VISITS TO THE LIBANUS, THE TULÚL EL SAFÁ,
THE ANTI-LIBANUS, THE NORTHERN LIBANUS, AND THE `ALÁH
BY RICHARD F. BURTON AND CHARLES F. TYRWHITT DRAKE
IN TWO VOLUMES
LONDON : TINSLEY BROTHERS, 18 CATHERINE ST. STRAND,
TO MY FATHER, HENRY RAYMOND ARUNDELL,
ARE AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED.
Kingdom endureth without the True Faith (i.e. El Islam); but it endureth not with tyranny. (Hadis, or Saying of the Prophet.)
We live in an age of free-thinking and plain-speaking, ‘rarâ temporum felicitate, ubi sentire quæ velis, et quæ sententias docere licet.’ (Christian Theology and Modern Scepticism, by the Duke of Somerset, K.G.: London, 1872.)
I HASTEN to own, before reviewers tell me so, that this production is what my great namesake, Robert Burton of melancholy and merry, of facete and juvenile memory, honestly termed a ‘Cento:’ it is a pot-pourri, a gathering of somewhat heterogeneous materials - all, however, bearing more or less upon the subject of Unexplored Syria.
For instance, with reference to the contents of Volume I., the general remarks are mine. The first chapter is by Mrs. Burton, with my annotations. Chapter ii. is, again, my property. Appendix No. 1 contains observations for altitude, taken by Mr. C.F. Tyrwhitt Drake and myself, and Computed by Captain George, R.N. Appendix No. 2 offers a short specimen of neo-Syrian Proverbs: it forms part of a much larger collection, which I have not had time to prepare for the press; and it may curiously be compared with the ancient proverbial philosophy of the Holy Land. In Appendix No. 3 my friend and fellow-traveller contributes an essay upon ‘Writing a Roll of the Law, according to the rules laid down by Maimonides and other Hebrew authorities.’ Appendix No. 4 contains a paper by myself upon the ‘Hamah Stones;’ followed by the interesting remarks of Mr. Hyde Clarke, and accompanied by transcripts reduced to quarter-size. I need hardly draw attention to these ‘Memorials,’ which, first cursorily mentioned by Burckhardt in A.D. 1810, now appear in lithograph for the first time.
As to Volume II.: in chapter i. I tell the tale of travel; whilst chapters ii. and iii. are the handiwork of Mr. Tyrwhitt Drake. The catalogue raisonné of my collections in Syria and Palestine is by myself, with the able assistance of Dr. C. Carter Blake, Professor Busk, Messrs. A.W. Franks and John Evans, and Dr. Barnard Davis. In Appendix No. 2 my old and valued friend, W.S.W. Vaux, has taken the trouble to decipher, as far as was feasible, the eighty-one original Greek inscriptions collected in the Haurán Mountain (Jebel Durúz Haurán) and in the ‘Aláh by Mr. Tyrwhitt Drake. Messrs. William Carruthers and James Britten have been good enough to catalogue for Appendix No. 3 the small collection of Alpine plants which we brought from the apex of the Libanus. Mr. Gwyn Jeffreys kindly catalogued the shells brought home by me; and Dr. Percy and Mr. Reeks named the geological specimens.
The original plans and sketches are all the work of my compagnon de voyage. The map, which alters the aspect of Northern Syria, has been drawn by Mr. Keith Johnston from the materials thus supplied to him, and supplemented by the sketches of Count Léon de Perthuis and M.F. Bambino, Vice-consul for France at Hums and Hamah. To these I also have added a few observations.[FN#1] The frontispiece of the first volume is the artistic production of Mr. Richard Knight; whilst that of the second is a photograph put on stone by those able lithographers Messrs. Kell Brothers for the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland. The second volume concludes with an Index; and I here take the earliest opportunity of apologising to the public for the absence of so necessary an adjunct from my last two volumes, Zanzibar, -City, Island, and Coast (Tinsleys, 1872). Finally, my thanks are due to Messrs. Robson and Sons, my printers, for the prodigious trouble caused to them by the state of a manuscript written on board ship, and subjected to various corrections.
It need hardly be remarked, that while we (the writers) all hold ourselves responsible to readers for our own sentiments, opinions, and statements, we disclaim being called to account for those of one another. This principle of limited liability we would extend, like those who give evidence before ‘Select Parliamentary Committees,’ even to such small matters as Arabic orthography.
The discoveries contained in these volumes originated from the Palestine Exploration Fund. The distinguished Committee of that Society declined, somewhat imprudently, I thought, to secure the services of Mr. Tyrwhitt Drake, who understood that he had returned to Syria as its representative. Thereupon I proposed to him that we should proceed, when leisure offered, to the field of action, and leave nothing save details for the Exploration Fund to explore. We succeeded, despite many risks and chances. We carried off the cream of discovery; but during the process, and in the moment of victory, we discovered how much more than we expected still remains to be discovered.
Unfortunately the Oeil-de-bœuf still reigns to a considerable degree over the learned societies of the day, from those ‘Fifty Immortals,’ the French Academy, downwards. A spirit of clique too often succeeds in ignoring the real explorer, the true inventor, the most learned writer, and the best artist; in fact, the fauteuil is denied to the right man; the pin-cushion stuck full of pins is still the fittest legacy. Party is not rarely successful against Principle. The Pharisee - with his aggressive and vigorous but narrow-minded nature; with his hard thin character, all angles and stings; with his starch and inflexible opinions upon religion and politics, science, literature, and art; and with his broad assurance that his ways are the only right ways - forms not unfrequently a minority that rules with a rod of iron the herd headed by Messrs. Feeble-mind and Ready-to-halt. And this we find notably the case in the present phase of our national life, when the Battle of the Creeds, or rather of ‘Non-Credo’ versus ‘Credo,’ has been offered and accepted; when every railway-station is hung with texts and strewed with tracts for the benefit of that working-class which now monopolises public interest; when the South Kensington Museum offers professional instruction in science and art for women - that is to say, for the girl before she becomes a mother - suggesting that creation by law may be as reasonable as creation by miracle; when Secularism draws the sword against Denominationalism; and, briefly, when those who ‘believe’ and those who do not can hardly, as the saying is, ‘keep hands off one another’ in a mêlée which suggests a foretaste of the mystical Armageddon.
The following note, an abrégé of a paper addressed by me to the leading journals in the capital, may here be reprinted as a proof that I wish the Palestine Exploration Fund all success, despite these remarks, by which the Society, it is hoped, will not feel aggrieved. The Fund has undertaken the goodly labour of subjecting the Holy Land to an Ordnance Survey, and we all look forward to its result. But the present staff will take, at the present rate, treble the time proposed for finishing the work; the three years will grow to nine before they can show final results. At least three hill-sketchers and four assistant-surveyors and astronomical observers are peremptorily required, but this pauper country cannot afford the miserable pittance of 1500l. per annum. To my mind there are few things less intelligible than the scanty interest which the Jewish as well as the Christian world takes in the Holy Land. I am especially astonished that the various Protestant communities should feel so coldly about a work which a French writer has declared, somewhat à la française, to have the force of a fifth Gospel, because it completes and harmonises - I may add, that it makes intelligible - the other four.
‘The return of Mr. C.F. Tyrwhitt Drake to Damascus on November 5, after his dangerous reconnaissance of the ‘Aláh or uplands lying between El Hamah (the Hamath of the Old Testament?) and Aleppo, enables me to say a word for the cause lately advocated by the “Hon. Sec. Palestine Exploration Fund.” My friend and fellow-traveller, during a journey of thirty-five days, averaging seven hours of riding per diem, sketched and fixed the positions of some fifty ruins, which, in presence of the Circassian immigration, now a fait accompli, are fated soon to disappear from the face of earth; he is also sending home twenty to twenty-five Greek inscriptions, of which six or seven have dates; and before joining Captain Stewart, R.E., he will explore the Harrah or ‘Hot Country,’ a pure white blank in the best maps, which, however, have not yet had the opportunity of being good. All except the hydro-graphic charts have been hurriedly executed; the bearings are mostly in confusion, and the proper names of places are hideously distorted. Let me offer, as a proof, the positions for Palmyra supplied to me by Mr. Stanford, of Charing-cross, who assures me that the position of the old Phoenician city is not given in Ritter’s Erdkunde:
|1.||Duc de Luynes’s map; Lt. Vignes’|
|2.||Lt.-col. Chesney’s map, published|
|3.||Carl Ritter’s map||N.||34||17||30||E.||38||32||30|
|4.||Major Rennell’s map||N.||34||24||00||E.||38||20||00|
|5.||Murray’s Handbook for Syria has|
|adopted from Rennell and Vignes’||N.||34||35||00||E.||38||14||39|
‘Here, then, the extremes of difference in latitude amount to seventeen miles, and in longitude to twenty miles, or a total of thirty-seven miles, in fact nearly thirty-eight; and it must be remembered that Palmyra lies within an easy four days’ ride of Damascus.
‘Newly transferred to Syria and Palestine, I imagined - and many would do the same - my occupation as an explorer clean gone. The first few months, however, proved to me that although certain lines of transit have been well trodden, yet few travellers and tourists have ever ridden ten miles away from the high-roads. No one, for instance, would suspect that so many patches of unvisited, and possibly at the time unvisitable, country lie within a day or two’s ride of great cities and towns, such as Aleppo and Damascus, Hums and Hamah. When the maps show a virgin-white patch in the heart of Jaydur, the classical Iturrea, students naturally conclude that the land has been examined and has been found to contain nothing of interest - the reverse being absolutely the case. Finally, as will presently appear, there are valid reasons why these places have escaped European inspection; the traveller at once knows that an unexplored spot means one either too difficult or too dangerous for the multitude to undertake.
‘A correspondent has effectively pointed out the nature of the work required by the Bible lands proper, “from Dan to Beersheba,” where there is nothing barren of interest. It is to be hoped, however, that the funds will soon permit an archaeologist to follow the surveyor. Although the East moves slowly, still she moves; but her present movement is all towards the change of ancient and Oriental to modern and European art, and in many places to the destruction of the most valuable remains of antiquity. The ruins of the ‘Aláh are being pulled to pieces in order to build houses for Hamah. The classical buildings of Saccaea are torn down and set up into rude hovels for the mountaineers who have fled from the Anti-Libanus and the Hermon. Patterns which possibly antedate the Pyramids are making way for cheap English calico prints. The porcelain sent from China is sold or stowed away, and the table is decked with tawdry bits of French stuff, all white and gold, and worth, perhaps, a franc apiece.
‘Allow me to conclude with again attempting to impress upon subscribers to the Palestine Exploration Fund that Syria, north of Palestine proper, is an old country, in more than one aspect - geographical and technological, for instance - virtually new. A Land of the Past, it has a Future as promising as that of Mexico or of the Argentine Republic. The first railway that spans it will restore to rich and vigorous life the poor old lethargic region: Lazare, veni foras! - it will raise this Lazarus of eastern provinces, this Niobe of the nations, from a neglected grave. There is literally no limit that can be laid down to the mother-wit, to the ambition, and to the intellectual capabilities of its sons; they are the most gifted race that I have, as yet, ever seen. And when the Curse shall have left the country - not the ban of superstition, but the bane and plague-spot of bad rule - it will again rise to a position not unworthy of the days when it gave to the world a poetry and a system of religion still unforgotten by our highest civilisation.
‘Your obedient servant,
‘RICHARD F. BURTON.
‘Garswood, Dec. 31, 1871.’
My twenty-three months at Damascus (October 2d, 1869, to August 18th, 1871) were, I may here remark, rendered bitter by contact with a tyranny and an oppression which even that land of doleful antecedents cannot remember. The head and front of offence was one Mohammed Ráshid - not to be pronounced or confounded with Rashíd the ‘upright,’ the ‘treader in the right path’ - who held the responsible office of Wali or Governor-general. The politics of this unworthy man were alternately French and Russian, whilst, like the Oriental educated in Europe, he hated all Europeans. Similarly, a certain Tahir Pasha, who took such strong part in the massacres of 1860, had studied six years at the Woolwich Artillery College. Brought into collision with him by his utterly ignoring the just claims and even the rights of British subjects and protégés - a proceeding in which he was supported by those whose duty was to do otherwise - I had to battle with hands bound. But at last the truth prevailed. Not even the attention of an acknowledgment was paid to the telegrams and the solicitations of certain Consuls-general resident at Bayrut; their protégé, the infamous Wali, was recalled in disgrace and degradation, whilst the Mushir, or commander-in-chief, was ordered by telegraph to send him, in case of resistance, ironed and fettered to Constantinople. My Personal Adventures in Syria and Palestine will, I hope, place the whole subject in the clearest light, and Messrs. Tinsley have kindly undertaken to father the work.
Sweeping changes throughout the province followed the removal of Mohammed Ráshid in September 1871; and every measure which, since October 1869, I had ventured to recommend in the interest of our Ottoman allies was at once carried out. The reform was so thorough and so complete, that presently her Majesty’s ambassador at Constantinople was directed officially to compliment the Porte upon its newly-initiated line of progress.
Wonderful is the irony of events. Meanwhile (August 18th) I had left Damascus under a recall. Being the civil, military, and ecclesiastical capital of the country, the head-quarters of the Government and the High Courts of Appeal, and the residence of the chief dignitaries, it was reduced to a Vice-consulate. We now rank there, greatly to the detriment of British interests, and to the injury of English residents, and missionaries, and school-teachers, with, but after, Spain, Portugal, and Greece, because the representatives of those powers, often Rayyáhs or subjects of the Porte, are senior to the British Vice-consul. Persia, with her usual diplomatic sagacity, has long ago directed a Consul-general to reside at Damascus. Russia and Prussia, France and Italy, have not yet been driven by economy, and the hard necessity of saving 300l. per annum, to speak through Vice-consuls.
Yet the English public is surprised to hear from the British Vice-consul in Damascus that certain English travellers have been made prisoners at Kerak.
To conclude: Critics and reviewers, who honoured with their notices my last volumes upon Zanzibar, appear in some cases to have acted upon the now recognised principle, ‘Abuse the plaintiff’s attorney.’ Instead of reviewing the books, they have here and there reviewed the author. However amusing may be such a process to the writer, and exciting to the reader, I would protest against it in my own interest. Few lessons indeed, morally as well as in a literary sense, are more useful and beneficial than an able and temperate review. Let me name the Observer of February 4th, 1872. One of its remarks particularly attracted my attention: ‘Many considerations, we are told, argue this (Wanyika) race to be a degeneracy from civilised man, rather than a people advancing towards civilisation. It is to be wished that Captain Burton had told us what some of the considerations are.’ The fact is, that I had left the words as they were written in 1857, when I believed in the old Arab and Persian civilisation of the Coast, and in the great ‘Monomoesi Empire’ (Unyam wezi) of now obsolete geographers. I had neglected to append a note showing that my opinions about the settled abodes of the maritime classes had been greatly modified. On the other hand, nothing can be less profitable to an author or reader than a long tirade of personal comment and of unanswerable sneer, peevish and petulant withal, like that of the once-respected Examiner (February 3d, 1872). What could the most docile of men make of a literary verdict like this? ‘We are afraid that these two rambling, egotistical, and excessively bulky volumes will prove tiresome reading even to the most arduous student of African travel.’ The worst and the most irritating part of such critiques manqués is that, to quote what was said by a reviewer of a very different stamp, ‘they declared their misjudgments with that air of supercilious authoritativeness, which, whilst it sometimes disfigures the style of an able critic, is always observable in the utterances of a pretender in critical art.’
RICHARD F. BURTON.
Athenaeum Club, May 15, 1872.
[FN#1] Some of the bearings, especially those from Jebel Sannin, proved, when protracted, so erroneous, that future travellers are advised to ascertain if there are any peculiar elements of disturbance upon this wind-lashed crest.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.
CARTOGRAPHIC AND OTHER NOTES ON THE WATER-SHED OF THE BA’ALBAK PLAIN, ON THE ‘CEDAR BLOCK,’ AND ON THE NORTHERN LIBANUS.
PART I. FROM BA’ALBAK TO THE CEDAR CLUMP.
PART II. FROM THE CEDARS OF LEBANON TO ZAHLAH TOWN.
PRELIMINARY TOUR IN THE JEBEL DURUZ HAURAN – EXPLORATION OF THE UMM NIRAN CAVE AND THE TULUL EL SAFA – THE VOLCANIC REGION EAST OF DAMASCUS.
PART I. PRELIMINARY TOUR IN THE JEBEL DURUZ HAURAN.
PART II. EXPLORATION OF THE UMM NIRAN CAVE AND THE TULUL EL SAFA, THE VOLCANIC REGION EAST OF THE DAMASCUS SWAMPS.
I. OBSERVATIONS TAKEN WITH ANEROID AND THERMOMETER ON THE ROUTES TO THE LIBANUS, THE HAURAN MOUNTAIN, THE TULUL EL SAFA, AND THE ANTI-LIBANUS.
II. PROVERBIA COMMUNIA SYRIACA.
III. ON WRITING A ROLL OF THE LAW.
IV. NOTES ON THE HAMAH STONES.
Additional Note to p. 110.
The three steps referred to in page 110, beginning from the seaboard, may thus be supplemented:
[FN#1] It is the ancient Kana’an (Canaan, the lowland), and the Palesheth (Philistia), the Greek Paralía (παραλια), and especially the Macras and the Macra-pedium of Strabo, opposed to Shephelah (hlp#, Josh. xi 16) of the Hebrews, whence the Arabic Sofalah. ‘Aram,’ in its widest sense, includes all the uplands lying between the Mediterranean and the middle course of the Euphrates, from Phoenicia and Palestine to Mesopotamia, Chaldaea, and even Assyria. Upon the disputed point of ‘Shephelah,’ the following note by Mr. C.F.
Tyrwhitt Drake (Report of Palestine Exploration Fund, Quarterly Statement, April 1872) will be found valuable:
‘”Shephelah” has been wrongly rendered “plain” and “valley” in the A.V. (e.g. Zech. vii 7 and Josh. xv. 33). Eusebius says that the country about Eleutheropolis was still called Shephelah in his time. It is in fact the district of rolling hills situated as above mentioned, and forms a most marked feature in the physical geography of the country. It is not, however, so far as I am aware, shown on any map otherwise than as a series of spurs or shoulders running down from the main range, which in reality it is not.
‘It is very important that these natural features should be well understood and carefully borne in mind, as most important in helping to clear up the obscurity in which the geography of the Old Testament is now enveloped. These distinctions of mountain, hill, and plain are more than once mentioned in the Talmud (cf. tract Shevith, &c.). Rabbi Jochanan says that from Beth-horon to Emmaus is mountain (rh); from Emmaus to Lydda, hill (hlp#), and from Lydda to the sea, plain (qm(); which is perfectly correct, as Amwas is situated at the base of a spur from the mountains, and the hills extend to within a very short distance of Lidd, beyond which is the plain.’
My eyes were still full of the might and majesty of the Chilian Andes, and of the grace and grandeur of Magellan’s Straits - memories which fashionable Vichy and foul Brindisi had strengthened, not effaced - as I landed upon the Syrian shore on Friday, October 1, 1869.[FN#1] The points of resemblance and of difference between the South Pacific coast and Mediterranean Palestine at once struck my glance. Both are disposed nearly upon a meridian; mere Strips of flat seaboard, mostly narrow, rarely widening, bounded by two parallel Cordilleras, flanking waterless deserts on the far eastern lee-land: the northernmost are notably the highest blocks of mountain; and the low-lying southern extremities, in Asia as in America, are ever rising by secular up-growth; whilst either shores, Pacific and Mediterranean, are subject to remarkable oscillations of level, chiefly the result of Plutonic agencies. Both coasts are subtended by currents with northerly sets; both lands depend greatly upon snow for their water-supply; both show the extremest contrasts of siccity and humidity, of luxuriance and barrenness; and both abut upon a ‘desert,’ an extensive tract of extreme aridity. In both, as was said by a lover of Spain, God has still much land in His own holding. Syria and Palestine are, indeed, an Eastern Chili dwarfed and grown old - whose wadys (Fiumaras) are measured by yards, not furlongs; whose precipices answer to feet, instead of metres; whose travelling distances are registered in hours, not in days and nights. The former boasts of its Hermon, its Libanus, and its Anti-Libanus; the latter caps them with her Maypú, her Tupungáto, and her Aconcágua - names which, by the bye, drew groans as I pronounced them at the last anniversary dinner of the Alpine Club - while lakes and rivers, plains and valleys, cities and settlements, storms and earthquakes; in fact, all the geographical, the physical, and the meteorological, as well as the social features of the two regions, show a remarkable general likeness, but every thing upon a similar scale of proportion.
On the other hand, the difference in all that may most interest the imagination, fire the fancy, and upheave the heart is yet more pronounced than the resemblance. The New World, which had been my latest scene of action, wearies with its want of history, of association, and consequently of romance; it was born to the annals of humanity within the space of four centuries; its aborigines, so to speak, were savages that can interest only in Fenimore Cooper; its legends are raw and grotesque, wholly wanting the poetical charms, tender and delicate, of South-European paganism; whilst art and science were, till the other day, words unknown to it. It is the prose of prose, the veriest reality. Its past is insignificant; its present is the baldest and tamest of the kind; and the whole of its life of lives dwells in the future - a glorious and gorgeous realm, ever dazzling the eyes, and serving chiefly to cast a grayer, sadder tone over the things that are.
The Old world of Palestine, again, is oppressively old, as the New is uncomfortably new: it is overripe, while its rival is yet raw; it makes the dissatisfied poet cry,
‘The world is weary of the past.’
In these regions we find hardly a mile without a ruin, hardly a ruin that would not be held deeply interesting between Hudson’s Bay and the Tierra del Fuego; and, in places, mile after mile and square mile upon square mile of ruin. It is a luxuriance of ruin; and there is not a large ruin in the country which does not prove upon examination to be the composition of ruins more ancient still. The whole becomes somewhat depressing, even to the most ardent worker; whilst everywhere the certainty that the mere surface of the antiquarian mine has been only scratched, and that years and long years must roll by before the country can be considered explored - before even Jerusalem can be called ‘recovered’ - suggests that the task must be undertaken by Societies, not by the individual.
Of history, again, of picturesque legend, of theology and mythology, of art and literature, as of archaeology, of palaeography, of palaeogeography, of numismatology, and a dozen other -ologies and -ographies, there is absolutely no visible end. And if the present of the New World be bald and tame, that of the Syrian Old World is, to those who know it well, perhaps a little too fiery and exciting, paling with its fierce tints and angry flush the fair vision which a country has a right to contemplate in the days to be.
The reader will understand this mingled feeling - a feeling never absent except in books - with which this pilgrim cast his first look upon the ‘holy, beautiful Hermon;’ a commonplace hogsback (χοιρας), where he had been led to expect a mighty and majestic Mont Blanc; upon the short barren buttress of Carmel by the Sea (la Vigne du Seigneur), type of graceful beauty to the Hebrew, and now crowned with a convent not quite useless, and with a French lighthouse decidedly useful, though uncommonly expensive;[FN#2] upon the insignificant lines, the dull tintage, and the sterile surface of the Libanus – that Lebanon which served the Israelites as a beau idéal of glory and majesty; upon the memorial Ladder of Tyre, much resembling from afar a snowy patch taken from the Dover cliffs; and upon Bayrut, classic Berytus, a little city of the true harbour-town species, with terraced lines and tenements flat-roofed enough to support a bran-new settlement in Southern Italy. There was, indeed, to me something almost quaint in the contrast between the pictures which the fancy of childhood, aided perhaps by Mr. Bartlett and others of his craft, had traced and had deepened till the print might have been indelible, and the realities which rose somewhat misty and cloud-veiled above the light-blue Mediterranean wave. Like almost all realities, the scene declined answering to the anticipation. The comparison presently suggested the want of a realistic description, showing sights and things as they are; not as they are wished to be, nor as they ought to be -realistic chiefly as to the outer and visible part of such things and their bearings; thus serving to set off the other, and to many the more interesting, phase of the subject, ‘la merveilleuse harmonie,’ as M. E. Renan expresses it, ‘de l’idéal évangélique avec le paysage qui lui sert de cadre.’
