Page 0256


protuberant lips, a receding forehead, a broad, thick nose, and having the head covered

with the short crisp hair of Africa. Perhaps the people thus represented were the

primitive people of Susiana, originally derived from the south, and yielding at a later

date to a northern race represented in the other delineation.

Like most of the ancient peoples, the Babylonians wore their hair long. It does not

appear, however, that to the matter of head adornment they gave so much attention as did

the Egyptians and Assyrians. The sculptures show that the hair of the Babylonian was

generally arranged in a single heavy curl, which hung stiffly over the shoulders.

Sometimes the natural locks were left loose and allowed to fall about the neck. In some

figures the hair descends to the waist, and is braided or bound in a sheath. In other

cases the Assyrian fashion of a cluster of curls about the neck and shoulders, or a close

mass on the back of the head, is followed. Perhaps the time was when the dandies and

belles of Babylon looked to Nineveh for their styles as the world of absurdity now turns

to Paris in the matter of personal adornment.

After the manner of Arabia most of the Babylonians wore long, flowing beards. A

patriarchal appearance was thus given to many of the portraits. Sometimes the beard, when

not curling, fell nearly to the waist, and sometimes when crisp clung closely to the face.

The practice of shaving was common, and many of the delineations show the face smooth from

the razor. As compared with the Assyrians the prevalent complexion of the Babylonians was

dark and swarthy. Here again their old descent from the south had cooperated with the

current effects of climate to give to the features that bronzed and tropical aspect which

until to-day prevails in the country about the head of the Persian Gulf. Babylon lies four

degrees nearer the equator than Nineveh, and the prevalence of the intense summer heats of

the low plains of that region gives to the face a strong suggestion of Ethiopia.

Turning then from the personal habits and appearance of the people to their intellectual,

and moral traits, we find much to admire and not a little to contemn. In mental abilities

they surpassed most of the ancient races. They had inherited from their ancestors, the old

Chaldaeans, a large store of primitive learning. The attainments of the Chaldaeans in

astronomical and mathematical knowledge have been proverbial in all ages, .and this

scientific lore was transmitted to the Babylonians. The latter people not only maintained

but promoted the knowledge thus received from their predecessors. Their fame for learning

resounded through all Western Asia, and echoes of it were heard in the eastern parts of

Europe. The Greek historians and philosophers acknowledged their indebtedness to Babylonia

for many valuable inventions and much abstract learning. The scholars of the Empire were

in good repute, and their attainments appear to have been fully up to the measure of their

times and opportunities. The age was unscientific and unscholarly, and the maintenance by

any people of a respectable body of learning brought them deserved preeminence.

The Babylonians, however, were unable to rise above that superstition- which has been the

besetting sin of the human mind. They poisoned their scientific teachings with a vast mass

of groundless imaginings deduced from their own vague fears and conjectures. Astronomy

thus sank to the level of astrology, and science in general remained without a fixed limit

of certainty. The same degeneration of learning took place as afterwards occurred among

the Arabian philosophers of Baghdad, Cairo, and Cordova. For this reason the purposes had

in view by the scholars of Babylonia fell below the ends of true science. To determine

some occult or mysterious thing appeared to be the highest aim of their investigations. To

interpret dreams, or to determine from the aspect of the stars and planets the destinies

of human life, was the chief work of the Babylonian philosophy. The scientist became a

soothsayer, and the sage degenerated into a rhapsodist or prophet. The mind had not yet

learned in its investigations that in