It is scarcely necessary to state that the designs on the bricks are entirely destitute of chiaroscuro. The browns and blacks, like the blues, yellows, and reds, are simply used to express local color. They are employed for hair, eyes, eye-brows, and sometimes for bows and sandals. The other colors are applied as follows: yellow is used for flesh, for shafts of weapons, for horse trappings, sometimes for horses, for chariots, cups, earrings bracelets, fringes, for wing-feathers, occasionally for helmets, and almost always for the hoofs of horses; blue is used for shields, for horses, for some parts of horse-trappings, armor, and dresses, for fish, and for feathers; white is employed for the inner part of the eye, for the linen shirts worn by men, for the marking on fish and feathers, for horses, for buildings, for patterns on dresses, for rams' heads, and for portions of the tiara of the king. Olive-green seems to occur only as a ground; red only in some parts of the royal tiara, orange and lilac only in the wings of winged monsters. It is doubtful how far we may trust the colors on the bricks as accurately or approximately resembling the real local hues. In some cases the intention evidently is to be true to nature, as in the eyes and hair of men, in the representations of flesh, fish, shields, bows, buildings, etc. The yellow of horses may represent cream-color, and the blue may stand for gray, as distinct from white, which seems to have been correctly rendered. The scarlet and white of the king's tiara is likely to be true. When, however, we find eyeballs and eyebrows white, while the inner part of the eye is yellow, the blade of swords yellow, and horses' hoofs blue we seem to have proof that, sometimes at any rate, local color was intentionally neglected, the artist limiting himself to certain hues, and being therefore obliged to render some objects untruly. Thus we must not conclude front the colors of dresses and horse trappings on the bricks which are three only, yellow, blue and white—that the Assyrians used no other hues than those, even for the robes of their kings. It is far more probable that they employed a variety of tints in their apparel, but did not attempt to render that variety on the ordinary painted bricks.
The pigments used by the Assyrians seem to have derived their tints entirely from minerals. The opaque white is found to be oxide of tin; the yellow is the antimoniate of lead, or Naples yellow, with a slight admixture of tin; the blue is oxide of copper, without any cobalt; the green is also from copper; the brown is from iron; and the red is a suboxide of copper. The bricks were slightly baked before being painted; they were then taken from the kiln, painted and enamelled on one side only, the flux and glazes used being composed of silicate of soda aided by oxide of lead; thus prepared, they were again submitted to the action of fire, care being taken to place the painted side upwards, and having been thoroughly baked were then ready for use.
The Assyrian intaglios on stones and gems are commonly of a rude description; but occasionally they exhibit a good deal of delicacy, and sometimes even of grace. They are cut upon serpentine, jasper, chalcedony, cornelian, agate, sienite, quartz, loadstone, amazon-stone, and lapis-lazuli. The usual form of the stone is cylindrical; the sides, however, being either slightly convex or slightly concave, most frequently the latter. [PLATE LXXIX., Fig. 3.] The cylinder is always perforated in the direction of its axis. Besides this ordinary form, a few gems shaped like the Greek—that is, either round or oval—have been found: and numerous impressions from such gems on sealing-clay show that they must have been a tolerably common. The subjects which occur are mostly the same as those on the sculptures—warriors pursuing their foes, hunters in full chase, the king slaying a lion, winged bulls before the sacred tree, acts of worship and other religious or mythological scenes. [PLATE LXXXI. Fig. 1.] There appears to have been a gradual improvement in the workmanship from the earliest period to the time of Sennacherib, when the art culminates. A cylinder found in the ruins of Sennacherib's palace at Koyunjik, which is believed with reason to have been his signet, is scarcely surpassed in delicacy of execution by any intaglio of the Greeks. [PLATE LXXXI., Fig. 1.] The design has a good deal of the usual stiffness, though even here something may be said for the ibex or wild-goat which stands upon the lotus flower to the left: but the special excellence of the gem is in the fineness and minuteness of its execution. The intaglio is not very deep but all the details are beautifully sharp and distinct, while they are on so small a scale that it requires a magnifying glass to distinguish them. The material of the cylinder is translucent green felspar, or amazon-stone, one of the hardest substances known to the lapidary.
The fictile art of the Assyrians in its higher branches, as employed for directly artistic purposes, has been already considered; but a few pages may be now devoted to the humbler divisions of the subject, where the useful preponderates over the ornamental. The pottery of Assyria bears a general resemblance in shape, form, and use to that of Egypt; but still it has certain specific differences. According to Mr. Birch, it is, generally speaking, "finer in its paste, brighter in its color, employed in thinner masses, and for purposes not known in Egypt." Abundant and excellent clay is furnished by the valley of the Tigris, more especially by those parts of it which are subject to the annual inundation. The chief employment of this material by the Assyrians was for bricks, which were either simply dried in the sun, or exposed to the action of fire in a kiln. In this latter case they seem to have been uniformly slack-baked; they are light for their size, and are of a pale-red color. The clay of which the bricks were composed was mixed with stubble or vegetable fibre, for the purpose of holding it together—a practice common to the Assyrians with the Egyptians and the Babylonians. This fibre still appears in the sun-dried bricks, but has been destroyed by the heat of the kiln in the case of the baked bricks, leaving behind it, however, in the clay traces of the stalks or stems. The size and shape of the bricks vary. They are most commonly square, or nearly so; but occasionally the shape more resembles that of the ancient Egyptian and modern English brick, the width being about half the length, and the thickness half or two-thirds of the width. The greatest size to which the square bricks attain is a length and width of about two feet. From this maximum they descend by manifold gradations to a minimum of one foot. The oblong bricks are smaller; they seldom much exceed a foot in length, and in width vary from six to seven and a half inches. Whatever the shape and size of the bricks, their thickness is nearly uniform, the thinnest being as much as three inches in thickness, and the thickest not more than four inches or four and a half. Each brick was made in a wooden frame or mould. Most of the baked bricks were inscribed, not however like the Chaldaean, the Egyptian, and the Babylonian, with an inscription in a small square or oval depression near the centre of one of the broad faces, but with one which either covered the whole of one such face, or else ran along the edge. It is uncertain whether the inscription was stamped upon the bricks by a single impression, or whether it was inscribed by the potter with a triangular style. Mr. Birch thinks the former was the means used, "as the trouble of writing upon each brick would have been endless." Mr. Layard, however, is of a different opinion.
In speaking of the Assyrian writing, some mention has been made of the terra cotta cylinders and tablets, which in Assyria replaced the parchment and papyrus of other nations, being the most ordinary writing material in use through the country. The purity and fineness of the material thus employed is very remarkable, as well as its strength, of which advantage was taken to make the cylinders hollow, and thus at once to render them cheaper and more portable. The terra cotta of the cylinders and tablets is sometimes unglazed; sometimes the natural surface has been covered with a "vitreous silicious glaze or white coating." The color varies, being sometimes a bright polished brown, sometimes a pale yellow, sometimes pink, and sometimes a very dark tint, nearly black. The most usual color however for cylinders is pale yellow, and for tablets light red, or pink. There is no doubt that in both these cases the characters were impressed separately by the hand, a small metal style of rod being used for the purpose.
Terra cotta vessels, glazed and unglazed, were in common use among the Assyrians, for drinking and other domestic purposes. They comprised vases, lamps, jugs, amphorae, saucers, jars, etc. [PLATE LXXX., Fig. 2.] The material of the vessels is fine, though generally rather yellow in tone. The shapes present no great novelty, being for the most part such as are found both in the old Chaldaean tombs, and in ordinary Roman sepulchres. Among the most elegant are the funeral urns discovered by M. Botta at Khorsabad, which are with a small opening at top, a short and very scanty pedestal, and two raised rings, one rather delicately chased, by way of ornament. [PLATE LXXXI., Fig. 2.] Another graceful form is that of the large jars uncovered at Nimrud [PLATE LXXXII., Fig. 1], of which Mr. Layard gives a representation. Still more tasteful are some of the examples which occur upon the bas-reliefs, and seemingly represent earthen vases. Among these may be particularized a lustral ewer resting in a stand supported by bulls' feet, which appears in front of a temple at Khorsabad [PLATE LXXXI., Fig. 3], and a wine vase (see [PLATE LXXXI., Fig. 4]) of ample dimensions, which is found in a banquet scene at the same place. Some of the lamps are also graceful enough, and seem to be the prototypes out of which were developed the more elaborate productions of the Greeks. [PLATE LXXXII., Fig. 2.] Others are more simple, being without ornament of any kind, and nearly resembling a modern tea-pot (see No., IV. [PLATE LXXXII., Fig. 2.]) The glazed pottery is, for the most part, tastefully colored. An amphora, with twisted arms, found at Nimrud (see [PLATE LXXXIII., Fig. 1]) is of two colors, a warm yellow, and a cold bluish green. The green predominates in the upper, the yellow in the under portion; but there is a certain amount of blending or mottling in the mid-region, which has a very pleasant effect. A similarly mottled character is presented by two other amphorae from the same place, where the general hue is a yellow which varies in intensity, and the mottling is with a violet blue. In some cases the colors are not blended, but sharply defined by lines, as in a curious spouted cup figured by Mr. Layard, and in several fragmentary specimens. Painted patterns are not uncommon upon the glazed pottery, though upon the unglazed they are scarcely ever found. The most usual colors are blue, yellow, and white; brown, purple, and lilac have been met with occasionally. These colors are thought to be derived chiefly from metallic oxides, over which was laid as a glazing a vitreous silicated substance. On the whole, porcelain of this fine kind is rare in the Assyrian remains, and must be regarded as a material that was precious and used by few.
