LEONARD W. KING
CULTURAL INFLUENCE OF SUMER IN EGYPT, ASIA AND THE WEST
IN the preceding pages we have followed the history of the Sumerian race from the period of its earliest settlement in Babylonia until the time when its political power was drawing to a close. The gradual growth of the state has been described, from the first rude settlements around a series of ancient cult-centres, through the phase of highly developed but still independent city-states, to a united kingdom of Sumer and Akkad, based on ideals inherited from the Semitic North. We have traced the interrelations of North and South, of Sumerians and Semites, and have watched their varying fortunes in the racial conflict which bulks so largely in the history of the two countries. Points have also been noted at which contact with other lands can be historically proved, and it has thus been found possible to estimate the limits of the kingdoms which were established in Sumer or Akkad during the later periods. Of foreign lands which came into direct relationship with Babylonia, Elam plays by far the most conspicuous part. In the time of the city-states she invades the land of Sumer, and later on is in her turn conquered by Akkadian and Sumerian kings. The question naturally arises, how far this close political contact affected the cultural development of the two countries, and suggests the further query as to what extent their civilizations were of common origin.
Another region which figures in the list of conquered countries is Amurru, or the "Western Land," and an attempt must be made to trace the paths of Babylonian influence beyond the limits of Syria, and to ascertain its effects within the area of Aegean culture. The later trade routes were doubtless already in existence, and archaeological research can often detect evidence of cultural connection, at a time when there is no question of any political contact. Moreover, in spite of the absence of Neolithic settlements in Babylonia, and the comparatively advanced state of culture which characterizes the earliest of Sumerian sites, it is possible that contact with other and distant races had already taken place in prehistoric times. One of the most fascinating problems connected with the early history of Sumer concerns the relationship which her culture bore to that of Egypt. On this point recent excavations have thrown considerable light; and, as the suggested connection, whether direct or indirect, must admittedly have taken place in a remote age, it will be well to attack this problem before discussing the relationship of Sumer to the other great centres of ancient civilization.
Although no direct contact between Babylonia and Egypt has been proved during the earlier historical periods, the opinion has been very generally held that the Egyptian civilization was largely influenced in its first stages by that of Babylonia. The use of the stone cylinder-seal by the Egyptians certainly furnished a very cogent argument in favour of the view that some early cultural connection must have taken place; and, as the cylinder-seal was peculiarly characteristic of Babylonia during all periods, whereas its use was gradually discontinued in Egypt, the inference seemed obvious that it was an original product of Babylonia, whence it had reached Egypt in late predynastic or early dynastic times. This view appeared to find support in other points of resemblance which were noted between the early art and culture of the two countries. Mace-heads of bulbous or "egg-shaped" form were employed by the early inhabitants of both lands. The Egyptian slate carvings of the First Dynasty were compared with the early basreliefs and engraved seals of the Sumerians, and resemblances were pointed out both in subject-matter and in the symmetrical arrangement of the designs. The employment of brick, in place of stone, as a building material, was regarded as due to Babylonian influence; and the crenelated walls of Early Egyptian buildings, the existence of which was proved not only by pictured representations on the slate carvings, but also by the remains of actual buildings such as the mastaba-tomb of King Aha at Nakada, and the ancient fortress of Abydos, known as the Shunet ez-Zebib, were treated as borrowed from Sumerian originals. That irrigation was practised on the banks of the Nile as well as in the Euphrates valley, and that wheat was grown in both countries, were cited as additional proofs that Babylonia must have exercised a marked influence on Egyptian culture during the early stages of its development.
In order to explain such resemblances between the early cultures of Sumer and Egypt, it was necessary to seek some channel by which the influence of the former country could have reached the valley of the Nile; and a solution of the problem was found in the theory of a Semitic invasion of Upper Egypt towards the end of the predynastic period. That a Semitic element existed in the composition of the ancient Egyptian language is established beyond dispute; and this fact was combined with the Egyptian legends of their origin on the Red Sea coast, and with the situation of the predynastic and early dynastic cemeteries in Upper Egypt, in support of the theory that Semitic tribes, already imbued with Sumerian culture, had reached the Nile from the shore of the Red Sea by way of the Wadi Hammamat. According to this view the Neolithic and predynastic population of Egypt was of a different race to the early dynastic Egyptians. The former were regarded as indigenous to the country, speaking a language possibly akin to the Berber dialects of North Africa. With little or no knowledge of metal, they were pictured as offering a stubborn but unsuccessful resistance to their Semitic conquerors. The latter were assumed to have brought with them a copper age culture, ultimately derived from the Sumerians of Babylonia. Crossing from southern Arabia by the Straits of Bab el-Mandeb, and making their way northward along the western shore of the Red Sea, they would have reached the Nile in the neighbourhood of Koptos. Here they would have formed their first settlements, and, after subduing the older inhabitants of Upper Egypt, they would have pushed their way northwards along the valley of the Nile.
