest 
difiiculty restrained by my overseers from making an 
attack upon the peace-breakers. Ovannes, who had 
frequently shewn himself equal to an emergency, and 
who possessed a much more courageous sj)irit than is 
generally evinced by natives of the country, mounted 
a horse, and rode off at full speed to the Bej camp. 
He had ascertained that it was only an inferior sheikh 
of the tribe who had granted his protection, but 
the great chief, Tellag-ibn-Terrif, still remained to be 
propitiated. Ovannes rode directly up to the sheikli's 
tent, demanding to see him and to know if Tellag had 
instructed his people to act as they had done. TelMg 
declared they had done so. "wdthout his knowledge ; 
whereon Ovannes dismounted, and, as a stranger, re- 
quired his protection for ourselves and the workmen. 


Tellag, like a true Bedouin, struck by the blunt, straigbtfor- 
ward manner of Ovannes, expressed his sorrow at Avhat 
had occurred, and repeated the promise previously made, 
that as long as he continued in the neighbourhood, there 
should be no dissension between the Bej and the Tuwey- 
ba. Coffee was introduced as the bond of contract, and 
they were in the act of vowing eternal friendship when 
the horseman, who had taken part in the disturbance, 
rushed in, and began to abuse Tellag in strong terms for 
allowing his people to create a quarrel after the promise 
made by the absent sheikh. Tellag endured his reproofs 
for some time in tolerable patience, but at last got up 
and repeatedly struck the horseman on the face, who in 
turn became exasperated, and attempted to spear Tellag, 
when Ovannes got between them. Our champion then 
ran out of the tent, and, in his excessive indigna- 
tion, speared some half-dozen camels belonging to the 
man who had been the chief cause of the disturbance. 

Tellag kept his word. The next morning he paid me a 
visit, we broke bread together, and were from that mo- 
ment sworn friends. I was subsequently indebted to 
him for several acts of kindness, and, under his safe- 
guard, was enabled to reach many points in the interior 
of the Jezireh which would have been otherwise impos- 
sible. Before quitting the country, I had the satisfac- 
tion of healing the feud between the Bej and the 
Tuweyba, and the compact was finally sealed by the 
latter agreeing to pay Tellag a tribute of thirty sheep- 
skins for the ensuing year ! 

The journey of four miles and a half to the mounds, 
arid the same distance back to camp every day, was a 
fatiguing and tedious process ; nevertheless it was ab- 
solutely necessary that it should be performed, and we 
beguiled the Aveariness of the way to the best of our 
ability. Every morning before sunrise the implements 


were distributed to tlie workmen, witli which, their chibs 
and their spears, they set out for the mounds in separate 
parties according to their tribes. It was amusing to see 
how clannish they were, the members of each tribe con- 
gregating together, and singing in opposition their own 
peculiar war-cry. Sometimes they would jog along in 
compact colimins, singing a low, monotonous chant, while 
their bodies swayed to and fro in keeping time. At 
others, especially when the day's work was concluded, 
they would become more excited, perform a war-dance, 
advance and retire, yell and throw up their spears, as if 
feigning an engagement. At one time they would re- 
gard me as their chief, dance round my horse, brandish 
their spears and pretend to defend me against an un- 
seen foe ; at another I was an enemy, and they would 
unite forces to charge me, with sparkling eyes and shew- 
ino; their white teeth in excessive delioht. Now and 
then they would challenge me to a race, and the whole 
party would set off at full speed, seemingly untired in 
spite of their hard day's labour. Notwithstanding their 
wretchedness, they were a happy, careless race, easily 
pleased and easily excited. With all their faults, (which 
were those arising from circumstances rather than dis- 
position,) they were amenable to kindness, and might be 
soon rendered useful members of society under proper 

When it is considered that the chief occupation of 
these ]\Iadan Arabs is to rob and plunder without 
discrimination, and that I went among them a stranger, 
without introduction, for the sake of excavating into 
the mounds which they regarded in the light of a gold 
mine, it is highly creditable to their liberality and 
tolerance that they offered no oj)position to my j^roceed- 
ings. It is true that they were paid for their labours ; 
but there is no reason why they should not have proved 


faithless to a gliyawr just as to one of their own race, and 
have stripped me of all I possessed previous to my de- 
parture from among them. The Tuweyba considered 
Warka to be their own peculiar property, and made con- 
siderable profit by ransacking the tombs for treasure. 


The absence of Tombs in tbe Mounds of Assjria — Their abundance in 
Clialdsea — Warka a vast Cemetery — Clay Sarcophagi of various 
forms — ^Top-shaped Vase, or " Babylonian Urn " — Oval Dish-cover 
Shape — Slipi^er-shape — Difficulties of Removal — Excitement* of the 
Arabs — Gold Ornaments — Coins — Vases — Terra-Cotta Penates — 
Light-fingered Arabs — The Ordeal — Endurance of Pain — Earliest 

It is a remarkable fact that, in spite of the long suc- 
cession of years during which excavations have been car- 
ried on by the English and French Governments in the 
mounds of Assyria, not a single instance has been re- 
corded of undoubted Assyrian sejDulture. It is true 
that Mr Layard considers the great cone at Nimrud to 
have been a royal tomb, and that I myself opened a rude 
vault, seventeen feet below the floor of the south-east 
palace at the same locality ; yet, in the one case, no 
human remains were found, and in the other, there was 
no positive evidence of their true age.'"' The natural 
inference therefore is, that the Assyrians either made 
away with their dead by some other method than by 
burial, or else that they conveyed them to some distant 
locality. If, however, Assyria be without its cemeteries, 
Chaldsea is full of them ; every mound is an ancient 
burial-place between Niffar and Mugeyer ! It would be 

* The tombs which Mr Layard examined above the south-east palace, 
Nimrtid, and those discovered by Mr Vice-Consul Bassam at Koytiujuk, were 
undoubtedly of post-Assyrian date. 


too much, with our present knowledge, to say positively 
that Chaldsea was the necropolis of Assyria, but it is by 
no means improbable that such was the case. Arrian,"^^ 
the Greek historian, in describing Alexander's sail into 
the marshes south of Babylon, distinctly states that most 
of the sepulchres of the Assyrian kings were there con- 
structed, and the same position is assigned them in the 
Peutingerian tables. The term Assyria however, in the 
old geographers, is frequently applied to Babylonia, and 
the tombs alluded to may therefore be those only of the 
ancient kings of Babylonia. Still, it is likely that the 
Assyrians regarded with peculiar reverence that land 
out of which Asshur went forth and builded Nineveh, 
and that they interred their dead around the original 
seats of their forefathers. 

Whether this w^ere so or not, the whole region of 
Lower Chaldaea abounds in sepulchral cities of immense 
extent. By far the most important of these is Warka, 
where the enormous accumulation of human remains 
proves that it was a peculiarly sacred spot, and that 
it was so esteemed for many centuries. It is difficult 
to convey anything like a correct notion of the piles 
upon piles of human relics which there utterly astound 
the beholder. Excepting only the triangular space be- 
tween the three principal ruins, the whole remainder of 
the platform, the whole space between the walls, and an 
unknown extent of desert beyond them, are everywhere 
filled with the bones and sepulchres of the dead. There 
is probably no other site in the world which can com- 
pare with Warka in this respect; even the tombs of 
ancient Thebes do not contain such an aggregate amount 
of mortality. From its foundation by Urukh until 
finally abandoned by the Parthians — a period of pro- 
bably 2500 years — Warka appears to have been a sa- 

* De Exped. Alex., vii. 22. 


cred bui'ial-place ! In the same manner as the Persians 
at the present day convey their dead from the most re- 
mote corners of the Shah's dominions, and even from 
India itself, to the holy shrines of Kerbella aud Meshed 
'All, so, doubtless, it was the custom of the ancient people 
of Babylonia to transport the bones of their deceased rela- 
tives and friends to the necropolis of Warka and other 
sites in the dread solitude of the Chaldsean marshes. 
The two great rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, would 
like the Nile in Egypt afford an admirable means of con- 
veying them from a distance, even from the upper plains 
of Assyria."^'" 

I was nowhere enabled to ascertain how deep in the 
mounds the funereal remains extend, although in several 
instances trenches were driven to the depth of thirty feet, 
beyond which the extreme looseness of the soil prevented 
my continuing the excavations with safety to the work- 
men ; but I have every reason to believe that the same 
continuous mass of dead reaches to the very base of the 
highest portion of the central platform — a depth of sixty 
feet. On this account there is considerable difliculty 
in obtaining information concerning the most ancient 
mode of disposing of the dead at Warka. It is only at the 
edges of the mounds where least built upon, that the un- 
doubted primitive tombs and their accompaniments occur. 

In a country where stone is not procurable, the most 
natural material for architectural and domestic use is 
clay. This is abundant in the plains of the Euphrates. 
Not only were the edifices of Chaldsea, as we have seen, 

* At Baghdad a custom prevails which is derived from a period long 
anterior to the rise of Mohammedanism, and perhaps connected with 
some ancient ceremony attending the transport of the dead. When a pei'- 
sou is sick, a relative fastens a lighted taper to a piece of wood, commits 
it to the stream of the Tigris, and prays for the recovery of his friend. 
Should the light be extinguished before it recedes from his sight, he con- 
cludes that all hope is past. 

"dish-cover" coffin, and contents. 201 

constructed of clay-brick, but the same material in a 
modified form was adapted to the manufacture of small 
utensils and extended even to sepulchral vases. The 
invention of the potter appears to have been racked in 
designing new forms, and their endless variety through- 
out Chaldsea may eventually prove of much use in deter- 
mining the age of the ruins where each occurs. In the 
same way several different forms of funereal jars and sar- 
cophagi have prevailed at certain distinct periods, the dates 
of which are ascertained by means of accompanying relics. 

The earliest and most common form throughout Baby- 
lonia, and the one which prevailed down to the time of 
the Parthians, is the large, top-shaped vase, well known 
as the " Babylonian urn." It is lined inside with bitumen, 
and has its mouth usually covered with bricks, but many 
at Warka possess a cover of the same material cemented 
to the urn. They contain the bones of a human being, 
or only a single head, with engraved cylinders and gems, 
beads and neck ornaments, and rings cut out of marine 
shells. Sometimes two of these vessels are placed mouth 
to mouth, and then cemented together, one mouth fitting 
into the other with great exactness ; such contain one or 
more bodies. 

Another undoubtedly early form is very curious and 
original. It resembles an oval dish-cover, the sides slop- 
ing outwards towards the base which rests on a projecting 
rim. The dimensions vary from four to seven feet long, 
about two feet wide, and from one to three feet deep. On 
carefully removing this cover, the skeleton is seen reclin- 
ing generally on the left side, but trussed like a fowl, the 
legs being drawn up and bent at the knees to fit the size 
of the cover. Sometimes the skull rests on the bones of 
the left hand, while those of the right holding cyHnders of 
agate or meteoric stone, and small personal ornaments, 
have fallen into a copper bowl in front. In one instance 


'I ascertained that an enormous quantity of hair was con- 
fined in a finely-netted head-dress, the meshes of which 
were distinctly discernible. There were also fragments 
of blue linen wpoii various parts of the skeleton, and the 
remains of a wooden box, which had contained two ma- 
rine shells'^''' (a murex and a cone) of the same species as 
those occmTing abundantly in the ruins. The bones of 
the toes, fingers, ankles, and wrists, were encircled with 
bangles or rings of brass. Large jars and small sher- 
behs or drinking vases were placed with the body beneath 
the sepulchral cover. This mode of burial was not fre- 
quently observed by me at Warka, but, when it did'occur, 
it was always at the extreme edge of the mound, nearly 
on a level with the plain. Mv Taylor, however, dis- 
covered a mound full of these dish-cover coffins at Mu- 
geyer, which ruin has never, as I have already said, been 
built upon subsequently to the Babylonian period. With 
each skeleton at that locality was a shallow and extremely 
delicate baked-clay dish containing date-stones ; and 
another with the bones of fowls, fish, and other remains 
of food. The skull lay on a sun-dried brick, containing 
some white substance, which was in some cases covered 
by remnants of a tasselled cushion of tapestry.t 

Various other forms of pottery of minor importance 
were applied to the purposes of burial ; but they all 
sink into insignificance when compared with the glazed 
earthen coftins, whose fragments occur in such amazing 
abundance on the surface of the mounds at Warka, as 
to mark them as one of the chief peculiarities of those 

* The women of the I\riidiin Arabs at the present day ornament their 
hair and head-dresses with similar shells, derived from a littoral marine 
deposit of very modern geological formation, occurring in the region of the 

t I must refer, for farther information on this subject, to Mr Taylor's in- 
teresting "Memoir on the !Mtigeycr." See Journal of the Eoyal Asiatic 
Society, vol. xv., p. 2G9 et seq. 


remarkable ruins. As civilization progressed, they appear 
to have superseded the more rude descriptions of burial 
vases, and to have been generally adopted, not only at 
Warka, but also at NifFar, Zibliyya, and other localities 
throughout Chaldsea. The piles on piles of these coffins 
are self-evident proofs of the successive generations by 
whom this method of burial was practised. I will not 
venture to guess at the date of their first introduction, 
but they were certainly in use at Warka, and that com- 
monly, when the place was abandoned by the Parthians, 
whose curious coins occur upon the surface. 

These remarkable coffins are slipper-shaped, but more 
elegant and symmetrical than that homely article. The 
oval aperture by which the body was admitted, is flattened 
and furnished with a depressed ledge for the reception of 
a hd, which was cemented with lime mortar. At the 
lower extremity is a semi-circular hole to prevent the 
bursting of the coffin by the condensed gases. The upper 
surface of each coffin generally — and the lid sometimes — 
is covered with elevated ridges, plain or ornamental ; 
forming square panels, each of which contains a similar 
small embossed figure, representing a warrior in close 
short-fitting tunic and long loose nether garments. He 
stands with his arms akimbo and his legs astride ; in his 
belt is a short sword, and on his head an enormous 
coifiure, of very curious appearance. The whole costume 
bears a striking resemblance to that with which we are 
well acquainted on coins and sculptures of the Parthian 
and Sassanian periods. The head-dress reminds me of 
that occurring upon the skull under the dish-cover just 
alluded to. The whole visible surface of the coffin is 
covered with a thick glazing of rich green enamel on the 
exterior, and of blue within the aperture, the former 
colour probably arising from chemical decomposition and 
long exposure. 







The material of which the coffins are composed is yellow 
clay, mixed with straw, and half-baked. The unglazed 

Lid of Coffin (length 2 feet 2 iiichen). 

Figure on Coffins (length 6| inches). 

surface of the interior, as well as the bottom, is marked 
with impressions of the reed-matting 
upon which it rested during the pro- 
cess of manufacture. 

Sometimes the coffins are glazed, but 
without figures, at others they are per- 
fectly plain. Upon one are three figures 
which differ considerably from the rest. 
They are represented in short dresses, with 
large bushy wigs confined in netting, 
and carrying some article in their hands 
which resembles a square box. A portion 
of this coffin is in the British Museum. 

In one instance only did I observe 
two lids to a coffin. The glazed speci- 
men,^' likewise in the Museum, was 

* Of which a woodcut is given above. 

Figure on Coffin (length 
7 inches). 


broken, and lay within the aperture, protected by an un- 
glazed one, puffed out in the centre and pierced by a small 
hole like the crust of a meat pie. 

The coffins generally are loosely surrounded with 
earth, and lie, without order, upon and near each other. 
Many, however, are built up singly, or two together, in 
brick vaults cemented with lime. As the same mortar 
is used to fasten down the lid of the enclosed coffin, the 
inference is that the coffin was first placed in the position 
it was destined to occupy, and then that the body was 
put into it when in situ. From the fragile i^ature and 
weight of the composition, it is improbable that th^ coffin 
was carried to the mound with the dead inside. 

I have observed that coffins were discovered at the 
depth of thirty feet below the surface, and that they 
probably descend to near the base of the mound. This 
depth and the yielding nature of the soil are opposed 
to the supposition of their having been buried in the 
usual way, and seem rather to imply that they have 
gradually accumulated. It is generally supposed that 
the ancient inhabitants of Persia — certainly the Sassa- 
nians — exposed their dead like their modern descendants 
the Parsees of India. I am inclined to believe that a 
species of exposure was practised at Warka, the body 
being placed in a coffin, cemented down, and left to be 
covered up by the drifting sand, which, as previously 
mentioned, is roused by the slightest breath of wind. In 
this manner we can account, not only for the depth below 
the surface, but also for the extremely small layer of fine 
sandy earth which intervenes between the vertical rows. 

The Arabs have long been attracted by the gold orna- 
ments which the coffins contain, and break himdreds 
every year for the purpose of rifling them. In searching 
for this purpose, they drive their spears as far as pos- 
sible into the light soil. If the spear-head chance to 


strike against any impediment, the wild fellow sounds to 
ascertain if it be a coffin or a vault, and by tbe vibra- 
tion produced he knows whether he has gained his ob- 
ject. The spear is then thrown aside, and he begins to 
work with his arms and hands like a mole. If an 
obstacle — a brick for instance — present itself, recourse is 
had to the spear point, which acts the part of lever and 
pickaxe. In this manner he successively grubs and picks 
until his perseverance has succeeded in clearing away 
the soil from the upper part of the coffin. The spear 
again does its duty in deliberately breaking into the 
tenement of the dead, and the Arab carefully turns over 
the frail relics of humanity with his dagger, until he secures 
his spoil. As soon as this sacrilegious process is con- 
cluded, he breaks a hole through the bottom of the coffin 
to ascertain if there be another imrdediately below, and 
if so, to repeat his former labours. By this process the 
whole surface of the mounds is covered with innumer- 
able holes and broken pottery, w^hich at first render either 
walking or riding a matter of perplexity and danger. 

The object of my second journey to Warka was 
to endeavour to obtain a specimen of these extraor- 
dinary coffins, in order that it might be forwarded 
to the British Museum. In this, however, I experi- 
enced much more difficulty than was anticipated. In 
digging trenches, I ascertained that those near the sur- 
face were considerably weathered, while those below 
were saturated with moisture, and frequently crushed 
by the superincumbent weight. They invariably fell to 
pieces in the attempt to stir them. Sometimes the con- 
tents were removed, and at other times the earth, which 
had accumulated inside through crevices, was whoUy 
allowed to remain, or was partially cleared out; pieces of 
carpet and abbas were tied round, and poles placed 
below them to give support ; but aU to no purpose. After 


several days of anxious labour, and the demolition of 
perhaps a hundred coffins, I almost despaired of success. 

The Arabs were anxious that I should be pleased, and 
were as annoyed as myself at our fruitless endeavours. 
At last the good-natured Gunza took hold of my sleeve, 
and addressed me on behalf of his fellows : — " Oh, Beg ! 
you take much trouble to get one of these pots of the 
old Kaffirs — may they be cursed! — and have brought 
with you spades and shovels from a great distance for 
this purpose. Our hands were not made to use such 
implements, which are the tools of the Fellah, not of the 
Madan; but with the spear we can do many things. 
Give us yoiu? permission, Beg, and we will follow our 
own mode of search, and, inshallah ! we shall soon be 
able to find plenty of pots, among which there will cer- 
tainly be one strong and good enough to carry away." 
As there was no doubt of their being more adept with 
their hands and spears than the ordinary implements of 
ci\'ilized life, I acceded to their request, and despatched 
a jDarty to hunt after their own method. They kept 
their promise, and I soon had the satisfaction of seeing 
several good coffins uncovered in different parts of the 
ruins. But still there occurred the same difficulty of re- 
moval ; several more being broken in the vain attempt. 

At length it occurred to me that, with some strong 
paper, an expedient might be adopted to strengthen themu 
As a last resource, I determined to send and endeavour 
to procure some at Semava, twenty miles distant. An 
Arab was dismissed with a few shamies''" to make the 
purchase, and on the third day again made his appear- 
ance with all the stock of strong paper which the town, 
as good luck would have it, could provide. A coffin 
having been selected on the following afternoon, wood, 
flour, and water were brought up to the mound, a fire 

* The shdmi is an Arab coin, equal to about twentypence of our money. 


lighted, and paste made on the spot. The surface of the 
coffin was then carefully cleaned, inside and out, and 
several thick layers of paper applied. It was left exposed 
all night, so that, before morning, the paper had become 
like hard pasteboard. The Arabs were delighted; they 
danced, laughed, sang, and clapped their hands, tapped 
the paper with their knuckles, and patronisingly patted 
my back. They wanted at once to shoulder it and 
be off, but I deferred the removal until late in the 
afternoon, in order that the paper might be thoroughly 
dried. In the interim, as much earth as was deemed 
safe was removed from below, and two strong tent- 
poles placed beneath. By means of these the coffin was 
lifted upon a board, covered wdth workmen's abbas, and 
carefully secured with ropes. Spears and spades were 
then made into strono; fasces and attached to the under 
side of the board, for handles by which to carry the bur- 
den to the banks of the Euphrates. It was exceedingly 
heavy, and required a strong party of Arabs to relieve 
each other. The ground was, in many parts, exces- 
sively rough and difficult to traverse in approaching the 
river, on account of the numerous channels, so that I 
was in constant trepidation lest a trip or false step 
might destroy all the fruits of our labour. This anxiety 
on my part was not without cause, for the wild feUows, 
notwithstanding the weight of their burden, could not 
be restrained from joining in the dance and song, with 
which their comrades off duty enlivened the whole route. 
Their excitement had been roused to the highest pitch, 
and their gestures surpassed anything they had ever yet 
exhibited before me. The coffin was frequently in dan- 
ger when the whole party at times feigned a hostile 
charge against the bearers, and the latter, unable to re- 
strain their natural impetuosity, wielded their spears, 
which they insisted on carrying, and yelled defiance in 


return. Tlie more I entreated, tlie more riotous they 
became, until I discovered that the best phm was to let 
them have their own way, and wear themselves out. 

In this manner we traversed tlie nine miles between 
the ruins and the river, and arrived within sight of the 
camp, when the excitement became greater than ever. The 
women, in their eagerness to see the unwonted sight — 
unwonted indeed, because probably uj)wards of two thou- 
sand years had passed since such a coffin had been con- 
veyed in similar manner — even forgot to hide their faces, 
and came- out in a body to meet the procession, uttering 
tlieii' wild tahlehl and plaintive wail, while they pretended 
to throw dust upon their hair, in imitation of the ceremony 
of mourning for the dead. The men, under the influence 
of this additional impulse, redoubled their exertions, 
until they resembled frantic demons rather than human 
beings.*^'" I was not sorry when the primitive bier and 
its precious burden were safely deposited at our tents. 
Each bearer then received some little present for his 
extra labour, and retired to the sheikh's tent to discuss 
the great event of the day. In remembrance of it, and 
of my stay among them, that encampment was hence- 
forward to be known l)y the name of " Beit-el-Ghyawr," 
"the Infidel's House," a somewliat doubtful honour, it 
must be confessed, towards myself. 

The papering process succeeded to the best of my expec- 
tation, and, in the course of a few days, the three coffins 
were safely secured, which are now in the British INIuseum. 

Within the coffins the skeletons are frequently to be 
obseiwed, having the arms bent across the body ; but 
they usually fell to powder on exposure to the air. In 
one instance, I noticed the remnants of a light-coloured 
garment, of fine texture, adhering to the 1)ones. 

Many small objects are associated with the coffins, 

* See Frontispiece. 



either in the inside, or around them in the earth or 
vault. The personal relics of the deceased consist of 
gold and silver finger-rings ; armlets, bangles and toe- 
rings of silver, brass, and copper ; bead-necklaces, and 
small cyhnders. Gold ornaments are not uncommon, 
such as ear-rings, and small plates or beads for fillets, of 

Gold Ornaments. 

tasteful and elegant design. Thin gold leaf sometimes 
appears to have covered the face like a veil; and one or 
two broad ribbons of thin gold not unfrequently occur 
on each side of the head. Large pointed head-dresses, 
Budda told me, had been found and sold to the peram- 
bulating Jews, who visit the Madan periodically for the 
purpose of purchasing the gold. It is seldom that these 
ornaments are sold in their original state, because the 
Arabs melt them down for the convenience of secreting 
them. Hence it is that so few are offered for sale in the 
bazaars of Baghdad — the great mart for antiques. 

With the above are articles of a different description, 
such as small earthen drinking vessels and lamps, glass 

Lamps and Lachrymatories. 

lachrymatories, copper bowls, hideous bone figures pro- 
bably dolls, and a variety of others 



Terra-Cotta Lamp. 

The top of the coffin is often a receptacle for small 
relics — apparently the parting gifts of friends — as the 

following list will shew: — Seven 
different forms of fragile, coloured 
glass bottles, two curiously formed 
yellow glass dishes, a glazed terra- 
cotta lamp (a constant accompani- 
ment), four bone stilettos, two 
iron implements, the bones of a small bird, fragments of 
a bunch of flowers, and an ornamental reed basket (the 
plaits of the reeds being quite distinct) containing two 
pieces of kohl or black paint for the eyelids, and a tassel 
bead. Judging from their character, these articles appear 
to have been the property of a female. 

Strewed in the earth around the coffins are numerous 
copper coins, the only articles which afford any posi- 
tive clue to their age. These 
are moulded, flat on one 
side, and slightly rounded 
on the other, the edges 
having two little projecting 
processes opposite to each 
other. The t}^es are ex- 
tremely indistinct, but no doubt is entertained of their 

Parthian Coins. 

Jar and Jugs from the Coffin Mounds. 



Steel and Flint. 

being Parthian. Close to the foot of each coffin are one 
or more large glazed water-jugs and earthen drinldng 
cups, of extremely artistic form. One of these, the tall 
central jug of the engraving, was found in a recess built 
for its reception in the side wall of a vault, within arm's 
length of the coffin. The bones of a fowl, with ffint'"' and 
steel, were also frequently deposited upon 
the lid. The practice of placing food and 
water near the body was certainly con- 
nected with the superstitions of the period. 
The same practice is, I believe, continued 
among- the Arabs, who conceive that these 
articles are necessary to give the spirit strength on its 
long journey. 

Some of the most interesting objects found in the 
same position are small terra-cotta figures, which were 
probably household divi- 
nities. Many are un- 
doubtedly Parthian ; such, 
for instance, as the rechn- 
ing warrior, with a cup 
C?) in his left hand, wear- 
ing a coat -of- mail or 
padded tunic reaching to 

the knees, and a helmet Kecli.iog Figure of PartManWarnor. 

ornamented in front. The whole costume is well repre- 
sented on many coins of the Parthian epoch. 

Several are female figures in loose attire, exhibiting 
strange head-dresses, which, doubtless, give us some notion 
of the costume of the period. One of these is very re- 
markable ; it rises into two tall conical peaks, from which 
depends a veil, reminding one strongly of the English 

* Slices of flint and obsidian, precisely like the sacrificial tnives of the 
ancient Mexicans, are found upon the mounds. The former were designed 
for striking a hght, but the object of the latter is not so evident. 



ladies' costume in the time of Henry IV. Nude female 
figures, probably representing the Myhtta or Venus of 

Terra-cotta Figures. Parthian ? 

the Assyrians, were extremely common at the Parthian 
period, having been handed down from antiquity. Simi- 
lar figTires are universal throughout the East before the 
Christian era. A few figures bear traces of colour. The 
accompanying figures represent an old 
bearded man and an old woman carry- 
ing a square basket or box in her hand ; 
red and black paint are distinctly recog- 
nisable uj)on them. 

Of all the clay figures, the heads in the 
adjoining woodcut are most interesting. 
They are infinitely superior to the rest in 
point of design and execution, and mark 
the rapidly spreading influence of Greek art. 
They possess all the characteristic features 
and boldness of the Greek face, and yet they can scarcely 
be other than the works of Babylonian artists. The 
hair is arranged in long ringlets, and the heads are 

Clay Figures exhibit- 
ing traces of paint. 



Greek Heads. 

surmounted by lofty head-dresses of different form. To 
the same period may be referred a small broken tablet, 
representing a sturdy winged figure, with a robe fastened 
by a brooch at the right 
slioulder, but flying loose- 
ly, and leaving the body 
naked. The head is want- 
ing : the legs with ank- 
lets stand on small round- 
ed prominences ; one is 
held in his left hand. This 
figure is probably a repre- 
sentation of Hercules. 

It would be endless to give in detail all the small 
articles which were discovered in connexion with the 
slipper coffins. 

It is not to be supposed that my Arab friends pati- 
ently submitted to my appropriating the smafi articles 
which were revealed durino- the researches amono; the 
ruins. On the discovery of an urn or coffin, it was witli 
the greatest difficulty they could be prevented from at 
once breaking in and stealing the valuables, before tlie 
earth was sufficiently removed from around it, to admit 
of my making a careful examination. They would then 
all cluster together, thrust themselves in my way, and 
shew the greatest eagerness to seize a share of the spoil ; 
it was sometimes almost impossible to move for them. 
When I drew any object out of a coffin, a general 
commotion took place, and a variety of exclamations 
were uttered ; the words " gold," " a cylinder," " silver," 
" sherbeh," " beads," rang through the assembly like wild- 
fire, and it required every possible manoeuvre to kee]) 
their hands out of the sarcophagus. Old Budda gene- 
rally succeeded in obtaining the best place, his little 
eyes sparkling with avarice, and his long arms stretched 



out, while lie volunteered information to those who could 
not see so well as himself, his finger-ends itching all the 
while to take advantage of any opportunity when they 
might intrude themselves into the proceedings. It was 
useless to drive them away ; like flies or vultures, they 
would return immediately to their prey. 

It frequently happened that, no sooner was a coffin 

discovered, than it 
was rifled without 
ceremony in my 
absence, and, of 
course, no person 
was the oS"ender. 
To dismiss a work- 
man Ijy way of ex- 
ample was super- 
fluous, because his 
next neighbour 
would repeat the 
oflfence on the first 
opportunity. They 
were perfectly in- 
corrigible in this 

Avault was once 
discovered in a 
trench, when a fear- 
ful hurricane of 
sand drove us all from the mound ; it was impossible 
to work, and almost to breathe. Fearing some of the 
Arabs might return and phmder the contents, I de- 
puted old Budda and two others to remain and to keep 
watch awhile behind the rest. On the following morn- 
ing, notwithstanding this precaution, the vault was 
found to be broken into, and the coffin rifled. Being 

Coffin Trench. 


iimcli annoyed, I resolved, if possible, to ascertain who 
were the aggressors. Open and secret questioning were 
of no avail — all strenuously denied the theft — so another 
plan was adopted to discover the guilty party. 

It was proposed that each man should take an oath 
upon the Koran that he was innocent of the offence. 
Ovannes, therefore, seated himself as judge on a hen- 
coop, and the Arabs, in their tribes, filed off before him, 
kissing, as they passed, a French Dictionary, which an- 
swered the part of a Koran, and declaring that they 
knew nothing of the act committed. The whole of the 
'Abbas and Kliithr tribes went through the ceremony 
without flinching, but, when it came to the turn of the 
Tuweyba, they begged for an hour's consideration, and, 
at the expiration of that time, asked to be permitted to 
visit El-Kliithr and consult the bones of the holy Imam 
on the subject. Finding this subterfuge without effect, 
at daybreak the following day, Azayiz appeared with a 
handful of various beads which, it is to be charitably 
presumed, were the whole of the stolen property. As 
an act of great liberality on my part, they were returned 
to him, with an injunction that he would strictly look 
after the honesty of his peoj^le. I never overcame the 
belief that Budda and his companions (unable to resist 
the opportunity of being left alone on the mounds with 
an unsearched coffin before them) were the delinquents, 
and that his influence over the tribe prevented their 
denouncing him. He was very humble next day, and 
often repeated his regrets that the Tuweyba tribe had 
so committed itself. 

Considering the friable nature of the soil in the coffin 
trenches, it is wonderful that no very serious accidents 
took place during the continuance of the excavations. 
One mishap, however, occurred, in consequence of the 
proximity of an old Arab working, and aflbrded an in- 


stance of Arab endurance of pain, and the rapidity with 
which their Avounds heal. The trench side gave way 
and Ijuried three men, one of whom was dug out with 
his collar bone broken. The poor fellow walked back 
to camp, where I managed to set the bone. While en- 
gaged in this occupation in the presence of the whole 
assembled tribe in the sheikh's tent, one of the perse- 
cuting dust squaUs arose, and in a few seconds we w^ere 
enveloped in a flood of dense sand, the light of the 
setting sun was completely shut out, and a yellow, 
sickly colour pervaded the atmosphere. The force with 
which the particles of sand were driven produced a 
sharp tingling of the flesh, and obliged the half-naked 
Arabs for once to cover themselves with their abbas, in 
which they sat crouching until the tent was blown 
down about our ears, and there was a chance of our 
being either strangled or suff*ocated. They then all 
sprang to their feet, and re-erected the tent under the 
excitement of the war-cry of the men and the tahlelil of 
the women. The patient, during the scramble which 
ensued, had the bone put out of position, and suffered 
great agony from the roughness of his comrades. As 
soon as the hurricane was over, it was set a second 
time and bandaged up, but in the night it got once 
mere disconnected. He, however, insisted on retmiiing 
to his family across the Euphrates, notwithstanding 
all my persuasion. On receipt of a week's wages, he 
set out on foot upon a two days' journey ! The endur- 
ance of an Arab is astonishing. Within a month after 
the occurrence of the accident, the man presented him- 
self again and demanded to be employed once more, 
swinoino; his arm round to shew that it was healed. 
His request was granted for light work, and he after- 
wards obtained me several valuable relics. 

In this place I may enumerate the few objects which 



undoubtedly belong to the earliest type of funereal re- 
mains : — 

1. The edifice of terra-cotta cones, of which I have 
already given an account (p. 187); and the horns of the 
same substance, with the dedication of Belus, as ascer- 
tained by Sir Henry Rawlinson. 

2. Several dark brown tal)lets or syUabaria of unbaked 
clay, measuring nine inches by seven, and inscribed vnth. 
columns of minute cuneiform characters ; — one of which 
contains the names of various trees. 

3. Terra-cotta fio-ures of Venus ; an old man with 
flowing beard, wearing a skull-cap and long robe, encircled 

round the waist by a belt, his 
hands clasped in front in the 
Oriental attitude of respect ; 
and a younger personage, hold- 
ing some unknown object, pro- 
bably a mace, in the hands. 
These figures ate infinitely su- 
perior to those of the later 
periods. Although stiff" in out- 
line, they are very correctly 

modelled, and may be known at once by the dark green 

clay of which they are composed. 

4. Near two well-built brick vaults, cemented with 
plaster, at the base of a small mound '''' south-east of the 
Buwariyya, was dug up a rude jar, containing a thin silver 
plate, which was folded in linen. It measures two inches 
long by one inch ^dde, and is embossed with a beautiful 
female figure. The hands are raised in an attitude of 
adoration, and the hair hangs loosely behind. The attitude 
and costume recall to mind the extraordinary figures on 
the rock scidptures of Mai Amir plain, in the Bakhtiyan 
Mountains in Persia. 

Babylonian Figures. 

* At G on the Plan. 


All tlie above objects occur at the outskirts of tlie great 
coffin mounds, wliere, if accumulated in the way I have 
been led to suppose, it is natural we should find the pri- 
mitive relics. If it were possible to penetrate through 
the vast piles of more recent deposits, we should doubt- 
less obtain some very valuable information regarding the 
veiy earliest modes of burial. 


Bank-notes of Babylon — Relics Injured by Fire — A FruitM Mound — 
Chamber containing Architectural Ornaments — Origin of the Sara- 
cenic Style — Clay Tablets with Seal Impressions and Greek Names — 
Continuance of Cuneiform until B.C. 200 — Himyaric Tomb-stone — 
Conical Mounds — Style for Writing Cuneiform — The Shat-el-Nil — 
General Results of the Excavations at Warka — Probable EeHcs still 
Buried there. 

While rambling over the mounds one clay, I acciden- 
tally observed two bricks projecting tlirongb tlie soU of 
the wall or terrace which constitutes the edge of the great 
platform on the east of the Buwariyya.*"' Thinking, from 
their vitrified aspect, that they were likely to bear cunei- 
form legends, I extracted them from the earth, anci, in doing 
so, exposed two small tablets of unbaked cla) , covered on 
both sides with minute characters. On searching further, 
others were discovered, and eventually there were obtained 
forty, more or less perfect, varying from two to four-and- 
a-half inches in length, by one to three inches in breadth. 
Many others were either irrevocably damaged by weather, 
or unavoidably broken in extraction from the tenacious 
clay in which they were disposed in rows and imbedded 
upon a brick pavement. They are now in the British 
Museum, but it is feared that the nitrous earth of which 
they are composed wdU cause them to decay rapidly on 
exposure to the atmosphere. 

Sir Henry Eawlinson reported concerning them : — 

* At on the Plan. 


" that they are certainly official documents issued by order 
of the king, attested or indorsed by the principal officers 
of state, and referring to specific amounts in weight of 
gold or silver. He could not help suspecting that the 
Babylonian kings, in an age when coined money was 
unknown, used these pieces of baked clay for the mere 
purpose of a circulating medium. The smaller cakes, he 
thought, corresponded to the notes of hand of the present 
day, the tenor of the legend being apparently an acknow- 
ledgment of liability by private parties for certain amounts 
of gold and silver. The more formal documents, however, 
seemed to be notes issued by the Government, ^for the 
convenience of circulation, representing a certain value, 
which was always expressed in measures of weight, of 
gold or silver, and redeemable on presentation at the 
Eoyal Treasury. He had chiefly examined them with the 
view to historical discovery, and had succeeded in finding 
the names of NabojDollassar, Nabokodrossor, Nabonidus, 
Cyrus, and Cambyses (ranging from 626 to 522 B.C.) ; the 
precise day of issue in such a month of such a year of 
the king's reign being in each instance attached to the 

These tablets were, in point of fact, the equivalents of 
our own bank-notes, and prove that a system of artificial 
currency prevailed in Babylonia, and also in Persia, at 
an unprecedented early age — centuries before the intro- 
duction of paper or printing ! They were, undoubtedly, 
deposited in the position where they were discovered, 
about the commencement of the Achoemenian period. 

On removing the rubbish from the brick pavement, it 
aj)peared that it formed a terrace thirty-two feet long 
and four feet wide. Only one brick was inscribed, and 
that had evidently been taken from some edifice built by 
Urukh, most probably from the Buwdriyya. Behind was 
* See "The Athenceum" for March 15, 1851. 


the base of a wall of unbaked bricks ten or twelve feet 
thick ; the whole being covered with two feet of rubbish 
and charcoal. Upon the terrace were several highly 
interesting articles damaged by fire, among them may 
be mentioned : — 

1. Fragment of an alabaster cone, apparently portion 
of a grotesque head for a mace or staff. It is engraved 
with scrolls, and has upon it a few Assyrian characters. 

2. Part of the hinge and valve of a bivalve shell (Tri- 
dacna squamosa). On the exterior are delicately traced 
the heads, necks, and fore legs of two horses drawing a 
chariot, and covered with trappings and armour (?). The 
reins are fastened to semicircular processes behind the 
ears, like those on the sculptures of Sennacherib from 
Nineveh. Full-blown and budding flowers of the lotus 
are introduced on every available space, extending over 
the hinge to the opposite side of the shell, which is carved 
with an ornamental basket filled with the same flowers.''^ 

3. A carved ivory panel, four inches long, in a state 
of rapid decomposition. 

4. Two large mushroom-shaped pieces of baked clay, 
covered on their flat tops and stems with cuneiform 

5. A brick with stamp in relief of a circular-topped 
altar on a pedestal, surmounted by a seven- „,,,^,,— ,. 
rayed sun. 

Beyond the spot where the tablets and the 
above articles occurred, I discovered indica- 
tions of another method of burial. My atten- 
tion was directed to two bricks resting angle 

w^se against two others placed horizontally, stamp on Bricks. 
Below the shelter so formed were three more tablets, 

* A woodcut of this shell is given at p. 563 of Mr Layard's "Nineveh 
and Babylon," where also the author alludes to a similar engraved shell 
from an Etruscan tomb in the British Museum. 


lying on a huge brick, seventeen inches square, with, a 
hole through its centre. It covered a well-built vault, 
measming thirteen inches by ten inches square, and 
twenty-one inches in depth, which was filled Avith earth 
and the fragments of two large sejjulchral vases, with- 
out any traces of their original contents. At the left 
corner of the vault, towards the edge of the pavement, 
was a small square hole in which lay a broken dish or 
jar. Behind the four bricks on the surface of the vault, 
was a broken vase, containing reed ashes and burned 
bones reduced to small lumps, and crumbling to powder. 

At a short distanc9 from this first vault was a second, 
in every important respect resembling the other. Within 
the small hole at the angle were broken pottery, bjirned 
reeds, date-stones, and part of a lamb's jaw. 

From subsequent discoveries at Sinkara, I conclude 
that the bones of the dead were, in the above cases, de- 
posited in vases and placed in the vaults, after which 
the private records and property of the deceased were 
arranged over them, and the whole submitted to the 

In a neighbouring terrace, two similar vaults to those 
described were discovered. This terrace measured forty 
feet long by four feet wide, and was paved with bricks 
inscribed in slightly relieved cuneiform characters of 
Cambyses the brother of Cyrus, a personage of whom 
we possess no historical notice whatever.'"" A few unim- 
portant articles lay on the surface of the pavement. 

* In a short notice of my discoveries, at p. 377 of '■ Nineveh and its 
Palaces," I observe the following passage : "At one place, Seukereh, he had 
come on a pavement, extending from half-an-acre to an acre, entirely 
covered with writing, which was engraved upon baked tiles," &c. As the 
unimportant pavement described in the text is the only one I Avas so fortu- 
nate to discover, either at Sinkara or Warka, it is difficult to conceive how 
such an error should have crept into the passage quoted. It is to be re- 
gretted that, in a work intended to be a resti7ne of Assyrian and Babylonian 


The locality at Warka, wliicli furnislied the most 
valuable and interesting fruits of my researches, was 
a small detached mound,'" forty feet high, situated about 
half-a-mile south-east of the Buwariyya. One of my 
overseers picked up from its summit a few fragments of 
ornamental plaster, which induced me to make exca- 
vations. I was soon rewarded by the discovery of a 
chamber, measuring forty feet long and twenty-eight 
feet wide, the mud walls of which stood only four feet 
high, and had been covered with coloured plaster. It 
was a perfect museum of architectural scraps, of a highly 
instructive and curious character. The unbaked brick 
floor was literally piled with broken columns, capitals, 
cornices, and innumerable relics of rich internal decora- 
tion, which exhibited undoubted symjDtoms of Greek 
and Eoman influence on Oriental taste. The smaller 
objects were wholly plaster; but the larger consisted of 
moulded bricks, thinly coated with white plaster ; many 
of them were fantastically coloured. One large frag- 
ment of cornice bore, among other devices, a spirited 
crouching grifiin, which, at first sight, reminded me of 
the similar figures sculptured on a frieze in an inner 
chamber at the remarkable ruins of Al Hadhr, near 
Mosul.t This emblem was accompanied by the well- 
discovery, greater care had not been taken to prevent the insertion of this 
and many more grievous errors. 

Cuneiform inscriptions in relief are not of very frequent occurrence in 
Babylonia. Besides the instance above mentioned, Mr Taylor discovered 
this variety of legend on small bricks of very early date from the coffin 
mounds of Miigeyer. I afterwards exhumed bricks with a PehlevI inscrip- 
tion in relief from the mounds- of Khdn-1-Kydya near Baghdad, and at 
Jidr in central Chaldcea. It is not improbable that the style was re-intro- 
duced into Mesopotamia by Cambyses on returning from his conquest of 
Egypt, where relief inscriptions commonly occur. 

* At G on the plan. This mound yielded two of the three coffins in the 
British Museum. 

t See a sketch of this frieze, accompanying Mr Ainsworth's Memoir in 
the " Journal of the Royal Geographical Society," vol. xi. 



kno\vn Greek echinus moulding ; but the cornice was pur- 
posely destroyed by some strange Arabs, who visited the 
mounds between the intervals of excavation. 

Three of the capitals are Ionic; but the proportions 
of the volutes and other members are peculiar. A 
fourth description of small capital has peculiarities of its 
own, suggestive of the later Byzantine style. A large 
and elegant leaf rises from the necking, and bends under 
each corner of the abacus. Springing from behind a 
smaller curled leaf in the centre is the bust of a human 
figure, wearing the same preposterous head-dress which 
is characteristic of the slipper coffins and Parthian coins. 

No columns were discovered to correspond with the 
larger capitals ; but the walls were liberally adorned 
with small Ionic half-columns, with half-smooth, half- 
fluted shafts, which were highly coloured. The lower and 
smooth surfaces were diagonally striped with red, green, 
yellow, and black ; the flutes being painted black, red, 
and yellow alternately, while the level ridges between 
them are left white. In some cases the flutes were 
quartered with the same colours. 

Among the debris of smaller articles were bases of 
columns, — friezes, with bunches of grapes alternating 
with leaves, — gradines, resembling those on the castles of 
the Nineveh bas-reliefs, but ornamented at the base with 
a conspicuous six-rayed star in a circle, — fragments of 
open screen-work, with complicated geometric designs of 
diflerent patterns on the opposite sides (these are very 
peculiar, and differ materially from the arabesque), — and 
flakes of painted plaster from the walls, with fragments 
of smaU statuettes, coloured, and sometimes gilded. 
Scratched upon the edge of one object were the cha- 
racters ^ I ^^ LLI which approach nearer to the Him- 
yaric character than any with which I am acquainted. 

"With regard to the age of this building, so elaborately 


ornamented, I was for some time in doubt. The enor- 
mous head-dress of the capital, being eq^ually characteristic 
of both the Parthian and Sassanian periods, affords no 
evidence on the subject; but, as the ruins abound with 
coins of the former dynasty, while none of the latter 
have been found, it is but reasonable to conclude that 
the edifice is rather Parthian than Sassanian; and, 
therefore, on mature consideration, I assume that it dates 
about the Christian era. While the Poman griffin, and 
the incongruities with pure Greek architecture observ- 
able in the capitals, are evidences of a past age and style, 
— -the complicated design of the screen-work, with its 
geometric curves and tracery, seems to shadow forth the 
beauty and richness of a style which afterwards followed 
the tide of Mohammedan conquest to the remotest corners 
of the known world. 

It has long been a disputed question whence originated 
the germs of Saracenic architecture; but the prevalent 
opinion is that the Moslems, having no style of their 
own, adopted those which they found practised in the 
countries whither they carried their conquests, more 
especially the Byzantine. It is, nevertheless, remarkable, 
that the same uniformity in richly- wrought tracery and 
geometric ornamentation prevails from India to Spain in 
Saracenic structures, which could only have arisen from 
a central point. We know that in the days of Harunu- 
'r-Peshid the city of Baghdad, far removed from the 
influence of Byzantine art, had attained a high pitch of 
civilization and splendour, and that her public edifices, 
within little more than a century after the rise of Islamism, 
were adorned with a richness and an attention to minute 
Saracenic details, which could scarcely have arrived at 
perfection in so short a period. We know, too, that 
Kiifa, at the commencement of Mohammedan dominion, 
was equally celebrated for its architectural beauties. 


