Among the later Assyrians the round metal shield seems to have been almost entirely disused, its place being supplied by a wicker buckler of the same shape, with a rim round the edge made of solid wood or of metal, and sometimes with a boss in the centre. [PLATE CII., Fig. 1.] The weight of the metal shield must have been considerable; and this both limited their size and made it difficult to move them with rapidity. With the change of material we perceive a decided increase of magnitude, the diameter of the wicker buckler being often fully half the warrior's height, or not much short of three feet.
Convex shields, generally of an oblong form, were also in common use during the later period, and one kind is found in the very earliest sculptures. This is of small dimensions and of a clumsy make. Its curve is slight, and it is generally ornamented with a perpendicular row of spikes or teeth, in the centre of which we often see the head of a lion. [PLATE CII., Fig. 2.]
The convex shields of later date were very much larger than these. [PLATE CIII., Fig. 3.] They were sometimes square at bottom and rounded at top, in which case they were either made of wickerwork, or (apparently) of metal. These latter had generally a boss in the centre, and both this and the edge of the shield were often ornamented with a row of rosettes or rings. Shields of this shape were from four to five feet in height, and protected the warrior from the head to the knee. On a march they were often worn upon the back, like the convex shield of the Egyptians, which they greatly resembled.
The more ordinary convex shield was of an oval form, like the convex shield of the Greeks, but larger, and with a more prominent centre. [PLATE CIII., Fig. 1.] In its greater diameter it must often have exceeded five feet, though no doubt sometimes it was smaller. It was generally ornamented with narrow bands round the edge and round the boss at the centre, the space between the bands being frequently patterned with ring; or otherwise. Like the other form of convex shield, it could be slung at the back, and was so carried on marches, on crossing rivers, and other similar occasions.
The offensive arms certainly used by the Assyrians were the bow, the spear, the sword, the mace, the sling, the axe or hatchet, and the dagger. They may also have occasionally made use of the javelin, which is sometimes seen among the arrows of a quiver. But the actual employment of this weapon in war has not yet been found upon the bas-reliefs. If faithfully represented, it must have been very short,—scarcely, if at all, exceeding three feet. [PLATE CIII., Fig. 2.]
Assyrian bows were of two kinds, curved and angular. Compared with the Egyptian, and with the bows used by the archers of the middle ages, they were short, the greatest length of the strung bow being about four feet. They seem to have been made of a single piece of wood, which in the angular bow was nearly of the same thickness throughout, but in the curved one tapered gradually towards the two extremities. At either end was a small knob or button, in the later times often carved into the representation of a duck's head. [PLATE CIII, Fig. 3.] Close above this was a notch or groove, whereby the string was held in place. The mode of stringing was one still frequently practised in the East. The bowman stooped, and placing his right knee against the middle of the bow on its inner side, pressed it downwards, at the same time drawing the two ends of the bow upwards with his two hands. [PLATE CIII, Fig. 4.] A comrade stood by, and, when the ends were brought sufficiently near, slipped the string over the knob into the groove, where it necessarily remained. The bend of the bow, thus strung, was slight. When full drawn, however, it took the shape of a half-moon, which shows that it must have possessed great elasticity. [PLATE CIV., Fig. 4.] The bow was known to be full drawn when the head of the arrow touched the archer's left hand.
The Assyrian angular bow was of smaller size than the curved one. It was not often carried unless as a reserve by those who also possessed the larger and better weapon. [PLATE CIV., Fig. 5.]
Bows were but seldom unstrung. When not in use, they were carried strung, the archer either holding them by the middle with his left hand, or putting his arm through them, and letting them rest upon his shoulders, or finally carrying them at his back in a bow case. [PLATE CIV., Fig. I. ] The bow-case was a portion of the quiver, as frequently with the Greeks, and held only the lower half of the bow, the upper portion projecting from it.
Quivers were carried by foot and horse archers at their backs, in a diagonal position, so that the arrows could readily be drawn from them over the right shoulder. They were commonly slung in this position by a strap of their own, attached to two rings, one near the top and the other near the bottom of the quiver, which the archer slipped over his left arm and his head. Sometimes, however, this strap seems to have been wanting, and the quiver was either thrust through one of the cross-belts, or attached by a strap which passed horizontally round the body a little above the girdle. [PLATE CIV.,Fig. 2.] The archers who rode in chariots carried their quivers at the chariot's side, in the manner which has been already described and illustrated.
The ornamentation of quivers was generally elaborate. [PLATE CIV., Fig. 3.] Rosettes and bands constituted their most usual adornment; but sometimes these gave place to designs of a more artistic character, as wild bulls, griffins, and other mythic figures. Several examples of a rich type have been already given in the representations of chariots, but none exhibit this peculiarity. One further specimen of a chariot quiver is therefore appended, which is among the most tasteful hitherto discovered. [PLATE CIV., Fig. 3. ]
The quivers of the foot and horse archers were less richly adorned than those of the bowmen who rode in chariots, but still they were in almost every case more or less patterned. The rosette and the band here too constituted the chief resource of the artist, who, however, often introduced with good effect other well-known ornaments, as the guilloche, the boss and cross, the zigzag, etc.
Sometimes the quiver had an ornamented rod attached to it, which projected beyond the arrows and terminated in a pomegranate blossom or other similar carving. [PLATE CV. Fig. 1]. To this rod was attached the rings which received the quiver strap, a triple tassel hanging from them at the point of attachment. The strap was probably of leather, and appears to have been twisted or plaited.
It is uncertain whether the material of the quivers was wood or metal. As, however, no remains of quivers have been discovered in any of the ruins, while helmets, shields, diggers, spear-heads, and arrow-heads have been found in tolerable abundance, we may perhaps assume that they were of the more fragile substance, which would account for their destruction. In this case their ornamentation may have been either by carving or painting, the bosses and rosettes being perhaps in some cases of metal, mother-of-pearl, or ivory. Ornaments of this kind were discovered by hundreds at Nimrud in a chamber which contained arms of many descriptions. Quivers have in some cases a curious rounded head, which seems to have been a lid or cap used for covering the arrows. They have also, occasionally, instead of this, a kind of bag at their top, which falls backwards, and is ornamented with tassels. [PLATE CV., Fig. 2.] Both these constructions, however, are exceptional, a very large majority of the quivers being open, and having the feathered ends of the arrows projecting from them.
There is nothing remarkable in the Assyrian arrows except their perfect finish and completeness in all that constitutes the excellence of such a weapon. The shaft was thin and straight, and was probably of reed, or of some light and tough wood. The head was of metal, either of bronze or iron, and was generally diamond-shaped, like a miniature spear-head. [PLATE CV., Fig. 4. ] It was flattish, and for greater strength had commonly a strongly raised line down the centre. The lower end was hollowed, and the shaft was inserted into it. The notching and feathering of the shaft were carefully attended to. It is doubtful whether three feathers were used, as by ourselves and by the Egyptians, or two only as by many nations. The fact that we never see more than two feathers upon the monuments cannot be considered decisive, since the Assyrian artists, from their small knowledge of perspective, would have been unable to represent all three feathers. So far as we can judge from the representations, it would seem that the feathers were glued to the wood exactly as they are with ourselves. The notch was somewhat large, projecting beyond the line of the shaft—a construction rendered necessary by the thickness of the bowstring., which was seldom less than of the arrow it-self. [PLATE CV., Fig. 5.]
The mode of drawing the bow was peculiar. It was drawn neither to the ear, nor to the breast, but to the shoulder. In the older sculptures the hand that draws it is represented in a curiously cramped and unnatural position, which can scarcely be supposed to be true to nature. But in the later bas-reliefs greater accuracy seems to have been attained, and there we probably see the exact mode in which the shooting was actually managed. The arrow was taken below the feathers by the thumb and forefinger of the right hand, the forefinger bent down upon it in the way represented in the accompanying illustration, and the notch being then placed upon the string, the arrow was drawn backwards by the thumb and forefinger only, the remaining three fingers taking no part in the operation. [PLATE CVI., Fig. 1.] The bow was grasped by the left hand between the fingers and the muscle of the thumb, the thumb itself being raised, and the arrow made to pass between it and the bow, by which it was kept in place and prevented from slipping. The arrow was then drawn till the cold metal head touched the forefinger of the left hand, upon which the right hand quitted its hold, and the shaft sped on its way. To save the left arm from being bruised or cut by the bowstring, a guard, often simply yet effectively ornamented, was placed upon it, at one end passing round the thumb and at the other round the arm a little above the elbow. [PLATE CVI., Fig. 2.]
