Part 2 out of 2
Pietro della Valle visited the same hillsides of Shiraz which Barbaro
had passed two hundred years before. He, too, was puzzled by the strange
inscriptions on the ruins and being a painstaking young fellow, he
copied them carefully and sent his report together with some remarks
about the trip to a friend of his, Doctor Schipano, who practiced
medicine in Naples and who besides took an interest in matters
Schipano copied the funny little figures and brought them to the
attention of other scientific men. Unfortunately Europe was again
occupied with other matters.
The terrible wars between the Protestants and Catholics had broken out
and people were busily killing those who disagreed with them upon
certain points of a religious nature.
Another century was to pass before the study of the wedge-shaped
inscriptions could be taken up seriously.
The eighteenth century--a delightful age for people of an active and
curious mind--loved scientific puzzles. Therefore when King Frederick V
of Denmark asked for men of learning to join an expedition which he was
going to send to western Asia, he found no end of volunteers. His
expedition, which left Copenhagen in 1761, lasted six years. During this
period all of the members died except one, by the name of Karsten
Niebuhr, who had begun life as a German peasant and could stand greater
hardships than the professors who had spent their days amidst the stuffy
books of their libraries.
This Niebuhr, who was a surveyor by profession, was a young man who
deserves our admiration.
He continued his voyage all alone until he reached the ruins of
Persepolis where he spent a month copying every inscription that was to
be found upon the walls of the ruined palaces and temples.
After his return to Denmark he published his discoveries for the benefit
of the scientific world and seriously tried to read some meaning into
his own texts.
He was not successful.
But this does not astonish us when we understand the difficulties which
he was obliged to solve.
When Champollion tackled the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics he was able
to make his studies from little pictures.
The writing of Persepolis did not show any pictures at all.
They consisted of v-shaped figures that were repeated endlessly and
suggested nothing at all to the European eye.
Nowadays, when the puzzle has been solved we know that the original
script of the Sumerians had been a picture-language, quite as much as
that of the Egyptians.
But whereas the Egyptians at a very early date had discovered the
papyrus plant and had been able to paint their images upon a smooth
surface, the inhabitants of Mesopotamia had been forced to carve their
words into the hard rock of a mountain side or into a soft brick
[Illustration: THE ROCKS OF BEHISTUN.]
Driven by necessity they had gradually simplified the original pictures
until they devised a system of more than five hundred different
letter-combinations which were necessary for their needs.
Let me give you a few examples. In the beginning, a star, when drawn
with a nail into a brick looked as follows. [Illustration: Star]
But after a time the star shape was discarded as being too cumbersome
and the figure was given this shape. [Illustration: Asterisk]
After a while the meaning of "heaven" was added to that of "star," and
the picture was simplified in this way [Illustration: Odd Cross] which
made it still more of a puzzle.
In the same way an ox changed from [Illustration: Ox Head] into
A fish changed from [Illustration: Fish] into [Illustration: Fish
Scales] The sun, which was originally a plain circle, became
[Illustration: Diamond] and if we were using the Sumerian script today
we would make an [Illustration: Bike] look like this [Illustration:
You will understand how difficult it was to guess at the meaning of
these figures but the patient labors of a German schoolmaster by the
name of Grotefend was at last rewarded and thirty years after the first
publication of Niebuhr's texts and three centuries after the first
discovery of the wedge-formed pictures, four letters had been
These four letters were the D, the A, the R and the Sh.
They formed the name of Darheush the King, whom we call Darius.
Then occurred one of those events which were only possible in those
happy days before the telegraph-wire and the mail-steamer had turned the
entire world into one large city.
While patient European professors were burning the midnight candles in
their attempt to solve the new Asiatic mystery, young Henry Rawlinson
was serving his time as a cadet of the British East Indian Company.
He used his spare hours to learn Persian and when the Shah of Persia
asked the English government for the loan of a few officers to train his
native army, Rawlinson was ordered to go to Teheran. He travelled all
over Persia and one day he happened to visit the village of Behistun.
The Persians called it Bagistana which means the "dwellingplace of
Centuries before the main road from Mesopotamia to Iran (the early home
of the Persians) had run through this village and the Persian King
Darius had used the steep walls of the high cliffs to tell all the world
what a great man he was.
High above the roadside he had engraved an account of his glorious
The inscription had been made in the Persian language, in Babylonian and
in the dialect of the city of Susa. To make the story plain to those who
could not read at all, a fine piece of sculpture had been added showing
the King of Persia placing his triumphant foot upon the body of Gaumata,
the usurper who had tried to steal the throne away from the legitimate
rulers. For good measure a dozen followers of Gaumata had been added.
They stood in the background. Their hands were tied and they were to be
executed in a few moments.
The picture and the three texts were several hundred feet above the road
but Rawlinson scaled the walls of the rock at great danger to life and
limb and copied the entire text.
His discovery was of the greatest importance. The Rock of Behistun
became as famous as the Stone of Rosetta and Rawlinson shared the honors
of deciphering the old nail-writing with Grotefend.
Although they had never seen each other or heard each other's names, the
German schoolmaster and the British officer worked together for a common
purpose as all good scientific men should do.
Their copies of the old text were reprinted in every land and by the
middle of the nineteenth century, the cuneiform language (so called
because the letters were wedge-shaped and "cuneus" is the Latin name for
wedge) had given up its secrets. Another human mystery had been solved.
[Illustration: A TOWER OF BABEL.]
But about the people who had invented this clever way of writing, we
have never been able to learn very much.
They were a white race and they were called the Sumerians.
They lived in a land which we call Shomer and which they themselves
called Kengi, which means the "country of the reeds" and which shows us
that they had dwelt among the marshy parts of the Mesopotamian valley.
Originally the Sumerians had been mountaineers, but the fertile fields
had tempted them away from the hills. But while they had left their
ancient homes amidst the peaks of western Asia they had not given up
their old habits and one of these is of particular interest to us.
Living amidst the peaks of western Asia, they had worshipped their Gods
upon altars erected on the tops of rocks. In their new home, among the
flat plains, there were no such rocks and it was impossible to construct
their shrines in the old fashion. The Sumerians did not like this.
All Asiatic people have a deep respect for tradition and the Sumerian
tradition demanded that an altar be plainly visible for miles around.
To overcome this difficulty and keep their peace with the Gods of their
Fathers, the Sumerians had built a number of low towers (resembling
little hills) on the top of which they had lighted their sacred fires in
honor of the old divinities.
