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PHILADELPHIA, MARCH, 1917.
A Visit to Babylon
BY PROFESSOR A. T. OLMSTEAD, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI.
Let us imagine ourselves visitors to Babylon, perchance Greek mercenaries come to offer our services to Nebuchadnezzar. We have left behind us the rolling prairie and have come down into the flat mud plains. At last, there appears on the horizon a long wavering line of palms, marking the course of the Euphrates. Then we behold, rising against the sky, a long low ridge which we identify as the circuit wall of the city. Leaving to our right the huge fortress at the northern projection of the walls, we come closer and observe that the circuit wall really consists of
two, with towers bristling across each and with a
space between so wide that four-horsed chariots may drive along the top and thus troops may be rushed with the greatest ease from one spot to another along the whole circuit of eleven or twelve miles. In front lies a deep fosse filled with water, while the outer face is of the very best quality of burnt brick. We come to a broad gateway and pass through its double doors of cedar wood overlaid with copper. Amazement seizes us when we realize how massive the wall is, ninety feet in all, but our wonder is a little lessened when we note that the inner wall is but mud brick and when we are told that this alone was the circuit wall before the days of Nebuchadnezzar. Passing through gardens and villas, now being crowded out by the new houses, the rapidly increasing population demands, we reach the inner city wall, again double, but this time with both frankly of mud brick. Our guide informs us that here we have the age famous walls of the old city, called respectively Imgur Bel, “Bel has been gracious,” and Nimitti Bel, “My foundation is Bel.” We cross a canal and enter the main residential portion of the city. The streets do not wind, as we are accustomed to see them at home, but run straight ahead, forming square blocks of houses. Some of the streets are paved and our guide remarks with pride that some are also drained. After the blazing heat of the open country, the narrow streets of houses crowded closely together furnish a welcome shade. We would gladly see some bazaars from which we might buy and the dull monotony of the dead walls does not even furnish a window. There is one break, a curious vertical stepping back in a constantly receding line on the mud brick fronts of many of the houses. Our guide tells us that this is due to the fact that the squares are not quite square after all, that the houses set due north while the streets run somewhat to the south of west. Fortunately, we are not to be kept in a vermin-haunted inn, we are to reside
in the house of a merchant not far from the line of the great procession street. We enter the vestibule, avoiding the entrance to the right, which leads to the more private apartments, and pass through the porter's lodge to wait in the next until the master of the house has been informed of our arrival. After some delay, due to the fact that he is taking his afternoon siesta, we are led across a good sized court with the servants' rooms to one side, and enter a large room, almost fifty feet long, which is shut off from the noise of the street by rooms on all sides and is cut off from even the heat of the courtyard, leaving but a small opening. With its cool looking walls, washed with white gypsum mortar, it is indeed a most comfortable place. Our duty done, we bathe, eat, and climb the wooden stairway to sleep on the flat roof. The next morning we arise early, to visit the sights in the cool of the day. First we are taken to Emah, the temple of the goddess, Nin mah. It is our first Babylonian place of worship, and we examine it with interest. It is built entirely of crude brick, for the ever religious Babylonians do not dare neglect the unwritten law which says that no new fangled processes must be used. The temple is therefore merely a great block with few ornaments. Here and there the dead walls, covered with white plaster, are broken by vertical groovings and towers with stepped battlements project on either side of the gate. Passing the altar of crude brick at the entrance, and the double leaves shod with bronze and set in stone sockets, we note how the door was shut on the inside with a huge beam. In the court, we see the cult well, metal vases set in depressions in the pavement, caskets for offerings each side of the door. Here we take our stand and gaze through the room to a second where, on a low pedestal set in a shallow niche, is the statue of Nin mah, over life size, standing with her hands folded below her breast, her only adornment her necklaces, her anklets, and her well dressed hair, while her full face indicates the beauty which the oriental demands. Under the pedestal, so we are told, is a casket with the image of Papsukal, the messenger of the gods, a gold staff in his tiny hands. As we gaze about, the walls are in general white, but behind the statue