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ever, was not placed centrally over the first, but was displaced or drawn over towards the

south-western edge of the lower platform. The displacement was such as to make the offset

on one side measure thirty feet and on the other but twelve feet. The third square was

laid upon the second in precisely the same manner as the second on the first. This

platform was also twenty-six feet in height, and measured one hundred and eighty-eight

feet on each side. The fourth square was laid on the third in the same manner as the

others; but the thickness of this platform was reduced to fifteen feet, the sides

measuring one hundred and forty-six feet, and the same style of displacement towards the

south-west side being observed.

Above the fourth stage in the Birs the effects of the ruin become more manifest, and

estimates have to be substituted in many parts for exact measurements. The fifth square

was of the same thickness as the fourth, and was laid in like manner. The sides of this

platform and of the sixth and seventh squares measured one hundred and four feet, sixty-

two feet, and twenty feet respectively. The thickness of fifteen feet for each platform

was maintained to the top. On the seventh square was erected the shrine of the god, being

a cube of fifteen feet in each of its dimensions. The whole height of the original

structure was, therefore, one hundred and fifty-six feet, and the theodolite shows that

the present height of the Birs is within three feet of the original elevation! The blasts

of twenty-five centuries have not sufficed to level the house of Nebo with the Chaldaean


The great temple was an embodiment of Babylonian mythology. The seven platforms were

dedicated to the seven planets known to the ancients. To each of these planets a color was

assigned, according to the astrological notions of the Chaldaeans. To the Sun was given

the color of gold; to the Moon, silver; to Mercury, blue; to Venus, yellow; to Mars, red;

to Jupiter, orange; to Saturn, black. To this planet was assigned the basement square,

which was accordingly painted black. The second platform was dedicated to Jupiter, and was

painted orange. The third was given to Mars, and was red. The fourth, or golden square,

was assigned to the Sun; the fifth, or yellow, to Venus. The sixth, or blue platform, was

sacred to Mercury; and the last was assigned to the Moon and received her color-silver.

These colors were laid on in various ways, some being burnt in the surface of the bricks,

some painted, and the fourth and seventh squares-and with the latter perhaps the shrine

itself-being faced respectively with thin layers of gold and silver!

It will thus be seen that the Tower of Nebo rose, like the temple of the "Medes in

Ecbatana, In successive bands of brilliant color. Viewed from a distance, the effect must

have been such as to attract and please the eye.i Doubtless, when the sun flashed his

splendors upon the brilliant hues of the great pyramid, or when the full-orbed moon in

milder radiance diffused her light around the gigantic pile, the awe-struck worshiper may

well have imagined that Nebo himself was enshrined on the summit.

A strange fact relative to the Birs Nimrud monument is that no stairways or other means of

ascending to the top have been discovered. It is possible, however, that more extensive

explorations "would uncover flights of steps. The face of the first or basement square of

masonry was in several places indented with niches, but these seem to have been for

ornament rather than for statues. It may be remarked, also, that the third platform was

less durable than the rest, owing to the fact that the bricks composing it were, in order

to secure the blood-red color, only half-burnt, and were thus left perishable.

Antiquaries have decided that the sloping or receding side of the mound facing to the

north-east is the true front of the Tower. It is also believed that within the platforms

of masonry were apartments where the priests of Nebo lived; and it Is not 1m-

1 It will be observed that the Babylonians were either ignorant of the charming effects of

the solar spectrum, or else they preferred to sacrifice beauty to their mythology. The

beautiful contrasts of color were quite neglected in the arrangement of the bands on the

successive squares.