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brick and bitumen, instead of stone and mortar, the Mosaic history informs us. This bitumen seems to have been a fat unctuous sort of earth, or slimy kind of substance, found in the neighbourhood of Babylon. The height of this extraordinary tower certain writers have estimated at a furlong, others at a mile, and others at four miles a height equal, if not superior, to the altitude of the highest mountains in the known world. But this is all conjecture.
The tower of Belus, of which the Greek historian, Herodotus, who flourished about four hundred years before the birth of our Saviour, speaks, is supposed to have been the same with the tower, called in scripture Babel, or, at least, built on the old foundation, and was to be seen in his time. It consisted of eight towers, raised one upon another, but gradually decreasing in size from the first to the last. Above the eight stood the famous temple of Belus, the ascent to which was carried, in a circular manner, round the outside of the building. The riches of this temple, in statues, censers, tables, cups, and other vessels of massy gold, were immense. This great tower and temple are said to have been built by direction of Belus, king of Babylon. There were two Babylonian monarchs of this name; Belus the
father of Ninus, and Belus the son of Semiramis. The former is said to have been cotemporary with Shamgar, one of the Jewish judges, of whom the writer of the book of Judges speaks.
The situation and ruins of this ancient structure, modern travellers pretend to have found. But, in their accounts of its situation, and description of its ruins, they do not agree; and it is extremely problematical whether any of them have discovered the true situation or ruins of the original tower of Babel. Babylon having been the capital of Nimrod's empire, the antiquity of it cannot be doubted. For the honour of founding this truly magnificent city, three illustrious personages appear as candidates: Nimrod; Belus, the Assyrian, father of Ninus, and Semiramis. The matter has been compromised thusNimrod began, Belus enlarged it; and Semiramis not only enlarged, but adorned it to such a degree, that she has been called the foundress of it. But, above all, Nebuchadnezzar put the finishing hand to it, and made it one of the wonders of the world. Is not this, says he, in the pride and vanity of his heart, great Babylon, which I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
The following description of this magnificent city is collected chiefly from Herodotus; who had been on the spot, and is the most ancient as well as the most reputable historian, that has transmitted any account of it to us.
"Babylon stood in a spacious plain, and was, by the river Euphrates, divided into two great parts. The walls were, in every respect, prodigious; being eighty-seven feet thick, three hundred and fifty feet high, and four hundred and eighty furlongs in compass. They were drawn round the city in form of an exact square, surrounded on the outside with a vast ditch, full of water, and lined with bricks on both sides. In every side of this great square were twenty-five gates, an hundred in all, made of solid brass. Between every two gates were three towers; with four more at the four corners; three between each of these corners and the next gate on each side. Each tower was ten feet higher than the wall. From the twenty-five gates, in each side of this great square, went twenty-five streets in straight lines to the gates which were directly over against them, in the opposite side. The whole number of streets amounted to fifty; each fifteen miles long; all crossing each other at right angles. There were also four half-streets, which had houses only on
one side, and the wall on the other. These went round the four sides of the city, next the wall; and were each of them two hundred feet broad; the other streets being a hundred and fifty feet in breadth. Thus the whole city was divided into six hundred and seventy-six squares; each of which measured four furlongs and a half on every side. Around all these squares, on the side next to the streets, stood the houses; the space in the middle of each square being occupied in gardens, and for other uses. A branch of the river Euphrates ran across the city, from the north to the south side; dividing it into two great parts. On each side of the river was a key, and a high wall of the same thickness with the walls of the city. In this wall, opposite to the streets, which led to the river, were gates of brass; and from them a descent by steps to the river. The bridge, which opened the communication between the two great parts of the city, was, in magnificence, equal to the other buildings. Before they began to build it, they turned, by canals, the course of the river; and laid its channel quite dry. This gave them an opportunity to lay the foundation of it in the firmest manner, and to raise artificial banks, to prevent those inundations, to which, during the overflowings of the river, the country was otherwise exposed. The river, thus turned out of its
usual course; was received into a prodigious artificial lake, dug for the purpose, westward of the city. This lake, according to Herodotus, was fifty-two; and, according to Megasthenes, seventy-five miles square; and thirty-five feet deep. Into this vast lake the river was made to flow, till all the work was finished; and then it was turned back into its former channel. To prevent the Euphrates, during its encrease, from entering by the gates, and overflowing the city, this lake, as well as the canal, was preserved. In it, as a great reservoir, the water was kept all the year for the benefit of the inhabitants, to be let out by sluices, as exigences might require. At the two ends of the bridge stood two palaces, which had a communication with each other, by a vault built under the channel of the river. The old palace, which stood on the east side of the river, was thirty furlongs in circumference; and the new palace, which stood on the opposite side, was sixty furlongs in compass. It was surrounded with three walls, one within another, with considerable, spaces between them. These walls, as also those of the other palace, were embellished with an infinite variety of sculptures, representing all kinds of animals to the life.
"Here were the hanging gardens, which have been so much and so justly celebrated in history.