and over the entrances we find squares of black asphalt with white borders, standing out with barbaric distinctness in the gloom. To the west of the temple, we come upon the procession street, named Aibur shabu, along which Marduk is wont to go in procession on New Year's Day. It is a broad pathway of large white limestone flags, bordered on the sides by other slabs of red breccia veined with white, and chariots are not normally permitted to traverse it. On either side are high walls which make the approach a death trap for the enemy who would dare approach by this means. No windows look out from these walls, but instead we see huge white lions with yellow manes or yellow lions with red hair, all on a blue ground and resting on rosettes. The whole is formed of enamelled bricks of the finest technique and makes an almost uncanny impression of life. Looking south along the street, our view is blocked by Ishtar sakipat tebisha, the Ishtar Gate, located at the point where the street enters the old city through the walls Imgur Bel and Nimitti Bel. As the gate is now within the second line of defense, it can be more adequately decorated. The gate is flanked by two huge brick towers, crowned by triangular stepped battlements in blue enamel, which surmount small circular loopholes through which the archers may shoot. On the walls are more enamelled figures, huge bulls and great dragons, with scaly coats and hairy manes, forked tongues and viper's horns, sting in tail, their fore legs feline, their hind ones those of a bird of prey. Under our feet, our guide whispers, are still more dragons and bulls, set into the walls as guardian spirits of the place. We gaze upon the cedar doors covered with copper and the bronze thresholds and hinges, but we are not permitted to pass through the fourfold gate and look upon the carved cedar ceiling. This is open only when the king rides forth in state and we must pass through a smaller side entrance. We are not surprised that the king boasts that he made these same town gateways to be “glorious for the amazement of all peoples.” . Beyond the Ishtar gate, the procession street brings us to the Lady gate on our right, the entrance to the southern palace of Nebuchadnezzar. As we have been given special permission, we enter the Al bit shar Babili, or “City of the house of the king of Babylon,” from which so many of the business documents issue.. We pass the guard rooms on either side and enter the great court. To north and to south lie the private apartments of the higher officials, each grouped around a central court, and those of the more important on the south where they never suffer from the direct rays of this terrible sun. Also, we are shown some of the alabastra manufactured here, almost as beautiful as those we make at home. In the walls of the court yard are set inscriptions which tell how mighty cedars have been brought from the mountain of Lebanon, the splendid forest, for the ceilings, how the palace foundations have been grounded firm on the breast of the underworld and raised mountain high by asphalt and brick, and they beg the god Marduk to grant forever that the posterity of Nebuchadnezzar should rule the black headed folk.
The floor of the courts is sprinkled with water, whose evaporation cools the air appreciably. Still more lions appear at the various gateways. Then we are taken to the underground storerooms for grain and other palace supplies, long narrow rooms with
vaulted roofs, something we have never seen attempted before. In the next court, we see on the south side a large reception room, which, we are told, is a part of the private quarters of the vizier or prime minister, and has direct connection with the palace. The third court is the most interesting. On the north are open archways, permitting the rooms to be cool after dusk. On the south is the throne room of Nebuchadnezzar himself, a huge space of some fiftyfive by a hundred and seventy feet in size. Three huge doors lead into it and opposite the central one is a recess and platform whereon the king sits when he gives audience. The guards do not permit us to enter and we must content ourselves with looking at the ornamentation of the court facade, consisting of enamelled tiles with dark blue ground. On this we see strangely familiar columns, yellow drums with white border, double volutes in light blue, rosettes of white and yellow, connected by lines of half open buds, the whole making us suspect that the royal architect was attempting to imitate a columnar architecture something akin to what we saw in northwest Asia Minor. Above and enclosed by a border of yellow, white and black squares, is a long row of double palmettos. Our way farther west into the old palace of Nabopolassar is barred as it is now used for the harem. But we have seen enough to justify the great king in declaring that he “built the palace as the seat of my kingdom, the bond of the vast assemblage of all time, the dwelling place of joy and gladness, the royal command, the lordly injunction I caused to go forth from it.”
