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Persians, Greeks, and Romans; and materials are yet lacking for its authentic history: the western, on the contrary, was the scene of the earliest and most important events.
16. SOUTH-WESTERN ASIA may be considered in three portions: (1) Asia Minor, or the peninsula of Anato ́lia; (2) The table-land eastward to the Indus, including the mountains of Arme'nia; (3) The lowland south of this plateau, extending from the base of the mountains to the Erythræ ́an
17. ASIA MINOR, in the earliest period, contained the following countries: Phrygia and Cappado'cia, on its central table-land, divided from each other by the river Ha'lys; Bithy'nia and Paphlago'nia on the coast of the Euxine; Mysia, Lydia, and Caria, on that of the Æge'an; Lycia, Pamphylia, and Cilic'ia, on the borders of the Mediterranean. It possessed many important islands: Proconne'sus, in the Propon'tis; Ten'edos, Les'bos, Chi'os, Sa'mos, and Rhodes, in the Ægean; and Cy'prus, in the Levant'.
18. Phrygia was a grazing country, celebrated from the earliest times for its breed of sheep, whose fleece was of wonderful fineness, and black as the plumage of the raven. The Ango'ra goat and the rabbit of the same region were likewise famed for the fineness of their hair. Cappadocia was inhabited by the White Syrians, so called because they were of fairer complexion than those of the south. The richest portion of Asia Minor lay upon the coast of the Egean; and of the three provinces, Lydia, the central, was most distinguished for wealth, elegance, and luxury. The Lydians were the first who coined money. The River Pacto lus brought from the recesses of Mt. Tmolus a rich supply of gold, which was washed from its sands in the streets of Sardis, the capital.
19. The Grecian colonies, which, at a later period, covered the coasts of Asia Minor, will be found described in Book III.* This peninsula was the field of many wars between the nations of Europe and Asia. From its intermediate position, it was always the prize of the conqueror; and after the earliest period of history, it was never occupied by any kingdom of great extent or of long duration.
20. The highlands of south-western Asia contained seventeen countries, of which only the most important will here be named. Armenia has been called the Switzerland of Western Asia. Its highest mountain is Ararat, 17,000 feet above the sea-level. From this elevated region the Tigris and Euphrates take their course to the Persian Gulf; the Halys to the Euxine; the Arax ́es and the Cyrus to the Caspian Sea. Colchis lay east of the Euxine, upon one of the great highways of ancient traffic. It was celebrated, in very early times, for its trade in linen. Media was a mountainous region, extending from the Araxes to the Caspian Gates. Persia
* See Book III, 22 35-37, 84-86.
lay between Media and the Persian Gulf. Its southern portion is a sandy plain, rendered almost desert in summer by a hot, pestilential wind from the Steppes of Kerman. Farther from the sea, the country rises into terraces, covered with rich and well-watered pastures, and abounding in pleasant fruits. The climate of this region is delightful; but it soon changes, toward the north, into that of a sterile mountain tract, chilled by snows, which cover the peaks even in summer, and affording only a scanty pasturage to flocks of sheep.
21. The lowland plain of south-western Asia comprised Syr'ia, Arabia, Assyria, Susia'na, and Babylonia. Syria occupied the whole eastern coast of the Mediterranean, and consisted of three distinct parts: (1) Syria Proper had for its chief river the Oron'tes, which flowed between the parallel mountain ranges of Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon. (2) Phoni'cia comprised the narrow strip of coast between Lebanon and the sea. (3) Palestine, south of Phoenicia, had for its river the Jordan, and for its principal mountains Hermon and Carmel. Syria becomes less fertile as it recedes from the mountains, and merges at last into a desert, with no traces of cities or of settled habitations. Yet even this sandy waste is varied by a few fertile spots. The site of Palmy'ra, "Queen of the Desert," may be discerned even now in her magnificent ruins. In more prosperous days she afforded entertainment to caravans on their way from India to the coast of the Mediterranean.
22. Arabia is a vast extent of country south and east of Syria, lying between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Though more than one-fourth the size of Europe, it was of little importance in ancient times; for its usually rocky or sandy soil sustained few inhabitants, and afforded little material for commerce.
Assyria Proper lay east of the Tigris and west of the Median Mountains. The great empire which bore that name varied in extent under different monarchs, and the name of Assyria is often applied to all the territory between the Zagros Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea. The region between the two great rivers and north of Babylonia was called by the Greeks Mesopotamia. It differed from the more southerly province in being richly wooded: the forests near the Euphrates more than once supplied materials for a fleet to Roman emperors in later times.
Susiana lay along the Tigris, south-east of Assyria. It was crossed by numerous rivers, and was very rich in grain. Its only important city was Susa, its capital.
23. Babylonia comprised the great alluvial plain between the lower waters of the Tigris and Euphrates, and sometimes included the country south of the latter river, on the borders of Arabia Deserta, which is better known as Chalda'a. When the snows melt upon the mountains of Armenia, both rivers, but especially the Euphrates, become suddenly
swollen, and tend to overflow their banks. In fighting against this aggression of Nature, the Babylonians early developed that energy of mind which made their country the first abode of Eastern civilization. The net-work of canals which covered the country served the three purposes of internal traffic, defense, and irrigation. Immense lakes were dug or enlarged for the preservation of surplus waters; and the earth thrown out of these excavations formed dykes along the banks of the rivers. The fertile plain, so thoroughly watered, produced enormous quantities of grain, the farmer being rewarded with never less than two hundred fold the seed sown, and in favorable seasons, with three hundred fold. We shall not be surprised, therefore, to learn that Babylonia was, from the earliest times, the seat of populous cities, crowded with the products of human industry, and that its people long constituted the leading state of Western Asia. Though the plain of Babylonia afforded neither wood nor stone for building, Nature had provided for human habitations a supply of excellent clay for brick, and wells of bitumen which served for mortar. (Gen. xi: 3.)
24. SOUTH-EASTERN ASIA. India extends from the Indus eastward to the boundaries of China, being bounded on the south by the Indian Oceau, and on the north by the Himala'yas, from whose snowy heights many great rivers descend to fertilize the plains. The richness of the soil fits it for the abode of a swarming population; and roads, temples, and other structures, dating from a very remote period, attest the skill and industry of the people. Herod'otus names them as the greatest and wealthiest of nations, though he had not seen them. It was only in the fifth century before Christ that the Indian peninsulas became distinctly known to the Greeks; and it was two centuries later, in the invasion by Alexander, that the remarkable features of the country were first described to the Western world by eye-witnesses. "Wool-bearing trees" were mentioned as a most peculiar production; for cotton, as well as sugar, was first produced in India. The pearl fisheries, however, of the eastern coast, the diamonds of Golcon'da, the rubies of Mysore', as well as the abundant gold of the riverbeds, the aromatic woods of the forests, and the fine fabrics of cotton, silk, and wool, for which India was already famous, † drew the merchants of Phoenicia at a much earlier period to the banks of the Indus.
25. China was even less known than India to the inhabitants of the ancient world. The province of Se'rica, which formed the north-western
*Herodotus, the Father of History, was a Greek of Halicarnassus, a Doric city in Caria, and was born B. C. 484. He collected the materials for his works by extensive travels and laborious research.
† Our word "shawl" belongs to the Sanskrit, the oldest known language of India, showing that "India shawls" have been objects of luxury and commerce from the earliest ages.