Assyrian glass is among the most beautiful of the objects which have been exhumed. M. Botta compared it to certain fabrics of Venice and Bohemia, into which a number sit different colors are artificially introduced. But a careful analysis has shown that the lovely prismatic hues which delight us in the Assyrian specimens, varying under different lights with all the delicacy and brilliancy of the opal, are due, not to art, but to the wonder-working hand of time, which, as it destroys the fabric, compassionately invests it with additional grace and beauty. Assyrian glass was either transparent or stained with a single uniform color. It was composed, in the usual way, by a mixture of sand or silex with alkalis, and, like the Egyptian, appears to have been first rudely fashioned into shape by the blowpipe. It was then more carefully shaped, and, where necessary, hollowed out by a turning machine, the Marks of which are sometimes still visible. The principal specimens which have been discovered are small bottles and bowls, the former not more than three or four inches high, the latter from four to five inches in diameter, [PLATE LXXXIII., Fig. 4.] The vessels are occasionally inscribed with the name of a king, as is the case in the famous vase of Sargon, found by Mr. Layard at Nimrud, which is here figured. [PLATE LXXXIII., Fig. 2.] This is the earliest known specimen of transparent glass, which is not found in Egypt until the time of the Psammetichi. The Assyrians used also opaque glass, which they colored, sometimes red, with the suboxide of copper, sometimes white, sometimes of other hues. They seem not to have been able to form masses of glass of any considerable size; and thus the employment of the material must have been limited to a few ornamental, rather than useful, purposes. A curious specimen is that of a pipe or tube, honey-combed externally, which Mr. Layard exhumed at Koyunjik, and of which the cut [PLATE LXXXIII., Fig. 1] is a rough representation.
An object found at Nimrud, in close connection with several glass vessels, is of a character sufficiently similar to render its introduction in this place not inappropriate. This is a lens composed of rock crystal, about an inch and a half in diameter, and nearly an inch thick, having one plain and one convex surface, and somewhat rudely shaped and polished which, however gives a tolerably distinct focus at the distance of 4 1/2 inches from the plane side, and which may have been used either as a magnifying glass or to concentrate the rays of the sun. The form is slightly oval, the longest diameter being one and six-tenths inch, the shortest one and four-tenths inch. The thickness is not uniform, but greater on one side than on the other. The plane surface is ill-polished and scratched, the convex one, not polished on a concave spherical disk, but fashioned on a lapidary's wheel, or by some method equally rude. As a burn, glass the lens has no great power; but it magnifies fairly, and may have been of great use to those who inscribed, or to those who sought to decipher, the royal memoirs. It is the only object of the kind that has been found among the remains of antiquity, though it cannot he doubled that lenses were known and were used as burning glasses by the Greeks.
Some examples have been already given illustrating the tasteful ornamentation of Assyrian furniture. It consisted, so far as we know, of tables, chairs, couches, high stools, foot-stools, and stands with shelves to hold the articles needed for domestic purposes. As the objects themselves have in all cases ceased to exist, leaving behind them only a few fragments, it is necessary to have recourse to the bas-reliefs for such notices as may be thence derived of their construction and character. In these representations the most ordinary form of table is one in which the principal of our camp-stools seems to be adopted, the legs crossing each other as in the illustrations [PLATE LXXXIV.]. only two legs are represented, but we must undoubtedly regard these two as concealing two others of the same kind at the opposite end of the table. The legs ordinarily terminate in the feet of animals, sometimes of bulls, but more commonly of horses. Sometimes between the two legs we see a species of central pillar, which, however, is not traceable below the point where the legs cross one another. The pillar itself is either twisted or plain (see No. III., [PLATE LXXXIV.]). Another form of table, less often met with, but simpler, closely resembles the common table of the moderns. It has merely the necessary flat top, with perpendicular legs at the corners. The skill of the cabinet-makers enabled them to dispense in most instances with cross-bars (see No. I.), which are, however, sometimes seen (see No. II., No. III., and No. IV.), uniting the legs of this kind of tables. The corners are often ornamented with lions' or rams' heads, and the feet are frequently in imitation of some animal form (see No. III. and No. IV.). Occasionally we find a representation of a three-legged table, as the specimen [PLATE LXXXIV., Fig. 4], which is from a relief at Koyunjik. The height of tables appears to have been greater than with ourselves; the lowest reach easily to a man's middle; the highest are level with the upper part of the chest.
Assyrian thrones and chairs were very elaborate. The throne of Sennacherib exhibited on its sides and arms three rows of carved figures, one above another (PLATE LXXXIV.,Fig. 3), supporting the bars with their hands. The bars, the arms, and the back were patterned. The legs ended in a pine-shaped ornament very common in Assyrian furniture. Over the back was thrown an embroidered cloth hinged at the end, which hung down nearly to the floor. A throne of Sargon's was adorned on its sides with three human figures, apparently representations of the king, below which was the war-horse of the monarch, caparisoned as for battle. [PLATE LXXXV., Fig. 1.] Another throne of the same monarch's had two large and four small figures of men at the side, while the back was supported on either side by a human figure of superior dimensions. The use of chairs with high backs, like these, was apparently confined to the monarchs. Persons of less exalted rank were content to sit on seats which were either stools, or chairs with a low back level with the arms.
Seats of this kind, whether thrones or chairs, were no doubt constructed mainly of wood. The ornamental work may, however, have been of bronze, either cast into the necessary shape, or wrought into it by the hammer. The animal heads at the ends of arms seem to have fallen under the latter description [PLATE LXXXV., Fig. 2.] In some cases, ivory was among the materials used: it has been found in the legs of a throne at Koyunjik, and may not improbably have entered into the ornamentation of the best furniture very much more generally.
The couches which we find represented upon the sculptures are of a simple character. The body is flat, not curved; the legs are commonly plain, and fastened to each other by a cross-bar, sometimes terminating in the favorite pine-shaped ornament. One end only is raised, and this usually curves inward nearly in a semicircle. [PLATE LXXXV., Fig. 3.] The couches are decidedly lower than the Egyptian; and do not, like them, require a stool or steps in order to ascend them.
Stools, however, are used with the chairs or thrones of which mention was made above—lofty seats, where such a support for the sitter's feet was imperatively required. [PLATE LXXXV.. Fig. 4.] They are sometimes plain at the sides, and merely cut en chevron at the base; sometimes highly ornamented, terminating in lions' feet supported on cones, in the same (or in volutes), supported on balls, and otherwise adorned with volutes, lion castings, and the like. The most elaborate specimen is the stool (No. III.) which supports the feet of Asshur-bani-pal's queen on a relief brought from the North Palace at Koyunjik, and now in the National Collection. Here the upper corners exhibit the favorite gradines, guarding and keeping in place an embroidered cushion; the legs are ornamented with rosettes and with horizontal mouldings, they are connected together by two bars, the lower one adorned with a number of double volutes, and the upper one with two lions standing back to back; the stool stands on balls, surmounted first by a double moulding, and then by volutes.
Stands with shelves often terminate, like other articles of furniture, in animals' feet, most commonly lions', as in the accompanying specimens. [PLATE LXXXV., Fig. 5.]