May we not suppose that the peculiarities of Sara- 
cenic architecture are due to a much earlier period, and 
that they originated with the Parthians, who succeeded 
the Greeks in the possession of Mesopotamia 1 Of this 
race we have, unfortunately, scarcely any memorials left/"" 
They are described, in their wars with the Romans, as 
barbarians, celebrated for their skill in horsemanship 
and shooting with the arrow, and for the richness of 
their armour. Of their arts we know nothing ; but 
surely they could not have been without some apprecia- 
tion of the beautiful, inhabiting, as they did, the cities 
and fortresses adorned by the Greeks and Romans, with 
which great nations they passed five hundred years in 
conflict. It may be that the Parthians were the* in- 
ventors of the Saracenic style, but that the Sassanians — 
their rivals and successors in power — suppressed the 
influence which they had exercised, and which again 
shewed itself, after the Mahommedan conquest of those 
countries, in the application of Parthian ornament to 
Moslem buildings. This may possibly be esteemed a 
far-fetched hypothesis; but I can see no other mode of 
accounting for the advanced state of the arts under the 
KJialif Harimu-'r-Reshid, so entirely different from that 
practised under the Sassanians. At any rate, we have at 
Warka an edifice, with an ajiproximation to Byzantine 
and Saracenic forms, due to a period long anterior to 
their introduction elsewhere, which edifice was, I firmly 
believe, erected during the Parthian ascendency. 

That it was Parthian, I, moreover, infer from the dis- 
covery of a slipper-coffin, and the usual embossed figures 
with the preposterous head-gear, at the depth of six feet 
below the floor, within the chamber. On digging deeply 

• It is true that the legends on Parthian coins are written in Greek, 
but we know little further concerning them, or of their own written 


into the mound, for the purpose of ascertaining if it, like 
the great platform, were composed of coffins, it proved 
to be constructed of solid earth, around and upon which 
were coffins ; those on the summit not extending below 
the depth of a few feet.''^ The chamber was probably a 
tomb erected over the coffin. There were apparently 
other chambers in the same vicinity which contained 
similar relics, but I had no opportunity of excavating 
among them. 

Within twenty paces of the above chamber, and three 
feet below its level, was made one of the most curious, if 
not the most valuable, discoveries at Warka. In several 
cases, it. was noticed that clay tablets, with cuneiform re- 
cords, were associated with the ashes of burnt wood ; I 
therefore paid particular attention to the nature of the 
soil composing the mounds. While riding up to the 
workmen engaged at the Parthian edifice, my horse's 
feet turned up a quantity of black earth, which induced 
me to dismount, and examine it more closely. My 
trouble was repaid by the discovery of a fragment of 
baked clay tablet. A small party of Arabs were directed 
to the spot, and, in the course of a few hours, their la- 
bours were rewarded by finding, close under the surface, 
eight tablets of light-coloured clay. They were lying on 
decayed straw matting, which was imbedded in bitumen, 
and surrounded on all sides with charred date-wood and 
ashes. They differ from any hitherto discovered, in being 
fully an inch in thickness, and in having round their 
broad edges the impressions of seals, above each of which 
are the characters, t]j ,^ "the seal of;" and below, the 
name of the party to the deed. Many are extremely 
beautiful, and shew the perfection attained in the art of 
gem engraving, in Babylonia, at that early period. It 

* Two of the coffins in the British Museum were dug up from this 
mound, where they proved to be in better condition than elsewhera 


is true tliat we possess numberless cylinders with figures 
of a much more ancient date, but they are of ruder work- 
manship, and of a totally different character — by no 
means to be compared with the impressions upon the 
tablets, which evince a great advance in art, assigning 
them to a later period. The inscriptions, which cover 
both sides of the tablets, are so minute and delicate, as to 
require the aid of a microscope to decipher them with 

These tablets and seal impressions are so curious and 
interesting, that a detailed account of them may prove 
acceptable '/'' — ' , 

Tablet No. 1. — Twelve oval seals, some elongated and 
pointed. The central ones at top and bottom are the 
largest and most important. One ,of these is an indis- 
tinct representation of the winged deity — ^the Hormuzd of 
the Persian sculptures, — in front of whom is a well- 
defined isosceles triangle, precisely resembling the stamp 
upon the bricks at Wuswas, and at the other larger but 
unexplored ruin at AVarka.t On the same edge is an im- 
pression of a fine Socrates-like head. The large central 
seal on the opposite edge is a very beautiful face, with 
Greek expression, beardless, and resembling the profile of 
Alexander the Great. Next to this impression is one of 
a male and female figure conversing at the base of a 
graceful voluted capital. Another exhibits a Greek head, 
with helmet and plume. Tlie other impressions are yevy 
indistinct. Size, four and a-lialf inches by four inches. 

Tablet No. 2 has one corner broken oft'. It originally 
had twenty or twenty-one impressions, among which are 
several sphynxes. One is exceedingly spirited, with a 

* I am sorry to observe that, since their arrival in England, the exuda- 
tion of saline efflorescences has much damaged these remarkable objects, 
and there seems every prospect of their being completely obhterated, un- 
less means are discovered to preserve them. 

t At B and C of the General Plan. 


four-turretted crown surmounting the head. Several others 
are damaged. Size, four-and-a-half inches by three-and- 
a-half inches. 

Tablet No. 3 bears eighteen impressions, some of which 
are remarkably beautiful, in excellent preservation, and 
highly spirited. They comprise : — 1. A roaring lion — moon 
and star. 2. A wild ass trotting — crescent above. 3. 
Winged Sagittarius — crescent in front. 4. Winged griffin 
with a single horn, the profile resembling that on the rock 
tombs at Persepolis. 5. A horse. 6. A winged griffin 
and crescent. 7. Nude figure. 8. Goat — crescent above, 
star in front. 9. Winged bull and crescent — triangle 
below. 10. Human-headed bull. 11. Dressed fio-ure. 
12. Winged human-headed animal. 13. Lion holding 
crescent — star above. 1 4. Fish-ood. 1 5. Human fio'ure. 
16. Dog — triangle above. The other impressions are 
less distinct. Size, four-and-a-half inches by four 

Tablet No. 4 has only a few impressions remaining dis- 
tinct : — 1. is the most beautiful and perfect of the whole 
series. It represents the fish-god Ovannes C?) with goat's 
head and fore-legs, and fish-body and tail, in front is a 
star — behind hovers an eagle with outstretched wings, 
probably intended for Hormuzd.'"" 2. Two figures, repre- 
senting the Dioscuri or twins. 3. Human-headed winged 
bull. 4. Human figure. 5. Dog. (1) 6. Winged uni- 

Tablet No. 5. The only impression very distinct is that 
of a Babylonian figure in profile, in a long robe, with a 
staff" in one hand. 

The impressions on the three remaining tablets are 
more or less damaged by the efflorescence of nitrous and 
other salts, which is contained in the clay composing 

* The cuneiform signature beneath this impression reads Savastana 
equivalent to the Greek 2e,3a(TTos and Latin Augustus. 


these, and in fact all articles of similar description from 

In examining these tablets there is one point which 
cannot fciil to be remarked — the frequent repetition of the 
heavenly bodies and zodiacal signs. They seem to imply 
some connexion with Chaldaean worship, and this impres- 
sion is to a certain extent confirmed by Sir Henry 
Rawlinson's inspection of the inscriptions upon the tablets. 
He observes that the matter relates entirely to the domes- 
tic economy of the temples. The most extraordinary 
circumstance, however, connected with them is the 
recognition of Greek names, in Babylonian chai^cters, 
beneath many of the seals, and the dates in various years 
of the reigns of Seleucus and Antiochus the Great upon 
the subject matter of the records. They are therefore the 
latest documents of the cuneiform period extant, and 
afford undoubted proof that cuneiform writing was still 
in current use as late as about B.C. 200. Previous to 
this discovery the most recent records of the style with 
which we were acquainted were the Persian inscriptions 
of Artaxerxes Ochus on the northern face of the plat- 
form and on the western staircase at Persepolis, and that 
upon the porphyry vase,'"" preserved in the treasury of 
St Mark's at Venice, and ascribed to the same monarch, 
about 350 B.C. 

This discovery is the more important because it raises 
a hope that some cuneiform records of the intervening one 
hundred and fifty years between Artaxerxes Ochus and 

* It has been inferred from the orthographical corruption of the king's 
name in this instance, that the language had lost its purity towards the 
close of the Acha^meniau period, and therefore that the inscription upon 
the vase must be that of Artaxerxes Ochus. It is not, however, improbable 
that the Artaxerxes in question is Artaxerxes Mnemon, as, during my 
excavations at Susa, inscriptions of this king were discovered, exhibiting 
Kimilar errors in grammatical construction, and implying an eai'lier decline 
in the Persic tongue. 



Antiochus the Great may yet cast up, and tliat an era 
so prolific in great events may prove to have possessed 
its Babylonian as well as its Greek historians. What 
valuable information might we not derive from a cunei- 
form memorial of Alexander's campaigns, or from a 
cuneiform record accompanied with its equivalent in 
Greek, which might set at rest the prevailing doubts 
concerning the true interpretation of the arrow-headed 
character ! Warka has already yielded many interesting 
and valuable treasures from its mounds, and may yet 
furnish the above desideratum. With the exception of 
Susa, I know of no ruins more likely to do so. 

At the foot of the mound where the plaster ornaments 
and Seleucide tablets occurred, my servant was one day 
giving some instructions to the workmen, when the ground 
under his horse's feet suddenly gave way, and precipitated 
them into a vaulted tomb without coffin or other relics. 
It measured seven-and-a-half feet long, and four feet wide, 
and had been already plundered 
by the Arabs. At one extremity 
was an entrance two feet wide, 
partially closed by a rough lime- 
stone slab, measuring two feet 
by one foot and-a-half and four 
inches thick. The slab was 
found standing on end, with the 
accompanying imperfect Him- 
yaric inscription, facing inwards, 
and recording the death of Hanat- 
asar, son of Esau, son of Hanat- 
asar. Who this person was, or 
the date at which this grave- 
stone was erected to his memory, it is quite impossible 
to say. 

The record is, however, of considerable value and in- 


Himyaric tomb-stone. 


terest, inasmucli as it is the first inscrijDtion of tlie kind 
which has yet occurred in Mesopotamia, and tends to 
shew a connexion with southern Arabia, where the Him- 
yaric language prevailed at an unknown early date, before 
the introduction of Kiific and modern Arabic. The 
Himyaric language is supposed to be of Ethio]Dic deriva- 
tion, and a relic of its existence in this region is interesting 
as connected wdth the Hamitic mio-ration and orio-in of 
the ancient Chaldees, to which allusion has been pre- 
viously made in these pages. '"- 

In addition to the mounds and ruins thus far described, 
there is yet another class of remains which is deserving 
of notice, but concerning whose age we have little but 
analogy to guide us — I mean the conical mounds occur- 
ring both within and without the walls. 

Of the former there are two. One, marked F on the plan, 
stands about two hundred and fifty feet from the north 
wall. Its height is forty-five feet, including fifteen feet 
of platform. The other is about eight hundred yards 
south-west from the former, and of much less importance. 
I dug trenches, from summit to base, completely through 
each, but without being rewarded by any discovery. They 
both were composed of unbaked brick. 

At the distance of a mile beyond the most northerly 
point of the walls is a conspicuous and important mound 
of this description, which bears the name of Nuffayjl 
(J of the plan). Standing solitary in the desert, apart 
from the great mass of the main ruins, Nuffayji is one 
of the most remarkable objects at Warka. In height it 
rivals the Euwariyya — being ninety feet above the plain, 
with a circumference at its base of nine hundred and 
fifty feet. The steepness of ~ its sides renders the ascent 
to the summit both difficult and dangerous. Its aspect 
is that of a huge bell, and appears to be composed of 

* See page OC, et seq. 


solid loam and sand ; but, having failed to make any dis- 
coveries in the smaller mounds of the same form, I de- 
clined to attack it. 

The purpose for which such a pile outside the city 
was constructed it is difficult to understand, except it 
were for a watch-tower or a tomb. The Arabs have an 
idea that it was raised by a besieging army, but that, 
finding it too far distant from the walls for their designs, 
they raised a second mound about eight hundred yards 
from the north-east Avail, indicated at M upon the plan, 
but inferior in size to Nuffayji. 

Between Nuffayji and the walls are several small 
conical mounds, about twenty-five feet high, apparently, 
in some way or other, connected with the large mounds. 

The only article obtained in any of these mounds is a 
smaU flat oval pebble, of dark green serpentine, cut and 
sharpened exactly after the fashion of the ancient Celtic 
hatchets found in the barrows of Europe. Similar ob- 
jects are exhumed from other Babylonian ruins, but I 
scarcely think they were designed for the same use as 
that to which they were applied in far distant regions. 
My own impression is that it was not a celt, but rather a 
species of style for writing cuneiform inscriptions. When 
impressed upon soft clay or dough, it produces characters 
precisely similar to those on small clay tablets and cylin- 
ders, for which purpose it is admirably adapted. In the 
hand of a ready writer, it might be used with great rapid- 
ity and exactitude. 

Conical mounds of similar description occur at widely 
different points from Persia to the Mediterranean, and 
are probably tumuli. Whether, however, they are to be 
ascribed to the ancient Scyths or to the Parthians of 
a later period, is yet a sul)ject for the investigation of 
the curiOus. To whatever race they may be due, their 
presence at Warka is, however, quite in keeping with 



Brick capital. 

the sepulchral character of the place ; and the bones of 
the warrior kings, in whose memory they were erected, 
may eventually be discovered, deeply buried in the 
centre, below the level of the desert. 

Besides the conical mounds, there is a small square 
mound,'"' just outside the south-west wall, which deserves 
mention. It measures seventy-six paces by one hundred 
and ten, but its height does not exceed fourteen feet. 
Upon its surface is nearly every variety of inscribed 
brick, which occurs within the walls, and which, it is 
reasonable to conclude, were removed at 
a late period in the history of Warka to 
their present position. Among them are 
likewise several bricks of fine quality, 
cast in moulds for spiral columns and 
ornamental capitals of peculiar character. 
One brick bore in relief a star of twelve 
rays. None were in situ, but they all lay 
scattered about indiscriminately. Similar 
bricks were sparingly found within the 
ruins, and I observed others at the mound 
of El- Assam on the Shat-el-Kahr beyond 
Sinkara, and at Tel Usmer adjoining 
Akker Kiif near Baghdad. These are also 
probably of Parthian origin. 
Among the smaller relics obtained at Warka, a small 
tablet of serpentine is deserving 
of notice. Upon one side are four 
lines of Babylonian cuneiform, and 
upon the other a figure which ap- 
pears to shew the origin of cunei- 
form characters from pictorial re- 
presentation. The latter is, as 
every one knows, the most ancient method of expressing 

* N on Plan. 

Spiral column of 
moulded bricks. 

Borpentine Tablet. 


natural objects, and it has been supposed by many tbat 
the cuneiform character, like the Egyptian hieroglyph, 
originated in simple ideography. By reference to the 
accompanying diagram it will be perceived that two lines 
crossed suppose the outhne of the human figure, and that 
below one hand is a monogram, as if its cuneiform equi- 
valent, the digits being expressed by five parallel strokes. 
What the other symbols are it is not easy to determine. 
I am not aware that this tablet has attracted the atten- 
tion of cuneiform scholars, but the present opportunity is 
taken of laying it before them. 

In describing the walls at the north-east of the ruins, I 
mentioned that they are between forty and fifty feet high, 
while on the opposite side they do not rise above the 
desert level. It was difficult to understand why there 
should be this difference in their elevation, until I ascer- 
tained the existence of the bed of an ancient river,'"" which, 
flowing from the north-north-west, was turned eastward 
by the height and thickness of the wall, and thus pre- 
vented from entering the city. I traced the channel for 
a considerable distance beyond the great pile of Nufiayji, 
which mound it passes three hundred and fifty paces to the 
westward. It afterwards approaches within thirty paces 
of the small conical mound K. After touchinor on the 
north-east point of the walls, it passes round under 
them towards the east, where it divides into two 
branches, one of which holds its w^ay in the direction of 
Sinkara, and the other continues its course southwards. 
Both branches are lost after proceeding a short distance 

Near to Nufiayji, the channel measured one hundred 
and twenty feet wide, and was elevated a few feet above 
the level of the desert, its banks on either side being about 
five feet high. That it was a trunk stream is evident 

* Its course is represented on the Plan, by dotted Hues. 

238 SHAT-EL-NfL. 

from the fact tliat it gave off numerous secondary canals 
towards the west, one of which was eighty feet broad. 

At the 23oint where it meets the walls, a sluice pro- 
bably admitted a small supply through them into the 
city ; but, if so, the channel is now drifted up with sand. 

My great authority on the oral traditions of Warka — 
old Budda — remembered that this old channel was known 
to the fathers of the present generation of his tribe as an 
" ancient river," which they called the " Nil." He knew 
nothing of its origin or course, and the " Shat-el-Nil," 
farther north, was wholly unknown to him. 

It has been eleswhere stated that, at the Arab conquest, 
there was an ancient branch of the Euphrates which 
flowed from Babylon in a south-east direction towaixis the 
city of Nlliyya, and joined the Tigris near the modern site 
of Kiit-el-'Amara. This was called the " Nil," and gave off 
a large stream to Zibliyya and NifFar which is, I believe, 
traceable further south, in the bed called the " Es-Sahain," 
or " Shkain," and also in the Nil of Warka. At any rate, 
it is not a little remarkable that the same name for an 
" ancient river," not " a canal," should occur at two such 
distant points as Babylon and Warka. 

The term " 6'Aai-el-Nll " indicates its importance. It 
is, I believe, the only ancient artificial canal (Nahr) which 
has received the appellation of " Shat," or large river. As 
etymology offers no ready sohition for the name Nil, it is 
probably derived either from its being thought worthy of 
comparison with the Nile of Egypt, or e]se in commemo- 
ration of some important event in the intercourse between 
the Egyptian and Chaldsean nations. 

If the mounds of Warka have failed in yielding bas- 
reliefs and ol)jects of a higher class of interest, like those 
dug from the palaces of Assyria, they have at least af- 
forded abundance of important information on two sub- 
jects of which we were previously in comparative igno- 


ranee ; namely : — Babylonian arcliitecture, and the mode 
of burial during twenty centuries preceding the Christian 
era. From these researches, we learn the existence of a 
new and original style of architecture, entirely uninflu- 
enced by the exalted taste which subsequently prevailed ; 
and the situation of a necropolis of enormous extent 
and extraordinary sanctity, probably derived from the 
most remote antiquity. 

If there be a scarcity of early annals, and of more po- 
sitive information than could have been desired, the fault 
must be assigned to the great difficulties attending exca- 
vations at so inaccessible a spot, and to the superimposed 
quantity of funeral remains covering up the older relics. 

It is to be remembered that these results were obtained 
during the short period of three months, and that the 
excavations were continually interrupted by overwhelm- 
ing sand-storms. Warka may still be considered as un- 
explored ; the depths of its mounds are yet untouched. 
If those of Nineveh were not thoroughly examined in 
thirteen years, those of Warka w411 require a much longer 
period, before we can arrive at anything like a full appre- 
ciation of their contents, and of the valuable information 
to be derived from them. 

For the sake of science, it is to be hoped that, at some 
period not far distant, excavations may be resumed 
among the mounds of Chaldaea ; and I do not hesitate to 
state my conviction that each site will yield its own pe- 
culiar records of a past and almost forgotten age, and 
that Warka — the most extraordinary and important of 
them all — will afford memorials and relics yielding to 
none in value and interest. From them we may hope 
for much additional light, not only concerning the early 
Chaldsean and Achsemenian periods, but also with relation 
to its Greek and Parthian occupiers, down to about the 
Christian era. 


Sinkara — Decamping — Ride in a Sand-drift — ^Tlie Negro Lion-slayer — 
A Nocturnal Visiter — Dull uniformity of Sinkjira — The Temple of 
Pharra — The Dream and its Fulfilment — Nebuchadnezzar and Ne- 
bonit rebuilders of Temples — ^Another great Necropolis — Tablets 
and their Envelopes of Clay — Babylonian Arithmetic — Pictorial 
Records — Boxers in the Land of Shinar — The Dog-devourer. 

Having made such excavations as appeared to nie de- 
sirable at Warka, I determined on visiting the neighbour- 
ing ruins of Sinkara, which had previously been reached 
by Dr Eoss of Baghdad, and Mr Baillie Fraser, during 
a hasty journey they made through the Jezireh, in the 
year 1834. In order to effect this purpose, I stated my 
wish to the Bedouin Sheikh Tellag, one day while he was 
honouring my tent with a visit. He was no sooner made 
aware of my object than, seizing my hand, he exclaimed : — 
" Beg, are we not brothers 1 Is not your wish my wish ? 
Are not my sheep and cattle, my mare and my camels, 
yours also ? God is great ! I came here to say that I 
was about to go to Sinkara, where there is at least some- 
thing for my beasts to eat — which there is not here — and 
you gladden my heart by saying that you are going to 
Sinkara also. What can I do for you 1 Beg ! my camels 
and all I have are at your service ; take as many as you 
please, and accompany me. On the word of a Shammar, 
no one shall injure you while under my shadow, neither 
shall any of my people harm your workmen. Have I 
not already said iti The word of a Shammar is 


trutli." I took him at his word, and in a few minutes 
all preliminaries were arranged. 

At daybreak on the third day after this conversation, 
all the camp was astir with the usual sounds of prepara- 
tion. Amidst the unmusical gurglings of Tellag's camels 
(which were forthcoming at the time agreed upon), and 
the corresponding gutturals of their Arab masters, the 
din of camp followers, and the war-songs of the Madan, 
my tents were struck and the loads packed. In true 
Arab fashion, the brushwood (which had afforded shelter 
to the workmen) and the refuse of the camp were set 
fire to as we quitted the ground, and the spot, which, 
duiing the past three months, had been a scene of con- 
stant bustle and confusion, once more resumed its wonted 
solitude and repose. Tellag's tribe was already in mo- 
tion, and his long strings of camels stalked majestically 
along the barren desert, towards a more verdant pastu- 
rage ; but, before we could join our forces, a furious squall 
arose from the south-east, and completely enveloped us in 
a tornado of sand, rendering it impossible to see within a 
few paces ; Tellag and his camels were as invisible as 
though they were miles distant. A continued stream of 
the finest sand drove directly into our faces, filling the 
eyes, ears, nose, and mouth with its penetrating particles, 
drying up the moisture of the tongue, and choking the 
action of the lungs. The Arabs tied their garments 
closely round their faces, leaving only their sharp black 
eyes visible from under the protection afforded them, and 
each man rode or trudged along in silence, evidently 
unwilling to open his mouth lest it should be instantly 
filled with the noxious sand. We shaped our course in 
the direction of Sinkara, and, after proceeding some dis- 
tance, were surprised to see Tellag riding on his mare, 
unaccompanied, through the storm. He was anxious 
after my safety, and had left his own party to guide my 



little caravan. But for his aid, we should in all proba- 
bility have wandered into the marshes of the Shat-el-Hie. 
As it was, even Tellag and the Arabs could not be entirely 
depended on, because the density of the sand stream shut 
every mark from view by which they were accustomed 
to guide themselves. After riding for about five hours, 
Tellag began to look anxiously around, and to hold fre- 
quent consultations with the Arabs ; it was evident we 
had missed the point aimed at. During a lull in the 
storm, however, I fortunately caught a glimpse of a dis- 
tant object, looming far on our left. Tellag would 
scarcely believe me, but, after a while, it appeared*again, 
and he was obliged to confess that even he had held too 
southerly a course. Being now satisfied concerning the 
whereabouts of our goal, Tellag left us to search for his 
own camels, which, he feared, must also have lost their 

In approaching Sinkara, some of the advanced party 
fancied they observed living creatures moving upon the 
summit of a mound. My cook Murad, an active and 
daring negro, originally a slave from Mozambique, dis- 
mounted to reconnoitre, because we were in ignorance of 
any Arab arrivals in the neighbourhood, and these might 
be either friends or foes. Murad was a good shot ; so, gun 
in hand, he silently advanced upon the dubious tenants 
of the ruins. They proved to be two lion cubs, one of 
which lay fast asleep, while the other gambolled round 
its fellow like a kitten at play. Miirad fired a charge of 
large shot, and, on hastening up, found one animal dead, 
and the other mortally wounded, attempting in its 
pain to bite the body of its companion. The fortunate 
sportsman was immediately hailed as " Abu Seba in," 
"the father of the two lions," at which Murad exposed 
his rows of Avhite teeth with every symptom of pride and 
satisfaction. From that day he was ever afterwards 


known by the above honourable soubriquet, and regarded 
with reverential awe by the Arabs, as an invincible war- 
rior, who killed two lions at once. 

The bodies were carried to the ruins, where the tents 
were pitched, upon a flat and convenient situation for the 
encampment. The camels were unloaded, and again dis- 
missed with a strong party to fill the water-skins at the 
Shat-el-Kahr two miles beyond the ruins, and to procure 
brushwood to protect the Arabs against the cold wind 
and driving sand. 

Before darkness set in, the chief part of the camp 
was fast asleep, completely worn out with the fatigue of 
the day's march ; the watchmen alone sat silently keep- 
ing guard around their little fires, which bm^ned for a 
few seconds furiously under the impulse of fresh fuel and 
the high wind, and then sank half extinguished under a 
deluge of sand. Towards midnight the hurricane abated, 
and silence reigned profound, when a sudden, deep, 
sepulchral roar, several times repeated, roused the whole 
camp once more to life and activity. " The lion ! the 
lion ! " shouted the Arabs, as they drew closer together, 
piled brushwood on the watch-fires, grasped their spears, 
sang their war-cry, and exhibited other signs of violent 
trepidation and alarm. No more sleep for them that 
night: they huddled round the fires in parties, told 
stories of adventures with wild beasts till they frightened 
themselves into the belief that the lion was close upon 
them, when their shouts and songs would be redoubled, 
in the hope of driving the king of beasts away. The 
horses snorted, tugged at their ropes, and evinced every 
disposition to free themselves from the trammels which 
bound them. There was no moon, so that the deep in- 
tensity of the surrounding gloom added to the fears of 
the little community. Several times that night I was 
aroused by their sudden outcries and wild shouts. 


At daybreak, it was discovered that the wary animal 
had made off with a little dog belonging to the Arabs, 
which had barked pertinaciously on the first notification of 
our unwelcome visitor's presence. The huge footprints 
of the hungry and irate brute were distinctly visible on 
the surface of the newly drifted sand, pacing round and 
round, at a respectful distance from the camp. With 
daylight she withdrew to her lair among the reeds and 
underwood along the course of the Shat-el-Kahr. 

Lions frequent the marshes of this region at certain 
seasons, and do much damaoje amono- the flocks and herds 
of the Arabs, who, as I have said, shift their camps to 
the banks of the Kahr for the culture of grain during 
the early spring. It is seldom that the king of l^easts 
dares to attack man, unless driven by stress of hunger. 
When the Arabs muster strongly near Sinkara, there is 
generally abundance of sheep and buff'aloes to assuage 
his hunger; but the Arabs are terrified to approach the 
Kahr alone, and I frequently saw them, when obliged to 
do so, return into camp trembling with fear. 

The ruins of Sinkara, situated fifteen miles south-east 
of Warka, stand on the extreme verge of the broad desert 
ridge, which, as before mentioned, intervenes between 
the inundations of the Euphrates on the west, and the 
marshes of the Shat-el-Kahr on the east. In ordinary sea- 
sons, the waters of the Kahr extend close up to the eastern 
base of the ruins. These consist of a low circular plat- 
form, about four and a-half miles in circumference, rising 
gradually from the level of the plain to a central mound, 
the highest point of which is seventy feet, and is dis- 
tinctly visible from AVarka and the Euphrates. Adjoin- 
ing this principal pile on the north-west, is a low ex- 
tensive ruin, apparently consisting of a series of brick 
walls and pavements. At four hundred paces, on the 
north-east of the great ruin, is a high mound of large, 


half-baked red bricks, at the base of wliicli is traceable, 
by tlie colour of the soil, the outline of an ancient square 
enclosure, and small chambers between thick walls. The 
south-east edge of the whole platform is occupied by an 
undulating ruin of considerable extent, composed of mud 
bricks, and known to the Arabs by the name of " Jemel," 
or the camel, from the peculiar hump which rises from its 

The surface of the rest of the ruins is covered with 
pavements, varying from thirty to forty feet square, 
elevated a few feet above the general debris, and con- 
structed of small rough bricks ; on the north-east these 
pavements are of very frequent occurrence. 

It is evident, from the first inspection of these ruins, 
that they all belong to one period, and that no later races 
of different origin have built upon the edifices erected 
by the ancient people. There are no coins, no glass, no 
glazed pottery, as at Warka: but a uniform dull brown 
hue pervades everything about the place : the fine dust, 
the bricks, the pottery, are of the same sombre colour ; 
the only relief being presented in the north-east mound, 
whose deep red bricks afibrd a pleasing contrast to the 
general dingy aspect of the place. The soil on the sur- 
face of the mounds at Warka was soft and yielding, but 
that of Sinkara was infinitely more impalpable. 

My first efforts'"' were directed to the principal ruin, 
which is of oval form, its longest diameter being *from 
north-west to south-east. Owing to the quantity of rub- 
bish with which it is encumbered, the expenditure of a ver}^ 
large amount of money and labour would be required 
before its complete plan can be understood. I was able 
to ascertain, however, that the edifice crowning its sum- 
mit was included within an oval space, whose diameters 

* The excavations and results here described are wholly due to the 
A&syrian Excavation Fund. 


measured tliree hundred and twenty feet by two hundred 
and twenty feet. The area was circumscribed by a wall 
four feet two inches thick, which is traceable, with a few 
breaks, from the centre of the north-east side towards the 
south, and so to the west point of the mound where it is 
lost, having fallen or been carried away piecemeal. It is 
built of square bricks, firmly set with bitumen, and having 
a thirteen-line inscription of Nebuchadnezzar upon the 
under side of each. 

At the distance of thirty-six feet from the extreme 
south-east curve of this wall, and at the height of about six 
feet above its level, a trench dug into the mound exposed 
the wall of a terrace extending from south-west to north- 
east. A second terrace, six feet above the first, and 
seventy-four feet behind it, stood in front of what has 
undoubtedly been the principal fa9ade of the edifice 
which crowned the summit, and formed the main feature 
of the ruins.''' Although not more than four feet in height, 
the character of this building might still be determined. 
The front extended sixty-five feet in length, then receded 
twelve feet, and ultimately resumed its former line forty 
feet towards the south-east and six feet in the opposite 
direction, beyond which it was not traced. An entrance, 
nine feet wide, was discovered in the centre of the sixty-five 
feet front, which was ornamented with ten stepped recesses, 
each one foot nine inches wide, /^^p^^^^ similar to those 
on the walls of the Wuswas edifice of Warka, and the 
small oratory at the foot of the Mdgeyer. The brickwork 
measured five feet thick, and was backed with a mass of 
sun-dried brick, from which it is evident that the upper 
erection was a sun-dried tower, faced, like the Mugeyer, 
with burnt bricks. On the left entrance-pier, close under 

* The position of this structure, with its angles facing the cardinal points, 
corresponds with that of M6gcyer, Wuswas, and other edifices of Chaldsean 
origin, as previously remarked. 


the surface, lay a miicli-damaged barrel-sliaped cylinder, 
which appeared to have rolled from among the sun- 
dried bricks, and to have remained a length of time 
exposed to the weather. 

A trench was carried through the entrance up a sloping 
pavement, covered with a thick coating of bitumen, and 
bounded by brick walls. The pavement, however, ceased 
at fourteen feet, and introduced us into a most unpro- 
mising mass of mud brickwork. Continuing the excava- 
tion a few feet, however, the workmen came upon a 
second pavement, the position of the bricks directed 
towards the centre or highest point of the rum. Turning 
the trench, therefore, at an angle of forty-five degrees from 
its former course, the excavation was continued, and at 
length rewarded our endeavours by the exhumation of 
a second, smaller, but quite perfect, cylinder, about three 
feet under the surface, and five feet above the pavement. 
It stood upright among the mud-bricks, without any pre- 
vious indication of its presence. Both at the Mugeyer and 
at the Blrs Nimrud, the similar records, as I have stated, 
were discovered in receptacles prepared for them, but in 
this instance the cylinder lay completely surrounded and 
in contact with the brickwork. It is five and three- 
quarter inches long, and is unequally divided by a line 
round the thick part of the barrel. On one side are 
twenty-five, and on the other twenty-six, lines of cunei- 
form inscription. 

This discovery was accompanied with an amusing inci- 
dent. My servant Ovannes, who was a great believer in 
the truth of dreams, came into my tent one morning 
before daybreak, to say that he was unable to sleep all 
night from being perpetually tormented by a big cylinder, 
which he attempted to lay hold of, but which always 
eluded his grasp. He was certain that this dream was 
a revelation of some wonderful discovery in the course of 


the day, and therefore begged he might be allowed to 
mark out one or two new trenches. He was so energetic 
on the subject, that, to satisfy him, I granted his request. 
Soon after the men commenced work, I was induced, by 
a great shouting, to go to the door of my tent. Ovannes 
was running at full speed down the slope of the great 
mound, as if the lion were after him. In his haste, he 
tripped and turned a somersault to the infinite amuse- 
ment of the Arabs and myself, who, unable to conceive the 
meaning of this caper, imagined he had gone mad. At 
last he approached sufficiently near to explain the cause 
of all the excitement. " A cylinder ! a cylinder !" he 
cried ; " I told you, Beg, that my dream would prove 
true !" A cylinder he certainly brought, obtained, how- 
ever, not from his new trenches, but from the great trench 
in the principal mound. 

Continuing the trench through the unbaked brickwork 
to the highest point of the mound, the workmen came 
upon a mass of masonry, which, for some time, puzzled 
me exceedingly. It proved to be a tomb of peculiar 
construction and undoubted antiquity, nearly every brick 
bearing a stamped dedication of a temple to the Sun by 
Urukh, the common founder of Warka and Niffar. That 
it was an original work, was also evident from the fact 
that it was surrounded and covered by the mud bricks, 
which contained the inscribed cylinder ; it was likewise 
evident that it was purposely concealed, because the 
exterior was rough and daubed with bitumen, and would 
indicate that the tomb was erected with the mound. On 
digging downwards, a second and similar tomb was dis- 
covered below the first, but, at the depth of twelve feet, 
I failed to reach the base. Both tombs were built into 
and against the inside of a solid wall, five feet in thickness, 
but they had been plundered, most probably, centuries ago. 
The walls were three feet three inches thick ; and the 


interiors measured six feet deep, and one foot ten inches 
wide ; the length being six and a-half feet, of which one 
foot ten inches, at one extremity, were covered by a 
vaulted arch, formed by the overlapping of each course 
of bricks beyond the layer immediately below. 

Another trench, at right angles to that in which the 
cylinder occurred, revealed the corner of a foundation- 
wall set in bitumen, six and a-half feet high, and the 
same in thickness. Many of the bricks bore the same 
legend of Nebuchadnezzar as that upon the oval wall at 
the base of the mound. From the lowest layers at this 
corner were obtained two bricks, one edge of each of 
which was minutely inscribed with precisely the same 
record as that upon the barrel cylinders, thus, beyond 
doubt, fixing the date of the upper part of the mound 
above the tombs as early as the time of Nebuchadnezzar, 
about 600 B.C. This is confirmed by Sir Henry Eaw- 
linson's decipherment of the inscriptions.'^'' He states 
that they commemorate the rebuilding of the temple of 
Pharra, by that monarch, in the city of Larrak. A 
description of the same w^ork occurs on Bellino's cylinder 
from Babylon, published by Grotefend. Nebuchadnezzar 
is represented as digging into the foundations of the old 
temple of the Sun, which had fallen to ruins, for the pur- 
pose of obtaining the ancient idol, with the intention of 
placing it in his new edifice. Having excavated for a 
considerable time, he was obliged to give up a fruitless 
search, and to finish his building without it. 

The same authority elsewhere states, that " through- 
out the Babylonian monuments — that is, on the bricks 
found at Niffar, at Sinkara, and at Warka, as well as on 

* A third and perfect cylinder was also discovered at a distant part of 
the ruins. These numerous copies of the same legend are the more 
valuable, because of the many variations which occur in the cuneiform 
characters upon them. 

250 nebonit's building. 

the tablets of Nebucliadnezzar — the city in question is 
named Siklcara or Sinkareli" He further conjectures 
that the Lanckara of Berosus, which was the capital of 
the original Chaldsean dynasty, is a mistake of some 
ancient copyist for Sanchara/'' 

In this name we probably have preserved that oiShmar, 
the land from whence the Biblical migration took place. 

A king named Purna-Puriyast was also a builder 
here. I picked up a brick with a legend of sixteen lines 
bearing this name, which was at that time, I believe, new 
to Sir Henry Eawlinson's list. 

An excavation was made into the centre and*base of 
"El Heimar," or the " red " mound. It proved to be wholly 
composed of half-baked red bricks, measuring fourteen 
inches square, and four and-a-half inches in thickness. 
As in other buildings of similar character, previously de- 
scribed in these pages, layers of reeds occur at intervals 
between the bricks, and the entire mass is pierced hori- 
zontally with numerous square apertures. Its interior 
yielded no information, but a patch of building at the 
base of its eastern corner afforded a legend of Nebonit, 
the last king of Babylon, under whose reign, as before 
mentioned, the empire was overthrown by the united 
forces of the Medes and Persians, about 538 B.C. This 
monarch, like his predecessor, Nebuchadnezzar, appears 
to have repaired a more ancient structure, for, at the 
northern corner of the same ruin, there was uncovered a 
fragment of brick masonry, with a legend of the Chal- 
daean king Khammurabi, who is suj^posed to have flour- 
ished about 1500 B.C. 

With the subsequent rise of the Persian empire after the 

•See Twetity-niiith Annual Report of the Royal Asiatic Society for 1852, 
p. 15. Sinkara is likewise supposed to be the Sarsa of other inscrii^tions, 
as stated in the Proceedings of the Royal Geog. Society, p. 47. I cannot 
attempt to reconcile these difi'crcnt identifications. 

t This monarch seems to have reigned about 1G50 B.O. 


fall of Babylon, Sinkara declined in importance ; the latest 
record obtained from its mounds being a small clay 
tablet inscribed with the name of Cambyses. From 
that period, Warka, the great rival of Sinkara, as- 
sumed a higher rank, at least as a place of sepulture, 
and engrossed the whole consideration which it had 
previously shared in conjunction with Sinkara. It 
appears to have been the only city throughout that 
region which sm^vived the great convulsion attending 
the taking of Babylon. With the extinction of the 
native rulers, Miigeyer, Sinkara, Abii Shehreyn, Tel Sifr, 
Medina, and numerous other sites in Chaldsea, were de- 
serted, and have remained so to this day. Warka alone 
maintained its position five hundred years longer as the 
capital of the district, — saw the enfeebled dominion of 
the Persian pass into the hands of the Grecian con- 
queror, and from him in turn to the barbarous Parthian, 
when he, too, succumbed under the changeable character 
of the times. 

The aspect of the mounds of Sinkara fully bears out 
the opinion as to their early abandonment, arrived at 
from an investigation of the inscriptions obtained from 
them. It is not among the loftiest mounds that we are 
to expect the oldest relics. All the more ancient ruins 
of Chaldsea are but slightly raised above the desert level, 
and the accumulations of ages are invariably sepul- 
chral ; this is the characteristic feature of Chaldsean 
mounds. It would appear that the early inhabitants, 
like those of modern days, made a practice of burying 
their dead at certain places held sacred, from time im- 
memorial, by the erection of a temple dedicated to some 
deity. Sinkara is one of these, and its sepulchral re- 
mains are among the most interesting discoveries made 
during my excavations. 

If evidence were required that the early Chaldeans 


practised the rite of burial, Sinkara fui-nishes it beyond 
the shadow of a doubt. The Avhole area of the ruins is 
a cemetery ; wherever an excavation was made, vaults 
and graves invariably occurred, and the innumerable 
cuneiform records contained in them substantiate their 
undoubted antiquity. So numerous were the clay 
tablets, I almost arrived at the conclusion that the fine 
brown dust of the mounds resulted from their decom- 
position ! 

Many of the platforms mentioned on the north-east 
side of the ruins were examined, and proved to be ftimily 
vaults. In digging down, the workmen frequently found 
a series of small connected chambers, containing quanti- 
ties of wood-ashes and partially-burned clay tablets. 
These were with difficulty extracted entire and after- 
wards preserved, in consequence of the damage received 
from fire and their state of natural disintegration from 
the nitrous earth composing them. Below the chambers 
were frequently large vaulted tombs, containing one oi 
more bodies, which were constructed in a peculiar man- 
ner. Layers of bricks were placed at an angle of forty- 
five degrees, so as to rest upon the layer previously 
laid in the same position. They were supported by an 
outer wall inclining towards the tomb, the other ex- 
tremity of which was closed with a corresponding wall 
leaning in the oj)posite direction. The bricks used were 
generally small, of coarse texture, and of light yellow 
baked clay ; but they were frequently merely composed 
of sun-dried mud. The cement was, in all cases, mud. 
The roofs were circular, and exhibited traces of red 

The skeleton was always extremely fragile, and 
crumbled to dust at the slightest touch. As at 
Miigcyer, it usually lay on the left side, with the finger 
bones before the face. A common baked clay plate was 


placed on either side, with jars and vases of various 
forms. Some of the latter are exceedingly elegant, par- 
ticularly one of convolvulus shape, which is commonly 
met with at Sinkara, and appears to be the type of the 
modern drinking kuja used at Baghdad. A few of the 
forms of pottery peculiar to these ruins are engraved in 
the accompanying woodcut. In one vault, the bones of 

Pottery from Sinkara. 

several other skeletons were heaped up in the corners, 
evidently for the purpose of giving place to the last 
deposited body, Avhich occupied the centre of the tomb. 
An armlet lay in the right uj)per corner, and a large jar 
near the right foot contained a small tooth-comb, made 
of bone. Among the dust was a rude wdiite cylinder, 
and an onyx bead, with a rudely engraved figure 
upon it. 

In another vault was the skeleton of a tall large-boned 
man. With the bones of the feet lay two copper rings, 
and near the chest a small laj)is-lazuli frog, and a couple 
of agate beads. On the left of the body were five knuckle- 
bones of sheep, and a copper dish ; on the right were two 
beautiful heart-shaped red vases. In a corner near the 
feet were two large water-jars, and, close to the head, a 
smaller one containing several beads and wood orna- 
ments, perhaps the tassel of a sash ; also, a small head of 
white stone or plaster, much defaced, through the fore- 




head of which is a pin for fastening it to a stick or mace. 
In the chamber above were numbers of inscribed clay 

The contents of the vaults varied considerably. In 
one, an urn contained a piece of dark-brown unbaked 
clay, moulded into the form of a human hand and arm, 
ten inches in length, which fell to pieces with its own 
weight. A second jar contained nothing but two copper 
a third, some fish's bones, and a small terra-cotta 
figure representing a body in a coffin with 
a mace (?) in each hand. A small and beau- 
tifully moulded human head, in imbaked 
clay, also occurred in another tomb. 

In many instances, the bones .of the 
skeletons were found in the upper cham- 
bers, but these were always crushed by the 
superincumbent w^eight of earth. It was 
from these chambers that the clay records 
were obtained. There were several distinct 
varieties. The most common were minutely- 
inscribed small tablets, contained within a thin clay 
envelope, similarly inscribed, and likewise covered with 
the impressions of those cylinder seals, of which so 
many are to be seen in our museums. These tablets 
were doubtless family records, but they are highly inte- 
resting, because they shew us the particular use to 
which the cylinder-seals were applied. The Chaldgeans 
were not contented with a simple impression, but rolled 
the cylinder over the entire written document, thus 
preventing all chance or possibility of forgery. The 
clay of the tablet must have been perfectly dry before it 
was enclosed, because the inner side of the envelope bears 
a cast, in relief, of the inscription beneath. These 
records vary from an inch to four or five inches in length ; 
but the thinness of the envelope causes it to be seldom 

Teira-cotta fi^ire 
of a body in a coffin. 


found entire.'"' One of the smallest of these enclosed 
tablets, with its envelope tolerably perfect, bore upon it 
the name of Cambyses. 

Clay cakes, three inches in diameter, are also of fre- 
quent occurrence with rude cuneiform inscriptions on 
one or both sides.t 

There is evidence, too, that the early inhabitants of 
Babylonia used other materials for their written docu- 
ments. Among the tablets were found many triangular 
lumps of clay covered, like them, with the impressions of 
rolled cylinders. At two of the corners are the holes 
through which cords passed and attached them to parch- 
ment, papyrus, or leather. 

From the fact that many of these objects were damaged 
by fire, there is every reason to believe that it was a 
prevalent custom of the Babylonians to biu-n the private 
records of the dead over their graves. I know of no 
other cause to account for their blackened appearance, 
and the quantity of wood-ashes with which they are 
always associated. 

Among other clay documents, I must not omit to 
mention a small tablet, which confirms the statement of 
Berosus, that the Babylonians made use of a sexagesimal 
notation — the unit of which was termed a " Sossius " — 
as well as a decimal notation. The record in question is 
a table of squares. It has been already published by Sir 
Henry Eawlinson ; J but I am tempted to extract from it 
the following, as a specimen of the advance made at that 
early date in arithmetical calculations : — 

* The same system of enveloping tablets in clay cases likewise prevailed 
at Nineveh. In examining the numerous collections in the British Museum, 
I observed one or two with envelopes attached, and the form of many 
others indicates that they had once been enclosed. This fact had hitherto 
escaped observation. 

t Mr Layard figures a cake of somewhat similar kind at p. 154 of his 
•♦Nineveh and Babylon." 

X Journal of Royal Geogr, Society, vol. xv., p. 218, note. 


Soss, Units. Soss. Units.* The Square of 

?/ «w 

or 50 

25 = 


or 55= = 


?^n <fti 

or 52 

16 = 

?f t"^ 

or 56= r= 


^^ij ffl 

or 54 

9 ^ 


or 57- = 


f i V 

or 56 

4 = 

4T f^ 

or 58^ = 


f ^ I 

or 58 

1 = 


or 59'' = 



or 60 

00 = 


or 60^ =. 


" As we liere find tlie Unit and the Soss to be both 
represented by ] , while the decades of each series are 
indicated by <■, it is evident that the Babylonian nota- 
tion consisted of a double recurring series, in which 
the elements <r and ] were used respectively for the 
decades and units of the integers of 60." 

The upper chambers of the Sinkara tombs also yielded 
a few curious tablets of baked clay, which are not only 
interesting as exhibiting the state of the arts, but as 
illustrating the costume, occupation, and worship of the 
Chaldseans. The sculptures in the palaces of Nineveh 
were historical monuments, erected by the kings of 
Assyria to perpetuate their own exploits and greatness ; 
but the people are only shewn as subservient to the will 
of their monarch. In the little tablets from Sinkara is 
depicted the everyday life of the people, modelled by 
themselves, without any royal influence to produce the 
best works of the best artists. Kude as they are, these 
designs prove that the Chaldseans — if they had pos- 

* The calculation is made thus :— 50 Soss. x 60 + 25 = 3025, or 55? 
It should be mentioned that 60 units = 1 Sossua. 

60 Sossi = 1 Sarus. 



sessed stone for the purpose — could have executed 
sculptures equal, if not superior, to those of the Assyrians ; 
and that the palaces and temples of the Chaldsean kings 
were, undoubtedly, as highly ornamented as either those 
of Egypt or Assyria — not, perhaps, with bas-reliefs, but 
with "figures portrayed upon the walls" in coloured 

The following tablets""" may be mentioned as having 
been found over the same vaidt : — 

/i 'iJ/v' ^'t'!/f/i- 

Clay Tablet from a Tomb at Sinkara. 

