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that the compilers of Genesis had access to the Babylonian stories. In a word, the Hebrew Genesis shows unequivocal evidence of Babylonian origin, but, in the words of Professor Sayce, it is but “a paraphrase and not a translation.” However disconcerting such a revelation as this would have been to the theologians of an elder day, the Bible scholars of our own generation are able to regard it with entire composure.
From the standpoint of the historian even greater interest attaches to the records of the Assyrian and Babylonian kings when compared with the historical books of the Old Testament.
For some centuries the inhabitants of Palestine were subject to periodical attacks from the warlike inhabitants of Mesopotamia, as even the most casual reader of the Bible is aware. When it became known that the accounts of these invasions formed a part of the records preserved in the Assyrian libraries, historian and theologian alike waited with breathless interest for the exact revelations in store; and this time expectation was not disappointed. As, one after another, the various tablets and cylinders and annalistic tablets have been translated, it has become increasingly clear that here are almost inexhaustible fountains of knowledge, and that sooner or later it may be possible to check the Hebrew accounts of the most important periods of their history with contemporaneous accounts written from another point of view. It is true that the cases are not very numerous where precisely the same event is described from opposite points of view, but, speaking in general terms rather than of specific incidents, we are already able to subject considerable portions of history to this test.
The records of Shalmaneser II., Tiglath-Pileser III., and Sennacherib, kings of Assyria, of Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, and of Cyrus, king of Persia, all contain direct references to Hebrew history. An obelisk of Shalmaneser II. contains explicit reference to the tribute of Jehu of Samaria, and graphically depicts the Hebrew captives. Tiglath-Pileser III., a usurper who came to the throne of Assyria in 745 B.C., and whose earlier name of Pul proved a source of confusion to the later Hebrew writers, left records that have served to clear up the puzzling chronology of a considerable period of the history of Samaria. Most interesting of all, perhaps, are the annals of Sennacherib, the destruction of whose hosts by the angel of God is so strikingly depicted in the Book of Kings. The court historian of Sennacherib naturally does not dwell upon this event, but he does tell of an invasion and conquest of Palestine. The Hebrew account of the death of Sennacherib is corroborated by a Babylonian inscription. Here, however, there is an interesting qualification. The account in the Book of Kings is so phrased that one might naturally infer from it that Sennacherib was assassinated by his sons immediately after his return from the disastrous campaign in Palestine; but in point of fact, as it now appears, the Assyrian king survived that campaign by twenty years. One cannot avoid the suspicion that in this instance the Hebrew chronicler purposely phrased his account to convey the impression that Sennacherib's tragic end was but the slightly delayed culmination of the punishment inflicted for his attack upon the “chosen people." On the other hand, the ambiguity may be quite unintentional, for the Hebrew writers were notoriously lacking in the true historical sense, which shows itself in a full appreciation of the value of chronology.
One of the most striking instances of the way in which mistakes of chronology may lead to the perversion of historical records is shown in the Book of Daniel in connexion with the familiar account of the capture of Babylon by Cyrus. Within the past generation records of Cyrus have been brought to light, as well as records of the conquered Babylonian king himself, which show that the Hebrew writers of the later day had a peculiarly befogged impression of a great historical event—their misconception being shared, it may be added, by the Greek historian Herodotus. When the annalistic tablet of Cyrus was translated, it was made to appear, to the consternation of Bible scholars, that the city of Babylon had capitulated to the Persian—or more properly to the Elamite—conqueror without a struggle. It appeared, further, that the king ruling in Babylon at the time of the capitulation was named not Belshazzar, but Nabonidos. This king, as appears from his own records, had a son named Belshazzar, who commanded Babylonian armies in outlying provinces, but who never came to the throne. Nothing could well be more disconcerting than such a revelation as this. It is held, however, that the startling discrepancies are not so difficult to explain as may appear at first sight. The explanation is found, so the Assyriologist assures us, in the fact that both Hebrew and Greek historians, writing at a considerable interval after the events, and apparently lacking authentic sources, confused the peaceful occupation of Babylon by Cyrus with its siege and capture by a successor to that monarch, Darius Hystaspes. As to the confusion of Babylonian names,—in which, by the way, the Hebrew and Greek authors do not agree, it is explained that the general, Belshazzar, was perhaps more directly known in Palestine than his father the king. But the vagueness of the Hebrew knowledge is further shown by the fact that Belshazzar, alleged king, is announced as the son of Nebuchadrezzar (misspelled Nebuchadnezzar in the Hebrew writings), while the three kings that reigned after Nebuchadrezzar, and before Nabonidos usurped the throne, are quite overlooked.