The Assyrians had two kinds of spears, one a comparatively short weapon, varying from five to six feet in length, with which they armed a portion of their foot soldiers, the other a weapon nine or ten feet long, which was carried by most of their cavalry. The shaft seems in both cases to have been of wood, and the head was certainly of metal, either bronze or iron. [PLATE CVI., Fig. 3.] It was most usually diamond-shaped, but sometimes the side angles were rounded off, and the contour became that of an elongated pear. [PLATE CVI., Fig. 4.] In other instances, the jambs of the spear-head were exceedingly short, and the point long and tapering. The upper end of the shaft was sometimes weighted, and it was often carved into some ornamental form, as a fir-cone or a pomegranate blossom, while in the earlier times it was further occasionally adorned with streamers. [PLATE CVI., Fig. 4.] The spear of the Assyrians seems never to have been thrown, like that of the Greeks, but was only used to thrust with, as a pike.
The common sword of the Assyrians was a short straight weapon, like the sword of the Egyptians, or the acinaces of the Persians. It was worn at the left side, generally slung by a belt of its own which was passed over the right shoulder, but sometimes thrust through the girdle or (apparently) through the armor. It had a short rounded handle, more or less ornamented [PLATE CVII.. Fig. 1], but without any cross-bar or guard, and a short blade which tapered gradually from the handle to the point. The swordsman commonly thrust with his weapon, but he could cut with it likewise, for it was with this arm that the Assyrian warrior was wont to decapitate his fallen enemy. The sheath of the sword was almost always tastefully designed, and sometimes possessed artistic excellence of a high order. [PLATE CVII., Fig. 3.] The favorite terminal ornament consisted of two lions clasping one another, with their heads averted and their mouths agape. Above this, patterns in excellent taste usually adorned the scabbard, which moreover exhibited occasionally groups of figures, sacred trees, and other mythological objects.
Instead of the short sword, the earlier warriors had a weapon of a considerable length. This was invariably slung at the side by a cross-belt passing over the shoulder. In its ornamentation it closely resembled the later short sword, but its hilt was longer and more tasteful.
One or two instances occur where the sword of an Assyrian warrior is represented as curved slightly. The sheath in these cases is plain, and terminates in a button. [PLATE CVII, Fig. 5.]
The Assyrian mace was a short thin weapon, and must either have been made of a very tough wood, or—and this is more probable of metal. [PLATE CVIII., Fig. 7.] It had an ornamented head, which was sometimes very beautifully modelled and generally a strap or string at the lower end, by which it could be grasped with greater firmness. Foot archers frequently carried it in battle, especially those who were in close attendance upon the king's person. It seems, however, not to have been often used as a warlike weapon until the time of the latest sculptures, when we see it wielded, generally with both hands, by a certain number of the combatants. In peace it was very commonly borne by the royal attendants, and it seems also to have been among the weapons used by the monarch himself, for whom it is constantly carried by one of those who wait most closely upon his person. [PLATE., CVIII., Fig. I.]
The battle-axe was a weapon but rarely employed by the Assyrians. It is only in the very latest sculptures and in a very few instances that we find axes represented as used by the warriors for any other purpose besides the felling of trees. Where they are seen in use against the enemy, the handle is short, the head somewhat large, and the weapon wielded with one hand. Battle-axes had heads of two kinds. [PLATE CVIII., Fig. 1.] Some were made with two blades, like the bipennis of the Romans. and the labra of the Lydians and Carians; others more nearly resembled the weapons used by our own knights in the middle ages, having a single blade, and a mere ornamental point on the other side of the haft.
The dagger was worn by the Assyrian kings at almost all times in their girdles, and was further often assigned to the mythic winged beings, hawk headed or human-headed, which occur so frequently in the sculptures; but it seems to have been very seldom carried by subjects. It had commonly a straight handle, slightly concave, and very richly chased, exhibiting the usual Assyrian patterns, rosettes, chevrons, guilloches, pine-cones, and the like. [PLATE CVII., Fig. 6.] Sometimes, however, it was still more artistically shaped, being cast into the form of a horse's head and neck. In this case there was occasionally a chain attached at one end to the horse's chin, and at the other to the bottom of his neck, which, passing outside the hand, would give it a firmer hold on the weapon. The sheaths of daggers seem generally to have been plain, or nearly so, but occasionally they terminated in the head of an animal, from whose mouth depended a tassel. [PLATE CVIII., Fig. 2.]
Though the Assyrian troops were not marshalled by the aid of standards, like the Roman and the Egyptian, yet still a kind of standard is occasionally to be recognized in the bas-reliefs. This consists of a pole of no great height, fixed upright at the front of a chariot, between the charioteer and the warrior, and carrying at the top a circular frame, within which are artistic representations of gods or sacred animals. Two bulls, back to back, either trotting or running at speed, are a favorite device. Above there sometimes stands a figure in a horned cap, shooting his arrows against the enemy. Occasionally only one bull is represented, and the archer shoots standing upon the bull's back. Below the circular framework are minor ornaments, as lions' and bulls' heads, or streamers adorned with tassels. [PLATE CVIII., Fig. 2.]
We do not obtain much information from the monuments with respect to the military organization or the the tactics of the Assyrians. It is clear, however, that they had advanced beyond the first period in military matters, when men fight in a confused mass of mingled horse, foot, and chariots, heavy-armed and light-armed spear-men, archers, and stingers, each standing and moving as mere chance may determine. It is even certain that they had advanced beyond the second period, when the phalanx order of battle is adopted, the confused mass being replaced by a single serried body presenting its best armed troops to the enemy, and keeping in the rear, to add their weight to the charge, the weaker and more imperfectly protected. It was not really left for Cyaxares the Mede to be the first to organize an Asiatic army—to divide the troops into companies and form distinct bodies of the spearmen, the archers, and the cavalry. The Assyrian troops were organized in this way, at least from the time of Sennacherib, on whose sculptures we find, in the first place, bodies of cavalry on the march unaccompanied by infantry; secondly, engagements where cavalry only are acting against the enemy; thirdly, long lines of spearmen on foot marching in double file, and sometimes divided into companies; and, fourthly, archers drawn up together, but similarly divided into companies, each distinguished by its own uniform. We also meet with a corps of pioneers, wearing a uniform and armed only with a hatchet, and with bodies of slingers, who are all armed and clothed alike. If, in the battles and the sieges of this time, the troops seem to be to a great extent confused together, we may account for it partly by the inability of the Assyrian artists to represent bodies of troops in perspective, partly by their not aiming at an actual, but rather at a typical representation of events, and partly also by their fondness for representing, not the preparation for battle or its first shock, but the rout and flight of the enemy and their own hasty pursuit of them.
The wars of the Assyrians, like those of ancient Rome, consisted of annual inroads into the territories of their neighbors, repeated year after year, till the enemy was exhausted, sued for peace, and admitted the suzerainty of the more powerful nation. The king in person usually led forth his army, in spring or early summer, when the mountain passes were opened, and, crossing his own borders, invaded some one or other of the adjacent countries. The monarch himself invariably rode forth in his chariot, arrayed in his regal robes, and with the tiara upon his head: he was accompanied by numerous attendants, and generally preceded and followed by the spearmen of the Royal Guard, and a detachment of horse-archers. Conspicuous among the attendants were the charioteer who managed the reins, and the parasol-bearer, commonly a eunuch, who, standing in the chariot behind the monarch, held the emblem of sovereignty over his head. A bow-bearer, a quiver-bearer, and a mace-bearer were usually also in attendance, walking before or behind the chariot of the king, who, however, did not often depend for arms wholly upon them, but carried a bow in his left hand, and one or more arrows in his right, while he had a further store of the latter either in or outside his chariot. Two or three led horses were always at hand, to furnish a means of escape in any difficulty. The army, marshalled in its several corps, in part preceded the royal cortege, in part followed at a little distance behind it.
On entering the enemy's country, if a wooded tract presented itself, the corps of pioneers was thrown out in advance, and cleared away the obstructions. When a river was reached too deep to be forded, the horses were detached from the royal and other chariots by grooms and attendants; the chariots themselves were embarked upon boats and rowed across the stream; while the horses, attached by ropes to a post near the stern of the boat, swam after it. The horses of the cavalry were similarly drawn across by their riders. The troops, both cavalry and infantry, and the attendants, a very numerous body, swam the stream, generally upon inflated skins, which they placed under them, holding the neck in their left hand, and sometimes increasing the inflation as they went by applying the orifice at the top of the neck to their mouths. [PLATE CVIII., Fig. 3.] We have no direct evidence as to the mode in which the baggage of an army, which must have been very considerable, was conveyed, either along the general line of route, or when it was necessary to cross a river. We may conjecture that in the latter case it was probably placed upon rafts supported on inflated skins, such as those which conveyed stones from distant quarries to be used in the Assyrian buildings. In the former, we may perhaps assume that the conveyance was chiefly by beasts of burden, camels and asses, as the author of the book of Judith imagined. Carts may have been used to some extent; since they were certainly employed to convey back to Assyria the spoil of the conquered nations.
