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This indicates that the conquest of these nations succeeded that of the triple-formed monster, Chimera. There are others, finally, who conceive that the poetical picture represents the state of the mountain when Bellerophon visited Lycia: namely, that its base was infested with serpents; its middle afforded pasture for goats; and that its summit was inhabited by lions. These they imagine Bellerophon slew, rendering the mountain habitable; whence he was said to destroy the triple monster.
That part of Taurus which is above the plain of Tarsus and Adanah, commonly known as the Ramadan Oghlu mountains, is continued by the Dardun Dagh to the Amanus; but the direction of the two chains is different, as is also their structure and geognostic relations. The southern prolongation of Amanus is Rhossus, which terminates in the Jebel Kasserik, above Rhas Khanzir; and Jebel Musah, above Seleucia.
The mountain of Taurus, stretching east on Commagena, separates Sophena from Osroene, and then divides itself into three portions. The most northerly and highest are the Niphates, in Acilicene. The central chain comprises the Azarah Dagh, and mountain country round the mines, called Maden Gomush, or Kapan, and Maden Kapur. The most southerly is the antique Masius, and includes the Karadjia Daghli, the Jebel Tur, and Baarem hills, extending to the Jezirah. To the south of these are the Babel and Sinjar ranges of hills, united by the isolated hill of Kuka to the hills of Abdel Hassiz.
These various hills are composed of granite, gneiss, mica shist, limestones, diorites, diallage rocks, serpentines, actynolite rock, stea shists, sandstones, feldspatho-pyroxenic rocks, limestones with nummulites, limestones with pectinides and ostracea, fossils, indurated chalk, quartz shist, granular chalk, clay-slate, chlorite-slate, hornblende rock, hornblende shist, gypsum, siliceous limestones, conide limestones, etc.
The elevation of the crest of Taurus, viewed as the mean between the height of the culminating points and that of the passes, is, at Maden Gomush, 5,053 feet; at Dawa Boini, 4,453 feet; at Kuhtel, 3,379 feet; at the Gul Dagh, 4,808 feet; Ayeli mountain, 5,650 feet; Seliski, 4,250 feet; the crest of the Kara Bel, 5,790 feet; that of the Chamlu Bel, 5,260 feet; and the Aklo Dagh, 2,900 feet.
At the foot of these mountains are valleys or plains variously characterized. Some are composed of the feldspatho-pyro
xenic rocks, some of chalk, some of limestone, sandstone marls mica shist, and gypsum, and some are very fertile.
The second district includes all the territory which extends from 37° north lat. to 34°, and comprises the plains of Syria, Mesopotamia, and the country east of the Tigris to the Kurdish mountains. The whole of this country consists of cretaceous and super-cretaceous deposits, occasionally interrupted by plutonic rocks of the feldspatho-pyroxenic family. The character of these plains varies with the altitude and latitude, as well as with the quality of the soil, and the presence or absence of dewy moisture.
The structure of the plains consists of indurated, compact, granular chalks, flints, siliceous sandstone, limestones, gyp sum, calcareous gypsum, sands, and sandstones, bitumen, naphtha, sulphur, limestone breccia, red saliferous and gypsiferous sands, cerithia, fresh-water limestones, marls, fossiliferous marls, clays, pebbles, ironstones, soil, etc.
The upland of feldspatho-pyroxenic rocks, extending from Jezirah to Tel Sakhan, near Nisibin, is a stony wilderness, amidst which there is very little cultivation. Numerous flocks of sheep and cattle, however, obtain a scanty support here during a large portion of the year, and wolves are very numerous. This plain has a mean elevation of 1,550 feet.
The plains of northern Syria, the plains of northern Mesopotamia, from Urfah to Kakkah, and from Nisibin to El Hathr, and the Chaldean plain east of Nineveh, that of Erbil and of Altun Kupri, possess a soil with good agricultural qualities, but barren from want of irrigation. The elevation, of these plains averages 1,300 feet.
The remaining differences are the comparative fertility of some places, which are exposed to temporary inundations at the heads of rivers or rivulets. These become the permanent abode of agricultural tribes, the seat of cultivation and prosperity, and the resort of the Nomadic Arab and Turkoman, where at certain seasons they lead their flocks. Thus the Shamar Arab tribes frequently pitch their tents, in winter, in the plains of Seleucia, and in the summer overrun the fertile district of El Hathr.
Concerning the natural productions of ancient Assyria very little is known; but as it lay between 33° and 39° N. lat., it
must in its happy times have been a land of plenty. We learn this, indeed, from the vaunting speech of Rabshakeh to the Hebrews, when he besieged Jerusalem. "Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me: and eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one of the waters of his own cistern; until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards," Isa. xxxvi. 16, 17. See also 2 Kings xviii, 31, 32.
In his narrative of the expedition of Julian to Ctesiphon, Gibbon says, that nature had denied to Assyria, the vine, the olive, and the fig tree, the choicest of her gifts. This is not correct; these choicest gifts of nature's bounty are at the present time to be found, both in Assyria and Babylonia, fallen as these countries now are from their pristine glory. Kinnier says, they may be seen almost in every garden.
