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supreme divinity. We have no doubt that they were designed as exponents as well of the religious faith, as of the picturesque and fanciful ideas of the people. We may compare with them advantageously the living creatures of Ezekiel, (chap. i.,) whose mind was deeply imbued with Assyrian imagery, and the seraphim of Isaiah, (chap. vi.) If the building uncovered were a temple, these creatures, as emblems of the Deity, might have been objects of worship, agreeably to what is said in the prophet Ezekiel, (viii. 8–12:) " Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall; and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door. And he said unto me, Go in and behold the wicked abominations that they do here. So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed upon the wall round about. And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, . ... with every man his censer in his hand, and a thick cloud of incense went up." The Assyrian sculptures in many cases belong to the same category with the prophetic symbols, and they cast light one upon the other. We find in the figures uncovered by Mr. Layard the elements of much of the Hebrew idolatry, and a complete counterpart to the symbology of the prophetic Scriptures.
It would be interesting to give a catalogue in detail of the sculptures uncovered by Mr. Layard's excavations. A few only must suffice. They are as follows: Figures carrying supplies for a banquet ; a king standing over a prostrate warrior ; gigantic winged figures; beings representing the gods of the seasons, bearing in their hands appropriate emblems; a figure having a human body, with wings and the head of an eagle or other carnivorous bird ; an immense lion with wings and a human head; a king with his attendants, all having their bracelets, armlets, and weapons adorned with the heads of bulls and rams; figures carrying presents or offerings on trays, such as armlets, bracelets, earrings, etc. ; a figure accompanied by two monkeys held by ropes: the dresses of these figures are peculiar, and probably represent the captives of a distant nation bringing tribute to their conquerors; a winged, human-headed bull of yellow limestone, the head of which is now in the British Museum: under it were found sixteen copper lions, diminishing in size, in regular series, from the largest, which was upwards of a foot in length, to the smallest, which scarcely exceeded an inch. the sculptures, a broken earthen vase, having represented on it two human figures with the wings and claws of a bird, the
We add, among
breast of a woman, and the tail of a scorpion ; a castle on an island near the water: a tower in it is defended by an armed man-two more towers are occupied by females—three warriors escaping from the enemy are swimming across the stream, two of them on inflated skins, the third pierced by arrows is struggling against the current; prisoners of war with vases above them, also shawls and elephants’ tusks, representing the spoils of a conquered nation; a lion-hunt, the king standing over the prostrate lion; also a bull-hunt, with the king standing over the conquered bull. These two last are both in the British Museum. “The lion-hunt,” says Mr. Layard, “is probably the finest specimen of Assyrian art in existence." On another sculpture, two kings facing one another are separated by a tree, and over them the emblem of divinity with the wings and tail of a bird, inclosed in a circle, and holding a ring in one hand,—perhaps the symbol of endless existence; a king attended by eagle-headed figures, having suspended around his neck the astronomical signs frequently found in Assyrian monuments, to wit, the sun, a star, a half-moon, a threepronged or two-pronged instrument, and a horned cap; a king seated on a magnificent throne, with his feet placed on a footstool supported by lions' paws: on his breast religious emblems are carved, and on his robes various fabulous and other beings, and the king himself performing religious ceremonies ; a battle-scene of the most complete character, exhibiting in detail the whole series of events embraced in it and flowing from it, closing with the carrying away captive of the conquered nation, the menial employment of the conquered kings, and the preparation of the monarch's banquet in honor of the victory.
Besides the sculptured reliefs, other objects were turned up of equal interest. Among others were portions of armor, some of iron, others of copper, and others still of iron inlaid with copper; a glass vase“ of elegant shape and admirable workmanship;" and an obelisk of black marble about seven feet high, and covered with sculptures and inscriptions in perfect preservation; a pair of sphinxes about five feet in height and the same in length; and two or three sarcophagi, the relics in which crumbled in pieces immediately on being exposed to the air: the tenants of them doubtless belonged to the age when Nineveh was in its glory.
Some of these figures bring vividly to mind portions of the prophetic and other Scriptures, besides those already referred to. The human figure with the head and wings of an eagle casts light upon the passage in Isaiah xlvi. 9-11: "Re
member the former things of old, for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me. My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure; calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I also will bring it to pass." Here the Assyrian emblem is translated into words. Cyrus, who came from the east, was likened to the bird of prey. The wings might imply swiftness, and the head ferocity, as characteristics of the conqueror. The winged, human-headed lions are objects of great interest. They were carved with great perfection, and stood at an entrance. Mr. Layard remarks concerning them : "I used to contemplate for hours these mysterious emblems, and muse over their intent and history. What more noble forms could have ushered the people into the temple of the gods? What more sublime images could have been borrowed from nature by men who sought, unaided by the light of revealed religion, to embody their conception of the wisdom, power, and ubiquity of the Supreme Being? They could find no better type of intellect and knowledge than the head of a man ; of strength, than the body of the lion; of rapidity of motion, than the wings of the bird. These winged, human-headed lions were not idle creations, the offspring of mere fancy; their meaning was written upon them."