It does not appear whether the army generally was provided with tents or not. Possibly the bulk of the soldiers may have bivouacked in the open field, unless when they were able to obtain shelter in towns or villages taken from the enemy. Tents, however, were certainly provided for the monarch and his suite. [PLATE CIX., Fig. 1.] Like the tents of the Romans, these appear to have been commonly pitched within a fortified enclosure, which was of an oval shape. They were disposed in rows, and were all nearly similar in construction and form, the royal tent being perhaps distinguished from the others by a certain amount of ornamentation and by a slight superiority of size. The material used for the covering was probably felt. All the tents were made open to the sky in the centre, but closed in at either extremity with a curious semicircular top. [PLATE CIX., Fig. 1.] The two tops were unequal of size. Internally, either both of them, or at any rate the larger ones, were supported by a central pole, which threw out branches in different directions resembling the branches of a tree or the spokes of a parasol. Sometimes the walls of the tent had likewise the support of poles, which were kept in place by ropes passed obliquely from the top of each to the ground in front of them, and then firmly secured by pegs. Each tent had a door, square-headed, which was placed at the side, near the end which had the smaller covering. The furniture of tents consisted of tables, couches, footstools, and domestic utensils of various kinds. [PLATE CIX., Fig. 1.] Within the fortified enclosure, but outside the tents, were the chariot and horses of the monarch, an altar where sacrifice could be made, and a number of animals suitable for food, as oxen, sheep, and goats.
It appears that occasionally the advance of the troops was along a road. Ordinarily, however, they found no such convenience, but had to press forward through woods and over mountains as they best could. Whatever the obstructions, the chariot of the monarch was in some way or other conveyed across them, though it is difficult to suppose that he could have always remained, as he is represented, seated in it. Probably he occasionally dismounted, and made use of one of the led horses by which he was always accompanied, while sometimes he even condescended to proceed on foot. [PLATE CIX., Fig. 2.] Tile use of palanquins or litters seem not to have been known to the Assyrians, though it was undoubtedly very ancient in Asia; but the king was sometimes carried on men's shoulders, seated on his throne in the way that we see the enthroned gods borne in many of the sculptures.
The first object in entering a country was to fight, if possible, a pitched battle with the inhabitants. The Assyrians were always confident of victory in such an encounter, being better armed, better disciplined, and perhaps of stronger frames than any of their neighbors. There is no evidence to show how their armies were drawn up, or how the troops were handled in an engagement; but it would seem that in most cases, after a longer or a shorter resistance, the enemy broke and fled, sometimes throwing away his arms, at other tunes fighting as he retired, always vigorously pursued by horse and foot, and sometimes driven headlong into a river. Quarter was not very often given in a battle. The barbarous practice of rewarding those who carried back to camp the heads of foemen prevailed; and this led to the massacre in many cases even of the wounded, the disarmed, and the unresisting, though occasionally quarter was given, more especially to generals and other leading personages whom it was of importance to take alive. Even while the engagement continued, it would seem that soldiers might quit the ranks, decapitate a fallen foe, and carry off his head to the rear, without incurring any reproof; and it is certain that, so soon as the engagement was over, the whole army turned to beheading the fallen, using for this purpose the short sword which almost every warrior carried at his left side. A few unable to obtain heads, were forced to be content with gathering the spoils of the slain and of the fled, especially their arms, such as quivers, hews, helmets, and the like; while their more fortunate comrades, proceeding to an appointed spot in the rear, exhibited the tokens of their valor, or of their good luck, to the royal scribes, who took an exact account of the amount, of the spoil, and of the number of the enemy killed.
When the enemy could no longer resist in the open field, he usually fled to his strongholds. Almost all the nations with whom the Assyrians waged their wars possessed fortified cities, or castles, which seem to have been places constructed with a good deal of skill, and possessed of no inconsiderable strength. According to the representations of the sculptures, they were all nearly similar in character, the defences consisting of high battlemented walls, pierced with loopholes or windows towards their upper part, and flanked at intervals along their whole course by towers. [PLATE CIX., Fig. 3.] Often they possessed two or more enceintes, which in the bas-reliefs are represented one above the other; and in these cases the outermost circuit was sometimes a mere plain continuous wall, as in the illustration. They were entered by large gateways, most commonly arched, and closed by two huge gates or doors, which completely filled up the aperture. Occasionally, however, the gateways were square-headed, as in the illustration, where there occurs, moreover, a very curious ornamentation of the battlements. [PLATE CX., Fig. 1.]
These fortified places the Assyrians attacked in three principal ways. Sometimes they endeavored to take them by escalade, advancing for this purpose a number of long ladders against different parts of the walls, thus distracting the enemy's attention and seeking to find a weak point. Up the ladders proceeded companies of spearmen and archers in combination, the spearmen invariably taking the lead, since their large shields afforded them a protection which archers advancing in file up a ladder could not have. Meanwhile from below a constant discharge was kept up by bowmen and slingers, the former of whom were generally protected by the gerrhon or high wicker shield, held in front of them by a comrade. The besieged endeavored to dislodge and break the ladders, which are often represented in fragments; or, failing in this attempt, sought by hurling down large stones, and by discharges from their bows and slings, to precipitate and destroy their assailants. If finally they were unable by these means to keep the Assyrians from reaching the topmost rounds of the ladders, they had recourse to their spears, and man to man, spear to spear, and shield to shield, they still struggled to defend themselves. The Assyrians always represent the sieges which they conduct as terminating successfully: but we may be tolerably sure that in many instances the invader was beaten back, and forced to relinquish his prey, or to try fresh methods of obtaining it.
If the escalade failed, or if it was thought unadvisable to attempt it, the plan most commonly adopted was to try the effect of the battering-ram. [PLATE CX., Fig. 3.] The Assyrian armies were abundantly supplied with these engines, of which we see as many as seven engaged in a single siege. They were variously designed and arranged. Some had a head shaped like the point of a spear; others, one more resembling the end of a blunderbuss. All of them were covered with a frame-work, which was of ozier, wood, felt, or skins, for the better protection of those who worked the implement; but some appear to have been stationary, having their framework resting on the ground itself, while others were moveable, being provided with wheels, which in the early times were six, but in the later times four only. Again, sometimes, combined with the ram and its framework was a moveable tower containing soldiers, who at once fought the enemy on a level, and protected the engine from their attacks. Fire was the weapon usually turned against the ram, torches, burning tow, or other inflammable substances being cast from the walls upon its framework, which, wherever it was of ozier or of wood, could be easily set alight and consumed. To prevent this result, the workers of the ram were sometimes provided with a supply of water, which they could direct through leathern or metal pipes against the combustibles. At other times they sought to protect themselves by suspending from a pole in front of their engine a curtain of cloth, leather, or some other non-inflammable substance.
Another mode of meeting the attacks of the battering-ram was by catching the point with a chain suspended by its two ends from the walls, and then, when the ram was worked, diverting the stroke by drawing the head upwards. To oppose this device, the besiegers provided some of their number with strong metal hooks, and stationed them below the ram, where they watched for the descent of the chain. As soon as ever it caught the head of the ram, they inserted their hooks into its links, and then hanging upon it with their whole weight, prevented its interference with the stroke.
Battering-rams were frequently used against the walls from the natural ground at their foot. Sometimes, however, the besiegers raised vast mounds against the ramparts, and advanced their engines up these, thus bringing theirs on a level with the upper and weaker portions of the defences. Of this nature probably were the mounds spoken of in Scripture as employed by the Babylonians and Egyptians, as well as the Assyrians, in their sieges of cities. The intention was not so much to pile up the mounds till they were on a level with the top of the walls as to work the battering-ram with greater advantage from them. A similar use was made of mounds by the Peloponnesian Greeks, who nearly succeeded in taking Plataea in this way. The mounds were not always composed entirely of earth; the upper portion was often made of several layers of stone or brick, arranged in regular order, so as to form a sort of paved road, up which the rams might be dragged with no great difficulty. Trees, too, were sometimes cut down and built into the mound.
Besides battering-rams, the Assyrians appear to have been acquainted with an engine resembling the catapult, or rather the balista of the Romans. [PLATE CXI., Fig. 1.] This engine, which was of great height, and threw stones of a large size, was protected, like the ram, by a framework, apparently of wood, covered with canvas, felt, or hides. The stones thrown from the engine were of irregular shape, and it was able to discharge several at the same time. The besiegers worked it from a mound or inclined plane, which enabled them to send their missiles to the top of the ramparts. It had to be' brought very close to the walls in order to be effective—a position which gave the besieged an opportunity of assailing it by fire. Perhaps it was this liability which caused the infrequent use of the engine in question, which is rare upon the earlier, and absent from the later, sculptures.