1. Two figures, apparently boys, boxing, in the most 
approved fashion of the " ring " — a proof that the 
pugilistic art was practised and understood in the 
marshes of Chaldsea centuries before England was known 
to the world ! The positions taken by the figures are 
admirable. They are either stripped for the purpose, or 
they wear a costume similar to the Madan tribes of the 
present day — an abba, or cloak, tied round the waist, 
the rest of the body being bare. On their heads are 
skull-caps. A third figure, standing with his back to the 

* The tablet representing a man and Indian dog, obtained in I5abyionia 
by Sir Henry Rawlinson, and figured at page 527 of Layard's " Nineveh 
and Babylon," much resembles these Sinkara tablets, and was probably 
procured by the Arabs from an ancient grav« or tomb. 




combatants, seems to appeal over a huge vase, much 
resembling those used in interring the dead, to a female (1) 
wearing a long garment and a turban. She is seated on 
a stool beating cymbals. 

2. A lion disturbed in his feast off a bullock, by a man 
armed with club and hatchet. The costume of the human 
figure somewhat resembles that of the modern Arab : 
it consists of an abba thrown over the shoulders, a short 

Clay Tablet from Sinkara. 

tunic, and a band of camel's hair round the head. The 
action of the lion roaring and lashing his tail with mane 
erect (although one paw is very rudely represented) is 
extremely spirited, and shcAvs considerable knowledge of 
the lion on the part of the artist. A fragment has been 
broken out, and again mended with bitumen. 

3. This tablet is not flat like the others, but is made 
with a projecting stand, and rounded at the back. Upon 
it is represented the figure with the conical head-dress, 
and long robes, usually seen upon small cylinders, and 
of which impressions occur upon the inscribed tablets. 
One foot is placed on a kind of stool, and the left hand 
holds a mace or some indescribable implement. Above 



are tlie Clialdgean emblems — ^the crescent, and an eight 
rayed star enclosed within a 
circle. Tlie tablet is pierced 
with three holes. 

From the tombs w^ere ob- 
tained tablets, w^th figures of 
a lion devouring a prostrate 
human being ; a man carrying 
a fish ; and an Indian dog. 

The lion appears, from these 
tablets, to have been indigen- 
ous to the Chaldsean marshes 
in very early times. I much 
doubt, however, if the mo- 
dern Arab would dare, single- 
handed, to attack the infu- 
riated beast while satiating 
his hunger on his prey. Fre- 
quently, during my stay at 
Sinkara, the deep grunt of 
the lioness was audible upon 
the mounds or close to the 
precincts of the camp. I had 
many times before heard what 
is called the roar of the lion on the banks of the Tigris, but 
it considerably disappointed my expectations. The pre- 
conceived idea of a lion's roar is of somethino- noble and 


terrible in the extreme ; this, however, is not the case 
with the lion of Mesopotamia; the sound which he utters 
is like the squall of a child in pain, or the first cry of the 
jackal at sunset, but infinitely louder, clearer, and more 

The nocturnal wail of the lioness at Sinkara in search 
of her cubs was truly imposing, and struck terror into 
the hearts of my nearly naked Arabs. I could scarcely 

Clay Tablet from Sinkara. 



be persuaded that it was not the lion himself, until they, 
one and all, declared positively it was the lioness. Dur- 
ing the day-time she lay quiet 
in the jungle by the side of the 
Kahr, and was only seen once or 
twice by a solitary shepherd. 
At night her approach was al- 
ways made known to us by the 
vehement barking of some half- 
dozen dogs belonging to the 
Arabs, which gave furious tongue 
at some distance from the camp. 
The lioness was too cunning for 
our canine guardians ; gradually 
their number decreased, until 
our greatest favourite. Toga, 
alone remained. One pitch dark 
night Toga was more energetic 
than usual in warning us of our enemy's position ; at last, 
apparently tired of his exertions, he returned sullenly into 
camp, and lay down close to my tent-ropes, growling 
audibly. Soon afterwards a sudden rush, followed by two 
or three bounds, making the very ground tremble like 
the galloping of horsemen, informed the whole encamp- 
ment that the dog-devourer was among us. Poor Toga 
was heard to give one stifled yelp, and all was over with 
our last guardian ; he was carried off and demolished at 
a meal. The insatiable monster had crouched behind the 
rubbish of an adjoining excavation, waiting her opportu- 
nity for the fatal spring. Her traces were next morning 
visible in the sand, passing within a few yards of a watch- 
fire, which was surrounded by a party of Arabs in full 
conclave. It may be imagined that, on the first notice of 
the dreaded beast's approach, they were scattered like a 
flock of sheep. The camp never recovered its composure 

Clay Tablet from Sinkara. 


again that night, and the following day's work was but a 
sorry one. 

Fearing for the safety of the horses and camels, as soon 
as the animal made known her presence next evening, I 
hastily proposed an expedition against her, and set out 
armed, with "Abii Seba'in," and Mahommed Agha, my 
cawas carrying loaded guns. The Arabs were told to 
follow if they pleased. We crept silently to the summit 
of the red mound, and halted to ascertain where the enemy 
lay. Here Ovannes, Tellag (who had come to spend the 
evening with me), and Budda, as a matter of course, with 
a few of the Tuweyba, soon joined us, all armed with 
spears. Tellag, undertaking the office of monitor, with 
ominous voice reminded me that it was very dark, and 
that the wild beast was mad from the loss of her young, 
and from her continued taste of blood. Seizing me by 
the arm, and pointing to the spear which I carried, he 
exclaimed : — " Beg ! if the tufenk (gun) misses, what, in 
the name of Allah, is the use of that reedV' I was per- 
fectly sensible of the correctness of his remark, but was 
determined to proceed further, if it were only to ascertain 
whether the hearts of my men were in their right places. 
We descended from the red mound, and advanced towards 
the foot of the great ruin ; but alas ! it became more and 
more evident, each step we proceeded, that, although 
Tellag and the Arabs would have willingly bared their 
arms, tied up the sleeves of their zibbuns, and followed 
me against a human enemy by daylight, they were not 
disposed to attack an enraged lioness in the dread dark- 
ness of nioht. If the beast could have been seen in the 
distance, all would have made off at full speed to the 
camp. Mahommed Agha could scarcely hold his gun from 
fear. At the base of the great ruin a second halt was 
called, and we listened attentively. Something was 
heard to stir among the bricks on the summit, and the 


next instant the queen of beasts uttered a loud roar; my 
companions, with one accord, looked behind them to ascer- 
tain if the coast were clear. An instant afterwards her 
roar was again heard as she made ofif in the distance, to 
the unspeakable relief of my companions-in-arms. 

In returning to camp, the Arabs determined to eke out 
their excitement by a piece of fun. At a convenient 
distance a general shriek was raised, and all rushed 
towards the watchfires at full speed, as if the lioness 
were at our heels. The Arabs who remained in camp, 
thinking such was really the case, ran out to give us 
succour, grasping their spears and singing their w^r-cry 
as usual. When the deception was discovered, a merry 
laughing ensued, and each man sang and danced, with 
the excitement. In this scene the Arab character ap- 
peared without disguise. Unwilling to make an attack in 
cold blood and darkness upon a wild beast, those in camp 
were prepared to resist an attack, and to advance to the 
aid of their fellows, whom they supposed in danger. 
Tellag, however, did not so soon forget the rashness of 
the enterprise : he followed me into my tent, and ex- 
postulated with me on the subject. " She is gone now," 
said he, " but will most assuredly attack and kill the 
first Arab she meets, out of revenge for our attempt 
against her !" 


Treasures found at Tel Sifr — Juvenile Footpads — Medina — ^Yusuf and 
his Excavations at Tel Sifr — Large Collection of Curiosities in 
Copper — Private Eecords, B.C. 1500 — Female Excavators — The 
Works in Chaldaea abruptly interrupted — Leave-taking — Grateful 
Labourers — Embarkation on the Euphrates — Eiver-craft and Am- 
phibious Arabs — " The Mother of Mosquitoes." 

From Sinkara several large mounds are visible across 
the Shat-el-Kahr, among which Ablah, El-Ass4m, and 
Tel Sifr, are the most important. Having heard from 
the Tuweyba promising accounts of the last-named 
ruin, and of one more distant, called Medina, I paid 
them a visit, and was induced to send a couple of work- 
ing parties, under the direction of overseers, to open 
trenches at positions I had marked out. At daybreak 
on the fourth day after their departure, a messenger 
arrived from Tel Sifr, with the information that a quan- 
tity of copper articles were discovered on the previous 
evening, as the men were leaving off work. I was pre- 
paring to set out at once, but was informed that the 
Kahr had risen so considerably as to render it impossible 
for me to cross without a boat. While reflecting on the 
best plan to be adopted, a second messenger arrived with 
a basketful of the new-found treasures. He informed 
me that there were as many as a mule's load waiting to 
be conveyed across the Shat-el-Kahr. He had crossed 
with the copper on his head and the water reaching tc 
his chin. 


While an Arab was despatched to Tellag to borrow 
sheep-skins for a raft, Ovannes proposed to ride off with- 
out delay and swim the stream on horseback. This was 
the only method of getting over the difficulty; so away 
he went, accompanied by an Arab on a mule, carrying 
the baskets which the cook used for the conveyance of 
his pots and kettles. He took with him a small box, a 
packet of paper, and a bag of cotton for wrapping up 
any fragile articles which might require especial care. 

He had scarcely disappeared when a third messenger 
arrived — this time from Medina — with a small tablet of 
unbaked clay from the surface of a tomb. The poor 
fellow was shivering with ague, induced by fright, from 
encountering a lion by the way. He thought his last 
hour arrived ; for the animal espied him, lashed his tail, 
and roared as he made towards the terrified Arab, who 
sank to the earth with a prayer for the protection of 
Allah. On waking from the stupor into which he had 
fallen, he discovered, to his great relief, that his prayer 
was granted, and that the lion had disappeared ; he, 
therefore, lost no time in putting the river between him- 
self and the animal. The poor fellow arrived completely 
stricken with fear. 

Shortly afterwards I was met hj a fourth messenger 
from Tel Sifr, who brought with him a very beautiful 
and quite perfect tablet of unbaked clay, as a specimen 
of "kethir ! ketliir !" — "many ! many !" which had been 
just discovered. Ovannes had not met this messenger, 
and, therefore, received a welcome surprise on reaching 
the Tel. The overseer, Yusuf, was in the act of wrapping 
up the last of a large collection of beautiful tablets. 
Having exhausted all the stock of paper taken for the 
purpose, he was driven to the sad alternative of tearing 
up his blue calico trousers, and the skirts of his shirt, to 
supply the deficiency. Ovannes found him directing ope- 


rations in his drawers. All the spoils were soon packed, 
and conveyed to the Shat-el-Kahr upon the back of the 
mule, which staggered under the weight of the burden. 
They were there unloaded and carried in baskets across 
the river on a man's head — the same who broke his collar 
bone a month previously ! He was a tall strong man, and 
walked with the water just reaching to his mouth, while 
two Arabs swam on either side supporting him. 

Tellao- collected from the women of the Shammar 
camp half-a-dozen water-skins, and, next morning at 
daybreak, they were sent down to the Shat-el-Kahr, 
where they were tied to a few pieces of wood and 
tamarisk twigs, cut from the brushwood which grew at 
hand, and, in a few minutes, converted into a primitive 
kelek. The horses were soon stripped, a saddle-cloth 
was spread for my seat, and, with a " bismillah," — " in 
the name of God" — I was pushed off into the stream. At 
the point chosen for crossing, a large island divided the 
Shat-el-Kahr into two parts. In the first branch the 
water reached to the shoulders of the two Arabs who 
guided the kelek before them. 

The horses were led over by their groom, and the 
kelek made a second voyage for Ovannes and the saddles. 
It was then carried across the island to the larger branch 
of the stream, over which we were transported in a similar 
manner, except that, the channel being two hundred feet 
wide, deep, and with a rajDid current, the kelekjis were 
obliged to swim, and we drifted a considerable distance 
together down the Shat. The horses were saddled, 
and we once more set off at a round pace in the direction 
pointed out as that of Tel Sifr, for it was impossible to 
see through a driving sand-storm. After riding about an 
hoiu', we approached a large mound, which proved to be 
that of El Assam — much to the left of our proper course. 
Being then nearer to Medina than to Tel Sifr, I deter- 


mined to visit the former place first, in order to see wliat 
had been done there. In galloping along, I was hailed 
by two shepherd boys, belonging to the main divisions of 
the Tuweyba tribe, whose tents were in the neighbour- 
hood. The older might be twelve, the younger ten years 
of age ; they were armed with clubs and spears. " Stop, 
stop ! don't be afraid ; we will not hurt you !" said they, 
running up, with their long hair streaming over their 
swarthy shoulders. " It is 2/021 who should be afraid ; we 
are horsemen — ^you are on foot," said I. " Oh ! but we 
don't fear tivo horsemen only, if there be no more behind," 
replied the younger little fellow, as he looked* in the 
direction we had come. He was a fine intelligent boy, 
with sparkling black eyes, that betokened a 'future 
Shv) jtan, or dare-devil. " But horsemen sometimes carry 
fire," I replied, pointing to my holsters. " Yes ! I know 
fire kills, but that saddle cannot hurt," he retorted, as he 
touched the leather case. " No ! that cannot harm you, 
but this might," said I, exposing the butt-end of a pistol. 
" God is great !" exclaimed the young hero, as he coloured 
up, and drew himself a step back from the dreaded 
weapon. Being eventually assured that we were friends, 
they directed us towards Medina, which we reached after 
a quarter of an hour's further ride, by which time the 
wind and dust had abated. 

The overseer, whom I had despatched to this ruin, 
was a very shrewd, active, and honest young fellow, 
named Hannah, a Chaldsean from Mosul, who had worked 
in the trenches at Nineveh. He was one of my best 
men, and usually proved lucky; he was delighted to 
see me, but his look at once announced that, on this 
occasion, his customary good fortune had failed him. His 
numerous trenches had only yielded a single clay tablet, 
a few insignificant copper articles, and pottery of the 
forms common at Sinkara, among which were some pretty 


specimens of tlie bell-shaped drinking vase."^'' The fault 
was not Hannah's : he had dug deeply and earnestly. 

The mounds were of considerable extent, running in a 
line from south-west to north-east. There was nothing 
to shew that Medina had been more than a small 
cemetery. It abounded in brick vaults, similar to those 
at Sinkara, one of which contained no less than four 
skeletons, lying one upon the other. The workmen were 
afraid of the solitude ; there were no Arabs in the neigh- 
bourhood, so that they were obliged to sleep at night in 
the tombs which they had discovered during the day. A 
dismal place it certainly was, with an unbounded view of 
marsh towards the south-east, and a desert bearing an 
abundant crop of ancient remains, in every other direction. 
The water reached to the base o± the mound — a pe^ feet 
dead sea — without reeds, or other evidence of vegetation 
appearing on its salt-incrusted shore. The Arabs pointed 
out Shatrat in the distance, but it was far beyond my 
vision. They begged hard to be allowed to return, and, 
there being no great prospect of a successful issue in 
further excavations, their request was granted. A minute 
or two sufficed to pack up their property, and to turn 
their faces campwards. 

From Medina I galloped to Tel Sifr, at the foot of 
which was encamped a numerous body of the Tuweyba 
tribe. Their black tents were low and small, but arranged 
in long lines, at regular distances, after a more systematic 
manner than any Arab camp I ever saw. The denizens 
were a wild race, but among them I noticed many 
remarkably fine men and women — the latter with huge 
nose-rings, and other ornaments of gold and silver. 
Unlike my workmen, who were evidently of the lowest 

* One of wbicli is engraved at page 253. 

t Shatra is a reed village among the marshes of the Shat-el-Hie — a species 
of market-town for the inhabitants of the surrounding region. 


class, tliey appeared well-fed, and otherwise in good con- 
dition ; the men were lolling about at their ease, basking 
in the sun, or sitting by the side of the women, who were 
generally engaged in spinning. Their countenances bore 
a strong resemblance to our English gipsies. There was 
an air of quiet repose about the scene, quite charming 
to me after the noisy squabbles Avhich ensued after each 
day's excavations on the ruins. The arrival of a Firenghi 
might have been an everyday occurrence, for they scarcely 
stirred from their occupations; while in other more civilised 
tribes men, women, and children would have collected 
round, in gaping astonishment. 

Yiisuf and his gang were hard at work, covered with 
perspiration and dust ; they had cut some enormous 
gashes into the little conical mound, which crowns a low 
platform nowhere exceeding forty feet above the desert. 
With the exception of the cone, the whole surface of the 
platform, which was of much less extent than Sinkara, 
was completely burrowed by old Budda and his grave- 
hunting fraternity. The dead were buried here also in 
oblong brick graves, for the most part vaulted, and 
painted red inside. The name of Tel " Sifr " is derived 
from the numerous " copper " articles found by the Ai'abs 
in the vaults, and was still more appropriate after 
Yiisuf's excavations. 

A trench was dug into the south-east side of the prin- 
cipal mound, according to instructions, and soon came 
against a brick wall, which, from its position, supported 
by a three-feet buttress, and its elevation in two-inch 
gradines, was evidently the exterior of a building. Its 
thickness was not ascertained, but it encased an internal 
mass of mud brickwork, as explained by some other 
trenches. Following this wall for a distance of about 
six feet, the workmen discovered a number of copper 
articles arranged along it, which form a very curious 


and quite unique collection, consisting of large chal- 
drons, vases, small dislies, and dice-boxes ("?) ; ham- 
mers, chisels, adzes, and hatchets ; a large assortment of 
knives and daggers of various sizes and shapes — all un- 
finished ; massive and smaller rings ; a pair of prisoner's 
fetters ; three links of a strong chain ; a ring weight ; 
several plates resembling horses' shoes, divided at the heel 
for the insertion of a handle, and having; two holes in 
each for pins ; other plates of a different shape, which 
were probably primitive hatchets ; an ingot of copper, 
and a great weight of dross from the same smelted 
metal.''" There was likewise a small fraojment of a 
bitumen bowl overlaid with thin copper; and a piece 
of lead. 

The conclusion arrived at from an inspection of these 
implements and articles is, that they Avere the stock-in- 
trade of a coppersmith, whose forge was close at hand, 
but the explanation of their connexion with the public 
edifice, near which they were discovered, is by no means 
clear. They are well and skilfully wrought. One of the 
hatchets particularly attracted my notice, being of the 
same form as that represented on the tablet of the man 
attacking the lion ;t the articles which I conceive to be 
dice-boxes, precisely resemble those of modern form ; 
the knives were all adherins; tosfether en masse, their 
rough broad edges proving that they were never finished 
by the cutler. The total absence of iron in the older 
ruins implies that the inhabitants were unacquainted 
with that metal, or at any rate that it was seldom worked. 
Many of the copper implements above enumerated appear 
to be but little adapted to the object for which they were 
fashioned. Copper was particularly used in the Taber- 

* The whole of the articles obtained from Tel Sifr are deposited in the 
British Museum, 
t See woodcut, page 258. 


nacle'"' and Temple of the Jews, and, it may be, that this 
metal was specially chosen for sacrificial purposes, which 
might account for its abundant discovery in connexion 
with the edifice — a temple — against the wall of which 
the implements were found. At any rate, the entire 
absence of iron, and the curious shapes of many articles, 
point to a primitive age for their origin. 

The actual date of these copper objects is, however, to 
be inferred from that of the " enveloped" clay tablets 
which were found close to them. 

These records were arranged with much care. Three 
mud bricks were laid down in the form of the capital 
letter U. The largest tablet, measuring six-and-a-quarter 
inches long and three inches wide, was placed upon 
this foundation, and the two next in size at right angles 
to it. The rest were piled upon them and also upon 
the bricks — the whole being surrounded by a reed 
matting, traces of which were still visibly adhering to 
many of the tablets. They were covered by three un- 
baked bricks, which accounts for the perfect preserva- 
tion of so many. Several were found broken, but the 
fragments were carefully collected. There must have 
been, in all, about one hundred, of which seventy are 
either quite perfect or but sbghtly damaged. 

Each tablet was inscribed in minute, >complicated 
characters of Babylonian cuneiform, and afterwards 
placed in an envelope of the same material. That this 
thin layer of unbaked clay should have remained entire 
during so many centuries under a slight covering of earth, 
appears almost incredible ! It is also strange that the 

* " And he made all the vessels of the altar, the pots and the shovels, and 
the basins, and the flesh-hooks, and the fire-pans : all the vessels thereof 
made he of brass." Exodus xxxviii. gives a full account of the altar of 
burnt-offering and its vessels — brass being the principal metal employed. 
By brass we must understand copper, because the factitious metal was 
unknown at that early ao^e 



envelope had infinitely more pains bestowed upon it than 
the internal record, which, it is natural to suppose, was 

(JnbaKed Clay Tablet and its Envelope. 

the important document. Upon each side are inscribed 
about twenty lines of inscription, commencing from a 
broad margin on the left. Along the margin and upon 
all the four edges of the envelope are distinct impressions 
of cylindrical seals, w^hich likewise cover the whole surface 
of the writing. The woodcut shews one of the tablets, 
with a portion of the envelope removed.'"' 

These remarkable tablets have not been critically 
examined, so that I am unable to guess at the reason of 
bhe envelope having so much more elaborate pains 
bestowed upon it than upon the tablet itself. Sir Henry 
Rawlinson pronounced them, after a cursory examination, 
to be the documents of private persons in the time of the 
Chaldsean Kings Khammurabi and Shamsu-Iluna (whose 
name he then met with for the first time), about 1500 B.C., 
which nearly corresponds with the date of the departure 
of the Israelites from Egypt, upwards of three thousand 
three hundred years ago. 

• The broad margin and surface seals are not exhibited in the woodcut. 


Yilsuf 's excavations were much more lively and amus- 
ing than such works generally are. Their proximity to 
the iVrab camp induced a number of the Tuweyba 
women and children to gather round their friends and 
relations. The females in their deep blue and red gowns 
sat spinning and chattering at the edge of the trench, and 
the younger part of the community, in dress of nature's 
own providing, gamboled round them, or stood watching 
when any object was being minutely examined. 

In addition to the enveloped tablets and copper arti- 
cles, Tel Sifr produced a third novelty — two^ girls were 
carrying baskets of earth from the trench. One,* a very 
pretty lass of sixteen or thereabouts, had begged so hard 
for work to support her old, infirm mother and three 
young brothers and sisters, that Yusuf could not resist 
the appeal. The second girl was jealous of the first one 
earning money, and therefore offered her services, which 
Yusuf accepted in order to countenance the other. They 
were ereat favourites amonn; the men who, with more 
kind feeling than the Arabs usually exhibit towards their 
women, picked out for them the smallest baskets, which 
they never wholly filled. I observed to Ytisuf that they 
carried their loads with infinitely greater ease and speed 
than the men, and that they discharged three baskets of 
earth while the men lazily emptied but two. Ytisuf 
grinned and declared he wished all his labourers were 
women, because they were not only quicker in their 
movements, but more manageable. Much merriment was 
created by my ordering all the men out of the trench 
and announcing my intention to employ only women for 
the future, while 1 paid a deserving compliment to the 

A few days after this little excursion, a termination 
was put to my researches amid the antiquities of Clial- 
daea by events over which I had no control. The great 


mound at Sinkara liad yielded a series of tiglily inter- 
esting historical annals in its bricks and cylinders, and, 
there being reason to anticipate the discovery of much 
more ancient records at a greater depth, I was anxious 
to continue the excavations, but in this I was destined 
to be sadly disappointed. The continued rise of the 
marshes from the overflowing of the Shat-el-Kahr, an- 
nounced that the whole of Chaldsea would be in a few 
weeks covered with the inundations, and warned me to 
effect an escape while it was possible to do so. The 
Arabs foresaw, in the rise of the waters, a period put to 
the acute miseries they had endured for several succes- 
sive seasons, and could no longer be restrained from 
quitting me to commence the cultivation of their grounds 
before they were submerged. It would have been an 
act of cruelty to detain them longer. Azayiz and Hen- 
na}dn, Budda and a few inveterate grave-diggers alone- 
remained with me, and it was evident that they toa 
desired to depart. Tellag, in whom my hopes of con- 
tinuing the excavations might have rested, came to in- 
form me that he had entered into an agreement \\ the 
Beni Hacheym tribes to quit the ground he then occupied 
near Sinkara, and to retire across the Shat-el-Kahr 
further into the Jezireh. His camels had akeady de- 
parted for their new pasture grounds. Thus there ap- 
peared every likelikood of my being left in solitary pos- 
session of the ruins, because, without means to convey 
away my spoils, I was unable to move. My provisions,, 
moreover, were just exhausted, and there w^as no pros- 
pect, under circumstances, of a fresh supply. I was>. 
therefore, reluctantly obliged to sacrifice my wishes to 
absolute necessity, and to suspend the works both at 
Sinkara and Tel Sifr. 

On stating my dilemma to Tellag, he promised to send 
some of his camels back again for my accommodatioD> 



and in two Jays lie not only redeemed his word, but 
himself returned with the animals, and on the following; 
mornin<T my little caravan was once more in motion 
towards the %phrates. For the aid he had rendered 
me, Tellag was content with the present of an embroidered 
abba, and our parting embrace was one of mutual 
esteem. The friendship, begun under very unpropitious 
circumstances, had proved of infinite value in the ar- 
rangement of my plans, and I therefore took leave of 
my Bedouin protector with regret. Such of my work- 
men as had remained faithful from the commencement, 
were rewarded with the present of a spade, or a trifling 
Arab coin. They had not anticipated such generosity, 
and were overwhelmed with gratitude and .delight; 
Gunza almost cried through excess of joy, and exclaimed 
that, with the sum he had saved and wdiat I then gave 
him, he would be able to pay a debt of fifteen shamies, 
and have, moreover, three to spare ! As I mounted my 
horse, they hung round me, kissed my hands and gar- 
ments, and clung sorrowfully to my stirrups. Hastily 
bidding them adieu, I cantered after the baggage. On 
turning round at some distance to take a last look at the 
mounds, I saw the party sitting on the ruins of the temple 
of Pharra, — and there they continued to sit until their 
diminishing forms were finally lost to my sight. 

Azayiz and Hennayin being desirous of preferring 
f.ome request to the Governor of Semava on behalf of the 
Tuweyba tribe, accompanied me to the banks of the 
Euphrates. A great change was taking place in the 
aspect of the country ; many old channels and water- 
courses, which I had been accustomed to see empty 
and dry, were now rapidly filling with river water. In 
many spots it reached up to my saddle-girths, proving 
the propriety of the step I had taken in ending the 
excavations. AVithin the space of a week, or less, passage 


in that direction, or indeed in any other, would have 
been impracticable. Hennayin, as he walked by my 
side, l)roke out into frequent exclamations of delight at 
the sight of little runners of the vivifying fluid as it 
trickled along, gradually filling the canals. " Is not this 
a beautiful country V he continually exclaimed, while 
he looked up into my face with undoubted signs of 

In anticipation of my return, two native vessels were 
engaged to convey my party and treasures to Busrah. 
The horses, mules, and grooms occupied one, while the 
antiquities were stowed away in the second, which carried 
myself and immediate attendants. While the embarka- 
tion was being efiected, I was in full enjoyment of the 
scene before me. After the dust and barren dreariness 
of the ruins, nothing could exceed the beauty and luxury 
of that river side and its now verdant banks. The shouts 
and squabbles of the Arabs about the daily division of 
their pay were ceased, and in their stead bee-eaters, 
king-fishers, herons, pigeons, hawks, and other birds, in 
all their bright and varied plumage, were flying about, 
uttering their several cries, and luxuriating in their 
native element, scarcely deigning to notice the presence 
of human beings. 

When all were embarked, I bade the Tuweyba chief 
and his brother-in-law adieu, — the cable was haided in, — 
the sails set before a fair wind, — and, with a thousand 
invocations to God and Mohammed, my little fleet was 
wafted rapidly down the stream. The boats used by the 
natives for the navigation of the Mesopotamian rivers 
are huge clumsy craft, built of Indian teak, and of many 
tons burden. They have high sterns, with cabin and 
quarter-deck, from the top of which they are steered by 
a primitive rudder, composed of a complicated system of 
cross spars, roughly tied together. Here sits the captain, 


giving Lis orders and smoking his chibilk, during the 
livelong day, unless disturbed by unforeseen circum- 
stances from his wonted calm; in which cases he rises, 
pipe in hand, and claims implicit obedience from his 
crew by the utterance of a torrent of abuse in richly- 
flowing Arabic, which is so admirably adapted to that 
purpose. Each vessel is supplied with a single tall mast, 
and huge square sail. In floating down the stream, or 
in sailing before a favourable breeze, the ungainly vessel 
goes glibly along ; but when the wind is foul, or the 
course against the stream, the crew strip, flounder to the 
shore, and take the place of brute beasts at the tbw-rope. 
The crew of an Arab vessel is an amphibious race — quite 
as much in the water as out of it. Deep streams have 
to be crossed, or shoals avoided in their tracking, and 
many an hour has to be spent in shoving their craft oft 
a shallow sand-bank. The life of a Tigris " tracker" is 
as hard as can well be imagined. 

Cleanliness is unknown in the cabin of an Arab 
vessel. The flooring, sides, and ceiling are begrimed 
with grease, and stained with smoke, — there is scarcely 
room to stand upright, — the boards are pierced with rats' 
holes, and small vermin issue from every crevice. Add 
to these annoyances, the incessant creaking of the un- 
wieldy rudder and its appliances, — the intolerable noise 
made in tacking, — the frequent prayers to IMohammecl for 
propitious Avinds and weather, mingled witli wild songs 
without the slightest pretension to be called musical, — 
and it may be conceived that a stranger to the navigation 
of the Mesopotamian rivers passes a sleepless and dis- 
turbed first ni<2;ht on board an Arab vessel. 

Fortunately the wind was favourable, so that we 
anchored at Siik-esh-sheioukh soon after midnight, by 
which arrangement there was a welcome cessation to, 
at least, the noisy portion of the annoyances. It was 


my intention to have paid my respects to the Sheikh of 
the Mimtefik, and to have thanked him for the pro- 
tection he had afforded me ; but the captain desired 
to take advantage of the fair wind while he might. 
Quitting our anchorage at day dawn, we sailed at a 
merry rate down the Euphrates, and in two hours passed 
Umm-el-Buk — "the Mother of Mosquitoes" — the head 
of the vast inundation which from this point spreads out 
in every direction like a continuous sea. The channel 
of the Euphrates was only to be distinguished from the 
surrounding water by a narrow strip of bank, or by a 
line of date-trees along its margin. Here and there the 
flood might be seen rushing in a roaring cascade from 
the river into the marshes beyond it ; at such points all 
the skill of the captain and crew was required to prevent 
our being carried through the break. Tcrradas were 
busily employed in conveying the little property of the 
Arabs from their previous settlements, which were being 
speedily covered by the increasing waters. Throughout 
the day the same monotonous deluge presented itself; 
but we continued on our course without intermission, 
at midnight passing Korna, w^here the stream of the 
Tigris joins that of the Euphrates, and from whence their 
combined waters flow onwards to the Persian Gulf, under 
the name of the Shat-el-Arab. A thick forest of luxuriant 
date-trees fringes the bank on either side of the noble 
river, which supplies innumerable canals for their nourish- 
ment, and for the cultivation of cereals, which flourish 
in large quantities even beneath the shade of the 
palms. The ebb and flow of the tide is perceptible 
twenty miles above Korna — quite eighty miles from the 
Persian Gulf. 

At noon the following day, two of my horses were dis- 
embarked at the little village of Girdelan, opposite to 
the creek which flows to Busrah, and, with a single ser- 


vant, I rode across the desert to Moliammerali. The 
vessels meanwhile proceeded on their course to meet me 
in the Hafar canal, or branch of the Persian river Kariln, 
which flows past that city towards the Shat-el-Arab.'"" 

* The collection of antiquities, made during my second visit to Warka, 
was despatched from hence to England at the end of April 1850 ; and my 
report on the subject, accompanied by ]\Ir Churchill's beautiful drawings 
and plans, was then likewise forwarded to the British Museum. 


Mohammei'ali — Intense Heat — Sickness — Legion of Blood-suckers — 
Colony of Alexander the Great — Charax — The Delta of the Tigris 
and Euphrates — Disputes between the Turks and Persians — The 
Cha'b Arabs and their Te^'ritories. 

The camps of the Commissioners for the demarcation 
of the Turco-Persian frontier were pitched in the open 
desert, at the distance of a mile from the date-groves, 
where it was supposed they would be free from the 
miasma arising from the decomposition of noxious matter 
during the period of low tides. From the account given 
of Mohammerah by Captain Selby''' in his Memoir on the 
Ascent of the Karun in 1842, it was generally supposed 
to be an extremely healthy locality. The lengthened 
stay which the Commissions made on the spot 23roved, 
however, the contrary to be the case : continued sick- 
ness pervaded the whole four camps ; food could not be 
retained upon the stomach long after a meal ; and a 
general state of debility naturally ensued. This could 
not be attributed to the style of living ; because each 
party followed its own customs : — the Russians took 
their little doses of cognac, and ate their national 
caviare, — the English abjured fruit, and the Orientals 
lived upon it. Captain Jones and the officers of the 
Nitocris, on their arrival each month from Baghdad, 
were seized with the same complaint ; every meal saw 

* Journal of Eoyal Geogr. Sec, vol. xiv,, p. 223. 


some of our party obliged to make a preci]3itate retreat 
from the table ; and yet no one was seriously ill. 

Besides tliis carious endemic, tbere were other causes 
which rendered the region around Mohammerah by no 
means a desirable place of residence. The heat was 
intense, day and night, — in June rising to 124° Fahr, 
in the shade. It was of that peculiarly moist nature 
which prevails on the sea-coast of India, and more 
especially on the shores of the Persian Gulf, bathing 
the clothes in a continual state of perspiration. At 
Baghdad the heat is great ; but, being uninfluenced 
by the moisture of the distant sea, the atmosphere is 
extremely dry, and the thermometer, consequently, much 
less aff'ected than at Mohammerah. Another source of 
disquietude w^as the myriad of gigantic mosquitoes 
which about sunset issued from the date-n'oves, and made 
a violent onslaught upon the camps. We could hear them, 
in the distance, approaching with an intolerable buzz, and, 
in a few seconds afterwards, it was no uncommon sight 
to behold a party at dinner rush for protection to the 
confined atmosphere of the tents. No one could endure 
the virulence of their bites, — our light clothing was 
pierced instantaneously by their formidable probosces, 
and no earthly endurance could bear the torment inflicted 
at the same moment on the sensitive parts of the body. 
Gloves and boots were of no avail, — they bored through 
the former at once, and found their way over the tops of 
the latter. Besting at night was a sheer impossibility ; 
under a net was the heat of an oven, — outside of it a 
legion of blood-suckers. 

No wonder that all desired a speedy release from the 
miseries endured at this Ultima Thule of the frontier; but 
we were destined long to hope in vain. 

Mohammerah owes its foundation, it is said, to Alexander 
the Great. In order to avoid the necessity of sailing 


down the Eulseiis (the modern Kanin) to the Persian 
Gulf, and afterwards coasting up to the mouth of the 
Tigris, he caused an artificial cutting to be made between 
the two rivers, which is still to be recognised in the Hafar'"' 
now flowing past Mohammerah. Previously to this, the 
Kariin appears to have discharged its waters by one or 
both of the channels called Khor Kobban and Klior 
Bahmeh-shir,t through a low promontory into the Persian 
Gulf, The site of Mohammerah was fixed at the junction 
of the Eulseus and Tigris upon the sea-shore. At this point 
Alexander built an artificial mound, and transferred to it 
a colony from the ruined Persian city of Durine, leaving 
a garrison of those soldiers who were unfit for service. 
He named the place Alexandria after liimself, and the sur- 
rounding country was called Pellseum after the city where 
he was born. The town was afterwards destroyed by the 
invasion of the rivers, but was rebuilt by Antiochus, 
and heuce called Antiochia. It was again ruined, as be- 
fore, and a third time restored by an Arab king Spasines, 
son of Sogdonacus, who erected great dams, wharves, and 
causeways, calling it after himself, Charax of Spasines. 

It was the birthplace of Dionysius the geographer, 
whom the Eoman emperor Augustus sent to obtain in- 
formation on the country for the instruction of his eldest 
son, who was about making an expedition to Armenia 
against the Parthians. 

The province of Characine, whose capital was Charax, 
appears to have especially flourished under the dominion 
of the sub-Parthian kings. The British Museum pos- 
sesses several remarkable copper coins referred to the 
kings of that province ; they bear rude Greek legends, in 

* " Hafdr," in Arabic, means '' digger." 

t For further information on this point, I would refer the reader to the 
Journal of the Koyal Geogr. Society, voL xvi. p. 55, and Macdonald Ean- 
near, p. 293. 


connexion with busts of peculiar character, diadems, long 
peaked curled beards, and the enormous coiffures, so 
characteristic of remains from Warka. 

Charax was named Kerkhi Misan, and Asterabdd by 
the Sassanians, and Maherzi by the early Arabs. 

The site is highly interesting in a geological as well as 
an historical point of view. It is an instance of an 
oceanic delta gaining, with almost unprecedented rapidity, 
upon the sea. According to the statement of Pliny,"'" the 
original site of Charax was two thousand paces from the 
shore, but, in consequence of the rapid accumulation of 
mud annually produced by the rivers, in the time of Juba 
II., king of Mauritania (25 B.C.), it stood fifty miles in- 
land. There is, of course, much exaggeration in 'Pliny's 
information ; but, if we take the trouble of comparing the 
historical accounts of the early Greek, Latin, and Moham- 
medan authors, the increase of land at the delta of the 
Tigris and Euphrates may be distinctly traced. Since 
the commencement of our era there has been an incre- 
ment at the extraordinary rate of a mile in about seventy 
years, which far exceeds the growth of any existing delta. 
This rapid increase is accounted for by the deposit of the 
river mud in the confined basin of the gulf, where, instead 
of being washed away by currents, as in an open ocean, 
it is driven back by the returning tide, and formed 
into a gently shelving bank, perceptible at a consider- 
able distance from the embouchure of the rivers. The 
comparatively recent formation of the country around 
Mohammerah is evident from the remains of fluvia- 
tile and marine shells, which occur abundantly upon a 
soil highly impregnated with saline efflorescences. These 
semi-fossils are identical with species now living in the 
adjacent rivers and in the Persian Gulf. 

About the middle of the last century, when the Per- 
* Liber vi. 27. 


sian empire was thrown into confusion by the assassina- 
tion of the great Nadir Shah, the Cha b Arabs, from the 
marshes at the junction of the Tigris and Eujihrates, 
attacked the Persian tribe of Afshar, and eventually ex- 
pelled them from their possessions on the estuary of the 
Shat-el-Ar4b and Karun. KerlmKhan, the successor of 
Nadir Shah, after a fruitless attempt to regain the valuable 
territory, was compelled to abandon it to its new occu- 
piers. Sheikh Salman, the head of the Cha'b Arabs, 
aware of the importance of the position thus acquired, 
quickly raised a fleet, and long held his ground against 
both Turks and Persians, making piratical attacks on 
vessels in the Persian Gulf, among which he succeeded in 
capturing some British vessels. Tribute, or rather pisli- 
kash (present), is, however, now exacted from the Cha'b, 
whenever the Shah or his provincial governors possess 
suflicient force for the purpose, and the amount varies in 
ratio to the power exercised. 

The value of Mohammerah as a commercial position 
was established by Sheikh Tliamir, the great-grandson of 
Salman, who opened it as a free port, thereby inflicting 
serious damage on the revenues of the Turkish customs at 
Busrah: hence arose the dispute concerning the place 
between the Tiu'ks and Persians. 'Ali Pasha finding; his 
income considerably diminished, determined on attacking 
the enterprising sheikh ; an expedition was consequently 
fitted out, and the town, with all its valuable contents, 
destroyed. The Persians being naturally under obliga- 
tion to support the sheikh, and defend what they re- 
garded as Persian soil, the dispute waxed warm between 
the two powers, and the chief of the Cha'b, meanwhile, 
assumed a very independent position, althougli nominally 
imder the Turks. His place of residence was at Fellahiyya, 
but the custody of Mohammerah was consigned to Sheikh 
Ja'ber, who acted as his agent, and gradually acquired 


au enormous fortune. On the death of Sheikh Thamir, he 
was succeeded by his son Faris, the present head of the 
Cha b, and Sheikh Ja'ber has raised himself to be almost 
independent of his natural chief. 

By the treaty of Erzeriim, however, it was agreed that 
Mohammerah should be finally made over to the Per- 
sians ; but, on its being proposed, when the Commis- 
sioners met upon the spot, to carry out the spirit of the 
treaty, an unexpected difficulty presented itself. The 
Turkish Commissioner, in most lawyer-like manner, 
argued, like Portia in the Merchant of Venice, ' 

" This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood ; 
The words expressly are, a pound of flesh. 
Then take thy bond — take thou the pound of flesh." • 

According to the letter of the deed, he was content to 
deliver up the town, but not an inch of the surrounding 
territory. Here, however, the similitude ended. Con- 
ference followed conference on this momentous question. 
Dervish Pasha stood his ground, and would consent to 
no other terms ; whereupon Mirza Jafer Khan instigated 
Sheikh Ja'ber to raise the Persian flag upon the walls of 
Mohammerah. Thus there was danger, at the very 
outset of the Commissioners' assembling, that the whole 
afiair would fall to the ground, and bring about a recom- 
mencement of hostilities. Fortunately, European counsel 
was listened to ; the obnoxious flag was removed, the 
point at issue referred to the four governments for 
decision, and it was ultimately resolved that a careful 
survey should be taken of the whole frontier line, and 
that all disputed questions should be left for future 

In its present state, Mohammerah consists of a wretched 
assemblage of huts, containing about three hundred 
famihes, and is tolerably furnished with bazaars. On the 
settlement of the pending controversy, the place will. 

THE CHA'b ARABS. 28.3 

from its naturally advantageous position, soon become 
the great emporium of commerce between India, Turkey, 
and the south-western provinces of Persia ; but, under 
the present aspect of affairs, there is little immediate 
prospect of its advancement. 

Sheikh Ja'ber is a shrewd calculating Arab, far be- 
yond his race in intelligence and civilization. Possessed 
of several vessels, he carries on an extensive trade 
with Muscat and Bombay, and can bring into the field a 
considerable force of horsemen and musketeers. His 
riches and influence are so great, that, in case of a mis- 
understanding with his superior. Sheikh Ja'ber would 
be a formidable rival for the chieftainship of the whole 

The Cha'b Arabs are a tall, warlike race, with swarthy 
countenances, and an expression which denotes a strong- 
infusion of Persian blood. In dress, they rather adopt 
the Persian than the Arab costume. The national black 
and white striped abba is thrown over the blue cotton 
tunic and short drawers of the Persian, while an ample 
black turban, tied in the pecidiar fashion of Shiister and 
Dizfvil, shields the visage from the sun. Each man 
carries an immense long musket slung over his shoulder, 
a sword, and round target of tough bull's hide, studded 
with large copper nails or bosses. They are a brave, but 
cruel race, far inferior to the Bedouin in every manly 
and nol)le quality. 

The district occupied by the Cha'b Arabs constitutes 
the largest part of the Persian pro\dnce of Khiizistan, 
" the land of sugar " — the name being derived from the 
cultivation of that plant, which was extensively carried 
on here in former times. It is, however, usually deno- 
minated Arabistan, from its inhabitants. 

The Cha'b""' extend from the Persian Gulf, on the 

• For a detailed accdunt of this large tribe, consult Mr Layard's 


south, to an imaginary northern line, drawn from the 
Shat-el-Arab above Busrah, to the Kariin, midway 
between Ahwaz and Ismaili, forming a junction with the 
tribes of the Beni Mm and Wall of Hawiza, — thence the 
line follows the left bank of the Kariin, to a point above 
the village of Wais. From this, the eastern boundary 
extends along the Zeytiln Hills to the river Hindiyyan, and 
down its course to the sea. On the west, they possess a 
small strip of land upon the farther bank of the Shat-el- 
Ardb, from its mouth to near the town of Busrah. 

During the early part of our mission, Khjizistan was 
governed by a Georgian Christian, named Sitleyman 
Khan, whose justice and moderation rendered him a 
general favourite with all classes of his subjects. Not- 
withstanding their fanatical dispositions, and his despised 
religion, they were eloquent in his praise ; and it spoke 
well for the feelings of all classes — from the Shah to the 
Arab cultivator — that a Christian governor should be 
tolerated in the most fanatical of all Mohammedan 
countries. In my own intercourse, however, with the 
Persians, I did not always meet ^vith the same toleration ; 
and I can only account for their endurance of Suleyman 
Khan in consequence of his sterling qualities, and, above 
all, of the Shah's supreme will. 

admirable memoir " On the Province of Khiizistdn," in the Journal of the 
Royal Geographical Society, vol. xvi., p. 36, et seq. ; and likewise Baron de 
Bode's "Travels in L6rist4n and Ardbistdn," vol. ii., p. 110. 


Setting out for Susa — The Sulky Ferryman — Coffee-cups and Infidels — 
Ahwaz — ^A False Alarm — Shtister — Dilapidation and Dirt — Shaptir 
and the Captive Emperor Valerian — Their Grand Hydraulic Works 
— Festivities at Shuster — Tea — ^The Forbidden Beverage — Climate 
of Shuster — Failure in Diplomacy. 

As soon as my collection of antiquities obtained at 
Warka was despatched to England, Colonel Williams 
desired me to visit Susa, and endeavour to make excava- 
tions at the mounds which are well known to exist at 
that locality. I was particularly instructed to be careful 
in my dealings with the natives, and to desist from any 
attempt at carrying out the project, if it were productive 
of opposition from any quarter. As the ruins had never 
been surveyed, it was desirable that a plan should be at 
once made, which might be turned to account in the 
event of researches being made on the spot. Mr Churchill, 
my companion on the previous journey through Meso- 
potamia, gladly, availed himself of the permission 
accorded to him of joining me in the expedition, and I 
was only too delighted to take advantage of his knowledge 
of the language, and his agreeable society. 

Letters were furnished me by the British and the 
Persian Commissioners to Suleyman Khan and the 
authorities at Shuster and Dizful — the two great Persian 
cities in the plains of Arabistan. Mirza Jafer Khan 
likewise sent one of liis own gholams to guide, and 


to ensure us a certain degree of respect from his country- 
men. Thus provided we once more bid adieu to our 
friends, and set out on our travels, dehghted beyond 
measure to escape from the feverish heat and debihtating 
atmosphere of Mohammerah. 

In order to avoid the intensity of the sun, it was 
necessary to start early, so as to rest for a few hours at 
noon, and again resume the journey when the heat had 
somewhat abated. Our general course was north-easterly, 
along the banks of the Karun, but, during our first day's 
ride, we only touched upon it at a single point, and again 
took the direct route, sleeping at night upon the arid 
floor of the desert. On the following morning we once 
more reached the river at a ruined tomb called* Imam 
Seba', enshrouded in a deep grove of date-trees ; the 
banks of the Karun beino; also frino;ed with a thick forest 
of fine tamarisks, which gradually sloped to the river brink. 

