261 BABYLONIA- PEOPLE AND CITIES.
topped the city. From the shrine the whole panorama of Babylonian glory lay spread below
as a picture. Palaces and marts, walls and river, quays and decorated boats, and beyond
all the limitless plains of old Chaldaea, down to the distant horizon of the desert,
furnished perhaps the most wonderful vision which the eyes of man beheld anywhere in the
precincts of the ages that are dead.
The shrine on the summit of the tower contained originally three colossal statues; one of
the god Bel, one of Beltis, and one of Ishtar. Here were two great censers and three
golden bowls, the drinking cups of the three deities. In front of Beltis were placed two
lions of gold and two silver serpents, weighing each thirty talents; and these were
accompanied with two huge bowls of silver of the same weight as the serpents. These
splendid treasures, however, were carried away at the time of the Persian conquest; and
when Herodotus visited Babylon the shrine was dismantled. The statues were gone. So also
the golden lions, the serpents, and the drinking-cups. Instead of these were set a golden
table, and a couch draped with a rich covering. The old Greek historian found on his
ascent to the top, about half-way up, a resting-place arranged with seats for those who
ascended and descended the great tower.
The second and less pretentious shrine at the base of the edifice had also been despoiled
by the Persians. Originally there had stood in this place a colossal human figure, wrought
of solid gold, twelve cubits in height. In the time of Herodotus there remained only a
small sitting image of Bel, with a golden table placed in front. Here the offerings of the
worshipers were laid in the presence of the deity. In front of the basement of the temple
were set two altars of sacrifice, and on these human beings were probably offered up to
appease the anger of the Warrior Bel.
Not equal to the temple of Belus in height, but of greater ground dimensions, was the
royal palace. This also was a quadrangular edifice, and was surrounded with three-fold
ramparts of masonry, the outermost being nearly seven miles in
extent. The inner wall measured more than two miles around, and the basement of the palace
proper was of an incredible size. The two inner walls were faced with enameled bricks,
upon which were pictured a vast array of animals. The scenes were chiefly from the chase.
In one part a lion is thrust through with a spear, and in another a huntress hurls a
javelin at a leopard. No complete description of the parts and general appearance of this
great building has been preserved. It is only known that there were three bronze gates to
the palace, so massive as to require machinery to open and shut them.
It was within the inclosure of this royal palace that were constructed the famous, Hanging
or Elevated Gardens of Babylon, which constituted one of the "Seven Wonders" of the
ancient world. Their con- struction was due to the caprice of Amyitis, the Median wife of
Nebuchadnezzar, who, pining for her native hills, besought her royal spouse to create for
her a landscape. A rectangle was selected, each side of which measured four hundred feet.
Around this space were built a series of open arches, and upon these, serving as piers,
other rows of arches were erected, after the manner of an ancient theater; and thus the
vast structure arose to the height of seventy-five feet. Upon the summit was spread an
abundance of earth, and here not only were seeds sown and flowers reared and shrubs
transplanted, but trees of the largest growth, brought from distant provinces, were set in
their native beauty. It was a miniature Bois de Boulogne, created on a hill of masonry.
On the banks of the Euphrates was set a huge hydraulic machine, working after the manner
of the screw of Archimedes, and by this means water was raised in pipes to the summit and
distributed about the gardens; and to prevent this water from percolating to the masonry,
layers of rushes and floors of bricks laid in bitumen and sheets of lead were interposed
between the superincumbent earth and the supporting arches beneath. On the outside, at
convenient intervals, were flights of steps leading to the top, and along the ascent were
grottoes and resting-places, where the