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Archaeological Discoveries at Susa


 

By Ernst Babelon

Librarian of the Department of Medals and Antiques in the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. 

Manual of Oriental Antiquities, including the Architecture, Sculptcure, and Industrial Arts of

Chaldæa, Assyria, Persia, Syria, Judaæ, Phœnicia, and Carthage. 

London: H. Grevel and Co. 1906.

 

 

 

 

I. M. de Morgan's Mission in Susiana
The progress of oriental archaeology leads us from one surprise to another. Year after year discoveries are made in rapid succession, which we watch with breathless interest as they transform and elucidate some chapter in the history of those primitive civilizations from which our own is in part derived. Following the discoveries made in Chaldæa, Assyria, and Phœnicia, another region of the East now takes its turn in throwing light on the past--the country of Elam, or Susiana, a region hitherto almost unknown to us, although in the earliest ages of the world it played an important part.

 

The ruins of Susa, situated at the north of Ahwaz, form a number of immense tells which cover an extent of four and a half to six square miles on both banks of the river Kerkha. The plain, which is dominated by these majestic mounds as far as the banks of the Karun, stretches far to the north, where it is bounded by the Bakhtiyari mountains. Southward it extends to the Arvand river (also known as Shatt) and Lower Chaldæa.

 

What new material may we draw from this ancient soil of Elam, to provide food for our chimæra-like appetite for universal knowledge; a soil where countless generations [p. 299] of human beings lie buried, piled on each other like so many geological stratifications, and surrounded by all the purtenances of their earthly existence:? The Greeks have merely transmitted to us baseless fables concerning the history of Elam. Ignoring all local traditions, the writers of the Macedonian period related that the mythical founder of this region was Memnon, son of Tithonus, and of Aurora; that he led a body of black warriors to the aid of Troy when besieged by the Greeks, and was slain in a duel by Achilles. Eos, or Aurora, wept for her son, and according to a pretty fiction it is the tears of this inconsolable mother which form the morning dew. Classical antiquity was cradled in such poetic stories of the mysterious regions of the rising sun, without any attempt to discover the actual facts. It is the Bible alone that has preserved the name of one of the kings of Susa, Chedorlaomer, a contemporary of Abraham.

 

In the present day, however, the power of deciphering the Chaldæan cuneiform texts has rendered us acquainted with isolated episodes of the political relations between the Elamites and the Babylonians and Ninevites.

 

In 1810 MacDonald Kinnear and Monteith accompanied General Malcolm on his mission to the Shah of Persia; in 1826 Sir Henry Rawlinson, and later again Sir A. H. Layard, visited the tells of Susa, and copied several inscriptions which had been laid bare by the heavy rains. As the monuments emerged from the rubbish, it became evident that only excavation could compel the mounds of Susa to yield the secrets they contained. [p. 300]

 

These excavations were commenced in 1851 by Sir Kenneth Loftus and Colonel Williams, who cleared the wells of the palace of Darius I., son of Hystaspes. The researches were then abandoned, and it was only in 1885 that the French Government commissioned M. Dieulafoy to carry on the work begun by Loftus. He laid bare the Apadana of Artaxerxes, and deposited in the Louvre Museum the magnificent Achæmenid fragments described in Chapter V. of this volume [p. 146 et seq]. But various remains and fragments of inscriptions of an age far more remote showed that merely the surface of the ruins had been touched, and that it would be necessary to undertake systematic excavations of greater depth. A diplomatic treaty signed May 12th, 1895, renewed and confirmed in Paris in 1900 by the Shah of Persia, accorded to France the exclusive right to carry out archæological excavations over the whole extent of the Persian Empire. M. Jacques de Morgan was appointed Delegate-General of Antiquities in Persia, with a special mission to carry on the researches at Susiana.

 

After encountering difficulties of every kind, M. de Morgan, accompanied by a number of colleagues, among whom we must mention one of the most eminent of contemporary Assyriologists, Père V. Scheil, arrived at the site of the ruins of Susa on the 16th of December, 1897, and commenced work there. The first results sent to Paris formed a special exhibition at the Grand Palais des Champs Elysées, in the spring of 1901, and occasioned great surprise and admiration. These remains consist of immense numbers of inscribed bricks, of bas-reliefs, of stelæ covered with [p. 301] cuneiform writing of most archaic appearance, and of works of art of a style hitherto unknown. Thus, in beginning the publication of these monuments, and the translation of the texts, M . Scheil could write without exaggeration or hyperbole: "It is here that the history of the country of Elam begins"; and he then proceeds to deal with those great problems of history, of which the solution had become the question of the moment.

 

What were the earliest civilizations of the East, and to what period do they carry us back? To what ethnic groups do the Elamites belong: What connection is there between Elam, Anzan, and Susa, and the three names given in the original texts to Susiana? Did there actually exist in that country a combination of institutions, political or religious, of a distinctive and independent character? What languages and what races of mankind met in that region which adjoins the land of the Semites, the Aryans, and perhaps the unknown language?

 

These are questions of deep moment, and they have obtained from the early excavating campaigns a hesitating and partial reply, which does not satisfy our thirst for the whole truth regarding the origins of the earliest civilizations. "The proto-archaic texts," says M. Scheil regretfully, "will show how limited is our knowledge both of the origins, which are continually becoming more remote, and of the primary factors of civilization, the number of which is steadily increasing."

 

We can only give a general sketch of the achæological results obtained up to July 1905, the date [p. 302] of the inauguration at the Louvre of the gallery devoted to the objects discovered up to that time. The work is still proceeding, and we may hope that it will be brought to a conclusion without interruption. Between January 1, 1897 and April 15, 1905 M. de Morgan has dug more than 280,000 cubic metres of earth and débris of all kinds, and he estimates further that it will be necessary to remove 1,280,000 cubic metres in order to bring the excavations to a final conclusion. Working at the rate of 35,000 cubic metres yearly, the archæological excavations at Susa will occupy not less than 35 years." [In proportion to the amount of the discoveries, the results are published, and the monuments reproduced and commented on, in the vast publication entitled Délégation en Perse, Memories publiès sous la direction de M. J. de Morgan, délégué-général (quarto, Leroux, editeur, Paris). Eight volumes have already appeared, the ninth is in the press (November 1905).]