We have but a short time to visit the northern citadel, with its similar arrangement of rooms and courts. Here we note especially the pavements of white and mottled sandstone, of limestone, and of black basalt. At the entrances are huge basalt lions of the Assyrian type and we observe particularly one unfinished group, one of these enormous animals treading upon a prostrate man. Around the walls are reliefs whose various elements are of blue paste and are detachable. On these walls are also ranged various stelae which have been carried off as booty, a Hittite inscription such as we found them still erecting in Asia Minor, another from the Euphrates region, said to tell of the introduction of bee culture, still another in much simpler cuneiform characters written by an early king of Assyria. We are told stories of how frequently the royal architect changed his mind and how much labor was wasted as a result." Then we snatch a look at the great quay walls along the river and at the ships from the Persian gulf, at the kalaks or rafts built upon inflated skins from the north, at the round tubs of rushes bound together by bitumen, which ferry men across the stream. In the midst of the Euphrates is an island, its space fully occupied by another great fortification. North of the palace are still more impressive walls and a great canal, forty feet wide, which sweeps around the fortifications, its entrance closed against the enemy by huge stone gratings, and supplying water to the palace by means of the numerous well shafts.
We turn back to the procession street and follow it down the slope to the south, over a canal which branches into a broad basin to our right. Beyond this, to the west, lie the slums, while to the east is the residential quarter of the merchants, clustering around the shrine of Ishtar, goddess of Agade. Soon we begin to see on our right the long wall, studded with gateways and towers, which forms the outer enclosure of Etemenanki, “the house of the foundation of heaven and earth,” the great temple tower of Babylon. In the midst of this side wall is a deep recess into which a section of our pavement enters and we follow to the brazen doored entrance to the sacred enclosure. Much of the enclosed space is given up to store houses, to little cells along the walls for the lodging of pilgrims, or to the houses, little less than palaces, where live the priests and their assistants. The one point of supreme interest is, of course, the great temple tower, a high square structure faced with brick, and consisting of eight stories, each smaller than the one below. Towers break the monotony of its sides and on the south, in the center and at the corners, are stairways, protected by stepped walls along their ascent. On the summit is a temple, covered by blue glazed brick, and containing a golden table and couch. We can understand how the Babylonians, knowing little of mountains, assert that its summit reaches to heaven or even rivals it.
Before crossing the street to visit Esagila, the temple of which Etemenanki is the tower, we follow the procession street around the corner of the enclosure and then through the Urash gate to the bridge across the Euphrates, which Nabopolassar erected, a structure some four hundred feet long, resting on seven stone piers of boat form and with their prows pointing up stream. On the other side of the river, the procession street runs on to where in the distance we see the high temple tower of Ezida, Nabu's home in Borsippa. Our guide informs us that there is nothing new to be seen there and we return to Esagila, the “lofty house.” For the most famous shrine of our time, the external appearance is distinctly disappointing, another of those square blocks of mud brick and with little adornment, some two hundred and fifty feet long; but the interior compensates. At the entrance is a crude brick altar on which sacrifices are regularly offered while a smaller one of gold is used only for sucklings. We enter the court yard and see on the west, behind a facade marked by mighty towers, the cella of the god Marduk himself, the very center of the empire's religious life. The cedar with which it is covered is almost hidden by the masses of gold and precious stones, drawing attention even from the golden cult statue of the god, of more than mortal size, seated with his right hand on his knee, his long beard sweeping down upon his flounced garment. Before him stands a table, and this, together with the throne and footstool, is of solid gold, the whole weighing no less than eight hundred talents. Here at least is no disappointment. In the next cella is Marduk's consort, Zarpanit, and on the north side that of Ea, the god of the deep. Behind are two chambers,
used for incubation, where the god appears to patients in a dream. Ea sits on a wooden throne, richly carved with figures, such as a fish, a dragon, or a man holding a water vase. Unusual in this temple is the symmetry they have here secured. Again we listen to our guide translating one of the royal records: “I brought before Marduk all conceivable valuables, great superabundance, the product of the mountains, the wealth of the sea, a heavy burden, a sumptuous gift, a gigantic abundance. Ekua, the chamber of Marduk, lord of the gods, I made a gleam like the sun. Its walls I clothed with solid gold instead of clay or chalk, with lapis lazuli and alabaster the temple area. Kahilisir or the door of state, as also the Ezida gate of Esagila, I made bright as the sun.”
