269 BABYLONIA- ARTS AND SCIENCES,
practically imperishable. Another very superior quality were of a bluish tinge, sometimes
almost black, and were well- nigh as hard as stone. The softer sorts- half-burnt
varieties, etc.--were red or pink, and could be easily broken into fragments.
The sizes employed were variable, but the standard make were from twelve to fourteen
inches square on the face and three or four inches thick. For the corners and angles sizes
and shapes were used which were adapted in form to the situation. The bricks were all cast
in molds, after the manner of modern times, and were stamped on one face with a monogram
or inscription. The die was always sunk below the surface, so that the design, whatever it
was, should not be injured or broken away in laying or handling. In building walls or
other masonry, the bricks were generally laid horizontally, though in some instances the
vertical position was preferred. In other cases both plans were adopted, a row being set
vertically after each horizontal layer.
The material used to keep the bricks in place was cement, and of this there were three
varieties. The first was composed of a mixture of common clay and chopped straw. In
building, this mortar was used more abundantly than by modern masons, being sometimes laid
on to, the thickness of two inches. The second sort of cement was composed of bitumen, and
was identical with that employed by the Chaldaeans. This variety was used in basements and
pavements, and especially in those parts of structures which were exposed to the action of
water. The third kind was composed of lime, and was of a quality un- surpassed, perhaps
unequaled, by that employed in any other country. Until to- day, the great masses of
bricks piled up in the basement squares and thick walls of the Babylonian ruins are held
together with a tenacity which seems to defy alike the insidious onset of the elements and
the stroke of the antiquary's hatchet.
That which is the most striking feature of the present ruins of the Babylonian plain, and
which, no doubt, was most striking in the original edifices, is their great magnitude.
They are imposing by their size. In this respect they are allied with the monuments of
Egypt. There is about them a certain impressive grandeur, which, next after the gigantic
structures of the Nile valley, strike the beholder as the most majestic remains of
antiquity. They make up in massiveness what they lack in beauty, and their sameness and
silence heightens rather than weakens the vision of vanished greatness.
Passing from architecture to painting and sculpture, but little is found to admire. Only a
few fragments, mutilated by time and accident, have survived to the present; and from
these it may not be properly judged what was or was not the attainment of Babylonian art.
Of sculpture, a half-dozen broken pieces have survived. Of these the most important is the
figure of a colossal lion standing over the prostrate body of a man, found on the top of
the mound of El Kasr. Artists and antiquarians have pronounced the work of little merit.
The figure of the lion in many parts deviates from the outlines of nature, and in some
features is distorted. The form of the man is so clumsily done as to be hardly
distinguishable. A certain pose and grandeur of general effect, faintly suggestive of the
sculptures of Egypt, are all that redeem the group from contempt. 'Of figures modeled in
clay a few have been discovered. The best is that of a mother and child. The statuette is
no more than three and a half inches in height. The mother sits. The child is encircled in
the left arm. The figures are nude, the attitudes graceful. The general effect is
pleasing, as if deduced from nature by an artist. The figures were originally glazed with
some sort of enamel, which has peeled off, exposing the clay.
Of bas-reliefs the best specimen is that of one of the Babylonian kings. The piece is now
preserved in the British Museum. It is a black slab, upon the surface of which the figure
is engraved with excessive details of ornament. There is very little grace or artistic
skill displayed in the work, though the finish is almost as fine as that of the Assyrian
sculptures. The proportions of