 


Chronology of the Ruins According to Recent Discoveries
The researches we have just described, so far as they have been carried at present, show that many of the mounds of Susa, formed at an accumulation of débris and covered with a thin layer of sand deposited by the desert winds, were habited from prehistoric times to the Arab period. The prehistoric remains are found at a depth of over 80 feet, below the evidences of more advanced civilizations.

 

After digging through the accumulated remains of forty centuries, the virgin soil is reached, and here are found worked flints, primitive pottery, and other objects similar to those found on all prehistoric sites. Above [p. 303] the level of the worked flints, and the rough, hand-made pottery, shaped without the aid of the wheel, another civilization is found, more advanced, although still prehistoric, which produced vases in sandstone and calcite of various sizes, and--far more important and fundamental--seals or stamps, proofs of a culture widely removed from barbarism. These seals are hemispherical in form, and pierced with a hole for suspension. The vase or flat face is decorated with figures of animals engraved in rudimentary fashion by means of the drill and point. The most usual subject is a lion, or lion's head. But nowhere at this level of the remains has the slightest trace of writing been found. The dwellings were huts, made either of beaten earth or of crude bricks.

 

A thick layer of cinders and other unequivocal indications, enable us to assert that this primitive civilization disappeared owing to the massacre of the habitants and the burning of their dwellings. At this early period, to which it is impossible to assign even an approximate date, Susa suffered from some foreign invasion, and the pillagers installed themselves in place of the indigenous inhabitants, whom they destroyed. It is, therefore, a new civilization we find above the remains of the prehistoric people, and which introduces us to the domain of actual history, the commencement of the Elam-Anzanite period.

 

It is to this invading race that Susa owes her first written documents. These inscriptions, although they are in a language almost unknown to us, are undoubtedly the most important that this period has hitherto yielded. [p. 304]

 

The earliest text known is engraved on a bone cylinder [fig. 242]. The mere appearance of the signs strikes us with the remote antiquity to which they must be assigned; they are actually hieroglyphs. Among them apparently there can be distinguished an insect, a double comb, a quadruped, a bird, some grains of wheat, and a man carrying a double load on his shoulders. On the lower part of the cylinder two bulls are depicted, each with his head over a manger.

 

This object, which so far seems to be the sole representative of the earliest stage of cuneiform writing, and which leads us to question whether this mode of writing was not invented at Susa, is followed by a series of clay tablets ranging in size from 2 1/2 to 9 inches at the sides, and with the principal face covered with writing, of which the signs are almost cuneiform. Dr. Scheil, however, says of these that apparently "we have here a system of cuneiform writing other than that of primitive Chaldæan, or at least the result of an extremely independent evolution, very different to that which has given us the signs known as the Babylonian: evidently [p. 305] these signs, instead of being extremely archaic are linear in character, and geometric rather than hieroglyphic."

 

Dr. Scheil recognizes that these texts are arithmetical, and he has already been able to distinguish the elements of Elamite numeration [fig. 243]. Anyone studying them from the point of view of workmanship, will notice, as Dr. Scheil again observes, that the signs are inscribed with a neatness and certainty that indicates previous long practice on the part of the scribe. Nowhere can we discern errors or rough work, such as would be the results of early attempts and experiments. Thus we arrive at the conclusion that those texts were written by the invaders, who were already in possession of this system of writing when they arrived at Susa.

 

It is at this period that we first find cylinders covered with representations of animals, engraved on the surface before the tablets were baked or dried in the sun. These cylinders are of greenish enameled paste and very hard; only a small number has been discovered at present, but impressions made with some of the objects of this class agree for the greater part with the clay tablets. We give a reproduction of one of the most [p. 306] curious of these impressions [fig. 244]. Here we can distinguish giants, leonocephalic and taurocephalic, taming lions and bulls apparently for amusement. In this instance the style is very remarkable, and recalls that of certain animals on the finest of the Chaldæan cylindres.

 

Of this same civilization there is also a large number of alabaster vases; these are frequently decorated with incised lines, forming geometric designs; in some instances these vases have animal forms, such as ducks, pigs, fish, or seated monkeys, types generally figured in a summary and rudimentary fashion.

 

Above the proto-Elamite zone the ruins become confused and belong to different periods. It is obvious that the soil of Susa was constantly overturned and pillaged. Happily the beacon light of history now begins to guide our footsteps, and enables us to classify chronologically those remains, which are discovered in disorder. The written texts, which are increasingly numerous, from this time are divided into two main classes; the first written in a Semitic dialect, the second in the Anzanite language. This shows that in the country of Elam at that remote period an ethnic dualism existed, which corresponds with the double name for the capital of Anzan and Susa--a dualism [p. 307] which certain sculptured representations of the human figure also exhibit from the anthropological and ethnological point of view. The Anzanite inscriptions are still only partly decipherable, notwithstanding the insight shown by Dr. Scheil in commencing a study of them.

 

As to the inscriptions in the Elamite language, over a thousand have been brought to the Louvre. They are on slabs of stone, on blocks which have served as sockets for doors, and yet more are inscribed with a stylus on bricks.

 

These have been deciphered by Dr. Scheil; they give the names of the kings by whose commands the buildings were erected, in which they were employed. With the help of these clues, and guided by some more explicit texts and by the information about Susa already afforded us is the inscriptions of Chaldæa and Assyria, it has been possible to establish the first landmarks of the history of that powerful Elamite empire, whose complete annals will shortly provide a new chapter of the history of the Ancient world.

