Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

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[407] At Carchemish a railway bridge spans the mile-wide river ferry which Assyria's soldiers were wont to cross with the aid of skin floats. The engineers have found it possible to utilize a Hittite river wall about 3000 years old--the oldest engineering structure in the world. The ferry was on the old trade route.
[408] Deuteronomy, xxvi, 5
[409] Pr. u as oo.
[410] The chief cities of North Syria were prior to this period Hittite. This expansion did not change the civilization but extended the area of occupation and control.
[411] Garstang's The Land of the Hittites, p. 349.
[412] "Burgh of Tukulti-Ninip."

Chapter XVI. Race Movements that Shattered Empires


The Third Semitic Migration--Achaean Conquest of Greece--Fall of Crete--Tribes of Raiders--European Settlers in Asia Minor--The Muski overthrow the Hittites--Sea Raids on Egypt--The Homeric Age--Israelites and Philistines in Palestine--Culture of Philistines--Nebuchadrezzar I of Babylonia--Wars against Elamites and Hittites--Conquests in Mesopotamia and Syria--Assyrians and Babylonians at War--Tiglath-pileser I of Assyria--His Sweeping Conquests--Muski Power broken--Big-game Hunting in Mesopotamia--Slaying of a Sea Monster--Decline of Assyria and Babylonia--Revival of Hittite Civilization--An Important Period in History--Philistines as Overlords of Hebrews--Kingdom of David and Saul--Solomon's Relations with Egypt and Phoenicia--Sea Trade with India--Aramaean Conquests--The Chaldaeans--Egyptian King plunders Judah and Israel--Historical Importance of Race Movements.

Great changes were taking place in the ancient world during the period in which Assyria rose into prominence and suddenly suffered decline. These were primarily due to widespread migrations of pastoral peoples from the steppe lands of Asia and Europe, and the resulting displacement of settled tribes. The military operations of the great Powers were also a disturbing factor, for they not only propelled fresh movements beyond their spheres of influence, but caused the petty States to combine against a common enemy and foster ambitions to achieve conquests on a large scale.

Towards the close of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, of which Amenhotep III and Akhenaton were the last great kings, two well-defined migrations were in progress. The Aramaean folk-waves had already begun to pour in increasing volume into Syria from Arabia, and in Europe the pastoral fighting folk from the mountains were establishing themselves along the south-eastern coast and crossing the Hellespont to overrun the land of the Hittites. These race movements were destined to exercise considerable influence in shaping the history of the ancient world.

The Aramaean, or Third Semitic migration, in time swamped various decaying States. Despite the successive efforts of the great Powers to hold it in check, it ultimately submerged the whole of Syria and part of Mesopotamia. Aramaean speech then came into common use among the mingled peoples over a wide area, and was not displaced until the time of the Fourth Semitic or Moslem migration from Arabia, which began in the seventh century of the Christian era, and swept northward through Syria to Asia Minor, eastward across Mesopotamia into Persia and India, and westward through Egypt along the north African coast to Morocco, and then into Spain.

When Syria was sustaining the first shocks of Aramaean invasion, the last wave of Achaeans, "the tamers of horses" and "shepherds of the people", had achieved the conquest of Greece, and contributed to the overthrow of the dynasty of King Minos of Crete. Professor Ridgeway identifies this stock, which had been filtering southward for several centuries, with the tall, fair-haired, and grey-eyed "Keltoi" (Celts),[413] who, Dr. Haddon believes, were representatives of "the mixed peoples of northern and Alpine descent".[414] Mr. Hawes, following Professor Sergi, holds, on the other hand, that the Achaeans were "fair in comparison with the native (Pelasgian-Mediterranean) stock, but not necessarily blonde".[415] The earliest Achaeans were rude, uncultured barbarians, but the last wave came from some unknown centre of civilization, and probably used iron as well as bronze weapons.