Two famous rivers rise in the mountains of Armenia — the Tigris and the Euphrates. Flowing southward, they approach each other to form a common valley, proceed in parallel channels for the greater part of their course, and unite shortly before reaching the Persian Gulf. In antiquity each river had a separate mouth.
The soil which the Tigris and Euphrates bring down every year fills up the Persian Gulf at the rate of about three miles a century. Their delta was therefore much less extensive five or six thousand years ago than it is to-day.
THE COLOSSI OF MEMNON – These two gigantic statues of sandstone conglomerate, seventy feet in height, represent Amenhotep III, who set them up on the west side of the Nile at Thebes about 1400 B.C. They were probably only the vanguard of a procession of statues forming the approach to the mortuary temple of the Pharaoh, which has now disappeared. Each one is badly mutilated. The upper half of the right-hand statue was thrown down by an earthquake in 27 B.C., and thereafter the headless trunk emitted at sunrise a curious musical note. The phenomenon was due to the cracking of the stone, wet with dew, under the sun’s fierce rays. The Greeks identified the vocal statue with Memnon, son of the Dawn, and tourists from all parts of the Roman Empire came to hear him sing at sunrise. The emperor Septimius Severus thought to do Memnon honor by repairing his statue and built up the broken part with blocks of limestone. The effect was disastrous, for the monument once more became dumb.
This delta forms a plain anciently about one hundred and seventy miles long and rarely more than forty miles wide. It is called in the Old Testament the “land of Shinar “. We know it better as Babylonia, after Babylon, which became its leading city and capital.