I doubt whether this explanation will satisfy the man of artistic tastes, who writes to me, ‘Surely you will not “unweave all our rainbows”? Who will be the gainer by reading your comparison of the plain of Sharon with the Bedfordshire fields? I, for one, am certain that many take a delight in believing the contrary.’ But surely this belief, which thus depends upon ‘delight,’ may be attacked to advantage, not only because it makes physical size and topical beauty the chiefest charm of the Holy Land, but also because it dwarfs the true importance and grandeur of its effects upon humanity, by setting its events in a frame far too large and fair. A great action appears the greater by being placed upon a small theatre. Pombal was a giant in Portugal; and though we still do right to measure - despite the Dean of Westminster - the power of a country by its size, yet we ever take the highest interest in those bygone days when the smallest of nations, Egypt and Greece, were perhaps the greatest. Why, then, make ‘the mighty wall of Lebanon rise in indescribable majesty:’ had Dr. Robinson never sighted the Alps, or the White Mountains of his native land? What means the ‘eternal snows of the royal Hermon:’ did Dr. Tristram ever see his favourite mountain all berry-brown in September and October? Why quote of a poor bell-shaped, onion-topped mound,
‘What hill is like to Tabor’s hill in beauty and in fame?’
Had M. Chasseaud never glanced at Patras or Reggio, to quote no others, when he asserts: ‘It would be superfluous to say that the immediate neighbourhood of the hills defining the landscape about Beyrout is, without one solitary exception, the finest and the most fertile in the known earth’?[FN#3]
The fact is, we find here, and not elsewhere, a complaint which may be called ‘Holy Land on the Brain.’ It is no obscure cerebral disorder, like the morbid delusions of the poisoner: it rather delights to announce its presence, to flaunt itself in the face of fact. This perversion of allowable sentiment is the calenture which makes patients babble of hanging gardens and parterres of flowers, when all they beheld was sere and barren. The green sickness mostly attacks the new and unseasoned visitor from Europe and North America, especially from regions where he has rarely seen a sun. It is a ‘strange delusion that the man should believe,’ Carlyle says, ‘the thing to be which is not.’ As might be expected, it visits the Protestant with greater violence than the Catholic, whose fit assumes a more excited and emotional, a spasmodic and hysterical, form, ending, if the patient be a man and a poet, in a long rhapsody about himself, possibly about his childhood and his mother. It spares the Levantine, as yellow Jack does the negro: his brain is too well packed with the wretched intrigues and the petty interests of a most material life to have room for excitement at the ‘first glimpse of Emmanuel’s Land.’ A long attack of the disorder which is, however, rare - leads from functional to organic lesion. Under such circumstances, the sufferer will, to adduce only one instance, hire a house at Siloam, and, like the peasant of yore, pass his evening hours in howling from the roof at the torpid little town of Jebus, ‘Woe, woe to thee, Jerusalem!’ The characteristic and essence of the complaint are not only to see matters as they are not, but to force this view upon others; not only to close the eyes of body and mind to reality, but also firmly to hold that they are open, and to resent their being opened by any band, however gentle. A few limestone blocks stained with iron rust become ‘beautiful blush marble,’ because they are the remains of a synagogue at Tell Hum - which, by the bye, is not Capernaum. Men fall to shaking hands with one another, and exchange congratulations, for the all-sufficient reason that the view before them embraces the plain of Esdraelon. The melon-shaped article which roofs the greater Rock in the Noble Sanctuary becomes an ‘exquisite dome;’ and so forth unto nausea. In art, poetry, and literature generally, ‘Holy Land on the Brain’ displays itself by an exaggeration of description which distorts the original; by sentimental reminiscence; by trite quotation, more or less apposite; and sometimes by a trifle of pious fraud. Its peculiarity in the Englishman and the Anglo-American is the rapture with which it hails the discovery in some ruinous heap of some obscure Scriptural name, belonging to some site still more obscure. As it especially afflicts writers of travels and guide-books, the sober and sensible tourist in Syria and Palestine must be prepared for not a little disappointment. Finally, it is in some few patients incurable: I have known cases to which earthly happiness and residence in the Holy Land were convertible terms. It endures time and absence, affecting the afflicted one with something of that desiderium, that ‘sad and tender passion which a father nurses for the child whom he has loved and lost.’
Another advantage of the realistic treatment in the perfect cure for all such complaints is its power of turning the thoughts from the interminable vista of bygone days, and of fixing them upon the times that are, and the times to come - a process which in Syria and Palestine has been grossly neglected. Syria indeed, north of Palestine Proper, is, I have said, and I repeat it, an old country in more than one aspect virtually new. A long and a happy life is still before it, the life which shall be called into being by the appliances of a later civilisation. The ruined heaps strewed over its surface show what it has been, and enable us to look forward to what it shall be. The ‘Holy Land,’ when provided with railways and tramways, will offer the happiest blending of the ancient and the modern worlds; it will become another Egypt, with the distinct advantages of a superior climate, and far nobler races of men.
I visited the Libanus, with the half-formed fancies of finding in it a pied à terre, where reminiscence and romance, tempered by reality and retirement, might suggest inveni portum; where the side, aweary with warfare and wander, could repose in peace and comfortable ease. The idea of pitching tent for life on ‘Mount Lebanon’ - whose Raki and tobacco are of the best; whose Vino d’oro has been compared with the best; whose winter climate is likened to the charms of early English summer, and whose views are pronounced to be lovely; in a place at once near to and far from society - I must cut short the long string of imaginary excellences
- was riant in the extreme. Pleasant illusions dispelled in a week! As the physical mountain has no shade, so has the moral mountain no privacy: the tracasserie of its town and village life is dreary and monotonous as its physical aspect; broken only by a storm or an earthquake; when a murder takes place, or when a massacre is expected; when the Mount of Milk threatens to blush with blood; when its population, which, at the call of patriotism, would hide their guns and swords, are ready and willing, under the influence of party feeling, to deal death like Cyrillus, or to meet it like Hypatia. And I hasten to say that Europeans as a rule, with a few notable exceptions, set in these matters the very worst example. For the reasonable enjoyment of life, place me on Highgate’s grassy steep rather than upon Lebanon. Having learned what it is, I should far prefer the comfort of Spitalfields, the ease of the Seven Dials, and the society of Southwark.
Such was Syria under the rule of Rashid Pasha, the late Wali, or Governor-general. And as my four years in the Brazil were saddened by the presence of the fatal though glorious five years’ war with Paraguay, so my residence of nearly two years in the Holy Land, from October 1, 1869, to August 20, 1871, was at a peculiarly unfortunate time, when drought and famine combined with despotism and misrule to madden its unfortunate inhabitants.
The following pages by no means exhaust the information which I collected in Syria and Palestine. The book is an instalment respectfully offered to the public rather as a specimen of what remains to be done, than as a proof of what has been done by myself with others. Though the explorations are upon a small scale, they have all the value of novelty; and by pointing out the direction and the proper measures, they may stimulate and encourage future travellers to enlarge the field of correct topography.
An abstract of these volumes has been offered for the benefit of those who have no time for perusing anything beyond its preface. The first chapter, I repeat, in which we determined the forms and bearings of the Cedar Block, the true apex of the Libanus, was written by my wife: I have added to it a few philological notes and explanations. The second chapter contains a visit made by my friend Mr. Charles F. Tyrwhitt-Drake, and by myself, to the unknown and dangerous region called the Tulúl el Safá - Hillocks of the Safá district - a mass of volcanic cones lying east of the Damascus swamps called ‘Lakes.’ I alone am answerable for the text; whilst my fellow-traveller responds for the map of the cones, and for the plan of the far-famed cave ‘Umm Nírán.’ The third chapter (first in Vol. II.), written and illustrated under precisely the same conditions, is an exploration of the northern Anti-Libanus, a region which seems hitherto to have escaped the tourist and the traveller, and which still appears a blank of mountains upon the best of maps. The appendices which contribute so much to swell the bulk of these volumes are simply necessary: an endless succession of labour left me no time for working the matter into the text, nor perhaps would it have been advisable so to do. As the book now stands, the heterogeneous matter, much of it being the valuable contribution of friends and well-wishers, is relegated to the end, where it can most easily be found.
A few words concerning Volume II. A sudden and unexpected departure from Damascus prevented my carrying out a variety of exploration-projects, matured during a residence of twenty-three months, by collecting for them much preliminary and hearsay information. It was a great comfort under somewhat trying circumstances for me to know that these novelties would fall to the lot of one fully competent to do them justice. Mr. C.F. Tyrwhitt-Drake, who accompanied us in July 1870 to the Cedar Block, and who in March 1871 returned from England to Northern Syria, considering himself the representative of the Palestine Exploration Fund, is no common traveller. He has visited and collected in Morocco and other Moslem regions of North-western Africa; he is familiar with Egypt; and his survey of the Tih, or Desert of Wandering, made in conjunction with Mr. (now Professor) E.H. Palmer of Trinity College, Cambridge, a linguist and an Orientalist already of note, has made his name familiar to geographers. He is well acquainted with conversational Arabic; he is versed in the manners and customs of Moslem people, who respect him as a hard rider and a good shot, not to mention other weightier reasons; and he is inured to all the small hardships, the privations, and the fatigues inseparable from explorations and from gipsying over rough countries in the inner and the outer East. He has read at Cambridge, and he is practised in copying inscriptions; whilst his photographs, his drawings, and his coloured sketches speak for themselves. A diligent student of natural history, his specialty should be topographical surveying; he has an unusually keen eye for ground, and a trained judgment in determining distance, which render his compass-sketches as correct as those made by most men with the theodolite. A glance enabled him to set right Captain Wilson’s (R.E.) plan of the environs of Jerusalem, where M.C. Clermont-Ganneau, Drogman-Chancelier to the Consulat de France, and I, by chatting with the peasants, had found (April 19) in the Masháríf Hills, immediately on the right of the high road to Nablus, the true site of Scopus, which topographers had placed too far east.
I have thus spoken of Mr. Tyrwhitt-Drake as a fellow-traveller: I will not trust myself to speak of him as a friend. Suffice it to say, that during three tedious months of contending unsupported against all that falsehood and treachery could devise, he was ever ready to lend me the most valuable and energetic assistance. Those only who have been placed in a similar predicament can appreciate at its real worth the presence of a true-hearted Englishman, staunch to the backbone, inflexible in the cause of right, and equally disdainful of threats and promises. I speak with allowable enthusiasm: in this asthenic age of England and the English a physical as well as mental asthenia, which some derive from tea taking the place of ale, and which others date from the first attack of cholera – such men are rare.
My friend tells his own tale of travel in the second part of this volume, which he has entitled ‘The Northern Slopes of Lebanon,’ and the ‘´Alah, or Highland of Syria.’ The latter is an absolute gain to geography, as the road lay through a region hitherto marked on our maps ‘Great Syrian Desert.’ The limestone ruins in the Jebel el Zowi were explored and described by the Count de Vogüé; but the basaltic remains in the extensive and once populous plain lying to the north-east and the south-east of Hamah have been visited, sketched, and portrayed, for the first time, I believe, by my friend.
[FN#1] My last appointment had been at Santos, São Paulo, the Brazil.
[FN#2] The French company (L’Administration des Phares) of Constantinople must administer to advantage, must make money, even at Carmel. Whilst a ship, say of 740 tons, pays 8l. for lightage-fees up the English Channel to Liverpool, the same vessel going the usual Mediterranean round of Papayanni & Co.’s steamers expends 30l., or 3l. 10s. at each port. For Gibraltar light a vessel contributes 2s.; at Bayrut she is mulcted 370 piastres, or within a few pence of 3l.
[FN#3] The Druzes and the Lebanon, by George Washington Chasseaud. London, Bentley, 1855.
CARTOGRAPHIC AND OTHER NOTES ON THE WATERSHED OF THE BA’ALBAK PLAIN, ON THE ‘CEDAR BLOCK,’ AND ON THE NORTHERN LIBANUS.
I ARRIVED on December 31, 1869 - why will not travellers be less chary of their dates? - at Damascus, where a bare-walled whitewashed cottage had been hired, and where the usual troubles of settling ourselves awaited me. Everything was to be done: the tenement wanted ‘cleaning’ and repairing; the stables and outhouses required additions which were often reconstructions; servants were to be engaged; horses and asses were to be bought. I found myself face to face with the difficulties of Arabic; of strange weights and measures, of new ideas; of outlandish manners and customs, which took me back half-a-dozen centuries, and which made me feel six times farther away from home than when living in Brazil. The hardest trial of all was to feel that every soul had a deep design upon my purse, from the little lad who stole my kitten for a khamsah (5 farthings) to the gray-headed dragoman who wore two medals presented to him by her Majesty’s government, and who would rather mulct me in a piastre (2½d.) than not mulct me at all. However, there was a certain amount of so-called ‘society;’ a few visits were to be exchanged with the little European colony, almost all consular, missionary, medical, and educational; whilst many and long were the visitations from and to all Haríms - we here drop the ‘harem’ - who wished to enjoy an emancipation of a few hours, and the pleasant ride up to our green little village. At times also some relative or friend from the distant fatherland dropped down upon us like manna from the skies; and the result was a rapid fleeting of time, with long rides into the country, minute inspection of the bazaars, and solemn interviews with white-bearded Abú Antiká (father of antiquities) and other vendors of rococo and bric-à-brac.
Briefly, these every-day cares tasked me at Damascus for some three months; and it was early April (5, 1870) before I could find leisure for a holiday excursion to Palmyra. We returned after the seventeenth day, delighted with our ‘outing,’ despite all manner of small troubles. I may here quote the short account of my trial trip, which found its way into the home papers: such sketches, drawn from Nature upon the spot, often have a freshness of local colouring and a perspective of events which drawings finished in the study notably want.
Damascus, May 7, 1870.
Perhaps the welcome intelligence that the road to Tadmor or Palmyra is now open to European travellers may procure a place for these lines in your columns.
Until the present time, a traveller visiting Syria, perhaps expressly to see Tadmor, after having been kept for months in hopes, had to return as he came. Only the rich could hope at all, as it was necessary to hire a large Bedawin escort; for which even 6000 fr. and more have been demanded. Add to this the difficulties, hardships, and dangers of the journey. I allude to the heat of the arid desert, to chances of attack, to want of water, and to long forced marches by night, and hiding by day, thus seeing literally nothing of the country. Another drawback was the customary halt of two days at a place to see which so much had been sacrificed, and where twelve or fifteen could be well spent. Thus Tadmor, except to a few English travellers, has been totally excluded from the Oriental tour.
For more than a generation the Porte has deliberated about establishing a cordon militaire, extending from Damascus, viâ Jayrud, Karyatayn, Palmyra, and Sokhnah, to Dayr on the Euphrates. The wells were to be commanded by block houses, and the road to be cleared by movable columns; and thus the plundering Bedawin, who refuse allegiance to the Sultan, would be kept perforce in the Dau or Desert between the off-sets of Anti-Libanus and the fertile plains of Nejd. This project - for which M. Denouville hopes and fears in his charming little work on the Palmyrene - has at length been rescued from the fate of good intentions. Omar Bey, a Hungarian officer, with some 1000 men, is now at Karyatayn, a three days’ infantry march from Palmyra, and waits but carriage and rations to make the next move.
A certain semi-official business compelling Captain Burton to visit Karyatayn, which is within his jurisdiction, I resolved to accompany him, in the hopes of pushing on to Palmyra. In this enterprise I was warmly seconded by the Vicomte de Perrochel, a French traveller and author, who has twice visited Damascus with the hope of reaching Tadmor, and M. Ionine, the Russian consul for Damascus. We were mounted upon horses, and were wrongly persuaded not to take riding-asses - they would have been a pleasant change on long days. We engaged an excellent dragoman, Melhem Wardi of Beyrout, six servants, a cook, twenty-eight muleteers, fourteen mules and twenty-eight donkeys to carry baggage, tents, provisions, and barley for horses. These were escorted by one officer and two privates of irregular cavalry.
On the second day, Da’as Agha, a noted sabre, chief of Jayrud, and commanding one hundred and fifty lances, joined us with ten of his men. He still looks forward to military employment; and it will be surprising if they do not utilise such a capable man. The Wali or Governor-general Rashid Pasha, his agent Holo Pasha, the Mushir or Field-marshal commanding in Syria, and other high officers, lent us their aid. On our fifth day, when we arrived at Karyatayn, Omar Bey gave us a cordial welcome, and placed at our disposal eighty bayonets and twenty-five sabres, commanded by two officers. We arrived at Palmyra only on the eighth day, as we diverged hither and thither to see and examine the country; but we rode back to Damascus at a hand gallop in four.
Nothing can be more simple than the geography of the country traversed. We crossed one small divide between the Marj, or Damascus Plain, and the extensive valley which, under a multitude of names, runs nearly straight up north-eastward to Palmyra. After leaving Karyatayn, however, we went by the Baghdad or eastern road, called Darb el Basir from the Basir well and ruin; and we returned by the Darb el Sultani, the main or direct road, with a slight digression to the Ayn el Wu’ul (Spring of the Ibex Antelopes). At no season is water wanting. The seventeen camels hired by us at Karyatayn were a complete waste of money. This is always supposing that the traveller rides in two days from Karyatayn to Palmyra, and that he camps for the night at the Ayn el Wu’ul, in order to water his animals on arriving and in the morning before starting, there being no other supply between the two villages.
Everything that we saw in the shape of Bedawin ran away from the hundred and five men who formed our escort. A ghazu or war-party of two thousand would not have attacked us; and thirty Englishmen, mounted on good horses and armed with breechloaders and revolvers, could, I believe, sweep the whole desert from end to end.
Murray’s Handbook requires much reform. The plan of Palmyra is not only defective, but erroneous: the author visited it perhaps under the old difficult conditions. Travelling by night would have deceived him as to distance – which he makes twenty, instead of fifteen, hours - and a constant feeling of insecurity as to attack would have enhanced many fanciful difficulties. A Bedawi shaykh can guarantee only from his friends; he cannot protect from inimical tribes; whereas we had the advantage of being independent.
If you ask me whether Palmyra be worth the trouble, I will reply Yes and No. No, if you merely go and come, especially after the splendours of Ba’albak; not for the broken Grand Colonnade, nor for the Temple of the Sun (the fredaine of a Roman emperor). Yes, if you would examine the site, the neighbourhood, and the old Palmyrene tomb-towers, which here represent the Pyramids. But who can pretend to do this in two days? We could not in five: it requires twelve or thirteen, at least. The site is very interesting. Of Palmyra, as of Paestum, we may say:
‘She stands between the mountains and the sea’
of desert, whose ships are camels, whose yachts are high-bred mares, and whose cock-boats are mules and asses. She lies on the threshold of the mountains, which the wild cavalry cannot scour as they do the level waste. The water is detestable, the climate unhealthy - all of us suffered more or less - and the people are ugly, dirty, poor, ragged, and ophthalmic. Let those who follow us encamp amongst the trees, a threshing-floor near three palms, close by the fountain; not near to and east of the Grand Colonnade, as did our muleteers, for the benefit of being at the side of a favourite well.
Yet it will not be difficult to revive old Tadmor. When there shall be protection for life and property, a large tract can be placed under cultivation. We found, by excavation, an old rain-cistern. Even the aqueducts may be repaired; and food need not be brought, as now, from Homs and Hamah, a four days’ march.
There are three tomb-towers, which still may yield results. The people call them Kasr el Zaynah (Pretty Palace), Kasr el Azbá (Palace of the Maiden), and Kasr el Arus (Palace of the Bride). Explorers, however, must bring ropes and hooks, ladders which will reach 60 to 80 feet, planks to bridge over broken staircases, and a stout crowbar. We had none of these things. I have little doubt that the upper stories still contain mummies, tesserae, and other curiosities. We made sundry excavations; but we lacked implements, and our stay was not long enough for good results.
The march from Damascus to Palmyra may be done, as we did on return, in four days, by strong people well mounted. The first is from Damascus to Jayrud, or better still, `Utnah, a village half an hour beyond. The second to Karyatayn is a long day, i.e. nine hours of hand gallop, or fourteen of walking. At Karyatayn an escort is necessary, and would always be granted on receipt of an order from head-quarters. Those who have no camels must camp for that night three hours out of the direct road, by Ayn el Wu’ul, the before-mentioned well in the mountains. Those carrying water can proceed by a more direct road, viâ a ruin in the desert called Kasr el Hayr, which looks like a chapel, and near the remains of an aqueduct. They must choose between three hours’ extra ride and the expense and slowness of camels. These two last days from Karyatayn to Palmyra may be done with twenty-four hours of camel-walking, thirteen of horse-walking, or with twelve of dromedary or hand gallop. However, my experience is, that we usually started at 6.30 or 7 A.M., and encamped after having been out twelve or thirteen hours; but this included breakfast and halts, sometimes to inspect figures, real or imaginary, in the distance; sometimes a ‘spurt’ after a gazelle or a wild boar . May is the height of the season; and the traveller need not fear to encounter, as we did, ice and snow and alternate siroccos and furious sou’-westers. This year has been a phenomenon. I expect many friends to follow my example; and I am ready to give ampler details to all who ask for them. - I remain, sir, &c.
The whole of May and a considerable part of June were spent at Damascus. Although we had a house on the highest ground, in the Sálihiyyah or northern suburb, the heat became intense, stifling. Between the solstice and the autumnal equinox all the English, and most of the Europeans, exchange the fetid City of the Caliphs for a villeggiatura; some contenting themselves with El Hámah, the first station on the French road to Beyrout; others pushing to Rasheyyá, on the western slopes of Hermon, distant two short days. The quarters belonging to Mr. Consul-general Wood, C.B., and kindly lent by him to the English consulate, are at B’ludán, a little village near Zebedáni,[FN#l] about twenty-seven indirect miles to the northwest of Damascus: fast riding will cover the distance in four hours; whereas mules take ten, and camels rarely arrive there before the second day.
The duty of a consular officer in Syria is to scour the country as often as possible, to see men and matters with his own eyes, and personally to investigate cases which are brought before him at head-quarters in such disguise that all except the truth appears. My husband’s presence being required at Ba’albak in July, I gladly embraced the opportunity of visiting the far-famed ruins. We were accompanied by Messrs. Palmer and Tyrwhitt-Drake the former employed by the Ordnance Survey of the peninsula of Sinai, and subsequently by the Palestine Exploration Fund; and the latter travelling at his own expense, to investigate the natural history of Palestine, partly aided by the University of .Cambridge. After hard work, and harder living, with not a few anxieties and risks on Mount Sinai, in the Badiyat el Tih, or Desert of the Wandering[FN#2] and at Petra and its ill-famed vicinity, these gentlemen were resting themselves by a run through Northern Syria and Palestine.[FN#3] It was settled amongst us that we should do a little geography, and determine once for all the disputed point
-the apex of the Libanus range.