 

After the mythical period, in which such kings as Humbaba and Kudur appear, whose names so far only occur in legendary poems and stories, the earliest historical texts introduce us to the princes of Elam as vassals of the Mesopotamian suzerains. Of these the first is called Ur-iti-Adad, vassal successively of the two kings of Agade, Sargani-sar-ali, and Naram-Sin, about B.C. 3750. One of his successors, Karibu-Sa-Susinak, patesi of Susa, sakkanak of Elam, boasts of having built the temple of the god Sugu "the ancient," and of having constructed the canal of Sidur; he is a [p. 309] vassal of Dungi, king of Ur, and of Gudea, patesi of Sirpurla.

 

To the rule of the patesis at Elam succeeded that of the Sukal-mah. This was occasioned by a change in the suzerainty, which from being Chaldæan now became Elamite.

 

About B.C. 2280 the king of Susa, Kudur-Nakhunta, effected the conquest of Mesopotamia and decorated his capital with the spoils of the towns of Chaldæa; notable among these was the statue of the goddess Nana, which he caused to be transported from Uruk [Erech] to Susa.

 

Long after, Hammurabi, king of Babylon, delivered Chaldæa from the domination of Elam, and one of his successors, Kuri-galsu, even succeeded in entering Susa as a conqueror. But later again the Susians gained their revenge; they took Babylon by assault, and carried away the statue of Bel.

A king of Susa, Shutruk-Nakhunta, boasts of having devatasted Chaldæa, and of having seized the stelæ of Melishikhu; he records that he took some hundreds of towns, brought back several kings as captives, and built a large number of temples at Susa. His grandson, Shilkhak-in-Shushinak, restored these buildings, where the stelæ, the kudurru, and the statues of Chaldeæan divinities were placed, with all the precious objects taken from the towns of the Tigris valley.

 

The names of about twenty other Susian kings are known; they belong to two or three different dynasties, and we can trace the existence of conflicting races in Susa itself. This fact is further shown by the [p. 309] variety of languages which are found written in cuneiform character.

 

By turns conquerors and conquered, the Susians passed from the rôle of oppressors to that of oppressed; raid succeeded to raid, with results as contradictory as the gusts of wind in a gale. The kings of Nineveh, who during the twelfth century B.C. became the most powerful rulers of this part of the world, were the dominating power in Chaldæa and constituted themselves protectors of the country against the incursions of the Susians. Under Sargon, king of Assyria [B.C. 722-705] and his successors there began a mighty struggle, which ended with the ruin of Susa by Assurbanipal in B.C. 647. We must here recall that strange and tragic episode of the annals of the Assyrian monarchy.

 

The king of Nineveh, relating his conquests in the land of Elam, records that sixteen centuries earlier Kudur-Nakhunta, king of Susa, had invaded Mesopotamia, and carried away the statues of the Chaldæan gods, more especially the image of the great goddess Nanâ, which thus remained prisoner until he, Assurbanipal, went to her rescue: "The King of Elam, Kudur-Nakhunta placed his hands on the temples of the country of Accad, and he carried away the statue of the goddess Nana: His days had been multiplied and his power was very great. The great gods permitted these things, and for the space of 1635 years this image remained in the power of the Elamites. That is wherefore I, Assurbanipal, the prince who adores the great gods, I conquered the land of Elam . . . . The statue of the goddess Nana had been in adversity for 1635 years; she had been carried into captivity in Elam [p. 310] a country which was not consecrated to her. The goddess with the gods, her fathers, proclaimed my name as sovereign of the nations, from this time forth, and she entrusted to me the task of rescuing her statue. She said: Assibanipal will cause me to come forth from Elam, a land of the enemy and will establish me again in the Temple E-anna. This divine command was pronounced in bygone days, but it was only those of my own time who explained it. Then I seized the hands of the statue of the great goddess, and, in order to rejoice her heart, I caused her to take a direct road to the Temple E-anna. The first day of the month of Kislev, I caused her to enter into the city of Uruk, and I reinstated her in the eternal tabernacle of E'anna, the temple of her choice."

 

The Ninevite bas-reliefs, which accompany these curious inscriptions, effectively represent a procession of Assyrian priests and soldiers, carrying the reconquered ancient idols on their shoulder with great pomp.

 

At the time of the destruction by Assurbanipal, Elamite Susa contained, not only the objects of art, the statues and valuable monuments relating to the history of Elam and the cult of her gods, but also, under the title of spolia opima, all the valuables which had been brought by the kings of Elam from their expeditions into Chaldæa as trophies of victory. Assurbanipal recovered the greater part of these objects, and replaced them in the towns from which they had been taken; the booty was immense, as he himself records. But much would naturally have been effectually concealed, and this he would be forced to leave behind at the time of the sack [p. 311] of the town; he also left a number of objects of secondary importance, such as certain statues, stelæ, and kudurru, which had originally come from Chaldæa.

 

Undermining and incendiarism destroyed all that could not be laden on the backs of the soldiery and animals of the Assyrian army, and thus Assurbanipal effected the complete ruin of Susa.

This explains the circumstance that a number of monuments and objects of Chaldæan origin are found in the ruins of Susa among others indigenous to Elam.

 

The capital of Elam appears to have been built once more after the departure of the Assyrians, for a cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar informs us that this prince built many temples there, as well as at Babylon.

 

Susa never again really recovered her ancient splendour until the time of the second dynasty of the Achæmenid kings of Persia. Darius, son of Hystaspes, made it the capital of his realms, and until the rise of Alexandria, Susa remained the most important centre of art, and of Persian civilization [see Chapter V.].