At mid-day we arrived opposite to the Arab village of 
Ismaili, where a ferry-boat is established for passengers. 
Whetlier the Arabs were taking their siesta, or whether 
they were indisposed to move instantaneously at the beck 
of every traveller who might present himself at the 
water's edge, it is difiicult to say, but, notwithstanding aU 
our shouting, threats, entreaties, and firing of pistols, the 
Cliaron of Ismaili refused to appear. Having no other 
alternative but to w^it the pleasure of that worthy, an 
awning was hastily raised, under which we fell asleep to 
Mdiile away the time. Patience always has its reward ; 
so in this case, after waiting four hours, a man paddled 
over the stream in a small boat to ascertain what we 
wanted, although he might have heard every word spoken 
by us on the opposite side. A messenger Avas then sent 
across to the sheikh to say that we carried letters from 
the Elchi (ambassador) at Mohammerah to the governor 
of the province, and that the ferry-boat nmst be sent over 


without farther delay. After levelling some abuse at 
Christians, Charon at length appeared with a large hulk, 
into which the baggage was tumbled, ourselves taking up 
a position on the top of the pile. The horses and mules 
swam the river, and the whole party was soon landed in 
safety on the left bank below the village. 

The sheikh probably thought he had carried his dis- 
respect too far, and now came out on a beautiful mare to 
receive his guests; but we took no notice of him. Not 
until we had made all the necessary arrangements about 
the j)itching of our tents and disposal of the baggage, did 
we deign to tell him, in the hearing of his people, that 
the elchi should be informed of our un courteous reception. 
His excuse was that he was not aware we were waiting 
for the boat, and that the ferryman could not be found. 
After several refusals, we at length condescended to^ 
accompany him to his hut. We were then conducted to* 
a dirty yard, where, under the scanty shade of a few 
boughs, sat a party of filthy Cha'b, unwilling to shew the- 
shghtest respect to the Christian strangers until the sheikh 
requested them to rise. Then, and then only, they made 
a feint of getting up from their greasy mats. Coffee was- 
made and handed in a cracked cup, with a large piece out 
of the edge, from which we both drank. It had beeni 
purposely chosen, for no sooner was it carried to the door- 
than it was broken to pieces, being pronounced " nedjis,"" 
" unclean" from having touched our infidel lips ! It was; 
impossible to resist the temptation of saying that washing; 
would have had equal effect, and that then the expense 
of a new cup would have been spared to the sheikh's 
pocket ! Such was our reception by oui' first Persia-a 

Our third day's journey extended to Ahwaz ; during 
it we caught the first glimpse of the distant mountains, 
Math their continuous undulating Hne, void of speak or 


of any prominent features ; but the breeze which blew 
from them was cool and invigorating. As we now 
quitted the saliferous alluvium of the lower plains, and 
entered upon the gravel and sandstone beds of the ter- 
tiary rocks, a considerable change was perceptible in the 
character of the vegetation ; the tamarisk was becoming 
less plentiful, and its place was occupied by large bushes 
of the sidr, or kon^r, with its pretty red berries. The 
soil, too, was covered with widely scattered blades of 
scorched yellow grass ; and on the bank of the Karun, about 
two miles from Ahw^z, were four large tree^, resembling 
the oak in form, and fifty feet high. They bore small 
oval, tough, leaves, and were in full bloom, with large 
yeUow flowers resembling a foxglove, but much larger, 
and referable to Tetrandria Monogynia. I gathered 
several specimens for my herbarium, but, before I could 
overtake the caravan, the heat destroyed them. The 
same species of tree never again occurred to me, nor was 
I ever able to ascertain its native name. 

Sheikh Ibbara, of Ahwaz, shewed himself to be more 
civilized and hospitable than the cup-breakers at Ismaill 

Ahwaz is situated on the left bank of the Kdrun at the 
base of a range of reddish sandstone and gravel-con- 
glomerate hiUs, which bear in a south-east direction 
towards Zeytun. This range is the principal outlier of 
the great mountains, and may likewise be traced in the 
opposite direction across the Karun towards Hawiza, and 
from thence to the east of Mendeli. It finally rises into 
a considerable range called the Hamrin, and crosses the 
Tigris below the junction of the Little Zab with the 
larger river. 

Ahwaz is celebrated for the massive bund, or dam, which, 
below the town, obstructs the free navigation of the 
river. This bund is a natural barrier formed by the 
continuation of the sandstone beds of the range above 

AHWAZ — AGINI8. 291 

mentioned, furtlier strengthened and enlarged by an 
artificial wall, portions of which are still remaining 
entire, while the remainder has been washed away by 
the force of the stream. One of the three openings was 
navigated by Captain Selby in the H.E.I.C steam-vessel 
Assyria, but the others are shallow. The artificial masonry 
was doubtless erected for the purpose of diverting a 
portion of the stream into canals on either side above 
the bund, which acted as the bank of a reservoir, and 
raised the water to the required level. Above the town 
is the dry bed of a wide, ancient canal, called Nahr-el- 
Bahara, which flowed past Fell^hiyya and joined the 
river Jerr^hi at Bender. Its bed is now a corn-field. 
When the artificial dam existed, and there was a super- 
abundance of water in the reservoir, it was got rid of by 
means of tunnels cut through the rocks on the left bank, 
which again conveyed it to the main stream below the 
bund. Here, on the right bank, is another dry channel, 
supposed by some travellers to be the mouth of the 
river Euleeus, by which Alexander the Great sailed from 
Susa to the sea. 

The ancient city of Aginis is said to have occupied 
the site of Ahw^^z. Extensive ruins occur along the 
base of the sandstone range, and are reported to extend 
a distance of two days' journey. In the ascent from the 
modern town are to be seen a number of fallen columns, 
quarried from the stone of the neighbourhood, and a 
quantity of debris from various decayed edifices. The 
solid rock, at some period or another, has been cut in 
many places, and the remains of excavated chambers are 
abundant. Wherever an abrupt surface of rock is ex- 
posed, it has been rudely scarped and ornamented. In 
aU directions are rock tombs, accessible by means ot 
steps, and due to a period anterior to the Arab conquest 
of Persia; but at the base of the rocks are sepulchres 

292 THE kArOn. 

of later date — ^large stone slabs lie horizontally on the 
ground, ornamented with a Saracenic arch, and having 
at the lower extremity a small channel to allow the 
rain to escape from the surface. Around the arch are 
much- weathered Kufic inscriptions. From the highest 
point of the range, the view of these burial places has a 
remarkably curious effect, and is well worthy of the tra- 
veller's attention. 

From Ahwaz our next stage was to Bender-ghil, pass- 
ing by the way the small Arab village of Wais, where 
the whole population was busily engaged with the har- 
vest ; men and boys, cows and donkeys were ass*duously 
treading out the corn, of which there was an abundant 
supply. Above Wais the Karun flows through a light 
alluvial soil, admirably suited for the cultivation of 
grain, although it is to be doubted if the farmers of 
Wais were aware of the fact. 

The river Karun is divided at Shiister into two 
branches, which again meet at Bender-ghil after a course 
of about thirty miles. The eastern branch is called the 
A'b-i-Gargar, and flows in a milk-white stream through 
an artificial channel. The western branch is the origi- 
nal bed of the river, and takes the appellation of Shuteyt ; 
the colour of its stream is reddish, and its velocity 
greater than the A'b-1-Gargar. At Bender-ghil, likewise, 
is the mouth of the Dizful river, which pours its red, 
turbid waters into the Shuteyt, leaving a deposit of red 
mud below the village, upon the island formed by the 
two streams of the Karun. For a considerable distance 
below the junction of the rivers, the milky water of the 
A'b-i-Gargar refuses to mingle cordially with its fellows ; 
but, before arriving at Wais, the Karun has partaken of 
the turbid character of the Diz, which it retains through- 
out the remainder of its course to the sea. 

Bender-gliil is a wretched place, containing forty 


houses, entirely supported by the traffic produced by its 
ferry — little enough in all conscience. From hence our 
route lay over a pretty undulating country. A ripe 
grass of rich golden hue clothed the surface, which was 
plentifully studded with green konar trees, affording not 
only a deep contrast for the eye, but a welcome shade 
for the whole person of the traveller. Espying a large 
mound on our right hand, we made a detour to ^dsit it, 
under the impression that it was portion of the ruins 
said to stand on the bank of the A'b-l-Gargar. We 
were, however, mistaken in our surmise, and had the 
trouble of wading through roughly-ploughed ground, 
which yielded an abundant crop of prickly thistles, 
making ourselves and horses wince with pain. While 
carefully picking our way through the army of lances 
opposing our progress, a black flag was suddenly hoisted 
on our right, and, shortly afterwards, a strong party of 
horsemen with large tufted spears advanced to meet us 
from one direction, while, from another, a little army of 
half-naked Anafiyya Arabs, who occupy the island, cut 
off" our retreat ; the latter were armed with swords and 
guns slung over their tawny shoulders, and came on 
rapidly, preceded by a man carr5dng a piece of black 
tenting on a pole. Yells and war-dances were rendered 
exquisite by the additional excitement imparted by the 
thistles. It afterwards appeared that they v/ere in daily 
expectation of an attack from their mountain neighbours, 
the Bakhtiyari, and, seeing us upon the mound far away 
from the beaten track, they made certain their enemies 
were upon them. How surprised they must have been 
to meet two peaceful Englishmen with umbrellas instead 
of muskets in their hands! The horsemen were, of 
course, first to reach us ; they were all well armed with 
spear and leathern shield, and presented an imposing 
and picturesque front as they rode up, on valuable 


mares, headed by their sheikh Husseyn and his big- 
tufted spear. Notwithstanding the unnecessary alarm 
we had occasioned them, he gave us a kindly welcome, 
and rode back with us to his camp. One of the Arab 
party was questioned as to the force his tribe could 
muster, when he readily answered, " nine hundred foot- 
men and three hundred horse." Then riding up to the 
sheikh's side, he asked if he had replied satisfactorily. 
"Yes, pretty well!" said Husseyn; "you might have 
said more, but never mind, it will do tolerably well." 
The fact was, that a third of the number .would have 
been ample ! We encamped during the heat of the day 
within a few yards of his tent, and received Irom the 
sheikh the present of a lamb, in proof of his friendship 
and goodwill. 

A further ride of three short hours brought the party 
to Imam Kaf-'Ali, a whitened sepulchre on a little ele- 
vation, which overlooks the town of Shiister with its 
mosque and numerous tombs of holy men — all painted 
white, and contrasting in the most marked degree with 
the piles oi rubbish and filth around them. The most 
distant object is the old castle overlooking the Shuteyt, 
and the nearest is a series of gardens, partially con- 
cealing low mounds and ruins, the remains of a more 
ancient city. The first sight of Shiister is by no means 
an interesting or beautiful scene, for, even in the dis- 
tance, ruin and decay are the principal features, afford- 
ing too correct a picture of its wretched condition. 

The precincts of the place are entered from the south 
by the PuK Lascar, whose low arches span a dry canal ; 
near it we were introduced to the tomb of Imam-zada 
Abdulla, one of the most extraordinary specimens of 
ugly, mis-shapen architecture which any Mohammedan 
city can produce. Its squat building was surmounted 
by an enormously elongated cone, resembling a huge ex- 


tinguislier. On either side was a tall minaret, with 
gallery to the summit, giving it the appearance of a 
large candlestick with the candle just burned to the 
socket. To render them more conspicuous, the promi- 
nent features were glaring white. 

The town appeared as though an earthquake had 
recently occurred, the bazaars, once so famous, were de- 
serted, and the houses were apparently in the act of fall- 
ing on the inhabitants, many being merely heaps of 
bricks. Euin ! ruin ! ruin ! was the prevailing character 
of" the Persian seat of government in Arabistan, which 
presented a worse picture of depopulation than either 
Baghdad or Busrah. But there had been no earthquake, 
no recent attack from the foe; what we saw was the 
result of continued misgovernment, over-taxation, and 
internal feuds. Shuster is the abode of many noble 
families, constantly drawing the sword upon each other. 
Every quarter has its own chief, who is surrounded by 
his followers, ready at any moment to attack their neigh- 
bours. The influence of the Persian government is 
only maintained by keeping up a feeling of hostility 
among the various clans — for so the different parties 
may be called. Frequently, however, the antagonism, 
which it seeks to promote, is turned against its own 
lieutenant, and the governor of Arabistan is at times 
obliged to defend himself vi et armis, or by an ignomini- 
ous flight. No great outbreak had occurred for the 
previous three years, so that we saw the city on its best 
behaviour, with a disposition to be tranquil, until some 
unexpected and unforeseen circumstance should arise to 
fan the latent fire. Persian cities generally are not 
remarkable for cleanliness ; but of all that the traveller 
ever visits, Shuster — and, I may add, Dizful — are the lie 
plus ultra in this respect. Dogs are, of course, the 
scavengers in all Oriental towns ; but they decline to 


cleanse the streets of the twin capitals of Arabistan ! 
Spouts, projecting half-way across the narrow lanes, dis- 
charge the night soil from the house tops. There the 
foul mass lies unnoticed, contaminating the air, and dif- 
fusing fevers, cholera, and disease, being only removed 
by the heavy rains of spring, or thrown to one side and 
covered with fresh earth on the arrival of some great 
visitor whom it delights the governor thus to honour ! 
It is impossible to walk through the streets ; and, in 
riding, good navigation is required to escape the down- 
pourings from the spouts ! 

Indigo is much cultivated at Shuster and DizfuF; hence 
it is that the prevailing colour worn by the natives is blue. 
Blue cotton tunics girded round the waist with a shawl ; 
shalwas, or trousers, of the same colour and material ; 
and tawny complexions, well stained with the dye, meet 
one at every corner. The usual cullah, or tall lamb-skin 
cap of the Persian, is seldom worn here ; but the ordinary 
head-dress of the people consists oi a long piece of black 
stuff wound round the brow, one end being puckered up 
in front, like the feather of a Highlander's bonnet, while 
the other hangs down the back, in imitation of the 
streamers which were used by the Parthians and Sass- 
anians. Excepting a thick felt skull-cap, and short 
drawers which cover the hips and thighs, boys run about 
entirely naked. The countenances of the inhabitants are 
not prepossessing; — low cunning, deceit, and mistrust 
being universal among the lower classes. These towns 
are the gathering-places of priests and Seyids, or de- 
scendants of the Prophet, the fanatical expression of whose 
features — overshadowed by white and green turbans 
in ample folds — proclaims intense bigotry and hatred 
of all races, sects, and religions but their own. The 
aristocracy, however, boasts of some well-informed and 
liberal men, whom it would be unfair to include among 


the vulgar herd. The hospitahty and attention displayed 
by them during our three days' stay left a favourable 
impression on our minds, which was not effaced during 
subsequent visits. 

Of the primitive history of Shuster we know nothing, 
researches not havino; been made in the surroundino; 
ruins. By some authors it is regarded as the site of 
" Shushan the Palace," where the stirring scenes con- 
nected with the life of Esther are stated to have taken place. 
These, however, as will be hereafter seen, certainly occurred 
at Shilsh. The town of Shuster appears to have risen 
into importance at a period coincident with the decline 
of the great capital of the Persian kings ; and the mo- 
dern name " Shuster," or " Little Shush," indicates its 
phoenix-like birth irom the ruins of the greater city, 
Shushan. However this may be, it was undoubtedly at 
the height of its power in the time of Shapur, the 
second monarch of the Sassanian line, a.d. 242-273. 
History tells us, that when Shapur advanced from Persia 
to wrest the Western Provinces of Asia from the hands 
of the Eomans, the Emperor Valerian, in attempting to 
relieve Edessa, was taken prisoner. Shapur, with the 
cruelty of the Eastern character, during seven years 
insulted and degraded his fallen foe, using him as a foot- 
stool to mount on horseback. At length, after a con- 
tinuance of unheard-of cruelties, the captive's eyes were 
plucked out, and his skin — flayed from his body — was 
dressed, died red, and stuffed, in which condition it was 
carried about with the conqueror, and exhibited as a 
trophy of his greatness ! To Valerian's captivity and 
genius Shuster is in an eminent degree indebted. The 
existing remains of magnificent specimens of engineering 
skill, far surpassing anything of the kind in Persia at the 
present day, are attributed to him. It forms no part of 
my intention to describe these remarkable hydraulic 

298 THE bund-i-mizAn. 

works in detail, because this lias been carefully done 
elsewbere ;'"' but it may not be uninteresting to give a 
short description of them for the information of the 
general reader. 

The Karun, just before reaching the town of Shiister, 
after striking against a high cliff of sandstone and gravel 
conglomerate, makes an abrupt turn to the west, passing 
close under the foot of the castle rock. Beyond this is 
the Bund-1-Mizan — a massive dam of hewn stone blocks, 
fastened with iron cramps, and thrown completely across 
the wide, deep, and rapid stream of the Kartin. The 
admirable nature of this dam is evident from its 4iaving 
borne the rush of the torrent duiing so many centuries. 
This bund not only acts as the wall of a reservoir, but 
serves as a foundation for a bridge of enormous length. 
Probably no portion of Valerian's original structure now 
exists at this bund, with the exception of some massive 
pier-bases. The bridge itself has repeatedly given way 
in various places, and now presents a complete patch- 
work of Persian ingenuity in architecture. Three of the 
centre arches had fallen the winter before our visit, and 
lay obstructing the passage of the water over the bund — 
to all appearance likely to lie there until the force of the 
current should wash them away! Of the arches remain- 
ing, thirty-six were large and twenty small — built in 
every style, from the high to the low pointed arch. On 
the north side, below the bridge, are the remains of 
several water-mills, to which the water is diverted by 
excavations in the solid rock. The gravel cliffs here are 
hollowed out in every direction for serdabs, or cellars, 
many of which are of sufficient size to accommodate a 
large caravan. Pillars of the rock are left to support the 

• I must refer to Sir Henry Rawlinson's and Mr Layard's valuable papei's, 
in the Royal Geographical Society, for a full and historical account of these 
extraordinary works. Vol. ix., p. 73 ; vol. xvi., p. 27. 


roof ; but huge blocks, lying in the bed of the river, 
attest that they have fallen from their places by being 
too much undermined. 

The object of the Bund-i-Mizan was twofold: — ^to form 
a foundation for the bridge, and to accumulate a sheet of 
water before the castle for the delectation of its possessor, 
who, like all Persians, was, doubtless, partial to the sight 
— if not to the touch — of water. 

But Valerian's or Shapur's great work was the cutting 
of the great channel, through which the A^b-i-Gargar, or 
eastern branch of the Kartin, flows, which was effected 
at the point where the main stream of the Karun is, as I 
have said, deflected from its previous course above the 
town. Here a cutting was made to the depth of seventy 
feet through the natural rock, and carried to a distance, 
which I am unable to state, from the bed of the original 
channel. Into this cutting the stream was admitted ; 
but, as it must otherwise have abstracted the greater part 
of the river, a sohd and well-built wall, supported by 
strong buttresses of hewn stone, was built across the 
mouth of the canal. To withstand the force of the 
stream, when flooded, the dam was supphed with external 
round buttresses, admirably adapted to the purpose. 
The water, admitted through several sluices in the stone- 
work, may be regulated at pleasure. The name applied 
to this massive dam is a self-evident proof of its being 
originally designed and constructed by the captive 
emperor : it is called Bund-i-Kaysar, or Caesar's'"" dam. 
It is likewise frequently named Bund-i-Shah-zada,t from 
having been repaired or streng-thened by a late prince- 
governor of Kirmanshah. 

♦ Ccesar, as every person knows, was the title assumed by all the Roman 
amperors after Julius Caesar, in the same manner as Pharaoh was applied 
to the Egyptian monarch. 

t Shah-zada means Prince ; literally " Son of a king." 


At the distance of about half-a-mile below tbis ancient 
work is another bund, of probably more recent construc- 
tion, even more solid and substantial than the one just 
described. It communicates with the suburb of Boleitl, 
and is hence called Puli Boleitl, being seventy paces long, 
twelve paces wide, and nearly as high as the cliffs on 
either side. The water, conveyed through the rock at the 
sides, falls about twenty feet into the artificial channel 
below, working, in its course, numerous wheels, which 
daily grind immense quantities of barley. There does 
not, probably, exist throughout the East a single city 
at which so much labour has been expended in distri- 
buting a proper supply of water to its dependencies as 
at Shdster. The interior of the town is provided for by 
two canals, pierced through the castle rock. 

Between the Bund-i-Kaysar and the Bund-i-Mizan, the 
bed of the Karun is said to be paved with stone, and 
called the Shadarawan. 

With the exception of the bunds and foundations of 
the great bridge, there do not appear to be at Shuster 
any buildings existing of earlier date than the Moham- 
medan era, although M. Court''' mentions a relic of 
Sassanian origin at the castle gateway, but which no 
other modern traveller has yet seen. 

Suleyman Khan, the governor of the province, to 
whom our letters were addressed, was absent at Earn 
Hormuzd collecting tribute, and preparing to send an 
expedition against the great Bakhtiyari chief, J^fer Kuli 
Khan, who had taken refuge in his inaccessible mountain 
fortress — the Diz — and defied all the forces of Persia. 
AVe were, however, received by his secretary Hadji 
Mohammed 'All, and Mirza Sultan 'Ali Khan, the gover- 
nor of the towm for the time being, who, as weU as the 
other great men of the place, treated us to a series of 

• Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bombay, No. xxxv., p. 560. 


festivities, which, if not quite in accordance witli 
European taste, at least shewed a disposition to honour 
their visitors after their own fashion. The followino; was 
the style of entertainment dispensed to us by the gover- 
nor, whose residence was one of the most pleasantly 
situated, and one of the largest in the town. It stood on 
the edge of the cliff overlooking the A'bi-Gargar — a huge 
block of lofty walling, with here and there a small grated 
window, more useful for the discharge of bullets during 
an emeute than for the admission of light or air. It had 
two entrances, the principal of which was a deep oval 
recess, decorated at the top with Arabesque ornaments 
usual in such positions, and supplied with stone seats, 
where the owner of the mansion " sat in the gate," after 
the mode of Orientals in all ages, hearing the news and 
discussing the various questions of the day amid a 
respectful circle of visitors and attendants. Rising at 
our approach, he conducted us through a spacious court, 
containing in the centre a large tank full of water, up a 
narrow staircase in one corner, to an upper story, where 
was a second but smaller court, surrounded on three sides 
by plain walls — the fourth, next the river, containing an 
iwan, or arched chamber, open at one extremity — a never- 
failing adjunct to Persian houses. 

In the centre of the court was a small garden with a 
few stunted specimens of vegetation, and in front of the 
iwan was a small reservoir — also an indispensable neces- 
sary to Persian keyf — in which two very curious jets were 
made to play in an extremely comical manner by the pres- 
sure of water, raised from the river to the top of the house. 
This was effected by means of a creaking piece of machinery 
and leathern buckets, driven by an obstinate mule, which, 
to the no small amusement of my companion and myself, 
every now and then turning restive, caused the cessation 
of the fountains through lack of the needful supply. 

302 THE governor's banquet. 

We were soon duly seated upon one of those mag- 
nificent carpets which excite the admiration of all 
travellers in that country. Mirza Sultan 'Ali Khan was 
very gi-acious as we explained to him the object of oui- 
proposed visit to Shush, and the nature of the information 
likely to be derived from excavating in its mounds. He 
quite comprehended us, and became warm on the con- 
quests of Key Kawtis, and the magnificence of Khussrev ; 
but when, as a matter of course, he struck into the 
everlasting theme of Persian recitation — the Shah-ndma 
of Ferdusi — there seemed a probability that his excite- 
ment would outdo his hospitality. The name of* Shush 
acted like magic on a knot of green-turbaned gentry who 
sat with us, and the whispering that succeeded proved 
them to be jealous and doubtful of our real intentions ; 
but of this we took no heed. Kaliydnes, or water pipes, 
were first duly served by ganymedes with sombre head- 
dress, and hand upon heart ; then ensued a general 
hubble-bubbling, as if it were part of every man's avoca- 
tion in life to inhale the smoke of tobacco and charcoal 
into his lungs with the greatest possible noise. After 
this came tea — not the stuff sold in English grocers' 
shops, which produces astringency enough to convert the 
surface of the tongue into a rasp — but pure and undefiled 
chai, brought overland through Russia, and whose flavour 
gives one some idea of the delicious infusion which, alas ! 
we in England know not of. Russian overland tea, in 
Persia, takes the place which Arab coffee assumes in Turkey, 
and no old lady in the land of the west can sip her dish 
of fragrant tea with more relish than does the Persian 
gentleman. There, the greater the pile of sugar put into 
the cup, the greater is the honour paid to the guest. 
Succeeding to a sm-feit of tea-syrup came a second edition 
of kaliyun, after which we underwent the categorical 
examination of the green turbans for so long a time that 

THE governor's BANQUET. 303 

I confess to having entirely lost tlie use of my nether 
extremities from cramp. We had gone to breakfast with 
the governor at an hour he had himself named, but, time 
shpping rapidly away, it became questionable whether 
our host had not forgotten the invitation, or whether we 
had misunderstood him. Three huge trays at length 
entered the court on men's heads, which prepared us for 
a sumptuous repast ; my readers may judge our disap- 
pointment and horror when, at mid-day, without pre- 
viously eating anything, we found that the trays placed 
before us contained literally nothing but green cucumbers 
and sour apricots — the sjonbols of cholera, as we had 
been accustomed to regard them ! However, there was 
no retreat, so, putting a good face on the matter, we duly 
washed our hands and set to with the best possible grace. 
We both fortunately survived that day ! After the 
banquet came a washing of hands in the water tank with 
the comical jets, another course of kaliyuns, and finally 
a cup of coffee, which completed this great entertainment 
and permitted our departure with decorum. The gover- 
nor accompanied us to the door of his house, and we rode 
to our tents by the river side to get "something to eat!" 
This was a specimen of the ordinary fetes, but we 
sometimes had enough, and much more than enough, of 
chilaw, and pilaw, and lamb stuffed with rice, almonds, 
and raisins ; vegetables swimming in oil, and an infinity 
of compounds, which it is impossible to enumerate, and 
which only a hungry traveller can truly appreciate. 
Tea and sherbet were our only drink during these visits, 
but, for all that, it must not be supposed that Persians 
do not tipple. I well remember a subsequent stay at 
Shtister, when, in addition to one of sherry, a bottle of 
brandy was placed on the table of the Commission, after a 
long day's journey in a pouring rain. The governor's 
brother entered, in his usual sedate manner, and took a 


seat. He desired to know the contents of the bottles ; 
a glass of sherry was poured out, which he drank, and 
pronounced " khtib !" " good !" A second was " khile khub ! 
bislar khiib 1" " extremely good 1" — but he asked to taste 
of the other bottle. That was "beh! beh! beh!" Tlien 
he tried a glass of sherry, then a glass of brandy. 
Finally, he seized both bottles, and mixed the liquors in the 
same glass ; nor did he desist until the whole contents 
had disappeared. Not content with this, he asked for more, 
but this was, of course, refused him. He was ultimately 
supported from the room by an old domestic, who 
exhibited great concern that ghyawrs should see hi^ master 
in his cups. We afterwards learned that, previously to 
joining our party, he had imbibed eleven glasses of raw 
'arak ! An oriental has no idea of temperance in his 
potations ; he thinks that there is little pleasure in a 
single glass : accordingly, when he drinks, he does so to 

During the summer, the intensity of the heat compels 
the people of Shtister to retire into their serdabs, or 
under-ground apartments, during the day, and to emerge 
at sunset to sleep upon their terraces. These serdabs 
are cut out of the solid rock, and supplied with flues or 
shafts, which, rising above the houses like ornamental 
chimneys, produce a free current of air. Without ser- 
dabs, it would be almost impossible to exist in the hot, 
drying wind, which more resembles the blast from a 
furnace, than the air of the habitable earth. 

In the absence of Suleyman Khan, we were more 
especially the guests of Hadji Mahommed 'Ali, who would 
not permit anything to be cooked by our own people, 
insisting that whatever we required should be sent from 
his kitchen. In fact, during our stay, all parties vied 
with each other in their attentions towards us. 

With letters to the Governor of Dizfiil, to aid and 


assist oiir plans at Shush, we took leave of our new 
friends. Two small keleks supplied the place of the 
broken bridge, by means of which our baggage was 
conveyed to the western bank of the Shuteyt, where it was 
necessary to pass the night, so as to make a good start 
at daybreak. On quitting Shuster a liberal present was 
left for the servants of Hadji Mahommed 'Ali, in return 
for his hospitality. It was, however, sent back, with a 
message " that the Hadji would not permit it ; were we 
not the Hadji's guests, and should his servants receive 
presents on that account, although it was a Persian 
custom ? It was a bad example ; — they would expect 
the same from the next Englishman who chanced to pass 
that way." Soon afterwards, the major-domo of the 
Hadji presented himself with a low bow, and a pretended 
message from his master to the intent that, " if it were 
the custom of our country to give bakhshish on depar- 
ture, he would for once permit us to do so !" Another 
low bow from the messenger, who bore all the aj)pearance 
of a convicted thief! He tried a clever trick, but, 
finding the Firenghis too deep for him, was obliged to 
slink off without the much-coveted kerans, evidently dis- 
gusted at the unsuccessful termination of his diplomacy. 



Departure from SMster — Change of Scenery and Animal Life — Huge 
Lizards — Botany — Geology of tlie Persian Steppes — Shah-abad — 
Dizful — Subterranean Conduits — Costume of the Peopl* — The 'All 
Kethir Guide — The Bridge of the Diz — Encampment at Shush — A 

On first leaving the bank of tlie Kariin, tlie road to Dizful 
traverses some small ridges of gravel conglomerate, the 
alteration in the geological features of the country being 
accompanied by a corresponding change in animal and 
vegetable life. Clinging to the rocks, basking in the hot 
sun, or fleetly pursuing smaller reptiles, were numerous 
huge lizards {Psammosaurus scincus) lashing their long 
tails, and opening their capacious black jaws. Our 
gholam exhibited his skill as a rider and sportsman, in 
shooting one of these creatures for examination. They 
live chiefly on snakes, which they pounce on suddenly, 
shake as a terrier does a rat, and cranch from tail to 
head : then they suck the mangled body down their 
throats, somewhat after the manner of a Neapolitan 
swallowing his national maccaroni ! I once saw a lizard 
of this species attack, kill, and attempt to swallow a 
serpent six feet long. After gulping for a length of time 
to get down the tip end of its victim's tail, which huni; 
out of its mouth, it disgorged its meal, repeated the pro- 
cess of mastication, and, ultimately, after some hard 
gasping, succeeded in overcoming its difficulty. 

BOTANY. 307 

Then, for the first time, we encountered the delicately- 
plumed rock partridge (Perdix petrosa, Lath.), fraterniz- 
ing with its velvet-breasted relative of the lower plains, the 
common francolin — the favourite of the sportsman. In 
botany, the tamarisk and the camel's thorn were replaced 
along the margin of the streams by the poisonous ole- 
ander, with its elegant pink flowers. I here also first 
observed a large shrub, 7 feet high, called "kalableb," 
which bore a large white flower ; the stem was full of a 
milky juice, bitter to the taste, and said to burn like 
caustic. There was likewise a large plant, bearing a leaf 
much resembling rhubarb, and a bunch of deep -red 
flowers, which produces an oval green, fleshy, spiked 
syncarpous fruit, longitudinally divided into four parts, 
each containing three rows of white juicy berries, of 
agreeable flavour, resembling the walnut. They are 
largely collected by the Arabs for food. At Dizful, I 
heard the plant called by an Arab, " Dendrorhti ;" it is 
named by the Turks, '* Arab khozi," or Arab nut.'"' 

With the above exceptions, vegetation was already 
dead throughout the undulating gravel ridges. It was 
now only the 1 9 th of May, and yet the grass was scorched 
to a bright yellow, which, with the deep red of the gravel 
itself, gave to the imagination a vivid idea of the intense 
heat reigning in that region three months later in the 
season. The temperature was high, but it was perfectly 
delightful compared with the furnace we had recently 
quitted at Mohammerah. A fresh invigorating breeze 
every now and then blew from the adjoining mountains, 
along the base of which oiu- route lay, giving some con- 
ception of the delights in store for us as soon as we might 

* Since the above was written, I have ascertained, through Mr Bennett 
of the British Museum, that this plant is the Glosnostemon Bruguieri of 
Desfontaines, described and figured in Mem. du Mus. Hist. Nat, torn, iii., 
p. 238, pi. 11. It does not appear to have been met with since the time 
of Bruguicr, in 1797. 


qxiit the burning plains. Having passed so many months 
upon the unpicturesque level of the Arab deserts, the ap- 
proach to the mountains of Luristan was hailed by my 
companion and myself with unspeakable delight. The 
anticipation of ere long reaching some of those snow- 
crowned crests far surpassed the positive reality when 
we had attained the summit of our wishes. 

The great range, distant thirty miles from our road, 
attains an elevation of eight or ten thousand feet above the 
sea, and bears in a general direction towards the north- 
west. Its rocky masses belong entirely to the cretaceous 
and lower tertiary series, rising in huge, elongated saddles 
of compact, altered limestone parallel to each other. At 
intervals, where the elevating force, which produced the 
present configuration of this region, has acted with 
extreme intensity, the continuity of the beds became 
broken, and masses of rock were left standing isolated with 
precipitous escarpments, presenting retreats accessible 
only to the savage inhabitants. " Diz" is the name applied 
to natural fortresses of this kind, which frequently bear on 
their summits acres of rich grass, and springs of dehcious 
water, whither a native chief with his adherents can retire 
in safety in times of need, and defend their difficult passes 
with a handfid of men against the whole power of the 
Persian government itself. Superimposed on the harder 
limestone rocks are beds of a softer nature — marls, 
rivalling the coloured sands of our own Isle of Wight in 
their brilliant and variegated aspect, — vast piles of amor- 
phous gjrpsum dazzling the eye with its excessive white- 
ness, — and successive layers of red sands alternating with 
gravel. These formations follow the contortions of the 
harder crystalline limestones, lie at extraordinary angles 
on the slopes of the saddles, and fill up the hot, feverish 
valleys between them. 

Wherever the highlands of Persia are approached from 


the plains of Mesopotamia tlie same formidable barrier 
of mountains presents itself. To attain the high level of 
that garden of roses, whicli the Persian poet loves to des- 
cant on, it is necessary to climb the successive ridges by 
roads scarcely better than goat tracks, which regular gra- 
dation of ascents is appropriately described by the Greek 
historians as KXcfiaKe^, or ladders. All the great rivers, 
which flow from the east into the Tigris have their 
sources in these mountains, crossing diagonally through 
the intricacies of the chain. Instead of flowing in a 
south-east direction along the trough which separates 
two parallel limestone saddles, and by this means work- 
ing out its channel in the soft rocks of the gypsiferous 
and marly series, and rounding the extremity of the saddle 
where it dips under the overlying deposits, each of these 
rivers takes a direction at right angles to its former 
course, and passes directly through the limestone range 
by means of a "tang," or gorge, apparently formed for 
this express purpose. On reaching the next succeeding 
gypsum trough, it follows its original south-east course 
for a short distance, and again crosses th6 next chain in 
the same manner, until it attains the verdant plains 
of Assyria or Susiana. Many of these tangs expose 
a perpendicular section of one thousand feet and 
upwards, and were formed, not by the scooping process 
which attends river action, but by natural rents produced 
by the tension of the crystalline mass at the period of its 
elevation. Of these fissures the rivers have taken ad- 
vantage and shortened their otherwise circuitous channels. 
I must not, however, fatigue my readers with a geolo- 
gical account of regions which we are not about to 

* For a detailed geological description of these highly interesting moun- 
tains I must refer the reader to my lengthy memoir, " On the Geology 
of Portions of the Turko-Persian Frontier and the Districts adjoining," in 
vol. :ii. p. 247 of the " Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society." 

310 konAts. 

Between Sinister and Dizfiil we spent one night upon 
the journey at the little village of Sliah-abad (King's 
abode). There is nothing to remark concerning this 
place, except that it is built upon the ruins of Jundl- 
Shapdr, a city which attained some celebrity during the 
late Sassanian and early Mohammedan eras, but which 
ultimately succumbed to the better positions of its neigh- 
bouring rivals, Shilster and Dizfill. Low mounds and 
ramparts, scarcely distinguishable from the surrounding 
plain, are all that now remain ; these are ploughed over 
the surface, and yield to the inhabitants rich crops of 

From hence, a ten miles' ride brings the traveller to 
the gates of Dizful, over a rough road strewed with 
large rounded blocks of limestone, mingled with coarse 
gravel. The surrounding husbandry is brought to per- 
fection by means of periodical rains, which fall in tropical 
abundance from December to the end of March; but 
villages near to the base of the mountains are supplied 
with water through kon^ts, or under-ground channels, 
conveyed from the river of Dizful, In nothing is the 
industry of the Persian more obvious than in the forma- 
tion of these subterranean conduits. Upon the high 
plains of the interior, where frequently no visible moisture 
exists on the surface, an under-ground gallery is run 
diagonally towards some neighbouring range, and con- 
tinued until the filtration of numerous Httle driblets, 
or runners, accumulates into a sufficiently copious stream. 
Many of these konats extend for miles, and are traceable 
by little piles of earth and gravel, thrown out of razunas, 
or skylights, at regular intervals. In some parts, the 
cultivation of the crops entirely depends on the water 
flowino; from konats. Isfahan itself is, to a certain 
extent, supplied with the valued fluid through konats, 
which convey streams from near Khonsar, and swell the 

DIZFUL. 311 

little river ZenderM, as it flows to the former capital of 

There is nothing enticing in the first view of Dizful, 
from any direction — bare mud walls and white mosques 
being the prevailing features. It is situated on the left 
bank of the river of Diz, which rushes in a deep channel 
through cliffs of gravel conglomerate. If the external 
aspect of the place is not inviting, much less so is the 
interior. The houses, like those of Shuster, are built 
chiefly of sandstone, with serdabs below cut out of the 
solid rock. The streets are, if possible, in a worse state 
of filth than the neighbouring city, and the stench arising 
from them is perfectly sickening; but, as a counter- 
balance, there is an air of greater prosperity about the 
place ; the bazaars, miserable in themselves, are better 
supplied, and the houses are in a tolerable state of repair. 

Dizfiil is the Manchester of these regions. The banks of 
the river afford employment to hundreds of persons at 
the dyeing stoves. Indigo was introduced from Isfahan, 
a few years ago, by the Mu temedu-'d-dowlet — the uncle 
of Sideyman Khan, and it is now largely cultivated in 
the neighbourhood, as the staple article of commerce. 
The population of the place is between 15,000 and 18,000 
Mohammedans, and about thirty families of Sabaeans, but 
there are no Christians. 

Every Oriental traveller knows the ghost-like and 
unseemly costume of the Persian lady out of doors, 
muffled up in her blue or white wrapper, and peering 
through a perforated mask, which might have been 
borrowed from the helmet of a knight of the middle ages. 
At Dizful, however, many ladies adopt a local head-dress, 
by no means inelegant ; it is a peculiar wide-meshed 
net of silk or cotton, which hangs over the head and 
shoulders, leaving only the face exposed; but as it would 
be indecorous on the part of a Mohammedan lady to aUow 


a passer-by to see her features, the lady of Dizfill holds 
a corner of the net in her hand, and endeavours — some- 
what vainly, it must be admitted — to conceal them with it. 

The dress of the men resembles that of Shuster, but 
the crowds of green and white turbans which meet him 
in the street cannot fail to strike a stranger. Every 
third man appears to be either a descendant of the 
j)rophet, or a priestly dignitary — than whom, more 
ungodly, depraved, and intriguing characters are not to be 
found in the realms of the Shahinshah. They are at 
the bottom of all mischief, and especially collect at 
Dizful — perhaps that they may hatch their plots, and 
carry on their rascalities, as far removed as possible from 
the seat of government. Aware of this fact, we tjiought 
it desirable not to state openly the object of our visit, 
but to give out that we proposed a pilgrimage to the 
tomb of the prophet Daniel, and that we should stay 
there a few days ; — the whole truth would doubtless soon 
make itself known. To Mirza Zekkl, the governor, 
however, we explained ourselves fully. He promised 
that a guide should be ready at sunrise, to conduct us 
to Shush, and strongly urged us not to delay our return 
longer than was absolutely necessary for our purjDose, 
because the Beni Lam Arabs were plundering in the 
vicinity, and we should not be safe from their forays. 

At daybreak, according to promise, our cicerone made 
his appearance, with letters to Sheikh Musa d, a chief 
of the 'All Kethir Arabs, whose encampment was near 
the ruins. Our guide rode a well-bred gray mare, of 
which he appeared excessively proud. She was hung all 
round with red tassels, which dangled as low as her knees, 
materially impeding her progress ; her bridle was like- 
wise ornamented in the same manner. Upon a bright 
red saddle of felt sat the Arab, in his striped zibbtin, con- 
fined to his waist by a wide belt, studded with silver, and 


containing a brace of old-fashioned silver-mounted pistols. 
Suspended from various parts of his person were 
numerous gourds and cases, belts and contrivances for 
carrying ammunition. A long spear, tufted with a large 
ostrich feather, and a shield, completed his pictiu:esque 
attire. His manner was quite in keeping with his 
costume, for he was a most unsociable sort of being, 
uttering only monosyllables, and apparently half-witted. 
The *' pill," or bridge, which here crosses the " Diz" of 
course gives the name to the town of Dizful. It was 
once a fine structure, but, like its fellow at Sinister, 
is rapidly falling to decay. It, too, has experienced 
numerous repairs, which have not added to its beauty if 
they have to its- usefulness. Of its twenty-one arches, 
one had lately disappeared into the torrent beneath, and 
its place was supplied by a roadway constructed of trees 
and earth — several feet, however, below the proper level, 
so that it required some little ingenuity and activity for 
the passenger to scramble down one extremity and up 
the other. The arches are all pointed, and built of brick 
of comparatively modern date. The piers are undoubt- 
edly ancient, probably due, as tradition assigns them, 
to the age of Shapdr. Their construction is somewhat 
unusual; the interior portion is cut from the rock, but this 
being of a yielding nature, each is faced with large hewn 
blocks of stone, formerly held together by iron clamps: 
but the greater part of these have disappeared, and the 
masonry is fast following their example. To cross this 
bridge in its then condition was no easy matter. It is at 
all times crowded, but the couple of break-neck stair- 
cases, which it behoved every passenger to get over in the 
best way he could, caused a complete obstruction of the 
traffic. There was a continuous string of donkeys coming 
into the town laden with melons, cucumbers, grapes, and 
apricots, firewood and barley, every one struggling and 


jostling his neiglibour for tlie precedency in crossing the 
abyss, — the ends of the firewood playing havoc among 
the easily damaged fruit, — the felt-coated owner of which 
was naturally wroth with " the father of the firewood." 
In the midst of the ensuing abuse, a stubborn donkey 
would delight in lying down and putting a stop to all 
further progress until his load were taken off and his back 
belaboured with a stout cudgel. At the same time, a 
Ions caravan, laden with no one knows what — dead bodies 
in wood coffins perchance, bound to Kerbella — would 
arrive to increase the confusion. 

But, however, we got safely out of this meU with only 
a few scratches upon our loaded mules, and proceeded 
onward to our destination. The mounds of Shiish are 
situated about fourteen miles south-south-west of Dizful, 
but it is necessary to make a considerable curve in order 
to avoid an angle of the river which at this point is 
rapidly wearing away high clifis of alluvium. The rich 
land on the west bank of the Diz is well cultivated and 
watered by an infinite number of canals, derived from the 
river ; lemon and orange trees difiuse the most dehcious 
odours from several waUed enclosures ; rice, indigo, barley, 
vegetables, all arrive at perfection in this favoured soil. 
In the winter and spring, numbers of sturdy Lurs descend 
from the mountains, and aid in the cultivation of the fields. 
Labour is cheap and food abundant, but a grinding taxa- 
tion ruins everything, and there is no security for capital 

At twelve miles from Dizful are the lofty banks of an 
ancient canal far above the level of the Diz ; from this I 
obtained my first view of the great mound at Shiish — the 
fiat platform at the top of which reared its head boldly 
above a series of intervening canal banks, and excited 
my utmost expectation. A farther ride of two miles 
brought us to its base. "With much difficulty our mules 
clambered its almost inaccessible sides, and deposited 


their burdens on the ancient citadel. The tents were 
just pitched, and every person preparing to ensconce 
himself snugly from the rays of the sun, which began to 
make themselves exceedingly disagreeable, when we were 
all thrown into confusion by the cook, a poc^, simple 
fellow, who managed to make a bonfire of the great 
mound of Shush — as probably Alexander the son of 
Philip had done before him ! He had dug a hole, and 
arranged the wood preparatory to making ready our 
breakfast, when a spark from his flint and steel, igniting 
the dry grass, aroused us all to extinguish the flame, which, 
fanned by the wind, made rapidly towards the tents. 
For some time all our efforts were useless ; there was no 
water at hand, and the few implements we possessed were 
not instantly attainable. There was no alternative but to 
knock down the tents, and get them away with all possible 
speed, but we did not succeed before several of the tent- 
ropes were consumed. At length a trench, dug round 
the devouring element, arrested its further progress, and 
we took stock of our property. Excepting the loss of a 
few ropes, and the gain of a few small holes, the tents 
escaped well ; but our heavy luggage — such as boxes — had 
suffered severely on their exteriors. Into one the fire 
had actually penetrated, and was making a terrible on- 
slaught upon a pair of boots, their next neighbour being a 
canister of English gunpowder, which was good enough 
not to explode while a dozen people were standing round, 
endeavouring to put out the fire ! But the articles, dearly 
valued by my companion and myself — our umbrellas — 
which, beneath the sultry noon, hr.d so often lent us their 
friendly shelter, lay grim skeletons at our feet ! We often 
afterwards regretted those good friends ! We had all pre- 
viously complained of the sun's heat, but it was moonshine 
compared with that of the burning grass, which gave us 
some slight idea of the horrors attendant on an approaching 

316 SPIES. 

fire on the American prairies, Avliile it taught us a lesson — 
never to permit the cook to get to the windward of our- 
selves and the tents, nor to suffer his fire being lighted 
before the dry grass was cleared away from the immediate 
vicinity of the kitchen. Fortunately this happened as it 
did, otherwise we might have been burnt up during the 
night by the fall of a spark from our watchmen's pipes. 

Before we had been twenty-four hours upon the 
mounds, dt was evident that our proceedings were 
jealously watched, and that there was no prospect of 
making immediate excavations. Our attention was, 
therefore, directed towards completing a plan of the 
ruins ; but soon after breakfast on the folio wino- morninor 
the heat of the tents drove us to take shelter within the 
precincts of the Holy Shrine. 

As it will be more in place to give a general descrip- 
tion of Shiish in connexion with the discoveries which 
were afterwards made in the ruins, I propose to d?fer 
that account for the present ; but as the Tomb of Daniel 
is so intimately linked with all our difficulties, some slight 
notice of it will best occur liere. 


The Tomb of the Prophet Daniel — Arabic Traditions regarding him — 
Benjamin of Tudela's Account — Present State of the Sepulchre — 
Spies and Persian Fanaticism — Charge of Sacrilege — Ferment in 
Dizful and the Neighbourhood — The 'All Kethir Arabs — An acci- 
dent befals the Author — Compelled to abandon the Mounds of 
Shush — Battle between the 'Ali Kethir and Bern Lam — Svdeyman 
Klian the Christian Governor of a Mohammedan Province — Arrival 
of Colonel Williams. 

By general consent of Jews, Sabseans, and Mohamme- 
dans, the burial-place of the Prophet Daniel is acknow- 
ledged to be at Shush, and a building at the west foot 
of the great mound is consecrated to him, and held in 
the utmost reverence by these different races. Pilgrims 
from all parts flock to " Danyel" to offer up prayers and 
bury their dead. 

In the book which bearg his name in our edition of 
the Scriptures, frequent allusion is made to Shushan 
the palace. As history, tradition, and, to some extent, 
the names, agree, we are justified in assuming that the 
ruins of Shush represent the Shushan of the Bible, and 
that Daniel was really buried on the spot. We have, 
however, the authority of an Arab historian for conclud- 
ing that the present tomb of Daniel is but a comparatively 
modern edifice, and that the bones of the Prophet are not 
enshrined within its walls. 