There is no doubt that the union of Upper and Lower Egypt into a single monarchy, traditionally ascribed to Mena, the legendary founder of the first Egyptian dynasty, did result from a conquest of the North by the South. Mena himself was regarded as sprung from a line of local rulers established at This, or Thinis, in the neighbourhood of Abydos, and also as the founder of Memphis at the head of the Delta, whither he transferred his throne. Further traces of the conquest of the North by the South have been preserved in the legends concerning the followers of Horus, the patron deity of the first kings of Upper Egypt. The advance of the Sky-god of Edfu with his Mesniu or "Smiths," who are related to have won battle after battle as they pressed northwards, is amply confirmed by the early dynastic monuments that have been recovered by excavation. The slate carving of Narmer, on which is portrayed the victory of Horus over the kingdom of the Harpoon near the Canopic branch of the Nile, may well represent one of the last decisive victories of the Horus-worshippers, as they extended their authority northwards to the sea. Of the historical character of this conquest of Lower Egypt by the kings of the South, which resulted in the union of the whole country under a single monarchy, there are now no two opinions. The point, about which some uncertainty still exists, concerns the racial character of the conquerors and the origin of their higher culture, by virtue of which their victories were obtained.
On the hypothesis of a Semitic invasion, the higher elements in the early culture of Egypt are, as we have seen, to be traced to a non-Egyptian source. The Semitic immigrants are assumed to have introduced, not only the use of metal, but also a knowledge of letters. The Sumerian system of writing has been regarded as the parent of the Egyptian hieroglyphic characters; and comparisons have been made between the names of Sumerian and Egyptian gods. The suggestion has also been put forward that the fashion of extended burial, which in Egypt gradually displaced the contracted position of the corpse, was also to be traced to Babylonian influence.
It must be admitted that, until quite recently, this view furnished a very plausible explanation of the various points of resemblance noted between the civilizations of the two countries. Moreover, the evidence obtained by excavation on early sites certainly appeared to show a distinct break between the predynastic and early dynastic cultures of Egypt. To account for what seemed so sudden a change in the character of Egyptian civilization, the theory of a foreign invasion seemed almost inevitable. But the publication of the results of Dr. Reisner's excavations at Naga-ed-Der and other early cemeteries in Upper Egypt, has rendered it necessary to revise the theory; while the still more recent diggings of M. Naville at Abydos prove that the changes, in certain districts, were even more gradual than had been supposed.
Put briefly, Dr. Reisner's conclusion is that there was no sudden break of continuity between the Neolithic and early dynastic cultures of Egypt. His extensive and laborious comparison of the predynastic burials with those of the First and Second Dynasties, has shown that no essential change took place in the Egyptian conception of the life after death, or in the rites and practices which accompanied the interment of the body. In early dynastic as in Neolithic times the body of the dead man was placed in a contracted position on its left side and with the head to the south, and the grave was still furnished with food, arms, tools, and ornaments. Moreover, the changes observable in the construction of the grave itself, and in the character of the objects within it, were not due to the sudden influence of any alien race, but may well have been the result of a gradual process of improvement in the technical skill of the Egyptians themselves.
The three most striking points of difference beween the products of the predynastic and dynastic periods centre round the character of the pottery and vessels for household use, the material employed for tools and weapons, and the invention of writing. It would now appear that the various changes were all gradually introduced, and one period fades into another without any strongly marked line of division between them. A knowledge of copper has always been credited to the later predynastic Egyptians, and it is now possible to trace the gradual steps by which the invention of a practical method of working it was attained. Copper ornaments and objects found in graves earlier than the middle predynastic period are small and of little practical utility, as compared with the beautifully flaked flint knives, daggers, and lances, which still retained the importance they enjoyed in purely Neolithic times. At a rather later stage in the predynastic period copper dagger-blades and adzes were produced in imitation of flint and stone forms, and these mark the transition to the heavy weapons and tools of copper, which in the early dynastic period largely ousted flint and stone implements for practical use.
