Brandis On The Assyrian Inscriptions And The Mode Of Interpreting Them -- By: George E. Day

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 014:54 (Apr 1857)
Article: Brandis On The Assyrian Inscriptions And The Mode Of Interpreting Them
Author: George E. Day


Brandis On The Assyrian Inscriptions And The Mode Of Interpreting Them

George E. Day

[The following essay is taken, with some abridgment, from a recent treatise “on the historical gain from the Deciphering of the Assyrian Inscriptions,” by Dr. Brandis of the University of Bonn, of whose labors in this department, honorable mention is made in the Annual Report of the Royal Asiatic Society for 1856. It has been translated for the Bibliotheca Sacra, not only as furnishing an interesting view of the serious difficulties to be encountered in ascertaining the meaning of these ancient records, and the means employed to overcome them, but also as exhibiting the ground of the distrust with which many of the translations of Rawlinson and Hincks have been received in Germany.]

Not far from the eastern bank of the Tigris, opposite to Mosul, rise two mounds, between which winds a small stream called the Khosser. Upon the northern mound, which is about fifty feet in height, and much larger and higher than the one on the south, stands the village of Koyunjik; upon the southern one, called Nebbi Yunus, stands a mosque [said to be] erected over the tomb of the prophet Jonah, and surrounded by dwellings. Both of these mounds are remains of artificially constructed terraces, on which

palaces and temples of the Assyrian capital once stood. This extended, according to the testimony of antiquity, from the Great Zab, northward along the Tigris, in the form of a parallelogram, the circumference of which, as given by Ctesias, was 480 stadia or 60 [geographical] miles. These mounds opposite to Mosul, therefore, can have occupied but a part of the area inclosed by the city wall; and the two points at which the most important remains have been discovered, viz. those where the villages of Khorsabad and Nimrud stand, were inclosed within the ancient city. The former is five hours north-east from Mosul; the latter, six hours below, on the Tigris. Here at Nimrud, where the Zab empties into the Tigris, rises a pyramidal hill, which overlooks a terrace-formed summit, on which lies the village of Nimrud. It was this which arrested the attention of Xenophon, when he passed, with the Ten Thousand, by the ruins of the city, without dreaming what activity had existed here scarcely two hundred years before.

At this period Layard, it is well known, commenced in the year 1845 his successful excavations, and brought out of the rubbish the ruins of four great palaces and several other edifices. Here, too, the most ancient and the most recent of the Assyrian buildings had stood side by side. When Nineveh was destroyed, the oldest of these palaces, as it seems, which occupied the north-west corner of the terrace, was alr...

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