ASSYR'IAN ART. The historic inscriptions show that the earliest rulers of Assyria in the Seventeenth Century 13.C. built monumentsanden riehed them with images, with colored decorations, and with hangings. None of these early works has yet been found, hut it is probable that they resembled the art of Babylonia even more closely than later works, because at first the Assyrians, being cruder in their culture, were more imitative than when their national char acteristics found artistic expression after Assyria became a great power. Roughly speaking, the fol lowing periods may he recognized: (I) Baby lonish. Seventeenth to Twelfth centuries; (2) Archaic, Twelfth to :Cintli centuries; (3) De veloped, Or Epic. Ninth to Eighth centuries; (4) Picturesque. Seventh Century. The temple and all forms of religious art, which predominated dur ing the earliest centuries, had taken second place by the time of Asurnazirpal (Ninth Century), and the building and decorating of the royal pal ace, the celebrating of royal victories, exploits, and every-day life became and remained the prin cipal theme of Assyrian art, in harmony with the despotic and secular character of Assyrian insti tutions. It is a help in tracing its history that nearly every king built at least one palace to commemorate his reign, in whieli everything was executed by his royal artists. The capital being successively shifted to Nineveh, Cahill, and Ashur helped to multiply royal constructions. Beginning in the reign of Asurnazirpal. Assyria came in touch with every phase of t)riental art— Egyptian, Phoenician. llittite, rEgean. The re stilt was a strong reciprocal influence. Between the Ninth and Seventh centuries, Nineveh was the centre of the entire East for art as well as commerce; here colonies of foreign artists set tled, and imitated or transformed the strongly marked character of Assyrian art, sending their works, by the hands especially of Phoenician traders, over the entire civilized world. This
Assyrian supremacy did not cease until the fall of Nineveh, about B.C. 607. In describing the char acter of Assyrian art, it is not easy to detach the other arts from architecthre, because the con struction itself, being of brick, was necessarily so plain, so devoid of special features, such as colonnades or elaborate moldings, that both re lief sculptures and color decoration were used for effect and became an integral part of architec ture. Cult-images of the gods, often of precious metals. were placed in the temples, as well as re liefs with mythological subjects. Doors were covered with bronze-figured plaques, or carved in wood; obelisks and stiles were set up in the open air; but the favorite form of sculpture remained the low-relief frieze, and the favorite material, soft limestone. The industrial arts were highly developed. The king and his courtiers dressed in superbly embroidered and figured stuffs; the horses were superbly caparisoned: the arms and armor were highly finished ; the king's throne was of carved ivory and gold, and the king was served out of gold, silver, and bronze vessels, with figures in relief. The Phomi•ians and Syrians in particular were cunning workmen. who supplied all that Assyrian luxury demanded, and life was then as luxurious as under the Roman Empire. The bronze gates of Balawat, the dishes and ivories from Nimrml now in the British _Museum, the carved cylinders and gems there and in the Louvre, Metropolitan Mnseum, and De Clereq Collection, show the character of the smaller arts.