As the subject may be interesting to many of my 
readers, I extract the following from Su- William Ouseley's 


translation of a Persian version''' of Ibn-Aasim el-K\jff s 
Tarikh, or "Book of Victories." After telling us that 
Abti Musa Alaslia'ri invaded Persia under tlie Khalif 
Omar in tlie eighteentli year of the hejira (a.d. 640), 
pillaged the territory of Ahwaz, and proceeded to Sus, 
where he slew the governor, a Persian prince, named 
Shapur, the son of Azerm^han, the historian continues : — 
" Then he entered the castle and palace of that Prince, 
and seized all the treasures deposited there in different 
places, until he came to a certain chamber, of which 
the door was strongly fastened-— a leaden seal being 
affixed to the lock. Abu Musa- inquired from the 
people of Sus what precious article was guarded with 
such care in this chamber : they assured him 'that he 
would not regard it as a desirable object of plunder ; but 
his curiosity was excited, and he caused the lock to be 
broken and the door opened. In the chamber he beheld 
a stone of considerable dimensions hollowed out into the 
form of a coffin ; and in this the body of a dead man, 
wrapped in a shroud or winding-sheet of gold brocade. 
The head was uncovered. Abu Musa and his attendants 
were astonished ; for, having measured the nose, they 
found that proportionably this dead personage must have 
far exceeded in stature the common race of men. The 
people now informed Abii Musa that this was the body 
of an eminent sage, who formerly resided in Ir^k (Chaldsea 
or Babylonia), and that whenever the want of rain occa- 
sioned a famine or scarcity, the inhabitants applied to 
this holy man, and through the efficacy of his prayers, 
obtained copious showers from heaven. It happened 
once that Sus likewise suffered from excessive drought; 
and the people in distress requested that their neighbours 
would allow this venerable personage to reside a few 

* This Persian translation was made from the original Arabic, about 
A.D. 120. 


days among them, expecting to derive the blessing of 
rain from his intercession with the Almighty ; but the 
Irakians would not grant this favour. Fifty men were 
then deputed by the people of Sus, who again petitioned 
the ruler of Irak, saying, ' Let the holy personage visit 
our country, and do thou detain the fifty men until his 
return V These terms were accepted, and the holy per- 
sonage came to Sils, where, through the influence of his 
prayers, rain fell abundantly, and saved the land from 
famine ; but the inhabitants would not permit him to 
return, and the fifty men were detained as hostages in 
Irak : at length he died. Such, said those who accom- 
panied Abu Miisa, is the history of this dead man. The 
Arabian general then inquired by what name so extraor- 
dinary a person had been known amongst them ? They 
replied — ' The people of Irak called him Danyel Hakim, 
or Daniel the Sage.' 

" After this, Abu Milsa remained some time at Siis, and 
despatched to Omar, the Commander of the Faithful, an 
account of all his conquests in Khiizistan, and of the 
various treasures which had fallen into his possession ; 
lie related also the discovery of Daniel's body. When 
Omar received this account, he demanded from his chief 
officers some information respecting Daniel, but all were 
silent except 'All, on whom be the blessing of God 1* He 
declared that Daniel had been a prophet, though not of 
the highest order ; that in ages long past he dwelt with 
Bakhtnasser (Nebuchadnezzar), and the kings who suc- 
ceeded him ; and 'Ali related the whole history of Daniel, 
from the beginning to the end, with all the circumstances 
of his death. Omar then, by the advice of 'All, caused a 
letter to be written, directing that Abii Miisa should 
remove, with due respect and rehgious reverence, the 
body of Daniel to some place where the people of Sus 
could no longer enjoy the possession of it. Abil Musa, 


immediately on receipt of this order, obliged the people of 
Siis to turn the stream, which supplied their city with 
water, from its natural course ; then he brought forth the 
body of Daniel, and having wrapped another shroud over 
the gold brocade above described, he commanded that a 
grave should be made in the dry channel of the river, 
and therein he deposited the prophet's venerable remains ; 
the grave was then firmly secured, and covered with 
stones of considerable size ; the river was restored to its 
former channel, and the waters of Sus now flow over the 
body of Daniel."* 

The old Jewish writer, Benjamin of Tudela (a.d. 1160- 
1173), gives a similar account, but refers the burial of 
Daniel's body to Sanjar Shah-ben-Shah who conquered 
Samarkand in 1140, and died in 1157. He states that 
Shushan contained in his time " very large and hand- 
some buildings of ancient date. It had seven thousand 
Jewish inhabitants, with fourteen synagogues ; in front 
of one of which is the sepulchre of Daniel, who rests in 
peace. The river Ulai divides the city into two parts, 
which are connected by a bridge ; that portion of it which 
is inhabited by the Jews contains markets, to which all 
trade is confined, and there all the rich dwell ; on the 
other side of the river they are poor, because they are 
deprived of the above-mentioned advantages, and have 
even no gardens or orchards. These circumstances gave 
rise to jealousy, which was fostered by the belief that all 
honour and riches originated in the possession of the re- 
mains of the prophet Daniel, who rests in peace, and who 
was buried on the favoured side of the river. A request 
was made by the poor for permission to remove the se- 
pulcln-e to the other side, but it was rejected ; upon which 
a war arose, and was carried on between the two parties 

* See Walpole's " Travels in Various Countries." At vol. ii. p. 428 is given 
the above translation of the history of Daniel's body by Sir William Ouseley. 


for a length of time. This strife lasted until ' their souls 
became loath/ and they came to a mutual agreement, by 
which it was arranged that the coffin which contained 
Daniel's bones should be deposited alternately every year 
on either side. Both parties faithfully adhered to this 
arrangement, until it was interrupted by the interference 
of Sanjar Shah-ben-Shah, who governs Persia and holds 
supreme power over forty-five of its kings." . . . 
" When this great emperor Sanjar, king of Persia, came to 
Shushan and saw that the coffin of Daniel was removed 
from one side to the other, he crossed the bridge with a 
very numerous retinue, accompanied by Jews and Moham- 
medans, and inquired into the reason of these proceedings. 
Upon being told what we have now related, he declared it 
to be derogatory to the honour of Daniel, and commanded 
that the distance between the two banks should be 
exactly measured, that Daniel's coffin should be deposited 
in another coffin made of glass, and that it should be sus- 
pended from the centre of the bridge by chains of iron. 
A place of worship was erected on the spot, open to every 
one who desired to say his prayers, whether he be Jew or 
Gentile : and the coffin of Daniel is suspended from the 
bridge unto this very day. The king commanded that, 
in honour of Daniel, nobody should be allowed to fish in^ 
the river one mile on each side of the coffin."^'' 

The modern building has been frequently described by 
travellers, but as their accounts may not have fallen under 
the notice of many of my readers, I venture on giving, 
the following sketch. 

The reputed tomb of the prophet Daniel t is an oblong- 
edifice, forming one side of a large walled court, through 
which the pilgrim enters to reach the sacred threshold.. 

* See the article " Benjamin of Tudela," j). 105 of Early Travels in Pales- 
tine, published in Bohn's Antiquarian Library, 
t A ground plan of the tomb is shewn on the plan of the Moxuids. 


Seen from across the little river Sliaour, wliicli flows at its 
foot, enshrouded in a dense mass of date-trees, konars, 
and jungle, its conical white spire rising above all, is a 
picturesque object, and is the more interesting from the* 
associations so intimately connected with its origin. En- 
tering beneath a low doorway, the visitor is ushered into 
the great court, the opposite side of which is supplied 
with mangers and rings for the reception of horses and 
beasts of burden, for it is unsafe to leave them outside, on 
account of lions and other wild animals, whicli abound in 
the neighbourhood. On this account, too, the tomb is 
the frequent resort, for the night, of Arab parties on a 
journey from the deserts to the seat of government, and 
of plundering parties preparatory to their morning forays. 
Two other sides of the court are occupied by a low arched 
portico which conducts to the door of the sanctuary. This 
consists of two chambers, and a passage between them 
leading to a third apartment, in which the paraphernalia 
of the tomb are stored. The inner room is extremely 
dark and dismal, in accordance with the universal feeling 
that darkness is inseparably connected with the presence- 
chamber of death ; here stands the supposed shrine, 
which, in the dim light of the place, appears to be a slab 
of white marble, but which is in reality only polished 
cement. It is enclosed within an open framework of 
wood, erected at a sufficient distance, however, to admit 
of passage round the sepulchre, the floor being covered with 
extremely dirty prayer-mats, swarming with fleas. These, 
and a few old lamps of rude forms, black from smoke 
and grease, constitute the whole of the ordinary furniture. 
Religion in the East, at the present day, certainly does 
not boast of much outward display in this respect, nor 
is cleanliness in the temple esteemed essential to purity 
of worship. The externally "whited sepulchre" is no 
criterion by which to judge of its internal condition; 


neitlier is the repeated washing of the sanctified seyid 
any proof of his religious sincerity. A small veranda runs 
outside the wall of the sanctuary, overlooking the deep 
sluggish stream of the Shaour, and its green waters mean- 
dering through the dense mass of vegetation on its banks. 

The terrace upon the roof of the building is used as a 
sleeping apartment by the pilgrims during the hot weather, 
and it is not unusual to see it completely covered with 
prostrate sleeping forms. From its centre rises the tall 
white spire which denotes the character of the edifice, and 
partakes of the usual ornamental features, in resemblance 
to the fir-cone, before alluded to in this volume as peculiar 
to most other Oriental tombs."^' Beneath the sacred cham- 
ber, but without communication with it, is a vaidted 
room, entered from a doorway on the side of the Shaour, 
having apertures at the opposite extremity, through which 
flows a cool current of air. This was cleared of the filth 
which encumbered its floor, and here we took up our 
quarters during the heat of the day. 

We had, however, scarcely established ourselves in our 
agreeable retreat, on the morning after our arrival, than 
we were disturbed by the arrival of a party of Lutis,t or 
strolling players, and a huge ugly baboon, which was 
incited to play its antics in all parts of the building 
without any respect for its extreme sanctity. Seeing 
the little deference observed, my companion imagined 
that he could not be doing harm or ofiending the pre- 
judices of the few natives around us by skinning and 
preserving, at the door of our cell, a porcupine he had 
just shot. While engaged in this occupation, we were 
surprised by three strangers, whose green turbans indi- 
cated their descent, and whose countenances exhibited 
intensity of bigotry and its attendant qualities of 

* See page 35. 

t Ltitl literally means " a thief," and is applied to any low character. 


hatred and persecution. They walked in without cere- 
mony, and as unceremoniously requested us to walk out, 
which we quietly and politely, but positively declined to 
do. The chief and most ill-favoured of the three there- 
upon broke forth into a torrent of ejaculations and ex- 
clamations at the audacity of the Franks who dared to 
enter and defile the sanctuary of the holy Imam. This, 
however, had no effect upon us ; we retained our seats 
unmoved, telling them that, since Daniel was esteemed 
a prophet by Christians as well as by Mussulmans, 
we had the same right to occupy the precincts of 
the tomb as themselves, or the baboon which sat upon 
the terrace above, — and that, moreover, we did not in- 
tend to budge one inch to please their bigotry [ This 
unexpected answer had the proper effect, — it considerably 
cooled their tone, which now sobered down to the wish 
that, if we would not go out ourselves, my companion's 
unclean beast might be removed. To this, of course, we 
willingly complied, when it was explained that the porcu- 
pine is considered "nedjis." 

They then seated themselves, and intimated that they 
were sent by the governor of Dizful to look after our' 
safety and oblige the Arabs to supply our wants. They, 
however, brought no letters from Mirza Zekki, nor did 
their manner afford any guarantee that their words were 
to be believed. It subsequently proved that they uttered a 
tissue of falsehoods, and that they were spies of the priest- 
hood (who had got wind of our movements), sent to keep 
watch over our proceedings and conduct. Their mission 
vre speedily divined by their contradictory replies to our 
questions, and the cunning attempts to extract informa- 
tion from us: a Persian usually overacts the part he 
desires to perform. The bigotry of our visitors may be 
judged from the fact, that they would neither smoke, 
drink tea, nor eat in our presence, — and their manner 


soon instilled into ourselves the most thorougli contempt 
for tliem. While we sat they sat ; when we proposed at 
sunset to take a ride they must needs accompany us; if 
we visited sheikh Musad, they likewise volunteered 
their unwelcome presence ; if we engaged in our survey, 
they purposely got in the way of our work. Finding, 
however, that they could not by fair means convict us 
of any heinous crime, whereby the indignation of the 
priesthood could be poured forth upon us, they tried 
another plan to effect their purpose. 

On the following day, while sitting in our tents, we 
were surprised to see a dense smoke arise from the 
thicket adjoining the tomb.. Our enemies had suddenly 
disappeared, but, before departing, had fired the brushwood 
in order to give some shadow of truth to the report which 
they took every pains to spread on their return to Dizfu], 
— representing that we had taken pigs into the sepulchre 
and defiled it in sundry and various ways, — that we had 
knocked down the tomb, — placed gunpowder in the walls, 
— and fired the grass that the revered and sacred edifice 
might no longer exist ! All Dizful, as may well be 
imagined, was in a furious state of ferment, and ven- 
geance was declared against the sacrilegious infidels who 
had dared to perpetrate such crimes ! A full conclave 
of priests was held, and a long debate ensued as to the 
best method of ridding the world of the audacious 
strangers who, taking advantage of their friendly in- 
troductions, had violated every feehng of friendship. 
Many applicants presented themselves before the holy 
council, stating their readiness, their anxiety to bo our 
executioners ! But a difliculty presented itself which 
induced the sacred assembly to hesitate before leaping 
the barrier. We were in the service of the Silltan 
Englizi, the friend of the Shah, and if any ill happened 
to us, it would be doubtless called to account for its 


share in tlie transaction. The fear of the Shah, or rather 
of the troops of Hissam-ed-dowlet/"' was beginning to 
gain ground, when, as good luck woukl have it, one of 
our servants was caught making purchases in the bazaars, 
and hui-ried off, nolens volens, to the court. He boldly 
stated what he knew to be true, namely : that some per- 
sons had set fire to the jungle round the tomb, but that 
our people, himself among the number, had been instru- 
mental in quenching it, and that the tomb stood as un- 
scathed as before our arrival, — that we had no pigs, 
neither had we defiled nor attempted to burU or blow it 
up. The mujtehid, or chief priest, on whom the re- 
sponsibility would have fallen, thinking it best to be 
wise, dismissed the council with the remark that* he be- 
lieved us " not guilty." 

The feeling of violent animosity excited against the 
Firenghi, however, did not readily subside : a report 
now spread that we had come to dig up and carry off 
the bones of the prophet, and the ignorance of the 
people fully believed it. On the third day several Arab 
sheikhs paid us visits to satisfy their curiosity, and also 
to intimate to our people that, if it were not for Suley- 
man Khan, our throats should feel the sharpness of their 
swords. In order to do away with the suspicion with 
which we were regarded, we decided on stating openly 
the true object of our visit and on asking the sheikhs 
for workmen. This frankness produced a good impres- 
sion, and several promises were given to aid us, never 
however, to be fulfilled, because they were jealous of our 
having other plans, and afraid of our searching i\ the 
relics of the prophet, which, it is well known, are not 
deposited in the tomb. 

A few words concerning the Arabs of this region may 

■* The honorary title appUed to Suleyman Khdu, meaning, " the sword 
of the government." 


not be unacceptable. During the greater part of the year, 
the plains around Shiish are perfectly desolate, and not a 
human being is to be seen, except now and then solitary 
parties wending their way to and from the shrine. In 
early spring, however, the Arabs flock to the banks be- 
tween the Kerkhah and the Diz for the rich pasturage 
which everywhere prevails around the ancient ruins. From 
the top of the great mound, the black tents and flocks of the 
'All Kethlr Arabs may then be seen studding the land- 
scape, at times half-buried in the luxuriant abundance 
of the grass. According to their own account, the tribes of 
the 'All Kethir originally came from Nedjid, in the centre 
of Arabia, about two hundred and fifty years ago. At first 
they were encouraged by the Persian government, which, 
up to the time of Feth 'Ali Shah, gave them presents, as an 
inducement to their settling and cultivating the land. 
Gradually this gratuity became smaller and smaller, until 
it was wholly cancelled, and the scale turned on the op- 
posite side by Mohammed Shah, under whom tribute 
was exacted. This was gradually increased in amount, 
and 2500 tomans (about £1250) were being then paid. 
The number of families, in 1850, probably amounted to 
about 15,000, and were placed under a sheikh of their own 
tribe, who was taxed according to the amount of tribute 
he could command. It is to be doubted, however, whether, 
instead of two hundred and fifty years, this tribe has not 
been settled in these regions ever since the Arab conquest 
of Persia. Being of the Sheah sect, their intermarriage with 
the inhabitants of Dizful has materially altered their caste 
of countenance, which now partakes more of the Persian 
than the Arab character. This change could scarcely, I 
imagine, have taken place within so short a period. Not 
only, too, have they lost their national features, but, 
through continual intercourse with the bigoted Persians, 
they have imbibed the worse passions and qualities of that 


race in addition to their own. I have invariably found, 
that the Ai-ab tribes, under Persian domination, have lost 
the noble virtues of their Bedouin ancestors, and that they 
are cunning, and deceitful, without truth or shame ; — but, 
of all others, the 'All Ketliir boast of the most detestable 
character, and are least to be trusted by strangers. 

Notwithstanding their promises, workmen were not 
forthcoming for the excavations. Whether this system 
of hanoino; out false colours orioinated with themselves, 
or whether they were bribed by the priests, I could never 
ascertain; but one thing is certain — we left Shush with- 
out opening a trench. 

Our time was spent in much the same manner every 
day while we remained upon the ruins. In the Cool of 
the morning we were occupied in laying down our plan ; 
the mid-day sun drove us into the chamber under the 
tomb, where we passed the hours as best we could ; and, 
when the heat had abated, we emerged from our den like 
jackals and wild beasts, and exercised ourselves by riding 
about the neiohbourhood. In one of our rides we acci- 
dentally encountered a herd of about forty wild pigs, 
varying from the size of a monster boar, as big as a full- 
grown donkey, to that of a sucking pig a few weeks old. 
It was becoming dusk, but ardour for sport induced us 
to pursue them, in doing which my clumsy horse tripping 
over a ridge of earth, turned a complete somersault, and 
fell heavily on my ribs, giving me a serious hurt. 

On being assisted into camp, a message was delivered 
from Sheikh Musa d to say that several parties of Beni 
Lam Arabs had been seen prowling about ; that he would 
not be answerable for the consequences if we persisted in 
remaining upon the mounds ; and that after that night 
he could not undertake to send watchmen to guard our 
little camp, seeing that they might be required to defend 
his own. We at first thought this a rii'SC to get rid of 


US, but, on the following day, his son Ha'waychum came 
with a more urgent message, to which we deemed it ad- 
visable to attend. I gave the order for our tents to be 
struck and removed to the sheikh's camp, situated about 
two miles distant. 

When we were riding along together, Ha'waychum 
iu formed us that, as the harvest was now concluded, the 
stream of water, conveyed by a canal from the river 
Kerkhah to the vicinity of the ruins (which is sweet and 
pure, while that of the Shaour is so notorious for its 
unwholesome qualities that the Arabs never drink of it 
when other water is procurable) would be cut off in a 
few days, and that afterwards we might obtain it from 
whence we pleased. He had been tolerably civil on our 
first arrival, but now, either incited by the priesthood, 
or believing the cmTent reports concerning our stay 
upon the ruins, he became extremely saucy, telling me, 
in a loud tone, that " Sheikh Miisa'd had no instructions 
concerning us — he was not answerable for our safety — 
the land was theirs and not Hissam-ed-dowet's ; — who 
was he, and who was the Shah 1 AVere the 'All Kethir 
to be accounted slaves or Arabs'?" It is well known 
among travellers that firmness and a show of superiority 
are a sure method of gaining the resjDect of an Oriental, 
and that an appeal to his hospitality is seldom lost upon 
the sensitive feelings of an Arab. Although suffering 
great pain, I could not refrain from giving utterance to a 
somewhat severe rebuke, and therefore demanded " if this 
were a specimen of the far-famed Arab hospitality 1 We 
had travelled among the great Shammar, the Muntefik, 
ay, and among even the wild Madan, and everywhere 
been received with unbounded cordiality. Were strangers 
esteemed beasts or dog-s among the small tribe of the 
'All Kethir, that we piould be treated in such an illi- 
beral manner 1 As guests of the Shah we should lay 


our complaint of the treatment received before Hissam- 
ed-dowlat, and leave liim to deal witli Arabs who were 
become worse than either Turks or Persians !" Saying 
wliich, I directed my horse's head towards Dizful, adding 
that, "on our next return, we should come to excavate 
in the mounds in spite of either 'All Kethir or Seyid, 
armed with a firman from the Shah and an order from 
the governor, if the latter were supposed to have more 
effect upon them!" This high tone produced a sensible 
change in the manner of our host, who now entreated 
forgiveness, and prayed me to accompany hij^ to his 
father's camp " where we should find that the 'All Kethir 
were still Arabs, and glad to offer the shelter of their 
tents to a stranger." At length I consented, and gave 
him my hand in token of reconciliation. 

The change of quarters from the summit of the mound 
to the level of the plain was naturally accompanied by 
an augmentation of heat. Finding the teniperatiu'e and 
closeness of my little tent on the following day unen- 
durable, I determined on setting out for Dizful as soon 
as the moon rose early the next morning. Our plan, 
moreover, being completed, there was no further object 
to be attained by a longer exposure. About midnight 
we were aroused by a tremendous commotion in the 
Arab camp. The report that the Beni Lam were in the 
neighbourhood proved true, for they came quietly and 
stole all the corn our hosts had buried on the side of the 
encampment opposite to that at which our tents were 
pitched, making off with their booty before they were 
detected. Superstitious as our hosts were, they, no 
doubt, attributed their ill luck to our presence, and were 
extremely gratified at seeing our departure. 

After some difficulty the governor of Dizful succeeded 
in hiring for me a small house near the tomb of Imam 
Shah Pidbend, a short distance above the town, over- 


lookiDg a bend of the river. A cool serdab was ex- 
cavated in the gravel cliff, and the terrace on the house- 
top enjoyed every welcome breath of air which blew 
down the stream at night. Here, under ground during 
the entire day, and upon the terrace from sunset to sun- 
rise, I spent a miserable month ; — the injiuy sustained 
by the fall of my horse was so painfid that I was obliged 
to lie quiet and abstain from excitement of any kind. 
Dizfiil did not furnish either a doctor, a leech, or a 
blister ; but, thanks to a good constitution, a small medi- 
cine chest, and careful diet, I succeeded in keeping do^vn 
fever and in gradually overcoming the effects of the 

The influence exerted by the governor and the muj- 
tehid over the people and priesthood served to allay the 
popular irritation, while our return from Shush was 
esteemed a great triumph and a proof of the power 
exercised by the Prophet. The seven lions, supposed to 
guard his tomb, had, it was reported, threatened to devour 
the infidels unless they made off with all speed. 

A few days after oui return to Dizful, news ar- 
rived from Shush that a skirmish had taken place be- 
tween the Beni Lam and 'All Kethir. A party of the 
former were seen on the western bank of the Kerkhah 
by our late hosts, one hundred of whom crossed the river 
and were defeated, one man being killed, several wounded, 
and a dozen prisoners, with the loss of all their highly- 
valued mares. Ha'waychum left a beautiful white mare 
in the hands of the conquerors, and only saved his life 
by swinmiing the Kerkhah. 

At length Colonel Williams and the rest of his party, 
after an extended delay at Mohammerah in an atmosphere 
impregnated with malaria and sickness, joined us at 
Dizful, and in a few days we were luxuriating in a com- 
paratively cool climate, amid the oak groves of Mun- 


gerrah,"^^ in the Luristan mountains, at an elevation of 
five thousand feet above the sea. But even at that 
altitude the thermometer frequently rose to 107° Fahr, 
in the shade. 

It would far exceed the limits of this work were I to 
enter into an account of the highly interesting journey 
performed by the Commission to Kermanshah, the rock- 
sculptures of Bistitun and Hamadan, Isfahan, the ruins 
of Pasargadse and Persepolis, Shiraz, and the Mammasenl 
Lurs. Let it suffice that, at the end of the year, we 
once more descended to the plains of Dizful^ where the 
Hissam-ed-dowlet, Suleyman Khan, was encamped with a 
strong Persian force — a necessary instrument for main- 
taining the Shah's influence among the turbulent gentry 
of Khiizistan. This Clu?istian governor of a Mohamme- 
dan province was an extraordinary man, and it is, as I 
have said, difficidt to understand how he sustained his 
position among the bigoted community. He was a jolly, 
stout old gentleman, and, perhaps, if his red nose did not 
belie him, addicted to veritable shiraz, or something 
stronoer. He was full of fun and courafire; but the 
sun of his greatness had well nigh set; the days of his 
dignity were numbered. In an evil hour he was ordered 
to quell an insurrection at Behbehdn, in the adjoining 
district of Fii'uz Mirza, the Shah's uncle, which the prince 
had failed to do. Suleyman Khan was successful, and 
the prince, indignant that a ghyawr had outdone himself, 

* At this place we had the rtiisfortune to lose one of our little party — 
Mr Algernon Wood, first attache to the British Embassy at Constantinople, 
and Secretary of the Commission. An impnident bath in a cold mountain 
stream, when heated, brought on a violent attack of bronchitis, which, 
together with extreme lassitude from previous illness at !Mohammerah, 
resulted in the untoward event. I cannot here omit a tribute to the 
memory of one whose affectionate and honourable qualities were so de- 
servedly esteemed by all his acquaintance. His abilities as a linguist, and 
knowledge of Oriental character, rendered his death a great loss to the 
Commit ion. 


intrigued to effect the discliarge of his successful com- 
petitor from the office he filled Avith such abihty. Tlie 
old gentleman complained severely, and with justice, of 
this conduct, and was soon about to deliver up the reins 
of government. 

At the time of our visit, he was just recovering from a 
severe accident which had occurred to him in returning 
from his late conquest ; being exceedingly stout, he travelled 
in a European carriage, but, being upset during a dark 
night, the wheels passed over his hips, and, in the con- 
fusion, his own guard managed to gallop over and other- 
wise seriously injure him. 

Aware of the difficulty attending the commencement 
of excavations at Shush, and desirous, for the sake of 
science, that the opportunity of the stay made by the 
Commission in those regions should not be lost. Colonel 
WiUiams wrote to Colonel Shell, H.B.M.'s ambassador at 
Teheran, requesting his influence in obtaining a firman 
from the Shah. The application was successful, and the 
document, giving the requisite permission, was duly re- 
ceived. Lieutenant Glascott and myself formed the van- 
guard of the party in taking possession of our old ground 
on the summit of the great mound, accompanied by two of 
Suleyman KJian's officers, with an order for Sheikh 
Musa d to attend our orders. His tents were pitched 
upon the eastern portion of the ruins, and he soon obeyed 
the simimons, with four watchmen, and a lamb as a 
present, besides a host of apologies for the smallness of 
his gift 1 It occurred to me that this was a different 
reception to that which Churchill and myself experienced 
only eight months previously, when this same sheikh 
threatened us with all kinds of torments and deaths. I 
reminded him of my promise to revisit Shush with a 
firman from the Shah ; strangely enough, the words, then 
spoken at random, now proved true. Musa'd replied 


that, in one respect, a Firenghi is unlike a Persian — ^he 
invariably keeps his word ! This was a decided improve- 
ment in feelino;. He was anxious to know what he 
should bring as a present to the elchi, and whether he 
would be contented with a mare ? I told him that " the 
elchi would accept of no presents — all he required was 
good conduct from the 'All Kethir, and he might rest 
assured that, if such were shewn, the elchi would not fail 
to represent it to the proper quarters." 

A few days later, Colonel Williams and the whole 
English party were encamped upon the ruins. The great 
mound was, I thought, more imposing than on* my pre- 
vious visit, but the old tomb looked the picture of 
desolation and misery, the trees around had lost their 
green leaves, and the white spire stood out prominent and 
cold against the dark rain-bearing clouds. Elsewhere, 
however, there was an air of freshness, a tint of green 
spread over the surface of the surrounding plain indica- 
tive of the near appr \i;'h of spring; altogether it was a 
different scene to that universal and a;larino; sheet of 
yellow which greeted our former arrival. 


Early History of Susa — From the days of Cyrus, Susa the Winter- 
residence of the Persian Kings — ^Ahasuerus identical with Xerxes — 
Immense wealth found by Alexander — Power of Susa declines — Its 
Ruins at the present day — ^Abundance of Wild Beasts — Imposing 
aspect of Susa in early times. 

Whethee we regard it in a geograpliical, historical, or 
scriptural point of view, there are few places throughout 
the East more replete with interest than that which is 
known to us by the various denominations of Shushan, 
Susa, Sus, or Shush. Of its primitive history we, of 
course, know little ; but the records of antiquity point to 
its origin amid the dim obscurity of oral tradition. 

It would appear that Elam, the son of Shem, like the 
rest of the early descendants of Noah, founded a kingdom 
in the region we are accustomed to regard as the cradle 
of mankind, — this, at least, is the inference from the men- 
tion made, in Genesis xiv., of Chedorlaomer, King of Elam, 
who, in alliance with four neighbouring monarch s, ex- 
tended his conquests to the west of the Euphrates during 
the time of the patriarch Abraham. We read, moreover, 
in Ezra iv. 9, that the Elamites were included among the 
dependencies of the Persian Empire ; and, in Daniel viii. 
2, that Shushan, the palace, was situated in the province 
of Elam, which name is undoubtedly likewise preserved 
in " Elymais," the title by which the Greek and Eoman 
authors designated a portion of ancient Susiana. We are. 


therefore, fairly justified in regarding tlie site of Susa as 
the original capital of the Elamites. At one time, it is 
suggested that the seat of Chedorlaomer was the great 
city of Kar Duniyas, mentioned in the Assyrian inscrip- 
tions as the metropolis of the lower country, and that it 
occupied the after-position of Susa;''' at another time, phi- 
lolog-ists considered the name of Susa as a sliolit modifi- 
cation of Cush, and referred the early colonization of the 
surroundino; reoion at the head of the Persian Gulf to 
the Hamite descendants of Noah, in accordance with the 
theory already mentioned in this work.t Then again, 
Herodotus^ assigns the foundation of Susa to th(? Ethio- 
pian Memnon, who went to the assistance of Priam, at 
the siege of Troy; and the same authority states that 
after him, the city was called ]\Iemnonia. Lastly, the 
Persian annals give the honour of its foundation to Hou- 
shenk, the grandson of Keyumerss, the second king of the 
early Pishdadian dynasty. All these discrepancies, how- 
ever, serve to prove the early antiquity and greatness 
of the ancient Susa.§ 

It is not until the time of Ashur-bani-pal, who reigned 
in Assyria about 650 B.C., that we find any positive his- 
torical mention of the place under its subsequent name 
of Shushan. Upon the bas-reliefs of that monarch, at 
Nineveh, are detailed the conquest of Susiana under 
the name of "Madaktu," and the taking of the city 

* " Outlines of Assyrian History," by Sir H. Rawlinson. See Twenty- 
ninth Annual Report of the Royal Asiatic Society. 1852. 

f Page 96. One of the royal names occurring at Susa, and on monuments 
along the eastern shores of the Persian Gulf, is Tirhak — the same title as 
that of the Ethiopian prince Tirhakah, who warred with Sennacherib (2 
Kings xix. 9 ; Isa. xxxvii. 9). Susa appears to have been the head-quarters 
of the true Cushites. 

X V. 53, 54 ; viii. 151. 

§ Tiie magnificence and importance of ancient Susa are to be likewise in- 
ferred from its representation upon the embroidered pallium, or shawl, of 
Alcistheues of Sybaris, described in Aristotle's Memoiabilia. 


"Shuslian," a ground plan of which appears upon the 

The prominence given to this subject shews that a for- 
midable rival of " Nineveh, that great city," existed in the 
south-east, when, at the summit of her greatness and 
renown, she held Babylon under her sway. Great con- 
fusion exists in our histories of events subsequently to 
this period, but it seems probable that, when Nabopolasser, 
in 625 B.C., revolted against Assyrian dominion, and made 
himself master of Babylon, he likemse seized Susiana as 
a tributary province. It was apparently in this condition 
when, after the defeat and death of Neriglissor, king of 
Babylon, 554 B.C., Abradates, king of Susa, overcome by 
gratitude to Cyrus for the protection offered to his wife,, 
passed over with his forces to the Persians, and became 
the firm ally of the conqueror. Cyrus, on the death of 
Abradates, at the battle of Thymbra, a few years later, 
according to Xenophon,t succeeded to the govern- 
ment of the province of Susiana, and from that time 
Susa is repeatedly mentioned in history. But here a 
difficulty occurs in reconciling the Scriptural and profane 
accounts of the period. From the book of Daniel| we 
are led to conclude that Susa was once more restored to 
the King of Babylon, which might have taken place by 
truce about the time of the marriage of Cyrus, and of the 
accession of Belshazzar to the throne of Babylon. How- 

* See page 366. Mr Layard, at p. 445 et seq. of Nineveh and Babylon, gives 
an interesting description of this monarch's bas-rehefs (upon which the 
above names occur), discovered in the palace of his grandfather Sennacherib. 
A palace, wholly erected by Ashur-bani-pal, was afterwards discovered and 
partially explored by Mr Hormuzd Rassam, in one chamber of which was 
a series of sculptures, in excellent preservation, recording the conquest of 
Susiana. The most artistic productions of this king — the chef-(Voeuvres of 
Assyrian sculpture — were obtained by myself from the lower story of the 
same palace, and are now in the British Museum. 

t Cyrop., V. 4, &c. 

X Daniel viii. 1, 2. 


ever this might be, we learn that a royal palace existed 
there " in the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar," 
for Daniel saw in a vision that he " was at Shuslian in the 
palace, which is in the province of Elam."'^* It has been 
attempted to prove that there were two cities of this name 
in the pro^dnce of Siisiana : — one, the Shnshan of Scripture 
in the Bakhtiyari mountains ; the other, the Susa of the 
Greeks. It was supposed that the Scriptural expression, 
" Shushan the palace," was indicative of a distinction from 
some other city of the same name,t but the reasoning 
was based on fallacious grounds, which it is not here 
necessary to dilate upon. That Shushan and Susa are one 
and the same, we learn from the agreement of Josephus 
with Scripture. He mentions a famous edifice built by 
Daniel at Susa in the manner of a castle, which, the Jewish 
historian adds, was remaining in his time, and had been 
finished with such wonderful art that even then it seemed 
as fresh and beautiful as if only newly built. " AVithin 
the edifice," he continues, " was the place where the Per- 
sian and Parthian kings used to be buried ; and, for the 
sake of the founder, the keeping of it was committed to 
one of the Jewish nation even to that day.'' It is true 
that the copies of Josephus, now extant, place this build- 
ing at Ecbatana in Media ; but St Jerome, who also gives 
an account of it, and professes to do so, word for word, 
out of Josephus, places it in Susa in Persia. Josephus 
calls this building Baris — the same name by which 
Daniel himself distinguishes the castle or palace of Shu- 
shan : for what we translate, at Shushan in the palace, is 
in the original, Besh Shushan ha Birah.\ There is reason 
to believe that Daniel might have erected an edifice at 
Susa, because, in the reign of Belshazzar, he was evidently 

• Daniel viii. 1, 2. 

t J ournal of the Geogr. Society, vol. ix. p. 85. 

X Ker Porter's Travels, ii. 411-414, Josephus Antiq. x. 12, which author 
(iv. 114) also calls the fortress at Jcrusalinu " The Castle of Earis." 


in office, — probably governor of the city, — since lie tells 
us that lie "did the kino's luisiness/"''" 

From the time of Cyrus, Susa became the chosen 
Avinter-seat of the Persian kings, and was richly embel- 
lished by succeeding monarchs. Under the sway of the 
Achsemenian dynasty, it usurped the greatness of its 
former rivals, Nineveh and Babylon. Strabot informs 
us that "the building of Susa, its palaces, walls, and 
temples, was similar to that of Babylon, of bricks and 
cement," referring doul^tless to the period before the reign 
of Darius, the son of Hystaspes, because we have, as will 
be presently shewn, positive proof that marble structures 
were erected by that king. It is certainly to these edifices 
that Pliny alludes, j; when he attributes the foundation 
of Susa to Darius. The estimation in which it was held 
by neighbouring states may be gathered from the remark- 
able speech of Aristagoras to Cleomenes King of Sparta, 
when the former wished to engage him as an ally of the 
lonians against Darius : — " Susa, where the Persian 
monarch occasionally resides, and where his treasures are 
deposited, — make yourself master of this city, and you 
may vie in influence with Jupiter himself! "§ 

Shushan is repeatedly mentioned in the books of Scrip- 
ture at this period, in connexion with the return of the 
Jews from captivity, and the rebuilding of the temple at 
Jerusalem. One of the most interesting episodes in the 
history of the great Persian capital is that recorded in the 
Book of Esther, where the Jewish maiden is elevated 
to the queenly dignity, and, by her influence over the 
inind of the king Ahasuerus,|| enables her captive coun- 

* Daniel viii. 27. t L. 15. X Lib. vi., ch. 27. 

§ Herodotus, Terps. 49. 

II Almost every Medo-Persian king from Oyaxares I. down to Artaxerxes 
HI. (Ochus) has in turn been advanced as the Ahasuenis of Esther. An 
article in " Kitto's Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature" so admirably sums up 
the question in favour of the Xerxes of Greek authors, that I cannot re- 


trymou to defend themselves throuohout the kiiio-dom 
against the irrevocable decree of that cruel monarch. 
" Thus the Jews smote all their enemies with the stroke 
of the sword, and slaughter and destruction, and did what 
they would unto those that hated them. And in Shushan 
the palace the Je\^'s slew and destroyed five hundred 
men : "^ and in the king's }n\nduces were no fewer than 
seventy-five thousand of their enemies slain. 

It was from Shushan or Susa that the same monarch, 
under the Greek name of Xerxes, set out on his ill-fiited 

frain from quoting the following rather lengthy extract :— " On the gromid 
of moral roseniblance to that tymnt (Aha^iuerus), every trait leads us to 
Xerxes. The king who scoui-ged and fettered the sea ; who beheaded his 
engineers because tlie oloiuent* destroyed their bridge over the H;plIespont ; 
who so ruthlessly slew the eldest son of Pythins because his father besought 
him to leave him one sole support of his declining years ; who dishonoured 
the i-emains of the >'aliaut Leouidas ; and who beguiled the shame of his 
defeat by such a course of sensuality, that he publicly oflei-ed a re^vard to 
the inventor of a new pleasui-e— is just the despot to divorce !iis queen, 
because she would not expose hei-self to the gaze of drunken revellers ; is 
just the despot to devote a whole people, his subjects, to an indiscriminate 
massacre ; and. by way of preventing that evil, to restore them the right of 
self-defence, and thus to sanction their slaughtering thousjmds. 

There are also remarkable coincidences of date Mween the 
hist 017 of Xerxes and that of Ahasuerus. In the thii-d year of his reii^n the 
latter gjive a grand feast to his nobles, which lasted one hundred and eightv 
days (Esth. i. 3) ; the former, iu Aw third year, also assembled his chief 
officers to deliberate ou the invasion of Gi-eece (HeixxL.vii. S). Kor would 
we wonder to find no nearer agreement in the two accoimts than is 
expressed in the mere fact of the nobles boing assembled. The two rela- 
tions are quit* compatible ; each writer ouly mentioning that asjvct of the 

event which had interest for him A<^in Ahasuerus 

married IZsther, at Shushan. in the seventh year of his reign : in the same 
year of /t is reign Xerxes returueil to Susa with the mortification of his defeat, 
and sought to foi-get himself in pleasure ;— not an unlikely occasion for 
that quest for fair vii-gius for the harem (Esth. ii. 5). Liv^tly, the tribute 
imposed on the land and isles of the sea also acconis with the state of his 
revenue, exhausted by his insane attempt agjiinst Gre^ece. In tine, these 
arguments, ueg;\tive and affirmative, render it so highly prol\ibIe that 
Xerxes is the Ahasuems of the Book of Esther, that to demand more con- 
clusive evidence would be to mistake the very nature of the question."— 
See Article ou Ahasueru*. 
• Esther ix. 5, 6, &c 


I'sl I'eiuarkable 
(hncient susa) 

iisuaxe the axcavauans made there irv 
^missiDn for xht- deKrrritati'pr. of ^he 



expedition for the subjugation of Greece, and it was here 
that on his return he deposited the immense treasures 
(il)tained from the plunder of the temple at Delphi, and 
the city of Athens. 

StiU later, when Alexander broke the might of Persian 
I ower at the battle of Arbela, we have Susa represented 
as the depository of the wealth, produced by the exactions 
imposed for several centuries upon the impoverished 
districts of that great empire, which the " kings of kings" 
vainly imagined they had amassed for their posterity. 
We read that the governor of the province went out from 
the city to meet the conqueror with presents worthy of 
a king, and that on entering Susa, Alexander found in the 
treasury immense sums of money, with fifty thousand 
talents of silver"' in ore and ingots, five thousand quintals 
of Hermione purple, t and among other articles a portion 
of the property which Xerxes had carried off" from Greece: 
There was, therefore, some foundation for the importance 
attributed by Cleomenes to the possession of this treasure- 

Susa is repeatedly aUuded to by the historians of 
Alexander's campaigns, and during the wars of his suc- 
cessors, when it repeatedly changed hands. At length, 
in the year 250 B.C., the Parthian Arsaces, raising the 
standard of revolt against Antiochus Theos, made himself 
master of all the eastern provinces of the Macedonian 
empire beyond the Tigris, and founded the Parthian 
empire, which endured until 226 a.d. Little is known 
to us of this warhke people during the five centmies of 
their dominion, but Susa continued one of the chief cities 
of that race, and of the early Sassanian kings who suc- 
ceeded them. In the second or third century of our era, 

* About £7,500,000 sterling. 

t A quintal is about a hundredweight ; the immense value of this cele- 
brated purple is to be calculated at the rate of £25per lb. 


a Christian see was estaLlished there ; but Susa gradually 
declined before Ctesiphon, Jundi Shapur, and Shuster, 
and was at length taken by the Mohammedans in the 
eighteenth year of the Kalif Omar, a.d. 640. Coins were 
struck there in a.d. 709, soon after which, date the place 
seems to have been deserted in favour of adjoining towns 
which were rising into importance ; and the history of its 
former greatness alone remained in the recitations of 
Persian poets, the exaggerated traditions of the people, 
and the vastness of its mounds. 

Such are the principal antecedents of Shush — as far 
at least as it is possible to give them in moderate com- 
pass. It is now proposed to describe the state of the 
place previous to the excavations undertaken there in 

If reference be made to a map of this region, it will be 
seen that, soon after debouching into the plains from the 
adjacent mountains, the two great rivers, the Kerkhah and 
the river of Dizful, approach each other at right angles. 
When within two and a quarter miles of forming a junc- 
tion, they again recede from each other, the former to 
pursue its course to the Shat-el-Arab, near Korna, and the 
latter to join the Karun at Bender-ghil. At the point 
where these rivers most nearly approximate, stand the 
mounds of Shush, distant about three quarters of a mile 
from the Kerkhah, and a mile and a half from the river 
of Dizful. When the atmosphere is favourable, they are 
clearly visible from Dizful city, and, with a telescope, I have 
discerned them from the summit of the Mungerrah moun- 
tains, thirty miles distant. At the eastern base of the 
ruins stands the tomb of Daniel, on the verge of the 
Shaour, a deep but narrow stream, rising from the plain 
a few miles on the north, and flowing, at a sluggish pace, 
towards its junction with the river of Dizful. The area 
occupied by the ruins covers an extent of ground three 


and a half miles in circumference, and, if the numerous 
small mounds around the great mass be included, sjireads 
over the whole visible plain east of the Shaour. To the 
west of that stream are no ruins whatever. 

The principal existing remains consist of four spacious 
artificial platforms, distinctly separated from each other. 
Of these the western mound is the smallest in super- 
ficial extent, but considerably the most lofty and impor- 
tant."^'" According to the trigonometrical measurement of 
my friend Lieutenant Glascott, E.N., t the northern and 
highest point is 119 feet above the level of the Sh4our at 
the ford. In form it is an irregular, obtuse-angled, 
triangle, with its corners rounded off", and its base facing 
nearly due east. It is apparently constructed of earth, 
gravel, and sun-dried brick, sections being exposed in 
numerous ravines produced by the rains of winter. The 
sides are so perpendicular as to be inaccessible to a horse- 
man except at three places. J The measurement round the 
summit is about 2850 feet. In the centre is a deep cir- 
cular depression, probably a large court, surrounded by 
elevated piles of building, the fall of which hns g-iven the 
present configuration to the surface. Here and there are 
exposed, in the ravines, traces of brick walls, which shew 
that the present elevation of the mound has been attained 
by much subsequent superposition. 

About half-way down the slope of the south-west side§ 
lies a large fragment of cherty-fracturing blue limestone, 

* Numbered 1 on the Plan. 

t From a series of observations of the same gentleman, the south pouit 
of the mound (B on the plan) is in latitude 32° 11' 25" N., and its longitude 
is roughly estimated at about 48° 27' 0" E. I may take this opportuiuty 
to remark that the plan is chiefly due to the survey made with a prismatic 
compass by Mr Churchill, the main points being afterwards correctly fixed 
with the theodolite by Lieutenant Glascott. 

X Two of these are represented on the plan of the mounds, the other la 
at the south-west angle. 

§ At the end of trench A on plan. 


wiiicli appears to have been part of an obelisk. The 
upper srde bears thirty-three lines of complicated charac- 
ters in a Sc}i:hic dialect of the cuneiform, not at present 
deciphered, although iSir Henry Eawlinson has succeeded 
in reading upon it the name of an early king called Susra."^^ 
Other blocks of similar stone, and another of sandstone, 
lie upon the plain below. 

From the remarkably commanding position of the 
great mound, which is called by the people of the 
country, " the kal'a " or castle, I have no hesitation in 
recocmisinsj in it the citadel of Susa, to which AiTiant 
pointedly alludes in the following passage : — " When we 
had sacrificed according to national custom, and held 
torch races and athletic games, Alexander appointed 
Abulites, a Persian, satrap of Susiana, gave the command 
of the garrison (1000 disal^led Macedonian soldiers) in 
the citadel of Susa, to Mazarus one of his own staff, and 
made Archelaus, son of Theodorus, governor of the city 
(with 3000 men) ; after which he set out to go into 
Persia." The administration of civil affairs was entrusted 
to the Persian, but with his usual admirable policy, the 
military command of the place was su]:)mitted to the 
Greek generals. The importance of the citadel, command- 
ing the rest of the city, may be gathered from the fact 
that he placed in it the well-tried soldiers who had followed 
him from his own native kingdom of Macedonia. 

It was here, too, that the advancing Moslem host en- 
countered the obstinate defence of Hormuzan, satrap of 
the Persian province, who, true to the cause of his fugi- 
tive sovereign Yezdijird, for six months held the place 
against all attacks. But courage and devotion were not 
proof against treachery. One of the garrison revealed to 
the besieo;ers a secret entrance throuo;h a conduit which 

• Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. xii., p. 482, 
t " Arriani Expeditio Alexandri," iii. 16. 


supplied the castle with water ; the Arabs, enterino- hy 
night, threw open the outer gates, and let their army'into 
the court yards. Hormiizan, from the battlement's of a 
strong tower or keep, held a parley with the Arab leader, 
and, on promise of safe-conduct, finally yielded to the 
Khalif, whose ad\Tser he subsequently became in the pro- 
secution of the war with Persia. 