Our present concern with the archæological evidence thus briefly outlined, and with much more of the kind, may be summed up in the question: What in general terms is the inference to be drawn by the world-historian from the Assyrian records in their bearings upon the Hebrew writings ? At first sight this might seem an extremely difficult question to answer. Indeed, to answer it to the satisfaction of all concerned might well be pronounced impossible. Yet it would seem as if a candid and impartial historian could not well be greatly in doubt in the matter. On the one hand, the general agreement everywhere between the Hebrew accounts and contemporaneous records from Mesopotamia proves beyond cavil that, broadly speaking, the Bible accounts are historically true, and were written by persons who in the main had access to contemporaneous documents. On the other hand, the discrepancies as to details, the confusion as to exact chronology, the manifest prejudice and partizanship, and the obvious limitations of knowledge make it clear that the writers partook in full measure of the shortcomings of other historians, and that their work must be adjudged by ordinary historical standards.
As much as this is perhaps conceded by most, if not all, schools of Bible criticism of to-day. Professor Sayce, one of the most distinguished of Oriental Assyriologists, writing as an opponent of the purely destructive “Higher Criticism,” demands no more than that the Book of Genesis “ shall take rank by the side of the other monuments of the past as the record of events which have actually happened and been handed on by credible men”; that it shall, in short, be admitted to be “a collection of ancient documents which have all the value of contemporaneous testimony,” but which being in themselves "wrecks of vast literatures which extended over the Oriental world from a remote epoch,” cannot be understood aright “except in the light of the contemporaneous literature of which they form a portion.” From the point of view implied by such words as these, it is only necessary to recall the mental attitude of our grandfathers to appreciate in some measure the revolution in thought that has been wrought in this field within the last half-century, largely through the instrumentality of Oriental archæology.
Archcology and Classical History. We have just seen that the general trend of Oriental Archæology has been reconstructive rather than iconoclastic. .
Equally true is this of recent Classical Archæology. Here no such revolution has been effected as that which virtually created anew the history of Oriental Antiquity; yet the bearings of the new knowledge are similar in kind if different in degree. The world had never quite forgotten the history of the primitive Greeks as it had forgotten the Mesopotamians, the Himyaritic nations, and the Hittites; but it remembered their deeds only in the form of poetical myths and traditions. These traditions, finding their clearest delineation in the lines of Homer, had been subjected to the analysis of the critical historians of the early decades of the 19th century, and their authenticity had come to be more than doubted. The philological analysis of Wolf and his successors had raised doubts as to the very existence of Homer, and at one time the main current of scholarly opinion had set strongly in the direction of the belief that the Iliad and the Odyssey were in reality but latter-day collections of divers
recitals that had been handed down by word of mouth from one generation to another of bards through ages of illiteracy. It was strenuously contended that the case could not well be otherwise, inasmuch as the art of writing must have been quite unknown in Greece until after the alleged age of the traditional Homer, whose date had been variously estimated at from 1000 to 800 B.C. by less sceptical generations. It had come to be a current belief that the Iliad was first committed to writing in the age of Pisistratus. A prominent controversialist, Mr Paley, even went so far as to doubt whether a single written copy of the Iliad existed in Greece at the time of the Peloponnesian War. The doubts thus cast upon the age when the Homeric poems first assumed the fixed form of writing were closely associated with the universal scepticism as to the historical accuracy of any traditions whatever regarding the early history of Greece. Cautious historians had come to regard the so-called “Heroic Age” as a prehistoric period regarding which nothing definite was known, or in all probability could be known. It was ably argued by Sir George Cornewall Lewis, in connexion with his inquiries into early Roman history, that a verbal tradition is not transmitted from one generation to another in anything like an authentic form for a longer period than about a century. If, then, the art of writing was unknown in Greece before, let us say, the 6th century B.C., it would be useless to expect that any events of Grecian history prior to about the 7th century B.C. could have been transmitted to posterity with any degree of historical accuracy.
Notwithstanding the allurements of the subject, such conservative historians as Grote were disposed to regard the problems of early Grecian history as inscrutable, and to content themselves with the recital of traditions without attempting to establish their relationship with actual facts. It remained for the more robust faith of a Schliemann to show that such scepticism was all too faint-hearted, by proving that at such sites as Tiryns, Mycenze, and Hissarlik evidences of a very early period of Greek civilization awaited the spade of the excavator.
