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connected with temples and schools and contained tablets used by the priests, such as hymns, prayers, and business accounts. Excavators have found dictionaries, grammatical exercises, arithmetic texts, and books on agriculture. These libraries were collections of clay tablets covered with cuneiform writing. A tablet which corresponds to about a chapter in one of our books has its library number stamped on it. In Babylonia were found the ruins of one library of over 30,000 tablets, all neatly arranged in order. There were papyrus rolls also in these libraries, but they have been destroyed by being buried underneath the ruins.
The oldest code of laws known.-A Babylonian king compiled a collection of laws which were enacted over 2,200 years before Christ. It was evidently based on still older codes, but is itself the oldest code of laws known. This code is similar in many ways to the Mosaic laws, and covers a wide
of subjects. The author, Hammurabi, declares, “By my genius I hate led them; by my wisdom I have directed them, that the strong might not injure the weak, to protect the widow and orphan.” These laws provided against bribery of public officials and judges, ignorant medical practice, too high fees by physicians and surgeons, incompetent building contractors, etc. It gave a woman the right to manage her own property and protected her and her children in many ways. A number of laws referred to the adoption of children, which was a common practice, especially among the aged who took them that they themselves might receive benefits.
The many laws dealing with the canal and water right, dikes, crops, leasing of animals, etc., show that agriculture was an important occupation. There is a law which says that if a man neglects to strengthen his dike, and a break is made in it and the water carries away the farm land, the man in whose dike the break was made shall restore the grain which was damaged.
Babylonia was a cultural power as was Egypt, and not a ruthless conqueror like Assyria. We get the week with its division into seven days from the Chaldeans. They called the seventh day the day of rest for the soul," or "Sabattu.” The division of twelve-hour days and twelve-hour nights, and hours into minutes, came from them. They invented the sundial, the
water clock, the potter's wheel, and an excellent system of weights and measures.
“Is not this great Babylon?”—Babylon was such a wonderful city that the word has become a synonym for magnificence and splendor. It was the capital and commercial center of a great empire for over fifteen hundred years. The ancient city was destroyed by the Assyrians and rebuilt in greater grandeur by Nebuchadnezzar, who sacked Jerusalem and carried many of the Jews back into Babylonia (2 Kings 25. 1-21). According to Herodotus, Babylon was built in the form of a square, each side of which was fourteen miles long. It was surrounded by a double wall of enormous strength, surmounted by square towers of defense. The homes were three or four stories high. They faced the street and were built a short distance apart, with gardens and plantations between them. Some writers say there was space enough in Babylon to cultivate grain to supply the entire population in case of siege. Nebuchadnezzar's palace was surrounded by a succession of walls built on terraces covered with gardens in which were planted palms and other trees. These walls were wrongly called “hanging gardens” and have for centuries been classed among the "seven wonders of the world."
There was a great Babylonian banking house, over seven hundred of whose contract tablets have been found buried twenty feet below the surface. The country had a letter post and a parcel post system. Many letters in envelopes of clay have been found. Many embroidered carpets, finely wrought garments, and cloths of cotton and silk were manufactured in Babylon. Achan, who was stoned to death for taking spoil contrary to the command of God, said, "When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them” (Josh. 7. 21).
The Babylonians were noted breeders of horses. During the later days of the empire the horses for the stables of the Persian kings were furnished by them.
The earth and the fruits thereof.—The great source of wealth of Babylonia was its fields, although the only implement represented on the monuments is the crude plow. Indigo, opium, sugar cane, cotton, flax, olives, dates, and figs were raised, but grain was the chief crop. This region was a network of canals whose ancient banks still stretch in ridges across the plain. Around the entire city of Babylon ran a great waterfilled moat to keep out enemies and to fill up the canals that ran out over the plain in all directions and irrigated the rich soil. The large canals furnished highways for commerce, and thousands of boats traversed them.
One canal left the river at Hit and ran parallel to it for nearly 300 miles to the Persian Gulf. This waterway was 350 feet wide and the traveler may still see the take-offs and laterals. No one can say how long ago it was built, but we know it was so ancient in the days of Nebuchadnezzar that he spoke with pride of the fact that he had cleaned it out and restored it. Not one hundredth part of these old irrigation works is used to-day, but skilled engineers tell us most of these old canals and ditches can easily be restored. 1. Name some of the things the Chaldeans gave to civilization. 2. Study 2 Kings 25. 1-21 to see the plan carried out by the Baby
lonians when they conquered Jerusalem. What people did
they leave in Palestine and why were they left? 3. Read the fifth chapter of Daniel, so you can give to the class the description of the fall of Babylon in your own words.
. 4. Tell of the lines of business carried on in ancient Babylon. 5. Why are the old buildings of Mesopotamia not as well pre
served as those of Greece and Rome?
ANCIENT CIVILIZATION IN UPPER MESOPOTAMIA
CULTURED Babylonia suffered the fate of most early empires, being attacked by ruder and more warlike races which envied its wealth and prosperity. Finally one of them, the Kassites, controlled the empire for over five centuries. During this period the one-time ruler of the nations lost much of its glory.
Assyria, the northern province of Babylonia, finally gained its freedom and soon became a rival of the mother country. In B. C. 728 the Assyrian king conquered Babylon and thus gained control of all of Mesopotamia.
THE RUTHLESS CONQUERORS OF THE ANCIENT WORLD The Assyrians were highly civilized people, but were a hindrance rather than a help to other nations. For five centuries Assyria was the most powerful nation in the world. One of its ancient kings described it as "a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of oil olive and of honey” (2 Kings 18. 32). We know it supported a dense population and contained many rich and powerful cities. Its dominion extended to the Mediterranean Sea.
Nineveh, “that great city.”—Assyria had as capital at various times Asshur, Nimroud, and Nineveh, but the latter surpassed all the rest in magnificence. Nineveh was, according to Jonah, "an exceeding great city of three days' journey” (Jonah 3. 3). At one time it probably contained a million inhabitants. The same author tells us the city had “much cattle,” so we infer that it contained (like Damascus to-day) pastures within its massive walls. There are now four great mounds to be seen on the plain which probably formed the four corners