Separated from the citadel on the west by a channel or 
ravine, the bottom of which is on a level with the ex- 
ternal desert, is the central great platform, covering upr 
wards of sixty acres."''' The highest point is on the south 
side, where it presents generally a perpendicular escarp- 
ment to the plain, and rises to an elevation of about 
seventy feet ; on the east and north it does not exceed 
forty or fifty feet. The eastern fiice measures tlu-ee thou- 
sand feet in length. Enormous ravines penetrate to the 
very heart of the mound. 

The north mound,t a considerable square mass, seems to 
have been added at the north-west, and a smaller mass 
at the south-east corner of this mound. A shght hollow 
occurs between the north block and the main portion of 
this great platform, and was perhaps an ancient road- 

The eastern platform, called upon the plan the ruins of 
the city, I is very extensive, but its limits are less easily- 
defined, because its edges sink gradually into the plain. 

There are no traces of walls for the protection of the 
city, and although Strabo alludes to them, it is probable 
that Susa depended much more upon its natural defences, 
the rivers of its pro\^nce, than upon earthen ramparts. 

Upon the extensive series of low mounds, § extending 
to the Dizful river, are two tombs. Imams 'Abbds and 

• Numbered 3 on the Plan. t Numbered 2 on Plan. 

X Numbtnod 4 on PIiui. 

§ Not shewn upon the Flan, from want of space. 


Ibraliim-el-Khalil, which, like that of Daniel, are built of 
bricks and small capitals of white marble from the ruins, 

A canal, derived from the Kerkhah, about two miles 
from the point where it enters the plain, passing round 
the head source of the Shaour, flows to the north and 
east of the great mass of mounds, and forms a small 
marsh at the south-west base of the central platform. The 
river Kerkhah has flowed considerably further east than 
at present, and its old bed may be traced within a third 
of a mile from the Shaour ; in ancient times it probably 
defended the southern side of the city. Th& old bed to 
which I allude is now a thick forest of tamarisk, poplar, 
and acacia, and is said to be a celebrated cover for lions ; 
in fact, I several times observed their traces here, and 
the people of the country shun the neighbourhood. 

Susa abounds in wild beasts and game, — ^hons, wolves, 
lynxes, foxes, jackals, boars, porcupines, francolin, and a 
small species of red-legged partridge, find shelter in the 
density of the surrounding cover. During nine months in 
the year the whole country is burned up by the sun's heat, 
with an intensity which gives seme credence to Strabo's 
report, that lizards and serpents could not crawl across 
the streets at mid-day without being burnt.'^ At the 
beginning of January, however, the young gTass, brought 
into existence by the heavy rains, makes its ajDpearance, 
and increases with a truly tropical rapidity and luxuri- 
ance ; nowhere have I ever seen such rich vegetation as 
that which clothes the verdant plains of Shush, inter- 
spersed with numerous plants of a sweet-scented and 
delicate iris.t 

Far in the south is seen the continuation of the Ahwdz 

* Strabo, xv. 3. 

t Morcea Sisyrynchium, Kei*. {Iris Sisyrynchium, L.) By some persons it 
is supposed that the abundance of this beautiful flower gave the name of 
"Shlishan"— the Mly— to this locality. 


low range, intervening between Susa and the plains of 
Hawlza, while, on the north and north-east, are the 
snow-topped chains of Ltirist^n and the Bakhtiyarf, skirted 
by external and gradually lowering ridges of sandstone 
and gravel conglomerate. 

It is difficult to conceive a more imposing site than 
Susa, as it stood in the days of its Kayanian splendour, — its 
great citadel and columnar edifices raising their stately 
heads above groves of date, konar, and lemon trees, — 
surrounded by rich pastures and golden seas of corn, — 
and backed by the distant snow-clad mountains. Neither 
Babylon nor PersepoHs could compare with Susa in posi- 
tion — watered by her noble rivers, producing crops 
without irrigation, clothed with grass in spring, and 
within a moderate journey of a delightful summer cHme. 
Susa vied with Babylon in the riches which the Eu- 
phrates conveyed to her stores, while Persepohs must have 
been inferior, both in point of commercial position and 
picturesque appearance. Under the lee of a great moun- 
tain range, the columns of Persepolis rise like the masts of 
chips taking shelter from a ctorm, and their otherwise 
majestic appearance is lost in the^ magnitude of the huge, 
bare, rocky mass towering above them. Susa, on the 
contrary, stood on the open plain, with nothing in imme- 
diate proximity to detract from her imposing and attrac- 
tive tableau. How are the mighty fallen ! Where are 
now those great cities of ancient Persia, whence issued 
forth the formidable armaments destined to make even 
heroic Greece tremble in her greatest and most palmy 
days ^ How faithfully does their fate shadow forth that 
of Persia itself, and act as a warning to the proud and 
arrogant ? The vast hosts of Darius and Xerxes served 
only to expose the riches and pride, as well as the weak- 
ness and cowardice of the Oriental character, and a few 
years brought with them the strong arm of Alexander, 


the chastener and avenger. The line of Persia's ancient 
monarchs was broken, and a son of insulted Greece 
snatched the sceptre from the fallen dynasty. From that 
time Persia sank lower and lower in the scale of nations ; 
and, although the house of Sassan in some degree re- 
gained the power and splendour of. the past, yet it was 
only temporary; each succeeding century has seen the 
vast empire of the king of kings getting deeper into the 
mire, until, at, the present day, it has attained that pitch 
of decay and degradation from which it is difficult to 
foresee any speedy hope of regeneration or rescue. 


Excavations commenced by Colonel Williams — A Burglar— Conviction 
and Punishment — Gigantic Bell-sliaped Bases of Columns discovered 
— A Year's Interruption — Proposed Resumption in 1852 — Journey 
under the Protection of the Beni Lslm — The Scgwend Lurs — Hiring 
of Native " Navvies" — Opposition of the Priesthood— The Cholera 
ascribed to the late researches — The New Viceroy, Khanler Mfrza. 

No time was lost, after Colonel Williams' arrival at the 
ruins, in commencing excavations. As there might be 
some difficulty in obtaining Arab workmen, notwith- 
standing the specious pro^nises of Sheikh Musa'd, the 
under-servants of the Commission were at once em- 
ployed in digging a trench from the prostrate and in- 
scribed slab on the south side of the citadel, into the very 
heart of the mound.'"" By sunset they had opened a 
trench, forty feet long and nine feet deep, much to the 
astonishment of the few Arabs who watched the proceed- 
ing, and wondered at the audacity of the Firenghi elchi. 
The only discovery made this day was a cylindrical 
sepulchral vase, of baked clay, three feet long, and eleven 
inches in diameter at the mouth, rounded at the opposite 
extremity; the interior being hned with bitumen, and 
containing the bones of a child, and a few beads. It was 
one of those vases which I attribute to the Sassanians. 

On the second day, an order arrived from Suleyman 
Khan with permission for the Arabs to aid Colonel 
Williams, — but only a small party could be induced to 
accept the keran a day offered for their services, the 

• At A on Plan. 


chiefs keeping out of the way. At lengtli, on the third 
day, Sheikh Musad, and his son Ha'waychum, called to 
pay their dutiful respects to the elchi, but more particu- 
larly to ask the loan of ten tomans, which they promised to 
repay in as many days — a rather cool request on a first visit! 
Not succeeding in their wishes, they returned to their tents 
evidently dissatisfied with the result of their errand. 

Sheikh Mtisa'd was required to provide a guard of 
his people to watch over the safety of our property, and 
nightly at sunset a dozen of his ill-looking rascals, 
with bristly beards and bitumen clubs, marched, or rather 
straggled into camp, to be stationed at various* eligible 
points for the prevention of surprise. Five nights sub- 
sequent to the demand for tomans, an event occurred which 
speedily deprived us of the near neighbourhood of Sheikh 
Miis^'d's camp. It was the duty of one of the bekjis to 
keep guard upon mj^ tent and that of Lieutenant Glascott, 
situated on the south edge of the great mound. I was 
suddenly awakened in the dead of the night by a rustling 
noise against the canvass; but, as jackals and foxes had 
taken an especial liking to the camp, and prowled about, 
committing all sorts of strange antics and depredations, 
such as biting tent ropes and stealing corn bags from off 
the very noses of the horses, I supposed that some of 
these animals were taking their usual diversions, but be- 
came at last convinced that a human being was effecting 
an entrance into my tent. I imagined that, by getting 
quietly out of bed, the unwelcome intruder might be 
cauoht; but, unfortunately, the noise I made in rising 
betrayed my intentions, — a signal was given, and a des- 
perate tug at the canvass announced that the intruder 
had fled. I quickly followed in the direction he took 
towards the adjoining tent, where the bekji sat crouch- 
infif in such an attitude as at once convicted him of being 
an accomplice. He Avas seized, and placed in custody until 


daybreak, notwithstanding his protestations of innocence. 
On examination it was discovered that two of my 
tent-pegs were drawn, and the onter curtain propped 
up by a short chib, two pegs of the inner wall were 
likewise removed, several articles of apparel strewed 
about, and one or two actually gone. Next day. 
Colonel Williams sent for the sheikh, but the prisoner, (jf 
course, declared he had nothing to do with the matter, 
although the stick propping up the tent was proved 
to be his. Musad drew his sword and threatened to 
cut the fellow down unless he confessed, but he still 
persisted in his innocence. Musa'd then proposed to 
take and punish him at his own camp ; but the elchi, not to 
be imposed upon by an Arab, insisted that the fellow should 
either be punished on the spot, or sent into Dizfiil. The 
latter arrangement did not exactly suit the sheikh's book, 
for, although the thief would have been punished by the 
amputation of a hand or arm, Musa'd himself would 
have lost that which he valued much more — namely, a 
good round sum of kerans by way of fine. Ha' way chum 
was therefore called upon by his worthy father to perform 
the part of Ferash bashi (executioner) with the thick stick 
he usually carried. The wretched culprit was tied hand 
and foot, crying for mercy — but that, alas! was in vain 
— down went the blows as fast as hail upon any part 
of his body which was uppermost — no matter whether, 
loUing over in agony, he presented his back, stomach, 
leg, foot, elbow, head, or nose, — Ha'waychum shewed no 
compassion tiU the stick was reduced to sphnters, and 
himself exhausted ! "When the punishment was con- 
cluded, the released sufferer in an instant disappeared 
like a shot over the edge of the mound, as though the 
punishment had diffused extra life and activity into his 
bones and muscles ! 

It was to be naturally expected that this example 


would have deterred further theft ; but no i on the fol- 
lowing mornino; our best mule was missino;, and two 
others were caught running loose with their ropes cut. 
The consequence of these contretenivps was, that the Arabs 
were afraid to work lest any of them should be suspected 
and punished like the bekji on the previous day. Two 
mornings later, smoke rising from the adjoining mound 
announced that Miisa'd and his tribe had departed, and, 
as usual, fired the refuse of their camp. 

Up to this time, three trenches, dug into the citadel 
mound to the depth of nineteen feet, failed to discover 
anything except portions of a brick pavement, — fra<gments 
of moulded composition-bricks stamped with cuneiform, 
and covered with green glaze, — and"'^ a large piece of 
copper like the lining of a water-tank, which, being left 
upon the mound, was soon cut up and carried away 
piecemeal by the Arabs. 

When reduced once more to our own resources, Colonel 
AVilliams directed his attention to the numerous blocks 
and pieces of limestone lying upon the surface of the 
mounds, especially upon the north and central platforms, 
in the hoj^e that some discovery might be made, which 
would justify the opening of trenches at some particular 
spot. It was evident that some magnificent structures 
once existed at Susa, for the surface of the mounds was 
strewed with fragments of fluted columns, which had 
frequently attracted the notice of travellers. 

Near E on the plan was a large block of blue limestone, 
about ten feet square and three feet thick, projecting 
through the soil, and resting on a gravel foundation. It 
was doubtless the basement stone of a broken fluted 
column lying near at hand. Further westward was a 
considerable growth of mimosa plant, whose prickles ren- 
dered a passage through them a mt.tter of difliculty to 

• At C, on General Plan of Mounds. 


ourselves and damage to our clotliing. This underwood 
extended along the edges of a rectangular projection, near 
the middle of the north mound, which I conceive to have 
l)e8n added at a late period to the north-western extremity 
of the gi^eat central platform. 

Near the north-w^est angle of this projection among 
the brushwood, Colonel Williams observed a small piece 
of limestone projecting through the soil, and on excavat- 
ing around it, discovered the gigantic monolith base of a 
column in situ:''' Further excavations revealed two 
similar bases t at equal distances apart, twenty-seven and 
a half feet from centre to centre, and four feet below the 
surface. They were buried below vegetable soil, a pavement 
of coarse bricks, a layer of lime cement, and gravel. They 
rested on rough limestone slabs, nine feet square by one 
foot ten inches thick, and were all unfortunately broken 
off at three feet four inches from the basement ; but sub- 
sequently there w^as discovered near them a fragment of 
the upper part of the base with the torus attached, from 
which Mr Churchill w^as able to make a carefully-restored 
drawing of a perfect base. There could be no hesitation in 
concluding that Colonel Williams had discovered a palace 
of the ancient Persian monarchs at Susa, rivalling, if not 
surpassing, that at Persepolis in grandem*. The bases 
were bell-shaped, and richl}^ carved, in representation of 
the inverted flower of a plant which we usually term the 
Egyptian lotus. The following are measurements care- 
fully taken : — 

Diameter at the swell of the hell, 8 ft. 4 in. 

„ „ torus, 5 „ 4 „ 

Height of plinth, . . 2 in. 

„ from plinth to torus, 4 ft. 1 in. 

Total height of bases, 4 ft. 3 in. 

The general form, the dimensions, and the peculiar style 

* Number 7 of Plan, page 366. t Numbers 6 and 5. 


of ornamentation employed, cannot fail to remind the 
observer of the column leases in the Great Hall, attributed 
to Xerxes, at Persepolis, but those of Susa are infinitely 
more OTaceful in desio;n and detail, exhibitins; round the 
swell of the bell an elegant and elaborate wreath, formed 
by alternate buds and perfect flowers of the lotus."^^ 

At the western foot of the mound were the breast of 
a fractured bull, enormous fragments of fluted columns, 
and portion of a fourth base similar lO the other three, 
amidst a quarry of debris. 

Trenches were then carried from two ol the pedestals, 
fifty-five feet into the mound; and, from l^he .centre of 
the third monolith, holes were dug twenty-seven feet 
apart, in the expectation of others being found. Exca- 
vations were likewise made at E (on the General Plan), 
but nothing further could then be discovered of the 
elegant building to which the fragments undoubtedly 

During a month's residence at Shush, Colonel Wil- 
liams' researches were much interrupted by the miscon- 
duct of the Arabs, as well as by the heavy spring rains, 
which at times threatened to wash our encampment 
bodily into the swollen Shaour below. Suleyman Khan 
was much annoyed at the behaviour of our neighbours, 
and there can be little doubt that, except for his pre- 
sence at Dizfiil, the Arabs would have declined to 
lend the little aid they did. None of the great sheikhs 

• See woodcut, page 360. The beautiful design, which so frequently oc- 
curs upon the sculptures at Nineveh and on the column bases at Susa and 
Persepolis, is usually supposed to represent the flower of the Egyptian 
lotus {Npnphcea Lotus), but it may ecjually well be intended for the 
Egyptian bean {Nelumbium speciosum), the Kvajios of Pythagoras, now no 
longer an inhabitant of the Nile, but indigenous to the East Indian rivers. 
In some cases, however, as in a slab recently exhumed from Nineveh, 
the flower is evidently that of the common white Uly of our gardens 
{Lilium candidum). 

KHtJZlSTAN IN 1851. 355 

paid tlie respects which were customary towards a per- 
son in the official position of Colonel Williams. Their 
utter detestation of the Firenghi was evinced in every 
possible mode. They refused to sell corn or sheep to 
our party ; they abused our servants whenever they 
met ; and they kept themselves as far as possible from 
the contaminating and dreaded influence of the hateful 

At leno;th the season arrived for the Commissioners 
to resume their labours and conferences at the " de- 
bateable land " of Mohammerah ; and once more the 
green plains and healthy mounds of Susa were deserted 
for the less agreeable deserts on the borders of the Hafar. 
We all regretted the sad alternative, but duty required 
our presence upon the frontier. 

Before any attempt was made to resume excavations 
at Susa, another year elapsed, during which interval 
great changes had taken place in Khuzistan. The 
threatened discharge of Suleyman Khan from the ad- 
ministration of the province actually took jDlace : bribery 
and court intrio;ue had done their work. The Christian 
had played the same game, and ventiu-ed a high stake ; a 
purse of tomans to the Shah, and 20,000 more to the 
Amir, were spent in vain, — Khaider Mirza, the favourite 
uncle of the Shah, took possession of the province. He 
had previously governed the Gidpaigin district, near 
Isfahan, where his stern and unflinching distribution of 
justice gained him the greatest respect. To this were 
now added Luristan, Khuzistan, and the Bakhtiyari moun- 
tains, so that Khanler Mlrza ruled over the largest, 
richest, and most important region throughout Persia. 
As a natural consequence of the change of governors, the 
whole of the above districts were in an excited state, and 
with difficulty prevented from breaking out into open 
rebellion. A few judicious examples were made by the 


Prince, whose iron rule soon made itself felt, alike among 
Liirs and Arabs. At the end of 1851, the only disaflfec- 
tion still existing throughout the Prince's dominion was 
at its north-western extremity, among a division of the 
Feyli Liirs. 

In the interim, the delimitation of the Turko-Persian 
frontier proceeded but slowly, and December 1851 
saw the four Commissions assembled at Zohab, in the 
Persian province of Kermanshah, without any material 
results of their labours. Letters were there received 
from Colonel Eawlinson, at Baghdad, stating that, during 
the previous session, a sum of £500 had been "voted by 
Parliament, and placed at his disposal, for the purpose of 
making further researches at Susa. Lord Palmerston's con- 
sent had likewise been obtained, authorising my being em- 
ployed in excavations, when not otherwise more profitably 
engaged. As the movement of the Commissioners was 
directed from Zohab towards the south, keeping along the 
plains, my services as geologist could, for the present, 
be dispensed with by Colonel Williams, who therefore 
directed me to proceed to Baghdad, and receive Colonel 
Eawlinson's instructions concerning the prosecution of 
excavations at Susa. 

In the middle of January I once more rejoined the 
Commission at Mendeli, whence, provided with letters to 
the Prince, and armed with the Shah's firman, I prepared 
for an adventurous journey of two hundred miles across 
the desert to Dizfiil. I travelled under circumstances of 
more than ordinary difficulty, none of the authorities 
being willing to ensure my safety. The region, through 
which portion of my route lay, belongs to the Beni Lam 
Arabs, who are nominally subject to the Pasha of Bagh- 
dad, although that dignitary has really little influence 
over them. During the winter and spring months, the 
numerous Persian tribes of the Feyll Liirs desccn^ from 


their mountain fastnesses, and pasture tlieir flocks upon 
the same plains. As these occupants of the country be- 
long to distinct races, and speak different languages, 
distrust and warfare are of constant occurrence between 
them. Two feelings, however, they have in common : — 
intense hatred to their respective and nominal sovereigns, 
and bigoted intolerance towards all but tlieir own sect 
of Sheah Mohammedans. Methkur, the Beni Lam Slui]<li. 
being considerably in arrear Avith his annual tribute to 
the Baghdad treasury, was endeavouring to elude the 
Pasha's messengers. 'AH Kli4n, the chief of the Segwend 
Lurs, was, as I have just said, in open rebellion against 
the new governor of Khiizistan ; he was a relative of that 
Kelb 'All Khan, who murdered our countrymen, Grant 
and Fotheringham, and was equally notorious for his 
cruelty and want of faith. Carrying with me letters to 
the Prince, and a large sum of ready money for the 
commencement of the excavations, but being without 
protection from any party, it must be admitted that my 
prospects were not very encouraging."^'' However, in ad- 
dition to my own little staff of domestics, the Persian 
Commissioner, Mlrza Jafer Khan, with his usual prompti- 
tude, placed at my disposal two of his mehmendars, and 
I was joined by two Bakhtiyari servants of Seyid 
Mustapha — an influential religious chief of Dizful, enjoy- 
ing British protection, — one of the most daring and 
unscrupulous of intriguers. Thus we mustered a tolerably 
strong party. 

Mirza Jafer Kh^n had supplied me with letters to the 

♦ I had before me Mr Layard's \varning of the insecurity of the route 
(Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, vol. xvi, p. 89). but there was 
no alternative, unless I chose to take the long journey by Busrah and up the 
Kdrdn. Any laudation from me is, I am aware, superfluous, but I cannot 
omit to express my sense of the value of that gentleman's geographical 
communication upon the region in question. It is full of the most accurate 
and detailed information- 


chief of all the Feyli Liirs, but, at the conclusion of my 
third day's journey, the people of Baghcha-Seray, a small 
village on the Persian side of the frontier, refused either 
to admit me within their walls, or to furnish me with a 
guide to their chief or elsewhere. Under these circum- 
stances, I deemed it ad^dsable to seek the protection of 
the Beni Lam Sheikh, and, for this purpose, diverged 
towards the bank of the Tigris. Falling in with a few 
tents of his tribe, I obtained a guide, who undertook to 
conduct me to his camp, distant two days' journey, amid 
the sand-hills of the Tib. It was fortunate that I took 
this course. Methkur was flattered by my j)laci*ig myself 
under his protection and guidance ; while the present of 
a bag of coffee, and a rich piece of green silk for a dress, 
made him my friend and " brother," and subsequently 
secured me from the depredations of his whole tribe during 
my third residence on the mounds at Shush. The Beni 
Lam are notorious thieves, and their name is said to be 
derived from the followins; tale : — 

" An ancient king, passing through the tribe, ordered 
each man to bring a kid's-skin full of milk to a cer- 
tain place for the supply of his troops. The skins 
were duly brought, weU filled out ; but, on the milk being 
measured, there proved to be only half the quantity or- 
dered. It appeared that each milkman had unwittingly 
stumbled upon the same expedient to cheat the troops 
and save his own dairy, their skins were half-fiUed with 
wind. Hence the tribe was called 'Lam,' the Persian 
for knave or black-leg ! " Such, at least, is the Persian 

Methkur's protection was valid among the insurgent 
Segwendis, whose camp lay on my next day's journey. 
*Ali Khan at first seemed disposed to be inhospitable, and, 
perhaps, thought what a diversion it would be to his re- 
spected followers if he gave the order for an onslaught 

'ALI KHAN and the SEGWENDfS. 359 

on the party. His fears, or better feelings, however, pre- 
vailed, and he feasted me that night on good wheaten 
bread and national lamb. If any truth is to be placed 
in physiognomy, that of 'All Khan fully justified the 
character he received ; his tribe, too, was the most extra- 
ordinary assemblage of animals bearing the human form 
that I ever set eyes upon. They had high shoulders, 
long legs, pucker-faces, and (if the Lamarckian theory of 
transmutation of species be true) perhaps also long 
tails, although I will not vouch for this fact, not having 
had an opportunity of making a minute zoological ex- 
amination. They could not, however, have been so far 
advanced in the scale of progression as those men with 
tails, whom it is said the French naturalist, M. Castel- 
man, heard of in Abyssinia, because the latter possessed 
benches with holes in them, through which they passed 
their tails ; the Segwendis w^ere not so civilized as even 
to construct a bench ! Had we encountered this strange 
race in the deserts without Methkur's protection, our safety 
would not have been valued at a straw. As it was, how- 
ever, 'All Khan provided a guide, in addition to the Arab 
sent by the sheikh, and by his assistance w^e crossed the 
river Kerkhah at a dangerous ford, and ultimately arrived 
in safety at Dizful. 

His Highness the Prince, since his accession of terri- 
tory, had done away with the steps and stairs by which 
the bridge was previously crossed. He had only just de- 
parted for the Nahr Hashem, where a bund was in course 
of erection, for the purpose of restoring the river Kerk- 
hah to the ancient channel past the town of Hawiza, 
which was abandoned by the stream in 1832. A mes- 
senger was despatched to him with my letters, and m a 
few days I received a reply, stating that " aU my wishes 
should be gratified," and that he would return to Dizful 
in a few days. 


In the interim I made no secret of my intentions, but 
j;ave notice to all my visitors that the excavations were 
about to be resumed. At the same time I took care to 
exhibit the Shah's firman, so that the news spread like 
wildfire through the bazaars that the Firenghis were 
come again to dig for gold at Shush ! The regular pay 
and circulation of money during Colonel AVilliams' ex- 
cavations had produced an improved feeling among the 
lower classes towards Europeans. The Arabs, it is true, 
did not shew much disposition to aid me, but the agri- 
cultural Liirs from the adjoining villages flocked in from 
all directions anxious for employment. Th^ previous 
conduct of the Arabs on two occasions, and their present 
shyness, were not such inducements that I should rely 
upon them alone ; whereas the Lilrs were strong,* hardy 
mountaineers, accustomed and able to handle the spade. 
I engaged seventy at the rate of half a keran per day, 
equivalent to fivepence of our money, and ascertained that, 
with a day's notice, two or three hundred more could be 
secured on the same reasonable terms. Two-thirds of 
the Ltirs agreed to take their own implements. Addi- 
tional spades, axes, pulleys, ropes, and other necessaries 
were daily accumulated, and nothing was now wanting but 
an interview with the Prince, and his full permission to 
enable me to break ground without delay. 

It must not be supposed that the priests and holy men 
of Dizffil observed my open proceedings with favour. 
They used every endeavour to thwart my plans, but this 
was done secretly, because they knew Khanler Mirza 
to be no friend to their order. Since the last visit of 
the British Commission, cholera had committed ex- 
tensive ravages throughout the province, — this was, of 
course, attributed by them to Colonel "Williams' excava- 
tions " at Danyel 1 " When it became known to the 
mujtehid that the Lfirs were offering themselves, several 


of the poor fellows were called into his presence, and told 
that, if they escaped being killed by the falling of the 
trenches, they would assuredly die of cholera before the 
expiration of the year ! The act of digging into those 
mounds was a sacrilege, and there was no hope for of- 
fenders who ventured to transgress after the priestly warn- 
ing! Love of gain, however, proved infinitely more po- 
tent than the threats of the priesthood or the fear of 
death. When kerans became plentiful in the hands of the 
workmen, and were spent in the bazaars, even the green- 
turbaned descendants of the Prophet, seized with the 
general fever after wealth, forsook their usual avocations, 
and hastened to the trenches ! 

xA.s soon as the Prince arrived at his camp on the cliff 
opposite to the town of Dizfiil, I received an invitation to 
his tent. Having had the advantage of his previous ac- 
quaintance, I was received by him in the most affable and 
courteous manner. The letters, of which I was the bearer, 
had evidently given him much pleasure. His Highness, 
Khanler Mirza, might then be about thirty-five years of 
age, and was a remarkably handsome man, although 
somewhat pale, the result, it was whispered, of dissipa- 
tion. His intelligent features, high forehead, full black 
eyes, and aquiline nose, would have anywhere rendered 
him an object of attraction. He did not generally bear 
a o;ood name, but, from circumstances which afterwards 
presented themselves to my notice, I arrived at the con- 
clusion that he was an admirable governor of a Persian 
province, stern and unrelenting to the criminal, but 
usually mild and lenient towards others. If he called on 
his subjects for a large increase of their taxes, (the chief 
charge against him), it was, I would fain believe, with the 
intention of applying the proceeds to the pul)lic good. He 
was building and repairing bridges, erecting dams for the 
better distribution of water, and engaged in other sub- 


stantial works, which, if fully carried out, would be of the 
utmost consequence to the prosperity of Khuzistan, He 
was reported to be cruel in his punishments, but that is 
as much the fault of the people as of their rulers : they 
never have a due respect for the authority of a governor 
unless a few executions take place on his assumption of 
office. Such examples are therefore absolutely necessary 
to awe a province into good behaviour for at least a 
reasonable time. 

He soon introduced the name of Shush, and shewed that 
he took great interest in the excavations at the palace of 
" Darab " (as he correctly called the column bases S,beady 
exposed), which he had carefully examined one day while 
hunting in the neighbourhood. On my stating .that I 
had engaged some Lurs, subject to his approval, he inter- 
rupted me, " But," said he, " you are going to pay them 
too much ! I hear you have engaged them at a keran 
a-head, because, when I wanted labourers for the bund 
at Nahr Hashem, they refused to come for the usual 
rate of pay, alleging that you were offering twice as 
much/' I told him, with a kno^ving look, that he knew 
the people of the country better than myself, but that 
half-a-keran was the sum I had agreed to give them. He 
fuUy comprehended me, and returned my look with com- 
pound interest, exclaiming, with a smile, "A keran, indeed! 
The dogs' fathers never saw so much money ! " 

His recent visit to the bund at Nahr Hashem had evi- 
dently much annoyed him. His engineers, if such a term 
could be applied to the parties employed, had made a 
complete failure of their work, and consequently a large 
portion of it was carried away by a sudden rise of the river. 
" But," said the Prince, " before I leave Dizful for the moun- 
tains, inshaUah ! I shall have it finished ! " As I rose to 
depart he gave me strict injunctions that, if any one mis- 
behaved in the slightest degree, or failed to shew me the 


same deference he should himself expect if there, I should 
inform him without delay ; if I did not, the fault woukl 
be my own. The same instructions were given to Feth 
UUah Khan, one of his trusty men, whom he ordered to 
watch over my safety, and obey my orders. 

Heavy rain prevented my leaving Dizfid for a couple 
of days, after which my tents were pitched upon the north- 
west platform, within a few hundred feet of the column 
bases. My seventy workmen duly made their appear- 
ance, spade on shoulder, ready to commence operations as 
soon as the order should be issued. Having no tents, the 
sanctity of Daniel's tomb was soon violated, and its old 
roof rung with the chorus of wild Lurish songs, which 
seventy lusty throats screeched forth untiringly. 


The Great Palace of Darius at Susa — Columns with Double-bull 
Capitals — Trilingual Inscrii^tions of Artaxerxes Mnemon — " Court 
of the Garden" of Esther — Columnar and Curtain Architecture — 
Origin of the Susian and Persepolitan Style — Worship of Tangjtis or 

On looking around the vast area of mounds, and tjon- 
sidering the small sum at my disposal for the investigation 
of their contents, I was almost tempted to regard my 
enterprize as a hopeless one. There was an exceedingly 
bare prospect of making any important discovery near 
the site of the columns ak-eady exhumed, because of the 
slight depth of the earth. However, with them before 
me, and the certainty that some other portion of the 
building must exist near at hand, I resolved to proceed 
and endeavour to ascertain the plan of the edifice to 
which they belonged : possibly something of interest might 
turn up among the fragments. There was a probability, 
too, that a stylobate existed, as in the palaces at Perse- 
polis, adorned with sculptures and inscriptions. I there- 
fore decided on driving several trenches into the mound 
from the edges, commencing, in the first place, near the 
columns. My efforts in their immediate neighbourhood* 
were wholly unsuccessful, but, on the first day, a trench 
one hundred and twenty-five feet distant, close on the 
north side of the platform, struck upon a large basement 

• At F on the General Plan of the ruins, page 343. 


slab of blue limestone (at No. 9 on the Plan, see next page). 
Upon its sm-face could be distinctly traced a circle, eight 
feet four inches in diameter, a proof that it formcrh- my- 
ported a column of precisely similar dimensions to' those 
already laid bare (Nos. 5, 6, 7). 

From the centre of this slab, twenty-seven feet three 
inches were measured off on either side along the scarp 
of the mound, and a similar slab discovered in each posi- 
tion. I was not, however, equally fortunate with holes 
dug at the same distances from the centres of these slabs 
towards the centre of the mound. Colonel Williams had 
in like manner tailed to find any indications of a second 
row of columns. I tried a series of holes at equal dis- 
tances beyond those last made, but with no better success. 
Not satisfied with this, I opened a long trench from my 
first-discovered basement slab, passed the two holes, and, 
at the distance of sixty-eight feet four inches from its 
centre, reached a gigantic monolith pedestal. It mea- 
sured eight feet square, and two feet five inches high, at 
which point there was a flat ledge, nine inches deep ; 
beyond this again the monolith rose a foot higher, and 
was then broken off'. Farther on, in the same line, with 
a like inter-columniation of twenty-seven feet three inches, 
occurred four similar square pedestals, more dilapidated 
than the first, and a vacant space for another, thus 
marking, in all, the positions of six columns. 

A trench at right angles to the other, was now dug 
from the square base first discovered, and disclosed, at 
similar distances apart, four additional square pedestals 
on the east, and one on the west (in row 1, 3, of the 

I was now satisfied that the structure was one of 
similar description to the so-called Great Hall of Xerxes 
at Persepolis. Further researches not only confirmed this 
impression, but proved Hkewise that, although the two 



colonnades differed in details, tliey were erected on the 
same plan, and with nearly the same measurements. It 
is therefore natural to conclude that they were the designs 
of the same architect. 

The accompan}^g ground plan of the palace at Susa 
iorves to explain its arrangement. It may, however, be 



^~ Coh:mj\ >)ases or basement 
^* slabs actually discovered. 

^_ Positions of columns not 
^ sought for. 


Column bases with trilingual 

Position of a column, no por- 
tion of which was found. 


necessary briefly to remark, for the information of those 
with whom the Persepolitan structure^'' is not famihar, 
that the Great Hall at Siisa consisted of several mao-ni- 
ficent groups of columns, together having a frontage 
of three hundred and forty-three feet nine inches, and 
a depth of two hundred and forty-four feet. These 
groups were arranged into a central phalanx of thirty-six 
columns (six rows of six each), flanked on the west, 
north, and east, by an equal number, disposed in double 
rows of six each, and distant from them sixty-four feet 
two inches. 

Of the inner phalanx the positions of twenty-one 
columns were determined, and many others doubtless 
might be discovered by excavation ; but, as it was 
necessary to make the utmost use of my funds, I was 
obliged to rest satisfied with ascertaining the actual 
plan of the edifice. 

Of the external groups, there remained on the west, 
three t of the inner row — the original discovery of Colonel 
Williams, — and a large fragment of another among the 
debris upon the slope of the mound. It doubtless be- 
longed to the outer row of the same group. 

Three large basement slabs of the inner row alone 
remained of the northern series; — but, of the eastern 
group, the positions of two in each row were ascertained ; 
the rest are either still buried, or had long since fallen 
down the slope of the mound. 

It was in consequence of the outer rows being destroyed 
in the western and northern groups, that neither Colonel 
Williams nor myself at first succeeded in finding the rest 
of the columns. We might have dug holes all over the 

* For details regarding Persepolis and its palaces, I may refer the reader 
to the admirable works of Chardin, Le Brun, Niebuhr, Texier, Ker Porter, 
Flaudin and Coste, and Fergusson. 

+ Numbered 5, 6, 7, on the Plan. 


mounds at twenty-seven feet three inclies apart, com- 
mencing from our separate starting points, and neither of 
us would by this means have discovered another column ! 
As another instance of the luck attending excavations, I 
may mention that Colonel Williams actually dug two 
trenches* between the rows of columns ; whereas a few 
feet deviation from the straight line must have inevitably 
revealed one of them ! 

In the Great Hall at Persepolis there are clearly two 
orders of columns ; the same coincidence obtained at 
Susa, but as none of the shafts remain erect at the latter 
locality, it is impossible to speak unhesitatingly concern- 
ing the entire details. We know for a certainty, however, 
that the inner phalanx possessed square bases, while those 
of the outer groups were bell-shaped. All the shafts were 
undoubtedly fluted like those at Persepolis, but beyond 
this point there must remain much conjecture. Strewed 
in inextricable confusion among the monoliths were huge 
portions of the fallen columns ; these were so abundant 
that I was able to take correct measurements, and, with 
Mr Churchill's assistance, to restore the various details of 
one variety of compound capital, identical (except in a 
few unimportant particulars) with those in the external 
groups at Persepolis. This capital evidently consisted of 
four distinct parts, as shewn in the accompanying wood- 
cut, which is reduced from Mr Churchill's drawings of the 
originals. t They are probably intended to represent the 
pendent leaves of the date-palm, the opening bud of 
the lotus flower, a series of double volutes, and certainly 
at the summit, two demi-bulls, between whose necks 
passed the beams for the support of the roof. 

* Shewn at E on the General Plan. 

t These (h-awinga were extremely careful restorations of the sculptures, 
nothing being admitted for which there is not sufficient proof. They are 
now in the British Museum. 



Whetlier any other 
variety of capital existed 
at Susa it is difficult to 
decide, but from the fre- 
quent repetition of the 
same subject among the 
debris of the palace, I 
am inclined to think that 
the same surmounted 
the top of every column. 
Mr Fergusson,'"" in his 
admirable attempt to re- 
store the Persepolitan 
structures, rejects the 
drawings of Texier, Flan- 
din and Coste, as re- 
gards the presence of the 
double -bull capital in 
the interior of the build- 
ing, and remarks : — " In 
this, the beams running 
equally in four direc- 
tions, a capital facing 

* " Nineveh and Persepolis 
Restored," p. 162. 

t The total height of this 
compound capital was 28 feet. 
The horns and ears of the two 
bulls were not found ; these were 
let in with lead, but had disap- 
peared. The beams represented 
in the woodcut are, of course, 
imaginary. There was no means 
of ascertaining the height of 
the fluted column, because no 
portion remained in situ. The 
total height of the tallest column 
at Persepolis is, from the floor 
to the architrave, 67 feet 4 

Compound capitixl and base of colunjn at 3>iaa. 


only in two is a singularly awkward expedient, as clumsy 
for an interior as it is appropriate for an external porch." 
But, nothwitlistanding this opinion, the abundant frag- 
ments of broken bulls, which occur in the very centre of the 
great phalanx at Susa, are, I think, satisfactory proof that 
all the columns were surmounted by them, and I therefore 
quite concur with the three authors just mentioned, that 
the same was the case in the corresponding structure at 
Persepolis. It is certain, at any rate, that the northern 
row of the central Susian group was supplied with 
double b,i.ds, because one jDcdestal (No. 1)* has a piece 
cleanly cut out of its eastern side by the perpenclicular 
fall of the bull-capital, which could not have fallen 
into ^^lat position except from the column immediately 
above, or from the one adjoining it. The head of 
another bull was observed to rest against a monolith, 
while a body had fallen on the opposite side. 

The most interesting discovery, however, connected 
with this columnar edifice is the fact that, in each of 
the two most northerly rows of the great phalanx, the 
two central square pedestals (Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4) were 
or had been inscribed with trilingual cuneiform records. 
These were cut around tlie ledge, but the fall of the 
columns had so materially injured them that only one 
copy remained entire — written unfortunately in the lan- 
guage which is least known of the three. As if in an- 
ticipation of the fate which awaited the edifice, and of 
the j)rospect that one copy at least might escape the gene- 
ral destruction, each set of inscriptions was repeated 
four times. The Scythic version occupied the western 
side, the Persian faced towards the south, and the Baby- 
lonian pointed eastward. The fourth side was plain. 
Each version was deeply cut in five lines, and extended 
six feet four inches in length, anc} seven inches in breadth. 

* See Ground Plan of Palace at page 366. 


Upon pedestal No 1, the Scytliic version was per- 
fect, the Persian had lost the last two lines, and the 
whole of the central portion in the Babylonian copy was 
destroyed by the fall of the bull-capital. 

Of pedestal No. 3, a few characters of the Persian 
alone remain. The monolith No. 2, is likewise much 
damaged, having only fragments of the Persian and 
Babylonian copies still existing. It had been injured on 
some previous occasion, either by flaws or otherwise, be- 
cause pieces of the same stone had been fitt'^d in and 
secured with iron or lead, over which the iuijcriptions 
had been cut. 

Of the pedestal No. 4, nothing is left but the base- 
ment slab to determine its former position. Thei . can, 
hoAvever, be little doubt that it was inscribed like the 
others, because these four columns mark the position of 
the principal fajade. 

These records are, in many respects, highly interesting. 
They are the sole memorials extant of Artaxerxes Mne- 
mon, the conqueror of the Greeks at the battle of Cun- 
axa, and they record the completion of the edifice, which 
had been commenced by Darius, the son of Hystaspes, 
as stated by Pliny.'"" This fact is important, because it 
enables us, with a tolerable degree of certainty, to con- 
jecture the age of the great colonnade at Persepolis, as to 
which much doubt exists. It is generally supposed to 
have been the work of Xerxes, because it bears a com- 
memorative tablet of that monarch; but Sir Henry 
Rawlinsont has suggested the probability of its original 
foundation by his father Darius. That such was really 
the case is corroborated by the general agreement in 
plan and measurement, as well as in the details of the 

* Infra est Susiane, in qua vetus regia Persarum Susa, ^ Djrio Ilystaspis 
filio condita. Liber vi., c. 27. 

t Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. x., p. 271. 


Siisian and Persepolitan structures. It is, I think, highly 
probable that they were designed by the same architect, 
although finished at different and distant periods. 

From the perfect Scythic version of the inscriptions, 
aided by the Persian text, Mr Norris'"' suggests the 
following translation as not being very far from the 
truth : — 

" Says Artaxerxes, the great king, the king of kings, 
the king of the country, the king of this earth, the son 
of king Darius : — Darius was the son of king Artaxerxes, 
Artaxerxes was the son of kins; Xerxes, Xerxes was the 
son of king Darius, Darius was the son of Hystaspes, the 
Achsemenian. Darius, my ancestor, anciently built this 
temple (or edifice), and afterwards it was repaired '('?) by 
Artaxerxes, my grandfather. By the aid of Ormazd, I 
placed the effigies of Tanaitis and Mithra in the temple. 
May Ormazd, Tanaitis, and Mithra protect me, with the 
(other) gods C?), and all that I have done. ..." 

Mr Norris remarks that " the loose way in which this 
inscrijDtion was engraved, the abnormal Sjoelling, and the 
unusual forms of the letters, all combine, with gram- 
matical inaccuracies, to throw difficulties in the way of 
a satisfactory explanation of that part of the inscription 
which follows the usual introductory phrases. The 
Persian text would have been of great assistance; but 
it unfortunately fails us where the difficulties begin, 
the last two lines being almost completely broken away, 
without leaving a single entire word." 

It is probable that the orthographical inaccuracies 
above mentioned are the result of the language having 
become materially corrupted during the Achoemenian 
period, or between the time of Darius, surnamed Hystas- 

* For further information on this subject, I must refer the rer,der to 
Mr Norris's elaborate and learned memoir '■' on the Scythic Inscriptions " 
in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, voL xv., p. 157-162. 


pes, and Artaxerxes Mnemon, — or it may be, as Mr 
Norris seems to think, that these irregularities arise 
from a desire on the part of the writer to make the 
translation as literal as possible, even to the errors of 
the original. 

There is another point which gives extreme interest 
to this inscription. I have elsewhere ""' quoted valuable 
authority as to the identity of Ahasuerus, the husband 
of Esther, with the Xerxes of Greek authors. If this be 
admitted, we cannot but regard the edifice in question 
as the actual buUding referred to in the following verses 
of Scripture : — 

" The king made a feast unto all the people that were 
present in Slmslian the palace, both unto great and 
small, seven days in the court of the garden of the king's 
palace; where were white, green, and blue hangings 
fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver 
rings and pillai^s of marble: the beds were of gold and 
silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and 
black marble." t 

It was here, among the pillars of marble in the court 
of the garden in Shushan the palace, " when the heart 
of the king was merry with wine," that the order was 
given for queen Vashti to overstep the bounds of Orien- 
tal female modesty, and "shew the people and the 
princes her beauty," | 

By referring to the plan of the ruins, it will be ob- 
served that the position of the great colonnade corre- 
sponds with the account above given. It stands on 
an elevation in the centre of the mound, the remainder 
of which we may well imagine to have been occupied 
after the Persian fashion, with a garden and fountains 
Thus the colonnade would represent the " court of tht 
garden of the king's palace," with its "pillars of mar 

* See note, page 339. t Esther i. 5, 6. X Esther i. 10, 11. 


ble." I am even inclined to believe that the expression 
"Shnshan the palace" applies especially to this portion 
of the existino- ruins in contradistinction to the citadel and 
the city of Shushan.'"" 

But to return once more to the excavations. In the 
hope of solvii^g the difficulty as to the connexion which 
existed between the central and outer groups of columns, 
trenches were, in several instances, dug between them to 
ascertain if there had been any intermediate wall for the 
support of a roof. At that time I had not seen Mr 
Fergusson's valuable work, recently referred to, nor had 
I any indications of his theory on the subject, i had, 
it is true, noticed the foundations of two doorways, mid- 
way between the central group and the front portico at 
Persepolis ; but, as these were the only indications of an 
existing wall at that place, I was not satisfied on the 
point, and determined to investigate the subject at 
Susa. My trenches all proved fruitless : there was not 
the slightest vestige of such a wall as Mr Fergusson 
has suggested in his restored plan t of the Persepolitan 
Great Hall. Although strongly inclined to adopt a 
similar idea, in order to make the entire structure com- 
pact, I was obhged to abandon it. If there had been 
any such wall at Susa, some portions of it must have 
been discovered, even if constructed of bricks. Mr Fer- 
gusson's argiiment is partly founded on the fact, that 
in two of the smaller palaces at Persepolis, such walls 
do actually remain. But this, I think, rather invali- 
dates his theory, because, if they were not destroyed in 
the smaller edifices, there was less likelihood of their 
being carried away from the more massive buildings. 

As regards Susa, however, there is, in my opinion, a 
fitrong proof that such walls did not exist. It cannot 

* To this point I shall have occasion again to allude, see page 429. 
t " Nineveh and Persepolis Restored," p. 144. 


otherwise be well explained why there should be no 
inscription on the north side of the four columns'-— that 
side which was undoubtedly the principal front of the 
edifice, — except that the record might be protected from 
the influence of the weather. At Persepolis and Nineveh 
it was customary to place the commemorative records in 
the most conspicuous position at the entrances, and, 
unless for the reason above assigned, it is difficult of 
explanation why the same principle was not carried out 
at Susa. I feel therefore persuaded, notwithstanding the 
strong arguments which have been adduced to the con- 
trary, that the outer groups or porticoes stood distinct 
from the central square of columns, or connected simply 
by means of curtains. It seems to be to this that reference 
is made in the " hanoino-s fastened with cords to silver 
rings and pillars of marble" t at the feast of the royal 
Ahasuerus. Nothing could be more appropriate than this 
method at Susa and Persepolis, the s|)ring residences of 
the Persian monarchs. It must be considered that these 
columnar halls were the equivalents of the modern throne- 
rooms, that here all public business was despatched, and 
that here the king might sit and enjoy the beauties of 
the landscape. With the rich plains of Susa and Persepolis 
before him, he could well, after his winter's residence at 
Babylon, dispense with massive walls, which would only 
check the warm fraorant breeze from those verdant 
prairies adorned with the choicest flowers. A massive roof, 
covering the whole expanse of columns, would be too 
cold and dismal, whereas curtains around the central 
group woidd serve to admit both light and warmth. 
Nothing can be conceived better adapted to the climate 
or the season. 

