Assyrian And Babylonian Monuments In America -- By: Selah Merrill

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 032:126 (Apr 1875)
Article: Assyrian And Babylonian Monuments In America
Author: Selah Merrill


Assyrian And Babylonian Monuments In America1

Rev. Selah Merrill

I shall cast reflections upon no one if I speak of the ignorance which prevails in our country in regard to these monuments, even among our learned men, to say nothing of the mass of ordinary intelligent readers. Outside of a very limited number, I may say that the ignorance is total, both in regard to what monuments we have and to what they reveal, and as to their place in history. A writer in one of our prominent Quarterlies no longer ago than April, 1874,2 speaking of these slabs, says: “In our country there is a small collection at Amherst and at Williams Colleges, and in the New York Historical Society’s Museum, but not one has been edited or translated.” And in May, 1874, an able literary critic, in the columns of a leading religious journal, stated, speaking of the cuneiform inscriptions in this country: “The material in the colleges of this country still waits for its interpreter, even among the fellows of the Oriental and Philological Societies.” The paper was the Christian Register, and the critic “B.” who is a member of both the societies he has mentioned. I need not produce further evidence to show the need of such a paper as this which I now present.

In consequence of the ignorance just referred to, there

is a lack of general interest in this subject, and even a disposition on the part of some to slight it; for in pursuing my investigations, I am constantly met with the questions, “Do you find any thing important? “Do these inscriptions amount to anything?” The persons who ask such questions — and in some cases they have been persons of prominence in the literary world — cannot appreciate the labors of the archaeologist or the antiquarian. That patient, plodding spirit, which is content to glean on the most barren field that has been trod by our fellow-men in the past, which is thankful for even the smallest hints which shed light on some ancient epoch or people, cannot by its labors satisfy the prevailing spirit of our times, which demands something startling—a gigantic scandal, or defalcation perhaps — before it will consent to listen to any speaker. But the antiquarian knows that the slightest hint, the smallest relic, or even a fragment of an inscription, may be of the greatest importance in reconstructing the past.

The Field Not A Barren One

In proposing to give an account of the Assyrian and Babylonian monuments in America, it might seem that we were attempting to labor in a barren field; but because the number of these m...

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