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this, the edifice commences rising in high and distinct stages, receding one within another, in a proportion of width about equal to their respective elevations.
The first, or lowermost of these, shews only some of its interior work, where a pit has been formed near the outer edge of the base, by the apparent clearing away of the rubbish there, perhaps in search after bricks. It is remarkable, that the bricks, though large and firmly made, are merely sun-dried, and cemented either by bitumen or mortar, but without reeds. The lower part of the structure was composed of sun-dried bricks within, and a facing of furnace-baked bricks without, corresponding with the upper parts of the building as they now exist, and with the appearance of all the vestiges around the base. This is exactly consistent with the first feature of the tower of Belus, as noted by Major Rennel, where he says "It may be concluded that the uppermost stories consisted more of masonry than of earth; but the lower chiefly of earth, which was retained in its place by a vast wall of sun-dried bricks' the outer part or facing of which was composed of such as had undergone the operation of fire." Strabo says, "that the sides of the tower were of burnt bricks."
The second stage of this heap, which recedes within the first in about the proportion of the height of this from the base, shows the north-east angle of its exterior front most distinctly. This is faithfully delineated in the view of the eastern face of this monument, as drawn by Mr. Rich, and engraved to accompany his Memoir on Babylon; but from the drawings having been reduced by the editors of the "Mines de l'Orient," in which they were originally inserted, to so small a scale, the effect of this appearance is less striking.* It is nevertheless sufficiently visible, even on that scale, to be referred to as a corroboration of the assertion here made.
See the relative positions and present aspect of the principal Babylonian edifices spoken of in this Work, in the lithographic copies of the Plan and Views of Mr. Rich, taken, by permission, from the plate accompanying his original Memoir in “Les Mines de l'Orient," and inserted among the Illustrations of the present Volume.
The whole of this angle, as far as it can be traced, is of burnt brick, though sun-dried bricks and loose earth may occupy the interior of the mass, as not more than a few feet in thickness are seen jutting out beyond the general surface of the rubbish.
Still above this, is a third stage, a fragment of which may be perceived in Mr. Rich's view of the western front of the heap; this recedes within the second, in the same proportion as the second within the first; and, like it, is apparently formed of furnace-baked bricks, for the exterior surface which now projects beyond the loose fragments of the general ruin.
Above them all, rises the fourth and last existing stage, which is delineated in the apparent tower that crowns the summit of the whole. The standing part of this upper stage is a solid wall of brick, about fifty feet in height, from the lowest part of its base visible on the east, thirty feet in breadth, and fifteen in thickness, though both these last dimensions seem to lessen gradually on approaching the summit. The upper edge of this wall is so broken and irregular, as to prove, beyond a doubt, that it did not terminate the pile; but that above this there were other stages, now destroyed. The wall of this ruin is now rent by a large fissure, which extends through nearly half its height, and is, no doubt, the effect of some violent agent, rather than the gradual operation of time.
The summit of the pile, as it now stands, at an elevation of two hundred and fifty feet from its own base, covers apparently an area of nearly a hundred feet. The whole of this appears to have been occupied by a square building, forming the fourth stage of this great pyramidal tower; only one side of which now remains erect. This presents a wall of brick work, about fifty feet in extreme height, by thirty in breadth, and fifteen in thickness, pierced both longitudinally and transversely with small channels, running all through the building, as if to give a free passage to the air. It is the western side of the tower that remains standing, though occupying only a portion of its original breadth on that front, as both its side edges have been evidently broken away. On the north and
south, the walls are broken down, and their materials dispersed, though the place of both can still be traced. But on the east, the fallen masses which composed the wall of that quarter still remain on the spot.
The bricks used in the masonry of this pile are furnace-baked, and of the ordinary kind, resembling those at Al Hheimar, more than the finer ones at the Kassr, and the whole is thus faithfully characterized by Mr. Rich. "The fine burnt bricks, of which the ruin at the summit of the Birs was built, have inscriptions on them, and so admirable is the cement, which appears to be lime-mortar, that though the layers are so close together, that it is difficult to discern what substance is between them, it is nearly impossible to extract one of the bricks whole. The other parts of the summit of this hill are occupied by immense fragments of brick-work, of no determinate figure, tumbled together, and converted into solid vitrified masses, as if they had undergone the action of the present fire, or been blown up with gunpowder, yet the layers of the bricks are perfectly discernible."*
The appearance of these masses, and the fissure in the portion of the wall which still remains erect, furnish reasons to believe that fire was used as an agent of destruction in this edifice,† to effect
* Memoir, in "Les Mines de l'Orient."