When the Jews visited the town of Bab-Illi (which we call Babylon) many
centuries after the last of the Sumerians had died, they had been much
impressed by the strange-looking towers which stood high amidst the
green fields of Mesopotamia. The Tower of Babel of which we hear so much
in the Old Testament was nothing but the ruin of an artificial peak,
built hundreds of years before by a band of devout Sumerians. It was a
The Sumerians had not known how to construct stairs.
They had surrounded their tower with a sloping gallery which slowly
carried people from the bottom to the top.
A few years ago it was found necessary to build a new railroad station
in the heart of New York City in such a way that thousands of travelers
could be brought from the lower to the higher levels at the same moment.
It was not thought safe to use a staircase for in case of a rush or a
panic people might have tumbled and that would have meant a terrible
To solve their problem the engineers borrowed an idea from the
And the Grand Central Station is provided with the same ascending
galleries which had first been introduced into the plains of
Mesopotamia, three thousand years ago.
ASSYRIA AND BABYLONIA--THE GREAT SEMITIC MELTING-POT
We often call America the "Melting-pot." When we use this term we mean
that many races from all over the earth have gathered along the banks of
the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans to find a new home and begin a new
career amidst more favorable surroundings than were to be found in the
country of their birth. It is true, Mesopotamia was much smaller than
our own country. But the fertile valley was the most extraordinary
"melting-pot" the world has ever seen and it continued to absorb new
tribes for almost two thousand years. The story of each new people,
clamoring for homesteads along the banks of the Tigris and the Euphrates
is interesting in itself but we can give you only a very short record of
The Sumerians whom we met in the previous chapter, scratching their
history upon rocks and bits of clay (and who did not belong to the
Semitic race) had been the first nomads to wander into Mesopotamia.
Nomads are people who have no settled homes and no grain fields and no
vegetable gardens but who live in tents and keep sheep and goats and
cows and who move from pasture to pasture, taking their flocks and their
tents wherever the grass is green and the water abundant.
Far and wide their mud huts had covered the plains. They were good
fighters and for a long time they were able to hold their own against
But four thousand years ago a tribe of Semitic desert people called the
Akkadians left Arabia, defeated the Sumerians and conquered Mesopotamia.
The most famous king of these Akkadians was called Sargon.
He taught his people how to write their own Semitic language in the
alphabet of the Sumerians whose territory they had just occupied. He
ruled so wisely that soon the differences between the original settlers
and the invaders disappeared and they became fast friends and lived
together in peace and harmony.
The fame of his empire spread rapidly throughout western Asia and
others, hearing of this success, were tempted to try their own luck.
A new tribe of desert nomads, called the Amorites, broke up camp and
Thereupon the valley was the scene of a great turmoil until an Amorite
chieftain by the name of Hammurapi (or Hammurabi, as you please)
established himself in the town of Bab-Illi (which means the Gate of the
God) and made himself the ruler of a great Bab-Illian or
This Hammurapi, who lived twenty-one centuries before the birth of
Christ, was a very interesting man. He made Babylon the most important
town of the ancient world, where learned priests administered the laws
which their great Ruler had received from the Sun God himself and where
the merchant loved to trade because he was treated fairly and honorably.
Indeed if it were not for the lack of space (these laws of Hammurapi
would cover fully forty of these pages if I were to give them to you in
detail) I would be able to show you that this ancient Babylonian State
was in many respects better managed and that the people were happier and
that law and order was maintained more carefully and that there was
greater freedom of speech and thought than in many of our modern
But our world was never meant to be too perfect and soon other hordes of
rough and murderous men descended from the northern mountains and
destroyed the work of Hammurapi's genius.
The name of these new invaders was the Hittites. Of these Hittites I can
tell you even less than of the Sumerians. The Bible mentions them. Ruins
of their civilization have been found far and wide. They used a strange
sort of hieroglyphics but no one has as yet been able to decipher these
and read their meaning. They were not greatly gifted as administrators.
They ruled only a few years and then their domains fell to pieces.
Of all their glory there remains nothing but a mysterious name and the
reputation of having destroyed many things which other people had built
up with great pain and care.
Then came another invasion which was of a very different nature.
A fierce tribe of desert wanderers, who murdered and pillaged in the
name of their great God Assur, left Arabia and marched northward until
they reached the slopes of the mountains. Then they turned eastward and
along the banks of the Euphrates they built a city which they called
Ninua, a name which has come down to us in the Greek form of Nineveh. At
once these new-comers, who are generally known as the Assyrians, began a
slow but terrible warfare upon all the other inhabitants of Mesopotamia.
In the twelfth century before Christ they made a first attempt to
destroy Babylon but after a first success on the part of their King,
Tiglath Pileser, they were defeated and forced to return to their
Five hundred years later they tried again. An adventurous general by the
name of Bulu made himself master of the Assyrian throne. He assumed the
name of old Tiglath Pileser, who was considered the national hero of the
Assyrians and announced his intention of conquering the whole world.
He was as good as his word.
Asia Minor and Armenia and Egypt and Northern Arabia and Western Persia
and Babylonia became Assyrian provinces. They were ruled by Assyrian
governors, who collected the taxes and forced all the young men to serve
as soldiers in the Assyrian armies and who made themselves thoroughly
hated and despised both for their greed and their cruelty.
Fortunately the Assyrian Empire at its greatest height did not last very
long. It was like a ship with too many masts and sails and too small a
hull. There were too many soldiers and not enough farmers--too many
generals and not enough business men.
The King and the nobles grew very rich but the masses lived in squalor
and poverty. Never for a moment was the country at peace. It was for
ever fighting someone, somewhere, for causes which did not interest the
subjects at all. Until, through this continuous and exhausting warfare,
most of the Assyrian soldiers had been killed or maimed and it became
necessary to allow foreigners to enter the army. These foreigners had
little love for their brutal masters who had destroyed their homes and
had stolen their children and therefore they fought badly.
Life along the Assyrian frontier was no longer safe.
Strange new tribes were constantly attacking the northern boundaries.
One of these was called the Cimmerians. The Cimmerians, when we first
hear of them, inhabited the vast plain beyond the northern mountains.
Homer describes their country in his account of the voyage of Odysseus
and he tells us that it was a place "for ever steeped in darkness." They
were a race of white men and they had been driven out of their former
homes by still another group of Asiatic wanderers, the Scythians.
The Scythians were the ancestors of the modern Cossacks, and even in
those remote days they were famous for their horsemanship.
[Illustration: NINEVEH DESTROYED.]
