ASSYRIA. The two great empires, Assyria and Babylon,
which grew up on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates, can be
separated as little historically as geographically. From the
beginning their history is closely intertwined; and the power of
the one is a measure of the weakness of the other. This
interdependence of Assyrian and Babylonian history was recognized
by ancient writers, and has been confirmed by modern discovery.
But whereas Assyria takes the first place in the classical accounts
to the exclusion of Babylonia, the decipherment of the inscriptions
has proved that the converse was really the case, and that,
with the exception of some seven or eight centuries, Assyria
might be described as a province or dependency of Babylon.
Not only was Babylonia the mother country, as the tenth chapter
of Genesis explicitly states, but the religion and culture, the
literature and the characters in which it was contained, the
arts and the sciences of the Assyrians were derived from their
southern neighbours. They were similar in race and language.
(See Babylonia and Assyria.)
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