+ "We learn farther, from a fragment of Diodorus Siculus, which is produced by Valerius, and quoted from him by §Vitringa, that a king of Parthia, or one of his peers, surpassing all the famous tyrants in cruelty, omitted no sort of punishment, but sent many of the Babylonians, and for trifling causes, into slavery, and burnt the forum and some of the temples of Babylon, and demolished the best parts of the city. This happened about a hundred and thirty years before Christ.”—Newton on the Prophecies, p. 172.
§ Vitring. Com. in Iesaiam. cap. xiii. p. 421. vol. 1. Evnμepos å тwv Пapbwv Baσiλeus K. T. λ. Evemerus, Parthorum rex (docuit Valesius clarissime quod eruditi viri lubenter admiserunt, legendum esse Himerum, Parthorum regis satrapam, ex circumstantiis temporis historiæ, et collatis locis Justini ac Athenæi) patria Hyrcanus, cunctos tyrannos acerbitate vincens, nullum sævitiæ genus prætermisit. Plurimos enim Babylonios levibus de caussis servituti addictos, cum omni familia in Mediam distrahendos misit. Forum quoque et nonnulla delubra Babylonis igni tradidit, ac pulcherrima quæque urbis loca evertit. Accidit casus stante regno Seleucidarum, annis admodum CXXX ante . V. nati Domini.
which almost every other means would have been ineffectual, from the astonishing firmness of its masonry, which rendered the whole fabric in strength like one solid block. Had this been the original summit of the building, and the fire used here been that of sacrifice or adoration, as might be suggested by those who would infer, from the visible effects of this element, that the Birs Nimrood was an ancient fire-temple, the vitrified appearance would have been seen as well in the standing part of the wall, as in that which is fallen, and in both only on the interior surface of the enclosure, which the fire might be supposed to have occupied. Here, however, the fallen masses bear evident proof of the operation of fire having been continued on them, as well after they were broken down as before, since every part of their surface has been so equally exposed to it, that many of them have acquired a rounded form, and in none can the place of separation from its adjoining one be traced by any appearance of superior freshness, or any exemption from the influence of the destroying flame.*
It seems probable, therefore, that all other means of destruction having been found ineffectual, from the solidity of the brick-work of which the upper part was composed, the aid of fire was called in for that purpose; and this element, when well fed in a closed building, would produce nearly the effects which we see, namely, the splitting of one portion of the wall in a deep fissure; the breaking down of the other into large masses, still preserving its layers of brick distinct and inseparable from the tenacity of their cement; the vitrification of such masses after they had thus fallen into the body of the fire, by its enveloping them all around as long as any heat continued; and lastly, the entire fall of some of the disjointed portions of the wall, thus violently separated from the rest. This would be the natural effect of the application of fire within any of the stages, even the uppermost, and if applied to any of the lower ones, would,
"Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burnt with fire."-Jeremiah, chap. li. v. 58.
in addition to the same effects, produce the undermining and overthrowing every part of the structure above.*
From the summit of this ruin, we could discover plainly the vestiges of a quadrangular enclosure round the whole pile, as noted also by Mr. Rich. It is most visible on the west and north, its angle of meeting bearing from us about west-north-west, and its general distance from the base of the great heap appearing to be about a hundred yards, or its whole square something more than three hundred yards on each side. In an eastern direction from this ruined pile, and separated from its foot by a clear space, from which it might be inferred that it never joined the pile itself, is a mound of ruins, equal in elevation to those assumed for the palace and the hanging gardens on the other side of the river; this is of an oblong form, extending about a quarter of a mile in length, and a furlong in breadth, of unequal surface, and strewed over with pottery, bricks, and coloured tiles, but having no actual remains of ancient buildings, the two sepulchres now erected on it being recent Mohammedan works.
As this pile of the Birs Nimrood is here assumed to be the remains of the celebrated Tower of Belus, the place of which has been long disputed; and as mature consideration, added to a close personal inspection of the monument, has only strengthened and confirmed the original impression of its identity, it may be well to enumerate such features of resemblance between the present ruin and the ancient temple, as are considered to justify the decision of their being one and the same edifice.
* It would appear that Alexander himself had sacrificed to the god Belus, and most probably in this very temple; but what was the nature of the sacrifice is not mentioned. “On Alexander's marching from Arbela, after the defeat of Darius, straight to Babylon, the gates of that vast city were thrown open to him, and processions of the priests and chiefs of the people went out to meet him, offering him great gifts, and delivering the city, the tower, and the royal treasure, into his hands. Alexander, entering the city, commanded the Babylonians to rebuild the temples which Xerxes had destroyed, and especially the temple of Belus, whom the Babylonians worshipped as their chief god, and to whom he himself, by the advice of the Chaldean priests, offered sacrifice."— Justin, book iii. chap. 16.