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BOOK FIFTH

BABYLONIA.

CHAPTER XIX-THE COUNTRY.

OF the general character of the low-lying plain at the head of the Persian Gulf much has already been said in the history of Chaldaea. It is only necessary to consider the leading features of that peculiar district It consisted of two parts: that between the rivers

Tigris and Euphrates, and the long and irregular strip of country bordering the latter river on the right bank, and bounded westward by the Arabian desert.

The area of the first division, or LOWER MESOPOTAMIA, was nearly eighteen thousand square miles, and of the western tract about nine thousand square miles-making the entire area of what may be called Babylonia Proper not far from twenty-seven thousand square miles. The whole region was an alluvial deposit, the product of the two great rivers of Western Asia. The boundary on the east was the Tigris; on the south, the Gulf of Persia; on the west, the desert; and on the north, a line drawn from Samarah on the Tigris to Hit on the Euphrates. The district thus defined was less than the kingdom of Portugal.

BABYLONIA PROPER, however, was only the nucleus of the vast Babylonian Empire, whose greatness is now to be considered. It will be remembered that Nabopolassar, on his defection from Saracus, the last king of Assyria, received from his ally, Cyaxares, the viceroyalty of Babylon. This he organized into an independent kingdom-the first step in a career of conquest which laid the larger part of Western Asia tributary at the feet of his successors. It is with the extensive countries thus brought under the sway of Babylon that we have now to deal.

At the downfall of Nineveh, and in the division of spoils between Cyaxares and Nabopolassar, it is not easy to determine precisely what countries fell to the share of the latter. A few historical references and the nature of the countries subdued by the combined arms of Media and Babylonia are the only indications of the limits of the parts claimed by the respective conquerors. In a general way it may be said that the western and south-western parts of the Assyrian Empire fell to Nabopolassar, and the residue to Cyaxares. Besides this natural division, the Babylonian prince claimed and obtained the important 239