The Cimmerians, hard pressed by the Scythians, crossed from Europe into
Asia and conquered the land of the Hittites. Then they left the
mountains of Asia Minor and descended into the valley of Mesopotamia,
where they wrought terrible havoc among the impoverished people of the
Nineveh called for volunteers to stop this invasion. Her worn-out
regiments marched northward when news came of a more immediate and
For many years a small tribe of Semitic nomads, called the Chaldeans,
had been living peacefully in the south-eastern part of the fertile
valley, in the country called Ur. Suddenly these Chaldeans had gone upon
the war-path and had begun a regular campaign against the Assyrians.
Attacked from all sides, the Assyrian State, which had never gained the
good-will of a single neighbor, was doomed to perish.
When Nineveh fell and this forbidding treasure house, filled with the
plunder of centuries, was at last destroyed, there was joy in every hut
and hamlet from the Persian Gulf to the Nile.
And when the Greeks visited the Euphrates a few generations later and
asked what these vast ruins, covered with shrubs and trees might be,
there was no one to tell them.
The people had hastened to forget the very name of the city that had
been such a cruel master and had so miserably oppressed them.
Babylon, on the other hand, which had ruled its subjects in a very
different way, came back to life.
During the long reign of the wise King Nebuchadnezzar the ancient
temples were rebuilt. Vast palaces were erected within a short space of
time. New canals were dug all over the valley to help irrigate the
fields. Quarrelsome neighbors were severely punished.
Egypt was reduced to a mere frontier-province and Jerusalem, the capital
of the Jews, was destroyed. The Holy Books of Moses were taken to
Babylon and several thousand Jews were forced to follow the Babylonian
King to his capital as hostages for the good behavior of those who
remained behind in Palestine.
But Babylon was made into one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
Trees were planted along the banks of the Euphrates.
Flowers were made to grow upon the many walls of the city and after a
few years it seemed that a thousand gardens were hanging from the roofs
of the ancient town.
As soon as the Chaldeans had made their capital the show-place of the
world they devoted their attention to matters of the mind and of
Like all desert folk they were deeply interested in the stars which at
night had guided them safely through the trackless desert.
They studied the heavens and named the twelve signs of the Zodiak.
They made maps of the sky and they discovered the first five planets. To
these they gave the names of their Gods. When the Romans conquered
Mesopotamia they translated the Chaldean names into Latin and that
explains why today we talk of Jupiter and Venus and Mars and Mercury
They divided the equator into three hundred and sixty degrees and they
divided the day into twenty-four hours and the hour into sixty minutes
and no modern man has ever been able to improve upon this old Babylonian
invention. They possessed no watches but they measured time by the
shadow of the sun-dial.
They learned to use both the decimal and the duodecimal systems
(nowadays we use only the decimal system, which is a great pity). The
duodecimal system (ask your father what the word means), accounts for
the sixty minutes and the sixty seconds and the twenty-four hours which
seem to have so little in common with our modern world which would have
divided day and night into twenty hours and the hour into fifty minutes
and the minute into fifty seconds according to the rules of the
restricted decimal system.
The Chaldeans also were the first people to recognize the necessity of a
regular day of rest.
When they divided the year into weeks they ordered that six days of
labor should be followed by one day, devoted to the "peace of the soul."
[Illustration: THE CHALDEANS.]
It was a great pity that the center of so much intelligence and industry
could not exist for ever. But not even the genius of a number of very
wise Kings could save the ancient people of Mesopotamia from their
The Semitic world was growing old.
It was time for a new race of men.
In the fifth century before Christ, an Indo-European people called the
Persians (I shall tell you about them later) left its pastures amidst
the high mountains of Iran and conquered the fertile valley.
The city of Babylon was captured without a struggle.
Nabonidus, the last Babylonian king, who had been more interested in
religious problems than in defending his own country, fled.
A few days later his small son, who had remained behind, died.
Cyrus, the Persian King, buried the child with great honor and then
proclaimed himself the legitimate successor of the old rulers of
Mesopotamia ceased to be an independent State.
It became a Persian province ruled by a Persian "Satrap" or Governor.
As for Babylon, when the Kings no longer used the city as their
residence it soon lost all importance and became a mere country village.
In the fourth century before Christ it enjoyed another spell of glory.
It was in the year 331 B.C. that Alexander the Great, the young Greek
who had just conquered Persia and India and Egypt and every other place,
visited the ancient city of sacred memories. He wanted to use the old
city as a background for his own newly-acquired glory. He began to
rebuild the palace and ordered that the rubbish be removed from
Unfortunately he died quite suddenly in the Banqueting Hall of
Nebuchadnezzar and after that nothing on earth could save Babylon
from her ruin.
As soon as one of Alexander's generals, Seleucus Nicator, had perfected
the plans for a new city at the mouth of the great canal which united
the Tigris and the Euphrates, the fate of Babylon was sealed.
A tablet of the year 275 B.C. tells us how the last of the Babylonians
were forced to leave their home and move into this new settlement which
had been called Seleucia.
Even then, a few of the faithful continued to visit the holy places
which were now inhabited by wolves and jackals.
The majority of the people, little interested in those half-forgotten
divinities of a bygone age, made a more practical use of their
They used it as a stone-quarry.
For almost thirty centuries Babylon had been the great spiritual and
intellectual center of the Semitic world and a hundred generations had
regarded the city as the most perfect expression of their
It was the Paris and London and New York of the ancient world.
At present three large mounds show us where the ruins lie buried beneath
the sand of the ever-encroaching desert.
THIS IS THE STORY OF MOSES
High above the thin line of the distant horizon there appeared a small
cloud of dust. The Babylonian peasant, working his poor farm on the
outskirts of the fertile lands, noticed it.
"Another tribe is trying to break into our land," he said to himself.
"They will not get far. The King's soldiers will drive them away."
He was right. The frontier guards welcomed the new arrivals with drawn
swords and bade them try their luck elsewhere.
They moved westward following the borders of the land of Babylon and
they wandered until they reached the shores of the Mediterranean.
There they settled down and tended their flocks and lived the simple
lives of their earliest ancestors who had dwelt in the land of Ur.
Then there came a time when the rain ceased to fall and there was not
enough to eat for man or beast and it became necessary to look for new
pastures or perish on the spot.
Once more the shepherds (who were called the Hebrews) moved their
families into a new home which they found along the banks of the Red Sea
near the land of Egypt.
