Ruins of Babylon, Mesopotamia
March 31, 1920
Here I sit in Koldewey’s Babylon house. I find there is some doubt about his having lived in the Hillah house I have mentioned above. But there is no doubt about this Babylon house. We all came up here this morning: Luckenbill and I in the car assigned us by General Hambro’s wire and the boys in a launch which brought both them and the kits. The beds are set up in the German house, with German pictures looking down from the walls, and we have just had lunch in the dining room.
Hillah, Mesopotamia Wednesday Evening
I am sitting on the balcony of the German house here, as the sun sets, and the evening light settles over the quiet river, with a bright white moon sailing over the palms. I am quite alone, having returned here in the Hambro car, and left the boys at Babylon in Koldewey’s house 6 miles away. The Arab servant has just served tea, and our Abbas is cleaning up my room, so I have shifted to the balcony. We had a fine afternoon making a preliminary survey of enormously extensive ruins of Babylon. It is alive with interest at every turn, but the thing perhaps which interested me most was the bridgehead and piers of the bridge of Nabonidus, father of Belshazzar. It crossed the Euphrates, and connected Babylon on the east side with the suburbs on the west side. The Euphrates has shifted westward at this point and its old bed is now dry so that we could trace the scanty remains of the piers in mid-stream. It is the oldest dated bridge known, though only from the 6th century B.C.
I left the boys and walked up the dry bed of the Euphrates for half a mile with ruins of the once magnificent city on each side.
Babylon: View of Euphrates bridge indicated by the row of people; looking over old river bed from west near bridge-head. Position of a pier is shown by foremost figure. (N. 3218, P. 6778)
Babylon: Dry bed of the ancient course of the Euphrates at Babylon. View looking north from near bridge-head (at right) of Euphrates bridge over old bed of river; course of bridge is indicated by the position of the people. Just left of center may be seen a pier. (N. 3217, P. 6777)
Babylon: A view showing the east end of the Euphrates bridge with piles at the left. (N. 3572, P. 7132)
Babylon: A view looking south along the Euphrates showing the old river bank. (N. 3573, P. 7133)
For the full story of my exciting trip you should come to the special exhibit “Pioneers to the Past: American Archaeologists in the Middle East, 1919-1920,” at the Oriental Institute!
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