The gradual attainment of skill in the working of copper ore on the part of the early Egyptians had a marked effect on the whole status of their culture. Their improved weapons enabled them by conquest to draw their raw materials from a far more extended area; and the adaptation of copper tools for quarrying blocks of stone undoubtedly led to its increased employment as a stronger and more permanent substitute for clay. The use of the copper chisel also explains the elaborate carvings upon the early dynastic slates, and the invention of the stone borer brought about the gradual displacement of pottery in favour of stone vessels for household purposes. Thus, while metal-casting and stone-working improved, they did so at the expense of the older arts of flint-knapping and the manufacture of pottery by hand, both of which tended to degenerate and die out. Dr. Reisner had already inferred that for ceremonial purposes, as distinct from the needs of everyday life, both flint implements and certain earlier types of pottery continued to be employed. And M. Naville's diggings at Abydos, during the season of 1909-10, seem to prove that the process was even slower and less uniform than had been thought possible. In fact, according to the excavators, it would appear that in certain districts in Egypt a modified form of the predynastic culture, using the characteristic red and black pottery, survived as late as the Sixth Dynasty ; while it is known that in Nubia a type of pottery, closely akin to the same prehistoric ware, continued in use as late as the Eighteenth Dynasty. However such survivals are to be explained, the beginning of the dynastic period in Egypt does not appear to present a break in either racial or cultural continuity. Indeed, a precisely parallel development may be traced between the early dynastic period, and that represented by the Third and Fourth Dynasties, when there is no question of any such break. As the stone vessels of the first two dynasties had proved themselves superior to hand-made pottery for practical purposes, so they in turn were displaced by wheel-made pottery. These changes may be traced to gradual improvements in manufacture; arts such as mat-weaving and bead-making, which were unaffected by the new inventions, continued to be practised without change in the early dynastic as in the predynastic periods.
Recent archaeological research thus leaves small room for the theory that Egyptian culture was subjected to any strong foreign influence in early dynastic times, and its conclusions on this point are confirmed by anatomical evidence. The systematic measurement and comparison of skulls from predynastic and dynastic burials, which have been conducted by Dr. Elliot Smith of the Khedivial School of Medicine in collaboration with the Hearst Expedition, has demonstrated the lineal descent of the dynastic from the predynastic Egyptians. The two groups to all intents and purposes represent the same people, and in the later period there is no trace of any new racial element, or of the admixture of any foreign strain. Thus the theory of an invasion of Egypt by Semitic tribes towards the close of the predynastic period must be given up, and, although this does not in itself negative the possibility of Sumerian influence having reached Egypt through channels of commercial intercourse, it necessitates a more careful scrutiny of the different points of resemblance between the cultures of the two countries on which the original theory was founded.
One of the subjects on which the extreme upholders of the theory have insisted concerns the invention of the Egyptian system of writing, which is alleged by them to have been borrowed from Babylonia. But it must be noted that those signs which correspond to one another in the two systems are such as would naturally be identical in any two systems of pictorial writing, developed independently but under similar conditions. The sun all the world over would be represented by a circle, a mountain by a rough outline of a mountain peak, an ox by a horned head, and so on. To prove any connection between the two systems a resemblance should be established between the more conventionalized signs, and here the comparison breaks down completely. It should further be noted that the Egyptian system has reached us in a far more primitive state than that of Babylonia. While the hieroglyphic signs are actual pictures of the objects represented, even the earliest line-characters of Sumer are so conventionalized that their original form would scarcely have been recognized, had not their meaning been already known. In fact, no example of Sumerian writing has yet been recovered which could have furnished a pattern for the Egyptian scribe.
Moreover, the appearance of writing in Egypt was not so sudden an event as it is often represented. The buff-coloured pottery of predynastic times, with its red line decoration, proves that the Eygptian had a natural faculty for drawing men, animals, plants, boats and conventional designs. In these picture-drawings of the predynastic period we may see the basis of the hieroglyphic system of writing, for in them the use of symbolism is already developed. The employment of fetish emblems, or symbols, to represent the different gods, is in itself a rough form of ideographic expression, and, if developed along its own lines, would naturally lead to the invention of a regular ideographic form of writing. There is little doubt that this process is what actually took place. The first impetus may have been given by the necessity for marks of private ownership, and by the need for conveying authority from the chief to his subordinates at a distance. Symbols for the names of rulers and of places would thus soon be added to those for the gods, and when a need was felt to commemorate some victory or great achievement of the king, such symbols would naturally be used in combination. This process may be traced on the earlier monuments of the First Dynasty, the records on which are still practically ideographic in character. A very similar process doubtless led to the invention of the cuneiform system, and there is no need to assume that either Egypt or Babylonia was indebted to the other country for her knowledge of writing.
We obtain a very similar result in the case of other points of resemblance which have been cited to prove a close connection between the early cultures of the two countries. Considerable stress has been laid on a certain similarity, which the Egyptian slate carvings of the dynastic period bear to examples of early Sumerian sculpture and engraving. It is true that composite creatures are characteristic of the art of both countries, and that their arrangement on the stone is often "heraldic" and symmetrical. But the human-headed bull, the favourite monster of Sumerian art, is never found upon the Egyptian monuments, on which not only the natural beasts but also the composite creatures are invariably of an Egyptian or African character. The general resemblance in style has also been exaggerated. To take a single instance, a comparison has frequently been made between the Stele of the Vultures and the broken slate carving in the British Museum, No. 20791. On the former vultures are depicted carrying off the limbs of the slain, and on the latter captives are represented as cast out into the desert to be devoured by birds and beasts of prey. But the style of the two monuments is very different, and the Egyptian is far more varied in character. In addition to a single vulture, we see a number of ravens, a hawk, an eagle, and a lion, all attracted by the dead; and the arrangement of the composition and the technique itself are quite unlike Sumerian work. There is also no need to trace the symmetrical arrangement of other of the Egyptian compositions to Babylonian influence, for, given an oval plaque to decorate while leaving a circular space in the centre, a symmetrical arrangement would naturally arise.