But hunger and want had followed them upon their voyage and they were
forced to go to the Egyptian officials and beg for food that they might
The Egyptians had long expected a famine. They had built large
store-houses and these were all filled with the surplus wheat of the
last seven years. This wheat was now being distributed among the people
and a food-dictator had been appointed to deal it out equally to the
rich and to the poor. His name was Joseph and he belonged to the tribe
of the Hebrews.
As a mere boy he had run away from his own family. It was said that he
had escaped to save himself from the anger of his brethren who envied
him because he was the favorite of their Father.
Whatever the truth, Joseph had gone to Egypt and he had found favor in
the eyes of the Hyksos Kings who had just conquered the country and who
used this bright young man to assist them in administering their new
As soon as the hungry Hebrews appeared before Joseph with their request
for help, Joseph recognized his relatives.
But he was a generous man and all meanness of spirit was foreign to his
He did not revenge himself upon those who had wronged him but he gave
them wheat and allowed them to settle in the land of Egypt, they and
their children and their flocks--and be happy.
For many years the Hebrews (who are more commonly known as the Jews)
lived in the eastern part of their adopted country and all was well
Then a great change took place.
A sudden revolution deprived the Hyksos Kings of their power and forced
them to leave the country. Once more the Egyptians were masters within
their own house. They had never liked foreigners any too well. Three
hundred years of oppression by a band of Arab shepherds had greatly
increased this feeling of loathing for everything that was alien.
The Jews on the other hand had been on friendly terms with the Hyksos
who were related to them by blood and by race. This was enough to make
them traitors in the eyes of the Egyptians.
Joseph no longer lived to protect his people.
After a short struggle they were taken away from their old homes, they
were driven into the heart of the country and they were treated
For many years they performed the dreary tasks of common laborers,
carrying stones for the building of pyramids, making bricks for public
buildings, constructing roads, and digging canals to carry the water of
the Nile to the distant Egyptian farms.
Their suffering was great but they never lost courage and help was near.
There lived a certain young man whose name was Moses. He was very
intelligent and he had received a good education because the Egyptians
had decided that he should enter the service of Pharaoh.
If nothing had happened to arouse his anger, Moses would have ended his
days peacefully as the governor of a small province or the collector of
taxes of an outlying district.
But the Egyptians, as I have told you before, despised those who did not
look like themselves nor dress in true Egyptian fashion and they were
apt to insult such people because they were "different."
And because the foreigners were in the minority they could not well
defend themselves. Nor did it serve any good purpose to carry their
complaints before a tribunal for the Judge did not smile upon the
grievances of a man who refused to worship the Egyptian gods and who
pleaded his case with a strong foreign accent.
Now it occurred one day that Moses was taking a walk with a few of his
Egyptian friends and one of these said something particularly
disagreeable about the Jews and even threatened to lay hands on them.
Moses, who was a hot-headed youth hit him.
The blow was a bit too severe and the Egyptian fell down dead.
To kill a native was a terrible thing and the Egyptian laws were not as
wise as those of Hammurapi, the good Babylonian King, who recognized the
difference between a premeditated murder and the killing of a man whose
insults had brought his opponent to a point of unreasoning rage.
He escaped into the land of his ancestors, into the Midian desert, along
the eastern bank of the Red Sea, where his tribe had tended their sheep
several hundred years before.
A kind priest by the name of Jethro received him in his house and gave
him one of his seven daughters, Zipporah, as his wife.
There Moses lived for a long time and there he pondered upon many deep
subjects. He had left the luxury and the comfort of the palace of
Pharaoh to share the rough and simple life of a desert priest.
In the olden days, before the Jewish people had moved into Egypt, they
too had been wanderers among the endless plains of Arabia. They had
lived in tents and they had eaten plain food, but they had been honest
men and faithful women, contented with few possessions but proud of the
righteousness of their mind.
All this had been changed after they had become exposed to the
civilization of Egypt. They had taken to the ways of the comfort-loving
Egyptians. They had allowed another race to rule them and they had not
cared to fight for their independence.
Instead of the old gods of the wind-swept desert they had begun to
worship strange divinities who lived in the glimmering splendors of the
dark Egyptian temples.
Moses felt that it was his duty to go forth and save his people from
their fate and bring them back to the simple Truth of the olden days.
And so he sent messengers to his relatives and suggested that they leave
the land of slavery and join him in the desert.
But the Egyptians heard of this and guarded the Jews more carefully than
It seemed that the plans of Moses were doomed to failure when suddenly
an epidemic broke out among the people of the Nile Valley.
The Jews who had always obeyed certain very strict laws of health (which
they had learned in the hardy days of their desert life) escaped the
disease while the weaker Egyptians died by the hundreds of thousands.
Amidst the confusion and the panic which followed this Silent Death, the
Jews packed their belongings and hastily fled from the land which had
promised them so much and which had given them so little.
As soon as the flight became known the Egyptians tried to follow them
with their armies but their soldiers met with disaster and the
They were safe and they were free and they moved eastward into the waste
spaces which are situated at the foot of Mount Sinai, the peak which has
been called after Sin, the Babylonian God of the Moon.
There Moses took command of his fellow-tribesmen and commenced upon his
great task of reform.
In those days, the Jews, like all other people, worshipped many gods.
During their stay in Egypt they had even learned to do homage to those
animals which the Egyptians held in such high honor that they built holy
shrines for their special benefit. Moses on the other hand, during his
long and lonely life amidst the sandy hills of the peninsula, had
learned to revere the strength and the power of the great God of the
Storm and the Thunder, who ruled the high heavens and upon whose
good-will the wanderer in the desert depended for life and light
This God was called Jehovah and he was a mighty Being who was held in
trembling respect by all the Semitic people of western Asia.
Through the teaching of Moses he was to become the sole Master of the
One day Moses disappeared from the camp of the Hebrews. He took with him
two tablets of rough-hewn stone. It was whispered that he had gone to
seek the solitude of Mount Sinai's highest peak.
That afternoon, the top of the mountain was lost to sight.
The darkness of a terrible storm hid it from the eye of man.
But when Moses returned, behold! ... there stood engraved upon the
tablets the words which Jehovah himself had spoken amidst the crash of
his thunder and the blinding flashes of his lightning.
From that moment on, no Jew dared to question the authority of Moses.
When he told his people that Jehovah commanded them to continue their
wanderings, they obeyed with eagerness.
For many years they lived amidst the trackless hills of the desert.
They suffered great hardships and almost perished from lack of food and
But Moses kept high their hopes of a Promised Land which would offer a
lasting home to the true followers of Jehovah.
