251 BABYLONIA-CLIMATE AND PRODUCTS.
the conclusion of any great transformation.
In ancient Babylonia wheat grew native, as did also barley. Lentils and sesame came
without culture, but more abundantly with it. The edible roots peculiar to most parts of
the north temperate zone grew plentifully and yielded large crops to the gardener. The
date palm flourished in all the southerly parts of the Empire, and the great apple-belt of
the world crossed the Babylonian plain. The fruits of the country were various, and grew a
plentiful supply without the perils of winter rigors or the untimely frosts of spring.
The yield of smaller grains was almost like that of Egypt in abundance. The character and
amount of some of these crops as given by the ancient historians is well-nigh incredible,
and can only be accepted on the supposition that the alluvium of the Euphrates valley was
still fresh in its native powers, arid that the indigenous wheat-plant and other similar
growths felt here the rich impulses of nature.
The products of the Babylonian plain have already been sketched in the history of
Chaidzea. Those of Susiana were similar. Wheat and barley yielded a hundred fold. The
date-palm flourished. In the native woods grew^ acacias and poplars. This region, like
parts of Media and Persia, is the home of apples and pears. Nearly all the fruits peculiar
to the better parts of the north temperate zone grew ripe and abundant in the upland
districts and foothills of Khuzistan. The mountain slopes of Susiana furnished a fair
supply of timber, and this was sometimes cut, as in Phoenicia, and floated down the
streams to the populous districts, where the cities were built. For building materials,
however, the palm-tree-straight and tall and easily hewn-was generally preferred, and this
tree grew best in the low plains next to the Gulf.
In the district hitherto described as the Valley of the Euphrates-meaning that part of the
valley above the alluvial plain of Chaldaea-the products are not much varied from those of
Susiana and Babylonia proper. As we ascend the river one of the peculiarities is the
the olive instead of the date: the latter prefers the sand. Next come the mulberry and the
pistachio-nut, and the walnut is abundant. In this region, as well as in many parts of
Mesopotamia, the vine flourishes, though the valleys of the great rivers seem not to have
equaled those of Syria as it respects the vintage. The small grains-wheat, millet, and
barley-grew well in all the arable districts bordering on the Upper Euphrates; and the
orchards, in addition to apples and pears and plums, yielded good crops of pomegranates
The northern portion of Syria was better adapted to pastoral pursuits than to agriculture.
In general, there was more forest and less productive soil. It was from the dense woods of
Northern Syria that the kings of Nineveh, in the days of her glory, brought the treasures
of timber with which to adorn the palaces of their capital. In various parts of this
region immense forests of walnut, oak, pine, poplar, and ash are found, furnishing an
almost limitless amount of lumber. In the open country wild shrubs appear in abundance-the
oleander with its splendid flowers, the honeysuckle with its fragrance, the myrtle with
its deep green leaves. In the orchards grow the orange and the olive, the pomegranate and
the mulberry. The vine also is cultivated, and pistachio-nuts and walnuts flourish as well
as in Mesopotamia. The vegetable growths of the garden are similar to those of like
latitudes in Europe. Of general products the castor-bean is-and has always been-one of the
most important staples of Syria; and in modern, though perhaps riot in ancient, times,
cotton assumes its place among the products of the country.
Nearly all of the native and transplanted growths of Babylonia are found in South-western
Syria. In this part of the dominions of the Empire, however, the heat was more intense
than in the northern provinces, and the greater moisture from the proximity of the sea
tended to create certain modifications in the products of the country. Here, also, are
found the highest mountains within the limits of the ancient