As will presently appear, the best and most modern maps of Syria and Palestine[FN#4] that Europe has produced display unexpected inaccuracies; and even the hydrographic charts, though they give the coast-lines correctly, are by no means equally happy in the parts of the Libanus which they include. Looking at the position of Palmyra,[FN#5] to give no other instance, I may fearlessly assert that the present state of Syrian cartography is less satisfactory than the topography of the Brazilian ‘Sertāo,’ and that the Anti-Libanus has not yet been so correctly traced as the Andes. The survey of the Holy Land lately proposed in the United States, as well as in England, will find novelties enough, and will smooth the way for the archaeologist, the mineralogist, and the technologist. At present ‘The Mountain,’ as men call it, is scientifically almost unexplored; and to a careful observer every trip of a few days produces something new. During his rides my husband has found in various parts, where they were least expected, deposits of lignite and of true coal, and extensive strata of bituminous schists and limestones, leading down to the finest bitumen or asphalt (hummar), the ‘slime’ of Holy Writ, quaintly called by our ancestors ‘Jew’s pitch.’ So far from being confined, as has been popularly stated, to the valley of the Upper Jordan, this semi-mineral exists almost everywhere in the Howára or chalk formation, alternating with the Jurassic limestone: hence its origin in the Lacus Asphaltites, where it is degraded from the cretaceous matrix, and not, as the ancients declared, found floating upon the waters.[FN#6] Mineral springs, especially sulphureous, chalybeate, and aluminous, are common; magnetic, specular, and pyritic ores, with hydrates of iron, abound, and copper is found in its native state. The coarse sandstone formations which crop out of the barren gray fields of secondary limestone[FN#7] often contain, as the landslips (∝°∏Τ…) near Kufayr and Jezzin show, remains
of stone pine-forests (P. Pinea and Halepensis), rich in semi-mineralised Dammar, locally called Sandarús and Alfúnah; in alum and in sulphur, with other pyrites. The Hermon Mountain and the Anti-Libanus range produce two plants, both called Zalluá (⊆⇔ℑ). They are
famed for tonics like the once well-known and now neglected Chob Chini, or Chinese Orris. The hills behind B’ludán are grown after snow time with a kind of rhubarb;[FN#8] the root is used medicinally by the peasantry, and the stalks which appear in spring are made, especially at Ba’albak, into sherbet; they are also seasoned with salt, like salad, or boiled and eaten with sugar as amongst ourselves. Rhubarb, it will be remembered, became an edible throughout England only in the latter part of the last century, and, like tea, it found at first but little favour.
The route from B’ludán to Ba’albak lies up the Zebedání Valley to the Jisr el Rummánah – ‘of the Pomegranate’ - a common one-arched Saracenic affair, of which Mr. Porter (Murray’s Handbook, 526) makes a ‘Roman bridge, showing that we are in the line of the old Roman road from Damascus to Ba’albak.’[FN#9] There are in this neighbourhood the ruins of two temples or Nymphaea, of a necropolis, and of three towns, which point out the line with less uncertainty. We then crossed the Saradah stream, and zigzag’d up the right bank of the Yahfúfah Valley to the village which contains the sepulchre of Nabí Shays[FN#10] (Seth, the son of Adam). It is of the common Moslem pattern, raised upon two steps of masonry. The faithful have located almost all the Adamical and Noachian patriarchs around Damascus, which gave, according to some, the handful of red clay, ‘the origin and true earth,’ for the material part of our first father. Others prefer the Ager Damascenus, a bow-shot from Hebron, the city ‘built seven years before Zoan in Egypt,’ and claiming precedence over Damascus, although writers will call the latter the ‘most ancient city in the world.’ Adam is buried, some declare, in the Muna Valley near Meccah; others say that his head is under Calvary, and his feet under the Hebron mosque;[FN#11] Eve’s tomb is undoubtedly at Jeddah, yet the hill-side (Jebel Arba’ín) where Cain slew Abel lies hard behind our house in the Sálihíyah suburb. Here an iron-riveted slope of the hardest limestone looks from afar as if a torrent of oxidised blood had poured down it to the foot of the white building known as the Arba’ín Rijál (the Forty Martyrs).[FN#12] Cain’s last home is on the hideous rim of the Aden crater; Abel’s looks down from its red cliff upon the cool green valley of the Damascus river near Súk Wady Barada. Seth enjoys a bird’s-eye view of the Coelesyrian vale; the sepulchre of Ham is a few furlongs to the east; whilst Noah reposes at Karak (the Ruin), near the Mu’allakah or suburb of Zahlah: here also is the tomb of the Sáhib el Zamán, alias Hezekiah, who heals the aguish. The stature of these patriarchs prodigiously varied: whilst Seth is a Cyclops 100 feet long, and whilst Nabi Nuh (Noah) measures 104 ft. 10 in. by 8 ft. 8 in. in width, and 3 ft. 3 in. in depth, his son Nabi Ham, a deplorable pigmy - size being here carefully proportioned to religious merit - covers only 9 ft. 6 in. between the head-stone and the footstone, in fact he was only as long as his father was broad.[FN#13] I am sure of these measurements; they were confirmed to me by our friends Mr. and Mrs. Rattray over a cup of tea at Kh’raybah.
Before leaving Damascus, Captain Burton applied to the Gove[r]nor-general of Syria for official permission to clear away the hideous Saracenic wall which, pierced for a wicket, masks the smaller temple of Ba’albak, called of Jupiter or of the Sun. This was a step preparatory to levelling the interior, and to under-pinning the falling keystone of the noble portal. I have before related how our good intentions were foiled, and there is no objection to the story being repeated here.
You were so kind as to insert a letter from me last May concerning ‘Tadmor in the Wilderness,’ and I shall feel glad if you find a pendent letter about Ba’albak, its rival in the traveller’s interest, worthy of a similar favour. Many of your readers have visited or intend to visit its magnificent ruins - gigantic remains which Rome herself cannot show - and they will be thankful for the information which my five days under canvas in the midst of its temples enable me to give them.
For some months past my husband has been making interest with Rashid Pasha, the Wali, or Governor- general of Syria, to take certain precautionary steps for the conservation of old Heliopolis. In the early Saracenic times the temple, or rather temples, had been built up into a fort; whence, as at Palmyra, they are still known to the Arabs as El Kala’ah (the Castle). Of late years the moat has been planted with poplars, dry walls have divided it into garden plots; and thus the visitor can neither walk round the building, nor enjoy the admirable proportions, the vast length of line, and the massive grandeur of the exterior. Similarly, the small outlying circular temple called Barbárat el Atíkah (La Sainte Barbe) has been choked by wretched hovels. The worst, however, of all the Saracenic additions are - first, a capping of stone converting into a ‘Burj’ (tower) the south-eastern anta or wing of the smaller temple dedicated to the Sun, and popularly known as that of Jupiter; second, a large dead wall with a hole for an entrance, through which travellers must creep, thrown up to mask the vestibule and the great portal of the same building. Inside it there has been a vast accumulation of débris and rubbish; a portion was removed for the visit of H.R.H. the Crown Prince of Prussia in 1869, but the whole area wants clearing. Finally, nothing has been done to arrest the fall of the celebrated key-stone in the soffit, which began to slip about 1759; which falls lower with every slight earthquake (we had one at 6.15 P.M. on June 24, 1870), and which, if left unsupported, will bring down with it the other five monoliths of the lintel and sides; thus destroying one of, if not the grandest of ancient entrances the world can show.
On July 21 we left B’ludán, accompanied by Messrs. Drake and Parmel, who were finishing with a tour through Palestine their hard work and harder times in the ‘Tih’ and the mountains of Sinai. We were very happy to have the society of these gentlemen as far as the cedars of Lebanon, and we only regretted that the journey was so short. Rashid Pasha sent from Damascus Mr. Barker, chief civil engineer to the government of Syria, whose duty it was to undertake the actual work.
After examining the Saracenic capping of large stones overlying the south-eastern anta of ‘Jupiter,’ and which seems to crush down the cornice and to exfoliate the columns at the joints, it was judged inadvisable to remove them. The cornice, broken in two places, inclines slightly outwards, whilst the stones are disposed exactly over the centre of gravity, and serve to diminish the thrust: we therefore left with regret this hideous addition, this bonnet de nuit, which must now be regarded as a necessary evil. I may here remark for the benefit of your general readers, that no one can form an idea of the size of the stones used for building Heliopolis unless they have seen them. The three famous ones, measuring 64 ft., 63 ft. 8 in., and 63 ft. long, each 13 ft. in height and breadth, and raised to a height of 20 ft. or more, take away one’s breath, and compel one to sit before them, only to be more and more puzzled by thinking how very superior in stone-lifting and transporting the Pagans must have been to us Christians of 1870.
The first work was to demolish the ignoble eastern masking wall. At an interview with the local authorities it was agreed that they should supply labour, on condition of being allowed to carry off the building material. During our stay of five days the upper part of the barbarous screen had been removed, much to the benefit of the temple, and it was a great excitement to the small population of the village of Ba’albak to see the huge masses of stone coming down with a thud.
We intended next to expose, by clearing away the rubbish-heap at the proper entrance, the alt-reliefs extending on both sides of the great portal. Lastly, we had planned to underpin the falling keystone with a porphyry shaft, of which there are several in the Jami el Kabir, or chief mosque. The prop was to be as thin as possible, so as not to hide the grand old eagle, emblem of Ba’al, the Sun-god, which occupies the lower surface of the middle soffit stone.
Unhappily, Mr. Barker, immediately on beginning work, was summoned to Damascus by Rashid Pasha, who, after having kindly offered to carry out the improvements, changed his mind suddenly, inexplicably, à la Turque. He objected to the worthless building material being given away - the why will not interest your readers. The English nation would have spent hundreds of pounds in such a cause, and we could have done it with pence; but you cannot succeed in making an Oriental brain understand that a few piastres in the pocket are not a greater glory than saving these splendid antiquities. The indolent Eastern will only shrug his shoulders and call you a Majnun - a madman - and if he can put a spoke in your wheel, well, it might give him an emotion, and he will not neglect his opportunity. So Mr. Barker was kept doing nothing at head-quarters, hardly ever admitted to the ‘presence,’ and after short, rare visits uncourteously dismissed. I am always sorry to see an Englishman in ‘native’ employment, and if Mr. Barker had not been born at Aleppo, and knew anything of England, he would be sorry too. About the end of August he was ordered to lay out a road between Tripoli and Hamah; not a carriage road, but a mere mule path, which half a dozen Fellahs and donkey-boys could have done as well as the best of civil engineers. Thus poor Ba’albak has been again abandoned to the decay and desolation of the last fourteen centuries. We do not despair, however, of carrying out our views, and we can only hope that when his Excellency has finished his goat-track he will lend help to the cause of science. Perhaps he would, if he could understand how much all civilised people will care about this our undertaking, and how abundantly patronising such a cause would redound to the credit of Constantinople.
I hope that my friends who visit Ba’albak will let this letter supplement ‘Murray,’ and by all means prefer to the latter the plan of the ruins given by Joanne et Isambert, as that in ‘Murray’ is very poor.
The temples are doubtless the main attraction, but they are not everything, at Heliopolis. A day may well be devoted to the following programme. Walk up the hill to the south-east of the Kala’ah, examining the remains of the western wall, about the gate now called ‘Bawwábat Doris,’ or ‘El Sirr.’ Visit the rock tombs and sepulchral caves, the remains of the small temple and Doric columns, and the Saracen ‘Kubbat,’ or dome, under which lies Melek el Amjad, of the Seljukian dynasty. From this high point the view of the ruins and of the valley is really charming. Descend to the nearest Maklah (quarries), and measure - as every one does, with different results - the Hajar el Hablah, or ‘pregnant stone,’ as the huge unfinished block is called. Our measurement was 70 ft. long, 14 ft. 2 in. high, and 13 ft. 11 in. broad. It was doubtless cut and prepared for building, but not detached from the quarry at one end; and the extraordinary sight makes you exclaim, ‘Something must have frightened them away before they had time to carry it off.’ Ride to the ‘Kubbat Doris,’ so named from a neighbouring village; its eight columns of fine granite have doubtless been removed from the classic building. Thence proceed to the other quarries north of the temples. After some six indirect miles nearly due west (279° magnetic) of the ruins, you strike the sources of the Litani, or river of Tyre, and of the Asi (Orontes), which rise at the eastern foot of the Lebanon outliers, within one short mile of each other. Concerning these matters, however, Captain Burton will communicate with the Royal Geographical Society. On the way you can enter the tents of the Turkomans, who, though wandering about Syria since the days of the Crusader, have preserved, like their neighbours the Nuwar (gipsies), their ancestral language and customs. From the sources turn to the north-east, and see the ‘Kamu’a Iyad,’ named from a neighbouring village; evidently a memorial column like that of Alilamus, still standing at Palmyra. Thence across the north-eastern quarries, cut in steps like the Egyptian, to the eastern wall of Ba’albak. This must be carefully examined, and its difference from that of Tadmor, a succession of mausolea, should be duly noted.
Most travellers will now gladly return to their tents. If unwilling to spend a second day, they will remount about 2 P.M., and follow up to its source the little mountain torrent Ayn Lujuj. If the weather be not too cold, they can descend the Najmah, or shaft, explore the tunnel with magnesium wire, and extend the subterranean journey as far as the iron door reported by the natives. We found the prospect peculiarly uninviting. Retracing your steps down the wady, and visiting the tombs of the feudal house of Harfush, you strike the valley of the Ba’albak waters at the source known as the Ra’as el Ayn. This is by far the quietest and the prettiest spot for pitching tents, but most people prefer, as we did, for convenience to encamp among the ruins. Examine the two mosques, the larger built by the Melek el As’ad, son of the celebrated Melek el Zahir, and the smaller, ‘Jami’ el Melawiyah,’ dating, as the inscription shows, from A.H. 670, and erected by the Melek el Zahir himself. Those who have spare time might try a little digging in the mortuary caverns which riddle the soft chalky cliff on the proper left of the river valley. Even at Ba’albak little has been done in the way of fouilles. The general visitor stays one day, and, after looking at the temples, goes on his way rejoicing that he has ‘done’ his Ba’albak. M. Achille Joyeau, a young French artist, and grand prix de Rome, who, employed by his government, spent some months in measuring and modelling the temples, seems to have made a cross-cut on the south of the remaining six columns which mark the great temples of Ba’al. There has, however, been no work on a grand scale, and I am convinced that excavation would produce valuable results. Lastly, as the sun is sinking behind the giant wall in front, you pass down the valley of the Ra’as el Ayn to the tents or house, and you thus end the supplementary ride.
In fine weather nothing can be more delightful than this excursion. The clear, crisp, pure air at an elevation of 3000 feet above sea level; the abundance of water ‘more splendid than glass;’ the variety, the novelty, and the glorious associations of the view; the sublime aspect of the ruins crowning the fertile valley, and backed by the eternal mountains; the manifold contrasts of stony brown range, barren yellow flat, luxuriant verdure of irrigated field and orchard; and last, not least, the ermined shoulders of Hermon, Sannin, and Arz Libnan (the Cedar Block) thrown out into such relief by the diaphanous blue sky that they seem to be within cannot-shot - if these things will not satisfy a traveller’s taste, I don’t know what will.
ISABEL BURTON. B’ludán, near Damascus, Sept. 20, 1870.
And the following note addressed by Mr. C.F. Tyrwhitt-Drake to the Editor of the Times will prove that during the year which elapsed since our visit the evil has rapidly increased.
Sir, - Allow me through your columns to plead for the ruins of Ba’albak.
After an interval of fourteen months I have revisited them, and was astonished to see how much damage had been done in that time, chiefly by frost and rain, especially to the seven columns of the great temple.
The third pillar from the east is in a very bad state; its base is undermined northwards to a depth of three feet: some five or six feet of the lower stone have flaked away in large pieces, and the stones are generally scaling.
The cornice above No. 3 and No. 4 is cracked midway between the columns, and as the stone is crumbling, it seems in great danger of falling.
A large mass at the north-west corner of the square base supporting the western column has been broken by frost, and the column now overhangs thirteen inches.
All the columns have been more or less undermined by the natives, who thus endanger them for the sake of the metal clamps worth a few piastres; and unless something is done, these fine columns will soon have fallen.
A few iron bands round the columns connected by bars, and a little careful underpinning, would doubtless preserve them for many years, and I have no doubt that permission to do this would readily be obtained from the new Wali of Syria, whom all speak of as an honourable and intelligent man.
Could not a subscription be made in England – I believe 40l. or 50l. would suffice – and would not some architect or civil engineer, intending to visit Palestine during the ensuring tourist season, volunteer to stay a few days and see the thing done? I fear that if it be not set about within a year, it will be too late.
CHAS. F. TYRWHITT-DRAKE. Damascus, Nov. 20, 1871.
The Governor-general afterwards denied having summoned our friend Mr. Barker, C.E., and then declared that he did not know what his chief engineer was doing. I soon learned the full significancy of this petty trick, worthy of the school which produced the two bans of Turkey, Fuad and Ali Pasha, the late grand vizier. No foreigner, and especially no consul, must leave his mark upon the land unless he pay liberally for permission to benefit it. A similar neglect of the duty of bribery and corruption occurred to a French traveller at Rhodes. The Giaour, furnished with a Firman permitting him to carry off an inscribed stone, calls upon the Pasha, who is all consent, and who sends his aide-de-camp as an escort of honour, and to collect the corvée. The stone is found freshly broken in two. The Frenchman storms, but after cooling down proceeds to carry off the pieces. ‘Nenni,’ objects the aide-decamp; ‘the Firman says stone, not stones.’ Monsieur complains excitedly to the Pasha, who threatens there and then to cut off the aide-de-camp’s head. The Frenchman, reassured, at once returns to his stones, but finds that all have been removed during the audience. Drop-scene: the Pasha threatening to decapitate the whole population, who smile with intense appreciation of the joke; whilst the French-man, with torn hair and wringing hands, vanishes into space.
The valley-plain of Ba’albak (Sahlat Ba’albak), people term it, is popularly but erroneously called by modern travellers El Buká’a,[FN#14] of which it is the northern prolongation. The Buká’a and the Sahlat are simply parts of a great depression between the once single range which at present is parted into the Libanus and the Anti-Libanus. It is a fissure formerly deep and gorge-like, as may still be seen in the lower course of the Litání. The latter in geological ages was doubtless the main drain of the Buká’a, when the secular uprise of the latter discharged the waters into the sea. Since that epoch the valley-sole has been raised and levelled by successive strata of moraine swept down from the west, especially about the Sahlat, by modern conglomerates, and by humus still forming. It heads the Ghor,[FN#15] the well-known Jordanic line of erosion; and the ‘Eyes of the land,’ the three main centres of depression shown upon the whole line, are the Waters of Merom, in a country almost purely basaltic; the Lake of Tiberias, about which the igneous alternates with the sedimentary formation, and the Dead Sea, where the trap completely disappears. When Van de Velde asserts (ii. 466) that the Buká’a throughout its entire length exhibits an unbroken chain of volcanic formations, he should have limited his ‘bare and simple fact’ to the fissure stretching southward from a little north of Rasheyyá, and to the northern section of the Sahlat Ba’albak, lying chiefly upon the left bank of the Orontes River. The eruption is evidently of more ancient date than those which formed the Druze Mountain (Jebel Durúz Haurán), with its adjuncts the Lejá, the Safá, and the northern and southern Tulúl el Safá. The water which fed the eruptions was contained in the Coelesyrian Valley proper, and it lay there till within the historic age;[FN#16] the focus of explosion is the Birkat el Rám, or Tank of the High Place, lying on the southern slope of Mount Hermon. The Rev. Mr. Tristram (The Natural History of the Bible, p. 22; London, Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1868) describes it as a ‘circular fathomless pool.’ Mr. Tyrwhitt-Drake and my husband, on May 18, 1871, made a boat out of a table-leaf and four air-filled water-skins, and found the maximum of the centre, beyond the thick line of vegetation (Astero-phyllum Spicatum?) which clothes the shallows, to be seventeen feet and a half, with a temperature of 68° F. In the Buká’a proper, at the section traversed by the modern French carriage road, the traces of depressions are distinctly visible in the uptilting of the outlying eastern buttresses, which enclose a valley of a higher plane, bounded farther east by the western slopes of the Anti-Libanus. About the village of Kafr Zabad these white-faced heaps of conglomerate are uptilted eastward at an angle of 35° to 45°; whereas the opposite sides of the Anti-Libanus show highly but irregularly contorted strata.
By the moderns the valley is known as El Buká’a el ‘Aziz, in order to distinguish it from other Buká’as,[FN#17] especially from El Buká’a near Salt, eastward of the Jordan, whose forty-five miles of the richest meadow land also appear to represent the now dried-up bed of a lake drained by the Zerka or Jabbok to the Jordan. The ‘Beloved,’ or the ‘Precious,’ is divided into two districts, both under the government of Damascus. The Buká’a el Sharki (Oriental Buká’a), which contains three-fourths of the whole, but which is not so well watered as the other quarter, extends from the Kariyah village to Kafr Zabad: it is sometimes called par excellence ‘El Buká’a.’ The Buká’a el Gharbi (Occidental Buká’a) is bounded northwards by Karak and Barr Iliyás, the little Moslem villages close to and north of the French road; southwards by Lusáh and Maydún; eastwards by the Litání River; and westwards by the unhappy village of Bawárísh and by the Khan Murayját. It clings, in fact, to the eastern flanks of the Central Libanus. This ‘Valley of Lebanon,’ as Hebrew writers know it, must not therefore in modern days be made synonymous with ‘Coelesyria,’ the name which Macedonian conquests gave to the 80 miles between N. lat. 33° 20’ and N. lat. 34° 40’; whilst the Romans extended it to the Damascene and to the Peraea or Trans-Jordanic Palestine.
The aspect of the Buká’a proper much resembles the fair lowlands of southern England, whilst the finest views ‘of the Mountain’ suggest those of Spain and Portugal. It is a Vega green even in mid-summer, with trees and herbage and queer misshapen fields where water reaches. The redness of the sides is not from the vineyards, but from the oxide of iron, the rust of the decomposed Jurassic lime, dating with the lower secondary, which enriches the ground. It is not ‘smooth as a lake,’ but undulating in gentle land-waves, whose depressions are formed by the sundry little river valleys. It abounds in settlements and hamlets, which are said to number 137; the greater, which are of high antiquity, usually hug the hill folds, where they can more easily defend themselves against the campaign and the razzia. The little villages, which here and there affect the centre, are of mud hovels built upon dwarf mounds, the débris of ages; whilst the material is a dark clay brick, contrasting with the limestone material of the hill hamlets: in this point the view suggests Egypt, and a single steam-engine and sundry haycocks which have lately appeared add to the resemblance. The hill settlements apparently prefer the neighbourhood of the white chalky Howára, which, after the basalt, forms the best of vineyards. The population must have been even thicker in classical days: on the eastern side we still trace two important cities, Chalcis ad Libanum (Anjar)[FN#18] and Gerrha (Mejdel Anjar), within cannon-shot of each other. The climate, despite an average altitude of 2500 feet, is rich in fevers as the soil is exuberant in fertility, and no European resident upon the low-lands can hope to escape repeated attacks. What little of beauty it has is essentially that of contrast, a smiling valley red and rich green parting two blocks of mountains barren, brown, and yellow. Here the Libanus is essentially never picturesque except by moonlight, or when its snow-capped summits gleam through storm-cloud rack above and mist-wreath below. There is even less to be admired in the northern projecting tongue of Ba’albak and in the Safet Block, which, dwarfed by distance, bounds the view to the south.
Beyond Ba’albak the Coelesyrian Vale breaks into rough parallel ridges and becomes comparatively sterile, the result of deficient water, a want extending from that parallel throughout the northern head of the Libanus and the Anti-Libanus. Here also appear scatters of stones, showing subterranean and igneous action. South of Jubb Jenin the fissure is composed of four distinct meridional depressions, beginning from Jebel el Shaykh (Hermon) to the east, and abutting westward upon the Tau’amát Nihá or Mashgharah (the Twins of the Nihá or the Mashgharah village). These are - 1st, the Wady el Yábis, the northern extremity of the Wady Taym[FN#19] and the uppermost water parting of the Jordan, which separates the Hermon from the Jebel el Minshár, or ridge upon which Rasheyyá town lies; 2d, the Wady el Arís and Marjat el Sh’maysah in a lateral range, where basalt outcrops; 3d, the well-known gorge of the Litání, with its natural bridge and its Khatwah or ‘step across,’ visited by every traveller; and 4th, the Maydún depression, lying at the eastern foot of the Libanus.