The third mode of attack employed by the Assyrians in their sieges of fortified places was the mine. While the engines were in full play, and the troops drawn up around the place assailed the defenders of the walls with their slings and bows, warriors, singly, or in twos and threes, advanced stealthily to the foot of the ramparts, and either with their swords and the points of their spears, or with implements better suited for the purpose, such as crowbars and pickaxes, attacked the foundations of the walls, endeavoring to remove the stones one by one, and so to force an entrance. While thus employed, the assailant commonly either held his shield above him as a protection or was guarded by the shield of a comrade; or, finally, if he carried the curved gerrhon, leant it against the wall, and then placed himself under its shelter. [PLATE CX., Fig. 2.] Sometimes, however, he dispensed with the protection of a shield altogether, and, trusting his helmet and coat of mail, which covered him at all vital points, pursued his labor without paying any attention to the weapons aimed at him by the enemy.
Occasionally the efforts of the besiegers were directed against the gates, which they endeavored to break open with axes, or to set on fire by an application of the torch. From this latter circumstance we may gather that the gates were ordinarily of wood, not, like those of Babylon and Veii, of brass. In the hot climate of Southern Asia wood becomes so dry by exposure to the sun that the most solid doors may readily be ignited and consumed.
When at last the city or castle was by some of these means reduced, and the garrison consented to surrender itself, the work of demolition, already begun, was completed. Generally the place was set on fire; sometimes workmen provided with pickaxes and other tools mounted upon the ramparts and towers, hurled down the battlements, broke breaches in the walls, or even levelled the whole building. [PLATE CXII., Fig. 1.] Vengeance was further taken by the destruction of the valuable trees in the vicinity, more especially the highly prized date-palms, which were cut with hatchets half through their stems at the distance of about two feet from the ground, and then pulled or pushed down. [PLATE CXI., Fig. 2.] Other trees were either treated similarly, or denuded of their branches. Occasionally the destruction was of a less wanton and vengeful character. Timber-trees were cut down for transport to Assyria, where they were used in the construction of the royal-palaces; and fruit-trees were occasionally taken up by the roots, removed carefully, and planted in the gardens and orchards of the conquerors. Meanwhile there was a general plundering of the captured place. The temples were entered, and the images of the gods, together, with the sacred vessels, which were often of gold and silver, were seized and carried off in triumph. [PLATE CXI., Fig. 4.] This was not mere cupidity. It was regarded as of the utmost importance to show that the gods of the Assyrians were superior to those of other countries, who were powerless to protect either their votaries or even themselves from the irresistible might of the servants of Asshur. The ordinary practice was to convey the images of the foreign gods from the temples of the captured places to Assyria, and there to offer then at the shrines of the principal Assyrian deities. Hence the special force of the proud question, "Where are the gods of Hanath and of Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? Where are they but carried captive to Assyria, prisoners and slaves in the temples of those deities whose power they ventured to resist?"
The houses of the city were also commonly plundered, and everything of value in them was carried off. Long files of men, each bearing some article of furniture out of the gate of a captured town, are frequent upon the bas-reliefs, where we likewise often observe in the train of a returning army carts laden with household stuff of every kind, alternating with long strings of captives. All the spoil seems to have been first brought by the individual plunderers to one place, where it was carefully sorted and counted in the presence and under the superintendence of royal scribes, who took an exact inventory of the whole before it was carried away by its captors. [PLATE CXI., Fig. 3.] Scales were used to determine the weight of articles made of the precious metals, which might otherwise have been subjected to clipping. We may conclude from these practices that a certain proportion of the value of all private spoil was either due to the royal treasury, or required to be paid to the gods in acknowledgment of their aid and protection. Besides the private spoil, there was a portion which was from the first set apart exclusively for the monarch. This consisted especially of the public treasure of the captured city, the gold and silver, whether in bullion, plate, or ornaments, from the palace of its prince, and the idols, and probably the other valuables from the temples.
The inhabitants of a captured place were usually treated with more or less of severity. Those regarded as most responsible for the resistance or the rebellion were seized; generally their hands were manacled either before them or behind their backs, while sometimes fetters were attached to their feet, and even rings passed through their lips, and in this abject guise they were brought into the presence of the Assyrian king. Seated on his throne in his fortified camp without the place, and surrounded by his attendants, he received them one by one, and instantly pronounced their doom. On some he proudly placed his foot, some he pardoned, a few he ordered for execution, many he sentenced to be torn from their homes and carried into slavery.
Various modes of execution seem to have been employed in the case of condemned captives. One of them was empalement. This has always been, and still remains, a common mode of punishment in the East; but the manner of empaling which the Assyrians adopted was peculiar. They pointed a stake at one end, and, having fixed the other end firmly into the ground, placed their criminal with the pit of his stomach upon the point, and made it enter his body just below the breastbone. This method of empaling must have destroyed life tolerably soon, and have thus been a far less cruel punishment than the crucifixion of the Romans. We do not observe it very often in the Assyrian sculptures, nor do we ever see it applied to more than a few individuals. It was probably reserved for those who were considered the worst criminals. Another very common mode of executing captives was by beating in their skulls with a mace. In this case the victim commonly knelt; his two hands were placed before him upon a block or cushion: behind him stood two executioners, one of whom held him by a cord round the neck, while the other, seizing his back hair in one hand, struck him a furious blow upon the head with a mace which he held in the other. [PLATE CXI., Fig. 5.] It must have been rarely, if ever, that a second blow was needed.
Decapitation was less frequently practised. The expression, indeed. "I cut off their heads," is common in the Inscriptions but in most instances it evidently refers to the practice, already noticed, of collecting the heads of those who had fallen in battle. Still there are instances, both in the Inscriptions and in the sculptures, of what appears to have been a formal execution of captives by beheading. In these cases the criminal, it would seem, stood upright, or bending a little forwards, and the executioner, taking him by a lock of hair with his left hand, struck his head from his shoulders with a short sword, which he held in his right. [PLATE CXII., Fig. 5.]
It is uncertain whether a punishment even more barbarous than these was not occasionally resorted to. In two or three bas-reliefs executioners are represented in the act of flaying prisoners with a knife. The bodies are extended upon the ground or against a wall, to which they are fastened by means of four pegs attached by strings or thongs to the two wrists and the two ankles. The executioner leans over the victim, and with his knife detaches the skin from the flesh. One would trust that this operation was not performed until life was extinct. We know that it was the practice of the Persians, and even of the barbarous Scythians, to flay the corpses, and not the living forms, of criminals and of enemies; we may hope, therefore, that the Assyrians removed the skin from the dead, to use it as a trophy or as a warning, and did not inflict so cruel a torture on the living.
Sometimes the punishment awarded to a prisoner was mutilation instead of death. Cutting off the ears close to the head, blinding the eyes with burning-irons, cutting off the nose, and plucking out the tongue by the roots, have been in all ages favorite Oriental punishments. We have distinct evidence that some at least of these cruelties were practised by the Assyrians. Asshur-izir-pal tells us in his great Inscription that he often cut off the noses and the ears of prisoners; while a slab of Asshur-bani-pal, the son of Esarhaddon, shows a captive in the hands of the torturers, one of whom holds his head firm and fast, while another thrusts his hand into his mouth for the purpose of tearing out the tongue.
The captives carried away by the conquerors consisted of men, women, and children. The men were formed into bands, under the conduct of officers, who urged theme forward on their way by blows, with small regard to their sufferings. Commonly they were conveyed to the capital, where they were employed by the monarchs in the lower or higher departments of labor, according to their capacities. The skilled workmen were in request to assist in the ornamentation of shrines and palaces, while the great mass of the unskilled were made use of to quarry and drag stone, to raise mounds, make bricks, and the like. Sometimes, instead of being thus employed in task-work in or near the capital, the captives were simply settled in new regions, where it was thought that they would maintain the Assyrian power against native malcontents. Thus Esarhaddon planted Babylonians, Susanchites, Dehavites, Elamites, and others in Samaria, while Sargon settled his Samaritan captives in Gauzanitis and in "the cities of the Medes."
The women and children carried off by the conquerors were treated with more tenderness than the men. [PLATE CXII., Fig. 2.] Sometimes on foot, but often mounted on mules, or seated in carts drawn by bullocks or asses, they followed in the train of their new masters, not always perhaps unwilling to exchange the monotony of domestic life at home for the excitement of a new and unknown condition in a fresh country. We seldom see them exhibiting any signs of grief. The women and children are together, and the mothers lavish on their little ones the usual caresses and kind offices, taking them in their laps, giving then the breast, carrying them upon their shoulders, or else leading them by the hand. At intervals they were allowed to stop and rest; and it was not even the practice to deprive them of such portion of their household stuff as they might have contrived to secure before quitting their homes. This they commonly bore in a bag or sack, which was either held in the hand or thrown over one shoulder, When they reached Assyria, it would seem that they were commonly assigned as wives to the soldiers of the Assyrian army.
