Myths of Babylonia and Assyria
Modern Babylonia--History repeating itself--Babylonian Trade Route in Mesopotamia--Egyptian Supremacy in Syria--Mitanni and Babylonia--Bandits who plundered Caravans--Arabian Desert Trade Route opened--Assyrian and Elamite Struggles with Babylonia--Rapid Extension of Assyrian Empire--Hittites control Western Trade Routes--Egypt's Nineteenth Dynasty Conquests--Campaigns of Rameses II--Egyptians and Hittites become Allies--Babylonian Fears of Assyria--Shalmaneser's Triumphs--Assyria Supreme in Mesopotamia--Conquest of Babylonia--Fall of a Great King--Civil War in Assyria--Its Empire goes to pieces--Babylonian Wars with Elam--Revival of Babylonian Power--Invasions of Assyrians and Elamites--End of the Kassite Dynasty--Babylonia contrasted with Assyria.
It is possible that during the present century Babylonia may once again become one of the great wheat-producing countries of the world. A scheme of land reclamation has already been inaugurated by the construction of a great dam to control the distribution of the waters of the Euphrates, and, if it is energetically promoted on a generous scale in the years to come, the ancient canals, which are used at present as caravan roads, may yet be utilized to make the whole country as fertile and prosperous as it was in ancient days. When that happy consummation is reached, new cities may grow up and flourish beside the ruins of the old centres of Babylonian culture.
With the revival of agriculture will come the revival of commerce. Ancient trade routes will then be reopened, and the slow-travelling caravans supplanted by speedy trains. A beginning has already been made in this direction. The first modern commercial highway which is crossing the threshold of Babylonia's new Age is the German railway through Asia Minor, North Syria, and Mesopotamia to Baghdad. It brings the land of Hammurabi into close touch with Europe, and will solve problems which engaged the attention of many rival monarchs for long centuries before the world knew aught of "the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome".
These sudden and dramatic changes are causing history to repeat itself. Once again the great World Powers are evincing much concern regarding their respective "spheres of influence" in Western Asia, and pressing together around the ancient land of Babylon. On the east, where the aggressive Elamites and Kassites were followed by the triumphant Persians and Medes, Russia and Britain have asserted themselves as protectors of Persian territory, and the influence of Britain is supreme in the Persian Gulf. Turkey controls the land of the Hittites, while Russia looms like a giant across the Armenian highlands; Turkey is also the governing power in Syria and Mesopotamia, which are being crossed by Germany's Baghdad railway. France is constructing railways in Syria, and will control the ancient "way of the Philistines". Britain occupies Cyprus on the Mediterranean coast, and presides over the destinies of the ancient land of Egypt, which, during the brilliant Eighteenth Dynasty, extended its sphere of influence to the borders of Asia Minor. Once again, after the lapse of many centuries, international politics is being strongly influenced by the problems connected with the development of trade in Babylonia and its vicinity.