Mesopotamian Archæology
Percy S. P. Handcock, M.A.
14:37 h Science Lvl 9.6
Mesopotamian Archæology, An Introduction to the Archæology of Babylonia and Assyria, is a 1912 book by Percy S. P. Handcock, M.A. "The Mesopotamian civilization shares with the Egyptian civilization the honour of being one of the two earliest civilizations in the world, and although M. J. de Morgan’s excavations at Susa the ruined capital of ancient Elam, have brought to light the elements of an advanced civilization which perhaps even antedates that of Mesopotamia, it must be remembered that the Sumerians who, so far as our present knowledge goes, were the first to introduce the arts of life and all that they bring with them, into the low-lying valley of the Tigris and Euphrates..."

Mesopotamian Archæology

An Introduction to the Archæology of Babylonia and Assyria

Percy S. P. Handcock, M.A.

Plate I

Coloured Lion at Khorsabad

Dedicated to
A. M. Lord
In Recognition
Of Many Acts of Friendship


In every department of science the theories of yesterday are perpetually being displaced by the empirical facts of to-day, though the ascertainment of these facts is frequently the indirect outcome of the theories which the facts themselves dissipate. Hence it is that the works of the greatest scholars and experts have no finality, they are but stepping-stones towards the goal of perfect knowledge. Since the publications of Layard, Rawlinson, Botta and Place much new material has been made accessible for the reconstruction of the historic past of the Babylonians and Assyrians, and we are consequently able to fill in many gaps in the picture so admirably, and as far as it went, so faithfully drawn by the pioneers in the field of excavation and research. This work, which owes its origin to a suggestion made by Dr. Wallis Budge, represents an endeavour on the part of the writer to give a brief account of the civilization of ancient Babylonia and Assyria in the light of this new material.

It is hoped that the infinitude of activities and pursuits which go to make up the civilization of any country will justify the writer’s treatment of so many subjects in a single volume. It will be observed that space allotted to the consideration of the different arts and crafts varies on the one hand according to the relative importance of the part each played in the life of the people, and on the other hand according to the amount of material available for the study of the particular subject.

No effort has been spared to make the chapters on Architecture, Sculpture and Metallurgy as comprehensive as the limitations of the volume permit, while forthe sake of those who desire to pursue the study of any of the subjects dealt with in this book, and to work up the sketch into a picture, a short bibliography is given at the end.

It has not been thought desirable to amass a vast number of references in the footnotes, and the writer is thereby debarred from acknowledging his indebtedness to the works of other writers on all occasions as he would like to have done.

In addition to the chapters which deal expressly with the cultural evolution of the dwellers in Mesopotamia, two chapters are devoted to the consideration of the Cuneiform writing—its pictorial origin, the history of its decipherment, and the literature of which it is the vehicle, while another chapter is occupied with a historical review of the excavations. The short chronological summary at the end obviously makes not the slightest pretension to even being a comprehensive summary; it merely purports to give the general chronological order of some of the better known rulers and kings of Babylonia and Assyria to whom allusion is made in this volume, together with a notice of some of the more significant land-marks in the history of the two countries.

The writer’s thanks are due to the Trustees of the British Museum for permission to photograph some of the objects in the Babylonian and Assyrian Collections, and to Dr. Wallis Budge for facilities and encouragement in carrying out the work; to the University of Chicago Press for allowing him to reproduce illustrations from the American Journal of Semitic Languages and also diagrams from Harper’s Memorial Volumes; to M. Ernest Leroux for permitting him to make use of some of the plates contained in the monumental works of De Sarzec and Heuzey, and to M. Ch. Eggimann of the “Libraire Centrale d’art et d’architecture ancienne maison Morel,” for his very kind permission to reproduce two of the plates contained in Dieulafoy, L’Art Antique de la Perse. He is similarly indebted to the Deutsche-Orient Gesellschaft for allowing him to make an autotype copy of one of the plates in Andrae’s Der Anu-Adad Tempel. He further desires to acknowledge the generosity of Prof. H. V. Hilprecht in allowing him to make use of many of the illustrations contained in his numerous publications, and also of Dr. Fisher for permitting him to reproduce some of the photographs contained in his magnificently illustrated work on the excavations at Nippur. He is very sensible of his indebtedness to these two gentlemen, as also to M. Leroux and the Deutsche-Orient Gesellschaft, for the photographs of excavations in progress are obviously of a unique character and admit of no repetition; he further desires to express his obligations to Dr. W. Hayes Ward for his most kind permission to copy a number of seal-impressions and other illustrations contained in his recently published work—Cylinder-Seals of Western Asia. Lastly, he welcomes the opportunity of acknowledging the kindness of Mr. Mansell for allowing him to publish many photographs of objects in the British Museum and the Louvre contained in his incomparable collection, and for in other ways facilitating the illustration of this volume. Most of the plans and drawings used for this volume are the work of Miss E. K. Reader, who has performed her task with her usual skill.

P. S. P. H.

March, 1912.

Chapter I.

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