Together with their captives, the Assyrians carried off vast quantities of the domesticated animals, such as oxen, sheep, goats, horses, asses, camels, and mules. The numbers mentioned in the Inscriptions are sometimes almost incredible. Sennacherib, for instance, says that in one foray he bore off from the tribes on the Euphrates "7200 horses and mares, 5230 camels, 11,000 mules, 120,000 oxen, and 800,000 sheep"! Other kings omit particulars, but speak of the captured animals which they led away as being "too numerous to be counted," or "countless as the stars of heaven." The Assyrian sculptors are limited by the nature of their art to comparatively small numbers, but they show us horses, camels, and mules in the train of a returning army, together with groups of the other animals, indicative of the vast flocks and herds continually mentioned in the Inscriptions.
Occasionally the monarchs were not content with bringing home domesticated animals only, but took the trouble to transport from distant regions into Assyria wild beasts of various kinds. Tiglath-Pileser I. informs us in general terms that, besides carrying off the droves of the horses, cattle, and asses that he obtained from the subjugated countries, he "took away and drove off the herds of the wild goats and the ibexes, the wild sheep and the wild cattle;" and another monarch mentions that in one expedition he carried off from the middle Euphrates a drove of forty wild cattle, and also a flock of twenty ostriches. The object seems to have been to stock Assyria with a variety and an abundance of animals of chase.
The foes of the Assyrians would sometimes, when hard pressed, desert the dry land, and betake themselves to the marshes, or cross the sea to islands where they trusted that they might be secure from attack. Not unfrequently they obtained their object by such a retreat, for the Assyrians were not a maritime people. Sometimes, however, they were pursued. The Assyrians would penetrate into the marshes by means of reed boats, probably not very different from the terradas at present in use among the Arabs of the Mesopotamian marsh districts. Such boats are represented upon the bas-reliefs as capable of holding from three to five armed men. On these the Assyrian foot-soldiers would embark, taking with them a single boatman to each boat, who propelled the vessel much as a Venetian gondolier propels his gondola, i.e., with a single long oar or paddle, which he pushed from him standing at the stern. They would then in these boats attack the vessels of the enemy, which are always represented as smaller than theirs, run them down or board them, kill their crews or force them into the water, or perhaps allow them to surrender. Meanwhile, the Assyrian cavalry was stationed round the marsh among the tall reeds which thickly clothed its edge, ready to seize or slay such of the fugitives as might escape from the foot.
When the refuge sought was an island, if it lay near the shore, the Assyrians would sometimes employ the natives of the adjacent coast to transport beams of wood and other materials by means of their boats, in order to form a sort of bridge or mole reaching from the mainland to the isle whereto their foes had fled. Such a design was entertained, or at least professed, by Xerxes after the destruction of his fleet in the battle of Salamis, and it was successfully executed by Alexander the Great, who took in this way the new or island of Tyre. From a series of reliefs discovered at Khorsabad wo may conclude that more than two hundred years before the earlier of these two occasions, the Assyrians had conceived the idea, and even succeeded in carrying out the plan, of reducing islands near the coast by moles.
Under the Chaldaeans, whose "cry was in their ships," the Assyrians seem very rarely to have adventured themselves upon the deep. If their enemies fled to islands which could not be reached by moles, or to lands across the sea, in almost every instance they escaped. Such escapes are represented upon the sculptures, where we see the Assyrians taking a maritime town at one end, while at the other the natives are embarking their women and children, and putting to sea, without any pursuit being made after them. In none of the bas-reliefs do we observe any sea-going vessels with Assyrians on board and history tells us of but two or three expeditions by sea in which they took part. One of these was an expedition by Sennacharib against the coast of the Persian Gulf, to which his Chaldaean enemies had fled. On this occasion he brought shipwrights from Phoenicia to Assyria, and made them build him ships there, which were then launched upon the Tigris, and conveyed down to the sea. With a fleet thus constructed, and probably manned, by Phoenicians, Sennacherib crossed to the opposite coast, defeated the refugees, and embarking his prisoners on board, returned in triumph to the mainland. Another expedition was that of Shalmaneser IV. against the island Tyre. Assyrians are said to have been personally engaged in it; but here again we are told that they embarked in ships furnished to then by the Phoenicians, and maimed chiefly by Phoenician sailors.
When a country was regarded as subjugated, the Assyrian monarch commonly marked the establishment of his sovereignty by erecting a memorial in some conspicuous or important situation within the territory conquered, as an enduring sign of his having taken possession. These memorials were either engraved on the natural rock or on solid blocks of stone cut into the form of a broad low stele. They contained a figure of the king, usually enclosed in an arched frame; and an inscription, of greater or less length, setting forth his name, his titles, and some of his exploits. More than thirty such memorials are mentioned in the extant Inscriptions, and the researches of recent times have recovered some ten or twelve of them. They uniformly represent the king in his sacerdotal robes, with the sacred collar round his neck, and the emblems of the gods above his head, raising the right hand in the act of adoration, as if he were giving thanks to Asshur and his guardian deities on account of his successes.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
It is now time to pass from the military customs of the Assyrians to a consideration of their habits and usages in time of peace, so far as they are made known to us either by historical records or by the pictorial evidence of the has reliefs. And here it may be convenient to treat separately of the public life of the king and court, and of the private life of the people.
In Assyria, as in most Oriental countries, the keystone of the social arch, the central point of the system, round which all else revolved, and on which all else depended, was the monarch. "L'etat, c'est moi" might have been said with more truth by an Assyrian prince than even by the "Grand Monarque," whose dictum it is reported to have been. Alike in the historical notices, and in the sculptures, we have the person of the king presented to us with consistent prominence, and it is consequently with him that we most naturally commence the present portion of our inquiry.
The ordinary dress of the monarch in time of peace was a long flowing robe, reaching to the ankles, elaborately patterned and fringed, over which was worn, first, a broad belt, and then a species of open mantle, or chasuble, very curiously contrived. [PLATE CXII., Fig. 3.] This consisted mainly of two large flaps, both of which were commonly rounded, though sometimes one of them was square at bottom. These fell over the robe in front and behind, leaving the sides open, and so exposing the under dress to view. The two flaps must have been sewn together at the places marked with the dotted lines a b and c d, the space from a to c being left open, and the mantle passed by that means over the head. At d g there was commonly a short sleeve (h), which covered the upper part of the left arm, but the right arm was left free, the mantle falling of either side of it. Sometimes, besides the flaps, the mantle seems to have had two pointed wings attached to the shoulders (a f b and c e h in the illustration), which were made to fall over in front. Occasionally there was worn above the chasuble a broad diagonal belt ornamented with a deep fringe and sometimes there depended at the back of the dress a species of large hood.
The special royal head-dress was a tall mitre or tiara, which at first took the shape of the head, but rose above it to a certain height in a gracefully curved line, when it was covered in with a top, flat, like that of a hat, but having a projection towards the centre, which rose up into a sort of apex, or peak, not however pointed, but either rounded or squared off. The tiara was generally ornamented with a succession of bands, between which were commonly patterns more or less elaborate. Ordinarily the lowest band, instead of running parallel with the others, rose with a gentle curve towards the front, allowing room for a large rosette over the forehead, and for other similar ornaments. If we may trust the representations on the enamelled bricks, supported as they are to some extent by the tinted reliefs, we may say that the tiara was of three colors, red, yellow, and white. The red and white alternated in broad bands; the ornaments upon them were yellow, being probably either embroidered on the material of the head-dress in threads of gold, or composed of thin gold plates which may have been sown on. The general material of the tiara is likely to have been cloth or felt; it can scarcely have been metal, if the deep crimson tint of the bricks and the reliefs is true. [PLATE CXII., Fig. 4.]
In the early sculptures the tiara is more depressed than in the later, and it is also less richly ornamented. It has seldom more than two bands, viz., a narrow one at top, and at bottom a broader curved one, rising towards the front. To this last are attached two long strings or lappets, which fall behind the monarch's back to a level with his elbow. [PLATE CXIII., Fig. 1.]
Another head-dress which the monarch sometimes wore was a sort of band or fillet. This was either elevated in front and ornamented with a single rosette, like the lowest band of the tiara, or else of uniform width and patterned along its whole course. In either case there depended from it, on each side of the back hair, a long ribbon or streamer, fringed at the end and sometimes ornamented with a delicate pattern. [PLATE CXIII., Fig 2.]
