255 BABYLONIA- PEOPLE AND CITIES.
Nebuchadnezzar, the like of which could not be found in any other portion of the ancient
world. The Babylonian nation was composite.
The three dominant race elements in the people of the Empire were the Semitic, the
Cushite, and the Turanian. By the first the Babylonians were allied with the Hebrews and
Phoenicians; by the second, with the Arabs and ancient Egyptians; by the third, with the
wild races of Northern Asia. With the progress of time, however, and the assumption of
afixed national type, the Semitic element in the Babylonian people became more and more
predominant. After the conquest of the country by the Assyrians this tendency was
increased. It was like the influence of the Normans among the Celtic inhabitants of
Western France. The race-type assumed in Babylonia became assimilated to that of Assyria
and the West. In the times of the later Empire the old antecedents had in a great measure
been lost in a fixed form, hardly discriminable by a common observer from the well-known
type of Assyria. It may, therefore, be assumed that the Babylonians of the time of
Nebuchadnezzar and his successors were a race of Semites, varied and modified by many
diverse lines of ancient descent.
In the physical appearance of the ancient Babylonians the historian must trust rather to
the delineations found on the Assyrian monuments than to representations left us by native
artists. Of the latter only a few portraits, drawn on cylinders, have been preserved; and
even these seem to present the Babylonian form and features such as they were in the times
of ancient Chaldaea, rather than at the high noon of imperial distinction. According to
these delineations the people of Old Babylonia were slender and lithe-a rather thin visage
and meager person. In later times, however, owing to the race-mixture already described,
and especially to the ascendancy of the Assyrians, this slight personal aspect of the
ancients was greatly modified. The Babylonians, like their northern masters, became strong
and massive-a big- muscled, strong-limbed race, whose bone
and brawn were the impersonation of strength and endurance.
It can not, of course, be ascertained how faithful are the representations made by the
Assyrian artists of the citizens of Babylon, or to what extent those artists merely used
the conventional types which they had been accustomed to chisel in the stones of Nineveh.
At any rate, the later Babylonians as depicted by their northern conquerors have the same
form and features as did the men who carved their portraits. A full account of the
personal appearance of the Ninevites has already been given in a chapter of the Third
In so far, then, as the physiognomy of the Babylonians differed from the well known
Assyrian type, the difference seems to be this: the eyes of the former people were larger
and not so almond-shaped as those of the latter. The Babylonian nose was shorter and more
depressed than the Assyrian, and the general expression was less determined and spirited.
No doubt these slight departures from the type prevalent in its best development at
Nineveh were the result of climate, and perhaps of some old inherited characteristics from
the ancient Chaldaeans.
In the country of Susiana there seems not to have been any such amalgamation of races as
existed in Babylonia proper. In the former province the old Cushite race remained
comparatively pure down to the times of the Empire. In this case, also, our knowledge of
the person and features of the people is due rather to Assyrian sculpture than to the
native art of Susiana. The delineations found amid the ruins of the Ninevite palaces prove
that there were two Susianian types, quite distinct and striking: the one, the ancient
Cushite just referred to, and the other, a heavy southern face, having the leading
peculiarities of the Negro. The two types are found side by side in the sculptures, the
one face being high and Caucasian in its general contour, the other marked with thick,
I As a general rule a northern climate raises the features into greater prominence; a
southern, depresses them. But in extreme latitudes the rule seems to be reversed, and in
the high north the features fall.