 

At this period, Susa was once more the theatre of events similar to those which so many centuries before had agitated her existence. When the entire East, Susa, as well as Babylon, and even Sardis, had fallen into the power of the Persian Achæmenids, and when Darius and, later, Xerxes, invaded Greece in B.C. 492 and 480, the Hellenic sanctuaries were pillaged in their turn. The Persians carried away their treasures, statues, and ex-votos across Asia as far as Susa, and there placed them in their own temples as trophies of their victories. When, in his turn, Alexander in B.C. 331 invaded the East, as avenger of the Hellenic race, he laid a heavy hand on the treasures of Susa; in that capital he discovered the great works of art of Greece, more especially the bronze statues of the Tyrannicides, Harmodius and Aristogiton, which Xerxes had carried away from Athens: these the conquering Macedonians were delighted to restore to the Athenians. The temple of Didyma near MiIletus, like all others, had been pillaged by Darius , and its treasures carried off. What must have been the astonishment of M. de Morgan when he discovered in the course of his excavations a huge bronze knucklebone, weighing more than 152 lb. and bearing a Greek inscription of the seventh century B.C., recording that this singular object was dedicated by a dweller in Miletus to Apollo Didymæus.

 

Thus we find an ex-voto from the Temple of Didyma carried to Susa by the Persians under Darius, and which has now found its way to the banks of the Seine, an object of astonishment to visitors to the Louvre. This enormous knuckle-bone is provided with two handles to facilitate transport. The upper one, worn through by long-continued friction, shows traces of the iron bar or hook passed through it for its long journey from Miletus to Susa. Thus history--Proteus with his thousand forms--repeats itself unceasingly under its many transformations; even modern times furnish us with numerous episodes similar to those just related. [p. 313]

 


The Principles of Building
Speaking generally, there can be no study of the architecture in elevation, as the ruins afford no examples [p. 313] of building in stone. We are forced to confine ourselves to examining the ground plans of the buildings, the pavements, and the foundations. Everything else has fallen to pieces, or been reduced to powder. In some of the tells of Chaldea, however, remains of temples and palaces have been found with the lower courses still in position.

 

It is in consequence of this that we have been able to give M. de Sarzec's reconstruction of the plan of the palace of Gudea at Tello [fig. 2, p. 9]. The American Archæological Mission has also discovered at Niffer [Nippur] the lower courses of a zikkurat, or staged tower, in excellent preservation. In this region the building materials were frequently kiln-baked bricks, and mortar made of bitumen of such exquisite quality as to render the walls of such consistency that at the present day it is necessary to use powder to demolish them.

 

At Susa, so far as investigations have been carried at present, it appears that crude bricks were usually employed in building, and without the bitumen mortar, with the result that the walls were easily demolished, both by the pick-axe of the intentional devastator and by the corrosive action of the weather. "Thus on all sides," says M. de Morgan, "reigns the greatest of confusion of piled-up materials."

 

One exception has thus far been found, a small temple of the god Shushinak, where the plan can be traced, owing to the basement having been constructed of baked bricks, with revetments of glazed sandstone. Large numbers of tiles have also been found, enamelled with yellow or pale green and bearing the name of king Shutruk-Nakhunta. This is the class [p. 314] of decoration which developed during the Achæmenid period, of which we have previously given some specimens. [See p p. 168, 169, 171 [figs 135, 136, 137].

 

The hiding-places found under the pavement of the temple yielded a number of votive objects, which are exceedingly interesting and valuable. Of these we shall speak later; we must now only mention the brick columns, the principle of which has been studied, and of which we give a representation [fig. 245]. [p. 315]

 

This column is composed of a number of bricks, all of which bear the name and protocol formula of the royal builder, Shutruk-Nakhuta. Some of these bricks are square, others round, and others are segments of circles. The figure here given sufficiently indicates how they are arranged, and it will be seen that the principle is precisely the same as in the similar constructions at Tello [see p. 10, fig. 3].

 

Observations made on the spot show that the column was worked over from the foundation after its construction, for many bricks with the name of Sutruk-Nakhunta are reversed, and there are others with names of other kings. To obtain more precise information on Elamite architecture and building, we must wait for further discoveries, which will surely not be long deferred. [p. 316]

 

 

Stone Sculpture
The earliest example of the sculptor's art found by the de Morgan Mission up to the present time is a Chaldæan stela, transported from Babylonia to Susa as the result of some victory. It is an obelisk of black diroite, similar to the statues discovered by M. de Sarzec at Tello, of pyramidal from with a rectangular vase. It measures 4 ft. 3 in. in height. The four faces are covered with cuneiform inscriptions in a language which is a mixture of Sumerian and Semitic. The writing is very fine, inscribed with care and delicacy, and the text comprises not less than 7,600 signs. It refers to a king named Manishtu-Irba, as purchaser of lands in the neighbourhood of Kis, to the [p. 316] north of Bablyon. This monument is surely epigraphic, and bears no sculptures, at any rate in its present condition. [Memoires de la Mission, vol i., p l. ix.]

 

Another example dates back to the same period, and is also Chaldæan in origin. It is a fragment of sandstone pavement [37 x 17 1/2 inches] on which is sculptured in relief one of those fantastic genii peculiar to Chaldæan mythology. He has a human head, and is standing, holding with both hands the boughs of a sacred tree similar to that represented on the Chaldæan cylinders. The eye is enormous and disproportionate, the nose prominent and arched, the chin retreating:

above the mouth there is a small dropping moustache, while the beard, formed at first of small regular curls, divides into a series of straight locks and falls square over the breast. A striped band, finished with an ornament shaped like the ear of an animal, forms the head-dress, and from it a heavy coil or twist of hair falls to the shoulder. There is a pair of immense horns on the top of the head. The body ends at the loins with animal's feet and a lion's tail. The style and type of this genius recalls in a striking manner the most archaic of the bas-reliefs of Tello. [Memoires de la Mission, vol, vii., p l. i., fig. A.]