The monarch's feet were protected by sandals or shoes. In the early sculptures sandals only appear in use, shoes being unknown (as it would seem) until the time of Sennacherib. The sandals worn were of two kinds. The simplest sort had a very thin sole and a small cap for the heel, made apparently of a number of strips of leather sewn together. It was held in place by a loop over the great-toe, attached to the fore part of the sole, and by a string which was laced backwards and forwards across the instep, and then tied in a bow. [PLATE CXIII., Fig. 4.]
The other kind of sandal had a very different sort of sole; it was of considerable thickness, especially at the heel, from which it gradually tapered to the toe. Attached to this was an upper leather which protected the heel and the whole of the side of the foot, but left the toes and the instep exposed. A loop fastened to the sole received the great-toe, and at the point where the loop was inserted two straps were also made fast, which were then carried on either side the great-toe to the top of the foot, where they crossed each other, and, passing twice through rings attached to the edge of the upper leather, were finally fastened, probably by a buckle, at the top of the instep. [PLATE CXIII., Fig. 6.]
The shoe worn by the later kings was of a coarse and clumsy make, very much rounded at the toe, patterned with rosettes, crescents, and the like, and (apparently) laced in front. In this respect it differed from the shoe of the queen, which will be represented presently, and also from the shoes worn by the tribute-bearers. [PLATE CXIII, Fig. 5.]
The accessory portions of the royal costume were chiefly belts, necklaces, armlets, bracelets, and earrings. Besides the belt round the waist, in which two or three highly ornamented daggers were frequently thrust, and the broad fringed cross-belt, of which mention was made above, the Assyrian monarch wore a narrow cross-belt passing across his right shoulder, from which his sword hung at his left side. This belt was sometimes patterned with rosettes. It was worn over the front flap of the chasuble, but under the back flap, and was crossed at right angles by the broad fringed belt, which was passed over the right arm and head so as to fall across the left shoulder.
The royal necklaces were of two kinds. Some consisted merely of one or more strings of long lozenge-shaped beads slightly chased, and connected by small links, ribbed perpendicularly. [PLATE CXIII., Fig. 7.] The other kind was a band or collar, perhaps of gold, on which were hung a number of sacred emblems: as the crescent or emblem of the Moon-God, Sin; the four-rayed disk, the emblem of the Sun-God, Shamas; the six-rayed or eight-rayed disk, the emblem of Gula, the Sun-Goddess; the horned cap, perhaps the emblem of the king's guardian genius; and the double or triple bolt, which was the emblem of Vul, the god of the atmosphere. This sacred collar was a part of the king's civil and not merely of his sacerdotal dress; as appears from the fact that it was sometimes worn when the king was merely receiving prisoners. [PLATE CXIII., Fig. 8.]
The monarch wore a variety of armlets. The most common was a plain bar of a single twist, the ends of which slightly overlapped each other. A more elegant kind was similar to this, except that the bar terminated in animal heads carefully wrought, among which the heads of rams, horses, and ducks were the most common. A third sort has the appearance of being composed of a number of long strings or wires, confined at intervals of less than an inch by cross bands at right angles to the wires. This sort was carried round the arm twice, and even then its ends overlapped considerably. It is probable that all the armlets were of metal, and that the appearance of the last was given to it by the workman in imitation of an earlier and ruder armlet of worsted or leather. [PLATE CXIV., Fig. 1. ]
The bracelets of the king, like his armlets, were sometimes mere bars of metal, quite plain and without ornament. More often, however, they were ribbed and adorned with a large rosette at the centre. Sometimes, instead of one simple rosette, we see three double rosettes, between which project small points, shaped like the head of a spear. Occasionally these double rosettes appear to be set on the surface of a broad bar, which is chased so as to represent brickwork. In no case can we see how the bracelets were fastened; perhaps they were elastic, and were slipped over the hand. [PLATE CXIV., Fig. 3.]
Specimens of royal earrings have been already given in an earlier chapter of this volume. The most ordinary form in the more ancient times was a long drop, which was sometimes delicately chased Another common kind was an incomplete Maltese cross, one arm of the four being left out because it would have interfered with the ear. [PLATE CXIV., Fig. 2.] In later times there was a good deal of variety in the details; but the drop and the cross were always favorite features.
When the monarch went out to the hunt or to the battle, he laid aside such ornaments as encumbered him, reserving however his earrings, bracelets, and armlets, and then, stripping off his upper dress or chasuble, appeared in the under robe which has been already described. This robe was confined at the waist by a broad cincture or girdle, outside of which was worn a narrowish belt wherein daggers were often thrust. In early times this cincture seems to have been fastened by a ribbon with long streaming ends, which are very conspicuous in the Nimrud sculptures. At the same period the monarch often wore, when he hunted or went out to battle, a garment which might have been called an apron, if it had not been worn behind instead of in front. This was generally patterned and fringed very richly, besides being ornamented with one or more long pendent tassels. [PLATE CXIV., Fig. 4.]
The sacerdotal dress of the king, or that which he commonly wore when engaged in the rites of his religion, differed considerably from his ordinary costume. His inner garment, indeed, seems to have been the usual long gown with a fringe descending to the ankles; but this was almost entirely concealed under an ample outer robe, which was closely wrapped round the form and kept in place by a girdle. A deep fringe, arranged in two rows, one above the other, and carried round the robe in curved sweeps at an angle with the horizontal line, is the most striking feature of this dress, which is also remarkable for the manner in which it confines and conceals the left arm, while the right is left free and exposed to view. A representation of a king thus apparelled will be found in an earlier part of this work, taken from a statue now in the British Museum. It is peculiar in having the head uncovered, and in the form of the implement borne in the right hand. It is also incomplete as a representation, from the fact that all the front of the breast is occupied by an inscription. Other examples show that the tiara was commonly worn as a part of the sacerdotal costume; that the sacred collar adorned the breast, necklaces the neck, and bracelets the two arms; while in the belt, which was generally to some extent knotted, were borne two or three daggers. The mace seems to have been a necessary appendage to the costume, and was always grasped just below its head by the left hand.
We have but one representation of an Assyrian queen. Despite the well-known stories of Semiramis and her manifold exploits, it would seem that the Assyrians secluded their females with as rigid and watchful a jealousy as modern Turks or Persians. The care taken with respect to the direction of the passages in the royal hareem has been noticed already. It is quite in accordance with the spirit thus indicated, and with the general tenor of Oriental habits, that neither in inscriptions nor in sculptured representations do the Assyrians allow their women to make more than a most rare and occasional appearance. Fortunately for us, their jealousy was sometimes relaxed to a certain extent; and in one scene, recovered from the debris of an Assyrian palace we are enabled to contemplate at once the domestic life of the monarch and the attire and even the features of his consort.
It appears that in the private apartments, while the king, like the Romans and the modern Orientals, reclined upon a couch leaning his weight partly upon his left elbow, and having his right arm free and disposable, her majesty the queen sat in a chair of state by the couch's side, near its foot, and facing her lord. [PLATE CXV., Fig. 1.] Two eunuchs provided with large fans were in attendance upon the monarch, and the same number waited upon the queen, standing behind her chair. Her majesty, whose hair was arranged nearly like that of her royal consort, wore upon her head a band or fillet having something of the appearance of a crown of towers, such as encircles the brow of Cybele on Greek coins and statues. Her dress was a long-sleeved gown reaching from the neck to the feet, flounced and trimmed at the bottom in an elaborate way, and elsewhere patterned with rosettes, over which she wore a fringed tunic or frock descending half-way between the knees and the feet. [PLATE CXV., Fig. 3.] In addition to these two garments, she wore upon her back and shoulders a light cloak or cape, patterned (like the rest of her dress) with rosettes and edged with a deep fringe. Her feet were encased in shoes of a clumsy make, also patterned. Her ornaments, besides the crown upon her head, were earrings, a necklace, and bracelets. Her hair was cushioned, and adorned with a drapery which hung over the back. Her feet rested on a handsome footstool, also cushioned.
On the slab from which this description is taken the royal pair seem to be refreshing themselves with wine. Each supports on the thumb and fingers of the right hand a saucer or shallow drinking-cup, probably of some precious metal, which they raise to their lips simultaneously, as if they were pledging one another. The scene of the entertainment is the palace garden; for trees grow on either side of the main figures, while over their heads, a vine hangs its festoons and its rich clusters. By the side of the royal couch, and in front of the queen, is a table covered with a table-cloth, on which are a small box or casket, a species of shallow bowl which may have held incense or perfume of some kind, and a third article frequently seen in close proximity to the king, but of whose use it is impossible to form a conjecture. At the couch's head stands another curious article, a sort of tall vase surmounted by a sugarloaf, which probably represents an altar. The king bears in his left hand the lotus or sacred flower, while the queen holds in hers what looks like a modern fan. All the lower part of the monarch's person is concealed beneath a coverlet, which is plain, except that it has tassels at the corners and an embroidered border.
