link to Talbot Project home page link to De Montfort University home page link to Glasgow University home page
Project Director: Professor Larry J Schaaf

Back to the letter search >

Result number 1 of 2:   < Back     Back to results list   Next >  

Document number: 3501
Date: 15 Mar 1875
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: LEA John Walter
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: Acc 22818 (envelope only)
Last updated: 16th February 2013

6 The Grove
London N
March 15 1875.

Dear Sir,

May I venture to ask your help in Endeavouring to test a hypothesis wh: suggested itself to me while studying the inscription of Samas Rinmon in the 1t Vol. of “Records of the Past”? <1> The expression occurs p.16, line 56 “bulls wh: have two humps”; the note says “i.e. Camels.” It seems strange that the Assyrians, well acquainted with both species of Camel, should call either by the name of “bulls;” & the question rose in my mind, Could the words refer to a two humped breed of cattle then existing in those parts? If so it would be zoologically a very interesting fact, wh: I, as a Fellow of the Zool: Soc: should be glad to ascertain if possible.

Mr Sayce, <2> the translator of this inscription, has very kindly answered one or two question, giving me the Assyrian word (“parrate”) used in this place, and wh: he says in fem. plur. of a word wh: means “heifer. calf, bull &c.” In another inscription in Vol. 3, where the same word occurs he has twice rendered it “camels” in the text.

As unfortunately I am entirely unacquainted with the Assyrian language I am compelled to tax the kindness of more learned men to give me information, and I should feel Greatly obliged if you would be so good as to instruct me on two or three points of unusual nomenclature occurring in inscriptions translated by you in the “Records.” By comparing words I may at last come to a fair probability as to the meaning of these “two humped bulls.”

In Vol. 1.p.26 – Inscription lines 17, 18, of Sennacherib’s First Inscription. the word “camels” occurs; also on p. 38, Ins: line 18; & in some other places in Vol. 3, in the Esarhaddon Inscription.

I should much like to know what the Assyrian word for “camels” is in these places: and especially in the Esarhaddon I. (p.188.l.17) what is the word or words for “Bactrian Camels,” & its literal signification if it be idiomatic. If the “2 humped bulls” are camels, they must be the Bactrian Camel of course.

If the Assyrian word for “Camel” is distinct from that for “bull”, it wd afford a presumption that the “2 humped bulls” were not camels.

Also “Bulls” are mentioned in the Esar. I. p.121, l.41; p.123, l.53 in the Sennach. Ins. Vol I. p.41, l.74, p.52 l.52. May I ask what is the word for “bulls” in these places?

It may be useful for comparison to know the ordinary word for “oxen” & “cattle” wh: constantly occur, and for “buffaloes” (though I see this is a doubtful rendering) Sennach. p.39 ll.36, 37.

I am almost ashamed to trouble you about a matter which is but incidentally connected with your labours, but I hope you will excuse it on the Ground that one science has great need of the help of others: & I may also please for myself that having recently become a member of the Socy of Bibl Archæology, I am studying our Transactions & these “Records” with keen interest.

Believe me, dear Sir Yours very faithfully
John Walter Lea

[enclosed card:]
Mr J. Walter Lea. B.A. Oxon
F.G.S. F.Z.S. &c

W. Henry Fox Talbot Esq. D.C.L. F.R.S. &c
Lacock Abbey


1. Records of the Past being English Translations of the Assyrian and Egyptian Monuments (London: Samuel Bagster & Sons).

2. Archibald Henry Sayce (1845–1933), Egyptologist & Orientalist.

Result number 1 of 2:   < Back     Back to results list   Next >