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Professor Lyon's Lecture.



A good-sized audience was in attendance at the Jefferson Physical Laboratory yesterday afternoon to hear Professor Lyon's first lecture upon "Babylonian Books." The first part of the lecture was taken up with an account of the attempts that have been made from the early part of this century up to the present time for the excavation of ruins in Babylonia and Assyria. The Babylonia and books proper can hardly be called books in our sense of the word, since they are nothing more than finely inscribed tablets of stone or baked clay. The ruins from which these tablets have been taken are to be found in almost every part of the country above the Persian Gulf, which is now known as Babylonia and Assyria. Throughout the whole of this region traveling is difficult and dangerous, and although great efforts have been made by enthusiastic archaeologists, little has been accomplished when compared with the vast amount of research yet necessary to give the world a true conception of the topography of the ancient cities in this region. The French government was the first to make an organized effort for discovery. During the first part of the century attempts were made from time to time, but it was not until the middle of the century that the greatest energy was shown. A French consul named Botta made the most important discovery. At a small town near the site of ancient Nineveh in Assyria, he set to work, and after much labor his workmen succeeded in unearthing an ancient Assyrian palace of huge proportions. During this time discoveries were being made also in the southern part of Babylonia. Huge mounds were being dug out in which were buried palaces, temples and ruined cities. After this time until 1872 there was very little discovery. At that date, George Smith, an Englishman, discovered the temple of the sun-god, and in it was found immense numbers of the so-called Babylonian books.

In 1884, the first American expedition was formed and it succeeded in unearthing some of the rarest of all the specimens of tablet-writing, and of the half-human half-beast figures of which there were found many in the excavations. At present a body of American gentlemen, of which Prof. Peters of the University of Pennsylvania is the head, is engaged in discoveries in Babylonia.

The last part of the lecture was taken up with Prof. Lyon's description of the views exhibited by the stereopticon. They consisted largely of photographs taken by the first American expedition of the mounds as excavated, showing the situation and structure of the most important temples and palaces which have been discovered.

The next lecture in the course will be on Friday afternoon, the subject being "The decipherment of Babylonian books."

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