Thanks to the enthusiasm of Schliemann and his successors, we can now substitute for the mythical “ Age of Heroes” a historical “Mycenæan Age” of Greece, and give tangible proof of its relatively high stage of civilization. Schliemann may or may not have been correct in identifying one of the seven cities that he unearthed at Hissarlik as the fabled Troy itself, but at least his efforts sufficed to give verisimilitude to the Homeric story. With the lessons of recent Oriental archæology in mind, few will be sceptical enough to doubt that some such contest as that described in the Iliad actually occurred. And now, thanks to the efforts of a large company of workers, notably Dr Arthur Evans and his associates in Cretan exploration, we are coming to speak with some confidence not merely of a Mycenæan but of a pre-Mycenæan Age.
As yet we see these periods somewhat darkly. The illuminative witness of written records is in the main denied us here. Some most archaic inscriptions have indeed been found by the explorers in Crete, out these for the present serve scarcely any other purpose than to prove the antiquity of the art of writing among a people who were closely in touch with the inhabitants of Hellas proper.
Most unfortunately for posterity, the Greeks wrote mainly on perishable materials, and hence the chief records even of their later civilization have vanished. The only fragments of Greek manuscripts antedating the Christian era that have been preserved to us have been found in Egypt, where a hospitable climate granted them a term of existence not to be hoped for elsewhere. No fragment of these papyri, indeed, carries us further back than the age of the Ptolemies; but the Greek inscriptions on the statues of Rameses II. at Abu-Simbel, in Nubia, give conclusive proof that the art of writing was widely disseminated among the Greeks at least three centuries before the age of Alexander. This carries us back towards the traditional age of Homer.
The Cretan inscriptions belong to a far older epoch, and are written in two non-Grecian scripts of undetermined affinities. Here, then, is direct evidence that the Aegean peoples of the Mycenæan Age knew how to write, and it is no longer necessary to assume that the verses of the Iliad were dependent on mere verbal transmission for any such period as has been supposed.
But even re direct evidence of the knowledge of the art of writing in Greece of the early day altogether lacking, none but the hardiest sceptic could doubt, in the light of recent archæological discoveries elsewhere, that the inhabitants of ancient Hellas of the “ Homeric Age" must have shared with their contemporaries the capacity to record their thoughts in written words. We have seen that Oriental archæology has in recent generations revolutionized our conceptions of the antiquity of civilization. We have seen that written documents have been preserved in Mesopotamia to which such a date as 4500 B.C. may be ascribed with a good deal of confidence ; and that from the third millennium B.C. a flood of contemporary literary records comes to us both from Egypt and Mesopotamia. But until recently it had been supposed that Hellas was shut out entirely from this Oriental culture. Historians have found it hard to dispel the idea that civilization in Greece was a very late development, and that the culture of the age of Solon sprang, in fact, suddenly into existence, as it seems to do in the records of the historian. But the excavations that have given us a knowledge of the Mycenaan Age have proved conclusively, not alone that civilization existed in Greece in an early day, but that this civilization was closely linked with the civilization of Egypt. Not only have antiquities been found in Crete that point to Egyptian inspiration, but quite recently Professor Petrie has found at Tel el-Amarna Mycenæan pottery. The latter find has a peculiar significance, since the date of the Tel el-Amarna collection is definitely fixed between the years 1400 and 1370 B.C.
It is demonstrated, then, that as early as the beginning of the 14th century B.C. the Mycenæan civilization was in touch with the ancient civilization of Egypt. One must not infer from this, however, that the two civilizations met on anything like an equality. Indeed, in the wonderful Tel el-Amarna collection there is a suggestive absence of literary documents from the Aegean that demands a word of notice.
The Tel el-Amarna collection, it will be recalled, consists of the royal archives of King Amenophis IV. of the XVIIIth Egyptian dynasty, who in the latter years of his reign chose to be known as Khu-n-Aten, “the glory of the solar disc.” This monarch had retired from Thebes and established his court on the site now known as Tel el-Amarna, where he founded the city which existed only during the brief period of thirty years ending with the death of the monarch about 1370 B.C. The date of the documents found in the royal library is, therefore, fixed within very narrow limits. The documents in question consist chiefly of letters, and constitute one of the most important of archæological finds. These letters came to the king from almost every part of Western Asia, including Palestine and Phoenicia, Babylonia, and Asia Minor. Strangely enough, all the letters are written in the Babylonian character, and most of them are in the Babylonian language. They afford, therefore, most striking evidence of a widespread diffusion of Babylonian culture. Incidentally they prove, to the utter confusion of a certain school of Bible critics, that the art of writing was familiarly known in Canaan, and that Egypt and Western Asia were in full literary connexion with one another, long before the time of the Exodus. Hence all the elaborate arguments based on the supposition that Moses probably could not write fall to the ground. On the other hand, the absence of letters from Mycene among the tablets of Tel el-Amarna must be regarded as at least suggestive. Seemingly the widespread Babylonian culture had not reached the Aegean peoples; yet these peoples cannot have been wholly ignorant of things with which commercial intercourse brought them in contact. The point is of no very great significance, however, since no one has pretended that the Western civilization compared with the Eastern in point of antiquity; and in any event, no amount of negative evidence weighs a grain in the balance against the positive evidence of the Cretan inscriptions.
