isis unveiled: chapter xiv (ancient mysteries)

“In his lecture on the Lost Arts, Wendell Phillips very artistically describes the situation. “We seem to imagine”, says he, “that whether knowledge will die with us or not, it certainly began with us. …We have a pitying estimate, a tender pity for the narrowness, ignorance, and darkness of the bygone ages.”

To illustrate our own idea with the closing sentence of the favorite lecturer, we may as well confess that we undertook this chapter, which in one sense interrupts our narrative, to inquire of our men of science, whether they are sure that they are boasting “on the right line.” Thus we read of people, who, according to some learned writers, had just emerged from the bronze age into the succeeding age of iron.

“If Chaldea, Assyria, and Babylon presented stupendous and venerable antiquities reaching far back into the night of time, Persia was not without her wonders of a later date.

The pillared halls of Persepolis were filled with miracles of art; carvings, sculptures, enamels, alabaster libraries, obelisks, sphinxes, colossal bulls. Ecbatana, in Media, the cool summer retreat of the Persian kings, was defended by seven encircling walls of hewn and polished blocks, the interior ones in succession of increasing height, and of different colors, in astrological accordance with the seven planets. The palace was roofed with silver tiles; its beams were plated with gold. At midnight, in its halls, the sun was rivaled by many a row of naphtha cressets. A paradise, that luxury of the monarchs of the East, was planted in the midst of the city.

The Persian empire was truly the garden of the world. …In Babylon there still remained its walls, once more than sixty miles in compass and, after the ravages of three centuries and three conquerors, still more than eighty feet in height; there were still the ruins of the temple of the cloud-encompassed Bel; on its top was planted the observatory wherein the weird Chaldean astronomers had held nocturnal communion with the stars; still there were vestiges of the two palaces with their hanging gardens, in which were trees growing in mid-air, and the wreck of the hydraulic machinery that had supplied them from the river. Into the artificial lake, with its vast apparatus of aqueducts and sluices, the melted snows of the Armenian mountains found their way and were confined in their course through the city by the embankments of the Euphrates. Most wonderful of all, perhaps, was the tunnel under the river-bed.””

H. P. Blavatsky

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