240 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
country of Susiana, beyond the Tigris. This province constituted the easternmost part of the kingdom of Babylon, and is first to be considered in describing the character of the countries dominated by Nabopolassar and his successors.
SUSIANA, corresponding with the modern provinces of Khuzistan and Luristan, lay between the river Tigris and the Bakhtiyari mountains. The breadth of the country is one hundred and twenty miles. The surface is, for the most part, an alluvium, rising on the east into a hill country abutting against the mountains. The upland part is a beautiful region, covered with fine woods and full of springs. Across the country from the mountain spurs and running to the westward are many rivers of excellent character, clear and rapid. The country in the western part and in the valleys of Luristan is fertile in an eminent degree; but as the hills rise higher and higher on the east the land becomes bare and rocky, comparatively unfit for the abode of either man or beast. This mountainous barrier, however, constituted an excellent eastern boundary for the Empire-easily defensible against the encroachments of enemies. Looking down from this rocky rampart a country lay spread to the westward whose sloping hills and narrow valleys and swift streams of shining water framed a landscape similar to those presented on the Median slopes of the Zagros. Taken all in all, the province of Susiana was one of the most attractive and valuable districts which Nabopolassar inherited from Assyria.
Next in importance among the Babylonian provinces may be mentioned the VALLEY OF THE EUPHRATES, above the city of Hit. This was a long, serpentine piece of territory conforming to the course of the river. On the west it was bounded by the Arabian Desert, and on the east by the highlands of Mesopotamia. Through this tract the Euphrates makes its way, sunk in many parts in a deep bed and pressed between banks of limestone and gypsum. At intervals on either hand the hills rise to a moderate height and are covered with shrubs and stunted timber. In other parts
the course of the river is marked by a narrow strip of date-palms, willows, and tulips. So deep is the bed of the stream and so impervious the banks that the presence of the fresh- water tide is felt for but a short distance, and by the same circumstances irrigation is rendered difficult or impossible. The chief value of the valley is as a line of communication between Babylonia and the West. By this route Abraham and his household journeyed from Ur to Canaan and afterwards the invasions and counter-invasions between Syria and Egypt, on the one hand, and the Empires founded on the Euphrates and Tigris on the other, were made through this natural gateway.
The chief fertility of this valley is found on the western or Mesopotamian side. Here, at intervals, especially in the upper course of the river, the cultivable land spreads out to a considerable distance, and is sufficiently fruitful to yield fair rewards to husbandry. The forests, too, improve north of the Khabour, and the general features of the country are such as please the eye and suggest civilization. In the times of Assyrian and Babylonian greatness this region along the Euphrates was filled with a large and active population. The river was one of the great lines of commerce, not only between the upper country and Babylon, but also in a larger sense between the East and the West.
The third province of the Empire was Mesopotamia Proper. Something has been said of this region in the description of Assyria. The name indicates the boundaries. It is likely, however, that that portion of Mesopotamia in which the streams take their course to the Tigris rather than to the Euphrates, was not included in the part allotted to Nabopolassar in the division of Assyria. Doubtless, the valley of the Tigris was taken, along with the trans-Tigrene provinces, by Cyaxares as his portion of the conquest. But all that large region in which the waters of the rivers-notably the Khabour-fall off to the west and join the Euphrates, went naturally and politically to Nabopolassar and his successors. This Euphratine slope of Mesopotamia