The people of Ba’albak correctly say that their town lies ‘Al ‘el mizán (upon the balance); that is to say, it occupies the flattened crest of the versant which discharges to the north and south; thus the plain lying east of Sanúr is declared to ‘drink its own water.’ The streamlet formed by the Ra’as el Ayn or Ba’albak fountain is absolutely without water-shed, though bounded immediately to the right and to the left - north and south - by the two great river systems of Coelesyria.
On July 26th the travellers proceeded to examine the spot where lie the true sources of the Litání and the Orontes. And here I may premise, that in Syria and Palestine generally, great influents have ever since historic ages been confounded with sources; whilst the latter are those represented by the most copious, not by the most distant fountains. Moreover, Wasserschieds, versants and river-valleys were and are universally neglected, if, as often happens, the young spring is drawn off for irrigation: this will especially appear at the head of the Upper Jordan. Hence we have the historical, which is still the popular, opposed to the geographical or scientific source. Again, in highly important streams like the Jordan, the historical may be differently placed by the Hebrews, the classics, and the Arabs. Finally, there is often a mythical or fabulous source, like the cave near Afka, which forms the Orontes; the Jurah or sink, in the hill-range called Zebadání, which sends forth the Barada of Damascus; and the Lake Phiala (Birkat el Rám), which Josephus made the highest water of the Jordan.
A slow walk of two hours led through some forty to fifty Turkoman tents, where the women, habited in the normal green and red, were making butter, by swinging a skinful of milk supported by a triangle. Part of the way was over ground which carried a good turf. It is called Marjat el Sahn, and it is owned by the little Fellah-village Haush Baradah.[FN#20] After covering some six indirect and five direct geographical miles, Fáris Rufáil, the guide, informed the travellers that they had reached the Tell Barada. This mound, bearing 279° (Mag.) from the north-west angle of the great temple of Ba’al above the Trilithon, is one of the many tumuli, artificial and natural, which are dotted over the plain. They generally affect the vicinity of a source or a pool, and some of them may have upheld forts to protect the precious element. Upon its western flank appears an inscriptionless sarcophagus of white limestone.[FN#21] The surface material is invariably an ashen-gray débris, comminuted and often powdery, remarkably contrasting with the red soil about it. It much resembles Mr. White of Selborne’s ‘black malm,’ which he describes to be a ‘warm forward crumbling loam, saturated with vegetable and animal matter.’ It is essentially ‘rotten,’ and it runs down in streams like water when pierced with shaft or gallery. The country folk, who use this material for compost to their plots of vegetables and tobacco, all know that it shows signs of ancient building. We found it well defined in the old Sayyaghah (gold and silver smiths’ quarter) at Damascus, Palmyra, and Ba’albak. It may be useful in tracing out the limits of immense cities like Tyre and Sidon; but the ground about the ruins of smaller settlements - for instance, Fákah near Rasheyyá, and Sardánah near Banyás - has been ploughed over till no traces of the gray matter remain, and the rains assist to remove it, especially if it lies upon a slope.
A few yards to the north-west of the mound is the true source of the Litání, a muddy unclean pool, without perceptible current during the dries; an oval, whose longer diameter was about 100 feet in July. It is treeless but rush-fringed, like most of these northern waters, and, as usual, it abounds in small fish and large leeches, which may seriously injure man and beast. The low grassy land about it (Marjat el Baradah) is flooded in winter; during the summer, a hole sunk three or four feet deep readily strikes the water, which percolates from the uplands. Hence the place is much affected by the nomad Turkomans, and the cavalry horses are here sent by the military authorities for spring grazing. South of the line drawn through 279° (Mag.) the fountains of the valley plain, such as the Naba’ el Na’na’ (mint spring), and sundry minor supplies, shed southwards, feeding, when they do not sink, the Litání river. At the source the aneroid gave an altitude of 3595 feet, Ba’albak itself standing at 3847.
Here the upper part of the river of Tyre is called El Baradah, and must not be confounded with the Barada or Chrysoröos (Abana?) of Damascus. Mr. Hughes’s map (No. III.) derives the latter from the north-west of the Litání, and boldly leads it up and down the southern heights of the Anti-Libanus. This change of name in the upper course - almost invariably the case with rivers, valleys, and plains in this country - accounts for the error of Dr. Robinson (iii. 143), who, when going from Zahlah to Ba’albak, did not find the Litání, which he must have crossed, and who makes its fountain the streamlet of the Anjar Valley. This Ghuzayyil (⇐ℑ∠ water is simply a large influent, gushing plentifully from the limestone
rock at the western base of the Anti-Libanus, and flowing through a lateral valley of a higher plane than the Buká’a, till it forms in the latter what classical geographers call the river of Chalcis. The traveller on the French road sees the stream on his left, immediately before striking the Khán el Masna’ (Station de la Citerne), at the western jaw of the Wady el Harír (the Valley of Silk), an article of Damascus manufacture here often plundered in days gone by.
But nothing will excuse a scholarly writer like Dr. Robinson, in speaking (iii. 344) of the river Litání as the ancient Leontes.[FN#22] Of course, guide-books and tourists cling to their Leontes. Murray (375) informs us that ‘the name Lanteh or Litâny, which Arab geographers have always given to this river, is unquestionably an Arab form of Leontes.’ Another error about the stream occurs in the same page, where the lower course is translated ‘El Kásimiyah, the “Divider,” because it separates the lands of Sidon and Safet, or from the name of some distinguished chief.’ The fact is, that Kásimiyah is a common term in Syria for a village situated near a Maksam (⇒Τ⋅⇑), or place of parting, where a road forks or a leat is
taken from a stream. And this is precisely the case near the bridge which spans the river above its debouchure. The only ‘distinguished chief’ connected with it is the Shaykh Kásim, a Shiïte saint, whose ruinous domed tomb lies near the left bank.
From the Ayn el Baradah the travellers walked a short mile northward, over a shallow and partially cultivated wave of ground separating the Litáni pool-source from the true head of the Orontes. This spring, called Naba’ el ‘Illá (ζ⊂), issues from the foot of a gray Tell,
bearing from above the Trilithon 287° 30' (Mag.). The trickling source, forming a rushy ditch, supplies, they say, excellent water; and on the left bank are two clumps and small fields, especially of cucumbers. The many streams of the valley-plains north of the rhumb before mentioned, such as the Naba’ Haush el Zahab, the Naba’ Haush Tell Safiyyah, and the Naba’ el Kaddus, the largest of the springs, feed the Orontes.
The two sources are separated by a mere ground wave;[FN#23] they lie on the lowest level of the Ba’albak plane, which falls from east to west with a long gentle slope; whilst two distinct river-valleys, running north and south, have been formed by the erosion of the twin streams. The depression is disposed along the eastern base of the Libanus, which is here marked by two buttress-like outliers of ruddy surface: the Tell Mughur el Saídah (Caves of the Virgin?) bears north-west (Mag.) and the Tell Jabú’a due west (Mag.) from the southern or Litání source.
Maps C and D, which, being on a larger scale, might be expected to show the positions correctly, have failed the most. C places the Haush Baradah, a little village, near the true source of the Baradah, alias Litání; but it brings the latter from fourteen direct miles to the north. D prolongs the stream fifteen miles north, and both throw it across the watershed of the Orontes. Berghaus (No. I.), whose Anti-Libanus is a marvel of incorrectness, makes the ‘Quell-see des Leontes’ a pool, apparently following Burckhardt; but he places it to the southwest, whereas it lies west, of Ba’albak. Mr. Hughes (No. III.) is also correct about the pool-source; but he has, I have shown, confounded the Baradah and the Barada of Damascus. Dr. Robinson (No. IV.) ignores the Haush Baradah and the Naba’ el ‘Illá. The rest seem simply to have drawn a frayed ribbon by way of mountain, and to have derived from the fringings certain cobweb lines meaning rivers.
The Orontes or Axios[FN#24] has fared no better. C and D bring it from the north-east of the Yunín village, and about ten miles east-north-east of its proper position. Mr. Hughes (No. III.) makes it rise near the hamlet of Lebwah (the lioness),[FN#25] which boasts of a fine fountain; its three sources are divided into five leats of high and low levels, all feeding the Orontes, except the easternmost spring. The latter is said once to have watered Palmyra; but we could not trace it beyond El Ká’ah. At Lebwah the Orontes Valley, which we saw to the westward as we travelled above it, is already deeply cut and well defined; the popular name is El Majarr, or the Place of Draught. Travellers and consequently maps the more easily confound influents with source, as after heavy rains all the gorges discharge surface water. The word Wady[FN#26] is usually translated by us ‘valley,’ instead of Fiumara or Nullah: nothing, in fact, is less like our English valley than a Syrian Wady: the former word would be more fitly Arabised by Sahlah or Watá. The Wady, almost all the year round, is a winding broken line of bleached and glaring white, of lamp-black or of brown-gray rock faced with slime-crusted and water-worn pebbles, and scattered over with large angular stones. It becomes a storm-brook or rain-torrent; a raging, foaming, muddy débâcle, which for a few days or hours dashes the boulders together, hurries down tree-trunks, and is certain death to man or beast that would cross it. Few travel in Palestine during the hot season; and we saw the country at a time when the real and perennial river-sources are best shown.
Although Pliny (v. 19) expressly tells us that the Orontes takes its rise near Heliopolis (Bá’albak), its origin has suffered perversion in books as well as in maps. Abulfeda derives it from the Ra’as Bá’albak, one of its minor influents. Mr. Porter (Five Years in Damascus, p. 315, 2d edit.; repeated in Murray, 541) makes the Lebwah fountain the ‘highest source of the Orontes.’ Mr. W. A. Barker (Journal of London Geographical Society, vii. of 1837, p. 99) follows the still popular opinion, and derives it from the eastern foot of Libanus, under the caverned hill known as Dayr Már Márun (Convent of Saint Maro): yet in the same page he mentions the small spring from Lebwah, which, after flowing several hours through the plain, falls into a basin, whence rises the Orontes.
This Dayr Már Márun, well known to travellers, is a mere summer-place hewn in the rocks, like the Laurae of modern Coptic fraternities; in fact, a Chaitya or Church-cave, as opposed to a built Vihara or monastery; and from the hands of the holy men it passed into those of bandits, rebels, and goatherds. The true convent, the old head-quarters and cradle of the once heretic sect, which is still remembered as the ‘Maradat Jebel Libnán’ - the contumacious of Mount Lebanon - is now the site of Khán Rastan (σΦℜℵ), vulgarly
pronounced Restan. As late as A.D. 1745 the ‘ruins of a very large convent’ were here noticed by Pococke; it lay upon the right bank of the Orontes, and it supplied materials for a huge fortified caravanserai, which also is rapidly falling to decay. Rastan[FN#27] is the Arethusa of Seleucus Nicator, whose King Sampsiceramus (Shams el Karam, the Sun of Generosity?) was conquered by Pompey. Though fortified, provisioned, and strongly garrisoned, it was easily taken by Abu ‘Ubaydah and his men in boxes. But if the Laura does not deserve its title of Dayr, nothing can be more charming than the view which it commands over the deep and tree-lined gorge below - nothing more refreshing to the eye than the gushes of liquid crystal pumping out of the living rock into basins shady with tender-leaved planes and strongly-scented wild vines; nothing, in Palestine at least, more memorable than the succession of huge arteries worked as if by hydraulic pressure, and at once forming with their blue waters a river some sixty feet wide, brawling down the rocky and tortuous conglomerate bed. I could not wonder that the imaginative Hellenes made its beauties the scene of a marvel; and although the Ayn el Zarka (the Blue Spring), and the Naba’ el Asi, its more copious neighbour, are not the true fountains, they are at least the main sources. They seem to explain the two rocks from which, according to Nero’s travelling captains, the vast force of the river Nile issued forth.[FN#28]
Three reasons are given for the epithet ‘El Asi,’ or the Rebel. Popularly, the injurious term alludes to the belief that the Orontes never faces the Ka’abah, flowing north, contrary to the rule of all waters in Coelesyria: hence, according to Pococke (chap. xii.), it is also called by some the Makloub - El Maklúb, or the Inverted. Abulfeda (Syria, p. 149) makes its rebellion consist in refusing water for the fields, unless compelled by the Na’úrah, or mighty box-wheels - one of them, El Mohammediyyah, is said to be forty metres in diameter - which travellers going northwards see at Hamah for the first time. I am disposed, however, to agree with Volney (p. 155, ii. English translation) and many others that the Rebel is so named from the swiftness, the windings, and the turbulence of its upper stream. All who have forded it will carry away the same impression: the least curious about what the wild waves are saying might ask:
‘Qual diverrà quel fiume Nel suo cammino Se al fonte si vicino E tumido cosi?’
It is a rebel to the last; the gusts of the Asi gorge, where it falls into the Gulf of Antioch, are, as sailors well know, fierce, furious, and unmanageable as are the head-waters.
We inspected the Christian villages Ra’as Ba’albak and El Ká’ah, where the Coelesyrian valley becomes unusually barren, and presently flares out into the rolling ground-waves - often divided by valleys so deep, that from a short distance the rider will fail to catch sight of them -stretching from the northernmost block of the Anti-Libanus to Hasyah, Sadad, and Hums (Emesa). After crossing the Jádah[FN#29] westwards and south-westwards, we made for the Wady Fárih. This distinctly-marked lateral gorge, which has a namesake in the ‘Eastern Mountain,’ separates the barren crest of the highest Libanus - whose two southern prolongations are the gray walls of Jebel Sannín and Jebel Kafr Salwán, ‘of the Siloam Village’ - from its eastern outliers; the latter, a distinctly-marked lumpy mass, is called the Sha’arat Ba’albak, in order to separate it from a similar extension to the north known as the Sha’arat ‘Akkár. The surface of reddish humus, dotted over with trees, explains its name, the ‘hairy,’ popularly applied to such features.[FN#30] The undergrowth is mostly of Suwwayd (the little black), not unlike our black-thorn, and of Unnayb (the little grape), a bilberry (vaccinium), whose gratefully acid currant-like fruit is here used for pickles. The trees are the Sindiyán (Quercus pseudo-coccifera), vulgarly termed ilex, or native oak, and forming an extensive scrub; the Mallúl, another kind of oak, whose wood does not decay in water; here and there a Ballút, or cocciferous oak, which upon these heights produces the ‘Afs or gall-nut; the Za’arur (a hawthorn); the Kaykab or maple; the wild pear and almond; the arbutus and the Butm, or terebinth.[FN#31] The principal growth is the Lizzáb, a juniper[FN#32] with blue berries, of which only one specimen was seen upon the valley plain. Its foliage, though not the bole, from afar resembles cypress; hence Van de Velde (ii. 475) terms these juniper barrens ‘cypress groves.’ The tree is nowhere so plentiful as upon the northern half of the Anti-Libanus, though it has been well-nigh extirpated from the southern parts.
Neither C nor D has any trace of this important Sha’arah. The former, however, calls the outliers a ‘girdle of trees and brushwood;’ the latter, ‘plateau boisé,’ whereas it is everywhere a slope. Dr. Robinson (iii. appendix, 183) mentions ‘on the northern declivity of Lebanon a tract, El Sha’arah, which is a forest generally infested by robbers.’ Wady Fárih is still celebrated in local tale and legend as the scene of conflicts between the Turkish Pashas and the turbulent feudal family of Harfush - a snake now scotched. He should not, however, have called it a forest, as does Mr. Porter (2d edit. p. 314). The only places in Syria and Palestine where I have seen anything worthy the name even of a wood are between Hasbeyyá and Kufayr, and about Kafr Shobah - all settlements upon the western slopes of the Hermon. For a few rods the head is in the shade, and the foot treads upon fallen leaves, a pleasing reminiscence of the far north. Tabor on its western side, and parts of Jebel Ajlún, are still tolerably tree-clad; but the former is a mass of craggy limestone, and short sharp earth-slopes, from which the ilexes grow like pines; and the latter has no charcoal market. Dr. Robinson
(iii. 172) calls such growths ‘orchards of oaks’ (Quercus œgilops); and American travellers often compare the Sindiyán with their apple-trees. When Tancred or the New Crusade and Five Years in Damascus were written, Syria and Palestine appear to have been far better wooded than they are now. About Kunayterah, and in the Jaydúr district south of the Hermon, for instance, many such groves and woods have of late years completely disappeared.
We all remarked that the unmade road up the ‘Glad Fiumara’ (Wady Fárih), with its natural metal, was the best yet seen in the ‘Holy Land;’ and this afterwards proved to be the rule. Near the head of the course, where the trend was 2600, we found a succession of shallow swallow-holes, sinks or punch-bowls - hollows all without watershed – bone-dry at this season, but showing a pale green tint amongst the browns and yellows. After five hours of slow riding, a descent of thirty minutes placed us in an oval basin, bounded on the east by the ‘Sha’arah’ outliers of the Jurd el Gharbi, or Western High-lands - a term presently to be explained - and west by what we afterwards called the ‘Cedar Block.’ The latter is here faced eastwards by a sharp slope with sundry slides. In places it is not impracticable; but now and then the natural macadam appears almost too loose for a safe footing. Looking up from this basin, it is difficult to determine which point of the Libanus is the highest. The north-eastern head, a buttress known as ‘Jebel ‘Uyún Urghush,’ being the nearest, appeared to rise a little above its fellows; whereas, afterwards seen from the true apex, from Mount Sannin, from the Hermon, and from the northern Anti-Libanus, it proved itself to be of secondary importance.
The basin merits attention. It is known as the ‘Wady ‘Uyún Urghush,’ which, as His Eminence the Maronite patriarch afterwards informed us, is a corrupted translation from the Greek ‘Eyes of Argus.’ The name is explained by the number of little sources rushing, bubbling, and springing from the stony feet of hills, often as if a pipe or a conduit had just been broken: the valley is said to water 15,000 goats and sheep per diem. Examining it narrowly, we found that although D drains it to Orontes it has absolutely no slope, being subtended on all sides by higher ground. C is more correct, showing this phenomenon in several places. We passed two sinks, into which the streamlets, bending sharp round in a loop, disappear, absorbed by the bowels of the earth, leaving, as if in a filter, superficial brown scum. Here, for the first time, we could account for the multitude of bright runnels which, cleared and refined through the huge strainer of mountains, everywhere in Coelesyria – ‘a land of brooks and fountains that spring out of valleys’ - gush quick from the stony edgings of the highlands, whose upper reservoirs are hidden from the sight.
These reservoirs form an important feature in the two Libani and the Hermon, together with the adjoining uplands; they are unnoticed by traveller or tourist, and I saw them for the first time on this excursion. The natives call them, when large, ‘Júrah,’[FN#33] meaning a hollow or sunken plain: it is opposed to Marj, a flat timberless meadow, and to Ghutah (Εβ∠),[FN#34] a green and well-watered lowland with the addition of trees. When there is a
distinct swallow, the name is ‘Bálú’ah’ (Ε⊂⇔°±), meaning literally a deglutator, such as a house-sink, or sewer for offal, a sun-crack, or a whirlpool: the word is particularly applied to what the Bedawin call El Hazúzah (Ε∪∪≡), a stony hill rising from a circlet of sand so fine and loose that, like the dry Syrtis of Hazramaut, it swallows up man and beast. I am informed that
it lies at a distance of four days’ dromedary march from Roman Bostra (Nova Trajana), in the Eastern Hauran. The third kind is the large crateriform depression in the limestone surface called Tallájah (Ε≡°ν×), because it acts as ice, or rather snow, house.
In all three types the action is the same, and the cause is evidently that very common phenomenon in limestone countries, a fault in the strata. Similarly the waters of Lough Mask do not pass into Lough Corrib by surface channels, but by underground chasms and rock arches. The inflow is generally down a gentle slope of humus, towards a wall of calcareous rock that shows perpendicular fractures above the surface, doubtless continued below. In some of them there is a funnel-shaped hole, which remains open during the dry season, and an alpen-stock can probe it, often returning wet. The only rule that could be laid down by us concerning these reservoirs was, the more stony the land the more frequent the sink. They vary in size from a yard to 250 yards in length, and each mountain block seems to preserve some characteristic Júrah: these will be noticed as we sight them.
From the ‘Eyes of Argus’ we rode in one hour and forty-five minutes down the Wady el Nusúr (of the Vultures), a common name in these highlands, where the birds are supposed to affect particular springs. An especially vile bridle-path placed us before sunset upon the highway for the crowd that crosses the Cedar Pass from west to east, and that strikes Ba’albak viâ the summer village ‘Aynátá (°×°ρ⊂). This word is given in C, ‘Ainat;’ in D, ‘Ain Aaata;’ in
Mr. Barker and his editor’s paper, ‘’Aïn-net-e’ (is the man writing Chinese?), or ‘the forthcoming spring,’ and ‘Aïnete (perhaps Aïn Atá, i.e. gift spring);’ Murray (540) finally gives ‘Ain ‘Ata: erroneous all. It is simply the Arabised form of the Hebrew Anathoth (Josh.
xxi. 18, &c.), except that the latter is in the plural.[FN#36] From our camping ground, under a walnut clump on the eastern slope of the Wady separating the bare and barren dorsal spine of the Libanus from its lower heights and its Sha’arah outliers, we could see, distant about one hour and thirty minutes’ ride to the south-west, and apparently draining northern Sannín, El Yammúnah, the blue sink resembling a mountain-tarn. Van de Velde (ii. 476) calls it ‘the small Lake Lemone or Yemone;’ travelling dragomans prefer Birkat Yammúnah, which would mean ‘tank-tarn.’ Yamm in Syriac, as in Hebrew and Arabic, is the deep, the great sea; Yammúnah, its diminutive, a lake or tarn - synonymous, in fact, with the modern and popular Buhayrah (≥ℵϖΛ±), diminutive of Bahr.[FN#37] Near this lakelet is the intermittent spring
called Ayn el Arba’in, because it appears annually on March 9 (new style), the Maronite festival of the Forty Martyrs.[FN#38] Similar features are El Mambaj, near the Bayt Jann village at the eastern foot of Hermon, the well-known Pool of Siloam, and the Bir Sittná Maryam (the Virgin’s Well) below Jerusalem.
On Friday, July 29, we zigzagged up the mountain whose sloping crest forms the Cedar Pass (Zahr el Kazíb, (∆ϖΖ⋅). The path is fitly termed a ‘rod’ or ‘switch;’ it is an ugly narrow track, where a false step would insure a roll of some hundred feet. The time occupied was one hour and thirty minutes, and the general direction magnetic north. At the first turn the thermometer showed 58° F., but the mercury was still falling, and might perhaps have reached 45° F. The height of the Cedar Col was made by aneroid 7700 feet.
A few minutes more led to the Col; and the panorama of the little but most interesting Syrian world, at once so central and so isolated, viewed from this summit, amply repaid my labour. All but the foreground showed blue, bluer, and bluest; darkest in the nearer ravines, palest upon the horizon. Looking westward, where now ‘a mournful and solitary silence prevails along the coast which had so long resounded with the world’s debate,’ there was a fine perspective of mountain chain running north and south, with lateral offsets of craggy hill-ridge, broken by ca¶on and wady, ravine and gorge, all trending towards one common object
- the profundity of shore and sea. Most remarkable here was the noble amphitheatre, which we called the Cedar-basin: it is precisely the Arco[FN#38] of the Portuguese, and I had already studied its shape in the great Curral das Freiras at Madeira. The latter, however, wants the Valley of Saints,
‘A ca¶on so cleft asunder By sabre-stroke in the young world’s prime, It looked as if broken by bolts of thunder Riven and driven by turbulent Time.’
