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our nation, and his personal esteem for its able representative at Bagdad, we repeated to him what had been already stated in the letter, that the object of our coming thus far was to visit the ruin called the Birs Nimrood, in the western Desert, and we fixed on an early hour on the following morning for commencing our journey: he then quitted us, with a promise that all should be ready for our setting out at the hour and in the manner we desired.

In the course of the day, we had received information of a riot having taken place before the house of the governor on the preceding evening, in which one man was killed and two wounded. This circumstance, added to the notoriously bad character of the people of Hillah, who murder their governors and assassinate each other with impunity, with the insolence and contempt which they manifested towards my European companion as we entered the town, induced us to remain quietly within the khan for the remainder of the day.

JULY 28th-We were on horseback before daylight, and repaired to the house of Esau Bek, to receive our escort for the visit to the temple of Belus, or Birs Nimrood. We were here joined by the younger brother of this chief, and six horsemen, all well mounted and armed, under whose protection we left the town.

The dawn had just began to break as we went out of the miserable mud-walls which encompass Hillah on the west. These are built on an inclined slope, turretted along the top, and barely serve the purpose of a check against the intrusion of the Desert Arabs. Within these walls is a large and high mound of rubbish, the surface of which is covered with fragments of broken pottery, burnt bricks, and other remains of antiquity, which I at first conceived to be the ruin of some large mass of Babylonian building; but on a closer inspection, it appeared to have been gradually accumulated from the rejected materials of which the town itself is built, and which were apparently all brought from the ruins of Babylon.

We went out from the town in nearly a westerly direction,

keeping close to the southern edge of long and high mounds, which appear to have formed the banks of the canal leading from the Euphrates into this western plain. In less than an hour we left this, and going off more southerly, directed our course straight towards the ruined monument of which we had come in search, and whose towering height began to shew itself from the moment of the daylight being broadly opened. Its appearance, as we approached it, was that of a fallen and decayed pyramid, with the portion of a tower remaining on its summit; and every step that we drew nearer to it, impressed us more and more with a conviction, that this was by far the most conspicuous of all the monuments of Babylon, of which any remains are now to be traced, and gradually strengthened the opinion that it was the celebrated Tower or Temple of Jupiter Belus, which had been sought for, and as the explorers considered even recognised, among the ruined heaps on the other side of the Euphrates.

We had no sooner reached the spot, than we ascended hastily on its western side, over a very steep hill, formed of the broken fragments accumulated round its base, and all evidently fallen from the top. When we had gained its summit, and recovered breath by resting for a few minutes among the rock-like masses of the ruin there, our first duty was to note the bearings of surrounding objects, for the purpose of fixing more accurately the relative position of this monument;* since, from the loose description of Père Emanuel, it had been admitted, by Rennel, to be within the site of Babylon, and from the hasty account of Niebuhr, it had been

* Bearings, taken by compass from the summit of the Birs Nimrood:

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thrown without that site, for at least two or three miles beyond the walls, though both of these travellers described the same identical ruin.

The direction of Kerbela, or Mesjid Hussein, was pointed out to us in a north-west direction, and of Mesjid Ali in a southern one; but though the morning was beautifully clear, and the hour favourable for seeing to a great distance, neither the one nor the other were at this moment visible. It was called a day's journey from hence to each, without any one being able to specify the number of hours; and the khans mentioned in the bearings were said to be on the direct road from Mesjid Ali to Mesjid Hussein, a road so notoriously infested by the Desert Arabs to the westward of it, that not a year passed without a number of Persian pilgrims being stripped and plundered, whether in strong parties or alone.

I inquired particularly after the ruined site called Brousa, or Boursa, by the natives, and supposed to mark the place of the ancient Borasippa of Strabo, the Barsita of Ptolemy, and the Byrsia of Justin,* the place to which Alexander retired when he was warned by the Chaldeans not to enter Babylon by the east. Near as this place was to us, however, and commonly as it was thought to be known among the people of the country, there was but one of all our party who did not absolutely deny its existence, contending that Boursa, or Birs, were but different ways of pronouncing the same word, which was no other than the name of the place on which we stood. The Arab, who admitted the existence of this disputed spot, under the name given, pointed it out in a south-east direction, but said it was not visible from hence. He knew not the accurate distance from this spot, but supposed it to be four hours' brisk journey. This also he said was about its distance from Hillah, adding, that it was fully an hour's ride from the west of the bank of

* Alexander, being influenced by the advice of the soothsayers not to enter this city, turned aside to Byrsia, a city heretofore unpeopled, on the other side of the Euphrates; but, being importuned by Anaxarchus, the philosopher, to despise the presages of magicians as false and uncertain, he afterwards returned to the city.—Justin, chap. xii.

the Euphrates, and therefore could not be visited without a large escort, on account of the character of the Arabs who encamp near the spot.

