Page:An Essay on the Age and Antiquity of the Book of Nabathaean Agriculture.djvu/9

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ix
PREFACE.

ward to the time when the fruits of this industry should be placed before them. To quiet the many enquiries on that head, in 1859 there appeared in the Memoirs des Savants Etrangers of St. Petersburgh, and also in a separate form, Ueber die Ueberreste der Altbabylonischen Literatur in Arabischen Uebersetzungen, a curious and startling work “On the Remains of Old Babylonian Literature, preserved in Arabic translations;” and it is that work which has given rise to this essay of M. Ernest Renan, which is now presented to the English reader, with his sanction, in its present form.

In his introductory chapter, Dr. Chwolson puts forth two questions:—1. Could the Babylonians have possessed an extensive literature of high order in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, or of the earlier Nebonassar? 2. Was it possible that in Babylon