Page:An Essay on the Age and Antiquity of the Book of Nabathaean Agriculture.djvu/34

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18
BABYLONIAN LITERATURE.

had the rare merit of first making known to Europeans.

The statement of the opinion of Dr. Chwolson as to the period of the composition of “The Book of Nabathæan Agriculture” will, no doubt, excite the greatest astonishment among persons who have already been startled by the less bold hypothesis of M. Quatremère. It resolves itself into two propositions: firstly, that Kúthámí, the Babylonian, is the sole author of the work in question; that the work itself is not the compilation of various hands; and that it has received from the Arabian translator only alterations of very little importance; secondly, that Kúthámí could not have written it later than the beginning of the thirteenth century before Christ.

It is not, however, a priori that such an opinion can be combatted. In the field of historical criticism, all should be admitted as possible. Civilization and literature flourished in Babylon at a very ancient period. Entire systems of civilization have