Another Egyptian characteristic, also ascribed to Babylonian influence, is the custom of extended burial with mummification, which only begins to be met with during the Third and Fourth Dynasties. Since the dead are portrayed on the Stele of the Vultures as arranged in the extended position beneath the burial-mound, it was formerly assumed that this was the regular Sumerian practice; and the contracted forms of burial, which had been found at Warka, Mukayyar, Surghul, Niffer and other Babylonian sites, were usually assigned to very late periods. The excavations at Fara and Abu Hatab have corrected this assumption, and have proved that the Sumerian corpse was regularly arranged for burial in the contracted position, lying on its side. The apparent exception to this rule upon the Stele of the Vultures may probably be regarded as characteristic only of burial upon the field of battle. There it must often have been impossible to furnish each corpse with a grave to itself, or to procure the regular offerings and furniture which accompanied individual interment. The bodies were therefore arranged side by side in a common grave, and covered with a tumulus of earth to ensure their entrance into the under world. But this was clearly a makeshift form of burial, necessitated by exceptional circumstances, and was not the regular Sumerian practice of the period. Whatever may have given rise to the Egyptian change in burial customs, the cause is not to be sought in Babylonian influence.
A further point, which has been cleared up by recent excavation on early Babylonian sites, concerns the crenelated form of building, which was formerly regarded as peculiarly characteristic of Sumerian architecture of the early period and as having influenced that of Egypt. It is now known that this form of external decoration is not met with in Babylonia before the period of Gudea and the kings of Ur. Thus, if any borrowing took place, it must have been on the Babylonian side. The employment of brick as a building material may also have been evolved in Egypt without any prompting from Babylonia, for the forms of brick employed are quite distinct in both countries. The peculiar plano-convex brick, which is characteristic of early Sumerian buildings, is never found in Egypt, where the rectangular oblong form was employed from the earliest period. Thus many points of resemblance, which were formerly regarded as indicating a close cultural connection between the two countries, now appear to be far less striking than was formerly the case. Others, again, may be explained as due to Egyptian influence on Babylonian culture rather than as the result of the reverse process. For example, the semblance that has been pointed out between Gudea's sculpture in the round and that of the Fourth Dynasty in Egypt may not be fortuitous. For Gudea maintained close commercial relations with the Syrian coast, where Egyptian influence at that time had long been effective.
There remains to be considered the use of the bulbous mace-head and of the stone cylindrical seal, both of which are striking characteristics of the early Egyptian and Sumerian cultures. It is difficult to regard these classes of objects, and particularly the latter, as having been evolved independently in Egypt and by the Sumerians. In Babylonia the cylinder-seal is already highly developed when found on the earliest Sumerian sites, and it would appear that the Sumerian immigrants brought it with them into the country, along with their system of writing and the other elements of their comparatively advanced state of civilization. Whether they themselves had evolved it in their original home, or had obtained it from some other race with whom they came into contact before reaching the valley of the Euphrates, it is still impossible to say. The evidence from Susa has not yet thrown much light upon this point. While some stone seals and clay sealings have been found in the lowest stratum of the mound, they are not cylindrical but in the form of flat stamps. The cylindrical seal appears, however, to have been introduced at Susa at a comparatively early period, for examples are said to have been found in the group of strata representing the "Second Period," at a depth of from fifteen to twenty metres below the surface. The published material does not yet admit of any certain pronouncement with regard to the earliest history of the cylinder-seal and its migrations. In favour of the view that would regard it as an independent product of the early Egyptians, it may be noted that wood and not stone was the commonest material for cylinders in the earliest period. But if the predynastic cylinder of Egypt is to be regarded as ultimately derived from Asia, the connection is to be set at a period anterior to the earliest Sumerian settlements that have yet been identified.