At last they reached a more fertile region.
They crossed the river Jordan and, carrying the Holy Tablets of Law,
they made ready to occupy the pastures which stretch from Dan to
As for Moses, he was no longer their leader.
He had grown old and he was very tired.
He had been allowed to see the distant ridges of the Palestine Mountains
among which the Jews were to find a Fatherland.
Then he had closed his wise eyes for all time.
He had accomplished the task which he had set himself in his youth.
He had led his people out of foreign slavery into the new freedom of an
He had united them and he had made them the first of all nations to
worship a single God.
JERUSALEM--THE CITY OF THE LAW
Palestine is a small strip of land between the mountains of Syria and
the green waters of the Mediterranean. It has been inhabited since time
immemorial, but we do not know very much about the first settlers,
although we have given them the name of Canaanites.
The Canaanites belonged to the Semitic race. Their ancestors, like those
of the Jews and the Babylonians, had been a desert folk. But when the
Jews entered Palestine, the Canaanites lived in towns and villages. They
were no longer shepherds but traders. Indeed, in the Jewish language,
Canaanite and merchant came to mean the same thing.
They had built themselves strong cities, surrounded by high walls and
they did not allow the Jews to enter their gates, but they forced them
to keep to the open country and make their home amidst the grassy lands
of the valleys.
After a time, however, the Jews and the Canaanites became friends. This
was not so very difficult for they both belonged to the same race.
Besides they feared a common enemy and only their united strength could
defend their country against these dangerous neighbors, who were called
the Philistines and who belonged to an entirely different race.
The Philistines really had no business in Asia. They were Europeans, and
their earliest home had been in the Isle of Crete. At what age they had
settled along the shores of the Mediterranean is quite uncertain because
we do not know when the Indo-European invaders had driven them from
their island home. But even the Egyptians, who called them Purasati, had
feared them greatly and when the Philistines (who wore a headdress of
feathers just like our Indians) went upon the war-path, all the people
of western Asia sent large armies to protect their frontiers.
As for the war between the Philistines and the Jews, it never came to an
end. For although David slew Goliath (who wore a suit of armor which was
a great curiosity in those days and had been no doubt imported from the
island of Cyprus where the copper mines of the ancient world were found)
and although Samson killed the Philistines wholesale when he buried
himself and his enemies beneath the temple of Dagon, the Philistines
always proved themselves more than a match for the Jews and never
allowed the Hebrew people to get hold of any of the harbors of the
The Jews therefore were obliged by fate to content themselves with the
valleys of eastern Palestine and there, on the top of a barren hill,
they erected their capital.
The name of this city was Jerusalem and for thirty centuries it has been
one of the most holy spots of the western world.
In the dim ages of the unknown past, Jerusalem, the Home of Peace, had
been a little fortified outpost of the Egyptians who had built many
small fortifications and castles along the mountain ridges of Palestine,
to defend their outlying frontier against attacks from the East.
After the downfall of the Egyptian Empire, a native tribe, the
Jebusites, had moved into the deserted city. Then came the Jews who
captured the town after a long struggle and made it the residence of
their King David.
At last, after many years of wandering the Tables of the Law seemed to
have reached a place of enduring rest. Solomon, the Wise, decided to
provide them with a magnificent home. Far and wide his messengers
travelled to ransack the world for rare woods and precious metals. The
entire nation was asked to offer its wealth to make the House of God
worthy of its holy name. Higher and higher the walls of the temple arose
guarding the sacred Laws of Jehovah for all the ages.
Alas, the expected eternity proved to be of short duration. Themselves
intruders among hostile neighbors, surrounded by enemies on all sides,
harassed by the Philistines, the Jews did not maintain their
independence for very long.
They fought well and bravely. But their little state, weakened by petty
jealousies, was easily overpowered by the Assyrians and the Egyptians
and the Chaldeans and when Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, took
Jerusalem in the year 586 before the birth of Christ, he destroyed the
city and the temple, and the Tablets of Stone went up in the general
At once the Jews set to work to rebuild their holy shrine. But the days
of Solomon's glory were gone. The Jews were the subjects of a foreign
race and money was scarce. It took seventy years to reconstruct the old
edifice. It stood securely for three hundred years but then a second
invasion took place and once more the red flames of the burning temple
brightened the skies of Palestine.
When it was rebuilt for the third time, it was surrounded by two high
walls with narrow gates and several inner courts were added to make
sudden invasion in the future an impossibility.
But ill-luck pursued the city of Jerusalem.
In the sixty-fifth year before the birth of Christ, the Romans under
their general Pompey took possession of the Jewish capital. Their
practical sense did not take kindly to an old city with crooked and dark
streets and many unhealthy alley-ways. They cleaned up this old rubbish
(as they considered it) and built new barracks and large public
buildings and swimming-pools and athletic parks and they forced their
modern improvements upon an unwilling populace.
The temple which served no practical purposes (as far as they could see)
was neglected until the days of Herod, who was King of the Jews by the
Grace of the Roman sword and whose vanity wished to renew the ancient
splendor of the bygone ages. In a half-hearted manner the oppressed
people set to work to obey the orders of a master who was not of their
When the last stone had been placed in its proper position another
revolution broke out against the merciless Roman tax gatherers. The
temple was the first victim of this rioting. The soldiers of the Emperor
Titus promptly set fire to this center of the old Jewish faith. But the
city of Jerusalem was spared.
Palestine however continued to be the scene of unrest.
The Romans who were familiar with all sorts of races of men and who
ruled countries where a thousand different divinities were worshipped
did not know how to handle the Jews. They did not understand the Jewish
character at all. Extreme tolerance (based upon indifference) was the
foundation upon which Rome had constructed her very successful Empire.
Roman governors never interfered with the religious belief of subject
tribes. They demanded that a picture or a statue of the Emperor be
placed in the temples of the people who inhabited the outlying parts of
the Roman domains. This was a mere formality and it did not have any
deep significance. But to the Jews such a thing seemed highly
sacrilegious and they would not desecrate their Holiest of Holies by the
carven image of a Roman potentate.
The Romans insisted.
In itself a matter of small importance, a misunderstanding of this sort
was bound to grow and cause further ill-feeling. Fifty-two years after
the revolt under the Emperor Titus the Jews once more rebelled. This
time the Romans decided to be thorough in their work of destruction.
Jerusalem was destroyed.
The temple was burned down.
A new Roman city, called Aelia Capitolina was erected upon the ruins of
the old city of Solomon.