Of the embroidered robes and draperies of the Assyrians, as of their furniture, we can judge only by the representations made of them upon the bas-reliefs. The delicate texture of such fabrics has prevented them from descending to our day even in the most tattered condition; and the ancient testimonies on the subject are for the most part too remote from the times of the Assyrians to be of much value. Ezekiel's notice is the only one which comes within such a period of Assyria's fall as to make it an important testimony, and even from this we cannot gather much that goes beyond the evidence of the sculptures. The sculptures show us that robes and draperies of all kinds were almost always more or less patterned; and this patterning, which is generally of an extremely elaborate kind, it is reasonable to conclude was the work of the needle. Sometimes the ornamentation is confined to certain portions of garments, as to the ends of sleeves and the bottoms of robes or tunics; at others it is extended over the whole dress. This is more particularly the case with the garments of the kings, which are of a magnificence difficult to describe, or to represent within a narrow compass. [PLATE LXXXVI, Fig. 1.] One or two specimens, however, may be given almost at random, indicating different styles of ornamentation usual in the royal apparel. Other examples will be seen in the many illustrations throughout this volume where the king is represented. It is remarkable that the earliest representations exhibit the most elaborate types of all, after which a reaction seems to set in simplicity is affected, which, however, is gradually trenched upon, until at last a magnificence is reached little short of that which prevailed in the age of the first monuments. The draperies of Asshur-izir-pal in the north-west palace at Nimrud, are at once more minutely labored and more tasteful than those of any later time. Besides elegant but unmeaning patterns, they exhibit human and animal forms, sacred trees, sphinxes, griffins, winged horses, and occasionally bull-hunts and lion-hunts. The upper part of this king's dress is in one instance almost covered with figures, which range themselves round a circular breast ornament, whereof the cut opposite is a representation. Elsewhere his apparel is less superb, and indeed it presents almost every degree of richness, from the wonderful embroidery of the robe just mentioned to absolute plainness. In the celebrated picture of the lion-hunt. [PLATE LXXXVI., Fig. 2.] With Sargon, the next king who has left many monuments, the case is remarkably different. Sargon is represented always in the same dress—a long fringed robe, embroidered simply with rosettes, which are spread somewhat scantily over its whole surface. Sennacherib's apparel is nearly of the same kind, or, if anything, richer, though sometimes the rosettes are omitted His grandson, Asshur-bani-pal, also affects the rosette ornament, but reverts alike to the taste and the elaboration of the early kings. He wears a breast ornament containing human figures, around which are ranged a number of minute and elaborate patterns. [PLATE LXXXVII.]
To this account of the arts, mimetic and other, in which the Assyrians appear to have excelled, it might be expected that there should be added a sketch of their scientific knowledge. On this subject, however, so little is at present known, while so much may possibly become known within a short time, that it seems best to omit it, or to touch it only in the lightest and most cursory manner. When the numerous tablets now in the British Museum shall have been deciphered, studied, and translated, it will probably be found that they contain a tolerably full indication of what Assyrian science really was, and it will then be seen how far it was real and valuable, in what respects mistaken and illusory. At present this mine is almost unworked, nothing more having been ascertained than that the subjects whereof the tables treat are various, and their apparent value very different. Comparative philology seems to have been largely studied, and the works upon it exhibit great care and diligence. Chronology is evidently much valued, and very exact records are kept whereby the lapse of time can even now be accurately measured. Geography and history have each an important place in Assyrian learning; while astronomy and mythology occupy at least as great a share of attention. The astronomical observations recorded are thought to be frequently inaccurate, as might be expected when there were no instruments, or none of any great value. Mythology is a very favorite subject, and appears to be treated most fully; but hitherto cuneiform scholars have scarcely penetrated below the surface of the mythological tablets, baffled by the obscurity of the subject and the difficulty of the dialect (in) which they are written.
On one point alone, belonging to the domain of science, do the Assyrian representations of their life enable us to comprehend, at least to some extent, their attainments. The degree of knowledge which this people possessed on the subject of practical mechanics is illustrated with tolerable fulness in the bas-reliefs, more especially in the important series discovered at Koyunjik, where the transport of the colossal bulls from the quarry to the palace gateways is represented in the most elaborate detail. [PLATE LXXXVIII.] The very fact that they were able to transport masses of stone, many tons in weight, over a considerable space of ground, and to place then on the summit of artificial platforms from thirty to eighty (or ninety) feet high, would alone indicate considerable mechanical knowledge. The further fact, now made clear from the bas-reliefs, that they wrought all the elaborate carving of the colossi before they proceeded to raise them or put them in place, is an additional argument of their skill, since it shows that they had no fear of any accident happening in the transport. It appears from the representations that they placed their colossus in a standing posture, not on a truck or wagon of any kind, but on a huge wooden sledge, shaped nearly like a boat, casing it with an openwork of spars or beams, which crossed each other at right angles, and were made perfectly tight by means of wedges. To avert the great danger of the mass toppling over sideways, ropes were attached to the top of the casing, at the point where the beams crossed one another, and were held taut by two parties of laborers, one on either side of the statue. Besides these, wooden forks or props were applied on either side to the second set of horizontal cross-beams, held also by men whose business it would be to resist the least inclination of the huge stone to lean to one side more than to the other. The front of the sledge on which the colossus stood was curved gently upwards, to facilitate its sliding along the ground, and to enable it to rise with readiness upon the rollers, which were continually placed before it by laborers just in front, while others following behind gathered them up when the bulky mass had passed over there. The motive power was applied in front by four gangs of men who held on to four large cables, at which they pulled by means of small ropes or straps fastened to them, and passed under one shoulder and over the other—an arrangement which enabled them to pull by weight as much as by muscular strength, as the annexed figure will plainly show. [PLATE LXXXIX., Fig. 1.] The cables appear to have been of great strength, and are fastened carefully to four strong projecting pins—two near the front, two at the back part of the sledge, by a knot so tied that it would be sure not to slip. [PLATE LXXXIX., Fig. 4.] Finally, as in spite of the rollers, whose use in diminishing friction, and so facilitating progress, was evidently well understood, and in spite of the amount of force applied in front, it would have been difficult to give the first impetus to so great a mass, a lever was skilfully applied behind to raise the hind part of the sledge slightly, and so propel it forward, while to secure a sound and firm fulcrum, wedges of wood were inserted between the lever and the ground. The greater power of a lever at a distance from the fulcrum being known, ropes were attached to its upper end, which could not otherwise have been reached, and the lever was worked by means of them.
We have thus unimpeachable evidence as to the mode whereby the conveyance of huge blocks of stone along level ground was effected. But it may be further asked, how were the blocks raised up to the elevation at which we find them placed? Upon this point there is no direct evidence; but the probability is that they were drawn up inclined ways, sloping gently from the natural ground to the top of the platforms. The Assyrians were familiar with inclined ways, which they used almost always in their attacks on walled places, and which in many cases they constructed either of brick or stone. The Egyptians certainly employed them for the elevation of large blocks; and probably in the earlier times most nations who affected massive architecture had recourse to the same simple but uneconomical plan. The crane and pulley were applied to this purpose later. In the Assyrian sculptures we find no application of either to building, and no instance at all of the two in combination. Still each appears on the bas-reliefs separately—the crane employed for drawing water from the rivers, and spreading it over the lands, the pulley for lowering and raising the bucket in wells. [PLATE LXXXIX., Fig. 3.]
We must conclude from these facts that the Assyrians had made considerable advances in mechanical knowledge, and were, in fact, acquainted, more or less, with most of the contrivances whereby heavy weights have commonly been moved and raised among the civilized nations of Europe. We have also evidence of their skill in the mechanical processes of shaping pottery and glass, of casting and embossing metals, and of cutting intaglios upon hard stones. Thus it was not merely in the ruder and coarser, but likewise in the more delicate processes, that they excelled. The secrets of metallurgy, of dyeing, enamelling, inlaying, glass-blowing, as well as most of the ordinary manufacturing processes, were known to them. In all the common arts and appliances of life, they must be pronounced at least on a par with the Egyptians, while in taste they greatly exceeded, not that nation only, but all the Orientals. Their "high art" is no doubt much inferior to that of Greece; but it has real merit, and is most remarkable considering the time when it was produced. It has grandeur, dignity, boldness, strength, and sometimes even freedom and delicacy; it is honest and painstaking, unsparing of labor, and always anxious for truth. Above all, it is not lifeless and stationary, like the art of the Egyptians and the Chinese, but progressive and aiming at improvement. To judge by the advance over previous works which we observe in the sculptures of the son of Esarhaddon, it would seem that if Assyria had not been assailed by barbaric enemies about his time, she might have anticipated by above a century the finished excellence of the Greeks.
MANNERS AND CUSTOMS.
"Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind."—ISA. v. 28.