Thus the results of recent excavation and research, both in Egypt and Babylonia, have tended to diminish rather than to increase the evidence of any close connection between the early cultures of the two countries. Apart from any Babylonian influence, there is, however, ample proof of a Semitic element, not only in the language, but also in the religion of ancient Egypt. The Egyptian sun-worship, which forms so striking a contrast to the indigenous animal-cults and worship of the dead, was probably of Semitic origin, and may either have reached Upper Egypt from Southern Arabia, or have entered Lower Egypt by the eastern Delta. The latter region has always formed an open door to Egypt, and the invasion of the Hyksos may well have had its prototype in predynastie times. The enemies, whose conquest is commemorated on several of the early dynastic slate-carvings, are of non-Egyptian type; they may possibly have been descendants of such Semitic immigrants, unless they were Libyan settlers from the west. In the historic period we have evidence of direct contact between Syria and Egypt at the time of the Third Dynasty, for the Palermo Stele records the arrival in Egypt of forty ships laden with cedar-wood in Sneferu's reign. These evidently formed an expedition sent by sea to the Lebanon, and we may assume that Sneferu's predecessors had already extended their influence along the Syrian coast. It is in Syria that we may also set the first contact between the civilizations of Egypt and Babylonia in historic times. The early Sumerian ruler Lugal-zaggisi boasts that he reached the Mediterranean coast, and his expedition merely formed the prelude to the conquest of Syria by Shar-Gani-sharri of Akkad. It has indeed been suggested that evidence of Egyptian influence, following on the latter's Syrian campaign, is to be seen in the deification of early Babylonian kings. And although this practice may now be traced with greater probability to a Sumerian source, there can be little doubt that from Shar-Gani-sharri's reign onwards Syria formed a connecting-link between the two great civilizations on the Euphrates and the Nile.
Far closer than her relations with Egypt were the ties which connected Babylonia with the great centre of civilization which lay upon her eastern frontier. In the course of this history reference has frequently been made to the contact which was continually taking place from the earliest historical period between Elam and the Sumerian and Semitic rulers of Sumer and Akkad. Such political relationships were naturally accompanied by close commercial intercourse, and the effects of Sumerian influence upon the native culture of Elam have been fully illustrated by the excavations conducted at Susa by the "Délégation en Perse". Situated on the river Kerkha, Susa occupied an important strategic position at the head of the caravan routes which connected the Iranian plateau with the lower valley of the Tigris and Euphrates and the shores of the Persian Gulf. The river washed the foot of the low hills on which the town was built, and formed a natural defence against attack from the west. The situation of the city on the left bank of the stream is an indication that even in the earliest period its founders sought to protect themselves from the danger of sudden raids from the direction of Sumer and Akkad. The earliest Sumerian records also reflect the feelings of hostility to Elam which animated their writers. But from these scattered reference it would appear that the Elamites at this time were generally the aggressors, and that they succeeded in keeping their country free from any political interference on the part of the more powerful among the Sumerian city-states. It was not until the period of Semitic expansion, under the later kingdom of Kish and the empire of Akkad, that the country became dominated by Babylonian influence.
We could not have more striking evidence of the extent to which Elam at this time became subject to Semitic culture than in the adoption of the Babylonian character and language by the native rulers of the country. We are met with the strange picture of native patesis of Susa and governors of Elam recording their votive offerings in a foreign script and language, and making invocations to purely Babylonian deities. The Babylonian script was also adopted for writing inscriptions in the native Elamite tongue, and had we no other evidence available, it might be urged that the use of the Semitic language for the votive texts was dictated by purely temporary considerations of a political character. There is no doubt, however, that the Semitic conquest of Elam was accompanied, and probably preceded, by extensive Semitic immigration. Even at the time of the Dynasty of Ur, when Elam was subject to direct Sumerian control, the Semitic influence of Akkad had become too firmly rooted to be displaced, and it received a fresh impetus under the later rulers of the First Dynasty of Babylon. The clay tablets of a commercial and agricultural character, dating from the period of Adda-Pakshu, are written in the Babylonian character and language, like those found at Mai-Amir to the east of Susa. The latter do not date from a period earlier than about 1000 B.C., and they throw an interesting light on the permanent character of Babylonian influence in the country. The modified forms of the Babylonian characters, which were employed by the Achaemenian kings for the Elamite column of their trilingual inscriptions, are to be traced to a comparatively late origin. The development of the writing exhibited by the Neo-Anzanite texts may be connected with the national revival which characterized the later Elamite monarchy.
The evidence furnished by the inscriptions found at Susa and other sites in Elam is supported by the archaeological discoveries in proving that, from the time of the Semitic kings of Kish and Akkad, the cultural development of Elam was to a great extent moulded by Babylonia. But the later products of native Elamite workmanship that have been recovered are no slavish copies of Babilonian originals, and the earlier examples of sculpture and engraving are of a character quite distinct from anything found on Babylonian soil. Moreover, in the casting of metal and in the jewellers' art Elam certainly in time excelled her neighbour, and, even in the later periods, her art presents itself as of vigorous growth, influenced it is true by that of Babylonia, but deriving its impetus and inspiration from purely native sources. It is also significant that the earlier the remains that have been recovered the less do they betray any trace of foreign influence.
