Page:Discovery and Decipherment of the Trilingual Cuneiform Inscriptions.djvu/26
follow the rise of Persia and the extinction of the great
the discovery of the immense antiquity of the Sumerian civilisation. The evidence derived from the cuneiform documents, combined with the results of the excavations carefully conducted at Nippur by Dr. Peters and others, have carried back the beginnings of Sumerian history to an almostincredible antiquity, sometimes estimated at B.C. 6000. From the written documents now in our possession, we are able to reconstruct the records of Southern Babylonia from about B.C. 4000, and an entirely new page in the history of the human race has been opened. We can trace the beginnings of civilisation among the lagoons of the Persian Gulf, the rise of a great commerce with the Mediterranean, with Egypt, and possibly with India; the descent of the Semitic nomads into the rich cities created by the industry of the Turanian population; the foundation of a Babylonian Empire reaching across to the Mediterranean at a period still anterior to the reputed age of Abraham. We can note many incidents in the struggle for the possession of Syria in which Egypt for a time remained the victor. We assist at the foundation of the infant kingdom of Assyria some 2000 years after our records begin; all the events of its rise and fall are engraved on our imperishable books of stone, and many incidents in the writings of the Jews have received illustration. Finally, on the fall of Assyria we see the old Empire of Babylon recover from its partial eclipse and flourish for a time under the great Nebuchadnezzar. Then
- The British Museum Guide goes so far as to mention B.C. 8000 as a probable date (p. 3).