The Arts of Assyria

The Arts of Assyria

The Arts of Assyria

The Arts of Assyria

Excerpt

That our SUMER should be followed by a volume dealing with Nineveh and Babylon was almost a foregone conclusion. But though the Sumerians and Assyrians inhabited the same region, Mesopotamia, they represented very different types of humanity. The Sumerians, those 'mystery men of Near Eastern history,' were essentially inventive and creative, and their artistic achievements vie with the greatest of all time. The Assyrians, who now made their entry on the scene, though perhaps less original in some respects, proved their good judgment by turning to account the discoveries and inventions of their brilliant predecessors.

In SUMER we described the dawn of art and civilization. With the present volume we enter on a later period, more comprehensible in many respects but still not fully explored. Year by year new discoveries are bringing home to us the gaps in our knowledge of the period and leading us to revise many hitherto accepted ideas.

True, the comparatively recent discovery of the Sumerian world created a greater sensation, but we must not forget the wide- spread amazement that greeted the revelation of the Assyrian world over a hundred years ago when, in February 1847, those human- headed bulls 'whose ice-cold eyes had gazed on Nineveh' were unloaded from a Seine barge in Paris. There is a strangely evocative power in the names of certain ancient cities, and Nineveh is one of these. Though less well known, the name of Assur is little less potent, for Assur was the cradle of a great race which has left an indelible mark on history and by methods of the utmost ruthlessness succeeded in establishing Assyrian dominion throughout the . . .

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