A very striking proof of the independent development of Elamite culture prior to the Semitic conquest is now furnished by the texts inscribed in the so-called "proto-Elamite" system of writing. The majority consist of small roughly-formed tablets of clay, and the signs upon them are either figures or ideographs for various objects. Though they have not been fully deciphered, it is clear that they are tablets of accounts and inventories. A very few of the signs, such as those for "tablet" and "total," resemble the corresponding Babylonian characters, but the great majority are entirely different and have been evolved on a system of their own. Lapidary forms of the characters have been found in inscriptions accompanying Semitic texts of Basha-Shushinak; and, from the position of each upon the stone, it was inferred that the Semitic text was engraved first and the proto-Elamite section added to it. That they were contemporary additions seemed probable, and this has now been put beyond a doubt by the discovery at Susa of a stone statuette seated upon a throne, which was dedicated to a goddess by Basha- Shushinak. On the front of the throne at each side of the seated figure is an inscription ; that on the left side is in Semitic, and that on the right in proto-Elamite characters. The one is obviously a translation of the other, and their symmetrical arrangement leaves no doubt that they were inscribed at the same time.
It is therefore clear that at the time of Basha-Shushinak the two languages and scripts were sometimes employed side by side for votive inscriptions, while the clay tablets prove that the native script had not yet been superseded for the purposes of everyday life. The "proto-Elamite" characters present very few parallelisms to Babylonian signs, and those that do occur are clearly later accretions. Thus it would be natural enough to borrow the Babylonian sign for "tablet", at a time when the clay tablet itself found its way across the border; and, though the signs for " total" correspond, the Elamite figures differ and are based on a decimal, not on a sexigesimal system of numeration. It may therefore be inferred that the writing had no connection in its origin with that of the Sumerians, and was invented independently of the system employed during the earliest periods in Babylonia. It may have been merely a local form of writing and not in general use throughout the whole of Elam, but its existence makes it probable that the district in which Susa was situated was not subject to any strong influence from Babylonia in the age preceding the Semitic expansion. This inference is strengthened by a study of the seal-impressions upon many of the tablets; the designs consist of figured representations of animals and composite monsters, and their treatment is totally different to that found on early Sumerian cylinders. In the total disappearance of its local script Cappadocia offers an interesting parallel to Elam. The Hittite hieroglyphs were obviously of purely native origin, but they did not survive the introduction of the clay tablet and of cuneiform characters.
The earlier strata of the mounds at Susa, which date from the prehistoric periods in the city's history, have proved to be in some confusion as revealed by the French excavations; but an explanation has recently been forthcoming of many of the discrepancies in level that have previously been noted. It would seem that the northern and southern extremities of the Citadel Tell were the most ancient sites of habitation, and that from this cause two small hills were formed which persisted during the earlier periods of the city's history. In course of time the ground between them was occupied and was gradually filled in so that the earlier contour of the mound was lost. It thus happens that while remains of the Kassite period are found in the centre of the tell at a depth of from fifteen to twenty metres, they occur at the two extremities in strata not more than ten metres below the surface. Even so, the later of the two prehistoric strata at the extremities of the mound, representing an epoch anterior to that of the "proto-Elamite" inscriptions, contains only scattered objects, and it is still difficult to trace the gradual evolution of culture which took place in this and in the still earlier period. It should also be noted that the presence of a single stratum, enclosing remains of a purely Neolithic period, has not yet been established at Susa. There is little doubt, however, that such a stratum at one time existed, for stone axes, arrow-heads, knives and scrapers, representing a period of Neolithic culture, are found scattered at every level in the mound. It is thus possible that, in spite of the presence of metal in the same stratum, much of the earlier remains discovered at Susa, and particularly the earlier forms of painted pottery, are to be assigned to a Neolithic settlement upon the site.
Fortunately for the study of the early ceramics of Elam, we have not to depend solely on the rather inconclusive data which the excavations at Susa have as yet furnished. Digging has also been carried out at a group of mounds, situated about ninety-three miles to the west of Susa, which form a striking feature on the caravan route to Kermanshah. The central and most important of the mounds is known as the Tepe Mussian, and its name is often employed as a general designation for the group. The excavations conducted there in the winter of 1902-3 have brought to light a series of painted wares, ranging in date from a purely Neolithic period to an age in which metal was already beginning to appear. This wealth of material is valuable for comparison with the very similar pottery from Susa, and has furnished additional data for determining the cultural connections of the earlier inhabitants of the country. The designs upon the finer classes of painted ware, both at Susa and Mussian, are not only geometric in character, but include vegetable and animal forms. Some of the latter have been held to bear a certain likeness to designs which occur upon the later pottery of the predynastic age in Egypt, and it is mainly on the strength of such points of resemblance that M. de Morgan would trace a connection between the early cultures of the two countries.[
But quite apart from objections based on the great difference of technique, the absence of any pottery similar to the Egyptian in Babylonia and Northern Syria renders it difficult to accept the suggestion; and it is in other quarters that we may possibly recognize traces of a similar culture to that of the earlier age in Elam. The resemblance between the more geometric designs upon the Elamite pottery and that discovered at Kara-Uyuk in Cappadocia has been pointed out by Professor Sayce; and Mr. Hall has recently compared them in detail with very similar potsherds discovered by the Pumpelly Expedition at Anau in Russian Turkestan, and by Professor Garstang at Sakjegeuzi in Syria. It should be noted that, so far as Elam is concerned, the resemblance applies only to one class of the designs upon the early painted pottery, and does not include the animal and a majority of the vegetable motives. It is sufficiently striking, however, to point the direction in which we may look for further light upon the problem. Future excavations at Susa itself and on sites in Asia Minor will doubtless show how far we may press the suggested theory of an early cultural connection.