 

On other stone reliefs are unfolded before our eyes a convoy of prisoners in chains, or again, the episodes of a siege, the immolation of prisoners, vultures devouring the corpses on a field of battle; on another there is a figure of a god with long twisted beard, and massive shoulders, placidly seated on his throne and receiving the homage of the prince who is under his [p. 317] protection. These scenes, at once expressive and severely simple, are excellent specimens of primitive Chaldæan art as revealed to us at Tello. Imported into Susa by conquest, there is nothing Susian about them.

 

The most interesting of these Chaldæan monuments discovered in the rubbish of the Elamite capital is undoubtedly the triumphal stela of the king Naram-Sin [fig. 246], which attracted much attention immediately after the notification of its discovery by M. de Morgan and Dr. Scheil in 1898. This stela is sculptured on a block of sandstone, covered with bas-reliefs and inscriptions. It is 6 ft. 4 in. high and 3 fit. 2 in. wide; the outline is irregular and the sculptor has utilized the [p. 319] whole for his composition, without attempting to get rid of the irregularities, as though the block itself possessed somewhat of a sacred character and was held inviolate, even before the addition of the sculptures with which it is decorated.

 

A primary inscription relates that Naram-Sin, king of Agade in lower Chaldæa, 4000 B.C. caused this stela to be erected, in order that there should be engraved on it the account of his warlike deeds against the people of Lulubi.

 

But the stela bears a second inscription, added long after the time of Naram-Sin. This new cuneiform text is not Chaldæan; it is in the Anzanite language and bears the name of Chutruk-Nakhunta, king of the Elamites.

 

Notwithstanding the uncertainty which still attends the interpretation of Anzanite texts, Dr. Scheil has been able to ascertain that in this inscription, Chutruk-Nakhunta boasts that he has carried off the stela of Narem-Sin from the town of Sippara in Chaldæa, after a victory, and has had it removed to Susa, and caused this inscription to be cut on it, mentioning his victory and the removal of the stela. Thus this monument, discovered by M. de Morgan, was originally a trophy of victory of the Chaldæan king, Naram-Sin, which later became a similar trophy of Chutruk-Nakhunta, when the Elamites took vengeance on the Chaldæans and succeeded in invading Chaldæa.

 

The curious bas-relief which decorated the greater part of the stela, dates back to primitive times, and represents, not the conquest of the Elamite kings, but those far earlier victories of the Chaldæan, Naram-Sin. [p. 319] M. de Morgan thus describes it: "The king, victorious over the Lulubis and their allies, is pursuing his enemies in the mountains. At the head of his army he c limbs the heights; corpses cover the ground and roll over the precipices; the vanquished, who have taken refuge in the forest, are imploring mercy from their conquerors, to escape falling under their weapons. The stars of heaven, favourable to the armies of Agade, are illuminating with their glow the glories of Naram-Sin. Such is the motif that guided the sculptor, and such no doubt was the leading idea given him by the king. As to the interpretation, the arrangement of the figures, and grouping of the whole scene, that is the work of the artist.

 

"The composition of the bas-relief of Susa is clever in its simplicity. Only eight armed men are figured, to represent the army of Agade, which is led by Naram-Sin in person. Two act as scouts in the forest, while six represent the body of the troops. Three men are falling dead and one wounded under the bows of the king, to express the carnage wrought on the foe by the conqueror, and four fugitives are holding up their hands to figure the submission of the conquered. Two trees remind us by their shape, of the sparsely wooded forests which cover the mountains of Kurdistan."

 

Such is the summary synthesis of the victories of Naram-Sin, the sight of which must have struck the imagination of the Chaldæans, reminding them of the mountainous and wooded country which had been the theatre of so terrible a slaughter.

 

The country which forms a setting for this scene is depicted with the same simplicity we find later in the [p. 321] Chaldæan and Ninevite sculptures, and may be compared more especially with the Chaldæan work on the Vulture Stela found by M. de Sarzec at Tello [see pp. 25, 26, figs. 11, 12, 13]. An enormous cone, with various undulations surrounding it, represents the mountainous country that is pervaded by the army of Naram-Sin. A few trees suggest the forest, superposed registers take the place of perspective. The figure of the king is colossal, to assert his superiority--a convention possessed by Chaldæan art, in common with the art of Egypt and Assyria. His calm attitude indicates that he has gained the victory without the slightest difficulty. On him, thus figured after the manner of a Greek hero as a demi-god, the artist has concentrated his principal efforts; it is he on whom attention must be centered. His body is well proportioned and well drawn, although stiffened into a conventional attitude, the eye is large, the nose short, the beard silky and flowing long over the breast, and the working of the muscles is powerful and remarkably realistic.

It may be objected that the figure is too narrow, and we should consider it altogether too slender, were it not that the same defect appears in the other figures.

 

"The only defensive armour worn by Naram-Sim," remarks M. de Morgan, is a casque. This is a pointed cap, ogive in form, which rests on a band surrounding the forehead. This band has two pointed pads reaching to the top of the cap--one in front, the other behind--and is adorned with two horns, whose curves harmonize with the outline of the head-dress. A metal screen falls over the nape of the neck, protecting the neck and [p. 21] shoulders. With his left arm the king is clasping to his breast his bow and battle-axe, in the right hand he holds an arrow, hesitating as the suppliants kneel before him, whether to deal one more blow with his weapons. . . .

 

"Naram-Sin fought half naked, wearing only one tight narrow garment, which affords full value to all the parts of his body.

 

"The tunic, crossed on the chest, is embroidered at the collar; it is drawn tightly round the body and knotted at the side. Two long folds fall below the knee; on the neck is an amulet; heavy bracelets are on the wrists, and a long girdle round the waist. The legs are bare, and on the feet are sandals with flat soles, similar to those worn at the present day by many Orientals, fixed on by straps passed between the toes, and fastened together above the ankle."