In reviewing, so far as our materials permit, the manners and customs of the Assyrians, it will be convenient to consider separately their warlike and their peaceful usages. The sculptures furnish very full illustration of the former, while on the latter they throw light far more sparingly.
The Assyrians fought in chariots, on horseback, and on foot. Like most ancient nations, as the Egyptians, the Greeks in the heroic times, the Canaanites, the Syrians, the Jews and Israelites, the Persians, the Gauls, the Britons, and many others, the Assyrians preferred the chariot as most honorable, and probably as most safe. The king invariably went out to war in a chariot, and always fought from it, excepting at the siege of a town, when he occasionally dismounted and shot his arrows on foot. The chief state-officers and other personages of high rank followed the same practice. Inferior persons served either as cavalry or as foot-soldiers.
The Assyrian war-chariot is thought to have been made of wood. Like the Greek and the Egyptian, it appears to have been mounted from behind where it was completely open, or closed only by means of a shield, which (as it seems) could be hung across the aperture. It was completely panelled at the sides, and often highly ornamented, as will be seen from the various illustrations given in this chapter. The wheels were two in number, and were placed far back, at or very near the extreme end of the body, so that the weight pressed considerably upon the pole, as was the case also in Egypt. They had remarkably broad felloes, thin and delicate spokes, and small or moderate sized axels. [PLATE LXXXIX. Fig. 2], and [PLATE XC., Figs. 1, 2.] The number of the spokes was either six or eight. The felloes appear to have been formed of three distinct circles of wood, the middle one being the thinnest, and the outer one far the thickest of the three. Sometimes these circles were fastened together externally by bands of mental, hatchet-shaped. In one or two instances we find the outermost circle divided by cross-bars, as if it had been composed of four different pieces. Occasionally there is a fourth circle, which seems to represent a metal tire outside the felloe, whereby it was guarded from injury. This tire is either plain or ornamented.
The wheels were attached to an axletree, about which they revolved, in the usual manner. The body was placed directly upon the axletree and upon the pole, without the intervention of any springs. The pole started from the middle of the axle-tree, and, passing below the floor of the body in a horizontal direction, thence commonly curved upwards till it had risen to about half the height of the body, when it was again horizontal for awhile, once more curving upwards at the end. It usually terminated in an ornament, which was sometimes the head of an animal—a bull, a horse, or a duck—sometimes a more elaborate and complicated work of art. [PLATE XC., Fig. 3.] Now and then the pole continued level with the bottom of the body till it had reached its full projection, and then rose suddenly to the height of the top of the chariot. It was often strengthened by one or more thin bars, probably of metal; which united it to the upper part of the chariot-front.
Chariots were drawn either by two or three, never by four, horses. They seem to have had but a single pole. Where three horses were used, one must therefore have been attached merely by a rope or thong, like the side horses of the Greeks, and, can scarcely have been of much service for drawing the vehicle. He seems rightly regarded as a supernumerary, intended to take the place of one of the others, should either be disabled by a wound or accident. It is not easy to determine from the sculptures how the two draught horses were attached to the pole. Where chariots are represented without horses, we find indeed that they have always a cross-bar or yoke; but where horses are represented in the act of drawing a chariot, the cross-bar commonly disappears altogether. It would seem that the Assyrian artists, despairing of their ability to represent the yoke properly when it was presented to the eye end-wise, preferred, for the most part, suppressing it wholly to rendering it in an unsatisfactory manner. Probably a yoke did really in every case pass over the shoulders of the two draught horses, and was fastened by straps to the collar which is always seen round their necks.
These yokes, or cross-bars, were of various kinds. Sometimes they appear to have consisted of a mere slight circular bar, probably of metal, which passed through the pole; sometimes of a thicker spar, through which the pole itself passed. In this latter case the extremities were occasionally adorned with heads of animals. [PLATE XCI., Fig. 1.] The most common kind of yoke exhibits a double curve, so as to resemble a species of bow unstrung. [PLATE XCI., Fig. 2.] Now and then a specimen is found very curiously complicated, being formed of a bar curved strongly at either end, and exhibiting along its course four other distinct curvatures having opposite to there apertures resembling eyes, with an upper and a lower eyelid. [PLATE XCI., Fig. 3.] It has been suggested that this yoke belonged to a four-horse chariot, and that to each of the four eyes (a a a a) there was a steed attached; but, as no representation of a four-horse chariot has been found, this suggestion must be regarded as inadmissible. The probability seems to be that this yoke, like the others, was for two horses, on whose necks it rested at the points marked b b, the apertures (c c c c) lying thus on either side of the animals' necks, and furnishing the means whereby the he was fastened to the collar. It is just possible that we have in the sculptures of the later period a representation of the extremities (d d) of this kind of yoke, since in them a curious curve appears sometimes on the necks of chariot-horses, just above the upper end of the collar.
Assyrian chariots are exceedingly short: but, apparently, they must have been of a considerable width. They contain two persons at the least; and this number is often increased to three, and sometimes even to four. [PLATE XCI. Fig. 4.] The warrior who fights from a chariot is necessarily attended by his charioteer; and where he is a king, or a personage of high importance, he is accompanied by a second attendant, who in battle-scenes always bears a shield, with which he guards the person of his master. Sometimes, though rarely, four persons are seen in a chariot—the king or chief, the charioteer, and two guards, who protect the monarch on either side with circular shields or targes. The charioteer is always stationed by the side of the warrior, not as frequently with the Greeks, behind him. The guards stand behind, and, owing to the shortness of the chariot, must have experienced some difficulty in keeping their places. They are evidently forced to lean back-wards from want of room, and would probably have often fallen out, had they not grasped with one hand a rope or strap firmly fixed to the front of the vehicle.
There are two principal types of chariots in the Assyrian sculptures, which may be distinguished as the earlier and the later. The earlier are comparatively low and short. The wheels are six-spoked, and of small diameter. The body is plain, or only ornamented by a border, and is rounded in front, like the Egyptian and the classical chariots. [PLATE XCII., Fig 1.] Two quivers are suspended diagonally at the side of the body, while a rest for a spear, commonly fashioned into the shape of a human head, occupies the upper corner at the back. From the front of the body to the further end of the pole, which is generally patterned and terminates in the head and neck of a ball or a duck, extends an ornamented structure, thought to have been of linen or silk stitched upon a framework of wood, which is very conspicuous in the representation. A shield commonly hangs behind these chariots, perhaps closing the entrance; and a standard is sometimes fixed in them towards the front, connected with the end of the pole by a rope or bar.
The later chariots are loftier and altogether larger than the earlier. The wheel is eight spoked, and reaches as high as the shoulders of the horses, which implies a diameter of about five feet. [PLATE XCII., Fig. 2. ] The body rises a foot or rather more, above this; and the riders thus from their elevated position command the whole battle-field. The body is not rounded, but made square in front: it has no quivers attached to it externally, but has, instead, a projection at one or both of the corners which seems to have served as an arrow-case. This projection is commonly patterned, as is in many cases the entire body of the chariot, though sometimes the ornamentation is confined to an elegant but somewhat scanty border. The poles are plain, not patterned, sometimes, however, terminating in the head of a horse; there is no ornamental framework connecting them with the chariot, but in its stead we see a thin bar, attached to which, either above or below, there is in most instances a loop, whereto we may suppose that the reins were occasionally fastened. No shield is suspended behind these chariots; but we sometimes observe an embroidered drapery hanging over the back, in a way which would seem to imply that they were closed behind, at any rate by a cross-bar.
The trappings of the chariot-horses belonging to the two periods are not very different. They consist principally of a headstall, a collar, a breast-ornament, and a sort of huge tassel pendent at the horse's side. The headstall was formed commonly of three straps: one was attached to the bit at either end, and passed behind the ears over the neck; another, which was joined to this above, encircled the smallest part of the neck; while a third, crossing the first at right angles, was carried round the forehead and the cheek bones. At the point where the first and second joined, or a little in front of this, rose frequently a waving plume, or a crest composed of three huge tassels, one above another; while at the intersection of the second and third was placed a rosette or other suitable ornament. The first strap was divided where it approached the bit into two or three smaller straps, which were attached to the bit in different places. A fourth strap sometimes passed across the nose from the point where the first strap subdivided. All the straps were frequently patterned; the bit was sometimes shaped into an animal form and streamers occasional floated from the nodding plume or crest which crowned the heads of the war-steeds.