While such suggestions are still in a nebulous state, it would be rash to dogmatize on the relation of these prehistoric peoples to the Elamites of history. A study of the designs upon the Elamite potsherds makes it clear, however, that there was no sudden break between the cultures of the two periods. For many of the animal motives of a more conventionalized character are obviously derived from the peculiarly Elamite forms of composite monsters, which are reproduced in the seal-impressions upon "proto-Elamite" tablets. Moreover, it is stated that among the decorative motives on potsherds recently discovered in the lowest stratum at Susa are a number of representations of a purely religious character. It is possible that these will prove to be the ancestors of some of the sacred emblems which, after being developed on Elamite soil, reached Babylonia during the Kassite period. How far Babylonia participated in the prehistoric culture of Elam it is difficult to say, since no Neolithic settlement has yet been identified in Sumer or Akkad. Moreover, the early Sumerian pottery discovered at Tello, which dates from an age when a knowledge of metal was already well advanced, does not appear to have resembled the prehistoric wares of Elam, either in composition or in design. It should be noted, however, that terra-cotta female figurines, of the well-known Babylonian type, occur in Elam and at Anau4; and it is possible that in Babylonia they were relics of a prehistoric culture. On sites in the alluvial portion of the country it is probable that few Neolithic remains have been preserved. But it should be noted that fragments of painted pottery have been found at Kuyunjik, which bear a striking resemblance to the early Syro-Cappadocian ware; and these may well belong to a Neolithic settlement upon the site of Nineveh. It is thus possible that the prehistoric culture, which had its seat in Elam, will be found to have extended to Southern Assyria also, and to non-alluvial sites on the borders of the Babylonian plain.
It would seem that the influence of Sumerian culture during the historic period first began to be felt beyond the limits of Babylonia at the time of the Semitic expansion. The conquest of Syria by Shar-Gani-sharri undoubtedly had important results upon the spread of Babylonian culture. The record, which has been interpreted to mean that he went still further westward and crossed the Mediterranean to Cyprus, is now proved to have been due to the misunderstanding of a later scribe. It is true that some seals have been found in Cyprus, which furnish evidence of Babylonian influence in the island, but they belong to a period considerably later than that of the Akkadian empire. Of these, the one said to have been found in the treasury of the temple at Curium by General di Cesnola refers to the deified Naram-Sin, but the style of its composition and its technique definitely prove that it is of Syro-Cappadocian workmanship, and does not date from a much earlier period than that of the First Dynasty of Babylon. The most cursory comparison of the seal with the clay-sealings of Naram-Sin's period, which have been found at Tello, will convince any one of this fact. The other, which was found in an early bronze age deposit at Agia Paraskevi with its original gold mounting, may be definitely dated in the period of the First Babylonian Dynasty, and Nudubtum, its original owner, who styles himself a servant of the god Martu (Amurru), may well have been of Syrian or West Semitic origin. Beyond such isolated cylinders, there is, however, no trace of early Babylonian influence in Cyprus. This is hardly compatible with the suggested Semitic occupation during Shar-Gani-sharri's reign; there may well have been a comparatively early trade connection with the island, but nothing more.
Yet the supposed conquest of Cyprus by Shar-Gani-sharri has led to the wildest comparisons between Aegean and Babylonian art. Not content with leaving him in Cyprus, Professor Winckler has dreamed of still further maritime expeditions on his part to Rhodes, Crete, and even to the mainland of Greece itself. There is no warrant for such imaginings, and the archaeologist must be content to follow and not outrun his evidence. Babylonian influence would naturally be stronger in Cyprus than in Crete, but with neither have we evidence of strong or direct contact. There are, however, certain features of Aegean culture which may be traced to a Babylonian source, though some of the suggested comparisons are hardly convincing. The houses at Fara, for instance, are supplied with a very elaborate system of drainage, and drains and culverts have been found in the pre-Sargonic stratum at Nippur, at Surghul, and at most early Sumerian sites where excavations have been carried out. These have been compared with the system of drainage and sanitation at Knossos. It is true that no other parallel to the Cretan system can be cited in antiquity, but, as a matter of fact, the two systems are not very like, and in any case it would be difficult to trace a path by which so early a connection could have taken place. It has indeed been suggested that both Babylonia and Crete may have inherited elements of some prehistoric culture common to the eastern world, and that what looks like an instance of influence may really be one of common origin.3 But, as in the case of a few parallels between early Egyptian and Elamite culture, it is far more probable that such isolated points of resemblance are merely due to coincidence.