 

On close examination it will be seen that the two groups of warriors depicted, the victors and the vanquished, clearly indicate their distinguishing characteristics, from the ethnical and anthropological point of view. The first--the conquerors--have the Semitic profile, while the second--the conquered--have a profile approaching the Negritic type. Thus, in this carefully sculptured piece of so remote a date, we find realism, which is most minute in detail, associated with most fantastic conventions as regards the general arrangement of the composition--a double characteristic which, as we have repeatedly maintained, has always remained the original stamp of oriental art.

 

The ethnic peculiarities of the Negrito race are even more strikingly indicated on a fragment of bas-relief [p. 322] which represents the bust of some person, nude, bearded, with a small cord tied round the head [fig. 247] . What living realism there is in this lean body, bony and loose jointed! What close study of nature in the knitting of the muscles, the crisp thick beard, the enormous projecting lips, the nose with its distended cartilages, and the disproportionate eye presented full face! In all this is there not an amount of character which bespeaks a sincere art, observant of nature, and capable of rendering it with brutal frankness?

 

The celebrated code of laws of Hammurabi, the most important monument which up to the present time has been exhumed from the ruins of Susa, is, also, not of Susian origin [fig. 248]. Hammurabi was king of Babylon, and the stela on which his law is engraved was taken from Chaldæa. The text itself tells us its origin. It was originally at Sippara, in the Temple of the sun, the god who inspired the precepts engraved on the monument. Shutruk-Nakhunta caused it to be transported to Susa after his victorious campaign into Chaldæa. It is a block of diorite, with a circumference of about 6 feet at the base, and is 7 ft. 3 in. in height. It resembles an enormous ovoid pebble, carefully polished but not shaped, a characteristic which we have observed in the stela of Naram-Sin and a large number [p. 323] of Chaldæan monuments. The whole surface is covered with fine close writing, engraved with most careful precision. The space at the top of the stela is reserved for representations in high relief of the god Samas, holding out his hand to the king, who is standing before him, giving him the stylus, with which to write his laws. The costume both of god and King is purely Chaldæan.

 

Again Chaldæan in origin, although of far later date, is a small diorite fragment of bas-relief called the bas-relief of the Spinner. It represents a woman sitting on a stool, her legs crossed and feet behind in the tailor's attitude. She is holding her spindle with both hands; in front of her is a fish lying on a table, and behind her a slave is waving the fly-flap.

 

The round chubby faces of the figures recall the bas-reliefs of Khorsabad, which represent the eunuchs of the Ninevite palace.

 

Among other stone monuments with which the excavations at Susa have enriched the Louvre Museum, there is a considerable series of large ovoid diroite blocks, [p. 324] similar to the famous Cailou Michaux, which is figured earlier in the book [page 34, fig. 21]. The original name of these objects is Kudurru, which corresponds with the idea of "limit, boundary," These are titles of rural properties given to important personages, or to temples, by the kings of Babylon. In addition to the inscriptions, which fix our attention, these Kudurru are covered with bas-reliefs of monstrous figures of gods and demons, under whose supervision the contract is placed, or who would punish those who should dare to change the object and its inscriptions. Those bas-reliefs, where the Babylonian divinities are seen accompanied by their totems, are only of mediocre workmanship, but the figures carved on them are exceedingly interesting and curious. At the top of these objects there is generally the figure of the celestial serpent rolled up or outstretched. The kudurru found at Susa do not differ from those of Chaldæa, and are undoubtedly imported from that country.

 

One of the most remarkable is that of Melisihu, king of Babylon. Another, which deserves special notice, is that of "Nazi-maruttas, king of Kis, son of Kurig-alzu, descendant of Burna-buryas, king of Babylon." By way of a specimen we give here an illustration of one which offers a special peculiarity--it is unfinished [fig. 249]. It will be seen that the figures are winged. [p. 325] Huntsmen, gods, serpents, lions, and birds, the usual decorations of theh kudurru, are well engraved, but the cuneiform text is absent. The space reserved for it is framed by two columns, the body of a serpent and a crenellated frieze. It appears, therefore, that this object must have been seized in Chaldæa by the Susians, before it had been utilized and consecrated.

 

From this general sketch of the stone sculptures which so far have been recovered from the ruins of Susa, one essential fact stands out prominently; stone-carving was not practiced in Susa: all the monuments hitherto discovered were brought from Chaldæa. They are Chaldæan sculptures imported into Susa by the victorious Elamites. [p. 326]

 

 

Bronze Metal-Work
Owing to the fact that they lived in a country where stone could not be obtained without great difficulty, the Susians built their houses, palaces, and temples with brick: and it was doubtless due to the same cause that they showed themselves so eager to carry off the stone statues and bas -reliefs that adorned the Chaldæan cities, and which they seized by right of conquest, to embellish their own capital. The same reason will also explain the extraordinary development we find in the metal-working of the Elamites from the earliest times. With them, bronze took the place of stone. They made bronze statues, bronze bas-reliefs, bronze beams, and such was their knowledge and technical dexterity, that we might almost assert without fear of exaggeration, that bronze metal-working was as advanced three [p. 326] thousand years before our era, as it has ever been in modern times.

 

M. de Morgan brings this to the proof by exhibiting at the Louvre, among his Susian discoveries, a bronze cylinder 14 ft. 3 in. in length, cast in one piece, like a cannon of average caliber, and covered over the whole surface with archaic cuneiform inscriptions, in the name of the Elamite king, Shilhak-in-Shushinak. Another cylinder of the same class, but not quite so long, is larger in diameter.

 

What can have been the purpose of these colossal tubes, which are cylindrical, except at the ends where they are squared? One of them is inlaid with small gold studs. It is improbable that they were columns; it appears more likely that they were placed horizontally as beams, or railings, intended for the protection of a nation of giants.