The collar is ordinarily represented as a mere broad band passing round the neck, not of the withers (as with ourselves). but considerably higher up, almost midway between the withers and the cheek-bone. Sometimes it is of uniform width while often it narrows greatly as it approaches the back of the neck. It is generally patterned, and appears to have been a mere flat leathern band. It is impossible to say in what exact way the pole was attached to it, though in the later sculptures we have elaborate representations of the fastening. The earlier sculptures seem to append to the collar one or more patterned straps, which, passing round the horse's belly immediately behind the fore legs, served to keep it in place, while at the same time they were probably regarded as ornamental; but under the later kings these belly Lands were either reduced to a single strap, or else dispensed with altogether.
The breast-ornament consists commonly of a fringe, more or less complicated. The simplest form, which is that of the most ancient times, exhibits a patterned strap with a single row of long tassels pendent from it, as in the annexed representation. At a later date we find a double and even a triple row of tassels.
The pendent side-ornament is a very conspicuous portion of the trappings. It is attached to the collar either by a long straight strap or by a circular band which falls on either side of the neck. The upper extremity is often shaped into the form of an animal's head, below which comes most commonly a circle or disk, ornamented with a rosette, a Maltese cross, a winged bull, or other sacred emblem, while below the circle hang huge tassels in a single row or smaller ones arranged in several rows. In the sculptures of Sargon at Khorsabad, the tassels of both the breast and side ornaments were colored, the tints being in most cases alternately red and blue.
Occasionally the chariot-horses were covered from the ears almost to the tail with rich cloths, magnificently embroidered over their whole surface.' [PLATE XCIII., Fig. 2.] These cloths encircled the neck, which they closely fitted, and, falling on either side of the body, were then kept in place by means of a broad strap round the rump and a girth under the belly.
A simpler style of clothing chariot-horses is found towards the close of the later period, where we observe, below the collar, a sort of triple breastplate, and over the rest of the body a plain cloth, square cut, with flaps descending at the arms and quarters, which is secured in its place by three narrow straps fastened on externally. The earlier kind of clothing has the appearance of being for ornament but this looks as if it was meant solely for protection.
Besides the trappings already noticed, the Assyrian chariot-horses had frequently strings of beads suspended round their necks, between the ears and the collar; they had also, not unfrequently, tassels or bells attached to different parts of the headstall [PLATE XCIII., Fig. 3], and finally they had, in the later period most commonly, a curious ornament upon the forehead, which covered almost the whole space between the ears and the eyes, and was composed of a number of minute bosses, colored, like the tassels of the breast ornament, alternately red and blue.
Each horse appears to have been driven by two reins—one attached to either end of the bit in the ordinary manner, and each passed through a ring or loop in the harness, whereby the rein was kept down and a stronger purchase secured to the driver. The shape of the bit within the mouth, if we may judge by the single instance of an actual bit which remains to us, bore a near resemblance to the modern snaffle. [PLATE XCIV., Fig. 1.] Externally the bit was large, and in most cases clumsy—a sort of cross-bar extending across the whole side of the horse's face, commonly resembling a double axe-head, or a hammer. Occasionally the shape was varied, the hatchet or hammer being replaced by forms similar to those annexed, or by the figure of a horse at full gallop. The rein seems, in the early times, to have been attached about midway in the cross-bar, while afterwards it became usual to attach it near the lower end. This latter arrangement was probably found to increase the power of the driver.
The use of the bearing-rein, which prevailed in Egypt, was unknown to the Assyrians, or disapproved by them. The driving-reins were separate, not stitched or buckled together, and were held in the two hands separately. The right hand grasped the reins, whatever their number, which were attached at the horses' right cheeks, while the left hand performed the same office with the remaining reins. The charioteer urged his horses onward with a powerful whip, having a short handle, and a thick plaited or twisted lash, attached like the lash of a modern horsewhip, sometimes with, sometimes without, a loop, and often subdivided at the end into two or three tails. [PLATE XCIV., Fig. 4.]
Chariot-horses were trained to three paces, a walk, a trot, and a gallop. In battle-pieces they are commonly represented at full speed, in marches trotting, in processions walking in a stately manner. Their manes were frequently hogged, though more commonly they lay on the neck, falling (apparently) upon either side indifferently. Occasionally a portion only was hogged, while the greater part remained in its natural condition. The tail was uncut, and generally almost swept the ground, but was confined by a string or ribbon tied tightly around it about midway. Sometimes, more especially in the later sculptures, the lower half of the tail is plaited and tied up into a loop or bunch [PLATE XCIV., Fig. 5], according to the fashion which prevails in the present day through most parts of Turkey and Persia.
The warrior who fought from a chariot was sometimes merely dressed in a tunic, confined at the waist by a belt; sometimes, however, he wore a coat of mail, very like the Egyptian, consisting of a sort of shirt covered with small plates or scales of metal. This shirt reached at least as low as the knees, beneath which the chariot itself was sufficient protection. It had short sleeves, which covered the shoulder and upper part of the arm, but left the elbow and fore-arm quite undefended. The chief weapon of the warrior was the bow, which is always seen in his hands, usually with the arrow upon the string; he wears, besides, a short sword, suspended at his left side by a strap, and he has commonly a spear within his reach; but we never see him using either of these weapons. He either discharges his arrows against the foe from the standing-board of his chariot, or, commanding the charioteer to halt, descends, and, advancing a few steps before his horses' heads, takes a surer and more deadly aim from terra firma. In this case his attendant defends him from missiles by extending in front of him a shield, which he holds in his left hand, while at the same time he makes ready to repel any close assailant by means of a spear or sword grasped firmly in his right. The warrior's face and arms are always bare; sometimes the entire head is undefended, though more commonly it has the protection of a helmet. This, however, is without a visor, and does not often so much as cover the ears. In some few instances only is it furnished with flaps or lappets, which, where they exist, seem to be made of metal scales, and, falling over the shoulders, entirely conceal the ears, the back of the head, the neck, and even the chin.
The position occupied by chariots in the military system of Assyria is indicated in several passages of Scripture, and distinctly noticed by many of the classical writers. When Isaiah began to warn his countrymen of the 'miseries in store for them at the hands of the new enemy which first attacked Judea in his day, he described them as a people "whose arrows were sharp, and all their bows bent, whose horses' hoofs should be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind." When in after days he was commissioned to raise their drooping courage by assuring them that they would escape Sennacherib, who had angered God by his pride, he noticed, as one special provocation of Jehovah, that monarch's confidence in the multitude of his chariots. Nahum again, having to denounce the approaching downfall of the haughty nation, declares that God is "against her, and will burn her chariots in the smoke." In the fabulous account which Ctesias gave of the origin of Assyrian greatness, the war-chariots of Ninus were represented as amounting to nearly eleven thousand, while those of his wife and successor, Semiramis, were estimated at the extravagant number of a hundred thousand. Ctesias further stated that the Assyrian chariots, even at this early period, were armed with scythes, a statement contradicted by Xenophon, who ascribes this invention to the Persians, and one which receives no confirmation from the monuments. Amid all this exaggeration and inventiveness, one may still trace a knowledge of the fact that war-chariots were highly esteemed by the Assyrians from a very ancient date, while from other notices we may gather that they continued to be reckoned an important arm of the military service to the very end of the empire.
Next to the war-chariots of the Assyrians we must place their cavalry, which seems to have been of scarcely less importance in their wars. Ctesias, who amid all his exaggerations shows glimpses of some real knowledge of the ancient condition of the Assyrian people, makes the number of the horsemen in their armies always greatly exceed that of the chariots. The writer of the book of Judith gives Holofernes 12,000 horse-archers, and Ezekiel seems to speak of all the "desirable young men" as "horsemen riding upon horses." The sculptures show on the whole a considerable excess of cavalry over chariots, though the preponderance is not uniformly exhibited throughout the different periods.
During the time of the Upper dynasty, cavalry appears to have been but little used. Tiglath-Pileser I. in the whole of his long Inscription has not a single mention of them, though he speaks of his chariots continually. In the sculptures of Asshur-izir-pal, the father of the Black-Obelisk king, while chariots abound, horsemen occur only in rare instances. Afterwards, under Sargon and Sennacherib, we notice a great change in this respect. The chariot comes to be almost confined to the king, while horsemen are frequent in the battle scenes.
In the first period the horses' trappings consisted of a head-stall, a collar, and one or more strings of beads. The head-stall was somewhat heavy, closely resembling that of the chariot-horses of the time, representations of which have been already given. It had the same heavy axe-shaped bit, the same arrangement of straps, and nearly the same ornamentation. The only marked difference was the omission of the crest or plume, with its occasional accompaniment of streamers. The collar was very peculiar. It consisted of a broad flap, probably of leather, shaped almost like a half-moon, which was placed on the neck about half way between the ears and the withers, and thence depended over the breast, where it was broadened out and ornamented by large drooping tassels. Occasionally the collar was plain, but more often it was elaborately patterned. Sometimes pomegranates hung from it, alternating with the tassels.