Inland, the whole of the Coelesyrian Vale lay map-like under my eyes: the Hermon Mont running athwart the southern limit, with more of Easting than the Anti-Libanus; and the latter sinking into the upland plain about Katana, into the Ager Damascenus or Padan-Aram, and into the dreary tracts of desert extending far as the Euphrates. From afar off we could distinguish the lay of the waters of Merom, heading the huge and unique fissure which is bisected by the rapid Jordan till it expires in the bitter waters of the Asphaltite Lake. The whole formed an epitome of Syria and Palestine, which have been said to epitomise the habitable world. Here we saw at a glance all the gradations of climate, from the tropical to the polar. We were viewing from Alpine heights the plains of the temperate zone, falling into the torrid about Tiberias. Our range embraced every form of ground, coast-scenery and inland, volcanic and sedimental, mountain and hill, fertile plain, rich valley and garden- land, oasis and desert, rock and precipice, fountain and spring sweet and mineral, river, rivulet, and torrent, swamp and lakelet and sea. There were all varieties of vegetation, from the mushroom to the truffle; from liquorice to rhubarb and sumach; from the daisy, the buttercup, and the bilberry, to the mulberry, the grape-vine, and the fig; from the pine, the walnut, and the potato, to the palm, the plantain, and the jujube. A fair range of products - coal, bitumen (Judaicum), and lignite, iron, copper, and pyrites, with perhaps other metals still unexplored - lies beneath its surface, expecting the vivifying touch of modern science; whilst its gypsum, syenite, porphyry, pudding-stone, and building-material have been worked since the dawn of history. Thus the country was directly fitted for the three chief forms of human society - the pastoral, the agricultural, and the commercial, represented by the tent, the cottage, and the city on the shore. In its palmy days the land must in many places have appeared to be one continuous town; whilst even at the present time there is no country of proportional area which can show so many and such contrasts of races. Syria and Palestine, I may safely prophesy, still await the hour when, the home of a free, a striving, and an energetic people, it will again pour forth corn and oil, it will flow with milk and honey, and it will ‘bear, with proper culture, almost all the good things that have been given to man.’ Such also was the abode of the Peruvian Yncas; but, physically speaking, the latter was nobler far, as the Andes are to the Libanus.
Whilst I descended the sister-slope winding to the Cedars, the rest of the party struck off to the north-east. The surface was strewed with pierced and drilled, with ribbed and pointed calcareous stone, the horizontal striae being regular, and the transverse irregular - a form remarked by Mr. Tyrwhitt Drake in the Valley of the Tih and about Sinai. The alternate and excessive contraction and expansion, the work of frost and thaw, of sun and storm, of exceptional siccity and of extreme dampness, have cracked, split, and broken up the stone into cubes, which farther degrade into flakes and fragments nearly flat. This is the normal revetment of the Syrian Jurd or highlands. The shingle, which somewhat resembles the burnt shale used to metal park-roads in Lancashire, should not, however, be called ‘gravel,’ with Mr. Porter (304, 2d edition); nor must this sign of contemporary glacial action be confounded with that of the true Frozen Age, as shown by the polishing, the grooving, and the rasping of the rocks above the cave whence issues the principal lower influent, called Source, of the Nahr el Kalb (Lycus River). The yellow interstitial soil which also underlies this natural macadam is swollen and puffed up, especially after rains and thaws; and finally the solar rays loosen and crumble it, rendering the surface easy to man and beast. When walking, the mountaineers always prefer it to the stones, and those who value their boots will do well to imitate the native example. The round-topped hills of the limestone formation, which look not a little like old contour-drawings in maps, are so easy and regular, that one can ride without dismounting to the very summits of the Libanus, the Anti-Libanus, and the Hermon; whilst everywhere goat-paths streak the highlands. In fact, the only decent roads in Syria and Palestine, except that of the French Company from Bayrut to Damascus, and not excepting the Turkish Sultani (king’s highway) from Jaffa to Jerusalem, and the ridiculous ‘carrossable’ from Iskanderun (Alexandretta) to Aleppo, are the nature-metalled Fiumaras and mountain slopes. Those of the Anti-Libanus are perhaps superior to all others: up many of them a carriage-and-four might be driven.
Skirting a mamelon on the left, the travellers followed a knife-board ridge; its long lean flanks sloped gradually on the right (east) to the Wady el Nusúr on our road of yesterday; whilst sharp slides, and in places sheer precipices, fell westwards to the Cedar Valley, whose great drain, the Wady Kadishah, first showed its fine and bold proportions. This immense amphitheatre is undoubtedly the most characteristic feature of the Libanus. After one hour and twenty-five minutes of walking from the col, they halted upon a rounded summit called by Fáris Rufáil, Ra’as Zahr el Kazíb, the Head or Hill of the Rod-back, to which the zigzag from the ‘Aynátá Valley is compared. The thermometer showed 53° Fahr., the barometer 20·980, and the aneroid 20·870. Thus the Rod-back would be one of the three highest peaks of the Libanus, and measure 10,077 feet in altitude.
Then, leaving their horses in a sheltered hollow, they struck to the N.N.E., and after a stiff pull of thirty minutes, they stood upon Jebel Muskíyyah (Εϖϕℜ⇑), here often pronounced Mushkiyyah and Mishkiyyah. The term may be a corruption from El Maskiyy, the saturated or the soaked. In the maps it is not noticed even by name; and Mr. Tyrwhitt-Drake, on a
subsequent visit, found the people calling it Naba’ el Sh’maylah (the Northerly Spring). Van de Velde, however (ii. 476), assigns to Jebel Muskiyyah an altitude of full 10,000 feet. Here the hypsometer gave absurd results: unfortunately, air had been left in the tube, the column of mercury had split, and being too fine and thread-like, it could not be reunited. This sudden failure of instruments is always a severe trial to the traveller’s temper. He should, before buying ‘B.P.s,’ carefully ascertain that the glass tube has been exhausted of air, in which case the quicksilver moves freely to and fro. Throughout these countries also he must not forget spirits of wine, as the common ‘Raki’ will not burn.[FN#40]
From Jebel Muskiyyah various compass-bearings were taken to places laid down on the maps. The northern apex of the Anti-Libanus bore 102°, a little south of east, whilst the Ra’as el Nuríyyah (Εℵρ⇔↓), upon the seaboard, was north of west (291°). This point is
erroneously called in A, Ra’as ash Shakeh (Theoprosopon),[FN#41] and in B, Cape Madonna. It lies about nine miles south of Tarabulus (Tripoli), and it is accurately given by Murray according to the hydrographic charts. I may here mention the difficulty to which travellers in these mountains are ever subject. The Wadys and the water-courses, like the wells, are known by name to everybody; but none save the goatherds see any use in applying specific terms to peaks and heights which they never visit. Consequently it often happens that an interesting and peculiar feature will be included under some general term, to the great detriment of maps. A committee of Ma’áz, or goatherds, is absolutely necessary, if the hills of Unexplored Syria are to be correctly named.
At this point the travellers left their guide and attendants, who showed signs of ‘caving in.’ Descending the northern slope of the Muskíyyah, walking along a dorsum occupied by moles - what can they find to eat there? - and bending north-east (47° Mag.), they mounted another eminence, which, as often happens, appeared to be of greater height. The aneroid, however, showed the same as before, and still 100 feet above the Ra’as Zahr el Kazíb. This apex is called by the people Jebel Makmal (οπλ⇑); and the villagers of ‘Assál el Ward have a
tradition that the ‘Perfect Mountain’ contains a pit into which men have fallen. Seen in profile from the Anti-Libanus, it is rendered remarkable at this season by its long snow-line sloping to the north.
Amongst the angles taken from the Makmal was one to the Jebel Fumm (or Famm) el Mizáb, 286°. This headland forms a bluff upon the northern rim of the Cedar Valley, and it derives its name, ‘Mouth of the Funnel’ or ‘Spout,’[FN#42] from a gutter-like water-course which opens upon the semicircle below. The people corrupt the term to ‘Tum el Mezíb.’ In Syrian Arabic f and t are interchangeable, like d and z ( and ↵), s and sh -the latter a
confusion old as the days of sibboleth and shibboleth. The ‘Fumm’ is popularly supposed to be the highest point of all the Libanus; whereas the eye, looking from the east, sees that it is not. Mr. Henry A. de Forest (Van de Velde, ii. 495) made by aneroid ‘FÖm el Mîzâb’ ‘just 9000 feet, or say 600 less than Major Von Wildenbruck found some years since with his barometer;’ and that officer had placed it only 100 feet or so below ‘Dh¼hr el K¼dhîb’ (Zahr el Kazíb).
The next was a longer stretch of an hour and a half in a general direction of 15° (Mag.), but with many windings, chiefly to the west. Descending the slope of a little strath, the travellers found. long narrow strips of snow disposed upon the levels, and upon the faces exposed to the south, whence the cold wind comes. Since the days of the Evangelists (Luke
xii. 55) it is known that in the lowlands of Syria when the south wind blows, people say there will be heat: here, however, the reverse is the rule. In the Buká’a, as in western England, the south wind is essentially rainy, being probably a deflection from the west and the south-west caused by the mountain funnels. North, again, about the plains of Hamah, it becomes the warm wind.
These névés are called Manásif el Talj[FN#43] by the people, who, curious to say, have no name for the avalanche; yet the latter is frequent, and does much damage amongst the mountain villages. They were found hard and icy only at the edges, where the soppy ground was puffed-up and swollen; the surface was not too soft for the tread; at the lower end, however, all formed a nearly upright wall, eight to ten feet high. Each névé was footed by a distinct moraine of large and small blocks, which were the worst of walking ground, and through the stone field trickled at the lowest level runnels of water set free by the sun - miniature copies of the impassable torrents which issue from the immense glaciers of the north. After flowing for a few yards into and down the valley, the streamlets disappeared in pits; some mere wells, not a little resembling the air-holes called ‘Najmah’ of the Kanáts, or under-ground aqueducts, common from Damascus through Sind and Afghanistan to Western India, whilst others measured forty feet across: a few were evidently artificial, the many were natural. This is the characteristic Júrah or sink of the Cedar Block. It is found also on the western flank of the Hermon, above the Ayn el Jarníyyah, its solitary fountain; and three sunken holes occurring close together may be observed on the Arazí el Ghayzah, the rolling upland plain south-west of Assál el Ward.
The locusts, which in 1870 had ravaged the plains, left their scattered wings all around the névés. The birds were mostly larks, and of these chiefly the spur-lark. A small collection was made of the Flora, which is here excessively stunted by wind and frost, and it was deposited by Mr. E.H. Palmer with Professor Babington of Cambridge. Since that time Mr.
W. Carruthers of the British Museum has kindly undertaken to name them.
Of all growths the most remarkable was the thorn, called in different parts of the country Billán, Tabbán, Atát, and Kibkáb, which forms large green prickly beds, shaped like giant mushrooms, pincushions, and pillows, with a contrast of small tender-coloured and delicately-shaped flowers profusely scattered over its spiny surface. This growth is nowhere more monstrous than over the upper slopes of the Hermon; and in places it stands up as if raised by a stem from the ground. It makes a hot and sudden blaze like the Quebra panella of Brazil, and the guides frequently amuse themselves with giving to the mountains the semblance of volcanoes.
A steep ascent of thick Tabbán, and a long névé with a bend to the right, placed the travellers upon the summit of the third apex. It was called by one goatherd Karn Saudá (the Black Horn); by another, Jebel Akkár, evidently the general name of the northern range; and Jebel Timárun by the father of the schoolmasters at Nabk and Yabrúd. The thermometer showed 75° F., and the aneroid now proved a descent of 0.30 from Jebels Zahr el Kazíb, Muskíyyah, and Makmal; whilst a second visit by Mr. Tyrwhitt-Drake gave it an altitude of 9175 ft. Northward the mountains, denuded of snow by the hot breath of the north, fell in folds towards the river-valley of the Eleutherus (Nahr el Kabir), the northern boundary of the Libanus, separating it from the Jebel Kalbíyyah of the Nusayri race. From this elevation it became evident that neither the Fumm el Mizáb (as the people said), nor the Jebel ‘Uyún Urghush (as we had supposed) was entitled to hold up its head with the highest. Unfortunately for farther observation, the sea-clouds, which in the forenoon had flecked and mottled the horizon, gradually stealing an inch deep of sky, began about midday impudently to seethe up and to invest the mountains, which at 3 P.M. were obscured by drizzle and Scotch mist. The travellers congratulated one another upon finding themselves at home in the far north. July and August are not too late for surveying the highlands; but the wind, they say, blows regularly for three days from the west, which of course gathers the clouds; during the next three, the norther and the easter sweep the firmament clean.
From Jebel Timárún the travellers had good sights to the rival Anti-Libanus. The Halímat el Kabú (bearing 111°) seemed to be, probably because the nearest, the very apex of the ‘Eastern Mountain:’ this was afterwards found not to be the case. It is remarkable for the sloping saddle-back which forms its summit, somewhat resembling the celebrated Gávia near Rio de Janeiro. By an extreme confusion the guide called it Jebel Mu’arrá[FN#44] and Jebel Kárá: these mistakes will be cleared up in Chapter III. treating of the route survey of the Anti-Libanus.
After building, by way of landmark, a ‘kákúr’ (dead man or old man) of loose stones, the travellers returned to their men and horses: happily for the people, Mr. Tyrwhitt-Drake had taken exact bearings. The cloud-fog uncommonly facilitates losing oneself; moreover, as usual in calcareous formations, the outlines are uniform and monotonous, with a family resemblance resulting from degradation, disintegration, and erosion, which everywhere exert nearly the same force. They found no sign of granite or porphyry, nor even the tertiary trap and basalt which characterise the Hermon. Neither fossils nor moulds came to hand, not even the ammonites, the snakes of St. Hilda, so common on the Tau’amát Nihá. But the limestone was of many different kinds: the Jurassic (secondary and cretaceous) formed the base; there were also in sight dolomites (magnesian limestones); lime almost crystalline, in fact nearly marble; oriental alabaster (fibrous carbonate of lime); selenite; satin spar (a variety of the same); yellowish-white gypsum in small lumps (hydrous sulphate of lime); crystals of lime (often called diamonds by the natives, and probably the ‘masses of quartz’ mentioned by Van de Velde, i. 138); columnar crystalline carbonate of lime (sometimes mistaken for gypsum); bituminous limestones, and many others. As a rule, each mountain block of any importance has its own peculiar stone. That of Jebel Sannín, for instance, is a white nodule set in a yellow ring. About Abu el Hín in the Anti-Libanus we find the limestone stratified with bright red and tawny yellow; that about Nabi Bárúh is remarkably crystalline; on the counter-slope of the Tala’at Musa it is blood-red; that of the Halímat el Kabú is variegated pink and yellow. The stone about Ra’as Rám el Kabsh is of leaf-like thinness, and a little beyond, it splits into giant cubes like Cyclopean blocks, here paving the ground, there lying moraine-like below the cliffs; now it strews the hills in large slate-like slabs of an inch thickness, then it is rough as sandstone: the ‘horse-bone’ variety is common, and the holes drilled through the stones vary from the size of a pin’s head to what would admit a man’s shoulders.
Mr. Tyrwhitt-Drake’s sketch-map of the Cedar Block shows a double line of four and three heads each, disposed north to south, with a deviation of about 35°. To the east rise the ‘Uyún Urghush, the Makmal, the Muskíyyah alias Naba’ el Sh’maylah, and the Ra’as Zahr el Kazíb; whilst the Karn Saudá or Timárun, the Fumm el Mízab, and the Zahr el Kandíl front seawards. A single reliable barometric observation, almost coinciding with the aneroid, enabled us to fix the altitude of the southern feature, Zahr el Kazíb, at 10,018 English feet, whilst the other peaks are almost upon the same plane. Thus the highest points of the Libanus are the northern: the contrary is the case in the hill country of Judaea, Mount Ebal being 2700 feet high, and Hebron 3029.[FN#45]
The people call this group Arz (ℑℵ↓) Libnán, ‘Cedar of Lebanon’ (mountain), thus preserving the Hebrew name Arz (Cedrus Libani): we followed their example in naming it the ‘Cedar Block.’ It is evidently the Mount Hor[FN#46] (Hor ha Har), which formed part of the northern Israelitic border as promised to Moses (Num. xxxiv. 7-9), before it was extended eastward by Ezekiel.[FN#47] The northern head, at whose feet flows the defining line of the Eleutherus, is, I have shown, the apex of the Libanus, and the wall droops with tolerably regular slopes and steps to the south. Here its boundaries are uncertain. Politically it ends with the Nahr el Awwali (Bostrenus river), so called because it was the first stream of Lebanon to those going northwards from Sidon: others prolong it to the Litání or River of Tyre. Geographically, there is no doubt that its southern limit is the Plain of Esdraëlon.
Volney in 1786 was therefore right in placing (i. 293) the most elevated point of all Syria ‘on Libanus, to the south-east of Tripoli:’ he gave it a theoretical altitude of 1500-1600 (French) fathoms, the computed point of perpetual congelation which Dr. Kitto here laid down at 11,000 English feet. By subsequent travellers, and especially by Dr. Robinson (iii. 440), the Cedar Block has been vaguely recognised as ‘perhaps the highest summit of the mountain.’
The names, the heights, and the shapes of this great feature are variously given by geographers and travellers. A assigns to ‘Dhahr el Khotib,’ the ‘highest summit of Libanus,’ 10,050 feet. This is repeated by the Rev. Mr. Tristram (The Natural History of the Bible, p. 1), who makes the highest peak to be ‘Dhor el Khodib, just above the famed cedars, 10,050 feet high, capped (?) with all but perpetual snow.’ The American missionaries, quoted by Dr. Wortabet in an able paper (‘The Hermon and the Physical Features of Syria and Northern Palestine,’ Journal R. Geog. Soc. No. xxxii. of 1862, pp. 100-108), represent Makmal to be the ‘highest summit of the Lebanon,’ with 9200 feet absolute altitude, or 300 feet lower than the Hermon (9500). Some write the word Makhmal, which would mean ‘velvet;’ others Mahmal, a litter, a place of carriage: Mr. Paton, however (History of the Egyptian Revolution,
i. 246), gives correctly the ‘bare peaks of Sannin and Makmal.’ D allots to ‘Jebel Makhmal’ 12,000 feet - a slight exaggeration. C places ‘Jebel Makhmal’ south of the Cedar Pass, and proposes as the ‘highest summit’ the mountain ‘Dhor el Khodib,’ which is probably the Jebel Timárún of these pages. It neglects the other great apices, the Muskiyyah, the Fumm el Mízáb, and the Jebel ‘Uyún Urghush; it does not trace the noble Cedar Valley; in fact, the map is a novelty to one who has travelled over and studied the country. D, pretending to scientific accuracy, has the proud preëminence of being the very worst. After laying down the Cedars (usually placed at 6500 feet) at the reasonable altitude of 1925 metres, he has been led by some wondrous error of triangulation into assigning 6063 metres (=18,189 English feet) to ‘Dahr el Khotib,’ which is, moreover, made the apex of ‘Dj. Makmel.’ It shows to a certain extent, but without sufficient precision, the grand development of the Cedar Valley; which, being by far the most characteristic feature, has been the most neglected by the cartographer. On the other hand, it supplies the highest levels of the Libanus with a lateral fissure, long, broad, and shedding to the north-east. Murray makes ‘J. Makhmal,’ the ‘highest summit of Lebanon,’ 10,050 feet; and accurately transcribes all the errors of the French map.
P.S. The following note upon the subject of the Ba’albak ruins lately appeared in the Builder:
Sir, - I am very glad to see that by quoting Mrs. Burton’s recent letter you have called attention to the magnificent remains of the temples at Ba’albak, and to the precarious condition of some of the most striking features in what is perhaps the most beautiful group of classic ruins in the world. As you invite comment from those who have visited them, I will, in a few words, point out what are, in my opinion, the most pressing dangers; and offer a few suggestions as to the readiest and most desirable mode of meeting them.
Those even who know Ba’albak only by pictures will remember that, occupying the most conspicuous place on the great platform, six gigantic columns, surmounted by an entablature, tower high above all others, and stand boldly out in deep golden contrast to the lilac, snow-streaked range of Lebanon. These six columns are all that remain of the fifty-four which composed the peristyle of the Great Temple. Three fell in 1759. The columns have a height of 75 feet, and a diameter of 7 feet 3 inches. It will appear hardly credible that at the present time the shafts stand on but half their diameter. The Arabs have cut away the other half to abstract the metal dowel which joined the shaft to the base. In a district often affected by earthquakes it may be imagined in what jeopardy these columns stand.
Now, with careful workmen and skilled superintendence, considerable additional security might be given to the structure. There are some good Greek masons in Damascus, but as to competent superintendence available I have no information. To act without a skilled architect would be to imperil the group. But I regard the underpinning of these columns as by far the most pressing work.
The great portal of what is called the ‘Small Temple (it is bigger than the Parthenon) next calls for attention as described in Mrs. Burton’s letter. This portal is 42 feet high by 21 feet wide, and has beautifully sculptured architraves. The dropped key of the lintel requires support, which might, I think, more readily be given by metal cramps, or by notching in stone dovetails, than by the granite shaft proposed by Mrs. Burton, which would obstruct the opening and deface the interesting sculpture on the soffit of the stone. To clear away the obstructive Arab wall, now built in between the antae, as well as the accumulated rubbish, which work seems to have been commenced by Captain Burton, is an admirable step. Except here, however, I should discountenance demolition; especially demolition paid for with the materials removed. This is a most dangerous course in such a case; and, with such people as the Arab population of the neighbourhood, not to be thought of; not a stone in the place would be safe.
In conclusion, I venture to recommend the subject of the present condition of Ba’albak to the consideration of the Institute of Architects. Their committee might probably, without great trouble, gather together whatever information or suggestions are within reach, and found thereupon some simple recommendations. If these were forwarded to Captain Burton, I do not doubt that he would value them, and turn them to account as opportunity allowed.
For my own part I am delighted to find so energetic a man taking an interest in the subject, and I heartily wish him support and success.
