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The Babylonian Story of the Deluge as Told by Assyrian Tablets from Nineveh   By: (1857-1934)

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The Babylonian Story of the Deluge as Told by Assyrian Tablets from Nineveh.

By E. A. Wallis Budge.

The Discovery of the Tablets at Nineveh by Layard, Rassam and Smith.

In 1845 47 and again in 1849 51 Mr. (later Sir) A. H. Layard carried out a series of excavations among the ruins of the ancient city of Nineveh, "that great city, wherein are more than sixteen thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left; and also much cattle" (Jonah iv, II). Its ruins lie on the left or east bank of the Tigris, exactly opposite the town of Al Mawsil, or Môsul, which was founded by the Sassanians and marks the site of Western Nineveh. At first Layard thought that these ruins were not those of Nineveh, which he placed at Nimrûd, about 20 miles downstream, but of one of the other cities that were builded by Asshur (see Gen. x, 11, 12). Thanks, however, to Christian, Roman and Muhammadan tradition, there is no room for doubt about it, and the site of Nineveh has always been known. The fortress which the Arabs built there in the seventh century was known as "Kal'at Nînawî, i.e., "Nineveh Castle," for many centuries, and all the Arab geographers agree in saying that tile mounds opposite Môsul contain the ruins of the palaces and walls of Nineveh. And few of them fail to mention that close by them is "Tall Nabi Yûnis," i.e., the Hill from which the Prophet Jonah preached repentance to the inhabitants of Nineveh, that "exceeding great city of three days' journey" (Jonah iii, 3). Local tradition also declares that the prophet was buried in the Hill, and his supposed tomb is shown there to this day.

The Walls and Palaces of Nineveh.

The situation of the ruins of the palaces of Nineveh is well shown by the accompanying reproduction of the plan of the city made by Commander Felix Jones, I.N. The remains of the older palaces built by Sargon II (B.C. 721 705), Sennacherib (B.C. 705 681), and Esarhaddon (B.C. 681 668) lie under the hill called Nabi Yûnis, and those of the palaces and other buildings of Ashur bani pal (B.C. 681 626) under the mound which is known locally as "Tall al 'Armûshîyah," i.e., "The Hill of 'Armûsh," and "Kuyûnjik." The latter name is said to be derived from two Turkish words meaning "many sheep," in allusion to the large flocks of sheep that find their pasture on and about the mound in the early spring. These two great mounds lie close to the remains of the great west wall of Nineveh, which in the time of the last Assyrian Empire was washed by the waters of the river Tigris. At some unknown period the course of the river changed, and it is now more than a mile distant from the city wall. The river Khausur, or Khoser, divides the area of Nineveh into two parts, and passing close to the southern end of Kuyûnjik empties itself into the Tigris. The ruins of the wails of Nineveh show that the east wall was 16,000 feet long, the north wall 7,000 feet long, the west wall 13,600 feet, and the south wall 3,000 feet; its circuit was about 13,200 yards or 7 1/2 miles.

Discovery of the Library of the Temple of Nebo at Nineveh.

In the spring of 1852 Layard, assisted by H. Rassam, continued the excavation of the "South West Palace" at Kuyûnjik. In one part of the building he found two small chambers, opening into each other, which he called the "chamber of records," or "the house of the rolls." He gave them this name because "to the height of a foot or more from the floor they were entirely filled" with inscribed baked clay tablets and fragments of tablets. Some tablets were complete, but by far the larger number of them had been broken up into many fragments, probably by the falling in of the roof and upper parts of the walls of the buildings when the city was pillaged and set on fire by the Medes and Babylonians. The tablets that were kept in these chambers numbered many thousands. Besides those that were found in them by Layard, large numbers have been dug out all along the corridor which passed the chambers and led to the river, and a considerable number were kicked on to the river front by the feet of the terrified fugitives from the palace when it was set on fire... Continue reading book >>

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