That the Assyrians possessed luxuries in ancient times, may be gathered from the statements of Xenophon. Speaking of the provision villages, he says, "Here we found wine made of the fruit of the palm tree, and also vinegar drawn by boiling from the same fruit. Some of these they dried for sweetmeats. The wine that was made of this fruit was sweet to the taste, but apt to give the headache; here also the soldiers eat for the first time the pith of the palm tree, and many admired both the figure and peculiar sweetness of it. This also occasioned violent headaches." Ammianus and Herodotus bear the same testimony; and that palm wine was very abundant, we may conclude, from the fact that the boats which descended the Tigris from Armenia, some of which were large, had, in the latter historian's days, palm wine for their chief article of commerce.
Palm wine is now no longer made in that country, as when the date trees abounded; but Burckhardt, in his travels in Nubia, describes it as made in that country, which may give the reader an idea of what it was, as made in Assyria and Babylonia. He says: "In all the larger villages of Nubia, the use of palm wine is very common, and at Derr a vast deaĺ of spirits is consumed. The wine does not taste amiss; but it is too rich and too thick to be drank with pleasure. When the date fruit has arrived at its full maturity, it is thrown into large earthen boilers, and left to boil without interruption for three or four days. It is then strained, and the clear juice put into earthen jars, which are well shut up, and then buried in the ground, where it ferments. It is left for ten or twelve
days under ground; at the expiration of which time it is fit to drink. It keeps a twelvemonth, and then turns sour. The acquarite, made from dates, is of very good quality, and keeps for years. The upper classes of people at Derr are every evening intoxicated, either with date wine or spirits, of which large quantities are consumed. They are sold openly. From Siout southward, all through Upper Egypt, date spirits are made, and probably sold; the Pasha receiving a tax on it from the innkeepers. There is also made from the dates a kind of jelly or honey, which serves the rich people for a
The features of the vegetation of Assyria may be divided into two sections:-1. That of the mountains; and, 2. That of the plains.
The most remarkable feature in the vegetation of Taurus is the abundance of trees, shrubs, and plants in the northern, and their comparative fewness in the southern districts. The Masius is woody in parts; such, for instance, are a few districts in the Baarem, and the Jebel Tur, near Nisibin, from whence some have supposed Trajan collected the wood for the construction of his fleet. From the summit of Ayeli, pine and fir forests are first visible in the distance, and they ultimately cover the Kara Bel and the Chamlu Bel, as the latter name indicates. On the contrary, around the Arganah, Maden, Kirtchu, and Gul Dagh hills, no trees are to be seen.
The forest trees consist of several variations of the oak; of pine, chesnut, ash, alder tree, hazel, maple trees, etc. Among the useful and cultivated plants of Taurus, are the vine, fig, almond, and olive trees; pears, apples, and apricots also are abundant; and several kinds of wheat are cultivated there.
On the flanks of forests, or isolated, are found the carob, medlar, and plum trees; by the banks of streams, the tamarisk, etc.; and in shubberies and low woodlands, the box, juniper, myrtle, scarlet oak, buckthorn, cypress trees, etc. Heaths are rarely met with; the Erica arborea, however, flourishes near Sis, and the Erica scoparia, in the valley of Antioch.
Among the plants which distinguish the plains are the following: wheat, barley, vetches of different kinds, spurge, cucumbers of various kinds, banewort, marsh mallow, ect. The plains also produce trees of various kinds: among which may be mentioned the plane tree, which grows near springs and tombs, and attains an enormous size. One at Bir, says Ainsworth, measured thirty-six feet in circumference; and
one at Daphne, near Antioch, forty-two feet in girth, and is supposed to have existed upwards of a thousand years.
Among the fruits of the plains are the fig, mulberry, nut, pomegranate, pine, plum, vine, pear trees, etc. Among cultivated plants, Sesanum, of which an oil is made; the cotton tree, etc. And among the useful vegetables furnished by the field, the herb mallows, sorrel, mustard, and asparagus.
For two months in the year, October and November, vegetation ceases in Assyria, every thing being parched up. After this period, clouds from the Lebanon, in Syria, and reverses in the mountain temperatures to the north and east over Mesopotamia and Adiabene, bring down refreshing rains, and cause the grass to grow, and, notwithstanding subsequent frosts and storms, some compositæ do bud. The succession of vegetation is preserved by those plants which have succulent roots, nodes or bulbs, which preserve sufficient moisture to ensure life amidst the most arid soil. They seem to sleep during the summer drought, and awake to life again by the first rains, and prematurely put forth their buds in October. Among these are a species of tulip, crocus, and itia, an herb called by some chameleon. These are soon, however, enveloped in snow, or blasted by the wintry winds, till early in spring they again make their appearance, with all that vivid beauty of colour, and those variety of forms, which are so glowingly depicted on the canvass, or described in the pages, of eastern painters and poets.
The climate of Assyria is various. That of Taurus presents us with cold winters, with much snow, and hot sumIn some of the villages, the natives complain of excessive summer heats, especially at Amasiyah and Kapan. Ainsworth says, that in crossing the Marash hills in February, the snow was from two to three feet deep, and so hard as to bear a horse; and yet in occasional bare spots crocuses were in flower, and spiders were running about. At the same time of the year, in sheltered vaileys, various coloured anemones bloom; and in March, the almond tree, pear, medlar, and laburnum, are in bloom.
The climate of the plains is characterized by great dryness, combined with great variations in the temperature of the air From the Mediterranean to the Tigris, there is an increase of cold in the same parallels, from west to east; but this is not