National Geographic : 1897 Jun
172 THE EFFECTS OF GEOGRAPHIC ENVIRONMENT or bitumen was placed, until a solid roof was formed. Thus the. architecture of the people here as elsewhere was the result of geographic environment. As the population in Mesopotamia became dense, the people were forced into communities. These grew into towns and great cities. The patriarchal system still continued, though with greatly changed conditions. All related by blood or adoption were regarded as members of the tribe and all on an equality. The patriarch retained the ownership of the property, with power of life and death. With the increase of wealth, luxury, and power the people deteriorated. They lost the personal liberty and freedom of hunters and fishermen, and later of shepherds. The patriarch became a despot, the nomad a slave. From the ruins of cities scattered all over this valley, we learn much of the history of this people, their character, habits, and manner of life. In Nipper, the city most recently excavated, by gentlemen connected with the University of Pennsylvania, tha debris over one of its temples is 37 feet in thickness, the accumulation of about 4,000 years. Thirty feet below the ruins is the temple built by Mullil about 6,000 years before Christ, and here have been found monuments, pottery, and other evi dences of civilization. The inscriptions even then had ceased to be pictures and were cuneiform; but the beginning of Baby lonian writing lies far behind the foundations of the temple of Nipper. Recent writers tell us that " the flower of Babylonian art is found at the beginning of Babylonian history." The inscription upon the temple tells us that " Millel, king of the universe, invested Lugal with the kingdom of the world. He filled all lands with his renown and subdued them from the rising of the sun to the setting of the sun-from the Persian gulf to the Upper Sea, where the sun sinks to rest, and granted him dominion over all things and caused all countries to dwell in peace." His capital was at Erech, which was called " The City." His empire extended from the Persian gulf to the Mediterranean, "the sea of the setting sun," and out into the Mediterranean to the island of Cyprus. Here lived Nimrod, "the mighty hunter before the Lord," and Ashur, " who builded Nineveh." Eight een hundred years after Sargon, Abraham went forth from Ur of the Chaldees, near the mouth of the Euphrates, into the land of Canaan, and subsequently when Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, and Tidal, king of nations, took Lot, his nephew, and made him prisoner, Abraham armed his servants, attacked Chedorlaomer and Tidal by night, smote them, and liberated Lot.