The winged, human-headed figure generally appeared with a horned cap, a fir-cone in one hand, and a square basket or vessel in the other. The horned cap may cast light on the manner in which the term horn is several times used in the Scriptures. Daniel's horn is a king. The king and his attendants, having their weapons adorned with the heads of bulls and rams, reminds us of that splendid prophecy of the defeat of the Assyrian troops under Sennacherib, (Isaiah, chap. xxxi. to xxxvii.,) in the course of which the prophet says, (xxxiv. 7:) “And the unicorns shall come down, and the bullocks with the bulls; and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust shall be fat with fatness.” The prisoners of war, with the spoils of the conquered represented over their heads, bring to mind the passage in Isaiah lx. 6, where the eastern nations are described as becoming captives to the Prince of Peace, and bringing to him their treasures. pir
The emblems most in use in the nation may also have given coloring to the prophecies concerning Nineveh. The frequency with which the winged lion is used in the Assyrian sculptures may account for the expression of Nahum, (ii. 11:) “ Where is the dwelling of the lions, and the feeding-place of the young lions ; where the lion, even the old lion walked, young lions."
and the lion's whelp, and none made them afraid. Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy
The lions here stand as a symbol of the city and its warriors. The eighteenth chapter of Isaiah commences, “Woe to the land shadowing with wings; "-an obscure passage ;-but if it refer to Assyria, the force of the expression is obvious. Never did a land abound more in sculptured wings, overshadowing beings on which they naturally belonged,
and beings on which they were set as symbols. The symbolic tree which often appears on the sculptures, and the fir-cone carried in the hand of the figures, account for the prophecy of Nahum, (ii. 3,) “ The fir-trees shall be terribly shaken,” implying the ruin of the city. The four living creatures seen in Ezekiel's vision (i. 4-28) had the mingled likeness of a man, an ox, an eagle, and a lion, (i. 10,) -the symbols which seem peculiarly sacred to the Assyrian nation, and all of which assume the greatest prominence in their sculptures. The wings of these living creatures (i. 6, 8, 9) in Ezekiel's vision—wings on beings which naturally are destitute of wings at once refer us to the symbols we have been contemplating. The figures were familiar to the eyes of the prophet and of his fellow-countrymen in captivity in Assyria, and the symbols in this vision were doubtless as intelligible to them as words are to us. The likeness of the lion under the throne in Ezekiel's vision (i. 10) recalls the throne in the Ninevite sculpture resting on lions' paws. The wheels and the rings of the vision (i. 15-18) evidently correspond to the Assyrian symbols of Divinity, and have the same meaning with Ezekiel which they had with the Assyrians. Ezekiel, however, gives perfection to the idea of Omniscience by describing his rings as “full of eyes round about,” (i. 18.)
It may be added to what has been said, that many of the sculptures in the mounds show marks of having been painted, in order to make them in every part more vivid and sife-like. The figures accompanied by monkeys, representing a conquered nation coming from a distance, and bringing with them specimens of the spoils of their country, are supposed to be from Africa; and traces of black paint can be detected on their faces. Gold-leaf was used to some extent. A few almost invisible particles have been found. Blue of a brilliant shade was also employed, and a bright red like vermilion. Hence it is said of Jerusalem, in Ezekiel xxiii. 12-15: “She doted upon the Assyrians her neighbors, captains and rulers,
clothed most gorgeously, horsemen riding upon horses, all of them desirable young men. Then I saw that she was defiled, and that she increased her whoredoms; for when she saw men portrayed upon the wall, the images of the Chaldeans portrayed with vermilion, girded with girdles upon their loins, exceeding with dyed attire upon their heads, all of them princes to look to, ..
as soon as she saw them with her eyes she doted on them, and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea." The flame in Ezekiel's vision was of the color of amber, (i. 4,) a color very common as a ground on the sculptures. The appearance of the living creatures was “like burning coals of fire,” (i. 13.) The throne was “as the appearance of a sapphire stone,” (i. 26,)—a deep blue.
“ As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about,” (i. 28.) Most of these colors were found by Mr. Layard, traced upon the sculptured walls, or fallen down among the crumbling debris and rubbish.
It would swell this article beyond its proper limits were we to attempt to accompany Mr. Layard through all his labors and discoveries. The work, once begun, went on with the highest degree of success. From one point to another he proceeded in his discoveries among the palaces of the ancient monarchs, till, in the short space of four months, he had examined twenty-eight chambers in the northwest palace. This was the most interesting spot, and secured the most of his time and pains. But a great achievement was his removal of a great winged bull and a winged lion from their places, to be carried by sea to England for the British Museum. This was a work requiring the greatest ingenuity and invention. In order to accomplish it, Mr. Layard was obliged to make a road from the interior of the mound, at a level with the foot of the sculpture, to the river,—which in some instances required an excavation of twenty feet in depth. The road being finished and the carriage built for the reception of these ponderous burdens, they were dragged down to the river by ropes by about three hundred Arabs, and there, a raft having been constructed for the purpose, were conveyed to English vessels to be sent home. Having accomplished this work, Mr. Layard turned his attention to some of the other large mounds, especially Kouyunjik, where he carried on the work of excavation with great diligence, and with equally satisfactory results. The sculptures were of the same general character as in the mounds of Nimroud and Khorsabad, but perhaps more various and complicated in their subjects. Having pursued his in