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272 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

manner cast molten. The gold and silver facings so much used as a covering for walls and

furniture were thin plates hammered into proper shape. The great castings, such as

enormous bronze gates, doors, portcullises, etc., were of a sort to be set in fair rivalry

with the works of modern times. Of smaller castings of the same material there were a

multitude: bracelets, armlets, dagger handles, small, figures in imitation of the human

form, or the forms of animals. Such were set as decorations about the halls and hearths of

the Babylonians.

The pottery of the nation was as good as the fine wares of Assyria, from which it differed

in no essential particular. Brick- making was better understood than by the Ninevites,

with whom stone was more prized. From the kilns of Babylon all kinds of cups and vases and

jars were produced of good quality and in great abundance. The colors preferred were

yellow and red and green. The vessels thus produced were symmetrical, being evidently the

work of the potter's wheel. They were of elegant shapes, but were without ornamentation,

the only exception being in the case of vases, which sometimes have a raised band carried

around the exterior surface in the form of a spiral. Glazing was frequently employed, both

without and within.

Among the other arts practiced by the Babylonians was that of glass-blowing. Several

bottles and vases produced by this method have been found in the ruins. These articles,

however, are not very perfect either in design or execution. Every specimen is more or

less warped from symmetrical outlines. The glass composing them is in some instances

tolerably clear; in others tinted with coloring matter. There are some grounds for

believing that the artisans of the country were able to produce large masses of solid

glass, but no actual discovery has verified the supposition. The historian Pliny has

contributed a rather apocryphal story about the presentation to an Egyptian king by one of

the Babylonian monarchs, of a huge block of green glass, or emerald, six feet in length

and four and a half feet broad. No nation of antiquity, with the possible

exception of the Phoenicians, surpassed the Babylonians in the manufacture of textile

fabrics. The products of the factories of the capital were famous as far as civilization

extended. As far west as Athens and Carthage the carpets of Babylon were prized above

those of every other country. The dyes employed were imperishable, and the designs used

were artistic and beautiful. The figures of animals, real and fabulous, were woven into

the patterns with well-nigh as much skill and delicacy as by the looms of modern times.

In like manner cotton goods were produced of the finest and best quality. Brilliant dyes

and beautiful patterns made these fabrics so attractive that the kings and princes

preferred them for garments. Such goods were exported to foreign countries, and were the

admiration of the connoisseurs of Sardis and Damascus and Memphis. Nor was the manufacture

of linen less conspicuously successful. At Borsippa and other places in Babylonia

factories were established which produced great quantities of linen fabrics, these being

the goods commonly worn by the people.

It is the misfortune of nations living in a pre-literary age that their learning is either

unknown or discredited by posterity. The lore of the Chaldees perished for want of books.

The tradition of it only is preserved in the literature of the Western nations. But this

reflected light has indicated ancient Chaldaea as the birthplace of several branches of

learning, most notably the science of astronomy. Over these old Babylonian plains was

arched a cloudless sky. The great heats of midday made the calm twilights and starry

nights of summer the time of out-door meditation. Overhead the benignant planets pursued

their everlasting courses. The upturned face of that unscientific age caught from the

bending heavens the first sublime lessons of the universe. To trace the paths of familiar

stars., to watch the silent revolution of

I It is interesting to note how the various products of manufacture will be reversed in

value in the processes of civilization. The relative values of cotton, linen, woolen, and

even silk goods have been many times interchanged in the course of history. The same may

occur again.