The officers in close attendance upon the monarch varied according to his employment. In war he was accompanied by his charioteer, his shield-bearer or shield-bearers, his groom, his quiver-bearer, his mace-bearer, and sometimes by his parasol-bearer. In peace the parasol-bearer is always represented as in attendance, except in hunting expeditions, or where he is replaced by a fan-bearer. The parasol, which exactly resembled that still in use throughout the East, was reserved exclusively for the monarch. [PLATE CXVI., Fig. 1.] It had a tall and thick pole, which the bearer grasped with both his hands, and in the early times a somewhat small circular top. Under the later kings the size of the head was considerably enlarged; and, at the same time, a curtain or flap was attached, which, falling from the edge of the parasol, more effectually protected the monarch from the sun's rays. The head of the parasol was fringed with tassels, and the upper extremity of the pole commonly terminated in a flower or other ornament. In the later time both the head and the curtain which depended from it were richly patterned. If we may trust the remains of color upon the Khorsabad sculptures, the tints preferred were red and white, which alternated in bands upon the parasol as upon the royal tiara.
There was nothing very remarkable in the dress or quality of the royal attendants. Except the groom, the charioteer, and the shield-bearers, they were in the early times almost invariably eunuchs; but the later kings seem to have preferred eunuchs for the offices of parasol-bearer and fan-bearer only. The dress of the eunuchs is most commonly a long fringed gown, reaching from the neck to the feet, with very short sleeves, and a broad belt or girdle confining the gown at the waist. Sometimes they have a cross-belt also; and occasionally both this and the girdle round the waist are richly fringed. The eunuchs commonly wear earrings, and sometimes armlets and bracelets; in a few instances they have their necks adorned with necklaces, and their long dresses elaborately patterned. Their heads are either bare, or at most encircled with a fillet.
A peculiar physiognomy is assigned to this class of persons—the forehead low, the nose small and rounded, the lips full, the chin large and double, the cheeks bloated. [PLATE CXV., Fig. 2.] They are generally represented as shorter and stouter than the other Assyrians. Though placed in confidential situations about the person of the monarch, they seem not to have held very high or important offices. The royal Vizier is never a eunuch, and eunuchs are rarely seen among the soldiers; they are scribes, cooks, musicians, perhaps priests; as they are grooms-in-waiting, huntsmen, parasol-bearers, and fan-bearers; but it cannot be said with truth that they had the same power in Assyria which they have commonly possessed in the more degraded of the Oriental monarchies. It is perhaps a sound interpretation of the name Rabsaris in Scripture to understand it as titular, not appellative, and to translate it "the Chief Eunuch" or "the Master of the Eunuchs;" and if so, we have an instance of the employment by one Assyrian king of a person of this class on an embassy to a petty sovereign: but the sculptures are far from bearing out the notion that eunuchs held the same high position in the Assyrian court as they have since held generally in the East, where they have not only continually filled the highest offices of state, but have even attained to sovereign power. On the contrary, their special charge seems rather to have been the menial offices about the person of the monarch, which imply confidence in the fidelity of those to whom they are entrusted, but not submission to their influence in the conduct of state affairs. And it is worthy of notice that, instead of becoming more influential as time went on, they appear to have become less so; in the later sculptures the royal attendants are far less generally eunuchs than in the earlier ones; and the difference is most marked in the more important offices.
It is not quite certain that the Chief Eunuch is represented upon the sculptures. Perhaps we may recognize him in an attendant, who commonly bears a fan, but whose special badge of office is a long fringed scarf or band, which hangs down below his middle both before him and behind him, being passed over the left shoulder. [PLATE CXVI., Fig. 2.] This officer appears, in one bas-relief, alone in front of the king; in another, he stands on the right hand of the Vizier, level with him, facing the king as he drinks; in a third, he receives prisoners after a battle; while in another part of the same sculpture he is in the king's camp preparing the table for his master's supper. There is always a good deal of ornamentation about his dress, which otherwise nearly resembles that of the inferior royal attendants, consisting of a long fringed gown or robe, a girdle fringed or plain, a cross-belt generally fringed, and the scarf already described. His head and feet are generally bare, though sometimes the latter are protected by sandals. He is found only upon the sculptures of the early period.
Among the officers who have free access to the royal person, there is one who stands out with such marked prominence from the rest that he has been properly recognized as the Grand Vizier or prime minister at once the chief counsellor of the monarch, and the man whose special business it was to signify and execute his will. The dress of the Grand Vizier is more rich than that of any other person except the monarch; and there are certain portions of his apparel which he and the king have alone the privilege of wearing. These are, principally, the tasselled apron and the fringed band depending from the fillet, the former of which is found in the early period only, while the latter belongs to no particular time, but throughout the whole series of sculptures is the distinctive mark of royal or quasi-royal authority. To these two may be added the long ribbon or scarf, with double streamers at the ends, which depended from, and perhaps fastened, the belt—a royal ornament worn also by the Vizier in at least one representation. [PLATE CXVI., Fig. 3.]
The chief garment of the Vizier is always a long fringed robe, reaching from the neck to the feet. This is generally trimmed with embroidery at the top, round the sleeves, and round the bottom. It is either seen to be confined by a broad belt round the waist, or else is covered from the waist to the knees by two falls of a heavy and deep fringe. In this latter case, a broad cross-belt is worn over the left shoulder, and the upper fall of fringe hangs from the cross-belt. A fillet is worn upon the head, which is often highly ornamented. The feet are sometimes bare, but more often are protected by sandals, or (as in the accompanying representation) by embroidered shoes. Earrings adorn the ears; bracelets, sometimes accompanied by armlets, the arms. A sword is generally worn at the left side.
The Vizier is ordinarily represented in one of two attitudes. Either he stands with his two hands joined in front of him, the right hand in the left, and the fingers not clasped, but left loose—the ordinary attitude of passive and respectful attention, in which officers who carry nothing await the orders of the king,—or he has the right arm raised, the elbow bent, and the right hand brought to a level with his month, while the left hand rests upon the hilt of the sword worn at his left side. [PLATE CXVII., Fig. 1.] In this latter case it may be presumed that we have the attitude of conversation, as in the former we have that of attentive listening. When the Vizier assumes this energetic posture he is commonly either introducing prisoners or bringing in spoil to the king. When he is quiescent, he stands before the throne to receive the king's orders, or witnesses the ceremony with which it was usual to conclude a successful hunting expedition.
The pre-eminent rank and dignity of this officer is shown, not only by his participation in the insignia of royal authority, but also and very clearly by the fact that, when he is present, no one ever intervenes between him and the king. He has the undisputed right of precedence, so that he is evidently the first subject of the crown, and he alone, is seen addressing the monarch. He does not always accompany the king on his military expeditions but when he attends them, he still maintains his position, having a dignity greater than that of any general, and so taking the entire direction of the prisoners and of the spoil.
The royal fan-bearers were two in number. They were invariably eunuchs. Their ordinary position was behind the monarch, on whom they attended alike in the retirement of private life and in religious and civil ceremonies. On some occasions, however, one of the two was privileged to leave his station behind the king's chair or throne, and, advancing in front, to perform certain functions before the face of his master. He handed his master the sacred cup, and waited to receive it back, at the same time diligently discharging the ordinary duties of his office by keeping up a current of air and chasing away those plagues of the East—the flies. The fan-bearer thus privileged wears always the long tasselled scarf, which seems to have been a badge of office, and may not improbably mark him for the chief Eunuch. In the absence of the Vizier, or sometimes in subordination to him, he introduced the tribute-bearers to the king, reading out their names and titles from a scroll or tablet which he held in his left hand. [PLATE CXVII., Fig. 2.]
The fan carried by these attendants seems in most instances to have been made of feathers. It had a shortish handle, which was generally mere or less ornamented, and frequently terminated in the head of a ram or other animal. [PLATE CXVIII., Fig. 1.] The feathers were sometimes of great length, and bent gracefully by their own weight, as they were pointed slantingly towards the monarch. Occasionally a comparatively short fan was used, and the feathers were replaced by a sort of brush, which may have been made of horse-hair, or possibly of some vegetable fibre.
The other attendants on the monarch require no special notice. With regard to their number, however, it may be observed that, although the sculptures generally do not represent them as very numerous, there is reason to believe that they amounted to several hundreds. The enormous size of the palaces can scarcely be otherwise accounted for: and in one sculpture of an exceptional character, where the artist seems to have aimed at representing his subject in full, we can count above seventy attendants present with the monarch at one time. Of these less than one-half are eunuch; and these wear the long robe with the fringed belt and cross-belt. The other attendants wear in many cases the same costume; sometimes, however, they are dressed in a tunic and greaves, like the soldiers.
