« AnteriorContinuar »
TO THE RIGHT HON. CHARLES W. W. WYNN, M.P. PRESIDENT OF THE ROYAL ASIATIC SOCIETY,
AS the subjects mentioned in the title page, and treated of in this letter, are immediately connected with the learned enquiries of the society over which you preside, I humbly trust, Sir, that you will find in them something of sufficient importance to serve as an apology for the liberty I have taken in thus addressing you. You are, no doubt, Sir, fully acquainted with the various opinions which, from time to time, have been published respecting the period when, and the people by whom, these magnificent structures are supposed to have been raised. Since the year 1678, when the existence of these ruins was first made known by the Arabs to the English factors resident in Aleppo, several learned and skilful antiquaries have turned their attention to an examination of the inscriptions which were discovered on the walls and the columns in an unknown language; but, so far as my enquiries have extended, I have not found that any one of them has hitherto been interpreted, or that even a discovery has been made of the alphabet of the language in which they were written. If this can be completely accomplished, it may go far to remove the veil of oblivion under which the early history of this celebrated city has so long A
been concealed; or, at least, it may lead us to determine who built these splendid edifices, and, consequently, to whom the world is indebted for some of the finest architectural forms that are to be found on the face of the globe. Several months ago, I directed the attention of an enlightened friend of mine to the subject of these inscriptions, and as I understand that this friend has referred the matter to an able master in Hebrew literature, I am in hopes that something of importance, from that quarter, will soon be laid before the public. In the mean time, Sir, and after an attentive examination of all that I have met with on the subject of these remains of antiquity, I am induced to submit to your consideration the three following propositions, together with the reasons and the facts which I have adduced in support of my conclusions. FIRSTLY.—That these magnificent structures were erected by king Solomon, and that the orders, since termed Corinthian and Ionic, were first introduced into architecture by him. Secondly.—That the Signs of the Zodiac originated with the Hebrews; that they emblematically refer to events and characters recorded in sacred history; and that the position of the signs, on the Zodiac of Palmyra, points to the age of the world in which Abraham lived. THIRDLY.—That the inscriptions, said to be in an unknown language, are in the ancient Hebrew; that some of them were written soon after the palaces were built, and others after the Roman conquest. The limit which I have prescribed to my enquiry, compels me to be brief in the remarks and illustrations which I am about to offer; my sole object, at present, being to call the attention of those who are more competent than myself to investigations of this nature.
In reference to my first proposition, you will recollect, Sir, that the earliest mention on record of Tadmor, is made by the sacred historian, in the 8th chapter of the second book of Kings, where it is stated, that “Solomon went to Hamath Zobah and prevailed against it, and he built Tadmor in the wilderness." The account of Josephus, in the sixth chapter of the 8th book of his