By this time, we are thoroughly fatigued with our sightseeing and ready for food and rest, but our guide insists that we must still see Epatutila, the “house of the scepter of life,” dedicated to the dread god Ninib. So we visit its triple cella, and see the three deities, Ninib himself, in a hat, and with a vase, from which pours water grasped firmly in both hands, his wife Gula, a nude figure with her arms at her side, and the ape. This last interests us very much, as we have never before seen the like, and we buy one of the little clay figures which represents the animal in a crouching position. Then, too weary even to laugh at the strange figure he makes, we return to our house and to repose."
American Political Science Review
The February number of the “American Political Science Review " contains the following papers, several of which were read before the Cincinnati meetings of the American Political Science Association: “The Scientific Spirit in Politics,” by Jesse Macy; “Pan-Turanism,” by T. Lathrop Stoddard; “The Control of Foreign Relations,” by Denys P. Myers; “The Department of the Navy,” by Robert W. Neeser; and “Obstacles to Municipal Progress,” by John A. Lapp. Under “Legislative Notes and Reviews " are treated such topics as “Powers of the Lieutenant Governor,” “Direct Legislation in 1916,” “Constitutional Conventions,” “State Budget Systems,” “Economy and Efficiency,” and “Absent Voting.” There are not only book reviews, but also “News and Notes,” giving information of a personal character, of new publications, of international happenings, of municipal affairs, and of the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. The full list of recent publications of political interest, including books, periodical articles, and government documents, is of much value to the student of political science.
1 The above sketch is based primarily on the detailed sketch by the leader of the excavations, Koldewey, “The Excavations at Babylon,” supplemented by King, “History of Babylon.” Whatever life it possesses is due to four days during which Dr. Koldewey most delightfully entertained the writer at the German excavation house.
Laboratory Methods of Teaching Contemporary History at Columbia University
BY PARKER THOMAS MOON, INSTRUCTOR IN HISTORY IN COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY.
It is no longer necessary to apologize for teaching current topics in history, economics, and civics. Fully cognizant of the difficulties and hazards of the enterprise, the teachers of these three “social sciences" have nevertheless attacked the problem with all the enthusiasm of a confident assurance that the scientific study of our yesterdays and of our to-days is not only justifiable, but supremely necessary and vital, whether it be in the class-room of the secondary school or in the lecture-hall of the university.
I come to you, therefore, not as the crusader to champion the cause of recent history against unbelieving enemies, but rather as the craftsman to explain in the friendly circle of his guild the methods of his work, and to ask for the helpful criticism of his fellow-workers.
I. ORIGIN. The use of periodicals and of newspapers as material for the historical study of current topics in the history department at Columbia has been endorsed by a long record of successful achievement. More than seven years have elapsed since the creation of what was picturesquely called the Laboratory of Contemporary History. It was an ambitious undertaking. Files of foreign newspapers were ordered; a number of foreign and domestic periodicals were put on reference; massive work-tables and multitudinous pasteboard filing-boxes were installed. The students were set to work, clipping, filing, sorting, and comparing political items from the newspapers. From those assorted clippings, supplemented by information gleaned from magazines, from foreign newspapers, and from books of reference, bimonthly reports were compiled, each covering current events in some particular country. Such a report was not merely a scissors-and-paste summary of newspaper items for two months; it was an explanation of those items in their historical setting.