There can be no doubt that the court ceremonial of the Assyrians was stately and imposing. The monarch seems indeed not to have affected that privacy and seclusion which forms a predominant feature of the ceremonial observed in most Oriental monarchies. He showed himself very freely to his subjects on many occasions. He superintended in person the accomplishment of his great works. In war and in the chase he rode in an open chariot, never using a litter, though litters were not unknown to the Assyrians. In his expeditions he would often descend from his chariot, and march or fight on foot like the meanest of his subjects. But though thus familiarizing the multitude with his features and appearance, he was far from allowing familiarity of address. Both in peace and war he was attended by various officers of state, and no one had speech of him except through them. It would even seem as if two persons only were entitled to open a conversation with him—the Vizier and the Chief Eunuch. When he received them, he generally placed himself upon his throne, sitting, while they stood to address him. It is strongly indicative of the haughty pride of these sovereigns that they carried with them in their distant expeditions the cumbrous thrones whereon they were wont to sit when they dispensed justice or received homage. On these thrones they sat, in or near their fortified camps, when the battle or the siege was ended, and thus sitting they received in state the spoil and the prisoners. Behind them on such occasions were the two fan-bearers, while near at hand were guards, scribes, grooms, and other attendants. In their palace halls undoubtedly the ceremonial used was stricter, grander, and more imposing. The sculptures, however, furnish no direct evidence on this point, for there is nothing to mark the scene of the great processional pieces.
In the pseudo-history of Ctesias, the Assyrian kings were represented as voluptuaries of the extremest kind, who passed their whole lives within the palace, in the company of their concubines and their eunuchs, indulging themselves in perpetual ease, pleasure, and luxury. We have already seen how the warlike character of so many monarchs gives the lie to these statements, so far as they tax the Assyrian kings with sloth and idleness. It remains to examine the charge of over-addiction to sensual delights, especially to those of the lowest and grossest description. Now it is at least remarkable that, so far as we have any real evidence, the Assyrian kings appear as monogamists. In the inscription on the god Nebo, the artist dedicates his statue to his "lord Vol-lush (?) and his lady, Sammuramit." In the solitary sculptured representation of the private life of the king, he is seen in the company of one female only. Even in the very narrative of Ctesias, Ninus has but one wife, Semiramis; and Sardanapalus, notwithstanding his many concubines, has but five children, three sons and two daughters. It is not intended to press these arguments to an extreme, or to assume, on the strength of them, that the Assyrian monarchs were really faithful to one woman. They may have had—nay, it is probable that they had—a certain number of concubines; but there is really not the least ground for believing that they carried concubinage to an excess, or over-stepped in this respect the practice of the best Eastern sovereigns. At any rate they were not the voluptuaries which Ctesias represented them. A considerable portion of their lives was passed in the toils and dangers of war; and their peaceful hours, instead of being devoted to sloth and luxury in the retirement of the palace, were chiefly employed, as we shall presently see, in active and manly exercises in the field, which involved much exertion and no small personal peril.
The favorite occupation of the king in peace was the chase of the lion. In the early times he usually started on a hunting expedition in his chariot, dressed as when he went out to war, and attended by his charioteer, some swordsmen, and a groom holding a led horse. He carried a bow and arrows, a sword, one or two daggers, and a spear, which last stood in a rest made for it at the back of the chariot. Two quivers, each containing an axe and an abundant supply of arrows, hung from the chariot transversely across its right side, while a shield armed with teeth was suspended behind. When a lion was found, the king pursued it in his chariot, letting fly his arrows as he went, and especially seeking to pierce the animal about the heart and head. Sometimes he transfixed the beast with three or four shafts before it succumbed. Occasionally the lion attacked him in his chariot, and was met with spear and shield, or with a fresh arrow, according to the exigencies of the moment, or the monarch's preference for one or the other weapon. On rare occasions the monarch descended to the ground, and fought on foot. He would then engage the lion in close combat with no other weapon but a short sword, which he strove to plunge, and often plunged, into his heart. [PLATE CXVIII., Fig. 2.]
In the later time, though the chariot was still employed to some extent in the lion-hunts, it appears to have been far more usual for the king to enjoy the sport on foot. He carried a straight sword, which seems to have been a formidable weapon; it was strong, very broad, and two feet or a little more in length. Two attendants waited closely upon the monarch, one of whom carried a bow and arrows, while the other was commonly provided with one or two spears. From these attendants the king took the bow or spear at pleasure, usually commencing the attack with his arrows, and finally despatching the spent animal with sword or spear, as he deemed best. Sometimes, but not very often, the spearman in attendance carried also a shield, and held both spear and shield in advance of his master to protect him from the animal's spring. Generally the monarch faced the danger with no such protection, and received the brute on his sword, or thrust him through with his pike. [PLATE CXVIII., Fig. 3;] [PLATE CXIX., Fig. 1.] Perhaps the sculptures exaggerate the danger which he affronted at such moments; but we can hardly suppose that there was not a good deal of peril incurred in these hand-to-hand contests.
Two modes of hunting the king of beasts were followed at this time. Either he was sought in his native haunts, which were then, as now, the reedy coverts by the side of the canals and great streams; or he was procured beforehand, conveyed to the hunting-ground, and there turned out before the hunters. In the former case the monarch took the field accompanied by his huntsmen and beaters on horse and foot, these last often holding dogs in leash, which, apparently, were used only to discover and arouse the game, but were not slipped at it when started. No doubt the hunt was sometimes entirely on the land, the monarch accompanying his beaters along one or other of the two banks of a canal or stream. But a different plan is known to have been adopted on some occasions. Disposing his beaters to the right and left upon both banks, the monarch with a small band of attendants would take ship, and, while his huntsmen sought to start the game on either side, he would have himself rowed along so as just to keep pace with them, and would find his sport in attacking such lions as took the water. The monarch's place on these occasions was the middle of the boat. Before him and behind him were guards armed with spears, who were thus ready to protect their master, whether the beast attacked him in front or rear. The monarch used a round bow, like that commonly carried in war, and aimed either at the heart or at the head. The spearmen presented their weapons at the same time, while the sides of the boat were also sufficiently high above the water to afford a considerable protection against the animal's spring. An attendant immediately behind the monarch held additional arrows ready for him; and after piercing the noble brute with three or four of these weapons, the monarch had commonly the satisfaction of seeing him sink down and expire. The carcass was then taken from the water, the fore and hind legs were lashed together with string, and the beast was suspended from the hinder part of the boat, where he hung over the water just out of the sweep of the oars.
At other times, when it was felt that the natural chase of the animal might afford little or no sport, the Assyrians (as above stated) called art to their assistance, and, having obtained a supply of lions from a distance, brought them in traps or cages to the hunting-ground, and there turned them out before the monarch. The walls of the cage was made of thick spars of wood, with interstices between them, through which the lion could both see and be seen: probably the top was entirely covered with boards, and upon these was raised a sort of low hut or sentry-box, just large enough to contain a man, who, when the proper moment arrived, peeped forth from his concealment and cautiously raised the front of the trap, which was a kind of drop-door working in a groove. [PLATE CXIX., Fig. 2.] The trap being thus opened, the lion stole out, looking somewhat ashamed of his confinement, but doubtless anxious to vent his spleen on the first convenient object. The king, prepared for his attack, saluted him, as he left his cage, with an arrow, and, as he advanced, with others, which sometimes stretched him dead upon the plain, sometimes merely disabled him, while now and then they only goaded him to fury. In this case he would spring at the royal chariot, clutch some part of it, and in his agony grind it between his teeth, or endeavor to reach the inmates of the car from behind. If the king had descended from the car to the plain, the infuriated beast might make his spring at the royal person, in which case it must have required a stout heart to stand unmoved, and aim a fresh arrow at a vital part while the creature was in mid-air, especially if (as we sometimes see represented) a second lion was following close upon the first, and would have to be received within a few seconds. It would seem that the lions on some occasions were not to be goaded into making an attack, but simply endeavored to escape by flight. To prevent this, troops were drawn up in a double line of spearmen and archers round the space within which the lions were let loose, the large shields of the front or spearmen line forming a sort of wall, and the spears a chevaux de frise, through which it was almost impossible for the beasts to break. In front of the soldiers, attendants held hounds in leashes, which either by their baying and struggling frightened the animals back, or perhaps assisted to despatch them. [PLATE CXIX., Fig. 3.] The king meanwhile plied his bow, and covered the plain with carcasses, often striking a single beast with five or six shafts.