 

Another bronze object not less strange, is a species of altar, or rather a sacrificial table. This also is made in one single casting, 5 ft. 3 in. long, 27 1/2 in. broad, and 12 in. deep. It is pierced like a stone sink, to allow liquids to escape, and round the sides it is decorated with two enormous serpents. There are also five human busts, Atlas-like figures, who support the altar on their powerful shoulders. Unfortunately, this colossal object has been mutilated with unusual fury; it bears many traces of blows from a mallet, and all the protruding parts have suffered. The five Atlas heads have been broken off and have disappeared. The victorious pillagers, it appears, only stopped their vengeance when their strength was exhausted, and when the enormous metal slab, reduced to a shapeless [p. 327] block without projections, resisted all their efforts. A large number of other objects found by M. de Morgan, both in stone and bronze, bear also! similar traces of the merciless and brutal hatred displayed by the various races which disputed the domination of Elam.

 

In consequence of this treatment, it is impossible to judge the sacrificial table from the artistic side. For this point of view we must turn to a bronze bas-relief, dated in the reign of Sutruk-Nakhunta, which may be considered the earliest artistic monument, well-preserved in the essential portions, which is also actually Elamite [fig. 250]. This bas-relief is damaged at the sides, and pieces have been violently broken off, but a fragment still remains, 3 ft. 3 in. in length, and about 2 ft. in height. The most deeply cut reliefs project about half an inch. "It consists," says M. de Morgan, "of three superposed registers; the upper one is almost completely destroyed, and only enough remains to enable us to discover the subject depicted on it: these are figures of human beings and of animals. The middle register is rather more than 16 in. in height, and on it are seven figures 14 in. high, walking towards the right. The lower register was greatly neglected and merely contains drawings of birds and trees, worked with the burin . . . . [p. 328]

 

"The seven personages in the middle register are all alike. The left hand is lowered and holds a bow with a double curve, while the right brandishes a large curved dagger over the head. Behind the right shoulder the quiver can be seen full of arrows, and the strap worn across the breast. They wear large head-dresses, below which hangs their long hair. The beard is worn long, and from their general appearance they appear to belong to the Semitic races. The tunic which covers the body is confined at the waist by a belt, and falls below the knees, open in front. Although they are carefully studied and rendered with tolerably correct proportions, these figures are far from presenting the artistic qualities of the sculptures on the stela of Naram-Sin. They are stiff, too slender, their limbs are lanky, and their feet disproportionately long.

 

"Notwithstanding these defects, they are superior to Assyrian work, and show that the Elamites possessed artistic instincts to which we are not accustomed among Semitic people of this period." [Mémoires, vo l. i. [1900], pp. 163-164]

 

The inscriptions accompanying these figures are in the Elamite language; they are votive, and refer to the building of temples in honour of various divinities.

Thus, possessing no stone for carving bas-reliefs comparable to those of Nineveh, the Susians supplied the deficiency by casting gigantic bas-reliefs in bronze. Their knowledge of metallurgy, which was so marvellously developed, extended yet further: having no means of obtaining great blocks of diorite such as were employed by the Chaldæans for the statue of Gudea at [p. 329] Tello, they demanded of their bronze-founders, statues of that metal, similar to those of their neighbours. They succeeded in producing statues more than life-size at one single casting, in solid bronze.

On entering the Salle Susienne at the Louvre, one's attention is immediately drawn to the bronze statue of queen Napir-Asu, wife of king Untash-Gal, who reigned B.C. 1500. This statue, of which the head unfortunately is lost, is life-size. With outstretched fingers the queen crosses her hands over the breast, on her wrists there are quadruple bracelets, and on the fourth finger of the left hand she is wearing a ring; the anatomical details of the finger-joints are particularly well rendered. The costume consists of a long fringed robe that falls to the feet. The general outline of the skirt is bell-shaped, and is striped and sprinkled with stars, no doubt intended for spangles worked into the tissue. The bodice is tight-fitting, and shows the outlines of the figure; on the shoulder there is a jeweled fibula, and down the length of the sleeves there are elegant clasps. Finally, a large embroidered shawl is thrown over the shoulders; one end hangs in a point in front, like the enormous wing of some bird. It is, indeed, marvellous that such details could be accurately rendered in a statue of solid bronze, weighing I know not how many tons .

 

In addition to these gigantic specimens of Elamite bronze-casting, we possess a large umber of votive statuettes in bronze as well as utensils of every kind and form. In the foundations of the temple of the god Sushinak, more especially, a number of bronze statuettes were discovered. These represent generally [p. 330] figures of men standing, the hands raised to the body, either holding a bird as though making an offering to the god, or in other instances in the Chaldæan attitude of prayer [fig. 251].

 

In the example we give here, the figure is holding a bird with both hands, the head is completely shaved as in the diorite statues from the palace of Gudea [see p. 27, fig. 14]. In all these instances, the metal-work of Susa is a copy or imitation of Chaldæan sculpture.

 


Jewellery and the Industrial Arts
One of the most sensational discoveries effected by the French Mission in Susa was that of January 22, 1904, when a gold and a silver statuette were found in perfect preservation and original in style [fig. 252]. That they were votive offerings is shown by their having been found under the pavement of the Temple of Shushinak with other offerings of less surpassing interest, among which was a small diorite staff with the head of a lion in gold filigree, executed with marvelous delicacy. As it is necessary to make a selection in order to keep within limits, I must content myself with describing the gold statuette. It is 2 1/2 in. [p. 331] in height, not including the bronze pedestal on which it is placed. It was worked over with the burin and punch after being cast , and, as in the case of the bronze statuettes, the figure recalls the products of Chaldæan art [compare, for example, fig. 27, p. 40]. It represents a man standing dressed in a garment delicately fringed round the lower edge, below which the feet are partly visible. His right arm is raised, the hand outstretched in the attitude of prayer; with the left he is holding a young bird to his breast, an offering to the god whose protection he is imploring; again the usual subject of the bronze statuettes. He has a long beard, his nose is straight and prominent, his eyes disproportionately large, and the chin is retreating. His abundant hair is expressed by fine reticulated lines, and on his immense head there is a tiara, which resembles in form a twisted piece of material. The dress on the front of the body is sprinkled with small stars; round his waist is a girdle, and the skirt of his robe is dotted with small holes made with a punch, which no doubt represent embroideries or gems worked into the material.

