260 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
other ancient city. Rome could have been two or three times inclosed within these walls,
and Nineveh was hardly one-fifth as great in extent.
It must not be supposed, however, that this whole area of a hundred square miles or more
was actually occupied with the buildings of the city. An open space all around was left
inside of the walls, and even in the parts covered with edifices or devoted to streets
there was doubtless much unoccupied ground. Orchards and gardens and parks would intervene
here and there, and certain parts would be reserved for public or private improvements. It
is believed that the city by the extent of space thus included within the walls, and not
actually appropriated for building purposes, was rendered quite independent of outside
support in case of invasion or siege; for the rich grounds which were not devoted to
building could be made quickly available for gardens.
For an elaborate description of Babylon we are indebted to Herodotus. The streets were
broad, and were laid out at right angles. The city was thus divided into blocks or
squares. The walls were pierced on each side with twenty-five gates-a hundred openings in
all. The gates were the termini of the streets, so that the whole inclosure was divided
into six hundred and twenty-five great squares. These in their turn were divided into
smaller blocks by less important streets, and along these the imposing houses of the city
The buildings of Babylon were generally three or four stories in height. They were not,
however, of so solid a character as those of Nineveh. Good building-stone, that sine qua
non of architecture, was wanting in Babylonia, and its place had In a large measure to be
supplied with less desirable materials. The walls were for the most part of brick, and the
beams and frame-work were of the palm-tree, which constituted the one available timber of
the country. Of the trunks of this tree the posts and columns were fashioned. About these
were twined for decorations
1 At the smallest estimate each of these squares contained nearly a hundred acres.
wreaths of rushes, and the whole was then covered with stucco, and made to resemble carved
pillars of stone.
The Euphrates entered the city by one archway and found an exit by another. Along its
whole course inside of the walls the banks were paved for a great distance with bricks
laid in bitumen. Thus were constituted the wharves of Babylon. The river, moreover, was
inclosed with a wall on either bank running parallel with its course, and preventing the
waters from overflow in times of floods. These protecting walls were pierced with arched
openings at every street crossing, and through these openings the crowds of merchants and
market people and idlers made their way down to the river bank, where boats were ever
ready for conveyance to the other side. In case of high water the archways were shut, and
the walls became continuous. In some places, instead of the ferry, the river was spanned
with bridges, over which the crowds jostled from side to side. These bridges were built
with a draw between the piers, so that communication could be easily cut off. As an
additional means of passage, a tunnel (if we may believe Diodorus) was constructed under
the channel from shore to shore. This passage was fifteen feet in width and twelve feet in
height, being paved and walled and arched with bricks.
Perhaps the most remarkable single structure of Babylon was the great temple of Belus. It
was founded four-square, in an inclosure a quarter of a mile long on each side. It
consisted of a great tower or pyramid, on the top of which was placed the shrine of the
deity. It was built some- what after the manner of the structures of Egypt. The basement
was a square of solid masonry, measuring over six hundred feet on each side. On this was
an- other square of smaller proportions, and on this another, and so up to the summit. The
ascent to the top was on the outside by means of steps, which wound around the edifice.
The height of the temple was four hundred "and eighty feet, being but a few feet less than
that of the greatest Egyptian pyramid. The summit over-