Page:An Essay on the Age and Antiquity of the Book of Nabathaean Agriculture.djvu/44

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BABYLONIAN LITERATURE.

consider of what an archaical character the Aramaic text must have appeared to a Chaldæan in the tenth century of our era. Though it may be urged that the Shemitic languages varied very little in the course of their prolonged existence; or to quote, as a case in point, the Moallakats, as being still well understood among Arabs, after the lapse of 1300 years: the political and religious revolutions of Chaldæa have been too sweeping for the possibility of its language preserving such an identity. The philologists of antiquity, and those of the middle ages, being ignorant of the principles of comparative grammar, were not able to interpret the archaical remains of their own language. I might add also that the preservation of a work of the nature of “The Book of Nabathæan Agriculture,” during two or three thousand years, is extremely improbable. Such a preservation may be credited, in the case of scriptural writings, when they have become classical, but not in that of an ordinary work, written in a care-