Whether it was due to the inherent attractiveness of the scheme, or to the contagious enthusiasm and sincerity of the instructor, the students in that laboratory, from the first, evinced remarkable interest. I myself had the rare good fortune to be one of those students, and I may say from personal experience that we felt a certain fascination, a real pleasure, in the concreteness and freshness of the work. It was really a laboratory. We were dealing with tangible things—newspaper clippings; we were weighing and sifting historical evidence as the chemist weighs out
1 Professor Carlton J. H. Hayes was in charge of the course during its early years. An article descriptive of the laboratory was read by Professor Hayes before the American Historical Association in December, 1909, and published in the History TEACHER's MAGAZINE for February, 1910.
his acids and tests their purity. We knew something of the joy of the scientist who after patient peering through the microscope at length discovers a new form of animal life; for were not we also scientists, in our way, observing and describing the living phenomena of history and politics? To be sure there were critics of the innovation. Mr. Arnold Bennett, led by a traveller's curiosity to visit the laboratory in 1912, gave utterance to the cynical prophecy—“I can hardly conceive a wilder, more fearfully difficult way of trying to acquire the historical sense, than this voyaging through hot, fresh newspapers, nor one more probably destined to failure. .” The prophecy was false; the cynicism, unjustified. The fundamental idea of the laboratory was not destined to failure. It is still the basis of the course in contemporary history at Columbia.
II. METHod. The laboratory course in contemporary history, which I have had the pleasure of conducting for the past year and a quarter, is now a fullfledged elective, counting as three hours a week, and open to students who have had a year of modern European history. One of the three hours is devoted to lectures—of which, more anon—the other two hours are spent in the laboratory, where the students actually work on their reports and confer informally with the instructor.
The central feature of the course remains, as at the inception of the laboratory, the compilation of bi-monthly reports on current events. Each student selects some country or some special topic, following the bent of his own inclination. One will write the history of British domestic politics during October and November, 1916; another will chronicle the events of two months in the Rumanian theatre of war. Each student subscribes to a good local newspaper, the “New York Times,” the “Christian Science Monitor,” the “New York Sun,” and the “World" are among the best, and systematically cuts out and files away in large envelopes all items bearing on his topic. He is also required to take copious notes from weekly and monthly reviews, in all cases carefully noting the page, date, and title. In preparing a report on current events in England, or in France, the student must painstakingly peruse the files of some British or French newspaper, chiefly for the purpose of making a critical comparison between different accounts of the same events. And always considerable reading in standard histories is required, for the instructor is ever insisting that the study of current topics is of little worth unless constantly connected up with the events of past decades.
