Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 17.djvu/186

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174
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and in whose country Abraham bought a piece of land for his burial place. The scattered accounts in the Bible simply indicate an ordinary tribe of people, with whom the Israelites had intercourse, but information derived from the researches made in Egypt and Assyria show that the Hittites, whom the Egyptians called the Kheta, and the Assyrians the Khatti, were a powerful confederacy occupying the country which was the highway between Babylonia or Assyria and Egypt—a people actively engaged in commerce, their principal city being a place at which merchants from all parts congregated, and who were at the same time a warlike people, who for a long period kept the Assyrians in check, and who proved the most formidable antagonists the Egyptians ever encountered. They were not only commercial and warlike, but had evidently at a remote period made great advances in civilization and in the fine arts, and early Greek art, as found in the discoveries of Dr. Schliemann at Mycenæ, and the early art found in Cyprus by General di Cesnola, is supposed to have been largely derived from them. They occupied the whole country of southern Syria, from the Mediterranean to the desert, dwelling chiefly in the fertile valleys of the Orontes, a river rising to the east of Baalbek and flowing into the Mediterranean, and had two principal cities—Kadesh, or the holy city, and a great commercial emporium, which was their capital and the center of their power, called Carchemish. They were finally overthrown by the Assyrians b. c. 718, and had so completely disappeared that they are scarcely even referred to by Greek writers. Great interest was felt to discover the site of their commercial capital, Carchemish, and many conjectures have been made, none of which, however, could be verified. A few years ago Mr. Skene, the British consul at Aleppo, discovered a huge mound of earth, covering a large area, on the western shore of the lower Euphrates, near Dèjrabis, a ford of that river on the route still traversed by caravans. This great mound was surrounded by ruined walls and broken towers, while the mound itself was but a mass of earth, fragments of masonry and débris. It had frequently been seen by previous travelers, but they identified it with other lost places. Mr. Skene called the attention to it of the late George Smith, the eminent archæologist, who brought so much to light from the ruins of Nineveh, and Mr. Smith found here the long lost capital of the Hittites. The present British consul, Mr. Henderson, has been during the last two years engaged in the exploration of the mound. He has already sent important remains with inscriptions to the British Museum, and an English traveler, Mr. Sackaw, has been recently engaged in investigating it. A few years ago a stone, which had formed part of the wall of a house at Hameth, had an inscription upon it which excited great curiosity, because it was neither Assyrian nor Egyptian, but something between both languages. It may be remembered that I called attention in one of my former addresses to the discovery of this stone and one or two others containing like charac-