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Babylonians and Assyrians: Life and Customs by Archibald Henry Sayce

By Archibald Henry Sayce

This Elibron Classics publication is a facsimile reprint of a 1900 version by way of Charles Scribner's Sons, big apple.

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Babylonians and Assyrians: Life and Customs

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Thus the following letter, written from Babylon by a lover to his mistress at Sippara, assumes that she could read it and return an answer: “To the lady Kasbeya thus says Gimil-Merodach: May the Sun-god [pg 048] and Merodach, for my sake, grant thee everlasting life! I am writing to enquire after your health; please send me news of it. I am living at Babylon, but have not seen you, which troubles me greatly. Send me news of your arrival, so that I may be happy. Come in the month Marchesvan. ” The Tel-el-Amarna collection actually contains letters from a lady to the Egyptian Pharaoh.

At a later date, however, this mode of determining time was abandoned, and the new year was made directly dependent on the vernal equinox. The month was subdivided into weeks of seven days, each of which was consecrated to a particular deity. These deities were further identified with the stars. The fact that the sun and moon, as well as the evening and morning stars, were already worshipped as divinities doubtless led the way to this system of astrotheology. But it seems never to have spread [pg 062] beyond the learned classes and to have remained to the last an artificial system.

The very soil was holy ground; Assyrians as well as Babylonians desired that their bodies should rest in it. Here they were in the charge, as it were, of Bel of Nippur or Merodach of Babylon, and within sight of the ancient sanctuaries in which those gods were worshipped. This explains in part the size of the cemeteries; the length of time during which they were used will explain the rest. As Dr. Peters says of each: “It is difficult to convey anything like a correct notion of the 4 piles upon piles of human relics which there utterly astound the spectator.

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