 

The silver statuette found with the gold figure is [p. 332] almost exactly like it, and is also in perfect preservation. Both are probably figures of the king who was founder of the temple, and supreme pontiff; he is bringing to the god the victim to be sacrificed on the occasion of laying the first stone. We might dwell at length on the want of proportion in the different parts of these statuettes; the head is too large, the ears badly placed, the chin too low on the chest. They are nevertheless exquisite examples of goldsmith's work, of unusual size, and essential as illustrating the history of Elamite art.

There is another piece, that would be even more important than these statuettes had it reached us in a better state of preservation [fig. 253]. This is a silver mask in repoussé work, and one hand of the same metal, which formed part of a statue probably of wood, the nude parts, the face and hands, being of silver. Numerous silver studs which remain riveted in position must have been intended to fix the metal to the wood. The wood has decomposed, and only the oxidized metal remains. The statue must have been one -third of life-size.

 

Judging from the features, the head represents a woman of Semitic type; it may perhaps have been an image of the goddess Nana. The two hands were closed, holding some objects which have now disappeared, the large eyes were made of carved ivory, [p. 333] and the pupil, which has also disappeared, was probably made of some glittering gem. At the same time that the silver mask was recovered, two head-dresses of glazed sandstone were found [fig. 254]. One of these is in the form of a wig divided into two parts, one covering the head, the other falling over the neck. The front of the head piece is decorated with a projecting gold button in the centre, and there are also thirty-five gold studs arranged in front; the back and sides are decorated with silver and brass studs.

 

The second of these headdresses is also in glazed sandstone, and is a kind of cap or turban, shaped like the knob of a stick, and decorated over the whole surface with nine rows of bronze disks held in place by nails of the same metal arranged quincunx fashion. [Mémoires de la Mission, vol. vii., pl. x.] This kind of cap was usual among the Chaldæans, and we find examples both on bas-reliefs and cylinders.

 

There are numerous objects in ivory which date back to the primitive period of the history of Elam. These consist of engraved plaques, figures of animals, statuettes, and small implements. Of this series we must call attention to a delightful ivory figure 4 1/4 in. high, of which unfortunately the head is missing [fig. 255]. It represents a woman standing, her hands [p. 334] crossed on her breast, as in the Tello statues. Her costume consists of a long dress reaching to the ankles made in one piece with only a trimming of braid round the bottom, and a different pattern of braid on the bosom. It covers the shoulders like a cape, leaving the fore-arms bare. The modelling of the arm has been studied with elaborate care . A fringed shawl in narrow pleats is thrown over the right shoulder above the dress, and falls over the back and the front as low as the knee. A hole pierced in the neck shows that the head must have been separate and fixed on; possibly it was of gold, and a deep groove on the border of the cape at the neck and over the elbow indicates that it also was of gold.

 

The lists of objects of all kinds found up to the present time, with the fine works of art we have been considering, have already filled several volumes: This means that these industrial objects almost enable us to evoke the daily life of the ancient inhabitants of Elam. There are cylinders, some in glazed pottery, others in ivory, h*matite, chalcedony, and jasper, which were employed to seal their contracts; alabaster vases of various shapes; an immense number of small gold, silver, and bronze rings, and also flat disks in these metals, which may have been used for money; a dove in lapis-lazuli, studded with gold; magnificent gold bracelets and others of silver and bronze, often worked [p. 335] with great delicacy, pins, fibul*, pennants, beads in glass, alabaster, lapis-lazuli, and pottery, sometimes incised with geometric designs: domestic utensils, heads of staves or sceptres, axes, knives, and various weapons: there is nothing missing of the ordinary outfit of the subjects of Shutruk-Nakunta, king of Elam, the great conqueror and builder.

 

Two horns made of alabaster, bearing inscriptions in the name of this prince, must have belonged to an enormous bull's head. [Mémoires de la Mission, vol. xix, p. 90 and pl. iii.] There are numbers of objects of a votive character, which appear to have been thrown in quantities into the foundations of the temple of Shushinak. Griffins' heads in gold, animals' heads in pottery, lions carved in agate in the round, bulls' heads in lapis, pennants in carnelian mounted in gold, sheets of gold with Anzanite inscriptions. There is ample space in this new field of archæeology for studying these objects, for classifying and comparing them, and drawing from them all the information that can be afforded by their examination.

 

Want of space forbids our dwelling longer on this subject, and for the same reason we will say nothing about the numerous monuments of the period of the Persian Achæmenids, nor with yet stronger reason of the time of the Parthians, Arsacids, and Sassanians, which does not enter into the scheme of our present volume. And yet, in bringing this rapid sketch to a conclusion, we will remark that, of all the discoveries made by M. de Morgan, that which is perhaps most admired by the public is the gold jewellery, set with precious stones, which came from the tomb of a woman [p. 336] of the period of the Persian Achæmenids. It is advisable to compare it from a technical point of view with the more ancient jewellery of the Elamite period.

 

These bracelets, pennants, and gold beads, these multiple rows of the richest necklaces, bear witness to the extraordinary luxury of the courts of Darius and Xerxes, and may well dazzle us. Noticeable among these treasures are pendants formed of minute gold curls, in imitation of the curled and wavy manes of lions. Here I believe we find an artistic innovation of striking originality in a form of art bound by conventions and traditions.

 

The setting of the gems in gold mounts of marvellous delicacy has not in any civilization attained a higher level than in Achæmenian Susa. It is necessary to use a magnifying glass to examine this minute and delicate work. Here is the perfection of the goldsmith's art, and these Persian jewels of the fifth century B.C. now form a preponderant and essential factor in the question round which so much controversy rages, of the origin of cloisonné jewellery. [p. 23]

 

 

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