The cavalry soldiers of this period ride without any saddle. Their legs and feet are bare, and their seat is very remarkable. Instead of allowing their legs to hang naturally down the horses' sides, they draw them up till their knees are on a level with their chargers' backs, the object (apparently) being to obtain a firm seat by pressing the base of the horse's neck between the two knees. The naked legs seem to indicate that it was found necessary to obtain the fullest and freest play of the muscles to escape the inconveniences of a fall.
The chief weapon of the cavalry at this time is the bow. Sword and shield indeed are worn, but in no instance do we see them used. Cavalry soldiers are either archers or mere attendants who are without weapons of offence. One of these latter accompanies each horse-archer in battle, for the purpose of holding and guiding his steed while he discharges his arrows. The attendant wears a skull cap and a plain tunic, the archer has an embroidered tunic, a belt to which his sword is attached, and one of the ordinary pointed helmets.
In the second period the cavalry consists in part of archers, in part of spearmen. Unarmed attendants are no longer found, both spearmen and archers appearing to be able to manage their own horses. Saddles have now come into common use: they consist of a simple cloth, or flap of leather, which is either cut square, or shaped somewhat like the saddle-cloths of our own cavalry. A single girth beneath the belly is their ordinary fastening; but sometimes they are further secured by means of a strap or band passed round the breast, and a few instances occur of a second strap passed round the quarters. The breast-strap is generally of a highly ornamented character. The headstall of this period is not unlike the earlier one, from which it differs chiefly in having a crest, and also a forehead ornament composed of a number of small bosses. It has likewise commonly a strap across the nose, but none under the cheek-bones. It is often richly ornamented, particularly with rosettes, bells, and tassels.
The old pendent collar is replaced by one encircling the neck about halfway up, or is sometimes dispensed with altogether. Where it occurs, it is generally of uniform width, and is ornamented with rosettes or tassels. No conjecture has been formed of any use which either form of collar could serve; and the probability is that they were intended solely for ornament.
A great change is observable in the sculptures of the second period with respect to the dress of the riders. [PLATE XCV., Fig. 1.] The cavalry soldier is now completely clothed, with the exception of his two arms, which are bare from a little below the shoulder. He wears most commonly a tunic which fits him closely about the body, but below the waist expands into a loose kilt or petticoat, very much longer behind than in front, which is sometimes patterned, and always terminates in a fringe. Round his waist he has a broad belt; and another, of inferior width, from which a sword hangs, passes over his left shoulder. His legs are encased in a close-fitting pantaloon or trouser, over which he wears a laced boot or greave, which generally reaches nearly to the knee, though sometimes it only covers about half the calf. [PLATE XCV., Fig. 2.] This costume, which is first found in the time of Sargon, and continues to the reign of Asshur-bani-pal, Esarhaddon's son, may probably be regarded as the regular cavalry uniform under the monarchs of the Lower Empire. In Sennacherib's reign there is found in conjunction with it another costume, which is unknown to the earlier sculptures. This consists of a dress closely fitting the whole body, composed apparently of a coat of mail, leather or felt breeches, and a high greave or jack boot. [PLATE XCVI., Fig. 1.] The wearers of this costume are spearmen or archers indifferently. The former carry a long weapon, which has generally a rather small head, and is grasped low down the shaft. The bow of the latter is either round-arched or angular, and seems to be not more than four feet in length; the arrows measure less than three feet, and are slung in a quiver at the archer's back. Both spearmen and archers commonly carry swords, which are hung on the left side, in a diagonal, and sometimes nearly in a horizontal position. In some few cases the spearman is also an archer, and carries his bow on his right arm, apparently as a reserve in case he should break or lose his spear.
The seat of the horseman is far more graceful in the second than in the first period his limbs appear to move freely, and his mastery over his horse is such that he needs no attendant. The spearman holds the bridle in his left hand; the archer boldly lays it upon the neck of his steed, who is trained either to continue his charge, or to stand firm while a steady aim is taken. [PLATE XCV., Fig. 3.]
In the sculptures of the son and successor of Esarhaddon, the horses of the cavalry carry not unfrequently, in addition to the ordinary saddle or pad, a large cloth nearly similar to that worn sometimes by chariot-horses, of which a representation has been already given. It is cut square with two drooping lappets, and covers the greater part of the body. Occasionally it is united to a sort of breastplate which protects the neck, descending about halfway clown the chest. The material may be supposed to have been thick felt or leather, either of which would have been a considerable protection against weapons.
While the cavalry and the chariots were regarded as the most important portions of the military force, and were the favorite services with the rich and powerful, there is still abundant reason to believe that Assyrian armies, like most others, consisted mainly of foot. Ctesias gives Minis 1,700,000 footmen to 210,000 horsemen, and 10,600 chariots. Xenophon contrasts the multitude of the Assyrian infantry with the comparatively scanty numbers of the other two services: Herodotus makes the Assyrians serve in the army of Xerxes on foot only. The author of the book of Judith assigns to Holofernes an infantry force ten times as numerous as his cavalry.—The Assyrian monuments entirely bear out the general truth involved in all these assertions, showing us, as they do, at least ten Assyrian warriors on foot for each one mounted on horseback, and at least a hundred for each one who rides in a chariot. However terrible to the foes of the Assyrians may have been the shock of their chariots and the impetuosity of their horsemen, it was probably to the solidity of the infantry, to their valor, equipment, and discipline, that the empire was mainly indebted for its long series of victories.
In the time of the earliest sculptures, all the Assyrian foot-soldiers seem to have worn nearly the same costume. This consisted of a short tunic, not quite reaching to the knees, confined round the waist by a broad belt, fringed, and generally opening in front, together with a pointed helmet, probably of metal. The arms, legs, neck, and even the feet, were ordinarily bare, although these last had sometimes the protection of a very simple sandal. [PLATE XCVI., Fig. 2.] Swordsmen used a small straight sword or dagger which they wore at their left side in an ornamented sheath, and a shield which was either convex and probably of metal, or oblong-square and composed of wickerwork. [PLATE XCVI., Fig. 2.] Spearmen had shields of a similar shape and construction, and carried in their right hands a short pike or javelin, certainly not exceeding five feet in length. [PLATE XCVI., Fig. 4.] Sometimes, but not always, they carried, besides the pike, a short sword. Archers had rounded bows about four feet in length, and arrows a little more than three feet long. Their quivers, which were often highly ornamented, hung at their backs, either over the right or over the left shoulder. [PLATE XCVI., Fig. 4.] They had swords suspended at their left sides by a cross-belt, and often carried maces, probably of bronze or iron, which bore a rosette or other ornament at one end, and a ring or strap at the other. The tunics of archers were sometimes elaborately embroidered; and on the whole they seem to have been regarded as the flower of the foot-soldiery. Generally they are represented in pairs, the two being in most cases armed and equipped alike; but, occasionally, one of the pair acts as guard while the other takes his aim. In this case both kneel on one knee, and the guard, advancing his long wicker shield, protects both himself and his comrade from missiles, while he has at the same time his sword drawn to repel all hand-to-hand assailants. [PLATE XCVII., Fig. 1.]
In the early part of the second period, which synchronizes with the reign of Sargon, the difference in the costumes of the foot-soldiers becomes much more marked. The Assyrian infantry now consists of two great classes, archers and spear-men. The archers are either light-armed or heavy-armed, and of the latter there are two clearly distinct varieties. The light-armed have no helmet, but wear on their heads a mere fillet or band, which is either plain or patterned. [PLATE XCVI., Fig. 3.] Except for a cross-belt which supports the quiver, they are wholly naked to the middle. Their only garment is a tunic of the scantiest dimensions, beginning at the waist, round which it is fastened by a broad belt or girdle, and descending little more than half-way down the thigh. In its make it sometimes closely resembles the tunic of the first period, but more often it has the peculiar pendent ornament which has been compared to the scotch phillibeg, and which will be here given that name. It is often patterned with squares and gradines. The light-armed archer has usually bare feet; occasionally, however, he wears the slight sandal of this period, which is little more than a cap for the heel held in place by two or three strings passed across the instep. There is nothing remarkable in his arms, which resemble those of the preceding period: but it may be observed that, while shooting, he frequently holds two arrows in his right hand besides that which is upon the string. He shoots either kneeling or standing, generally the latter. His ordinary position is in the van of battle, though sometimes a portion of the heavy-armed troops precede him. He has no shield, and is not protected by an attendant, thus running more risk than any of the rest of the army.