A heathenish temple devoted to the worship of Jupiter was built upon the
site where the faithful had worshipped Jehovah for almost a
The Jews themselves were expelled from their capital and thousands of
them were driven away from the home of their ancestors.
From that moment on they became wanderers upon the face of the Earth.
But the Holy Laws no longer needed the safe shelter of a royal shrine.
Their influence had long since passed beyond the narrow confines of the
land of Judah. They had become a living symbol of Justice wherever
honorable people tried to live a righteous life.
DAMASCUS--THE CITY OF TRADE
The old cities of Egypt have disappeared from the face of the earth.
Nineveh and Babylon are deserted mounds of dust and brick. The ancient
temple of Jerusalem lies buried beneath the blackened ruins of its
One city alone has survived the ages.
It is called Damascus.
Within its four great gates and its strong walls a busy people has
followed its daily occupations for five thousand consecutive years and
the "Street called Straight" which is the city's main artery of
commerce, has seen the coming and going of one hundred and fifty
Humbly Damascus began its career as a fortified frontier town of the
Amorites, those famous desert folk who had given birth to the great King
Hammurapi. When the Amorites moved further eastward into the valley of
Mesopotamia to found the Kingdom of Babylon, Damascus had been continued
as a trading post with the wild Hittites who inhabited the mountains of
In due course of time the earliest inhabitants had been absorbed by
another Semitic tribe, called the Aramaeans. The city itself however had
not changed its character. It remained throughout these many changes an
important center of commerce.
It was situated upon the main road from Egypt to Mesopotamia and it was
within a week's distance from the harbors on the Mediterranean. It
produced no great generals and statesmen and no famous Kings. It did not
conquer a single mile of neighboring territory. It traded with all the
world and offered a safe home to the merchant and to the artisan.
Incidentally it bestowed its language upon the greater part of
Commerce has always demanded quick and practical ways of communication
between different nations. The elaborate system of nail-writing of the
ancient Sumerians was too involved for the Aramaean business man. He
invented a new alphabet which could be written much faster than the old
wedge-shaped figures of Babylon.
The spoken language of the Aramaeans followed their business
Aramaean became the English of the ancient world. In most parts of
Mesopotamia it was understood as readily as the native tongue. In some
countries it actually took the place of the old tribal dialect.
And when Christ preached to the multitudes, he did not use the ancient
Jewish speech in which Moses had explained the Laws unto his fellow
He spoke in Aramaean, the language of the merchant, which had become the
language of the simple people of the old Mediterranean world.
THE PHOENICIANS WHO SAILED BEYOND THE HORIZON
A pioneer is a brave fellow, with the courage of his own curiosity.
Perhaps he lives at the foot of a high mountain.
So do thousands of other people. They are quite contented to leave the
But the pioneer feels unhappy. He wants to know what mysteries this
mountain hides from his eyes. Is there another mountain behind it, or a
plain? Does it suddenly arise with its steep cliffs from the dark waves
of the ocean or does it overlook a desert?
One fine day the true pioneer leaves his family and the safe comfort of
his home to go and find out. Perhaps he will come back and tell his
experience to his indifferent relatives. Or he will be killed by falling
stones or a treacherous blizzard. In that case he does not return at all
and the good neighbors shake their heads and say, "He got what he
deserved. Why did he not stay at home like the rest of us?"
[Illustration: THE DISTANT HORIZON]
But the world needs such men and after they have been dead for many
years and others have reaped the benefits of their discoveries, they
always receive a statue with a fitting inscription.
More terrifying than the highest mountain is the thin line of the
distant horizon. It seems to be the end of the world itself. Heaven have
mercy upon those who pass beyond this meeting-place of sky and water,
where all is black despair and death.
And for centuries and centuries after man had built his first clumsy
boats, he remained within the pleasant sight of one familiar shore and
kept away from the horizon.
Then came the Phoenicians who knew no such fears. They passed beyond the
sight of land. Suddenly the forbidding ocean was turned into a peaceful
highway of commerce and the dangerous menace of the horizon became
These Phoenician navigators were Semites. Their ancestors had lived in
the desert of Arabia together with the Babylonians, the Jews and all the
others. But when the Jews occupied Palestine, the cities of the
Phoenicians were already old with the age of many centuries.
There were two Phoenician centers of trade.
One was called Tyre and the other was called Sidon. They were built upon
high cliffs and rumor had it that no enemy could take them. Far and wide
their ships sailed to gather the products of the Mediterranean for the
benefit of the people of Mesopotamia.
At first the sailors only visited the distant shores of France and Spain
to barter with the natives and hastened home with their grain and metal.
Later they had built fortified trading posts along the coasts of Spain
and Italy and Greece and the far-off Scilly Islands where the valuable
tin was found.
[Illustration: THE PHOENICIANS.]
To the uncivilized savages of Europe, such a trading post appeared as a
dream of beauty and luxury. They asked to be allowed to live close to
its walls, to see the wonderful sights when the boats of many sails
entered the harbor, carrying the much-desired merchandise of the unknown
east. Gradually they left their huts to build themselves small wooden
houses around the Phoenician fortresses. In this way many a trading post
had grown into a market place for all the people of the entire
Today such big cities as Marseilles and Cadiz are proud of their
Phoenician origin, but their ancient mothers, Tyre and Sidon, have been
dead and forgotten for over two thousand years and of the Phoenicians
themselves, none have survived.
This is a sad fate but it was fully deserved.
The Phoenicians had grown rich without great effort, but they had not
known how to use their wealth wisely. They had never cared for books or
learning. They had only cared for money.
They had bought and sold slaves all over the world. They had forced the
foreign immigrants to work in their factories. They cheated their
neighbors whenever they had a chance and they had made themselves
detested by all the other people of the Mediterranean.
They were brave and energetic navigators, but they showed themselves
cowards whenever they were obliged to choose between honorable dealing
and an immediate profit, obtained through fraudulent and shrewd trading.
As long as they had been the only sailors in the world who could handle
large ships, all other nations had been in need of their services. As
soon as the others too had learned how to handle a rudder and a set of
sails, they at once got rid of the tricky Phoenician merchant.
From that moment on, Tyre and Sidon had lost their old hold upon the
commercial world of Asia. They had never encouraged art or science. They
had known how to explore the seven seas and turn their ventures into
profitable investments. No state, however, can be safely built upon
material possessions alone.
The land of Phoenicia had always been a counting-house without a soul.
It perished because it had honored a well-filled treasure chest as the
highest ideal of civic pride.
