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corner of what is now the Chinese Empire, was visited, however, by Babylonian and Phoenician merchants, for its most peculiar product, silk. The extreme reserve of the Chinese in their dealings with foreigners, may already be observed in the account given by Herodotus of their trade with the neighboring Scythians. The Sericans deposited their bales of wool or silk in a solitary building called the Stone Tower. The merchants then approached, deposited beside the goods a sum which they were willing to pay, and retired out of sight. The Sericans returned, and, if satisfied with the bargain, took away the money, leaving the goods; but if they considered the payment insufficient, they took away the goods and left the money. The Chinese have always been remarkable for their patient and thorough tillage of the soil. Chin-nong, their fourth emperor, invented the plow; and for thousands of years custom required each monarch, among the ceremonies of his coronation, to guide a plow around a field, thus paying due honor to agriculture, as the art most essential to the civilization, or, rather, to the very existence of a state.
26. After the dispersion of other descendants of Noah from Babel, Nimrod, grandson of Ham, remained near the scene of their discomfiture, and established a kingdom south of the Euphrates, at the head of the Persian Gulf. The unfinished tower was converted into a temple, other buildings sprang from the clay of the plain, and thus Nimrod became the founder of Babylon, though its grandeur and magnificent adornments date from a later period. Nimrod owed his supremacy to the personal strength and prowess which distinguished him as a "mighty hunter before the Lord." In the early years after the Flood, it is probable that wild beasts multiplied so as to threaten the extinction of the human race, and the chief of men in the gratitude and allegiance of his fellows was he who reduced their numbers. Nimrod founded not only Babylon, but E'rech, or O'rchoë, Ac'cad, and Cal'neh. The Chaldæans continued to be notable builders; and vast structures of brick cemented with bitumen, each brick bearing the monarch's or the architect's name, still attest, though in ruins, their enterprise and skill. They manufactured, also, delicate fabrics of wool, and possessed the arts of working in metals and engraving on gems in very high perfection. Astronomy began to be studied in very early times, and the observations were carefully recorded. The name of Chaldæan became equivalent to that of seer or philosopher.
27. The names of fifteen or sixteen kings have been deciphered upon
See p. 10, and Gen. xi: 1-9.
the earliest monuments of the country, but we possess no records of their reigns. It is sufficient to remember the dynasties, or royal families, which, according to Bero'sus,* ruled in Chaldæa from about two thousand years before Christ to the beginning of connected chronology.
1. A Chaldæan Dynasty, from about 2000 to 1543 B. C. known kings are Nimrod and Chedorlao'mer.
2. An Arabian Dynasty, from about 1543 to 1298 B. C.
3. A Dynasty of forty-five kings, probably Assyrian, from 1298 to 772 B. C.
4. The Reign of Pul, from 772 to 747 B. C.
During the first and last of these periods, the country was flourishing and free; during the second, it seems to have been subject to its neighbors in the south-west; and, during the third, it was absorbed into the great Assyrian Empire, as a tributary kingdom, if not merely as a province.
28. At a very early period a kingdom was established upon the Tigris, which expanded later into a vast empire. Of its earliest records only the names of three or four kings remain to us; but the quadrangular mounds which cover the sites of cities and palaces, and the rude sculptures found by excavation upon their walls, show the industry of large and luxurious population. The history of Assyria may be divided into three periods: I. From unknown commencement of the monarchy to the Conquest of Babylon, about 1250 B. C.
II. From Conquest of Babylon to Accession of Tiglath-pileser II, 745 B. C.
III. From Accession of Tiglath-pileser to Fall of Nineveh, 625 B. C. One king of the FIRST PERIOD, Shalmaneser I, is known to have made war among the Armenian Mountains, and to have established cities in the conquered territory.
B. C. 1270.
29. SECOND PERIOD, B. C. 1250-745. About the middle of the thir teenth century B. C., Tiglathi-nin conquered Babylon. A hundred and twenty years later, a still greater monarch, Tiglath-pileser I, extended his conquests eastward into the Persian mountains, and westward to the borders of Syria. After the warlike reign of his son,
B. C. 1130.
* Berosus, a learned Babylonian, wrote a history of his own and neighboring countries in three books, which are unfortunately lost. He drew his information from records kept in the temple of Belus, from popular traditions, and in part, probably, from the Jewish Scriptures. Fragments have been preserved to us by later writers. He lived from the reign of Alexander, 356-323 B. C., to that of Antiochus II, 261-246 B C.
B. C. 1100-909.
Assyria was probably weakened and depressed for two hundred years, since no records have been found. From the year 909 B. C., the chronology becomes exact, and the materials for history abundant. As'shur-nazir-pal I carried on wars in Persia, Babylonia, Armenia, and Syria, and captured the principal Phoenician towns. He built a great palace at Ca'lah, which he made his capital. His son, Shalmane'ser II, continued his father's conquests, and made war in Lower Syria against Benha'dad, Haza ́el, and A'hab.
B. C. 886-858.
B. C. 858-823.
30. B. C. 810-781. I'va-lush (Hu-likh-khus IV) extended his empire both eastward and westward in twenty-six campaigns. He married Sam'mura'mit (Semi'ramis), heiress of Babylonia, and exercised, either in her right or by conquest, royal authority over that country. No name is more celebrated in Oriental history than that of Semiramis; but it is probable that most of the wonderful works ascribed to her are purely fabulous. The importance of the real Sammuramit, who is the only princess mentioned in Assyrian annals, perhaps gave rise to fanciful legends concerning a queen who, ruling in her own right, conquered Egypt and part of Ethiopia, and invaded India with an army of more than a million of men. This mythical heroine ended her career by flying away in the form of a dove. It became customary to ascribe all buildings and other public works whose origin was unknown, to Semiramis; the date of her reign was fixed at about 2200 B. C.; and she was said to have been the wife of Ninus, an equally mythical person, the reputed founder of Nineveh.
B. C. 771-753.
B. C. 753-745.
31. Asshur-danin-il II was less warlike than his ancestors. of his reign is ascertained by an eclipse of the sun, which the inscriptions place in his ninth year, and which astronomers know to have occurred June 15, 763 B. C. After Asshur-likh-khus, the following king, the dynasty was ended with a revolution. Nabonas'sar, of Babylon, not only made himself independent, but gained a brief supremacy over Assyria. The Assyrians, during the Second Period, made great advances in literature and arts. The annals of each reign were either cut in stone or impressed upon a duplicate series of bricks, to guard against destruction either by fire or water. If fire destroyed the burnt bricks, it would only harden the dried; and if the latter were dissolved by water, the former would remain uninjured. Engraved columns were erected in all the countries under Assyrian rule.
B. C. 745-727.
32. THIRD PERIOD, B. C. 745-625. Tiglath-pileser II was the founder of the New or Lower Assyrian Empire, which he established by active and successful warfare. He conquered Damascus, Samaria, Tyre, the Philistines, and the Arabians of the Sinaitic peninsula; carried away captives from the eastern and northern tribes of Israel, and took tribute from the king of Judah. (2 Kings xv: 29; xvi: 7-9.)