Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 16.djvu/165

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that the nations who founded the ancient civilization of Babylonia, who invented the cuneiform writing, and who carried on the astronomical observations which made the name of Chaldean famous for all time, may have been not dark-white peoples like the Assyrians who came after them, but perhaps belonged to the yellow race of Central Asia, of whom the Chinese are the branch now most distinguished in civilization. M. Lenormant has tried to identify among the Assyrian bas-reliefs certain figures of men whose round skulls, high cheek-bones, and low-bridged noses present a Mongoloid type contrasting with that of the Assyrians. We can not, I think, take this as proved, but at any rate in these figures the features are not those of the aquiline Semitic type. The bronze statuette of the Chaldean king called Gudea, which I have examined with Mr. Pinches at the British Museum, is also, with its straight nose and long, thin beard, as un-Assyrian as may be. The anthropological point toward which all this tends is one of great interest. We of the white race are so used to the position of leaders in civilization, that it does not come easy to us to think we may not have been its original founders. Yet the white race, whether the dark-whites, such as Phœnicians or Hebrews, Greeks or Romans, or the fair-whites, such as Scandinavians and Teutons, appear in history as followers and disciples of the Egyptians and Babylonians who taught the world writing, mathematics, philosophy. These Egyptians and Babylonians, so far as present evidence reaches, seem rather to have belonged to the races of brown and yellow skin than to the white race.

It may be objected that this reasoning is in several places imperfect, but it is the use of a departmental address not only to lay down proved doctrines, but to state problems tentatively as they lie open to further inquiry. This will justify my calling attention to a line of argument which, uncertain as it at present is, may perhaps lead to an interesting result. So ancient was civilization among both Egyptians and Chaldeans, that the contest as to their priority in such matters as magical science was going on hotly in the classic ages of Greece and Rome. Looking at the literature and science, the arts and politics of Memphis and of Ur of the Chaldees, both raised to such height of culture nearly five thousand years ago, we ask. Were these civilizations not connected? did not one borrow from the other? There is at present a clew which, though it may lead to nothing, is still worth trial. The hint of it lies in a remark by Dr. Birch as to one of the earliest of Egyptian monuments, the pyramid of Kochome, near Sakkara, actually dating from the first dynasty, no doubt beyond 3000 b. c. and which is built in steps like the seven-storied Babylonian temples. Two other Egyptian pyramids, those of Abu-sīr, are also built in steps. Now, whether there is any connection between the building of these pyramids and the Babylonian towers, does not depend on their being built in stages, but on the number of these stages being seven. As to