THE ALPHABET FOLLOWS THE TRADE
I have told you how the Egyptians preserved speech by means of little
figures. I have described the wedge-shaped signs which served the people
of Mesopotamia as a handy means of transacting business at home
But how about our own alphabet? From whence came those compact little
letters which follow us throughout our life, from the date on our birth
certificate to the last word of our funeral notice? Are they Egyptian or
Babylonian or Aramaic or are they something entirely different? They are
a little bit of everything, as I shall now tell you.
Our modern alphabet is not a very satisfactory instrument for the
purpose of reproducing our speech. Some day a genius will invent a new
system of writing which shall give each one of our sounds a little
picture of its own. But with all its many imperfections the letters of
our modern alphabet perform their daily task quite nicely and fully as
well as their very accurate and precise cousins, the numerals, who
wandered into Europe from distant India, almost ten centuries after the
first invasion of the alphabet. The earliest history of these letters,
however, is a deep mystery and it will take many years of painstaking
investigation before we can solve it.
This much we know--that our alphabet was not suddenly invented by a
bright young scribe. It developed and grew during hundreds of years out
of a number of older and more complicated systems.
In my last chapter I have told you of the language of the intelligent
Aramaean traders which spread throughout western Asia, as an
international means of communication. The language of the Phoenicians
was never very popular among their neighbors. Except for a very few
words we do not know what sort of tongue it was. Their system of
writing, however, was carried into every corner of the vast
Mediterranean and every Phoenician colony became a center for its
It remains to be explained why the Phoenicians, who did nothing to
further either art or science, hit upon such a compact and handy system
of writing, while other and superior nations remained faithful to the
old clumsy scribbling.
The Phoenicians, before all else, were practical business men. They did
not travel abroad to admire the scenery. They went upon their perilous
voyages to distant parts of Europe and more distant parts of Africa in
search of wealth. Time was money in Tyre and Sidon and commercial
documents written in hieroglyphics or Sumerian wasted useful hours of
busy clerks who might be employed upon more useful errands.
When our modern business world decided that the old-fashioned way of
dictating letters was too slow for the hurry of modern life, a clever
man devised a simple system of dots and dashes which could follow the
spoken word as closely as a hound follows a hare.
This system we call "shorthand."
The Phoenician traders did the same thing.
They borrowed a few pictures from the Egyptian hieroglyphics and
simplified a number of wedge-shaped figures from the Babylonians.
They sacrificed the pretty looks of the older system for the benefit of
speed and they reduced the thousands of images of the ancient world to a
short and handy alphabet of only twenty-two letters. They tried it out
at home and when it proved a success, they carried it abroad.
Among the Egyptians and the Babylonians, writing had been a very serious
affair--something almost holy. Many improvements had been proposed but
these had been invariably discarded as sacrilegious innovations. The
Phoenicians who were not interested in piety succeeded where the others
had failed. They could not introduce their script into Mesopotamia and
Egypt, but among the people of the Mediterranean, who were totally
ignorant of the art of writing, the Phoenician alphabet was a great
success and in all nooks and corners of that vast sea we find vases and
pillars and ruins covered with Phoenician inscriptions.
The Indo-European Greeks who had migrated to the many islands of the
Aegean Sea at once applied this foreign alphabet to their own language.
Certain Greek sounds, unknown to the ears of the Semitic Phoenicians,
needed letters of their own. These were invented and added to
But the Greeks did not stop at this.
They improved the whole system of speech-recording.
All the systems of writing of the ancient people of Asia had one thing
The consonants were reproduced but the reader was forced to guess at the
This is not as difficult as it seems.
We often omit the vowels in advertisements and in announcements which
are printed in our newspapers. Journalists and telegraph operators, too,
are apt to invent languages of their own which do away with all the
superfluous vowels and use only such consonants as are necessary to
provide a skeleton around which the vowels can be draped when the story
But such an imperfect scheme of writing can never become popular, and
the Greeks, with their sense of order, added a number of extra signs to
reproduce the "a" and the "e" and the "i" and the "o" and the "u." When
this had been done, they possessed an alphabet which allowed them to
write everything in almost every language.
Five centuries before the birth of Christ these letters crossed the
Adriatic and wandered from Athens to Rome.
The Roman soldiers carried them to the furthest corners of western
Europe and taught our own ancestors the use of the little
Twelve centuries later, the missionaries of Byzantine took the alphabet
into the dreary wilderness of the dark Russian plain.
Today more than half of the people of the world use this Asiatic
alphabet to keep a record of their thoughts and to preserve a record of
their knowledge for the benefit of their children and their
THE END OF THE ANCIENT WORLD
So far, the story of ancient man has been the record of a wonderful
achievement. Along the banks of the river Nile, in Mesopotamia and on
the shores of the Mediterranean, people had accomplished great things
and wise rulers had performed mighty deeds. There, for the first time in
history, man had ceased to be a roving animal. He had built himself
houses and villages and vast cities.
He had formed states.
He had learned the art of constructing and navigating swift-sailing
He had explored the heavens and within his own soul he had discovered
certain great moral laws which made him akin to the divinities which he
worshipped. He had laid the foundations for all our further knowledge
and our science and our art and those things that tend to make life
sublime beyond the mere grubbing for food and lodging.
Most important of all he had devised a system of recording sound which
gave unto his children and unto his children's children the benefit of
their ancestors' experience and allowed them to accumulate such a store
of information that they could make themselves the masters of the forces
But together with these many virtues, ancient man had one great failing.
He was too much a slave of tradition.
He did not ask enough questions.
He reasoned "My father did such and such a thing before me and my
grandfather did it before my father and they both fared well and
therefore this thing ought to be good for me too and I must not change
it." He forgot that this patient acceptance of facts would never have
lifted us above the common herd of animals.
Once upon a time there must have been a man of genius who refused any
longer to swing from tree to tree with the help of his long, curly tail
(as all his people had done before him) and who began to walk on
But ancient man had lost sight of this fact and continued to use the
wooden plow of his earliest ancestors and continued to believe in the
same gods that had been worshipped ten thousand years before and taught
his children to do likewise.
Instead of going forward he stood still and this was fatal.
For a new and more energetic race appeared upon the horizon and the
ancient world was doomed.
We call these new people the Indo-Europeans. They were white men like
you and me, and they spoke a language which was the common ancestor of
all our European languages with the exception of Hungarian, Finnish and
the Basque of Northern Spain.