A far more probable suggestion is that the clay tablet and stilus reached Crete from Babylonia. Previous to its introduction the Minoan hieroglyphs, or pictographs, had been merely engraved on seal-stones, but with the adoption of the new material for writing they were employed for lists, inventories and the like, and these forms became more linear. The fact that the cuneiform system of writing was not introduced along with the tablet, as happened in Anatolia, is sufficient proof that the connection between Babylonia and Crete was indirect. It was doubtless by way of Anatolia that the clay tablet travelled to Crete, for the discoveries at Kara-Uyuk prove that, before the age of Hammurabi, both tablet and cuneiform writing had penetrated westward beyond the Taurus. Through its introduction into Crete the Babylonian tablet may probably be regarded as the direct ancestor of the wax tablet and stilus of the Greeks and Romans.
Unlike the clay tablet, the cylinder-seal never became a characteristic of the Aegean cultural area, where the seal continued to be of the stamp or button-form. A cylinder-seal has indeed been found in a larnax-burial at Palaikastro, on the east coast of Crete ; and it is a true cylinder, perforated from end to end, and was intended to be rolled and not stamped upon the clay. The designs upon it are purely Minoan, but the arrangement of the figures, which is quite un-Egyptian in character, is similar to that of the Mesopotamian cylinder. In spite of the rarity of the type among Cretan seals, this single example from Palaikastro is suggestive of Babylonian influence, through the Syro-Cappadocian channel by which doubtless the clay tablet reached Crete.
Anatolia thus formed a subsidiary centre for the further spread of Babylonian culture, which had reached it by way of Northern Syria before crossing the Taurus. The importance of the latter district in this connection has been already emphasized by Mr. Hogarth. Every traveller from the coast to the region of the Khabur will endorse his description of the vast group of mounds, the deserted sites of ancient cities, which mark the surface of the country. With one or two exceptions these still await the spade of the excavator, and, when their lowest strata shall have yielded their secrets, we shall know far more of the early stages in the spread of Babylonian culture westwards. We have already noted the role of Syria as a connecting-link between the civilizations of the Euphrates and the Nile, and it plays an equally important part in linking both of them with the centre of early Hittite culture in Asia Minor. It was by the coastal regions of Syria that the first Semitic immigrants from the south reached the Euphrates, and it was to Syria that the stream of Semitic influence, now impregnated with Sumerian culture, returned. The sea formed a barrier to any further advance in that direction, and so the current parted, and passed southwards into the Syro-Palestinian region and northwards through the Cilician Gates, whence by Hittite channels it penetrated to the western districts of Asia Minor. Here, again, the sea was a barrier to further progress westwards, and the Asiatic coast of the Aegean forms the western limit of Asiatic influence. Until the passing of the Hittite power, no attempts were made by Aegean sea-rovers or immigrants from the mainland of Greece to settle on the western coast of Asia Minor, and it is not therefore surprising that Aegean culture should show such scanty traces of Babylonian influence.
Of the part which the Sumerians took in originating and moulding the civilization of Babylonia, it is unnecessary to treat at greater length. Perhaps their most important achievement was the invention of cuneiform writing, for this in time was adopted as a common script throughout the east, and became the parent of other systems of the same character. But scarcely less important were their legacies in other spheres of activity. In the arts of sculpture and seal-engraving their own achievements were notable enough, and they inspired the Semitic work of later times. The great code of Hammurabi's laws, which is claimed to have influenced western codes besides having moulded much of the Mosaic legislation, is now definitely known to be of Sumerian origin, and Urukagina's legislative effort was the direct forerunner of Hammurabi's more successful appeal to past tradition. The literature of Babylon and Assyria is based almost throughout on Sumerian originals, and the ancient ritual of the Sumerian cults survived in the later temples of both countries. Already we see Gudea consulting the omens before proceeding to lay the foundations of E-ninnu, and the practice of hepatoscopy may probably be set back into the period of the earliest Sumerian patesis. Sumer, in fact, was the principal source of Babylonian civilization, and a study of its culture supplies a key to many subsequent developments in Western Asia. The inscriptions have already yielded a fairly complete picture of the political evolution of the people, from the village community and city-state to an empire which included the effective control of foreign provinces. The archaeological record is not so complete, but in this direction we may confidently look for further light from future excavation and research.