By actual experience I have learned that the value of this kind of work with newspapers and periodicals
is greatly enhanced if unremitting attention be given by the instructor to the following four principles: (1) Personal supervision. The instructor should be present in the laboratory—or library, as the case may be—at specified hours each week, to make suggestions, to answer questions, and to stimulate interest. (2) Precise directions. It is necessary to be definite—very definite—in giving directions regarding the length and the formation of the report and the manner of citing authorities in footnotes. (8) Bibliography. A priceless opportunity will have been neglected if the student is not given some really practical training in the use of bibliography. Many a youth enters college blissfully ignorant of the existence of such a thing as the “Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature,” not to speak of the “Book Review Digest.” To overcome this inexperience, each student in preparing his essay is required first of all to make a list of recent encyclopedias and of year books, such as the “Annual Register,” the “New International Year Book,” the “Statesman's Year Book,” and the “Almanach de Gotha,” indicating the pages in each where information may be found regarding the particular country about which he is to write. Next, he prepares a similar list of magazine articles, with the aid of the “Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature;” the best of these articles are to be read; the others, discarded. Furthermore, he selects what he considers the ten most useful and recent histories dealing with the country under consideration; by actual practice he learns to use the critical bibliographies in such text books as Hayes “Modern Europe,” and Hazen “Europe Since 1815;” he discovers the value of the bibliographies in the “Statesman's Year-Book,” and in the encyclopedias; the “Times Book Review,” the “Book Review Digest,” and the comprehensive bibliography of the war by Lange and Berry are all pressed into service. The student is expected to dip into all ten histories, and to do enough reading in them to explain the historical background of his report. This bibliographical work is not merely perfunctory. Students not only learn how to find their way about in a reference library; they begin to regard some of the books as something more than distant acquaintances. (4) Critical training. There is a tradition at Columbia that the soul of history is a critical spirit— the art of distinguishing, so far as is humanly possible, between the true and the false, between the important and the trivial. The student compiling his report is constantly exhorted to exercise discrimination and judgment. But the critical sense of the college student is too often lethargic. He sees no reason for citing authorities in footnotes, no purpose in comparing parallel accounts, no danger in relying upon newspaper headlines and magazine editorials. He readily sees the point, however, when he inspects my collection of mistakes and absurdities, clipped from supposedly reliable newspapers and periodicals. For example, the “New York Times" on June 28 last, gave the name of the foreign secretary of Great Britain as Earl Grey, apparently oblivious of the
fact that the former governor-general of Canada, and the Liberal minister, Sir Edward Grey, now Viscount Grey, were quite different persons. Again, on February 23, 1916, in the same reliable newspaper, the world-famous Russian foreign minister, M. Sazonoff, was absurdly labelled “Russian premier.” Upon another occasion the headline-writer betrayed inexcusable ignorance of the fact that the Prussian “Landtag ’’ is not exactly the same thing as the German “Reichstag.” The instructor may find it worth while to exhibit a few samples of fiction, culled from periodicals and newspapers. Such samples are easy to collect. Many a Mexican revolt has been concocted in a newspaper office, only to be denied a few days later; Pancho Villa, once certainly dead, now lives; the Turkish war minister, Enver Pasha, is assassinated one week and revived the next; a dire revolt in India is authoritatively announced to-day and authoritatively denied tomorrow. The “Independent,” of November 22, 1915, prints a personal message from Yuan Shih-kai, assuring America that the Chinese Republic will be maintained; a little later, an official statement declares the whole message to have been “malevolent fabrication.” By citing these evidences of the unreliability of our periodicals and newspapers, have I proved that the teaching of current events must of necessity be hopelessly unscientific? Far from it! Have I not rather demonstrated that in the teaching of current events, where one deals with admittedly mendacious sources, the student will have much more frequent opportunities to display discriminating incredulity than in a course where his reading is largely confined to what he regards as a well-nigh infallible text-book? And, above all, have I not proved the supreme necessity of forewarning the newspaper-readers of the future— who will also be the citizens of the future—against the errors and inventions of an untrustworthy press? Another method of stimulating the critical spirit is what I perhaps fantastically style the newspaper symposium—the “Periodical" symposium, if you will. Each student is referred to a certain newspaper or periodical for an account of a political event—say the Sarajevo assassination, or the sinking of the “Lusitania,” or the death of Francis Joseph. Then in informal conference, with the newspapers before us, we compare the variant versions of the event. As the banqueting philosophers in Plato's symposium each expressed his views in turn, so we allow each newspaper to set forth its opinion. When Francis Joseph died, we found the Parisian daily “Le Matin,” denouncing the aged emperor as a fiend “escaped from hell;” the “New York World’’ regarded him as one of the last specimens of the almost extinct race of divine-right monarchs; the New York “StaatsZeitung” had only words of praise for his amiable character and of regret for his death. Even with a small number of magazines and newspapers, comparisons of this kind, amply repay the small labor of preparation. They acquaint the student with the merits as well as with the defects and the prejudices of the different periodicals and journals; they give him a