The view from hence, in every direction, was most dreary: a few distant lines of date-groves was all that relieved the eastern waste, marking the course of the river through the plain; and to the westward all was one yellow Desert, seemingly as destitute of animal as of vegetable life. Between us and the edge of these sandy wilds, was a line of marshes, lakes, and morasses-for at different periods of the year they deserved the name of either-so that the state of the country here at least had seemingly undergone very little alteration since the time of Babylon's foundation or decay.*

We could trace no vestige of a wall in this direction, either in the shape of mounds, or otherwise, throughout all the range of our view. It is true, that the situation of a wall near marshes and loose sands would be unfavourable to its remaining visible for any length of time after it had been once broken down ; and it is not, perhaps, improbable, but that it might have been more neglected in this quarter than elsewhere from the first decline of Babylon, as the local features of the situation in its marshes, morasses, and loose sand, offered a permanent obstacle to invasion on that side.†

In reasoning on the positions of the great gates of the city,

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"It is somewhat remarkable, that one of Isaiah's prophecies concerning Babylon is entitled (xxi. 1.) The burden of the desert of the sea,' or rather, ' of the plain of the sea,' for Babylon was seated in a plain, and surrounded by water. The propriety of the expression consists in this, not only that any large collection of waters in the oriental style is called 'a sea,' but also that the places about Babylon, as §Abydenus informs us out of Megasthenes, are said from the beginning to have been overwhelmed with waters, and to have been called 'the sea."-Newton on the Prophecies, p. 161.

+ The Chaldean soothsayers entreated Alexander not to enter this city at all at that particular time of his being about to do so, which was on his return from Ecbatana, and upon his expedition against the Cosseans: and he ridiculed this advice by repeating a

§ λεγεται δε παντα μεν εξ αρχης ὕδωρ είναι, θαλασσαν καλεομενην. Ferunt, inquit, loca hæc omnia jam inde ab initio aquis obruta fuisse, marisque nomine appellata. Euseb. Præp. Evang. lib. ix. cap. 41, p. 457. Edit. Vigeri.

Major Rennel says, "It may indeed be concluded, that there were fewer gates and communications with the country on the west than elsewhere, for it is said, that Alexander wished to enter the city by the west after his return from India, in order to avoid the evil foretold by the soothsayers, but he was compelled to give up the attempt by reason of the marshes and morasses on that side.”* We are told also by Diodorus Siculus,† that the number and depth of the morasses round about Babylon made a smaller number of towers in the nature of bastions necessary for the defence of the walls. Such is exactly the state of the country at the present moment, and the eastern limit of these marshes seem to occupy nearly the same place as anciently, or to press close upon what might be supposed to have been the western boundary of the Babylonian wall.


In turning from the surrounding objects to examine, for a moment, the more striking one on which we stood, we found it to be a steep pyramidal heap, rising to the height of two hundred feet above the level of the surrounding soil, and having the western side of a brick building on its summit, rising to the height of fifty feet The western face of the heap is the most destroyed, being worn down into a deep furrow in the loose rubbish, probably by the operation of the strong Desert winds from that quarter. The eastern and southern faces are in different degrees of greater perfection, and the southern is the most perfect of all. At the foot of the mound may be traced a step, scarcely elevated above the plain, exceeding in extent, by several feet, the true base of the building. Within

satirical line against divines, from the Greek poet Euripides. They then desired him at last not to enter it with his face westward, but to go round on the other side of the city, and enter it with his face towards the east. This he was resolved to comply with, but the difficulty of the road, which was both watery and marshy, forced him to change that resolution. He even made the attempt to bring his whole army round here, and enter the city at their head, from the west for which purpose he crossed the Euphrates, and marched along its western bank to the northward, having that river on his right, but from the ground thereabout being all an impassable morass, he was obliged to abandon his design as impracticable.—Arrian, b. vii. c. 16, 17.


* See Arrian, b. vii.

+ Book ii. chap. 1.

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