The elevated position of the Great Colonnade, with the 

* Numbered 1, 2, 3, 4 on the Ground Plan at page 366. 
t Esther i. 6. 


somewhat abrupt edges of tlie mound upon whicli it 
stood, suggested the probability of a sculptured stylobate 
resembling that at Persepolis. Without a massive sup- 
port of some description, the immense superincumbent 
weight of the columns must have necessarily caused the 
platform to give way at the edges. Several trenches 
were therefore dug on all sides, but without the discovery 
of the smallest fragment of sculpture. At the north-west 
corner, however, on the edge of the platform,* and at the 
depth of about fifteen feet, there occurred a block of large 
bricks, set in bitumen, evidently the foundation of a strong 
wall. I therefore conclude that the platform was sustained 
by a brick wall, and that neglect in repairing it, or wanton 
removal of the bricks, produced the destruction pf the 
whole edifice. The absence of bas-reliefs at Susa need, 
however, be no cause of surprise. Mneveh and Persepolis 
are situated in localities producing the stone of which the 
edifices are constructed. Susa, on the contrary, stands 
on a gravel plain, thirty miles removed from the nearest 
point whence building stone is procurable, t 

The habitable portion of the Susian palace, erected by 
Darius and his successors, undoubtedly stood on the south 
of, and immediately behind the columnar hall. Traces 
of brick walls were there uncovered, but, the depth of 
earth being so shallow above them, it was useless to exca- 
vate further in that quarter. 

The similarity between the buildings of Persepolis and 
Susa is so great that any peculiarity observable in the 
one will equally illustrate the architecture of the other. 

At F on the General Plan, 
t The (lark blue limestone of the Susa monoliths is extremely hard and 
difficult to work In parts, however, its texture is slaty, and to this cause 
may be attributed, in some degree, the destruction of the columns. 
It was most likely obtained from the valley of the river Kcrkhah, near 
Pdl-i-Tang, or from the adjoining range of theKebii' Klih, whence it must 
have been conveyed on rafts to Susa. 


Even if not erected by the same architect, they were the 
works of the same dynasty, and they proceeded from one 
source. They form a distinct style of architecture, and 
it now becomes necessary to offer a few remarks upon it. 
The large hollow member with leafy ornaments — form- 
ing, as it were, the cornice of certain Persepolitan 
structures — is nowhere else observable except in the 
ruined edifices which line the banks of the Nile, or deck 
the Egyptian plains; but the palaces of the Ach^emenian 
kings lack the massiveness which is the grand charac- 
teristic of Egyptian buildings. The bulls of Persepolis 
and Susa remind us at once of their prototypes in the 
Assyrian palaces : the flutings of the columns are almost 
counterparts of the delicate chasings of the Greek pillars, 
whilst the palm-ornaments of the capitals point to the 
fallen empires whose sj^lendour once mirrored itself, even 
as their ruins are now reflected, in the waters of the 
lower Tigris and Euphrates. It is worthy of notice, 
however, that the palaces of Susa and Persepolis are much 
inferior to those which they resemble in the several 
empires whose remains are still preserved to us, and that, 
far from being (as M. Flandin remarks, in the Remie 
des Deux Mondes) " worthy to be classed with Greek 
art," they were rather the works of a powerful monarch, 
who wanted the skill and taste to direct the labour which 
his power commanded. Such a one was Darius, the 
son of Hystaspes, who, having subdued a peoj^le which 
had suffered the luxury of art to rust its sword, was 
ambitious, " by the grace of Ormazd, who had brought 
help to him," to make his palaces outshine, by prodigality 
of ornament, those of the nations he had conquered, and 
to " engrave with an iron pen in the rock for ever," in 
commendable simplicity, the record of his deeds. The 
purity and artistic feelings of the vanquished he could 
not transplant, nor perhaps even appreciate. It may 


have contented liim to borrow forms indiscriminately 
from all, so that each of the hundred columns'" surround- 
ing his throne might bear upon its fluted shaft the lotus, 
the palm, and the bull, and symbolize the glories which 
the vigorous arms of the Persian had gathered upon the 
battle-fields of Egypt, Assyria, Greece, and Babylonia. 

The earliest specimen of the Achsemenian structures is 
at Miirghab — the ancient Passargadse — which likewise 
bears the earliest cuneatic record of that dynasty by 
C}Tus the Great. As it is pretty generally admitted that 
this alphabet was adopted from subjected nations, and as 
it is invariably connected with their architecture,* both at 
Persepolis and Susa., it rather adds confirmation to the 
view here taken as to the origin of these unique specimens 
of the building art. 

In the inscription, upon the monolithic bases of Ar- 
taxerxes Mnemon, we read that he raised a statue in 
honour of the goddess Tanaitis,t or Venus ; it is 
interesting to corroborate this worship, by means of 
excavations in a difierent part of the ruins. In a trench,| 
twenty-two feet deep, at the south-west corner of the 
great platform, was discovered a collection of about two 

* The Great Palace at Persepolis, it is well known, is, more Persarum, 
called " Chehil Miudr," " The Hundred Columns," although it only possessed 

t Tanaitis is certainly the Assyrian Anaitis, the Pei'siau Anahid, the 
Phoenician Tanith, and the Greek Tavats of some MSS. at least. The Persian 
version of the record still shews a part of the name " — naliata;" the Baby- 
lonian has Anakhitti. The Scythic word may be read Tanata. The 
inscriptions confirm the statement of Plutarch, that Tanata was worshipped 
in the time of Artaxerxes Mnemon. It has been usual, in printed Greek 
works, to alter the name of Tanata, or Tai/aiV, to 'AwiiVis ; but the Phoeni- 
cian Tanith, the present inscription, and the authority of good MSS. of 
Strabo, shew that Tavats was equally admissible ; and, if the very probable 
conjecture of Gesenius as to the identity of Tanata and the Egyptian god- 
dess Neith be correct, the reason of the variation is i)]ain, ta being merely 
the Egyptian feminine article. See Vlx Norris' Memoir on Scythic Inscrip- 
tions, Journal of Royal Asiatic Society, voL xv., p. 160. 

+ K on Plan. 




hundred terra-cotta figures, the greater number of whicli 
were nude representations of the goddess. Venus was es- 
pecially worshipped at Babylon, and her clay models are 

Claj' figures of Venus from Susa. 

among the most common of those found throughout Baby- 
lonia. Those discovered at Susa are altogether of a different 
type, and exhibit some remarkable peculiarities, shewn in 
the woodcut. 

The hands, as usual, hold the breasts, as emblems of 
fruitfulness ; the features are very carefully moulded, and 
present a decidedly Assyrian profile ; the hair is clipped 
close to the forehead, like the modern fashion of the 
Persian women ; and the head-dress is high and pro- 
jecting, like the cap frequently worn by Jewish ladies in 
the East. The ears, neck, wrists, and ankles are adorned 
with their appropriate ornaments. The features and head- 
dress are perfectly different from any found elsewhere. 
There was evidently a great demand for these statuettes, 
which were cast from several moulds, and it appeared 
as though the trench had descended into tlie image- 
maker's store. In an adjoining trench,'"' was recovered 

* J on Plan. 


one of tlie clay moulds in which the figures were 

There occurred also, in the same trench, other male 
and female figures, playing on instruments resembling 
the native zantur, together with several primitive re- 
presentations of domestic animals — the Indian bull, the 
sheep, and horse. 

♦ In a small cliamber, in the south-east palace at Nimrlid, I discovered a 
large collection of very beautiful ivories, among which were a great variety 
of nude figures, frequently in the same posture as those above described. 
In several instances, they composed groups as column shafts. From the 
frequency of their occurrence, I concluded that they had formed part of an 
ornamental shrine dedicated to Venus. Short accounts of these ivories, 
with figures of the most remarkable, are contained in the Literary Gazette 
of April 5, 1856, and in the Illustrated London News of April 12, 1856. 
The originals are in the British Museum. 


Hostility and Eeconciliation — ^An Arrival — ^The Lur Woikmen — Insur- 
rection of Seyids — Administration of Justice — Novel ^Method of 
Smoking — Colonel Williams' Horses Stolen — An Arab attack Re- 
pelled — The Haughty Humbled — Besieged by a Harem. 

It must not be supposed that the progress of tlie ex- 
cavations was unattended with difficulty and annoy- 
ance. On quitting Dizful for the ruins, the services 
of only seventy Liirs were secured, under the impression 
that, as soon as the work began, many Arabs would be 
induced to offer themselves. In this, however, I was dis- 
appointed, and the letters furnished me by Khanler Mirza 
failed to produce the desirable result ; the 'Ali Kethir 
were not to be moved from their obstinate determination. 
Sheikh Ghafil, the chief of the whole tribe, whose tents 
were situated about three miles from the mounds, 
was especially directed to see to my safety, and to sup- 
ply me with workmen ; but his remark, on reading the 
Prince's letter, was to the effect that he woidd not send 
nien — "the Shah-zdda (Prince) might cut him and his 
tribe to pieces ; his sons and wives were the Prince's, but 
he would not send a man to dig at Shilsh for a Firenghi!'' 
With his rival, Sheikh Mahommed,* encamped with his 

* The 'All Kethir Arabs are divided into thirty-one tribes, of which the 
Cherim, Anafija, Ch^'b, and Md'la are the only large ones. At the time of 
my visits to Susa, Ghdfil was sheikh of the first, and Mahommed-em-Meshdl 
of the last. 


people a short distance from the mounds on the opposite 
side of the Shaour, there was no better success. His 
reply to my demand for workmen was the question, "how 
the Prince permitted a Ghyawr to excavate at Shush !" 
From another camp it was stated that my groom was 
driven with sticks and stones while endeavouring to pur- 
chase corn for my horses. A general feeling prevailed that 
the recent visit of cholera to the province, was the conse- 
quence of Colonel AVilliams' excavations, and that it would 
return agjain with tenfold violence, at this second act of 
impiety! It soon became evident that, unless means 
were taken to prevent it, I should be exposed fo gross 
insult. The opportunity was not long in occurring, and 
eventually turned to my advantage. 

On the third day after my tents were pitched at Shush 
and the works in full operation, Sheikh Mahommed's 
brother, with about a dozen of his people, presented them- 
selves at a trench where I was watching the workmen 
extracting pieces of fluted columns. Salutations were 
expressly made to the Ltirs, under the designation of 
"Dizfuli," for the undoubted purpose of excluding me. 
At first I took no notice of this conduct, regarding the 
visitors as ignorant Arabs ; but when they followed me 
about from trench to trench, behaving in the same man- 
ner at each, and holding conversations amons; themselves 
concerning " the beast, the pig,'' &c., it was evident that 
a direct insult was intended towards myself. To have 
submitted tamely would have been productive of con- 
tinued annoyance ; I therefore insisted on their leaving 
the trenches until they had learned to treat me with com- 
mon respect. They were not prepared for this high tone 
from a Christian, and therefore took their departure with 
strong signs of surprise and disgust. Determined to 
strike the iron while liot, I despatched the Prince's man 
to Sheikh Mahommed, demanding an apology for this 


gratuitous insult on the part of his brother. On the fol- 
lowing day, Mahommed himself sought an interview, and 
begged that the offender might be forgiven. " He is an 
Arab," said he, "and knows no better." His brother also 
confessed that he had acted with great impropriety, but was 
sorry for his behaviour. Thus an excellent opportunity 
arose for concihating my nearest neighbours, and at the 
same time of explaining that I had no desire they should 
act contrary to their prejudices in working at the ex- 
cavations. To prove that I possessed due and proper 
authority for my proceedings, the Shah's firman was ex- 
hibited. Sheikh Mahommed received this precious docu- 
ment standing ; he carefully examined the seal, kissed 
it, muttered a prayer, and then placed it reverently on 
his head. It was then handed to his brother, who did 

The old man's quiet demeanour and pleasant counten- 
ance were a strong contrast to the roughness and ill-looks 
of his tribe, and the interview between us evidently told 
like^^se in my favour. He became particularly commu- 
nicative, and, from that day, he and his brother were my 
stanch friends. With the exception of excavating in the 
mounds, they willingly aided me in anything I might re- 
quire, and, during my stay, I was obliged to them both 
for many acts of assistance and friendly feeling. 

A few days after this interview I was enabled to test 
this newly formed friendship. A scrap of paper was one 
morning put into my hands, addressed in European hand- 
writing to Colonel AVilliams, with the intimation that 
the writer waited a reply on the opposite side of the 
Kerkhah. It proved to be from Lieutenant Jackson, 
I.N., who was on his way to join the English party. 
He had recently arrived from Bombay, and went to Bagh- 
dad in expectation of finding Colonel Williams at Men- 
deli, but, bein^ too late to overtake liim there, he set out 


once more on tlie Tigris, hoping to reach his chief at 
Hawiza. The native boat, in which he took passage, 
as bad hick would have it, ran aground. Eighteen days 
elapsed, and, there being no chance of the vessel floating 
until the annual rise of the river, the voyager decided 
on making his way overland. He fortunately made the 
acquaintance of a Beni Lam sheikh, Avho hospitably un- 
dertook to see him safely to the banks of the Kerkhah. 
In passing the Segwend Lurs, one of their tushmals, or 
chiefs, swore that, but for his protector, his life would 
have been the penalty for his temerity in venturing 
amons: them ; in token of the truth of which assertion he 
inhospitably turned the unlucky traveller out of his 
tent into the rain, leaving him to find shelter elsewhere. 
After various other adventures, he at length succeeded 
in gaining the bank of the Kerkhah, where the Arabs re- 
fused to provide him with sldns to form a raft. He 
wisely wrote to the elchi, who, he understood, was dig- 
ging up piles of gold and silver cups at Shush ! An ap- 
plication from me to Sheikh Mahommed was instantly 
attended to ; sheepskins were collected from the women, 
and in a few hours my friend was safely and gladly 
lodged in my tent. 

Sheikh IMahommed's camp was my farmyard ; it 
suppHed barley and straw for my animals, and every 
species of Arab luxury for our own sustenance. And 
yet, although my immediate neighbours now behaved 
so well, others at a greater distance exhibited less friendly 
disposition towards my party. Wlienever any Liirs were 
caught straying far from the mounds, or were engaged in 
cutting wood on the banks of the Shaour, they were at- 
tacked, and not unfrequently some awkward wounds were 
inflicted. On one occasion a workman was carried into 
camp speared in a frightful manner by a party of Arabs. 
In order to suppress such outrages, it became necessary 


to organise well-armed foraging parties, who were accom- 
panied by a chief answerable to me for the behaviour of 
his men. This had a good effect, and the cowardly 
attacks ceased. 

Having satisfactorily ascertained that it was useless 
expecting the Arabs to aid me, I determined on increasing 
my force by engaging men in Dizfill. It soon became 
known that workmen were required, and the mounds 
were besieged by applicants ; no farther difficulty was 
experienced in raising three hundred and fifty men. The 
principal number were Liirs, but many were a mixed race 
from the town,— half Lur, half Arab, hating the Frank, 
but greedy for his kerans. This additional force was 
distributed at various positions on the mounds, as indi- 
cated by the coloured lines on the general plan of the 
ruins. The men were divided into gangs; the strong 
Lurs used the long-handled spades of the country, and, 
like Irish "navvies," threw the earth high out of the 
open trenches, while the town's-people, less accustomed to 
such hard work, filled baskets, and hoisted the loose earth 
from the tunnels by means of pullies. None could, how- 
ever, forget the predictions of the priests, that some 
accident would inevitably befall the sacrilegious wretches 
who darerl to assist the operations of the Ghyawr. In 
order to avert this supposed danger, the party at each 
trench elected a mulla — one of themselves — who every 
now and then extemporized a prayer, calling on 'All tO' 
save and defend them from aU ills likely to arise from. 
digging at Shush, and receiving the wages of an infidel, 
" whom might 'AU curse!' Each invocation was loudly 
responded to by three earnest cries of " Ya, 'All ! " (Oh, 
'AH).'"" The echo was taken up by the adjoining trench, 

• It will be remembered that 'AH is the patron saint of the Persians. 
The names of Allah (God) or Mohammed are seldom invoked by them, ae 
they are by the Turks and Arabs of the Sunni sect. 


and the mounds, from end to end, constantly resounded 
with this oft-repeated prayer. 

The accession of Dizfulls to the excavations was, in one 
respect, unwelcome : they brought bigotry along with 
them. The Lurs were tolerant ; they chiefly belonged to 
that extraordinary sect called 'All Ilahis,''''' who believe 
that the Deity has vouchsafed to man a thousand and 
one successive incarnations of the godhead, and that the 
most perfect development of his presence took place in 
Benjamin, David, and 'All. 

The Seyids, or descendants of the Prophet, were, as I 
liave said, induced at last to overcome their seniles, and 
I was surprised one morning to see no less than seventeen 
green-turbaned individuals, from Dizfiil, ranged before 
my tent door. If they had not been armed with spades, 

* Very little is really known of this singular sect. It is extremely diffi- 
cult to ascertain what are the tenets of their religion, because they are very 
jealous of inquiry concerning this subject, although tolerant of other 
opinions. From their many Jewish names and general physiognomy, it is 
supposed by some travellers that they are of Israelitish descent. Their 
religion appears to be a mixture of Jewish, Sabaean, Christian, and Moham- 
medan belief. Their great holy place is the tomb of Bdba-Yadgar, on the 
mountain fort of Ban Zdrda, near Zohdb, which was at one time regarded 
as the abode of Ehas. In 1851, 1 spent some months among the 'All Ilahls 
of Kirrind, but can add httle to what we previously knew conceniing them. 
They say to Christians : " Our religion differs but little from yours ! we 
drink wine, eat pig, and are not obliged, like the Mohammedan, to pray." 
The men of Kirrind are brave and handsome, and the women fair and good- 
looking. The holiday-dress of the latter consists of a bright-coloured short 
jacket of velvet, having a lappet in fi'out, and the breast laced like the Swiss 
costumes of Berne and Lucerne. They mix freely with the men of their 
tribes, and are less particular than IVIohammedan ladies in covering their 
faces. In fact, at their weddings, only ladies who are " engaged " are re- 
quired to conceal their features, which is done by throwing a kerchief over 
the head. The Kirrindis follow the profession of their Deity Dawud (David), 
who is said to have been a blacksmith ; their iron-work is deservedly cele- 
brated throughout Persia. To escape persecution, the 'AH Ilahis profess 
Isldmism when they descend into the plains, but in the mountains they 
feel free to follow their own opinions. For fui-ther information concerning 
this sect, consult the " Journal of the Royal Geographical Society," vol. ix., 
p. 36. 


I might have imagined them to be a deputation from the 
mujtehid, mth orders to put a stop to my proceedings. 
Several of these gentry were placed together in one 
trench, but so many green turbans in close proximity 
could not fail to produce mischief ! They were very ob- 
stinate, and frequently refused to obey instructions. 

One day my servant, carrying them a message, was at- 
tacked with very abusive language by the muUa of the 
party. On its iDeing repeated, Ovannes struck the holy 
man a violent blow, whereon the latter raised his spade, 
and endeavoured viciously to cut the other down, calling 
on his fellow saints to resent the insult inflicted on one of 
their number : — " A Seyid 1 a descendant of the Prophet, 
to be struck by a Gllya^^T ! Will you suffer this 1 Seyids ! 
aid me, in the name of 'AH ! " Watching the whole scene 
from the summit of the great mound, and fearing worse 
might ensue, I ran to the spot just in time to save 
Ovannes a blow, which would inevitably have cleft his 
skidl, and wrenched the implement from the fellow's 
hand, as he stiU more vehemently raised his outcry 
against myself. On refusing either to be pacified or to 
quit the trench, I bestowed his own epithets upon him- 
self, together with a succession of hearty kicks each time 
he opened his mouth to call on his brother Seyids to 
"exterminate the Ghyawrs !" As soon as he was fairly 
driven off the mound, I returned to the trench and told 
his fraternity that this summary punishment to one of the 
order was inflicted out of no disrespect towards themselves ; 
but, so long as they worked for me, I insisted on being 
obeyed, and would submit to no insolence or bigotry. 
This example had the desired efi'ect ; from that moment 
my influence, like that of every stern governor, small or 
great, in Persia, was established. It was soon discovered 
that the Ghyawr could act impartially, and be just in his 
dealings. My decision was frequently appealed to in 


matters of dispute, and on some occasions tlie whole of 
the workmen assembled to ask advice. 

Tliey all huddled together at night into Daniel's tomb, 
and their wild songs resounded through the solitude of 
the ruins, sometimes interrupted by loud cries of " Ya ! 
'All." On a few grand occasions the exterior of the 
building was illuminated. Lamps were placed at inter- 
vals around the edges of the veranda and terrace, as well 
as upon the spire of the penetralia, the effect of which 
was very striking, — the white spire of the edifice seemed 
to be semi-transparent. 

Every man took care to receive his own wage^, and to 
secure them in his own private bank — his girdle — honesty 
not being a distinguishing characteristic of the .Persian 
race. A Lur was one night caught in the act of robbing 
his next neighbour, and, the kerans being found upon his 
person, he could not do otherwise than confess his guilt. 
Next morning he was brought to me by the whole of the 
workmen to be punished. I ofi'ered to send him into 
Dizful to be submitted to the tender mercies of the 
authorities. " No ! No !" was the general cry, " Punish 
him here! Punish him here!" The culprit stepped for- 
ward and repeated the request, kneeling down and kissing 
my feet ! The reason of this was soon explained. If the 
man were sent to Dizfid, he would not only have the 
soles of his feet beaten to a jelly, but the kerans, the 
cause of the dire offence, would, by some magical process 
or other, disappear into the pockets of the jailers, and 
probably an additional sum be filched from both parties 
concerned. To avoid this, it was agreed, in full conclave, 
to ask me to distribute justice ; therefore, to satisfy all 
parties, I consented to the arrangement. The stolen 
money was duly paid over to the proper owner, and 
twenty blows were inflicted on the person of the criminal, 
after which he was dismissed the service — not, however. 


liefore he liad kissed my feet ; after Avhich the whole party 
proceeded to their trenches, exclaiming : — " This is some- 
thing like justice ! where shall we get such justice in 
Persia !'' 

After these little episodes, order and regularity were 
fully established in the trenches, the only variation ^o our 
day's labour being when Sheikli Ghafil, Mohammed, or a 
neighbouring chief came to look and wonder, and depart ; 
or when a general distribution of tobacco took place in 
return for a hard day's work, or an extraordinary piece of 
good fortune. 

An occasional present of tobacco produced an exhilar- 
ating effect upon the excavators ; without making the 
frantic demonstrations of the Madan Arabs on the banks 
of the Euphrates, the Lurs dug to desperation, and yelled 
forth their strange mountain cries, amidst incessant calls 
on the ubiquitous 'All. Having but few pipes, they 
adopted a primitive and ingenious method of inhaling the 
magic cloud. With a little water, the earth at the edge of 
the trench was converted into a tenacious paste ; two holes 
were made in it havino; an undero-round communication 
between them of three or four inches in length. The 
tobacco was then placed in one hole, and, at the other, 
they, one after the other, applied their lips and sucked till 
all was dry. The mouth-piece of this novel pipe was 
frequently made inside the trench, and much resembled 
a fungus adhering to the wall. It was very amusing 
when a fresh " kaliyun" was lighted, to see them standing 
in a circle waiting their turn, while one of the number 
knelt in the centre with his mouth to the earth sucking 
until quite blue in the face with the exertion. 

I had just succeeded in overcoming the scruples and 
gaining the confidence of the workmen, when the British 
Commissioner and a part of his suite, after completing 
the survey of the southern portion of the frontier, spent 


a few days witli me on their way northward. An event 
then took place which threatened to put a somewhat 
premature stop to the excavations. 

On the second night jof their arrival, two horses were 
skilfully stolen from the encampment, and strong sus- 
picions attached to a sheikh named Eizaz, belonging to 
the Cha'b'"" division of the 'Ali Kethir Arabs, who had 
only pitched their tents the day before on the bank of 
the Kerkhah: the stolen horses were heard galloping 
towards them, and shortly afterwards their dogs barked 
vehemently. Information of the theft was immediately 
communicated to the Prince, and very early the second 
morning after the robbery, Colonel Williams set out 
en route for Mendeli, leaving Mr Jackson with me to 
await the arrival of Lieutenant Glascott from Shiister, 
Breakfast was just finished when I was apprized that 
four hundred armed Arabs, headed by Abdullah, the 
sheikh of the suspected Chab, were approaching the 
mounds. When the sheikh expressed a wish to see me, 
not knowing the object, nor liking the advent of such 
a host of light-fingered gentry, some of my people, 
without my knowledge, desired him to leave his followers 
outside the camp. With this request he abruptly declined 
to comply, insisting that they should pass through the 
camp, and remarking that his Arabs were as clean as 

The admission of the posse comitatus was stoutly 
refused, and high words ensued between the parties. 
Ovannes instantly hastening to the spot, invited the 
sheikh and the elders of the tribe to my tent, but 
asked him, as a favour, to call a halt of their attendants. 
The sheikh passionately replied by denouncing him as a 

* These Arabs are not to be confounded with the great tribe of the 
Chd'b, although they may probably have originally emigrated from it to 
the 'Ali Kethir. 


Firenglii dog, which was the signal for a general attack on 
my people with clubs and sticks, a gun being fired b}- 
way of intimidation. The Liirs now took part in the 
affray. Delighted at the opportunity of facing the tribe 
wliich had but recently almost murdered one of their 
party, they swarmed from the trenches, and rushed to the 
attack, howling and yelling with right good will, every 
man* armed with a spade, pickaxe, or other weapon; 
their guns being fortunately left in the tomb. The battle 
now became general. The Arabs — chiefly armed with 
sticks, and perhaps not relishing the aspect of the sharp 
glittering spades, or not aware of our numbers which 
now amounted to three hundred and seventy — slowly 
retreated under cover of an incessant shower of broken 

All this had taken place in a few minutes, before it 
was possible to comprehend the affair ; but, having no 
desire to be the cause of a blood-feud, or to risk the prose- 
cution of the excavations, I ran to the scene of combat, 
and used my best endeavours to maintain peace. The 
Lurs, after much difficulty, were persuaded to a halt, and 
obey discipline. Having so far succeeded, I advanced 
alone towards the Arabs, calling on the sheikh who rode i;; 
the rear to come forward and speak to me. A shower of 
bricks and a volley of bullets — for they had about fifty 
guns among them — was the return for my pains, l)ut these 
were fortunately discharged without effect. The indig- 
nant Lurs again rushed forward, and were again checked 
by my interference. The same order of events occurred 
thrice. Just as they were quieted on the- last occasion, 
an outcry arose that the Arabs had seized and were mur- 
dering a Lur. There was no time to lose ; — the Aral s 
were again regaining courage, and preparing to advance 
on seeing our halt, when I gave the word for a general 
charge down the mound. The enemy declined close con- 


tact with the spades, and made a hasty retreat to the ford 
over the Shaour, keeping up a running fight with bricks, 
their stock of powder being by this time exhausted. As 
soon as they reached the river, the Liirs were brought to 
a halt once more, and I walked with Mr Jackson and 
Ovannes to the bank. On beckoning the sheikh to 
speak with me, he menacingly shook his stick, and, as 
no exj^ostulation had any effect in producing an explana- 
tion, I told him he must take the consequences of this 
imjustifiable assault on his own shoulders; then turning 
away, I retired unmolested by the Arabs, - many of 
whom were performing a species of demoniacal dance 
around me. A messenger was soon on his way with an 
account of the whole proceedings to Colonel Williams. 
The only explanation to be offered as to the sheikh's 
conduct is, that not aware of the Commissioner's depar- 
ture, he had come with the intention of insulting him for 
charging the Cha b tribe with the theft of the horses. 
If his visit were intended as a mark of respect, he would 
have kept his people out of my camp. 

The Prince was highly enraged on hearing from Colonel 
Williams the account of the attack, and instantly com- 
ijnanded Sheikh Ghafil to secure and send his subordi- 
nate to Dizful — a task easier said than done — for, 
within twenty hours after the occurrence, Abdullah and 
the Chab were on their way to seek refuge among the 
marshes of the Kerkhah beyond Hawiza. The plains, 
which the day before were thickly dotted with black 
tents and herds of buffaloes, were now deserted, — not an 
Arab was visible, — nothing but an expanse of verdant 
meadow of the richest green was apparent as far as the 
eye could span. Ghafil was now in a dilemma ; in 
accordance with Persian custom, he was answerable for 
the conduct of the whole 'All Kethir, and bound to 
produce Abdullah. He being, however, beyond reach, 


his relatives were instantly seized and lodged in 

Gbafil and a party of sheikhs soon honoured me with a 
visit, but their previously haughty and threatening mien 
was lowered : the men, who had before drawn their 
swords and insulted the Ghyawr, were now anxious to 
shew their deference ; each, as he entered the tent, 
bowed his head low, and insisted on kissing the hand of 
the previously despised infidel. Many were the excuses 
and entreaties offered on behalf of the culprit; but 
nothing would move my compassion, because I con- 
ceived it a duty to future travellers that the matter 
should not be lightly passed over. Unless the Arabs 
were now made to respect the European, it might fare ill 
with the next visitor to the ruins. At my intercession, 
however, the relations of Sheikh Abdullah were released 
from prison, it being manifestly unfair that the innocent 
should be punished for the guilty. 

Not succeeding in his entreaties, Sheikh Ghdfil took a 
sorrowful leave, declaring that he would shortly return 
with his harem, under the impression that woman's 
prayers would prevail over my stubborn resolution. 
He kept his word. In a fcAv hours, I was sui^prised at 
seeing a long line of females approaching in single file 
towards my tent, headed by the sheikh himself and a 
])lack eunuch. The ladies were all richly dressed, theii' 
faces scrupulously concealed under black horsehair masks. 
But I at once declined to receive them, and threatened to 
quit my tent if they persisted in approaching. Finding 
me so determined, they halted, but Ghafil now declared 
they should not depart until I yielded. This was 
attempting to storm the fortress in a way not calcidated 
upon ; but, being resolved to stand the siege, I ordered a 
tent to be pitched for the accommodation of the Amazons, 
and all supplies which they might need to be provided 


for them. The black eunucli took up his appointed 
station in a broiling sun, midway between the besiegers 
and besieged, and acted as the advanced corps of ob- 
servation. All communication between the two forces 
was held through his instrumentality ; messages and 
presents alike passed through him from camp to camp. 

In the evening. Sheikh Ghafil, without a word, took 
his departure, leaving his harem to continue a hopeless 
task; but on the follomng day he returned with a pri- 
soner — a poor labourer caught ploughing his fields — 
and represented him as the man who conmienced the 
attack. With his wretched victim he departed for Dizfiil, 
impressed with the idea that this great show of acti\ity 
and zeal would bring about the desired result * more 
speedily than his besieging army, which was henceforth 

He was, however, still mistaken; Sheikh Abdullah, 
and no other, would satisfy my demand. Such being 
the case, another stratagem was attempted. A Persian, 
representing himself as an officer of the Prince's, made 
his appearance with the offending sheikh, pretending that 
he was ordered to bring the fellow for me to punish as I 
might please ; but the real fact most probably was, that 
he had entered into a compact with his prisoner, hoping to 
beo; him ofi" on condition of a liberal reward for his inter- 
cession. Some such agreement evidently existed, because, 
on my declining to listen to the advocate, they set out 
on the road to Dizful ; it was subsequently stated that 
Abdullah had made his escape, and that a large body of 
Cha'b was in ambush by the way, prepared to rescue 
their chief if I had actively moved in the matter. He 
once more made off into the marshes, and did not again 
trouble me during my further stay ; Sheikh Ghafil, how- 
ever, in his own behalf, continued to importune me for 
his friend's pardon whenever he paid me a visit. 


The stolen horses were ultimately traced to the camp 
of my worthy friend Methkilr, the chief of the BenI Lim, 
whose own brother proved to have been the accomplished 
thief 1 True to the compact made with myself, my goods 
and chattels were held sacred by his tribe ; but, having 
made no stipulation on behalf of Colonel Williams, the 
other property of the commission was regarded as a fair 
object for plunder! The Prince wrote to Methkiir, re- 
quiiing him to deliver up the horses into my charge ; 
while the 'All Kethir, in whose territories they were lost, 
were compelled to provide others of equal value in 
exchange ! Thus was the matter of the theft arranged ; 
but the more serious affair of the Cha'b attack still 
remained to be dealt with. 


A Long Trench — Enamelled Bricks — Masons' Marks — ^A Hoard of 
Coins — ^Was Susa destroyed by Alexander 1 — Greek Inscriptions — 
Pythagoras and the Persian Daric — Unexpected Visit from the 
Guardian of the Tomb — Inscriptions and other Eaiiy Relics qa the 
Great ]\fonnd — Alabaster Vases of Xerxes — Egyptian Cartouch — 
Mr Birch's Remarks thereon — Sculptured Trough. 

Excavations were now vigorously carried on in the 
three principal mounds. In a regularly formed portion of 
the platform south-west of the colonnade of Artaxerxes, a 
trench'"' was dug diagonally across the mound, from one 
side to the other. At the depth of eleven feet, it struck 
upon a brick pavement, evidently connected with the 
palace, probably a court. On its surface were numerous 
pieces of fallen walls built of moulded composition bricks, 
many of which exhibited portions of glazed, coloured 
figures and designs in high relief, but, being on a large 
scale, it was impossible to understand their import 
or to fit the fragments to each other. Among some 
smaller designs was frequently repeated the symbol of 
the Deity — a dotted ball with expanded wings, — the 
colours being much varied and in a good state of pre- 
servation. There was also the rosette ornament, which 
occurs so abundantly and was so universal a favourite 
throughout edifices of the same period at Nineveh, 
Persepolis, and Susa.t From the position in which these 

• At I on the Plan. 

t Specimens of these enamelled bricks are in the British Museum. 


glazed l)ricks lay, it would appear that the wings of the 
great palace at Susa were ornamented externally in this 
style, and hence we may attach some credit to the state- 
ments of the ancient historians '"' that the walls of 
edifices in Babylon and Ecbatana in Media were adorned 
with gorgeously-coloured representations of various sub- 
jects. The shallowness of the trench, and the overturned 
condition of the brickwork, induced me to cease minute 
researches at the north side of the mound. 

There is another point connected with these enamelled 
bricks of some interest. Upon their upper sur- 
face is generally one, and sometimes two or three 
peculiar characters. They are of different kinds, as 
shewn in the accompanying list. Those in the lines. 
No. 1, were merely scratches made with a knife or sharp 
instrument while the composition was soft. The second 
series of marks is the most interesting. They are small, 
but very carefully formed, near the front edge of each 
brick, generally with dark-coloured enamel, and are 
apparently intended to indicate the upper side of the 
design in front. The marks in the columns, No. 3, wei e 
rudely laid on in glaze with a brush or stick. As the}' 
do not belong to any known language, the inference is 
that these characters are merely builders' marks, t 

* Diodorus Siculus,lib. ii., c. 20. Herodotus, lib. i., c. 98. The large num- 
ber of enamelled bricks discovered in Mr Layard's excavations at the Ka-si- 
mound, Babylon, led him to the same conclusion at that locality. In 
Assyria, glazed bricks are an important feature in the front of the city 
gateways still standing at Khorsabdd, but it is to be doubted if the ex- 
ternal walls of Assyrian palaces were adorned in the same manner through- 
out. They may have been painted but not enamelled. I laid bare three 
sides of the north palace at Koyunjuk, but without observing any trace 
of colour upon them. 

t Marks of similar kind occur upon many ancient stone buildings in the 
East— as at Takht i Suleyraan, near Persepolis ; at the base of the sculptured 
rock of Bisutdn ; in blocks near the ZenderM and in the garden of the Che- 
hil Sittin ; at Isfahdn ; and especially on the walls of Al Hddhr, near Mosul. 
It is not improbable that those observed at the ChehU Sittin were de- 



With reo-ard to others of similar kind elsewhere, it has 
been suggested that they are the marks of Chaldsean 

12 3 12 3 





^ H 


+ £ 

J C 
















t I 





























Marks on composition bricks at Susa. 

masons. HoAvever this may be, it is curious to find them 
existing on edifices far apart, and erected at various 
periods from 335 B.C. to the end of the sixteenth cen- 
tiu:y of our era. With the above observations, I leave 
them to the examination of philologists. 

rived from more ancient structures erected by Ardeshir Babegdn about 

2^0 A D. 


The frequency of these bricks, and the occurrence, from 
time to time, of a piece of inscribed plaster, or small 
cohimn base with trilingual characters, induced me to 
continue this trench ''' five hundred feet to the opposite 
side of the mound. Not far from its southern extremity, 
on the edge of the pLatform, where the depth of earth 
above the pavement did not exceed six feet, an interest- 
ing discovery was made. I was at the time engaged in 
examining some recent acquisitions from another part 
of the ruins, when one of my master workmen rushed 
into the tent, every muscle of his face distorted ^vith 
mingled expressions of astonishment, delight, fear, and 
anxiety, while he threw down at my feet as many silver 
Kufic coins as his two hands could contain, rushing out 
again with an intimation that there were more, in the 
trench, which he could not carry. 

The workmen had come upon a small glazed pot dur- 
ing the temporary absence of their overseer. As it felt 
extremely heavy, the cupidity of the Persians tempted 
them to break it, when out rolled the coins and a gene- 
ral scramble took place. The master-workman, however, 
being responsible for the rest, secured as many as he 
could, and honestly delivered them up to me. He was 
delighted at the discovery, but afraid of the result, 
doubting whether the Prince ought not to receive the 
treasure, and at the same time aware that his men had 
taken care of themselves. Ovannes was immediately 
Bent to look after them, and presently returned with 
fifty more coins, laughing at the credulity of the Liirs. 
With ready wit, he hinted that I had found an account 
of the number, and that several were missing. He there- 
fore recommended the men to produce them, because, if 
sold in Dizftil, the fact would reach the Prince's ears, 
and the sellers be punished. They looked at each other. 
* At I on the Plan. 


At lengtli, one more timid than tlie rest pulled forth a 
coin, and his example was followed by all. Some handed 
out one, some two or three, and so on, until fifty were 
collected. Still my factotum was not satisfied ; when the 
day's work was over, he obliged each man to declare by 
the head of 'All, by Baba Buziirg,- and all his favourite 
saints, that he had no more coins in his possession. 
Those who refused the oath were to receive none of the 
tobacco about to be distributed in honour of the dis- 
covery. In this manner eleven other coins were re- 
covered that evening, and, by dint of perseverance, 
about one hundred and seventy were in all collected. 
Several were cohering together at the bottom of the jar 

in a hard, sohd mass, but the o-reater number were 

bright and unworn, as though but recently struck off 

the die. They proved to belong to the Ommiad Khalifs, 

who date from Abdal-Malek 79 a.h. to Hesham 106 a.h., 

corresponding with the years a.d. 6 9 8-72 8. t 

* Bdbd Btizlirg (great father) is a celebrated saint of the 'All Ildhi calendar. 
The shrine of this deity is situated in the mountainous region between Diz- 
ftil and Khorremdbad, in Ltiristdn. 

t I am indebted to Mr Vaux, of the British Museum, for the determina- 
tion of the mint-marks and dates of these coins contained in the following 



. 79, 82, 83, 84, 86—100, 105-6. 



80-82, 87. 



88, 94, 99, 105, 108. 

Stis (Susa), 














91, 92, 94. 

Istaklir (Pensepolis), 








92, 97. 

Chey or Dschey, 


92, 94. 













These coins are now in the British Museum. It is interesting to oo- 


From the sharpness of the impression on these coins, I 
conclude that the hoard was buried soon after the latest 
date. But, besides the value attached to tliem from yield- 
ing several new types, they are extremely interesting in 
another point of view — they afford a criterion by which 
to determine the date of the destruction of the Susiaii 
palaces in an approximate manner. The accumulation of 
soil between them and the pavement, leads to the conclu- 
sion that they were hidden long after that event. This 
fact, coupled with the discovery of several Arsacidan and 
Sassanian urns around the bases of the fallen columns,, 
leads to the probability that this barbarous act of demoli- 
tion was due either to Alexander the Great himself, or- 
to his successors in the Greek occupation of Susiana. 
Although no such exploit at this place is recorded of the 
great conqueror by his historians, they do not fail to tell 
us of his wantonly setting fire to the palace at Persepolis ; 
it would, therefore, be no great stretch of the imagination 
to suppose that he acted similarly at Susa.'"' 

In evidence of Greek influence at Susa, I may refer to 
the discoveries made at the extreme south corner of the 
great platform, which is, as previously mentioned, sepa- 
rated from the palace mound by an apparent roadway, 
and from the great citadel by a deep ditch or ravine. 
At this point, t which projects considerably beyond the 
rest of the mound, there once stood another columnar 
edifice in a similar style of ornamentation to that already 
described. It had, however, been entirely destroyed, and 

serve, in lunning the eye down the line of names, that, with exception of 
the last two, they correspond with the order of Mohammedan conquest. 

* It is worthy of remark, that the cohimns of PersepoHs are free from all 
traces of fire. The whitened aspect which many of them exhibit, is not the 
effect of fire, but of the atmosphere. It is very probable that the proceed- 
ings supposed to have occurred at Persepolis, really took place at Susa, and 
that the destruction visible at the latter site is attributable to the " con- 
queror of the world." 

t At L on the Plan. 


its fragments were used for the pavement of other edifices 
by the after-races who secured possession of the site. 
Amono; these were fluted shafts, bases of small columns, 
panels and cornices of marble adorned with the favourite 
rosette. The later edifice was equally destroyed, only 
eight feet of earth remaining above the rudely constructed 
pavement. Here and there were dug up column bases, 
miniature copies of the large bell-shaped monoliths in the 
great palace, elegantly, but, of course, not so highly sculp- 
tured. Immediately below the torus, around the swell of 
the bell, upon one of these""" ran the trilingual inscrip- 
tion : — 

" I am Artaxerxes, the Great King, the King of Kings, of King 

Darius the Son." 

This, doubtless, refers to Artaxerxes Mnemon, who 
would thus appear to have been a great builder and 
renovator of palaces at Susa. 

It is difficult to arrive at any definite conclusion con- 
cerning the date at which this edifice was destroyed, 
although one naturally associates its downfall with that 
of the larger palace. The interesting record, to which 
allusion will now be made, serves only to add to the 

About 240 feet south-westward t of the above column, 
a slight conical elevation, close to the edge of the mound, 
induced me to open a trench into it. After passing 
through some comparatively modern Arab graves, the 
workmen, at the depth of ten feet, discovered the base 
of another small column, perfectly difierent in character 
from the others. Its measurements were as follow : — 
Pedestal, seven inches high, and three feet nine inches 
square ; plinth, of the same height, and two feet nine 

* The following are the measurements of this monolith : — plinth, 2 inches ; 
bell, 1 foot 3 inches ; torus, 4| inches ; cincture, 1^ inch ; total height, 1 
foot lOJ inches ; circumference of plinth, 8 feet. 

t At M on the riau. 


inches square; and torus, five inches high, by two feet 
tive inches in circumference. On the north side was the 

■No J M-LVda.% N ooa c V 13 f43d jy 

lidiliiiaiB&JailiiiiSiiii aiSi^ 


Base of column with Greek inscription. 

following Greek inscription, cut in letters two-thirds of 
an inch in length upon the pedestal : — 

N0VIU0IAY3 Nol^H N Yl^ A o^^ H J- 


which may be rendered : — 

" Pythagoras, the son of Aristarchus, captain of the body-guard (in 
honour of) his fi'iend Arreneides, son of Arreneides, Governor of Susiana." 

The most curious feature connected mth this epitaph 
is, that it stands upside down at the left corner, each line 
extending to within two inches of a fracture which 
divides the pedestal into two equal parts : hence, it 
would appear that each line was framed to occupy the 
space where it was inscribed. The column must have 
stood in its present situation when the epitaph w^as cut, 
because the position of the letters at the left corner of 
the stone was such that they could only have been con- 
veniently effected by the sculptor kneeling on his right 
knee. Moreover, the aspect of the block, and the polished 


state of its broken edges, bear evidence of great antiquity, 
compared with tlie sharp and unworn appearance of the 
Greek letters. Standing, as it doubtless did, protected 
from the inclemency of the atmosphere on the inside of a 
colonnade, its position was well chosen. That such was 
its site, we have the evidence of another column base of 
coarse yellow limestone, fifteen feet further north, which 
had inscribed upon it, likewise inverted, and on the north 
side, the following unfinished but rudely-cut Greek 
inscription : — 


Southward of the first base were two others, both bell- 
shaped, one being perfectly plain, the other ornamented 
similarly to that bearing the Artaxerxes inscription. 

It was at once evident, from the dissimilar styles of these 
columns, that they were removed from other edifices. 
They were, moreover, built upon fragments of another 
palace which once stood upon the same site. 

The first inference derived from these inscriptions, and 
the knowledge of Susa having been in the possession of 
the Greeks, is that they were, as I have just said, the 
cause of all this havoc among the Persian palaces. We 
have certainly no positive evidence to establish the fact, 
but it is highly probable that both Arreneides, and his 
faithful friend Pythagoras, were generals of Alexander 
the Great. 

Opposed to this -vdew, however, are several specimens 
extant of a Persian coin known as the " Daric," which 
exhibits on the obverse a peculiarly Persia.n representa- 
tion of a crowned king, in flowing drapery, kneeling on 
one knee, holding a bent bow in his left hand, and 
a long spear in his right, and around him the name 
IIT&ArOPH. The reverse of this coin is perfectly unin- 
telligible, IVIr Vaux suggests that this name refers to the 


Pythagoras of the Susa column, whom he supposes to 
have lived during the sway of the Achjemenian kings. 
" As a commander of Persian troops, he would naturally 
make use of the usual Persian coin, the daric ; and as 
leader of Greek troops under Persian rule, he would 
probably be allow^ed to place his name upon the Persian 
coins which were struck chiefly for his own troops." ^^" It 
appears, however, extremely improbable to me that any 
Persian monarch would permit " the captain of his body- 
guard " to assume such a privilege. 

The only other supposition which 1 can offer is, that 
Arreneides was governor of Susiana under some of the 
Seleucid successors of Alexander, and that Pythagoras, 
succeeding him, had a die struck by a Persian artist in 
which his rank, as local prince, w^as indicated by the 
bended knee, and simple name without the usual affix, 
"King" or "Great King." 

But whoever the Pythagoras of the column base may 
have been, the inscription with the name of Susiana upon 
it is quite sufiicient to decide the question as to the iden- 
tity of Shush with the Susa of the Greeks. 

In the immediate neighbourhood of the above discoveries 
were found t a few copper coins, of Sub-Parthian type, 
and small fragments of alabaster statuettes, apparently 
of Greek design. Other trenches in the great platform 
yielded a small collection of glass articles, clay vases, and 
rude coffins of Parthian or Sassanian origin. Among the 
latter were several cylindrical jars, three or four feet in 
leno-th, containinsj the bodies of children ; but as the 
cranium was generally larger than the neck of the vase, 
it is difficult to conceive how it coidd have been placed 
inside. The most feasible explanation is, that the jar 
was moulded round the skeleton, and then baked with 

* " Nimiismatic Chronicle," vol. sviii., page 148, and figure 10. 
t At N on rian. 


the body inside, — numerous small holes being apparently 
made for the escape of the gases generated during the 
process ! 