[FN#1] Yakut (Kitâb mu’jim el Buldan) writes Zabedaní and Ba’alabakk. The people pronounce the names Zebedáni and Ba’albak. [FN#2] May I suggest that this term, universally translated ‘Desert of the Wanderings,’ may mean with more probability the ‘Desert of the (general) Wandering,’ that is to say, where men wander and may lose their way? [FN#3] Here, and in other parts of this volume, the term ‘Syria and Palestine’ is applied to the whole country extending from El Arish to Aleppo; the warning may prevent confusion with the Syria-Palestina (e. g. Philistine-Syria) of the Greeks, in fact the Land of Israel, the To-Netr, or Terra Santa. [FN#4] The following are chiefly alluded to:
Besides the minors, viz. I. Karte von Syrien den Manen Jacotins und Burckhardt’s gewidmet. Berghaus, Gotha, Perthes, 1835. II. Carte Générale de l’Empire Ottoman. H. Kiepert, 1867. III. Syria. By W. Hughes, F.R.G.S. Printed for the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. IV. Map appended to vol. iii. of Robinson and Smith’s Biblical Researches. H. Kiepert, 1841. V. New Map of Palestine, &c. (from the Revs. E. Robinson, E. Smith, and J.L. Porter; by H. Kiepert), for Murray’s Handbook for Syria and Palestine. VI. Map of Damascus, Hauran, and the Lebanon Mountains, from personal Survey. By J.L. Porter. Five Years in Damascus. Second edition. London: Murray, 1870. VII. New Map of Palestine and the adjacent Countries. By Richard Palmer. VIII. Palästina. Von A. Petermann (the worst of all), Stieler’s Hand-Atlas. IX. Keith Johnston’s Map of Palestine, published in
1856. It has gone through five editions, each time with some corrections, the latest being in 1870. [FN#5] See Preface for the discrepancies. [FN#6] It need hardly be remarked that the Rev. Mr. Porter’s theory (Giant Cities of Bashan,
p. 264; London: Nelson, 1869) about asphalt being thrown up from the bed of the Jordan valley, and that the ‘travellers’ tales concerning the generation of bitumen in the so-called Dead Sea, recorded by Tacitus and others, are simply fabulous. The bitumen and bituminous schist are washed out of the chalk formation, especially after earthquakes. [FN#7] I find in the Recovery of Jerusalem (p. 8), that ‘the limestones about the “Holy City” are of the tertiary formation,’ when they are distinctly secondary. [FN#8] Here known as ‘Ribás,’ which properly means sorrel (rhapontic), the classical Arabic name being, ‘Răwand,’ probably borrowed from the Persian, and perverted to Rewand, and even to Ráwand. [FN#9] Like Madame Ida Pfeiffer’s ‘bridge of Roman architecture at Lycus’ (Visit to the Holy Land, p. 205). Both are as recent as the ‘Roman bridge’ at Preston. [FN#10] ‘Ab Seth,’ Father Seth, whose name is composed of the initial and terminal letters of the Hebrew alphabet. According to a writer in the Astronomical Register (Dec. 1870), this alphabet is astral. The first twelve letters, from a to l, forming the popular name of the Deity (Al, Alat, Allah, &c.), are the twelve signs of the zodiac; the rest are - 13 Eridanus, 14 Southern Fish, 15 Band of Pisces, 16 Pleiades, 17 Beta Tauri, 18 Orion, 19 Belt of Orion, 20 Delta Canis, 21 Canis Major, 22 Southern Cross. [FN#11] According to SS. Epiphanius and Ambrose the blood of the Redeemer dripped upon the tomb of the first man in token of salvation. St. Augustine finds it only reasonable that the Physician should go where the Patient lies. It is, however, an error to suppose, with Dean Stanley, that the burial of Adam’s head by Noah under Cranion or Calvary is a Christian legend only, although it may have a Christian origin. The Moslems place the ‘Makam Adam’ in the enceinte of Hebron, and St. Arculfus seems to have remarked it there. [FN#12] They are evidently borrowed by the Moslems from the Latin and Greek Churches, which still keep the feast of ‘those buried at Sebaste.’ Mostly, however, the utterly ignorant Faithful believe the Forty to have been Mohammedans who died fighting hard against crusading Christians. It is a favourite invocation: there are no less than three ‘Arba’ín’ about Damascus. [FN#13] Although this ‘grave of Noah’ is a palpable absurdity in shape and proportions, curious to say, the author of the Giant Cities of Bashan quotes it, with other silly Moslem impostures or ignorances, as ‘traditional memorials of primeval giants.’ He would see similar enormous tombs even in the Jebel Kalbiyah of the Nusayri race, where no Rephaim are said to have existed. And near Karn Kaytú Messrs. Drake and Palmer found a gondola-shaped monolithic sarcophagus thirty feet in length by seven feet in breadth, in fact a family sepulchre. Barbarians everywhere confound size, the rudest element of grandeur, with grandeur itself: Adam was our first father, consequently his head touched the skies till he was reduced to a handful of miles. Moses was a great man, ergo he was sixty feet high; yet his tomb, to the west of the Jordan be it remembered, is not more than fourteen feet in length. [FN#14] The Hebrew Bikath (t(qb), a plain as Shinar (Gen. xi. 2), or a plain between mountains, is translated by the Greeks πεδιον, and by the Latins simply campus. Some travellers have identified it with the Bikath Aven of Amos (i. 5), and have gone so far as to explain Aven by the Coptic On, the sun. Hence Heliopolis - but very doubtful. [FN#15] The Hebrew Ha Arabah, the steppe, the desert place. Araboth is applied to the plains of Jericho and Moab. [FN#16] Antiochus the Great in his war with Ptolemy was stopped by the water that had collected in the great meridional fissure, flanked by the two fortresses, Bronchi (Kabb Iliyás) and Gerrha (Majdal Anjar), which were held by the Governor of Coelesyria, Theodotus the Aetolian (Polybius, Gen. History, lib. ii. chap. 5). [FN#17] The diminutive form El Bukay’ah is also common in Syria and Palestine. [FN#18] Anjar is evidently a modern corruption of Ayn el Jurr, the proper name of a spring. The peasantry have made it the name of an ancient king. They call the ruins Husn Anjar, or Anjar el Kadim, and relate how Caliph Ali rode from Meccah and slew its Jewish ruler Malak Ankabút (the Spider). The tale suggests a Guinea Coast ‘Spider story.’ [FN#19] Mr. Porter (Five Years in Damascus, 2d edition, p. 7) makes the Plain of Marsyas correspond with the Wady Taym, including the Marj ‘Uyun (Ijon), south of the Buká’a proper. Strabo (xvi. 2) would have informed him that Chalcis (not the ruin in the Buká’a, but the place formerly known as Old Aleppo) is the ‘Acropolis, as it were, of the Marsyas,’ and that the southern boundaries were Laodicea ad Libanum (now Tell Nabi Mindoh) and the sources of the Orontes. When Polybius (ii. v.) speaks of the ‘close and narrow valley which lies between the Libanus and Anti-Libanus, and which is called the “vale of Marsyas,” he must be understood to signify that ancient Coelesyria continues the vale of Marsyas. Pococke (chap. xii.) tells us that the river Marsyas, now called the (northern) Yarmuk, falls into the Orontes near Apamea, and that the plain doubtless took its name from the stream. [FN#20] Captain Warren, R.E. (Palestine Exploration Fund, No. V. p. 189; London, Richard Bentley) translates Haush, which is also Hosh, ‘herd-fold,’ thus unduly limiting the generic patio, and so forth. [FN#21] The classical Arabic name of this article is Náús (℘°⇓), possibly from the Persian
Nawús, a Magian cemetery. The vulgar call it Jurn (a place for drying dates), properly a basin, a caldron, a large pot, also popularly applied to the monolithic lid of the Náús. In Northern Syria the favourite term is Rasad, plural Arsád. [FN#22] Strabo (xvi. 2) writes, ‘between these places [Berytus and Sidon] is the river Tamyras [the modern Dámúr] and the grove of Asclepias and Leontopolis,’ but he does not mention the river. Pliny (v. 17) also records the ‘town Leontos’ (of the lion). Ptolemy (v. xv.) places the Λεοντος ποταµου εκβολαι in N. lat 33° 5’, and E. long. 67° 30’, also between Bayrut and Sidon. This would point to one of the many Wadys or Fiumaras, especially the Nahr el Yábis, a mountain stream probably then perennial, as its modern name the ‘Dry River’ suggests and now flowing only after rain. [FN#23] A remark which I made many years ago touching the water-partings of the largest river-systems being seldom what we should expect to find them, gigantic mountain ranges, has lately been enforced by the discoveries of Mr. R.B. Shaw (Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society, vol. xv. No.3, p. 177), who reports that the great basins of Southern and of Central Asia are separated by ‘merely a few yards of level sand.’ [FN#24] According to Strabo (xvi. 2, 7) the oldest name of the stream was Typhon, from the serpent here struck with lightning. It was changed to Orontes, the name of a man who bridged it; the site is near the modern Metawili village of Hurmul. The legend of its underground course doubtless alludes to the deep and shady gorge below Mál Márín’s summer quarters. The other Greek name Αξιος is evidently the Arabic ‘Asi’ (Ξ°⊂), meaning the rebel:
Sozomeni Historia, vii. 15, quoted by Pococke, chap. xii. Mr. Hyde Clarke (on the pre-Israelite population of Palestine, &c.) has lately been developing a remarkable theory (Palestine Exploration Fund, No. II. pp. 97-100), namely, that the Canaanites spoke a Caucaso-Tibetan or Palaeogeorgian language of the earlier stage, ‘when there were several types of the same root, and when the radical letters were susceptible of permutation at will.’ The ‘river-term,’ for instance, contained the radicals d r n. In the modern Georgian and Mingrelian dinare, a river, the d and n or n and d represent water, and the r gives the idea of running. But it was indifferent to the Canaanite how he placed the letters: thus in Jordan the r is in the beginning; it is in the middle of Kedron and Orontes.
[FN#25] The modern name is sometimes pronounced Lebu. It is the Lybo or Lybon of the Antonine Itinerary, evidently derived through Arabic from the Hebrew Labi or Labiyah, ‘an old lion,’ ‘a lioness’ (supposed to be a Coptic root), whence Beth Labaoth, or Lebaoth, the house of lionesses. [FN#26] In Hebrew nachal (lxn), and in Greek χειµαρρος, storm-brook or rain-torrent. It is opposed to the Hebrew Ge (yg - for instance, Geben Hinnom) and the Arabic Fijj, a ravine praeruptum eoque neglectum. About a score of years ago, when I ventured to translate Wady by Fiumara, objections were raised to naturalising the latter term: it was local, incorrect, unintelligible. But let the traveller in Southern Italy and in Sicily declare whether the mountains are not streaked with true Wadys, and whether the latter are not called Fiumare. The incongruity of such expressions as the Brook Kedron and the Brook Cherith (Wady el Kalt) - bone-dry lines of rock - must be palpable to all who see nature as it is. [FN#27] The plan of the Greek city is admirably plain, and there is, I should say, no more promising digging-ground in North Palestine. Mr. Porter (Murray, p. 589, sub voce Rastân- Arethusa) gives ten arches to the Rastan bridge; I counted eleven and a bittock. [FN#28] ‘Ibi, inquit, vidimus duas petras ex quibus ingens vis fluminis excidebat’ (L. Annaei Senecae Nat. Quaes. lib. vi. cap. 8). [FN#29] The word Jádah (≥°÷) is here applied to flattish ground, especially opposed to
Saníyyah (Εϖρ∂), a Col or Pass. I have explained the latter to mean ‘Winding Pass’ in Pilgrimage to El Medinah and Meccah (vol. ii. p. 147, 2d edit.). Murray (p. 509) makes the road to Palmyra skirt the base of a rounded barren peak called Jebel Tinîyeh, ‘the hill of figs.’ The peak in question is the celebrated Abu ‘Asá (°Η⊂), pronounced ‘Atá, and the Pass to the east is called Darb el Saníyyah, or Road of the Col. Van de Velde, probably led into it by his
predecessors, makes the same mistake. [FN#30] Some etymologists recognise the word in the Hebrew Seir (ry(#), popularly termed ‘rugged,’ the ancient term for the country about the Gulf of Akabah. Others hold the derivation inadmissible. Similarly Josephus (i. 18, i.) interprets Esau by ‘hairy roughness.’ [FN#31] It seems not settled amongst Hebraists following Celsius, that al (plural elim) is the oak; whilst alah (eloth and elath), popularly translated evergreen oak, is really the terebinth called by the Arabs El Butm. Even in these days the two trees are confused, e.g. the Bálút Ibrahim, ‘Abraham’s oak,’ near Hebron. When Dr. Thomson (The Land and the Book, p. 243) tells the world ‘there are more mighty oaks here in this immediate vicinity’ [i.e. Mejdal el Shams, in the southern slopes of Hermon, where, by the bye, no mighty oaks are now preserved] ‘than there are terebinths in all Syria and Palestine together,’ he speaks from a limited experience. Towards Palmyra and the desert the terebinth becomes essentially the tree. [FN#32] The juniper of the English version is an error for the broom, in Hebrew Retem or Rethmeh (Mtr), in Arabic Ratam (θ×ℵ), the Retama of Tenerife and the Andes, and the Ratam
genista (monosperma?), of Forskl, the planta genista of popular travels. Dr. Robinson (ii. 806) makes the Arabs of Wady Mûsá call the juniper ‘Ar’ár (the Hebrew aroer r(wr(), translated ‘heath’ by Luther and in the English version. [FN#33] The classical word appears to be Juwár, spelunca montis. [FN#34] Dr. Beke (Origines Biblicæ, &c. p. 19, Preface to ‘Jacob’s Flight,’ &c.) makes the Ghútah (more classically pronounced ‘El Ghautah’) of Damascus, the Land of Uz, ‘Ausitis.’ The Hebrew ‘Ayn has, it is true, in many cases - some scholars say always - the sound of the Arabic ghayn; Oreb, a raven, for instance, being pronounced Ghoreb, like the Arabic Ghuráb, whence corvus and crow. But the early Hebrews may, like the modern Egyptians, have softened the Ghayn by turning it into ‘Ayn. In the case of Ghútah and Uz or Húz, I cannot see
), a characteristically obstinate dental. Wehow my friend etymologically gets rid of the Tá (
want instances in which the Hebrew Tsade becomes not Sád (∩), nor Zád (⊃), nor Zá (⊄), but Tá (⊇). [FN#35] In classical Arabic Hazúz or Hazauzá is the name of a certain mountain in the sea
used by the Arabians as a place of transportation. [FN#36] So in ‘Ayn Hadherah’ for Hazeroth, Ejnub for Ije-abarim, Tibnah for Timnath, and in many other cases. [FN#37] The reader will find El Yammúnah again referred to, with fresh details, in vol. ii. chap. ii. [FN#38] Murray (p. 425) calls it ‘Beit Jann, the House of Paradise,’ and observes that it deserves the name as contrasted with the wilderness around, &c. &c. It simply means ‘House in the Garden’ (σ÷ for Jannat); and the villages have a legend about the origin of the name.
There is another Bayt Jann in the Druze country, near St. John of Acre. [FN#39] Literally arch or bow; secondarily applied to a curved mountain ridge, and to the lands subtended by such curve, e.g. Arco de Calheta, de Sâo Jorge, and others. [FN#40] For other remarks on instruments, see Appendix No. I. [FN#41] Το του θεου προσωπον of Strabo (16-): the bold promontory which forms the north of the Libanus proper. [FN#42] The Persian Mizáb is naturalised even at Meccah (Pilgrimage to El Medinah and Meccah, vol. ii. p. 161, 2d edit., where Burckhardt calls it Myzab). The dictionaries, however, convert Mizáb to Mi’záb. [FN#43] Manásif is the plural of Mansaf, the place of Nusúf (√υΤ⇓) i.e. a long and difficult
ascent. [FN#44] El Mu’arrá, meaning stripped, bald, denuded, is a common village name in Syria: two are found upon the eastern slopes of the Anti-Libanus. [FN#45] According to Lieut. Warren, R.E. (p: 210, No. V. Palestine Exploration Fund), the Hermon, which he makes ‘a portion of the Anti-Lebanon range,’ was assumed to be 10,000 feet; but on September 14, 1869, we reduced it by aneroid to 8700 feet (p. 222), or, in round numbers, to 9000 feet, the height estimated by Lynch and Russegger. [FN#46] The Hebrew rwh, an archaic form for Har, a mountain, or possibly an intensitive form, a ‘great mountain;’ in the Septuagint το ορος; and in the Vulgate Mons altissimus. ‘Hor ha Hor’ (or ‘Har’) is rendered by some the ‘Mountain of (or upon) the Mountain;’ a good description of the barren Cedar Block based upon its lower story, the wooded ‘Sha’arah.’ There is no reason for concluding, with Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible (‘Hor’), that the whole range of the Libanus is intended by the term. Nor can I agree with Mr. Porter, that the ‘entrance of Hamath’ (Numb. xxxiv. 8) should be confined to the ugly gorge (Wady Dayr Mar Jiryus) commanded by the castle El Husn, or Husn el Akrád. The traveller from Hums to Hamah will at once remark the depression forming a great highway between the Northern Libanus and the Jebel el Hulah, or southern section of the Jebel Kalbiyyah, the valley of the Nahr el Kabír (Eleutherus), up which the sea-breeze finds its way to the uplands - the line by which it is proposed to run the Euphrates railway, and along which the Circassian colonists have just driven their wagons. This has been, is, and ever will be, the true ‘entrance to Hamath.’ [FN#47] There are, in fact, three limits: 1. (Gen. xv. 18) from the Nile to the Euphrates; 2. (Numbers xxxiv. 4,5) from the Nile to the entrance of Hamath - a mere section; and 3. (Ezekiel xlvii. 15-17) which includes the Damascene.
FROM THE CEDARS OF LEBANON TO ZAHLAH TOWN.
THE day after our arrival at the Cedars (Saturday, July 30) was idly spent in prospecting the valley, and in counting the clump: superstition says that this is impossible, and perhaps it is difficult to the uninitiated in such matters of woodcraft. I fear it will be considered bad taste to confess that none of us fell into the usual ecstasies before these exaggerated Christmas-trees, which look from afar like the corner of a fir plantation, and which when near prove so mean and ragged that an English country gentleman would refuse them admittance into his park. Indeed many a churchyard at home has yews which surpass the ‘Arz Libnán’ in appearance, and which are probably of older date. Volney (ii. 177) is still correct in asserting, ‘these cedars, so boasted, resemble many other wonders; they support their reputation very indifferently on a close inspection.’ It is now emphatically incorrect that
‘The mountain cedar looks as fair As those in royal gardens bred.’
As a rule, the Cedars of the Libanus are a badly-clad, ill-conditioned, and homely growth; essentially unpicturesque, except, perhaps, when viewed from above. Especially these. All the elders are worried like Cornish cheese-wrings, hacked and stripped, planed into tablets, shorn of branches, and stained with fire, chiefly by the ‘natives;’ we found them burning their lime and boiling their coffee with the spoils of the ‘Lord’s trees.’ There is an old man, entitled Wakíl el Arz, but, as usual, this ‘guardian of the Cedars’ - a Custos sadly wanting custodes - is the first to abet, for a consideration, all who would see ‘Lebanon hewed down.’
The number of the trees is variously given by travellers: Mr. William Rae Wilson (Travels in the Holy Land, 1847), has taken the trouble to make a résumé of their statements, which will now bear an appendix. In 1550 the patriarchs were twenty-five, and the same total is given by Furer in A.D. 1565, and by travellers in 1575. The good missionary Dandini, in
A.D. 1600, found twenty-three; in A.D. 1657, Thevenot, twenty-two; in A.D. 1696, Maundrell, sixteen; in A.D. 1737, Pococke, fifteen; whilst in A.D. 1786, Volney declared (i. 292), ‘there are now but four or five of these trees which deserve any notice.’ In 1810, Burckhardt mentions ‘eleven or twelve of the oldest and best-looking Cedars;’ twenty-five very large, about fifty of middle size, and more than three hundred small and young: of the latter some now remain. In 1818, Mr. Richardson reckons seven; in 1832, M. de Lamartine, who did not visit them, also seven; Van de Velde (ii. 478) found twelve oldsters surrounded by an after-growth of 400 youngsters, more or less, and he was told by the Maronites that the mystic dozen was planted by the Apostles. Madame Pfeiffer (p.197, Eng. trans. Visit to the Holy Land) saw in 1842 ‘twenty very aged, and five peculiarly large and fine specimens, which are said to have existed in the days of Solomon.’
And the descriptions differ as much as do the numbers. The Rev. Mr. Tristram (p. 360, Land of Israel) declared the birds perching upon the tops ‘beyond reach of ordinary shot’ - where did he buy his powder? We could throw stones over the trees. Dr. Stanley found a dozen patriarchs, repeating Mr. Porter (p. 303, 2d edit.), ‘only a few, about a dozen.’ The former should have been more careful of his topography; he represents his ‘apex of the vegetable kingdom’ - whatever this may mean[FN#1] - as ‘huddled together on two or three of the central knolls.’ We counted nine old trunks, whilst the grove was scattered over seven distinct ridges, four larger and three of smaller dimensions, the former disposed in cross shape. The base is of snow-white limestone, here covered with, there piercing through, the dark humus of cedar-needles and débris. The largest mound, to the north-east, and separated from the eastern ravine by a smaller feature, supports the miserable little chapel, where I was horrified to see the holy elements placed in a sardine-box; this has since been remedied by the piety of English Catholics and by the kindness of the Tablet. The oldest trunks are those which clothe the south-eastern ridge. There are no ‘babies,’ as the goats, now a standing nuisance in Syria, devour them at their birth, and mostly the conifer, like the orange family, is an aristocrat - intolerant of plebeian undergrowth and humble-grass. The Reverend Mr. Thompson (The Land and the Book, which should have been called The Book and the Land) declares that the true cedars grow only in this valley. They are doubtless a local type, probably part of the arctic flora, in which the Libanus, like the Anti-Libanus and the Hermon, abounds. According to Mr. B.T. Lowne,[FN#2] the cedars of the Libanus moraines and the papyrus of the Jordan are traces of the two ancient and almost extinct floras descending from old geological periods. But the existence of the true cedar in other parts of the Lebanon has been known since the days of Seetzen (1805), and the next few hours’ march showed us another cedar grove, within a few miles of whose shades Mr. Thompson must have ridden. He also declares, that ‘at night the trees wink knowingly, and seem to whisper among themselves you know not what.’ I am pleased to be able to report that these venerable vegetables neither winked at me nor whispered aught that all the world might not hear.
‘The cedars wave on Lebanon, But Judah’s statelier maids are gone’ -
is not topographically correct of this, the Cedar Clump. It is rather in than on the Libanus. The site is an amphitheatre of imposing regularity and dimensions, being some five miles in diameter, gapped only on the west where the Kadíshah, a gorge-valley deeply cut in the rent strata - the valley smiling above with village and hamlet, with orchard and terraced field; the gorge grim below with stony cliff, precipitous shelf, scattered boulder, and sole of sheet-rock
- conducts at times a furious torrent to the ‘Great Sea,’ alias the Little Mediterranean. The general conformation is that of a bow and arrow, the bow being bent almost to a circle, and this shape is not uncommon in the Anti-Libanus as well as the Libanus. From a ship’s deck we see only the mouth of the gorge and a shallow spoon-shaped depression below the mountain-crest.
The modern version of the old Syriac is Wady Kadíshah, in Arabic Wady Kaddísín (Fiumara of the Holy Men,[FN#3] Coenobites whose convents and hermitages are scattered in all directions. The cedar knolls stud a half-way plateau, a step comparatively level, backed by the large yellow-brown rim of bare rock and débris which we had ascended and descended on the yesterday; they are fronted, a few hundred feet below, by a white semicircle of cretaceous formation, cut and carved into ribs and pinnacles, walls and castellations, of singular wildness. This forms the true head of the Wady Kadíshah, which in many points resembles the Wady el Nár (Kedron), to whose eastern cliff-bank clings the celebrated Greek convict-convent of Mar Sabá. But whilst the latter is harsh, rugged, and desert, burning in summer and cold as death in winter, the Kadíshah, bare and stony itself, runs through a riant land. It is a question whether the Kadíshah, like the Wady el Nár, be not formed by glacial action; a modern popular traveller terms the latter a ‘glacial valley,’ but in a very different sense. Unable to praise the cedars, I may say in favour of their ‘park,’ that it affords the only tolerable mountain view hitherto seen in the Libanus - I may say in Syria and Palestine, with the exception perhaps of the fair region about Náblus. Here there is something like variety, like outline, and it revived faint memories of romantic Switzerland’s humbler beauties. When Van de Velde ( ii. 490) ranked the latter after the tame and uninteresting Libanus, he must have been labouring under a more than usually severe attack of ‘Holy Land on the Brain.’
I was fortunate enough to secure, with the permission of Murray’s Handbook, sundry of the small valueless cones which are used chiefly as charcoal for application to wounds. But who will absolve me from the ‘sacrilege’ of carrying off a large block as a present for my cousin B -- ? Protestant writers are very severe upon this point. ‘The cedars of Lebanon,’ we are told, ‘are not merely interesting and venerable - they are “sacred,”’ and ‘deliberately to use knife or saw is an act that would disgrace a Bedawy;’ yet the same writer in another place assures us that Christianity is not a religion of Holy Places; and if so, we may be certain that it utterly neglects Holy Trees. There is nothing more curious in the Reformed Faith, and in the multiplicity of wild sects which have branched from it, than the ever-increasing respect and even veneration for all things Jewish, from the institutions of the Hebrews to their material remains. It is an unconscious reaction from the days of the Crusaders, when even the Templars looked upon Solomon’s Temple as a something impure.
