392 UNIVERSAL HISTORY,--THE ANCIENT WORLD.
an arc thereof, was a river channel passing through and furnishing water to the
inhabitants. Perhaps the course of the stream had been artificially rectified, as the
antiquarian has found it to be a right line through the midst. In this respect the city
was not unlike Babylon, receiving the river through the wall on the one side and
permitting its outflow on the other. There was thus formed two segments, a greater and a
smaller, within the circle of the wall. In the smaller and eastern division were the
burial-grounds of the people, while the residence portion occupied the greater division
west of the stream. Here were placed the public buildings, the palaces of the king and his
officers and nobles, and whatever temples the religious system of the country demanded.
All these structures have in great measure gone down to dust; but enough remains to give
the antiquarian a correct idea of the whole. The ruins have been explored by Layard,
Fergusson, Ainsworth, and Ross, with the same general result as to the character of the
ancient buildings of the city. Special attention has been directed to a large edifice
standing near the center, and considered to have been the palace of the king, with perhaps
an adjoining temple. Around the whole was a wall in the form of a parallelogram, having
the respective dimensions of seven hundred and eight hundred feet. The wall was of cut
stone, and was strengthened at frequent intervals with bastions like those found in the
outer rampart of the city. Within this inclosure were two courts, the first being open and
free from architectural remains, and the second containing the ruins of the two edifices
to which we have just referred.
It is believed that the larger of the two, so far as the ground plan was concerned, was
the less important and imposing. It has been conjectured that this division of the general
structure was intended as a residence for the king's guard, the minor officers, and
servants of the court. The second building appears to have been the royal residence. It
consisted-as has been determined by the ruins-of seven principal halls lying parallel,
opening to the east. Three of these were of larger and
four of smaller dimensions. All were arched or vaulted. The smaller halls were thirty feet
in depth and twenty feet in width, and the height was thirty feet. The larger halls had a
depth or length of ninety feet, were thirty-five feet in breadth and sixty feet in height.
Into these vaulted and elongated chambers light was admitted from the eastern openings,
which are supposed to have been closed with curtains in the times of occupancy.
The observer standing in front of the structure would see a facade of cut stone well laid
in a great wall from right to left, pierced by seven archways, resembling very much the
entrances to stone viaducts, tunnels, or the under arches of bridges, such as we see in
modern architecture. These arched halls constituted the great apartments of the palace.
They were ornamented within, and at the further extremity terminated in smaller rooms,
which were doubtless the sleeping chambers of the occupants. In the facade, considerable
skill was shown by the stone- cutters and builders. The seven arches, three of greater and
four of smaller dimensions, were so arranged as to give a pleasing effect. The arches were
sprung from sculptured pilasters, bearing spirited figures, some real and some
mythological in character. In one place a female form, floating in air, was represented in
away to remind the beholder of the more elegant figures thus suspended in the mural
decorations of Pompeii. In several places heads were carved in the stone, particularly in
the keystone, in a manner peculiar to the Parthian workmen.
The side walls of the arched halls within were relieved by square pilasters rising from
the floor to the spring of the vault. In this part much ornamental work was done. There
were capitals and ovals arid peculiar carvings of several varieties, especially in the
line of the cornice. Here again, on the capitals of the pilasters, were. found human heads
and mythological creatures, some of which were truly remarkable in character, and without
likeness among any other known sculptures. It has been noticed, moreover, by antiquarians,
that the figures in question were all marked by a striking quality of spirit and activity-