The more simply equipped of the heavy archers are clothed in a coat of mail, which reaches from their neck to their middle, and partially covers the arms. Below this they wear a fringed tunic reaching to the knees, and confined at the waist by a broad belt of the ordinary character. Their feet have in most instances the protection of a sandal, and they wear on their heads the common or pointed helmet. They usually discharge their arrows kneeling on the left knee, with the right foot advanced before them. Daring this operation they are protected by an attendant, who is sometimes dressed like themselves, sometimes merely clad a tunic, without a coat of mail. Like them, he wears a pointed helmet; and while in one hand he carries a spear, with the other he holds forward a shield, which is either of a round form—apparently, of metal embossed with figures—or oblong-square in shape, and evidently made of wickerwork. Archers of this class are the least common, and scarcely ever occur unless in combination with some of the class which has the heaviest equipment.
The principal characteristic of the third or most heavily armed class of archers is the long robe, richly fringed, which descends nearly to their feet, thus completely protecting all the lower part of their person. [PLATE XCVII., Fig. 2.] Above this they wear a coat of mail exactly resembling that of archers of the intermediate class, which is sometimes crossed by a belt ornamented with crossbars. Their head is covered by the usual pointed helmet, and their feet are always, or nearly always, protected by sandals. They are occasionally represented without either sword or quiver, but more usually they have a short sword at their left side, which appears to have been passed through their coat of mail, between the armor plates, and in a few instances they have also quivers at their backs. Where these are lacking, they generally either carry two extra arrows in their right hand, or have the same number borne for them by an attendant. They are never seen unattended: sometimes they have one, sometimes two attendants, who accompany them, and guard them from attack. One of these almost always bears the long wicker shield, called by the Greeks [yeppov] which he rests firmly upon the ground in front of himself and comrade. The other, where there is a second, stands a little in the rear, and guards the archer's head with a round shield or targe. Both attendants are dressed in a short tunic, a phillibeg, a belt, and a pointed helmet. Generally they wear also a coat of mail and sandals, like those of the archer. They carry swords at their left sides, and the principal attendant, except when he bears the archer's arrows, guards him from attack by holding in advance a short spear. The archers of this class never kneel, but always discharge their arrows standing. They seem to be regarded as the most important of the foot-soldiers, their services being more particularly valuable in the siege of fortified places.
The spearmen of this period are scarcely better armed than the second or intermediate class of archers. Except in very rare instances they have no coat of mail, and their tunic, which is either plain or covered with small squares, barely reaches to the knee. The most noticeable point about them is their helmet, which is never the common pointed or conical one, but is always surmounted by a crest of one kind or another. [PLATE XCVII.. Fig. 3.] Another very frequent peculiarity is the arrangement of their cross-belts, which meet on the back and breast, and are ornamented at the points of junction with a circular disk, probably of metal. The shield of the spearman is also circular, and is formed generally, if not always—of wickerwork, with (occasionally) a central boss of wood or metal. [PLATE XCVII., Fig. 4.] In most cases their legs are wholly bare; but sometimes they have sandals, while in one or two instances they wear a low boot or greave laced in front, and resembling that of the cavalry. [PLATE XCVII.. Fig. 4.] The spear with which they are armed varies in length, from about four to six feet. [PLATE XCVIII.. Fig. 1.] It is grasped near the lower extremity, at which a weight was sometimes attached, in order the better to preserve the balance. Besides this weapon they have the ordinary short sword. The spear-men play an important part in the Assyrian wars, particularly at sieges, where they always form the strength of the storming party.
Some important changes seen to have been made under Sennacherib in the equipment and organization of the infantry force. These consisted chiefly in the establishment of a greater number of distinct corps differently armed, and in an improved equipment of the more important of them. Sennacherib appears to have been the first to institute a corps of slingers, who at any rate make their earliest appearance in his sculptures. They were kind of soldier well-known to the Egyptians and Sennacherib's acquaintance with the Egyptian warfare may have led to their introduction among the troops of Assyria. The slinger in most countries where his services were employed was lightly clad, and reckoned almost as a supernumerary. It is remarkable that in Assyria he is, at first, completely armed according to Assyrian ideas of completeness, having a helmet, a coat of mail to the waist, a tunic to the knees, a close-fitting trouser, and a short boot or greave. The weapon which distinguishes him appears to have consisted of two pieces of rope or string, attached to a short leathern strap which received the stone. [PLATE XCVIII., Fig. 4.] Previous to making his throw, the slinger seems to have whirled the weapon round his head two or three times, in order to obtain on increased impetus—a practice which was also known to the Egyptians and the Romans. With regard to ammunition, it does not clearly appear how the Assyrian slinger was supplied. He has no bag like the Hebrew slinger, no sinus like the Roman. Frequently we see him simply provided with a single extra stone, which he carries in his left hand. Sometimes, besides this reserve, he has a small heap of stones at his feet; but whether he has collected them from the field, or has brought them with him and deposited them where they lie, is not apparent.
Sennacherib's archers fall into four classes, two of which may be called heavy-armed and two light-armed. None of them exactly resemble the archers of Sargon. The most heavily equipped wears a tunic, a coat of mail reaching to the waist, a pointed helmet, a close-fitting trouser, and a short boot or greave. [PLATE XCVIII., Fig. 1.] He is accompanied by an attendant (or sometimes by two attendants) similarly attired, and fights behind a large wicker shield or gerrhon. A modification of this costume is worn by the second class, the archers of which have bare legs, a tunic which seems to open at the side, and a phillibeg. They fight without the protection of a shield, generally in pairs, who shoot together. [PLATE XCVIII., Fig. 3.]
The better equipped of the light-armed archers of this period have a costume which is very striking. Their head-dress consists of a broad fillet, elaborately patterned, from which there often depends on either side of the head a large lappet, also richly ornamented, generally of an oblong-square shape, and terminating in a fringe. [PLATE XCVIII., Fig. 2.] Below this they wear a closely fitting tunic, as short as that worn by the light-armed archers of Sargon, sometimes patterned, like that, with squares and gradines, sometimes absolutely plain. The upper part of this tunic is crossed by two belts of very unusual breadth, which pass respectively over the right and the left shoulder. There is also a third broad belt round the waist; and both this and the transverse belts are adorned with elegant patterns. The phillibeg depends from the girdle, and is seen in its full extent, hanging either in front or on the right side. The arms are naked from the shoulder, and the legs from considerably above the knee, the feet alone being protected by a scanty sandal. The ordinary short sword is worn at the side, and a quiver is carried at the back; the latter is sometimes kept in place by means of a horizontal strap which passes over it and round the body. [PLATE XCIX., Fig. 2.]
The archers of the lightest equipment wear nothing but a fillet, with or without lappets, upon the head, and a striped tunic, longer behind than in front, which extends from the neck to the knees, and is confined at the waist by a girdle. [PLATE XCIX., Fig. 1.] Their arms, legs, and feet are bare, they have seldom any sword, and their quiver seems to be suspended only by a single horizontal strap, like that represented in [PLATE XCIX., Fig. 2.] They do not appear very often upon the monuments: when seen, they are interspersed among archers and soldiers of other classes.
Sennacherib's foot spearmen are of two classes only. The better armed have pointed helmets, with lappets protecting the ears, a coat of mail descending to the waist and also covering all the upper part of the arms, a tunic opening at the side, a phillibeg, close-fitting trousers, and greaves of the ordinary character. [PLATE XCIX., Fig. 3.] They carry a large convex shield, apparently of metal, which covers them almost from head to foot, and a spear somewhat less than their own height. Commonly they have a short sword at their right side. Their shield is often ornamented with rows of bosses towards the centre and around the edge. It is ordinarily carried in front; but when the warrior is merely upon the march, he often bears it slung at his back, as in the accompanying representation. There is reason to suspect that the spearmen of this description constituted the royal bodyguard. They are comparatively few in number, and are usually seen in close proximity to the monarch, or in positions which imply trust, as in the care of prisoners and of the spoil. They never make the attacks in sieges, and are rarely observed to be engaged in battle. Where several of them are seen together, it is almost always in attendance upon the king whom they constantly precede upon his journeys.