In short, then, the researches of the archæologist are tending to reconstruct the primitive classical history; and here, as in the Orient, it is evident that historians of the earlier day were constantly blinded by a misconception as to the antiquity of civilization. Such a fruitage as that of Greek culture of the age of Pericles does not come to maturity without a long period of preparation. Here, as elsewhere, the laws of evolution hold, permitting no sudden stupendous leaps. But it required the arduous labours of the archæologist to prove a proposition that, once proven, seems selfevident.
Archæology and the Evolution of Art. What is true of Greek civilization in general is specifically true of the flower of that civilization, Greek art. Whoever would see the story of the evolution of Greek art illustrated, should go to the British Museum and pass from the Egyptian Hall, with its grotesque colossi, to the Assyrian rooms, with their marvellous bas-reliefs, and then on to the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon. In particular, the art treasures of the Assyrian collection should demand the closest scrutiny. In the Nineveh gallery, for example, where one finds collections of strange Assyrian books, the walls are flanked everywhere with basreliefs that come from some buried palace that once stored the literary treasures.
It appears that the kings of that far-off time and land were connoisseurs of art as well as patrons of literature; and the art treasures of their palaces certainly form the most striking, if not the most important, part of the mementoes they have left to us. The more closely these figures in low relief are examined, the more wonderful they will seem. They take the place of the Egyptian carvings in the round ; and if they are less striking to first view than the great sarcophagi, the grotesque gods, and colossal animal forms of that people, they will prove infinitely more expressive and incomparably more artistic on closer inspection. For these flat sculptures depict, not alone gods and sacerdotal scenes, but everyday affairs and the events of Assyrian history. The bas-relief was clearly the focal point of Assyrian art. Even the great bulls and lions that guarded the palace entrances were only partially detached from their background, and a frescoed statue of King Assur-nazir-pal shows the same tendency. The full rounded statue was not indeed unknown to them, as several examples testify; but their real forte lay in mural decoration in low relief. And the particular walls on which the artists mainly expended their skill, if we may judge from what the ruins have revealed to us, were not the walls of temples but the palaces of kings. It is quite clear that these great conquerors of antiquity were very human, very like their successors of after times. They loved to have their heroic deeds, real or alleged, heralded to the world, and recalled incessantly to their own memories. So one finds whole histories epitomized on these walls, wars, conquests, victories; the storming of cities, the slaughter of the enemy, the leading of captives, and bringing of tribute by subject people, everything, in short, but Assyrian reverses; the court artist, true
As historical records these sculptures are of priceless value, both for what they tell of political history and for the light they throw on the powers and limitations of antique art.
But before you venture to judge the Assyrian artist in the latter regard, you must pass on to the room of Assur-nazir-pal, and from that to the adjacent room, where the mural decorations of the dining-hall of the last of the great Assyrian kings, Assur-bani-pal, have been placed in situ, reproducing an effect which they first made in the palace at Nineveh in the 7th century B.C. Here you may see at once both another phase of royal life in Assyria and another stage of Assyrian art. Not war, but the chase is now the theme. King Assur-bani-pal is seen in pursuit of the goat, the wild ass, the lion. The king, of course, towers above his attendants, though not in the grotesque disproportion of the Egyptian paintings.
To the Oriental mind such excessive stature seemed indissoluble from royal station. One recalls how the mother of Darius, made captive at Issus, mistook Hephæstion for the king, because he was taller than Alexander; and how Agesilaus, when he went to Egypt as an ally of the Egyptians, was held in contempt, despite his renown, because of his diminutive stature ; and one cannot help wondering what would have been the real aspect of the Assyrian and Egyptian monarch could they have been subjected to the camera.
Be that as it may, there was apparently no doubt in the mind of the court artist as to what his chisel should reveal in this respect, and the king may always be distinguished by his stature, without regard to his royal robes. Still, it is notable, as a distinction between Egyptian and Assyrian art, that the realistic eye of the Assyrian sculptor never let him depict the king as a Brobdingnag among the pigmies, after the Egyptian fashion. At the most he is a head taller than those about him.
The royal hunter pursues his quarry sometimes on foot, more usually standing in his chariot. His