Many shallow philosophers entertain the notion that man commenced his existance as a wild savage of the woodi, and that his progress has been step by step to his present elevated position in modern civilization. No man entertaining such opinions can retain them after reading Layard's Nineveh and Babylon, a work recently republished in excellent sty le by the great American house of Harper Bros, of this city. At a time far anterior to that of historical record, excepting what we have in the Sacred Scriptures, there were races living and dwelling in Asia, who were highly civilized, and who were acquainted with sculpture, architecture, music, and civil policy; a race who built splendid palaces and adorned them with some of the choicest works of art, of a kind which have been thought by many to be but recently discovered. The saw, the shovel, and the axe, instruments in general use among all nations now, were also used by the serfs of Nineveh and Babylon; the speaking trumpet wa even known in those days. In the illustrations or this book there is a representation of the mode by which the ancient Assyrians moved heavy bodies. A collossal winged bull is represented to have beep, placed on a sledge having rollers, and drawn by great bodies of men pulling ropes. Another body of men are represented as assisting with levers, and Mr. Layard remarks that this was the plan he employed himself to remove the same piece of sculpture (which is now in the British Museum.) The old Assyrians wete acquainted with making twisted rope, an ait of which their descendants are utterly igno-nant. The builders of the Assyrian palaces employed large slabs ot alabaster, on which are representations of captives drawing these huge slabs, many of which are believed to be the forefathers of the present race of Jews. But however skillful they may have been in moving large stones, it would no doubt have done them good had they bpen permitted to see how us Yankees make frame houses travel through our streets. The inscriptions on alabaster slabs and blocks, discovered by Layard, have been translated by Col. Rawlinson and Dr. Hincks, and corroborate the correctness of the Bible, and what is very remarkable, the translations of the stone writing, agree exactly with the sacred text in stating the amount of gold (30 talents) taken by Senacherib, from Hezekiah, King of Judea. A chapter of intense interest to men of science in this work, describes the discovery of arched drains, vases, and kettles or copper; bronze bells, bronze cups; ivory and mother-of-pearl studs, fit for the shirt bosom of a modern beau; a bronze strainer, c, in short, the Assyrians appear to have been better acquainted with the making of bronze vessels and figures than the moderns. Glass bowls were also discovered, but what is more interesting, is some picks and saws mads of iron. This metal was long supposed to be unknown to the ancient Asiatics. Among the glass articles discovered was a rock crystal lens, with opposite convex and plane faces. It is the most ancient specimen of a magnifying and burning glass known. We have long entertained the opinion that savage races are blasted limbs torn from the trunk oi a higher civilization, and this book deepens our conviction respecting the correctness of this theory, opposed as it is to the jargon of a shallow, unphilosophical, but declaiming sect of the present day, but agreeing with every deduction that can be drawn from the remains of ancient cities, roads, c, found in every part of the world.
This article was originally published with the title "Old Civilization—Layard's Nineveh"