At the Cedars, Messrs. Drake and Palmer, greatly to our regret, proceeded direct viâ Tripoli to Beyrout. On the same day (July 31) we travelled over a. truly detestable short-cut, when we should have passed through Bisherri town to Dímán, the summer residence of ‘his Eminence’ (Ghabtatuh) the Maronite ‘Primate of Antioch and of all the East,’ Monseigneur Bulus Butrus Mas’ad.[FN#4] We were charmed with the reception given to us by this prelate, of whom his flock says, ‘the Patriarch is our Sultan,’ and for once we saw the simplicity and the sincerity of the apostolic ages. Since our visit I have frequently corresponded with his eminence, who is a secular author as well as a theologian, and his letters, it may be remarked, are as edifying as his manners are plain and dignified.
From Dímán we resumed our way through the Jibbah Bisherri, the ‘village land of Bisherri,’ which lies on the western or seaward face of the Libanus. This is the heart of the Maronite or purely Christian region; and this district, like Jezzin farther south, and Sadad (the ancient Zedad?) to the north-east, produces a manly independent race, fond of horses and arms, with whom I am not ashamed to own community of faith. Undisturbed by the defiling presence of Rashid Pasha, the people are happy and contented; their industry has converted every yard of rock-ledge into a miniature field; they show a steadily-increasing population, resulting from the absence of the tax-gatherer and the recruiting officer; and their only troubles are those bred and born of Ottoman intrigues, of that barbarous policy which still says, ‘Divide and rule them all.’ Long may the Règlement de la Montagne reign! may Moscovite lord it in Stamboul ere a Moslem governor is suffered to rule the land of the Maronite! The words applied by Dr. Hooker to Marocco are perfectly descriptive of unhappy Syria under her present affliction. ‘The government is despotic, cruel, and wrong-headed in every sense; from the Sultan to the lowest soldier, all are paid by squeezing those in their power. Marocco itself is more than half ruinous, and its prisons loaded; the population of the whole kingdom is diminishing; and what with droughts, locusts, cholera, and prohibitory edicts of the most arbitrary description, the nation is on the brink of ruin; and but that two-thirds of the kingdom is independent of the Sultan’s authority, being held by able mountain chiefs, who defy his power to tax or interfere with them, and that the European merchants maintain the coast-trade, and the consuls keep the Sultan’s emissaries in check, Marocco would present a scene of the wildest disorder.’
The Jibbah road is not so execrable as might be expected, because it runs along the upper flank of what is properly called El Wusút. I may here explain that the Libanus and its neighbours are divided, according to altitude, into three portions. These zones, which, seen from the highest elevations, appear clearly defined, correspond with the fertile, the woody, and the desert regions of Etna and the mountains of Southern Europe, and with the Tierra caliente, templada, and fria of Mexico and Spanish America. Beginning from the seaboard, there are three steps, namely –
The Sáhil, shore or coast,[FN#6] opposed to Aram, the upland plateau which may be said to form Syria and Palestine, is a strip of ground, here flat, there broken, at this part barely exceeding two miles in breadth, and extending from the lower slopes of the Libanus to the sea. In pre-classical and classical times it was densely inhabited, as extensive ruins, often within bowshot, prove; and the mildness of the climate, combined with facility for traffic, render it still a comparatively populous district, the number of settlements being determined by the water-supply. The climate is distinctly sub-tropical, and the damp relaxing heat of summer reminded me of Rio de Janeiro. It is, however, for a few days, a pleasant change, after the too dry and attenuated air of the uplands. The formation is mostly secondary Jurassic limestone, which renders the water hard and unwholesome, alternating with chalk, homogeneous as well as blended with bituminous schist, and banded with flint, chert, and other varieties of silex; whilst conglomerates of water-washed pebbles, and in places breccias, almost invariably clothe the sloping sides and the floors of river-valleys and ravines. The sandstone, which is so important a feature in the upper heights, is rare in the lowlands; trap and basalt may exist, but I have never seen a trace of igneous formation in the Libanus proper: it abounds in the southern Anti-Libanus, it is more plentiful still in the Hermon, and it is the only material of the Druze mountain (Jebel Durúz Haurán) to the east. In these levels the roads are incomparably the worst, and the people will not make or mend carriageable lines, for the same reason which prevents the African negro felling the dense jungle around his village. The salts and the potashes washed from the higher sections give the lowlands their admirable fertility. Every stranger remarks that crops are grown, and probably have been grown year after year for the last forty centuries, without any of the appliances which most other lands find necessary.
The Wusút, as its name imports, is the middle region. Here towns and villages are perhaps not so numerous as near the coast; and like the upper heights, it still lodges a scatter of tented Bedawin. This zone, however, is extensively cultivated by the lowlanders with tobacco, cereals, and vegetables, especially the potato; rye would probably flourish, but it has not yet been introduced. The chalky soil, locally called Howára, or the floury ground, is excellent for vines, besides producing the true hard asphalt: the latter, when found in chalk capped with limestone, melts in the sun. The characteristic formation of the Libanus Wusút, however - the Anti-Libanus will show other varieties - is a sandstone of either hard grit or soft substance easily disintegrating into a ‘Rambla’ (Ramlah, or arenaceous tract). Here overlying, there underlying the calcaires, it is easily distinguished, at considerable distances, from the blue-gray or glaring rust-patched limestones of the upper and lower regions by its colour, now a warm ruddy brown, then a lavender, like the Brazilian Tauá, and often by its dark purplish red, the Sangre de Boi of Portuguese America. Exceptionally rich in trees, it is the only home of the pine (locally called Sinaubar, P. pinea), whose light ever-green scatters - so different from the barrens and slashes of the Southern United States - at once attract the stranger’s eye. They are found clustering upon a mound of sandstone protruding from the lime, as in the celebrated Wady Hammánah, and they conscientiously eschew the calcaires, which is not the case with the Shamm or sapin (P. halepensis) of the northern ranges about Alexandretta. Frequent land-slips disclose at considerable depths (say sixty feet below the present surface) the indurated resin - one of the least perishable of substances - passing into a fossiliferous state, like copal. This sandstone formation supplies the only muscatel grapes ever seen by us in the mountains; it is the great storehouse of the valuable metallic formations of the Libanus - iron, pyrites, and copper. I do not despair of other metals being discovered in it. It is rich in crystalline hornblende, and in essonite where the garnet stands out brightly from the hornblende. An important feature, as regards the cereals, it supplies them abundantly with phosphoric acid and with oxides; hence in the Wusút we never see the anaemia which affects those living in the purely calcareous and cretaceous districts; for instance, about Damascus. The sand-stone region is, as a rule, far easier for horses than the limestone. It abounds in humidity, resembling in this point the strata about Liverpool, where the blow of a pick has more than once drowned out a coal-pit; hence its chief advantage - the abundance of excellent water, slightly, and in some cases abundantly, flavoured with iron. Yet almost all the principal springs of the Libanus and of Northern Palestine flow from the limestone formation. For instance:
The Ayn el Asáfir, the source of the river Ibráhím, and the Naba’ el ‘Afká, forming the Adonis River.
The Naba’ el Hadíd (of iron); the Naba’ el Laban (of soured milk);[FN#7] the Naba’ el ‘Asal (of honey); the Naba’ Sannín: forming the Nahr el Kalb (Lycus River). I did not visit the Naba’ el ‘Asal spring, but all assured me that it is no exception to the rule.
The Barada and the Ayn Fíjah, forming the Abana(?) and the Pharpar(?).
The Ayn Már Márún, the Ayn Lebwah and the Ayn el Tannúr, feeding the Upper Orontes, whose western bank, however, is purely basaltic, whence the celebrity of its waters.
The Ayn wady Dulbah, the Ayn wady Hasbáni, and the Ayn wady Banyás, feeding the Upper Jordan; whilst the two influents from the Tell el Kádi are the produce of basalt.
On the other hand, the lower valley of the ‘Awaj, or Crooked River, generally, but I believe erroneously, identified with the Pharpar,[FN#8] and running parallel with the calcareous plain of Damascus, is wholly basaltic, being in fact the beginning of the trap region, which extends southwards to the end of the Haurán, and eastwards as far as the Euphrates desert. Thus the waters of Syria, not including the mineral, are the produce of basalt, of sandstone, and of secondary limestone; the first being the best and the last the worst.
The Jurd, a word which we recognise in Guardafui - properly Jurd Háfún, the barren, open highland of Háfun - includes the remainder of ‘the Mountain’ to its crest, and may begin about 4000 feet above sea-level. The aspect from below appears bleak and barren; the mountain limestone, of a fawn-grey sometimes darkening to blue, often stands up bristling in crags and backs of fantastic shape, in regular courses like walls, or in huge blocks whose perpendicular chamfers and flutings, the work of time and weather, are supposed by the people to show treasure buried beneath them: where the disintegrated rock falls, deep-red stains of iron oxide show the fracture from afar. Roads cannot run along the cliff-sides on account of their sharp pitch, except where projecting ledges divide the height into gigantic steps; the rounded crests, however, are almost always ‘Markúb’ (rideable), and they are often the best because the only natural highways in the land. The water - here abundant, there rare - is at all seasons icy cold. From December to early April these upper heights are swept by furious winds, drenched with torrential rains, and covered with snows whose depth renders them impassable; avalanches are common, and moraine is strewn under the ‘teeth of the cliffs.’ In summer, however, despite a sun of fire and the thin air, a plentiful though stunted vegetation enables the large flocks of sheep and goats, especially the latter, to exchange their Kishlák (κζς⋅) or winter quarters for the fresh and pure Yaílák (¬ϖ). This atmosphere,
‘smelt’ for the first time by the traveller who crosses the Libanus between Beyrout and Damascus, is a cordial enjoyed even by the lazy peasant of the plains, who finds his appetite increased three-fold, and his slumbers deep and dreamless. I never saw on the Jurd a case of goitre. Much cultivation is found in the gorges and sheltered plains; it will extend to 6000 feet above the sea-level, and even higher. The village-paupers raise temporary sheds whilst watching over their untithed wheat and tobacco, and when grazing the horses and the neat cattle intrusted to them by their wealthier neighbours. The growth of the Libanus Jurd consists of the Sindyán oak (two species), whose acorns are enormous in proportion to the tree, the terebinth, the Kaykáb or maple, the Anjás barri or wild pear, the Za’arúr or hawthorn, the Lauz el Murr or bitter almond, and the Lizzáb (Juniper), a slow and secular growth, capricious withal. The Anti-Libanus is affected chiefly by the Butm, Kaykáb, Anjás, Lauz, Lizzáb, and Díshár (ℵ°Τ) or wild honeysuckle. In olden times most parts of the Jurd were doubtless
wooded with thick clumps, thin scatters, and long single lines of trees: the people still preserve the tradition of forests and groves - in classical times a favourite feature - and at the base of Jebel Sannín we heard of petrified trunks and branches of the ‘Afs or gall-oak (Q. coccifera). The want of fuel about the Jurd renders the local deposits of poor coal doubly valuable, and the rich iron ores, found only in the rare places where a line of sandstone divides the calcaire, quite useless, at least in these days.
Having now ridden over the Libanus from north to south, I can supply travellers of my own sex with hints about mounting themselves. Riding-mules are rarely to be had. The best monture is the ugly, thickset, ambling pony from Hindustan, Persia, and Bokhara, known as Rahwán, Yábúl, and Chehár-gúshah (the four-eared), from its split ears. The highest price should be twenty napoleons. Its plates, its girths, and its barley, which the ‘natives’ are uncommonly addicted to stealing, or rather to administering the ‘horse-sandwich’ - an ear of barley between two wisps of grass - require being looked after; and that is all. For riding it is safe as any mule, and it picks its way with almost asinine circumspection. The very worst animals are the valuable blood-mares of the plains, and these, till trained to hill-climbing or to skating over the ice-like pavement of the towns, are really dangerous. The poorest Kadísh (nag) is unusually surefooted throughout Syria and Palestine; and the timid must remember that the horse has four legs, and that it can easily be kept under the rider. In dangerous places let me advise a long arm and a short bridle, giving head freely, so as never to shorten step or stride; at the same time ever ready to support the mouth. In risky descents I lean a little forward where others bend backward, the object being to steady the horse’s hands by additional weight.
The roads, or properly tracks, may be divided into four kinds. The most reprehensible are the hard, white, yellow, and reddish limestone-slabs und sheet-rocks, known as Balát or paving-stones: they are bad when flat, worse when rounded, and worst when inclined. In the water-worn channels and courses a hoof is sometimes jammed, and if the animal be not stopped at once, an ugly laming fall is the result: I have seen this happen three times. When descending the smooth steps and ramps, often foot-holed, channelled, guttered, and polished like glass - for instance the ladders near Tyre, and the Lycus River[FN#9] - it is as well to dismount, especially if the attendants set the example. Next come the close conglomerates and compact chalks, the latter especially heating and dazzling when the sun in front makes them resemble the gleaming surfaces of streams. The hard and often crystalline clay-slates being jointed are not so slippery; they often, however, form very rough and unrideable ascents and descents. The fourth and the safest are the sandstone grits, the basalts, and the loose stuff, over which the horses walk as they would upon metalled highways. Here a man clears his garden by throwing the rubbish into the road; and en revanche, since the most ancient days the invader, after cutting down the enemy’s fruit-trees, strews the finest land with stones: this practice has entailed even modern and present difficulties upon cultivation. A practised ear can tell by the sound, even at night, what kind of ground is below; for instance, lime-stone by its clink and tinkle, and sandstone by its gritty crunch.
Complaining loudly of the roads beyond the Jibbah traversing Kasrawán - high-sounding name of an ancient king - which may be the ‘rampart and fortress of religious liberty in the East,’ but which is certainly and proverbially the worst travelling country of the Libanus, we rounded the heads of the Nahr Ibrahim, near Akurá (a source called preëminently El M’árah,[FN#10] the Cave), and we halted at the glorious Afká influent, nobler than Vaucluse, with its crystal stream and its green kieve - a mirror fit for Adonis; no wonder that Venus here chose a home! We crossed the Naba’ el Hadid, which C converts into El Hadis (‘iron’ into a ‘traditional saying of the Prophet’), and finally the upper valley of the Nahr el Kalb. Upon the precipitous northern or right bank of the Lycus, and about one mile west from the Mayrúbá village, my husband was shown a ruin of large stones - as a rule, the bigger the stones the older the ruins - some squared, and others part of the live rock, with signs of mortise and tenon along the coping for roof or ceiling-joists. The people believe this ‘Kharbat el Záhir’ to have been a Dayr or convent. We were curious to ascertain if the Assyrian tablets at the Lycus mouth, and said to date from Sin Akki irib (Sennacherib), 2570 years ago, were the memorials of armies marching by the short cut to the coast, from Ba’albak viâ Zahlah and down stream, or if they followed the road preferred by the moderns, through El Bukay’ah, ‘the low plain,’ the ‘entrance to Hamath,’ which separates the Libanus from the Jebel el Húlah, to the port of Tripoli (Tarabulus el Sham), and thence down coast. We carefully inspected every ruin and remarkable rock, hoping, but in vain, to detect corresponding sculptures. Until these be found, we must believe that the invader took the longer route, by the original Iron Gate of Syria.
Ancient Ba’albak, I may remark, owed all its vast importance to a central position, almost equidistant from Damascus and its great ports, Tripolis, Berytus, and Sidon. This advantage, we may safely predict - in the long run site is sure to tell - will raise it once more to high commercial rank, when the coming railway shall connect it with the Mediterranean and with the Indian Ocean. The line to be taken is still under dispute, and each writer seems to propose his own. Alexandretta is at present the favourite terminus; but Suwaydíyyah, Tripoli, and Beyrout all have special pleaders. The route advocated by my husband begins at Tyre or Sidon, and runs through Ba’albak and Palmyra to Hit on the Great River. It is certainly, although the Libanus is a serpent in the path, preferable to that which would connect pestilential Iskandarún viâ the difficult Baylán pass, the Lamk swamps west of Aleppo, and the barren lands to the east, with the River Euphrates at a section where the stream is not navigable throughout the year. And, unless our political status in Syria and Palestine, or rather, I should say, in Turkey, be much changed, we need not think of a railway to carry any one belonging to our generation.
After a cool and comfortable night under canvas at the Naba’ Sannín, I rode direct to Zahlah: meanwhile my husband made two ascents of the mountain, whose western walls, stark and horizontally stratified, and whose bluff southern buttress are so conspicuous from Beyrout, whilst its knobbly sky-line renders it an equally good landmark to all Coelesyria. Sannín is also, like the Jebel Libnán,[FN#11] a milky mount, a White Mountain, a Mont Blanc, a Haemus, a Doenyo Ebor. But its whiteness arises from its walls of glaring limestone, from its bare slides of chalk, and from its big glistening outliers reflecting the light; its pearl-gray also becomes a brighter tint by its backing of black-blue sky, and by the foreground of dark pine-scattered sandstone and iron clay. Dr. Robinson (iii. 440) justly observes that the perennial snow does not exist in sufficient quantity to name it like Ben Nevis, Snowdon, or Himalaya; and we may extend his observation to all the mountains of Syria and Palestine.
The exaggerated description of the Arab poet, who makes that ‘ruinous heap,’ Damascus, a pearl set in emeralds, and sterile Sannín bear about his person the four seasons, is quoted by all travellers, from Volney to Wilson and Paton. The former terms this buttress (i. 295) the ‘very point of Lebanon;’ and in one place he seems to explain the word, ‘the Sannín or summit of Lebanon.’ Yet it certainly does not measure 9000 feet above sea-level. We were unable to trace the origin of the term, which is neither Syriac nor Arabic, unless we derive it from ‘Shinna,’ which, in the debased Arabo-Syriac of Ma’alúlah, still signifies a tall fort-like rock. Volney suggests (ii. 221) that it may represent Senir of the fir-trees (Ezekiel xxvii. 5). Senir, however, is usually made to be the Hermon, or a part of it - the fortress of Sinna named by Strabo (xvi. 2. q. 17). We also read of the ‘Valley of Senyn’ (Pilgrimage of Johannes de Solms, 1483), or ‘Sennin’ (Le Tresdevot, Voyage de Jeruzalem, Anvers, 1608), both quoted by Van de Velde (i. 260). According to Monseigneur Ya’akúb, Bishop of the Syrian Catholics at Damascus, ‘Tor Saníno’ takes its name from the ‘Saníno’ spring, which we saw issuing from its western base; and this is a noun proper, without other sense. I fear that the origin of the word is irretrievably lost.
Captain Burton’s first ascent was from a dwarf, well-watered hollow on the Kasrawán-Zahlah road, known as the Jurat el Mahkam (Sink of the judgment-place?). The riding was not so good as up the Cedar Block; the hill-sides were studded and sprinkled with larger and rougher stones, and the natural macadam of shingle before described did not show in force till near the summit. Here the characteristic stone consists of chalky nodules of snowy-white limestone, often cube-shaped, and set as it were in a frame-block of yellow chert - the converse of what is so common in an other places, namely ‘Biz,’ or nodular and often kidney(≥ΡΗ⇔↓),[FN#12] the Big Pit, not to be confounded with Sughrat el Bunduk, the Big Pit of the
Filbert-tree, he rode along a knife-board to the foot of the rounded head known as Jebel el Mazár (of the Visitation place). Leaving the horses in a hollow, after one hour and fifty minutes of moderate walking he stood upon the base of the little sun-temple, whose ruins crown one of the summits. From this point there is a fine bird’s-eye view of the western Libanus, whose features are marked and peculiar, if not picturesque. Eight main ribs, the first and northernmost of which sets off at Jebel ‘Uyún Urghush and the Cedar Block, separated by valleys of erosion, which the torrents have deepened to chasms, trend from north-east, bending to south-west, and connect the highest chine, here almost meridional, with the lowlands bordering upon the Mediterranean. South-east-wards, the Kubbat el Sayyáh, the little dome that overlooks Damascus, and about which such wild stories have been written, places Sannín en rapport with the capital.
On the 3d of August Captain Burton made a second ascent of Jebel Sannín; this time he struck the great southern buttress, which lies north of, with a little westing from, Zahlah. About half way he came upon the first of the Talláját (•°ϑζ×) or hollows, which are filled with
snow between November and March, and which, assisted by the early and the later rains, gather and distribute the crystal springs, gushing out upon and making a garden of green in the Buká’a. As the heat increases the snow-labourers must go higher for their harvest, and they have run a decent bridle-path along the western flank almost to the summit of Jebel Sannín. It would hardly be advisable to ride an untrained beast up this line with a clean slide of 200 fathoms almost underfoot. There is the usual local tradition of a Harfúshí horseman having dashed down it to escape the avenger of blood; and, as usual, the man escaped, whereas the mare was killed.
The mule-path is headed by a Névé, and thence a stiff slope to the right leads to the apex of Jebel Sannín. Here also are two Júrahs, swallow-holes, crateriform hollows in the limestone surface; one lying to the north-north-east of the other, and each measuring about 100 feet in diameter. From this spot a specimen of the ‘Ud el Khull (vinegar wood) was added to our little collection, intrusted to Mr. Palmer. The aneroid made Sannún 1·60 lower than the apex of the Cedar Block, or 8895 feet. D gives the height 2608 metres; Murray, 8555 feet. The difference of altitude is visible to the eye, looking from the Buká’a plain at the outline of the Libanus clad in winter suit. When the Cedar Block, like the Hermon, is purely ermined with virgin snow, Jebel Sannín is more thinly robed in a lighter white, and its southern continuation, Jebel el Kunaysah (of the Chapel) and Kafr Salwán, show merely powdered heads. These three chief snow-caps are faced by an equal number upon the Anti-Libanus range: the northern Haláim near Kárá; the central or Fatli Block near Mu’arrat el Bashkurdí; and the southern Jebel Ahhyár, fronted by the cliffs popularly known as the Jebel el Shakíf, north-east of Zebedáni.
The descent of Sannín is down the southern face. Though practicable, it is steep, and it lasts less than half the time (17: 40m) which the ascent will occupy.
At Zahlah we were hospitably received by Miss Wilson, superintendent of the British Female Syrian schools; and we met with nothing but kindness and attention from the authorities and notables of that energetic and somewhat turbulent Christian town. Here ended the geographical interest of our tour, which had lasted a fortnight, from July 31 to August 3, 1870. I venture to hope that our humble gleanings will show how rich is the harvest of information awaiting the traveller who has time and opportunity for reaping it; and that I may have contributed my mite towards promoting a more critical examination of this young-old land.
FN#1] Possibly alludes to:
‘No tree that is of count in greenwood growes,
From lowest juniper to cedar tall
x x x x x x
But there it present was, and did fraile sense entice.’ [FN#2] ‘On the Flora of Palestine,’ Science of Biblical Archaeology, July 4, 1871. Mr. Lowne reduces the flora to eight distinct elements, each occupying its own region. Four of these are dominant existing types in Southern Europe, Russia, Asia, North Africa, Arabia, and Northwest India. The fifth is found in numerous examples of plants belonging to Palaearctic Europe; whilst the cedar and the papyrus form the sixth. Mr. Lowne, however, is in error when he confines the latter to the Jordan Valley. It is found near the Mediterranean shore in the beds of small streams; and the traveller going down the coast to Jaffa will pass through a miniature forest upon the River Fálik, near the Arsuf ruins and the sanctuary of Shaykh Ali ibn el ‘Alaym el Fárúki (a descendant of Omar). En passant, I may remark that when Dr. Potter translates, in Prometheus Vinctus, βυβλινϖν ορων απο,
‘Where from the mountains with papyrus crowned,’
he makes the poet utter an absurdity. The paper rush (papyrus antiquorum) may grow about the swampy feet of hills - not upon their summits. We should therefore read:
Where from the bases of the Bybline hills.