The inferior spearmen of Sennacherib are armed nearly like those of Sargon. They have crested helmets, plain tunics confined at the waist by a broad girdle, cross-belts ornamented with circular disks where they meet in the centre of the breast, and, most commonly, round wicker shields. The chief points wherein they differ from Sargon's spearmen is the following: they usually (though not universally) wear trousers and greaves; they have sleeves to their tunics, winch descend nearly to the elbow; and they carry sometimes, instead of the round shield, a long convex one arched at the top. [PLATE XCIX., fig. 4.] Where they have not this defence, but the far commoner targe, it is always of larger dimensions than the targe of Sargon, and is generally surrounded by a rim. [PLATE XCIX., Fig. 4.] Sometimes it appears to be of metal: but more often it is of wickerwork, either of the plain construction common in Sargon's time, or of one considerably more elaborate.
Among the foot soldiers of Sennacherib we seem to find a corps of pioneers. They wear the same dress as the better equipped of the spearmen, but carry in their hands, instead of a spear, a doubled-headed axe or hatchet, wherewith they clear the ground for the passage and movements of the army. They work in pairs, one pulling at the tree by its branches while the other attacks the stem with his weapon.
After Sennacherib's time we find but few alterations in the equipment of the foot soldiers. Esarhaddon has left us no sculptures, and in those of his son and successor, Asshur-bani pal, the costumes of Sennacherib are for the most part reproduced almost exactly. The chief difference is that there are not at this time quite so many varieties of equipment, both archers and spearmen being alike divided into two classes only, light armed and heavy-armed. The light-armed archers correspond to Sennacherib's bowmen of the third class. They have the fillet, the plain tunic, the cross-belts, the broad girdle, and the phillibeg. They differ only in having no lappets over the ears and no sandals. The heavy-armed archers resemble the first class of Sennacherib exactly, except that they are not seen shooting from behind the gerrhon.
In the case of the spearmen, the only novelty consists in the shields. The spearmen of the heavier equipment, though sometimes they carry the old convex oval shield, more often have one which is made straight at the bottom, and rounded only at top. [PLATE C., Fig. 1. ] The spearmen of the lighter equipment have likewise commonly a shield of this shape, but it is of wicker work instead of metal, like that borne occasionally by the light-armed spearmen of Sennacherib.
Besides spearmen and archers, we see among the foot soldiers of Asshur-bani-pal, slingers, mace-bearers, and men armed with battle axes. For the slingers Sennacherib's heavy equipment has been discarded; and they wear nothing but a plain tunic, with a girdle and cross-belts. [PLATE C., Fig. 2.] The mace-bearers and men with axes have the exact dress of Asshur-bani-pal's heavy-armed spearmen, and may possibly be spearmen who have broken or lost their weapons. It makes, however, against this view, that they have no shields, which spearmen always carry. Perhaps, therefore, we must conclude that towards the close of the empire, besides spearmen, slingers, and archers, there were distinct corps of mace-bearers and axe-bearers.
The arms used by the Assyrians have been mentioned, and to a certain extent described, in the foregoing remarks upon the various classes of their soldiers. Some further details may, however, be now added on their character and on the variety observable in them.
The common Assyrian pointed helmet has been sufficiently described already, and has received abundant illustration both in the present and in former chapters. It was at first regarded as Scythic in character; but Mr. Layard long ago observed that the resemblance which it bears to the Scythian cap is too slight to prove any connection. That cap appears, whether we follow the foreign, or the native representations of it, to have been of felt, whereas the Assyrian pointed helmet was made of metal: it was much taller than the Assyrian head-dress, and it was less upright. [PLATE C, Fig. 3.]
The pointed helmet admitted of but few varieties. In its simplest form it was a plain conical casque, with one or two rings round the base, and generally with a half-disk in front directly over the forehead. [PLATE C. Fig. 4.] Sometimes, however, there was appended to it a falling curtain covered with metal scales, whereby the chin, neck, ears, and back of the head were protected. More often it had, in lieu of this effectual but cumbrous guard, a mere lappet or cheek-piece, consisting of a plate of metal, attached to the rim, which descended over the ears in the form of a half-oval or semicircle. If we may judge by the remains actually found, the chief material of the helmet was iron; copper was used only for the rings and the half-disk in front, which were inlaid into the harder metal.
As if to compensate themselves for the uniformity to which they submitted in this instance, the Assyrians indulged in a variety of crested helmets. [PLATE. C., Fig. 5.] We cannot positively say that they invented the crest; but they certainly dealt with it in the free spirit which is usually seen where a custom is of home growth and not a foreign importation. They used either a plain metal crest, or one surmounted by tuffs of hair; and they either simply curved the crest forwards over the front of the helmet, or extended it and carried it back-wards also. In this latter case they generally made the curve a complete semicircle, while occasionally they were content with a small segment, less even than a quarter of a circle. They also varied considerably the shape of the lappet over the ear, and the depth of the helmet behind and before the lappet.
Assyrian coats of mail were of three sizes, and of two different constructions. In the earlier times they were worn long, descending either to the feet or to the knees; and at this period they seem to have been composed simply of successive rows of similar iron scales sewn on to a shirt of linen or felt. [PLATE CI., Fig. 1.] Under the later monarchs the coat of mail reached no lower than the waist, and it was composed of alternate bands of dissimilar arrangement and perhaps of different material. Mr. Layard suggests that at this time the scales, which were larger than before, were "fastened to bands of iron or copper." But it is perhaps more probable that scales of the old character alternated in rows with scales of a new shape and smaller dimensions. [PLATE CI., Fig. 2.] The old scales were oblong, squared at one end and rounded at the other, very much resembling the Egyptian. They were from two to three inches, or more, in length, and were placed side by side, so that their greater length corresponded with the height of the wearer. The new scales seem to have been not more than an inch long; they appear to have been pointed at one end, and to have been laid horizontally, each a little overlapping its fellow. It was probably found that this construction, while possessing quite as much strength as the other, was more favorable to facility of movement.
Remains of armor belonging to the second period have been discovered in the Assyrian ruins. The scales are frequently embossed over their whole surface with groups of figures and fanciful ornaments. The small scales of the first period have no such elaborate ornamentation, being simply embossed in the centre with a single straight line, which is of copper inlaid into the iron.
The Assyrian coat of mail, like the Egyptian, had commonly a short sleeve, extending about half way down to the elbow. [PLATE CI.. Fig. 1.] This was either composed of scales set similarly to those of the rest of the cuirass, or of two, three, or more rows placed at right angles to the others. The greater part of the arm was left without any protection.
A remarkable variety existed in the form and construction of the Assyrian shields. The most imposing kind is that which has been termed the gerrhon, from its apparent resemblance to the Persian shield mentioned under that name by Herodotus. [PLATE CI.. Fig. 1.] This was a structure in wickerwork, which equalled or exceeded the warrior in height, and which was broad enough to give shelter to two or even three men. In shape it was either an oblong square, or such a square with a projection at top, which stood out at right angles to the body of the shield; or, lastly, and most usually, it curved inwards from a certain height, gradually narrowing at the same time, and finally ending in a point. Of course a shield of this vast size, even although formed of a light material, was too heavy to be very readily carried upon the arm. The plan adopted was to rest it upon the ground, on which it was generally held steady by a warrior armed with sword or spear, while his comrade, whose weapon was the bow, discharged his arrows from behind its shelter. Its proper place was in sieges, where the roof-like structure at the top was especially useful in warding off the stones and other missiles which the besieged threw down upon their assailants. We sometimes see it employed by single soldiers, who lean the point against the wall of the place, and, ensconcing themselves beneath the penthouse thus improvised, proceed to carry on the most critical operations of the siege in almost complete security.
Modifications of this shield, reducing it to a smaller and more portable size, were common in the earlier times, when among the shields most usually borne we find one of wicker-work oblong-square in shape, and either perfectly fiat, or else curving slightly inwards both at top and at bottom. This shield was commonly about half the height of a man, or a little more; it was often used as a protection for two, but must have been scanty for that purpose.
Round shields were commoner in Assyria than any others. They were used by most of those who fought in chariots, by the early monarchs' personal attendants, by the cross-belted spear-men, and by many of the spearmen who guarded archers. In the most ancient times they seem to have been universally made of solid metal, and consequently they were small, perhaps not often exceeding two feet, or two feet and a half, in diameter. They were managed by means of a very simple handle, placed in the middle of the shield at the back, and fastened to it by studs or nails, which was not passed over the arm but grasped by the hand. The rim was bent inwards, so as to form a deep groove all round the edge. The material of which these shields were composed was in some cases certainly bronze; in others it may have been iron: in a few silver, or even gold. Some metal shields were perfectly plain; others exhibited a number of concentric rings, others again were inlaid or embossed with tasteful and elaborate patterns.