By Peter Knight
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Extra info for Ancient Mesopotamia: New Perspectives
Pietro della Valle, a widely traveled Italian nobleman, visited Birs Nimrud and Babil in 1616, making an accurate description of the remains he observed, which included glazed bricks, and removing “some square bricks on which were writing in certain unknown characters” (quoted in Lloyd 1980: 8), the first cuneiform inscriptions to reach Europe. ” (Library of Congress) coined the term cuneatae to describe them, thus narrowly anticipating Thomas Hyde, professor of Hebrew and Arabic at Oxford, to whom the honor of inventing the word cuneiform is usually ascribed.
The obvious popular interest may have moved the trustees, who in 1849 came up with £3,000 to fund a further two seasons. They also sent out artists to record the discoveries, a vital necessity at that time when conservation was still in its embryonic stage and many items “fell to pieces as soon as exposed” (Layard quoted in Lloyd 1980: 116). At Historical and Chronological Setting 29 Kuyunjik Layard revealed many reliefs from the walls of Sennacherib’s palace, some depicting the siege of the biblical town of Lachish.
Some versions of the list of Seven Wonders also included the great walls of Babylon, said by Herodotus to be wide enough to turn a four-horse chariot on. Early European Travelers While Egypt’s enduring monuments inspired perennial interest, little survived to provoke similar curiosity in Mesopotamia after the fall of its great cities. Local people preserved some ancient names for the mounds that lay around them but mercilessly plundered them of baked bricks for building. Knowledge of the ancient Mesopotamian world was filtered through the hostile lens of the Bible and the Classical works known to Medieval Europe.
Ancient Mesopotamia: New Perspectives by Peter Knight