When we first hear of them they had for many centuries made their home
along the banks of the Caspian Sea. But one day (for reasons which are
totally unknown to us) they packed their belongings on the backs of the
horses which they had trained and they gathered their cows and dogs and
goats and began to wander in search of distant happiness and food. Some
of them moved into the mountains of central Asia and for a long time
they lived amidst the peaks of the plateau of Iran, whence they are
called the Iranians or Aryans. Others slowly followed the setting sun
and took possession of the vast plains of western Europe.
They were almost as uncivilized as those prehistoric men who made their
appearance within the first pages of this book. But they were a hardy
race and good fighters and without difficulty they seem to have occupied
the hunting grounds and the pastures of the men of the stone age.
They were as yet quite ignorant but thanks to a happy Fate they were
curious. The wisdom of the ancient world, which was carried to them by
the traders of the Mediterranean, they very soon made their own.
But the age-old learning of Egypt and Babylonia and Chaldea they merely
used as a stepping-stone to something higher and better. For
"tradition," as such, meant nothing to them and they considered that the
Universe was theirs to explore and to exploit as they saw fit and that
it was their duty to submit all experience to the acid test of human
[Illustration: A COLONY.]
Soon therefore they passed beyond those boundaries which the ancient
world had accepted as impassable barriers--a sort of spiritual Mountains
of the Moon. Then they turned against their former masters and within a
short time a new and vigorous civilization replaced the out-worn
structure of the ancient Asiatic world.
But of these Indo-Europeans and their adventures I give you a detailed
account in "The Story of Mankind," which tells you about the Greeks and
the Romans and all the other races in the world.
A FEW DATES CONNECTED WITH THE PEOPLE OF THE ANCIENT WORLD
I can not give you any positive dates connected with Prehistoric Man.
The early Europeans who appear in the first chapters of this book began
their career about fifty thousand years ago.
The earliest civilization in the Nile Valley
developed forty centuries before the birth of
3400 B.C. The Old Egyptian Empire is
founded. Memphis is the capital.
2800--2700 B.C. The Pyramids are built.
2000 B.C. The Old Empire is destroyed by
the Arab shepherds, called the "Hyksos."
1800 B.C. Thebes delivers Egypt from the
Hyksos and becomes the center
of the New Egyptian Empire.
1350 B.C. King Rameses conquers Eastern Asia.
1300 B.C. The Jews leave Egypt.
1000 B.C. Egypt begins to decline.
700 B.C. Egypt becomes an Assyrian province.
650 B.C. Egypt regains her independence
and a new State is founded with
Sais in the Delta as its capital.
Foreigners, especially Greeks,
begin to dominate the country.
525 B.C. Egypt becomes a Persian province.
300 B.C. Egypt becomes an independent
Kingdom ruled by one of Alexander
the Great's generals, called Ptolemy.
30 B.C. Cleopatra, the last princess of the
Ptolemy dynasty, kills herself and
Egypt becomes part of the Roman Empire.
2000 B.C. Abraham moves away from the
land of Ur in eastern Babylonia
and looks for a new home in the
western part of Asia.
1550 B.C. The Jews occupy the land of
Goshen in Egypt.
1300 B.C. Moses leads the Jews out of
Egypt and gives them the Law.
1250 B.C. The Jews have crossed the river
Jordan and have occupied Palestine.
1055 B.C. Saul is King of the Jews.
1025 B.C. David is King of a powerful Jewish state.
1000 B.C. Solomon builds the Great Temple
950 B.C. The Jewish state divided into two
Kingdoms, that of Judah and that of Israel.
900-600 B.C. The age of the great Prophets.
722 B.C. The Assyrians conquer Palestine.
586 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar conquers Palestine.
The Babylonian captivity.
537 B.C. Cyrus, King of the Persians, allows
the Jews to return to Palestine.
167-130 B.C. Last period of Jewish independence
under the Maccabees.
63 B.C. Pompeius makes Palestine part
of the Roman Empire.
40 B.C. Herod King of the Jews.
70 A.D. The Emperor Titus destroys Jerusalem.
4000 B.C. The Sumerians take possession of
the land between the Tigris and
2200 B.C. Hammurapi, King of Babylon, gives
his people a famous code of law.
1900 B.C. Beginning of the Assyrian State,
with Nineveh as its capital.
950-650 B.C. Assyria becomes the master of
700 B.C. Sargon, the ruler of the Assyrians,
conquers Palestine, Egypt and Arabia.
640 B.C. The Medes revolt against the
530 B.C. The Scythians attack Assyria.
There are revolutions all over
608 B.C. Nineveh is destroyed. Assyria
disappears from the map.
608-538 B.C. The Chaldeans reestablish the
604-561 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar destroys Jerusalem,
takes Phoenicia and makes
Babylon the center of civilization.
538 B.C. Mesopotamia becomes a Persian province.
330 B.C. Alexander the Great conquers Mesopotamia.
1500-1200 B.C. The city of Sklon is the chief
Phoenician center of trade.
1100-950 B.C. Tyre becomes the commercial
center of Phoenicia.
1000-600 B.C. Development of the Phoenician
850 B.C. Carthage is founded.
586-573 B.C. Siege of Tyre by Nebuchadnezzar.
The city is captured and destroyed.
538 B.C. Phoenicia becomes a Persian province.
60 B.C. Phoenicia becomes part of the Roman Empire.
[Illustration: A Persian altar]
At an unknown date the Indo-European
people began their march into Europe and
The year 1000 B.C. is usually given for
Zarathustra, the great teacher of the Persians,
who gave an excellent moral law.
650-B.C. The Indo-European Medes found
a state along the eastern boundaries
550-330 B.C. The Kingdom of the Persians.
Beginning of the struggle
between Indo-Europeans and Semites.
525-8.C. Cambyses, King of the Persians, takes Egypt.
520-485 B.C. Rule of Darius, King of the
Persians, who conquers Babylon
and attacks Greece.
485-465 B.C. Rule of King Xerxes, who tries to establish
himself in eastern Europe but fails.
330 B.C. The Greek, Alexander the Great,
conquers all of western Asia and
Egypt and Persia becomes a
The ancient world which was dominated by Semitic peoples lasted almost
forty centuries. In the fourth century before the birth of Christ it
died of old age.
Western Asia and Egypt had been the teachers of the Indo-Europeans who
had occupied Europe at an unknown date.
In the fourth century before Christ, the Indo-European pupils had so far
surpassed their teachers that they could begin their conquest of
The famous expedition of Alexander the Great in 330 B.C. made an end to
the civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia and established the supremacy
of Greek (that is European) culture.