About ten days after the commencement of the exca- 
vations, I was surprised at receiving a visit from the 
venerable mutaveli or guardian of Daniel's tomb, who 
voluntarily came to pay his respects. This condescension 
took me completely by surprise, because his sacred cha- 
racter, and my own infidelity, aj)peared to be insuperable 
bars to our good fellowship ; it was, moreover, the first 
time I had been honoured with a friendly visit from a 
native. He was a handsome old man, with sharp twink- 
ling eyes and pleasing expression of countenance ; but 
he wore the green turban, that badge of fanaticism and 
my exj)ress aversion. Having certain plans in view, I 
was, however, really pleased to see the old gentleman, 
and therefore plied him with strong Arab coff'ee and pipes 
without number. This treatment evidently warmed the 
inmost recesses of his heart, for he suddenly exclaimed, in 
the midst of our conversation : " You are spending a great 
sum of money to no purpose, Sahib, digging in this mound, 
where you will turn up nothing but stumps of columns 
and broken bricks. Come with me and I will shew you 
where to find maktub (inscriptions) V This was too 
good an offer to be declined. Nearly all his life had been 
spent upon the ruins, consequently he knew more about 
them than any one living. Conceiving, therefore, that a 
few coins, bestowed upon him in bakhshish, would be 
infinitely better invested than in expending my funds at 
random, I promised that if he could sliew me where to 
find a series of sculptures and inscriptions, the palm of 
his hand should be well anointed in return for his 

Taking me to the summit of the Great Mound, he 
pointed out a spot at the north angle where he assured 


me was a large stone or stones bearing written characters, 
and but slightly covered with earth. As he spoke confi- 
dently on the subject, and as the record of King Siisra^''' on 
the southern slope of the mound positively attests the 
existence of sculptured slabs, I saw no reason to doubt 
my informant's honesty of purpose. A trench was there- 
fore immediately opened at the point indicated.t 

We then adjourned to the head of Colonel Williams' 
trench J over King Susra's inscription. Here my guide 
told me that, when he was quite a boy, this and another 
slab stood at the edge of the mound, with their tops about 
three feet above the level of the surface. Out of curiosity 
he dug away the earth, and found them standing alone, 
erect like door-posts. The block, now lying at the foot of 
the mound, was then in the same broken condition. He 
stated that the natives have a tradition, that a great 
stone palace once existed at the south side of the mound, 
and strongly recommended me to continue the excava- 
tions then proceeding at that part. He also shewed me 
a place, half-way up the north roadway, where he once 
discovered a number of variously-sized copper figures, 
which, not knowing their value, he sold for a few kerans, 
to be melted down in the bazaar ! In this manner dis- 
appear many valuable and interesting antiquities. 

To a certain extent, the information of my newly- 
acquired friend proved correct. Early on the following 
morning, I was called to the trench § at the top of the 
roadway. A wall of ancient bricks had been reached, 
many of which bore,, on their edges, long and complicated 
inscriptions of five or six lines. They resembled one 
built into the doorway of Daniel's tomb, and fragments of 
others which were now and then dug up in the trenches 
at different parts of the ruins. These were, however, the 

* Already meutioned at page 344. f At D on the Plan. 

5: At A on the Plan. § At D on the Plan, 


only perfect specimens hitherto discovered, and the only 
undoubted relics of an age preceding that of the Achse- 
menian kinos to whom were referable all the remains 
hitherto exhumed. In digging away the earth towards 
a point where I conceived there must have been a gate- 
way or grand entrance, there was found a broken slab of 
blue limestone, Avith a much-defaced and weathered 
inscription, written in a language which M. Opperf^^ 
terms "late Susaniau." It differed considerably in 
character from that upon the earlier bricks. Lying near 
it was a fragment of a stone gate-post ; a broken, rude 
sculpture of a bird's neck ; and a piece of polished t)asalt, 
which apparently belonged to a statue, and shewed traces 
of cuneiform. 

All these fragmentary relics lay as if thrown down 
with violence from a greater elevation on the north. 
Close at hand, too, was a broken mortar-shaped vessel, 
perhaps a fire-altar, containing a quantity of burnt bitu- 
men, with the impressions of a sheep's teeth and jaw. 

From the point where the debris occurred, the founda- 
tion wall, above mentioned, extended westward across 
the mound, containing in its lowest layers several in- 
scribed bricks ; but it was evident from their inscribed 
surfaces being built inwards, and from the use of coarse 
lime mortar, that they were derived from some more 
ancient structure. At the distance of a few feet to the 
north of this wall stood a well-built circular column or 
pillar of bricks, measuring three feet in diameter upon a 
broad base. On a level with the latter, parallel with 
the uj)per wall, was an undoubtedly more ancient foun- 
dation, to the base of which my trench was carried. 
Upon its surface, seventeen feet removed from the pillar, 
was a piece of red-sandstone slab, with a beautifully 

• The learned savant engaged under the auspices of the French Govern- 
ment in the interpretation of the cuneiform records. 


cut and complicated old Scytliic record. It lay flat 
upon another of polished limestone, both of them ex- 
hibiting undoubted marks of fire, as did likewise the 
debris around them. 

Lying upon or near the slabs were several small 
articles; — a small ivory crux ansata two inches in 
length ; a bundle of iron spear-heads adhering together 
with rust ; two or three flat copper ornaments resem- 
bling those seen in Assyrian sculptures upon horses' trap- 
pings ; a rude cubic die ; and a mushroom -formed clay 
object, the top perforated, and the shaft covered with 
complex Babylonian characters. 

But decidedly the most interesting objects obtained 
at this locality were a collection of broken alabaster 
vases, some of which must have been of large dimen- 
sions. A pile of these, sufficient to have filled a wheel- 
barrow, were gathered together, and I spent several 
hours in examining them separately. From among 
them, I selected four bearing trilingual inscrijDtions, 
which are now in the British Museum. The largest of 
these fragments, six and a half inches in height, is the 
mouth and upper part of a vase. The alabaster has spHt 
nearly in a straight line, following the grain from top to 
bottom, and divided the inscriptions. The commence- 
ment and most important portions of these, however, 
remain — the whole of the royal name, " Xerxes," except- 
ing only the terminal letter in each version. A second 
fraoment exhibits the last letters of the same name, with 
the commencement of the word "king ;" and on a third 
is the word " great." There can be little doubt, therefore, 
that the complete inscription ran as usual : — 

" Xerxes, the great king." 

Beneath the inscriptions on the largest fragment is a 
vertical line close to the edge of the fracture, which I 


believe to have formed part of tlie border around an 
Egyptian cartoucb of the same king. My reason for so 
thinking is, that a similar comldnation of cuneatic and 
hieroglyphic legends occurs upon the celebrated porphyry 
vase ascribed to Artaxerxes Ochus at Venice ; and, more- 
over, because among the otlier fragments found was a 
cartouch bearing the name of Xerxes. 

I am favoured by Mr Birch, of the British Museum, 
with the following highly interesting remarks on these 
and other alabaster vases of the same period : — 

" The discoveries of Mr Loftus at Susa, likQ those of 
Mr Layard at Nimrud, have brought to light* some 
Egyptian fragments, of considerable interest for the 
history of the Persian dominion in Egypt. He has 
discovered fragments of those alabaster vases which, 
like that of Paris and its companion in the treasury of 
St Marc at Venice, once ornamented the palace of the 
Persian monarch. These vases are all of arragonite, or 
the so-called Oriental alabaster, which, fashioned into 
vessels of elegant shape, was in use for unguents, cosme- 
tics, and other precious substances, as early as the fourth 
dynasty, and continued so till the age of the Persian 
rulers. But there is one remarkable distinction as to the 
quality of the material. The vases of the early epoch are 
made of fine semi-transparent alabaster, of uniform grain 
and colour, while those of the later period are of the kind 
called zoned, showing the successive accretions of the 
stalagmite of which they were composed. The quarry of 
this kind of alabaster seems to have been opened during 
the twenty-sixth dynasty, about 750 B.C., and the age of 
vases and otlier vessels made of it can consequently be 
determined. It comes from Tel-el-' Amarna, and is the ala- 
baster now in use. The columns sent by Mehemet 'All to 
Pope Pius IX., and erected in the church of St Paolo 
Fuore le ]\Iura at Kome, are from this later quarry. This 


alabaster is probably the kind called by Tlieoplirastus 
(De Lapid., c. xii.) chernites, and by subsequent writers 
chermites; Pliny (N. H., xxxvii. 11, 71-73) descril)e(l it 
as resembling ivory. It was in a sarcophagus of this 
material that Darius was buried. 

" The name in hieroglyphics upon the vase reads Kha- 
shairsha, and is the same as that upon the vase at Paris. 
It refers to Xerxes I., and shews that the vase in ques- 
tion had been made in Egypt, and transported thence 
to Persia, where it had received the additional Persian, 
Median, and Babylonian inscriptions, in the same manner 
as the bronze lion-shaped Aveights at Nimrud had Phoe- 
nician and Assyrian inscriptions. 

" The records of the Persian rule are so scarce in Egypt, 
that a short note of the most remarkable monuments 
may not be unacceptable. The principal one is un- 
doubtedly that of the ofhcer Utaharsun,''' whose statue 
is in the Vatican, and which mentions the conquest 
of the country by Cambyses, and its subsequent sub- 
jection to Darius. But the most numerous memorials of 
this period are those of the Cosseyr Eoad, where a series 
of proscynemata have been engraved to the local divinity 
Khem, lord of Kabti or Coptos, by two Persian and one 
Egyptian officer. The first of these is one of Atauhi, or 
Adeues, a saris of Persia, who inscribes the sixth year of 
Cambyses the thirty-sixth of Darius and the twelfth of 
Xerxes, in which last year he hadt made the inscription. 
As these two first reigns correspond with the length as- 
signed to them in Manetho, it has been generally suj.posed 
that they were inscribed to record that fact, rather than the 
circumstance of Atauhi having paid ' his vows in the face 
of the God Khem' in these years. In subsequent in- 

* M. De Rouge, statue naophore du Vatican, Rev. Arch., viii., p. 37. 
t Burton, Exc. Hier., PI. viii. 1 ; Rosellini, Mon. Stor. Pte. i., toui. ii., p. 1C3, 
and foil.; Lepsius, Denkm. iii. Bl. 283. 


scriptions lie calls himself the son of Artames, and of a 
female named Kantau or Candys. Previous, however, to 
this year of Darius, an Egyptian officer, who bears the 
same name, Aahmes, Amosis, as the last imhaj^py monarch 
of the twenty-sixth dynasty, an officer of troops, superin- 
tendent of constructions, and having the charge of the 
royal works of the whole country, son of Kakhnumhat, a 
similar functionary, and of Tsaennefertum, daughter of 
one Psaumetik, or Psammetichus, had made excava- 
vations from the sixteenth to the twentieth year of the 
same monarch.'"" A wrong interpretation of . these in- 
scriptions had led to much confusion, for it was supposed 
that Darius had retained the family of the wretched 
Amosis in the government, in the condition of dependent 
meleJcs, which the text does not justify. The Amosis of 
the Cosseyr Road is undoubtedly of the family of the 
Saite dynasty. The principal inscriptions, however, of 
Atauhi are of the thirty-sixth year of Darius, whom he 
callst ' the beloved of the god Khem dwelling in Coptos.' 
In one which bears the date of this same year, he gives 
also the thirteenth of Kliishairsha, or Xerxes, whom he 
calls the son of Darius, mentioning both monarchs as if 
living. At this period Atauhi held the rank of Repa, or 
lord-lieutenant of Coptos.J Now it is remarkable that 
in other proscynemata he mentions Xerxes alone, as on the 
remarkable inscription of the nineteenth of Thoth, in the 
second year of Xerxes,§ which probably marks the reduc- 
tion of Egypt again to the Persian rule after its revolt 
(Herodotus, vii. 7) in 484 b.c.|| The other proscynemata 

• Lepsius, Denkm., Ab. iii., Bl. 283, p. Cf. Burton, Exc. Hier., PI. iii. iv. 

t Lepsius, Denkm., iii. 283, p. J Lepsius, Denkm., iii. 283, n. 

§ Lepsius, Denkm., iii. 283, u. 

11 In the lists of jNIanetho, both as given by Afrioanus, Eusebius, Syncel- 
lus, and the Armenian version, the reign of Darius is placed at twenty-one 
years. Cf. Bunsen's Egypt's Place, vol. i. appendix, p. G42, 643. After much 
oscillation of opinion, B.C. 525 is the admitted date of the conquest of Egypt. 


of this officer, dated in the sixth and tenth and twelfth 
years of Xerxes, are less important, as Egypt* remained 
in the Persian power almost till the conquest of Alexander. 
But the works in this road continued only to be carried 
on in the fifth and sixteenth years of Artaxerxes by Ariu'- 
resh,t another Persian saris. 

" With the exception of the temple at El-Khargeh, 
there are no other remains of the Persians in Eg}'pt, 
the country having been administered as a great 
satrapy under its local governments, and retaining its 
privileges. The inscription on the cartouch found by 
Mr Loftus reads KhashmrsJia or Khshairsha, as on the 
vase in the Bibliotheque Imperiale at Paris, and not 
KhishairsJia like the name upon the Cosseyr Road ; but 
this minute difference does not necessarily prove that a 
later Xerxes is intended. Unfortunately, there is not 
enough remaining to decide whether the inscription which 
is found after the name of Xerxes and Artaxerxes on 
these vases at Paris and Venice, occurred also on these 
vases. This inscription, which means the 'great house 
— the great,' is an interpretation into hieroglyphics of 
the title 'great king' of the Persian inscription — the 
first expression, ' the great house,' meaning commander 
of the whole world, according to the interpretation of 
HorapoUo." J 

The old miitaveli was perfectly astonished when told 
how much I valued such fragments. " Am4n ! Aman ! — 
What a pity ! " he exclaimed. " Only to think what an ass 

* Lepsius, Denkm., 283, k. 1. 

t Ibid., Bl. 283, o. 

1 1. 61. For these inscriptions on the Paris vase, see Rosellini, M. St., Pte. i., 
torn, ii., p. 176. Champollion, Pr6ci.s, PJ. No. 125-125 a. Cayhis, Reciieil, v. 
PL XXX. Lenormant, Musee des Antiq. Egypt., fo. Paris, 1841, p. 37. Pauthier, 
Essai sur I'Origine des Ecritures Chinoise et Egyptienne, Svo, Paris, 1840, 
p. 111. Journal Asiatique, Fev., 1823. M6raoires de I'Acad., xii. 143. For 
the Artaxerxes vase, see Mr Pettigrew in the Archseologia, vol. xxx., PI. vi., 
p. 275. 


I was ! A few years ago, after a heavy rain, I found a 
large cup like that, but three times its size. It was quite 
perfect, and covered with writing ; but, not aware of its 
vahie — 'Ali forgive me ! — I broke it up, and made it into 
chibuk bowls and mouthpieces. They lasted me a long 
time. And I might perhaps have sokl them for a 
toman ! Aman ! We grow wiser as we grow older ! " 
Although I deeply regretted the loss of such a treasure, 
it was infinitely amusing to hear him repeatedly bewail- 
ing the opportunity he let slip of turning his discovery 
to better account. 

The excavations upon the Great Mound fully convinced 
me that if any primitive buildings still remain perfect at 
Susa, they are to be disentombed at this portion ©f the 
ruins. With the exception, however, of the inscription 
of Susra, several bricks in excellent preservation, and the 
fragmentary records'"" above mentioned, there was nothing 
further found in the trenches, and my funds failed before 
I could satisfactorily explore the depths of the ruin. 
Notwithstanding the assertion of my friend the sacristan, 
there was no aj)pearance of the stone searched for. 
According to his best recollection, it had stood close to a 
deep ravine, and there seems every probability that 
during the winters' rains it had fallen from its position, 
and been covered up near the base of the mound. He 
had not seen it for many years. Still, the bricks and 
inscription, which I was so fortunate as to uncover, were 
undoubted proofs of the remote antiquity ascribable to 
the great Susian citadel. 

We have additional confirmation on this subject in the 

* The results of my trenches in the great citadel have only recently 
arrived in England, but as the language in which these complicated old 
Scythic monuments is written, is still a mystery even to the initiated in 
cuneiform decipherment, we must, I fear, wait long until its difficulties 
may be unravelled. There is every probability that some of the brick in- 
scriptions extend as far back as the period of the patriarch Abraham. 



very archaic sculptures upon a trough of yellow limestone, 
lying in the channel of the Shaour at the foot of Daniel's 

Sculptured Trough at Daniel's Tomb. 

tomb. Around the sides are two animals — doubtful 
whether dogs or lions — apparently about to devour two 
prisoners with their arms tied. As Sir K. Ker Porter 
gives an exceedingly rough and incorrect sketch of these 
animals, the annexed woodcut from Mr Churchiirs 
careful drawing is here inserted. Whether or not the 
scene herein represented is intended to commemorate the 
events which befell the prophet, I leave to the coLsidera- 
tion 01 my leaders. 


Tiie " Black Stone" — Its Discovery and Adventures — Its Connexion 
with tlie Welfare of Khilzistan — The Plot for its Removal Defeated 
— Investigations among the Rivers of Susa — Identification of the 
" Ulai," or Eulseus — Bifurcation of Modern Rivers — Sheikh ^bdulla 
Forgiven — Friendly Parting between the Arabs and the Frank. 

It was upon the surface of the Great Mound that my 
now indefatigable cicerone of the ruins discovered the 
celebrated " black stone," the safe custody of which is sup- 
posed to exercise such wonderful influence on the welfare 
of the province. As certain details connected with its 
history are not generally known, it may be interesting to 
narrate them in exteyiso. 

When the present guardian of the holy shrine was a 
very little boy, he used to accompany his father, who 
preceded him in the same capacity, from Dizfiil to 
Shush. His partiality to antiquarian pursuits soon 
manifested itself, and he made a practice of seeking in 
every hole and corner of the ruins for " picture-stones," 
and, of course, precious metals. Engaged one day in his 
usual pursuit, he accidentally stumbled over the stone 
projecting through the soil at the top of the roadway, 
where my large excavation was made. The summit of 
his ambition at that time was, boylike, to move and roll 
it down the steep slope of the mound, that he might see 
it crashing its way through the thick undergrowth of 
brushwood. Year after year, however, elapsed before his 


strength was sufficient to accomplish this great exploit. 
Down it w^ent at last, however, to the intense delight of 
the young Hercules. From its high estate, occupying as 
it had done, for so many centuries, the threshold of the 
temple, or of the king's own palace, overlooking the 
country around from its elevated position, it was sud- 
denly debased to the ignominious office of a washing 
block by the edge of the Shaour at the foot of Daniel's 
tomb. Here it was seen in 1809 by Captain Monteith 
and his companion Captain Macdonald Kinnear, who 
could then have purchased it on moderate terms. Cir- 
cumstances however — not caused by any popular oppo- 
sition — rendered its removal inconvenient at that time, 
however desirous these gentlemen were of possessing it. 
According to the old man's story, two other Firenghis came 
shortly afterwards and offered him one thousand four hun- 
dred kerans (nearly seventy pounds!) for this curious piece 
of sculpture. He hesitated ; whereon they said : — " Well I 
consider the proposal, and when we return we wiU pay 
you the money and carry it away ! " But, alas ! they 
never returned ! Poor Grant and Fotheringham were 
murdered near the foot of the great mountains at the 
instigation of the ruthless Kelb 'Ali Khan, the AVali of 
Luristan, under whose protection they travelled ! These 
offers on the part of the Firenghis w^ere soon magnified, 
and spread like wildfire among the superstitious Arabs, 
who now began to set great value upon it — thinking, 
doubtless, that if a Frank conceived it worth his while to 
carry it away, it must be valuable indeed. 

It is then related that " when Sir Eobert Gordon visited 
Susa in 1811, he found the stone more highly estimated ; 
and in 1812 its reputation was so established throughout 
the country as a talisman, powerful against the plague, 
hostile invasion, and other evils, that a person, sent by 
him expressly to purchase it, and authorized for that 


purpose by Mohammed 'Ali Mirza, Prince of Kirman- 
shah, althoiigli lie liad placed it in a boat on the river 
Shaour, was compelled to relinquish his prize by the 
inhabitants of Shuster, Dizfiil, and other places adjacent 
to Susa." '" 

From that time its security was considered a matter 
of such vital importance to the province, that the Arabs 
" collected among themselves two thousand tomans, which 
they presented with two fine horses to the Prince, and 
it was decreed by his Royal Highness that the stone 
should not be removed from Susa." But jealousy of 
external influence could not protect it from native 
cupidity. A blind Beni Lam Seyid came with two at- 
tendants to say his prayers to Daniel. During six months 
they hovered about the tomb, waiting an opportunity, 
and at length blew up the stone with gunpowder, in the 
vain hope of enriching themselves with the treasure which 
it was supposed to contain. It became, of course, gra- 
dually reported that the perpetrator of this outrage was a 
Firenghi emissary in disguise. Under all circumstances, 
therefore, it is not surprising that the European visitor 
should be regarded with great suspicion and abhorrence ; 
the more so when it is considered that immediately after 
the above occurrence, a series of misfortunes befell the 
province — " the plains were depopulated by the plague, 
the bridge of Shuster suddenly broke, and the famous 
dam at Hawlza was carried away; all which disasters 
were, of course, ascribed to the destruction of the tahs- 
man.^'t Hence it was that such a feeling of hostility and 
suspicion attended all visits of Em^opeans to Susa. 

In order to preserve the fragments intact, they were 
collected together and secretly built into a pillar in the 
veranda of the tomb. This wonderful relic is described 

* "Sir William Ouseley's Travels in Various Countries," vol. i., p. 420. 
t " Journal of the Royal Geographical Society," vol. ix., p. 69. 



to tave been twenty-two inches long and twelve inclies 
broad. Sheikh Mohammed voluntarily gave me an 
account of it, and his description perfectly agrees with 
the sketch made by Captain Monteith. He said that on 
one side were figures of the sun, moon, stars, birds, and 

The " Black Stone." 

Other objects, which he understood were representations 
of the gods (or rather sacred emblems) whom the people 

* The above M'oodcut is a copy of that published from General Monteith's 
.ketch in Walpole's « Travels in Turkey, vol. n., p. 426. 


of Sliush formerly worsliipped ; and that on another side 
was writing, while the remaining two faces of the block 
were defaced. The above was, I believe, the import of 
the black stone ; but, as the cuneiform record had not 
been carefully copied, it was desirable that I should obtain 
a cast from it, if it were found impracticable to obtain 
possession of the original. 

As any direct suspicion of my object would have com- 
promised the prosecution of the general excavations, and 
placed me in considerable personal jeopardy, I took care 
never to visit the tomb, or to make any inquiry concern- 
ing the highly valued talisman. At length, however, 
when my excavation funds were nearly exhausted, it 
became necessary to take some steps in the matter. 

The old keeper of the tomb was my frequent visitor, 
but hitherto I had avoided all allusion to the black stone, 
and he had been equally reserved on the subject. One 
day as he sat enjoying bitter coffee in my tent, I abruptly 
opened negotiations by asking him to afford me the 
opportunity of examining it ; but he opened his eyes in 
well-feigned astonishment, and denied all knowledge of 
its whereabouts. To his unaffected surprise, however, I 
precisely indicated the pillar where it lay concealed, by 
means of information elicited from other quarters. Find- 
ing it useless to attempt farther deception on this point, 
he acknowledged its existence, but resorted to various 
subterfuges to drive me from my purpose : — " Well ! but 
there is nothing upon it ; it is a plain black stone." I 
merely replied, — "There are figures on one side and writing 
on the other." — " Firenghis are wonderful people ! You 
come here, and, without having ever seen this stone, not 
only describe it correctly, but point out the exact spot 
where I buried it years ago ! By the beard of Danyel, 
you know everything ! You come, and you dig up palaces 
which our fathers never saw, and read a language on its 


great blocks of marble which must have been written by 
the Gins ! Surely ! it is useless to teU you lies, because 
you know the truth! But, as to this said ' Sang-f- 
Ghyawr (Infidel's stone !) : you will be able to make 
nothing of it, because it is broken into pieces, most of 
which are larger than my hand, and many are much 
smaller." I suggested that the various pieces might be 
fitted together, and if not, that all I required was, to make 
paper casts of them, as he had seen me do with the 
Artaxerxes inscription. Then came the objection, — " If 
we take down the pillar, the tomb will fall, — and what, 
then, will become of me its guardian V He quite forgot, 
however, that the same difiiculty presented itself when he 
built the pieces into the pillar years ago. I proposed 
that due precautions should be taken for the safety of the 
tomb, by propping it up during the short time required 
to complete my examination of the relic. His conclud- 
ing argument was by far the most potent, and here my 
chief difiiculty lay : — "But pilgrims or workmen are 
always here now. Every person in Dizful is talking about 
the big idols (the bulls of the colonnade), and in a few 
days all the town will be here to see them. How is 
it possible to do what you ask 1 " I determined that 
the departure of the workmen should be hastened, and 
suggested that the extrication, copying, and reburial of 
the stone might be readily effected some night when no 
person was in the neighboiu'hood. Here the subject for 
the present dropped, and the old man was left to ponder 
over the conversation. On his rising to depart, I dropped 
a few coins into his willing hand, with the remark that 
they were a portion of the reward intended to be bestowed 
for the trouble he had experienced from so many work- 
men residing in the tomb. His hand clutched instantly 
on the glittering coin, and his look told me that he fully 
understood their real meaning. 


For nearly a week the old man kept himself aloof from 
my camp, lest reports might arise injurious to his reputa- 
tion as a good Mussulman. At length, however, he inti- 
mated his willingness to enter into my plans, provided 
a favourable opportunity should occur for that purpose. 
The workmen were duly paid off, and there appeared 
every prospect of our effecting the dark mysterious deed. 
All details were arranged, the props ready, and the 
hour fixed upon, when, to my utter vexation, a shoal 
of pilgrims arrived from Dizfiil, and seized posses- 
sion of the sanctuary which my workmen had but just 
deserted. Operations were consequently deferred,— ^but 
next day the numbers of the devout increased — and the 
next — and the next — till it became evident that 'the 
annual pilgrimage to the shrine had commenced long 
before the usual period. The wonderful reports spread 
abroad concerning the excavations had raised public 
expectation to such a pitch that it could be no longer 
restrained ; men, women, and children, bringing their tents 
and j)roperty, and evidently contemplating a lengthened 
stay, flocked to the banks of the Shaom\ 

The scene was a busy one, as they gathered in groups 
among the columns, and discussed the questions how and 
whence those huge blocks were conveyed to their present 
position. Children played along the edges of the trenches, 
their rich dresses contrasting brilliantly with the now 
dying and brown vegetation of the mounds. However 
interesting such a scene might be at any other time, it was 
anything but agreeable at that moment. I lingered for 
several days upon the spot, but, the number of Daniel's 
visitors increasino; instead of diminishinof, I was at leno'th 
reluctantly obliged to abandon my project. For some 
time I was inclined to suspect that the old man had 
played me false, and that he had himself arranged the 
inopportune arrival of the pilgrims ; but it was afterwards 


reported to me that lie had been compelled to seek his 
own safety by a hasty flight in consequence of his sus- 
pected arrangements with myself. What became of him 
afterwards I never learned. 

The excavations having satisfactorily settled the 
much-debated question as to the identity of Shilsh with 
the Susa of the Greeks, my next efforts were directed 
towards solving the problem with reference to the de- 
termination of the Susian rivers. 

The ancient geographers make distinct mention of four 
great streams — the Choaspes, Eulseus, Koprates, and 
Pasitigris, of which the Eulseus and Pasitigris were in- 
finitely the most important. At the present day there 
are four rivers flowing through the province of Khtizi- 
stan — namely, the Kerkhah, Shaour, the Dizftil river, and 
the Karun. Modern writers ■'' all concur in identifying 
the Choaspes with the Kerkhah, — the Koprates with the 
Dizful river, — and the Pasitigris with the lower part of 
the Karun. Some even go so far as to regard the Shaour 
as the ancient Eulseus ; but, as it is only a narrow stream, 
at certain seasons expended in cultivation before it forms 
a junction with the Dizful river, it appears, on this evidence 
alone, highly improbable that the Shaour can represent the 
navigable river by which Alexander sailed from Susa to 
the sea ; t or that which Ptolemy mentions, after the 
Mosseus, as the chief river of Susiana. Not concurring 
in this determination, I sought upon the spot itself for 
a more satisfactory solution of the question, and was 
more fortunate in this research than for the black stone 
in the tomb of Daniel. 

The difliculty hitherto attending the subject arose, not 
so much from the apparenthj confused accounts of the 

* Consult the " Journal of the Royal Geographical Society," vol. iii., p. 
258 ; ix., p. 85; xii., p. 105 ; and xvi., p. 91. 
t Arriani Expeditio Alexandri, Hb. vii., c. 7. 


ancients, as from our own imperfect knowledge of the 
countries tliey described. Moreover, during tlie tw^enty 
centuries since those histories were written, many and vast 
chanoes have occurred in the courses of the rivers them- 


selves, flowing, as they do, through soft alluvial soil. 

My first inquiries w^ere directed to Sheikh Mohammed, 
whose age and constant migrations over the adjoining 
plains, seemed most likely to aflbrd the required infor- 
mation. I was not long in ascertaining that his autho- 
rity was valuable. He told me that, many years ago, a 
bifurcation of the Kerkhah took place near Pai Pul, soon 
after issuing from the mountains ; that the eastern 
branch of the river flowed about two miles eastward of 
the great mound at Shush ; and that after absorbing the 
Shaour at a point below a ford, now called Umm-et- 
timmen, it flowed to its junction with the Kariin at 

A few days subsequent to this conversation, during a 
ride to Dizful, soon after passing the last of the undu- 
lating low mounds which extend in that direction, I 
noticed a considerable depression, and immediately pro- 
nounced it to be the eastern and extinct branch of the 
Kerkhah, to which Mohammed had alluded. Its width 
is not less than nine hundred feet, and its depth, drifted 
up with sand, varies from twelve to twenty feet. This 
depth of channel below the level of the plain completely 
established in my mind its importance as the bed of a 
once-navigable stream ; while the numerous remains of 
irrigating canals with high embankments, which diverge 
from it on either side, proved it to have been a main 
artery. The Arabs of the locality call it the "Shat 
atik," or " ancient river." In corroboration of this fact, 
a sma,U runner of water from the Kerkhah flows along 
the course of the old channel, and is exhausted in the 
cultivation of the lands on the eastern side of the ruins. 


It is the last water-course crossed on the road from DizfM 
to Susa. 

I subsequently crossed this old channel at several 
different points, and observed that it everywhere retained 
the same character. Nothino; would have afforded me 
greater pleasure than tracing its entire course, but other 
duties claimed my attention, and obliged me unwillingly 
to quit the plains of Susa. 

The existence of this ancient channel beins: once 
established, and its identity with the historical Eulseus 
admitted, it is no difficult matter to reconcile all the 
apparent discrepances ' of the early geogTaphers. We 
can fully understand how, in consequence of its con- 
necting the Kerkhah and the Karun, its name might be 
applied indiscriminately to either of them, and vice versd, 
Ijy persons not intimately acquainted with the minute 
features of the country. 

Quintus Curtius '"' informs us that, in his march from 
Babylon, " Alexander came to the Choaspes, and then 
entered Susa." This is evidently the modern Kerkhah. 

Strabo,t however, in describing the further progress 
of the conqueror from Susa to Persepolis, enumerates the 
rivers crossed in the following order : — " Kext to the 
Choaspes is the Koprates, and the Pasitigris." Now, it 
is evident that, if he crossed the Choaspes in approach- 
ing Susa, he could not again cross it in quitting that 
capital for Persia, unless it be allowed that he crossed 
two branches of the same river. 

Ptolemy t does not allude to the Choaspes, but places 
Susa upon the left branch of the Eulseus, upwards of a 
degree above the point of confluence with the right arm 
of the river. The latter part of his description is some- 
what obscure, but his evidence is material towards 
establishing the fact of there being two branches of the 

* Lib. ii. 9. t Casaub., page 729. X Lib. vi., c. iii. 


Eulaeus, wliich cannot possibly be other tban tlie two 
streams of the Choaspes mentioned by Quintus Curtius 
and Strabo. 

Pliny, '"■ referring to Susa, says that " the Eulseus sur- 
rounded the citadel of the Susians," which might well 
be the case if a branch flowed on either side of it, and 
these were connected by means of canals or moats for 

The most interesting explanation, however, afforded 
by the identity of the Kerkhah and the old channel 
with the two streams of the Eulseus, is that of the re- 
markable passage in the Book of Daniel : t " AncT I saw 
in a vision ; (and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was 
at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of 
Elam ;) and I saw in a vision, and I was by the river 
Ulai/' "And I heard a man's voice hetiveen the hanhs of 
Ulai" As this expression stands, it is perfectly incom- 
prehensible; but, if we understand it to mean, between 
the two streams of the Eulceus, nothing can be more lucid 
or intelligible. 

It is a remarkable fact, that the Sabseans divide the 
Kerkhah into three parts (one of which, as observed 
by Mr Layard,J is called "Akhrokh 'Alaitha," "the 
Upper Kerkhah ") ; which division may refer to the trunk 
stream of the ancient Kerkhah, and to its bifurcating 

A difficult passage in Diodorus Siculus§ is likewise 
rendered clear by the discovery of the Eulseus' channel : — 
*' Antigonus (advancing from Susa) having passed part 
of his troops over the river (Koprates), Eumenes sud- 
denly crosses the Pasitigris, and attacks them. Anti- 
gonus retreats to Badace on the Euloeus, and with diffi- 

* Lib. vi., c. 27. + Chap, viii., verses 2, 16. 

X "Journal of the Koyal Geographical Society," vol. xvi., p. 94. 

§ lAh. xi^.j c. 17. 


culty makes his way through the country of the Cosscei 
to the inhabited part of Media." He did not retreat to 
Susa, because, by so doing, it would have been necessary 
to cross the eastern Eulseus twice in his march into 
Media. He therefore preferred halting on its eastern 
bank at Badace, by this means escaping the risk of sur- 
prise while entangled " between the banks of the Ulai." 

There is no question among geographers concerning 
the identity of the Pasitigris and Eulseus, but it was 
never before explained how the two names were applied 
to the same river, as must have been the case from 
Arrian's passages : " Nearchus sails back past the outlet 
of the Tigris to the mouth of the Pasitigris, which he 
ascends till he comes to the bridge of boats by which 
Alexander was going to pass his army over to Susia."'"* 
The Pasitigris here is undoubtedly the Kariin. 

" The navy of Alexander sails from the Persian Gulf up 
to Susia (by the Pasitigris or Karun). Alexander, who 
was then at Susa, emharh and sails doivn the Eidceus 
(evidently the extinct channel Avhich extended to the 
Pasitigris) : he then sails from the mouth of the Eulaeus 
(Pasitigris) along the Gulf coast to the mouth of the 
Tigris." t There can be no doubt that the modern Karun 
was the ancient Pasitigris.| As Susa is distant forty miles 
from the nearest point of the Karun, it is evident that 
the first mention of Eulseus in this passage does not refer 
to the Karun, because Alexander embarked at Susa. It 
is equally apparent that the Eulseus, afterwards men- 

* AiTian, " Indica," 42. t Arrian, " Exped. Alex. » vii. 7. 

X Sir Henry Rawlinson remarks on this river, that it was named by the 
old Persians Dijldhi K6ddk, or the Little Tigris,-and this was translated 
into Arabic by Dijlah, D6jeil. With this indication, then, he had no diffi- 
culty in recognising in the Greek ^aa\ the old Persian word Pas sigmfpng 
"low " "inferior," and in thus translating Pasitigris, like the Arabic Dujeil, 
« the'inferior or little Dijlah." See « Journal of Royal Asiatic Society,' vol 
jx., p. 90. Other authors adopt the more simple derivation, Pasitigris, as if 
"Persi" Tigris. 



tioned, could be no other than the Kdriin, the same which 
Nearchus ascended to Susia (the territory of Susa), and 
the same which Ptolemy'"' mentions, after the Mosseus, as 
the chief river of Susiana. 

But a farther convincing proof that the Kerkhah bifur- 
cated in ancient times, and that its eastern arm, connecting 

c=J '<?■ t=r ES -^T '-' 




View of Susa ou a Sculpture fi-om Nineveh. 

it with the Karun, was the Eulseus of Susa, is foimd in 
one of Mr Layard's sculptures from the palace of Senna- 

* Lib. vi., c. 3. 


cherib at Koyunjuk (Nineveh).'"* We have on it a 
representation of Susa as it stood in the days of Ashur- 
bani-pal (to whom this monument is due), and it is the 
more interesting, because we are able to recognise upon 
it a faithful picture of the modern ruins seen from the 
southern side ! 

The large mound on the left of this sculpture is without 
doubt the great mound or citadel, the smaller mound 
is the palace, wliile the town, with its walls and date- 
trees, exactly corresponds with the low eastern ruins.t 
Nothing can be more correct than this identification. 
The inscription upon it reads " district of Madaktu ;" and 
an inscription on the adjoining slab, which is a con- 
tinuation of the subject, states that the Susians were 
defeated by the Assyrians near the district of Madaktu, 
and near the city of Shushan. 

In the large river flowing from the mountains, and 
laving the foot of the citadel, I distinguish the Choaspes 
or modem Kerkhah — the Shaour being then absorbed by 
this or the smaller stream, and therefore not shewn on 
the sculpture. The true Eulaeus — the extinct river- 
channel above described — is undoubtedly to be identified 
with the upper and smaller river. The angle made by the 
two streams, and their direction, flowing towards the large 
river, the Tigris, at the bottom of the slab, must be re- 
garded as intended to represent a bifurcation, and not 
a junction. The pond between the larger rivers is the 
great Chaldsean marsh at the mouth of the Kerkhah.J 

* No. 50 iu the Northern Assyrian Gallery at the British Museum. 

t Compare this sculpture with the Plan of the Ruins. 

X On first seeing this sculpture, I at once identified the city thereon shewn 
with Susa, without being aware that Mr Layard had already done so. I 
was also delighted to find the rivers represented as the present configura- 
tion of the country led me to expect they should be, and in every respect 
agreeing with the views advanced by me in a memoir " On the Identification 
of the River Eulgeus," communicated to the Royal Geographiqal Society. 
Mr Layard's explanation of the rivers (« Nineveh and Babylon," p. 452) does 


It is unfortunate that the adjoining slab on tlie right is 
destroyed, because, I doubt not, we should have there 
seen the other rivers, and thus had a skeleton map of the 
ancient province of Susiana. 

It may be objected that the theory above advanced, 
concerning the bifurcation of the Choaspes and Eulaeus 
from the same stream, requires contirmation and further 
explanation. My belief is, that the Eulseus was an arti- 
ficial channel for irrigation and defence, formed by 
throwing a bund, or dam, across the main river, and that 
this barrier ceased to exist eioher from neglect or canton 

The artificial bifurcation of rivers is by no means an 
unfrequent occurrence in that alluvial region ; we need, 
therefore, have the less hesitation in adopting this mode 
of explanation. Instances have already been described in 
the two branches of the Euphrates above Babylon,'"" and 
of the Karun at Shuster.t The remarkable breakage of a 
modern dam on the Kerkhah itself may not be an inap- 
propriate subject here to describe. 

Previously to 1832, the Kerkhah flowed past the large 
and important Arab town of Hawiza. In order to culti- 
vate the country on the north-east of the place, a person, 
called Hashem, dug a canal about fifteen miles higher up 
the river. As in the case of the ancient PallacojDas of 
Alexander, the ground proved low, soft,^and yielding, and 
soon required a dam to restrain the overflowing of the 
Kerkhah into the canal. During higli rises of the river, 
this was frequently much damaged ; at length one night 
the whole stream of the Kerkhah, breaking down the bar- 
rier, quitted its former channel, and left Hawiza entirely 
without water, excej^t such as could oe obtained by 

not agree with mine, but Le was not then aware of my having discovered 
the extinct channel. 

* Page 44 of this work. f Page 299. 


digging wells in the old bed. Several governors of 
Khuzistan liave endeavoured to remedy this disaster, but 
so far, for many reasons, without success. A new canal 
was dug above and opposite to the Nahr Hdshem, and 
was called the Mechriyya ; it being intended to divert the 
course of the river from the channel of the N4hr Hashem 
into its original bed. Khanler Mirza spent, it was said, 
7000 tomans'"' in building a bund or dam across the 
Kerkhah at the new cut when the river was at its 
lowest level ; as soon as the great rise took place, the 
water flowed into the Mechriyya cutting, but, from some 
cause unexplained, rushed back again, utterly demolishing 
the bund and all the works on which the Prince had 
expended so large a sum. 

There can be little doubt that the bifurcation of the 
Eulseus from the Kerkhah was effected by means of a 
similar bund, and that the desertion of its channel was 
caused by the breaking of this artificial barrier in a man- 
ner similar to the Nahr Hashem in modern times. 

The points connected with the determination of the 
Euleeus are of great importance in enabhng us to com- 
prehend the comparative geography of the country in 
question, and it is satisfactory, by thus explaining away 
apparent discrepances, to rescue the veracity of the 
early historians from unmerited censure and disparage- 

A day or two before quitting Susa, I received intimation 
that the Prince's secretary had received a large bribe, and 
was about intriguing to obtain pardon for Sheikh Ab- 
dullah from the Shah-zada. Such being the case, I 
determined on being beforehand with the Vizir. Sending, 

• Nearly ^3500 sterling. , 

t Such of my readers as may desire to investigate this interesting subject 
more fully, will find the above details more minutely laid down in my paper 
" On the Determination of the River Euteus of the Greek Historians," 
communicated to the Royal Geographical Society. 


therefore, for Sheikh Ghafil, I gave him to understand 
that, being about to quit the country, it was my desire 
to do so without, if possible, leaving behind me any 
rancorous feeling towards Europeans ; that I, therefore, 
entirely forgave Abdullah ; and that, as a proof of my 
being in earnest, I should likewise use my influence with 
the Prince to obtain his forgiveness. I reminded him of 
the dislike which the Arabs had long entertained towards 
my countrymen, and that all the return we had received 
for the money spent in the district, and for our endea- 
vours to establish amicable relations with them, was a 
determination to oppose our objects. 

He acknowledged that we had always acted bountifully, 
and endeavoured to do good; — "But," said he, "the Arab is 
an Arab; he was born a donkey, and you cannot expect 
that he will die a horse !" At the same time he admitted 
that the opinions of his people had much changed regard- 
ing the Firenghis since our residence among them. 
" They have at least discovered that Firenghis have one 
and the same God as themselves ; that they are just and 
honourable in their dealings — a fact which they could not 
say for Arab or Persian ; you have not dug up the Imam's 
bones, but, on the contrary, it is observed that you have 
evinced the greatest desire not to injure a single stone, 
out of respect for the feelings of the Arabs I" Such was 
the opinion pronounced by the chief of the 'All Kethir 
on his intercourse with Europeans, 

Although my residence at Susa had been accompanied 
with much opposition and annoyance, yet, on the whole, 
I had passed an agreeable three months upon its mounds, 
which had now become endeared to me like old friends, 
from whom I felt loath to part. At length, however, the 
day arrived when I was destined to take a final leave of 
a spot associated with many interesting recollections. 

Before quitting the plains, I spent a day at the camp 


of Sheikh Mohammed, who had so frequently been my 
resource in case of need from the date of our first inter- 
xiew. At bidding him adieu, in return for his trouble 
and kind services, I placed on his shoulders a handsome 
abba, with which he was as content as though it had been 
a bag of tomans. I had likewise intended to visit Sheikh 
Ghafil, but his camp being out of the way, and the heat 
too great for comfort, I contented myself with semling 
him a dress of honour by the messenger he had deputed 
to guide me to his encampment. On receiving the (bess 
for his chief, the messenger j^laced it upon his head, and 
went throuoh such a series of contortions, inflexions, o-enu- 
flexions, and manoeuvres, that it appeared as if the honour 
were too weighty for him to bear, and that he was likely 
to sink under its astoundino; influence. 

A great change had indeed taken place in the behaviour 
of the x4rabs. The intercourse established between us 
had had the effect of uprooting many fixed prejudices, 
and, I trust, that future travellers ^\dll experience a more 
courteous and hospitable reception than that which greeted 
the Frontier Commission on three several occasions. The 
more I saw of the Arabs, the more convinced was I that, 
however wild or bigoted they may be, they possess at 
heart a disposition capable of love and respect towards 
the Firenghi. 

2 E 










Names of Kings. 



(perhaps Chedorlaomer.) 











Cuneiform Becords, where Discovered. 

BdwSriyya 'at Warka; Great 
Mound, Niffar; Do. Sinkai-a; 

Niffar; Warka; Sinkara; Muge- 


Dates of Corresponding 
EveuU in the Bible. 


Akker-Kuf; Mtigeyer. 

Red Mound at Sinkara; Mflgeyer; 
Gher^i-a near Baghdad ; on Ta- 
blets from Tel Sifr. 

On Tablets from Tel Sifr. 

Upper terrace of the BuwSrIyya, 
and Wuswas gateway, at War- 

On Tablet from Mugeyer. 


N. of the Bfiwiirivva at Warka. 

B. C. 

Birth of Abraham, 2130 

The Exodus, 

Death of Moses, 
First Servitude, 



Between 1400 B.C. and 625 B.C., we know little of the Chaldasan Monarchy, but in B.C. 1110 a 
Chaldaian King named Merodach-adan-akhi defeated the Assyrians, and carried off their gods 
as trophies to Babylon. The lower plains of the Tigi'is and Euphrates seem to have been 
gcvenied by independent kings, except at such times as the Assyrians were able to hold ttiL-ni 
in subjection. In the time of the Assyrian Queen Sammuramit (Semtramis). wife of Phulukh 
III., about 760 B.C., the Assyrian dominion over Chaldrea was for a short period estalilislied ; 
and ultimately Seunacherib, in 702 b.c. , defeated Merodach-Baladan, King of Babylon, and placed 
his own son Esjirhaddon on the throne. In 625 B.C., Nineveh fell before the united armies of 
the Medes and Babylonians, fi-om which time was established the 


E. C. 


Names of Kings. 

Cuneiform Eecords, where Discovered. 

Dates of C( 
Event-i in 

tlie Bible. 



On Tablets from Warka. 



Babylon; Blrs Nimii'id; B5gh- 



diCd; Sinkara; Cylinders in 









Babylon; Cylinder from Baby- 


(Neriglissar ) 

lon, at Trin. Col., Cambridge. 


( Nabonidus 
■j and 

Mugeyer; Red Mound, Sinkara; 
on Tablets from Warka. 


( Bel-shar-ezer. 
Taking of Babylon by 


* T)ie list of t'hald.Tsaii Kings in this Tablo, is Ixjrrowed fiom Mr Vaux's " Nineveh and PersepoUs" («h edition) 
To it are iuided the nion: i«cent discoveries, and a list of localities whence the Cuuc-'orm Records of the variojs king 
were derived. 






Names of Kings. 

Cuiififdnn Eecords, where Discovered. 





Murajlicib ; on Tablets from Warka. 





Smerdis the Magiau. 


Darius I. 


Persepolis; BisUtuu; Hamadan; ou Tablets from Wa 


Xerxes I. (Ahasueius 

Pcrsepolis ; Susa ; Hamadan ; Viin ; on Tablets from \ 

of t-criphire.) 

Vase at Paris. 


Artaxcrxes I. 


Xerxes 11. 


Darius II. 



Artaxerxos II. 

Susa; Vase at Venice. 



Artaxerxes III. 





Darius III. 




B. C. 

Names of Kings. 

Cuneiform Records, where Discovered. 


Alexander the Great. 


Seleucns Nicator. 


Antiochu.s Soter. 

On Tablets from Warka. 


Antiochus Theos. 


Seleucus Callinicus. 


Seleucns C'ei-aunus. 


►jVntioclius the Great 

On Tablets from Warka. 


Seleucus Philopator. 


Antiochus Bpiphanes. 


Antiochus Eupator. 
&c. &c. 

No cuneiform inscriptions have been discovered of later date than Antiochus the Great. 


















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