It would be curious to inquire what was the cedar (Psalm xcii. 13, 14) planted in the Temple of Jerusalem. For the traditional connection of Seth with the seeds of the cedar and the cypress, the pine and the apple, readers are referred to the Legends of the Holy Rood, &c.; Early English Text Society; edited by Richard Morris, LL.D.; London, Trübner, 1871. [FN#3] The name corresponds with the Hebrew Ha-Kodashim ‘of the Saints.’ The Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic roots are to be found in #dq, viz. puer mollis, that is to say, consecrated to Astarte or Venus. The feminine is h#dq, a harlot, one dedicated to the Dea Syra. [FN#4] The Petro-Pauline praenomen is assumed by every patriarch; Mas’ad is the family name. [FN#5] Volny (i. 190) mentions only Nos. 1 and 3, ignoring the Wusút. [FN#6] It is the ancient Kanaan (Canaan), and the Palesheth (Philistia), and Shephelah (hlp#, Josh. xi. 16) of the Hebrews, whence the Arabic Sofalah, the Greek Paralía (παραλια), and especially the Macras and the Macra-pedium of Strabo. ‘Aram,’ in its widest sense, includes
all the uplands lying between the Mediterranean and the middle course of the Euphrates, from Phoenicia and Palestine to Mesopotamia, Chaldaea, and even Assyria. [FN#7] The natives say of the mountain, ‘Yadur ‘asalan wa laban’ – ‘It flows soured-milk and honey.’ Not a few suppose that this spring has given its ‘meligalac’ name to the Libanus, and assert that it was itself so called from its snowy pebbles; whilst those of the ‘Asal (flowing honey) are of a bright yellow hue. The distinction is utterly fanciful. [FN#8] Murray’s Handbook (p. 426) tells us: ‘A short distance north of Wady ‘Awaj is another wady, through which a small tributary flows into the ‘Awaj. The name of this wady, Barbar, is the Arabic form of the Hebrew Pharpar.’ This is a fair specimen of the carelessness with which these volumes have been compiled, and the recklessness with which important deductions are drawn from imperfect premises. There is absolutely no Wady Barbar: the name of the Fiumara (not in Van de Velde) is Wady Buhayrání. But there is a Jebel Barbar, which may be seen from Damascus. Its tall crest and sturdy sides have given a rough joke against the inhabitants of B’ka’asam, who are held to be of the Boeotian kind. ‘Shiddí ya mara, taktak Barbar min saubih!’ (‘Haul away, good wife; Barbar hill has cracked and clattered at his side!’) is the address of the husband who, assisted by the able and energetic partner of his bed, had fastened a rope round the offending mountain, and was trying to pull it down. [FN#9] Both of these dangerous passes have lately been repaired. [FN#10] Syrians often slur over the guttural ‘Ghayn’ in this word; and thus assimilate it to the Hebrew hr(m, concerning which I have spoken in part i. (sub voc. Ghutah versus Uz). Popularly Maghárah is applied in Syria to a small-mouthed cave; ‘Arák or ‘Irák (literally, the courtyard of a house) to one with a large aperture, like those of Bayt Jibrín (Dr. Robinson’s old Horite city) and Dayr Dubwán, which the people pronounce Dayri Dibbán, or Dubbán (of bears). The term Khaymah, tent or pavilion, is also applied to the largest of these columbaria and matamors, probably from its modern appearance. Throughout Syria and Palestine there are undoubtedly many caves originally formed by the escape of gases; others show traces of water and of weathering in the softer parts of the rock; whilst not a few have been made, or have at least been enlarged, by troglodyte man. [FN#11] In the Latin translation of Ptolemy by Bilibaldus Pirkimerus, a quaint derivation is given (margin lib. v. chap. xv. table 3): ‘Libanus, a thure nato λιβανος dictus, Arabiam contingit.’ [FN#12] Capt. Warren (p. 294, No. VI. Palestine Exploration Fund) finds the word Sughrat, which he writes ‘Thogret,’ very common about the hill-country east and west of Amman; and he explains the prefix by remarking that the ruins (T. Tusera, T. Tasín, and T. Umm Ramadán) were standing upon a watershed.
PRELIMINARY TOUR OF THE JEBEL DURUZ HAURAN – EXPLORATION OF THE UMM NIRAN CAVE AND THE TULUL EL SAFA – THE VOLCANIC REGION EAST OF DAMASCUS
PRELIMINARY TOUR IN THE JEBEL DURUZ HAURAN.
BEFORE the traveller in Syria and Palestine can explore, he is compelled to wander about the country far and wide, in order to find out what remains to be done. This information he will vainly seek from the citizens and from the caravan-dragomans, who love the beautiful simplicity of the highway, and who hate nothing more than to face the discomforts and the insecurity of the byway. Moreover, it is ever difficult in the extreme to gather exact topographical details amongst a people who require truth to be drawn from them ‘by wain-ropes.’ ‘Le paysan interrogé,’ says the astute M. Lecoq, ‘ne répond jamais que ce qu’il pense devoir être agréable a qui l’interroge; il a peur de se compromettre.’ This is true of Syria with a shade of difference, for here we are Europe reversed: the interrogated peasant wishes, if possible, to compromise his interrogator. We were living, for instance, some six months at the foot of that eastern spur of the Anti-Libanus upon whose south-eastern slopes lies the large northern suburb of Damascus, El Sálihíyyah (of the Saints),[FN#l] facetiously changed, on account of its Kurdish population, into El Tálihíyyah (ΕϖΛ⇔°⊇), (of the Sinners). As we called it
the Sálihíyyah Hill, so of course did all those around us. Presently I found it laid down in all the maps as Jebel Kasyún, and adopted by Captain Warren (p.240, No. V. Palestine Exploration Fund). On inquiry, this proved to be a mistake for Kaysún (◊υϖΤ⋅); and
conversation with a peasant-guide of B’lúdán presently taught me that the word, though not admitted into the common Arabic dictionaries, is universally used to signify yellow chamomile, a weed plentiful upon the slopes, and much used as a simple. Here, moreover, the name is not unusual: there is a ruin in the ‘Aláh known as Shaykh Ali Kaysún, and a Kaysún village near Safet. The people have, in fact, a marked objection to correct the traveller’s mistakes. I was allowed to call Kasr Namrúd in my diary ‘Kasr ‘Antar;’ and but for a second visit to the place, the mistake might have found its way into print. Again, nothing is more common, and I may add more mortifying, after you have ridden an hour or so from a village where you have spent the night, than to be asked whether you were shown such and such a ruin, of which you have never heard till too late. Incurious about the past, or rather about everything which does not immediately affect the interests of the present, the Syrians are profoundly ignorant, and even disdainful, of archaeology. There are few men in Damascus who can point out the site of the Ommiade Palace, the tomb of the great Caliph Muawiyah the First, or even the last resting-place of Saláh el Din, the fearless and irreproachable knight of El Islam.
Again, most travellers, before entering upon exploration in Syria, of course determine to inspect places of general interest - Jerusalem and Damascus, for instance - otherwise, when studying the unknown, they will feel somewhat like the modern Englishman (by the bye, there are not a few of them), who has visited most of the European capitals, but who has not seen all the three chief cities of the United Kingdom; who is familiar with Switzerland and with the Italian lakes, without ever having visited Westmoreland and Killarney; and who is at home on the Pyrenees, whilst he would be thoroughly abroad in Derbyshire and the Hebrides. But to visit carefully the beaten tracks in the Holy Land occupies some six months, and few can afford leisure, not to speak of health, beyond that time. Besides, no new-comer would suspect that so many patches of unvisited, and possibly at the time unvisitable, country lie within a day or two’s ride of great cities and towns such as Aleppo and Damascus, Hums and Hamáh; and where the maps show a blank of virginal white around El Harrah, for instance, which should be black enough, students naturally conclude that the land has been examined, and has been found to be without interest, -the reverse being absolutely the case. Moreover, there are not a few who will scarcely have stomach for the task, when they learn the reasons why these places have escaped European inspection; namely, that they will not afford provisions, forage, and water; that they are deadly with malarious fever; or that they are infested by the Bedawin. The latter, indeed, compare favourably with the Greek Klephts; they have not yet learned to detain you for ransom, or to threaten you with excision of the nose and ears, unless your friends consent at once to pay the exorbitant demand. They will spear you a little, as they did
M. Dubois d’Angers, French Secretary of Legation at Athens, who, by firing a revolver, expected to put a razzia to flight like monkeys; but they will not kill you in cold blood, except according to the strict lex talionis - the Sár, or blood for blood. Still, even under these mitigated circumstances, travellers, certain that an Escort, unless of overpowering numbers, will at once turn tail, hardly care to expose themselves, their attendants, and their effects to a charge of Bedawin cavalry. And, curious to say, this backward movement of the guard is the traveller’s safety: the plundering tribe - which, if it could seize the whole party, might at times, more or less rare, remember that dead men are dumb -knows that it has been recognised by the fugitives, and that before evening the tale will be bruited abroad through the length of the land.
Our visit to Ba’albak and the northern Libanus, related in the last chapter, was followed, in October 10th to the 31st, by a sister excursion to the southern parts of the mountain, the home of the Druzes, better watered than that of the Maronites. We visited, at her palace of Mukhtárá (the Chosen One), the Sitt Jumblát, now the head of that great Druze house (properly written Ján-pulád, or Life of Steel); and we passed a morning with his Excellence Franco Pasha, Governor of the Libanus, who was busily engaged in restoring Bayt el Dín (in our books Ibteddin and Bteddin), the ruined castle of the late redoubtable Amír Beshír Shiháb. Thence we ascended the Hermon, to whose summit I had accompanied Captain Warren, R.E., on October 29th, 1869; and I succeeded in shipping off to England the stone with a fragmentary Greek inscription discovered by that officer. The excursion concluded with a gallop to the Waters of Merom – the ‘pet lake’ of a certain popular author - a hideous expanse of fetid mire and putrefying papyrus; with a call upon the only Bedawi ‘Emir’ in this region, the Amir Hasan el Fá’úr, of the Benú Fadl tribe; and with an inspection of the romantic and hospitable Druze villages, Majdal el Shams, ‘Arnah, Rímah, and Kala’at Jandal, which cling to the southern and the eastern folds of the Hermon.
The winter was now setting in apace, suggesting repose, or at least short excursions to those who can rest only by change of exertion. About the middle of January 1871, escorting an old Brazilian friend, Mr. Charles Williams of Bahia, I rode out with the Meccan caravan as far as Ramsah, its third station; wrote an official report upon its organisation; and returned to Damascus viâ ‘Izra’a, the Edhr’a of the Handbook,[FN#2] and the celebrated Haurán valley- plain, inspecting the chief settlements, and making acquaintance with the principal Shaykhs. An important inquiry concerning the interests of a British- protected subject made me set out on February 22d for Hums (Emesa), and Hamáh (Hamath, Epiphaneia), on the northern borders of the consular district of Damascus. At the latter place - both will be found alluded to in the Appendix - I examined and sent home native facsimiles of the four unique basaltic stones, whose characters, raised in cameo, apparently represent a system of local hieroglyphics peculiar to this part of Syria, and form the connecting link between picture-writing and the true syllabarium. My host, M.F. Bambino, Vice-consul de France, was kind enough to give me, amongst other valuable papers, two maps which he had traced by aid of native information, noting the most important of the 360 villages - this favourite number is also given to the Lejá -which stud the upland plain known as El ‘Aláh (ζ⊂) or ‘Aláwát,
sometimes pronounced ‘Ulah and ‘Uláwát. This high rolling ground, beginning at Selamíyyah, the well-known ruin and outwork of Palmyra, six hours’ ride from, and bearing E.S.East (118° Mag.) of the Mound of Hamáh (the ‘Mother-in-law’), extends some five days’ journey, they say, to the north, and from east to west two or three days. The surface is not unlike Upper Norwood, if the latter wanted hedges and trees. Mr. Hughes marks it the Great Syrian Desert, forgetting that the Seleucidae here kept their immense studs of elephants and horses. The whole is virgin ground, and the same may be said of the eastern slopes of the Jebel Kalbiyyah on the left bank of the Orontes, and of the country extending from the parallel of Hums to that of Selamíyyah. M. Prosper Bambino had the goodness to accompany me during a day’s ride, and after some five hours we had examined no less than five ruins, namely Tell Jubb el Safá, Marj Húr, Tell Iznín, Khirbat el Tayyibah, and Shaykh Ali Kaysún. The settlements are all provincial townlets of the Lower or Greco-Roman Empire, and the basaltic buildings exactly reflect the ‘Giant Cities of Bashan;’ that is to say, show Christian architecture of the first to the seventh century. The inscriptions which I saw were invariably Greek, and mostly in cameo or raised characters, some of them admirably cut. This trouvaille was, I have said, bequeathed by me to my friend and fellow-traveller, who, in view of the Circassian colonisation which had then already begun in this new and highly interesting region, lost no time about copying the inscriptions and sketching the buildings, whose destruction is now so imminent.
I returned to Damascus on March 10th, viâ the northern Jebel el Húlah (‘that which intervenes’), studying on the way the fine crusading castle Husn el Akrád, and the plain of the Nahr el Kabír, the Eleutherus river. The hardships of this march were considerable; most of the country was under water, and the rushing torrents and deep ditches caused long detours. Heavy and continuous rains began shortly after we left Hamáh, accompanied by furious blasts, and ending in snow and sleet which approximated the climate of Syria to that of Norway; the weather suggested the ‘Alpinas, ah! dura, nives’ of Virgil, and it did damage. A Jew servant of my companion, M. Zelmina Füchs, soon afterward sickened and died; and I still bear the marks of frost-bite, an accident which also happened to Captain Wilson, R.E. The people of Damascus call the last four days (o.s.) of Shubát or February and the first three of Adár or March El Mustakrazát, the ‘borrowed ones,’ and Ayyám el ‘Ajúz, the ‘days of the old woman;’ because February becomes a borrower from March in order to kill off the old men, and to make the old women break up their spinning-wheels for firewood. This week, which ends in fact the later rains, is supposed to be the most fatal of the whole year. We also make March come in like a lion.
All my excursions were strictly within the limits of the consular district of Damascus. Not a little business was managed during what appeared to be mere trips and ‘perpetual peregrinations.’ On returning to head-quarters we resolved to avail ourselves of a short leave granted by her Majesty’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and to examine the Holy Week at Jerusalem. I rode down the country by the vile Kunayterah road viâ Tiberias, where the Hebrew subjects protected by Great Britain were complaining that Rashid Pasha, then, but happily no longer, Wali or Governor-general of Syria, had taken from them and had sold to the Greek bishop, Nifon of Nazareth, a cemetery and a synagogue which for the last 400 years had belonged to their faith; and viâ Safet, where men held passports which ought to have been annually changed, but of which sundry, by peculiar imbecility, had not been renewed since 1850. Thence I galloped down the coast to Ramlah, and reached El Kuds alias Bayt el Mukaddas on Palm Sunday, April 2d, 1871. The Holy Week is the very worst time for studying the topography and antiquities of Jerusalem, especially if the varied and complicated ceremonies of Latin and Greek, Armenian and Copt - some of them lasting through the night, and none of them worth seeing after an Easter in Rome - must be ‘done.’ There are also certain Moslem rites well worth seeing, and the Jewish passover fell at the same time; whilst in 1871 the feasts and fasts of the Latin and Greek Churches happened to be synchronous - a combination which will not reoccur for many years. However, we laboured hard, and we brought away our pilgrims’ diplomas duly signed and sealed.[FN#3]
Bethlehem, which supplied some silex-instruments hitherto rarely met with in the Holy Land; Hebron, where an especial order from Damascus had been sent directing the Shaykhs of the Haram (Sanctuary) to be more than usually fanatical; and a short tour in the direction of Beersheba, where we found the ancient Horite dwellings of Dr. Robinson, cut with Greek crosses, and rich in rude modern and Coptic inscriptions, concluded the journey south. We then returned by the banale route viâ Jericho and Bethel, Náblús and Nazareth, Tiberias and Safet, to Damascus. Of the events which rendered the last journey memorable to us I shall have more to tell at a future time.
Reaching head-quarters on May 19th, I found the season far advanced. During the winters of 1869-70 and 1870-71 rain had been unusually scarce throughout the seventy-nine direct geographical miles between Sanamayn and Hasyah, including the Damascene, mountains and plains. It is mostly a limestone country, interposed between two great basaltic surfaces; and while the Neptunian was dry, the Plutonian was exceptionally well watered - the igneous formation, as has been remarked, begins south of the Damascus plain, about the valley of the ‘Awaj River distant some five direct geographical miles. The rapidly-increasing heat also made me the more anxious to finish my visits in the lowlands, and again to find myself in summer quarters at cool, if not comfortable, B’lúdán.
During upwards of a year and a half’s sojourn at Damascus, I had been tantalised by the sight of the forbidden Tulúl el Safá, the Tells[FN#4] or hillocks of the Safá region. These pyramids, hardly bigger than baby finger-tips, dot the eastern horizon within easy sight of the city, and thinning out northwards, prolong the lumpy blue wall of the Jebel Durúz Haurán, which appears to reflect the opposite line of the Anti-Libanus. Many also were the vague and marvellous reports which had reached my ears concerning a cistern, tank, or cave, called by the few who know it Umm Nirán, the Mother of Fires; that is to say, the burning; probably so termed from its torrid site, the great basaltic region of the Eastern Damascene. It is alluded to in 1860 by the excellent Dr. J.G. Wetzstein, formerly Prussian Consul at Damascus (note 1, p. 38, Reisebericht über Hauran und die Trachonen; Berlin, Reimer, 1860), an official whose travels and whose writings, not to mention his acquirements as an Orientalist, have perpetuated his name in Syria. After a journey through the Safá and the Haurán mountains, peculiarly rich in results, he was prevented by the imminence of the Damascus massacre of ‘60 from exploring Umm Nirân. It also escaped, in 1867, Mr. Cyril Graham, whose adventurous march , is too little known. A collection of his papers, scattered throughout various periodicals - for instance, the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, vol. xxviii. of 1858 - and published in a handy form like the Reisebericht, would be a valuable addition to modern travel-tale.
Perhaps the most interesting discovery made by Mr. Cyril Graham in the Eastern Haurán is the ‘writing which, though not purely Himayaritic, is nevertheless very much allied to it.’ I am far from answering in the affirmative to his question, ‘May we not be guided by this to the fact, that the Himayarites originally came from much farther north or north-east perhaps from the Euphrates or Mesopotamia - and then gradually worked their way down into Central and Southern Arabia?’ It appears to me that he has unconsciously hit upon one of the great stations made by the Benú Ghassán (Gassanides), ‘that powerful but almost unknown people, of direct Himayarite extraction,’ when emigrating from Yemen; after the bursting of the Marab dyke, of disputed date,[FN#5] to the Damascene, where they are known to have long reigned, and where they became some of the earliest converts to Christianity. In this matter they followed in the steps of the Phoenicians, who, according to Herodotus, also came from the south; and we may remark that these fertile and populous regions, ‘Arabia Felix,’ translated from the Semitic ‘Yemen,’ has ever been the Cunabula gentium.
The difficulty and the danger of visiting these places arose in my time simply from the relations between the Serai or Government-general of Damascus and the hill-tribes of Bedawins (‘Urbán el Jebel), who, mixed up with the Druzes, infest the Trachonic countries. The hill-tribes proper (‘wild-ass men’), all descended from a common ancestor, are the ‘Agaylát (written ‘Ajílát), the Hasan, the Shurafát, the ‘Azámát, and the Masá’id. The Safá, or eastern volcanic region, is tenanted by the Shitayá, the Ghiyás, and the Anjad, also connected; whilst the Lejá (or Lejáh, i.e. the Refuge) belongs to the Sulút, in conjunction with, or rather as clients of, the Druzes.[FN#6] These nine hordes are individually of small importance; but as there has been a certain amount of intermarriage amongst .them, all readily combine, especially when a Razzia comes upon the tapis. They are the liege descendants of the refractory robbers of the Trachonitis, who, to revenge the death of their captain, Naub or Naubus (El Nukayb, diminutive for El Nakib, the Leader?), rose up against the garrison of 3000 Idumaeans, stationed in their country by Herod, the son of Antipater. Wonderful tales are still told of their prowess as plunderers in the last century; for instance, how one of them, swarming up the mainstay, and cutting a hole in the canvas, entered by night the pavilion occupied by the Pasha of Damascus, a dignitary who in those days had the power of impaling or flaying alive; and how, having invested himself in the Káuk and Farwah - the melon-shaped cap and the fur pelisse of office - he quietly waddled, Turk-like, out of the entrance, and disappeared beneath the nose of the sentinel.
Several of these refractory tribes, however, especially the Shitáyá and the Ghiyás, had submitted themselves, and had given to the Government of Damascus hostages, who were periodically changed. Yet, to the scandal of every honest man, their brethren at large were allowed to scour the plains, to carry off the crops, and to harry the flocks and herds of the peasantry Each successful outrage encouraged another outrage, and a deaf ear was officially turned to every complaint. The fact is, the Bedawin made profitable work for the tribunals, and they served as the ready implements of revenge against all those disaffected to, or disliked by, the petty autocrat who then disgraced the land by his rule.
These Bedawin show no peculiarity of type. They are small and slightly-made men, notably different from the sturdy and stalwart peasant-class, and still more from the pale and etiolated citizens and burghers. The face is remarkably oval; the eyes are bright brown, with the restless roving look of the civilised pickpocket; the features are high and well formed, and the skin is clear olive-yellow. They wear the usual Jedáil, or long love-locks, well buttered and of raven’s-wing tint; whilst their dress is conspicuous by its scantiness and irregularity. The action, like the expression of the countenance, is wild and startled, and the voice is a manner of bark.
They would make an excellent light infantry, and their pitched battles deserve a professional description. When attacked, they place the women, children and cattle in the rear, form a rude line, which they carefully guard against being outflanked, and advance file-firing with considerable regularity. They never hesitate to attack a stranger who enters their lands without the guidance of a fellow-tribesman; and their ideas of hospitality have been considerably modified in the presence of semi-civilisation. For this reason, it was not decently safe to ride three hours beyond the eastern gate of Damascus. The day before we set out for Palmyra, a Ghazú (plundering party) had murdered an unfortunate peasant near Kutayfah. Shortly afterwards, a troop of five Benú Hasan did considerable damage in the Ghútah villages; two of them lost their heads but Mustafa Bey, then chief of Police, and now deservedly disgraced, considered it barbarous to expose in terrorem Moslem pates over the Serai at Damascus. The Subá’a and other ‘Anizah ruffians thereupon made the Ager Damascenus a battle-field; whilst the Wuld ‘Ali, under the leadership of that notorious villain, Mohammed el Dukhí, were permitted to graze their herds - that is to say, to levy black-mail - in Coelesyria. Such a laxity of rule has never yet been remembered. In December 1870 a mixed mob of twenty-five Arabs, Kurds, and Maghrabis (Algerian Moors), firing their guns, and freely using their sabres, rushed into the Tahún el Zelay, a mile from the eastern outskirts of the capital, and wounding eight men, of whom six were Druzes, carried away grain, weapons, and whatever they could loot. This offence was also unnoticed by the local government. Early in January 1871 the hill-tribes drove off some 32,000 head of sheep and goats from the Jebel Kalamún (the Chameleon); and the offence was repeated on February 13th by the Subá’a and the Sawa’al, sub-tribes of the ‘Anizah. Since that time, hardly a week passed without some such event being recorded. Yet the Hadíkat el Akhbar, the French and Arabic paper highly salaried to wear the rosiest of rose-coloured spectacles, had the audacity to publish, ‘Le désert est cultivé, les Bedouins sont soumis, et le brigandage anéanti.’ And thus dust was thrown in the eyes of the civilised world, whilst the Government-general of Damascus employed hordes of banditti to plunder its own hapless subjects. Did the Emirs of Sind or the Nawwáb of Oude ever attempt aught more preposterous? It is fervently to be hoped that the excellent orders issued to the Jurnaljis (newspaper editors) by Mahmúd Pasha, who, happily(?) for the empire, succeeded Ali Pasha of pernicious memory, will be strictly carried out; and if the proprietor of the Syrian Moniteur passes a few months in gaol, the example will be as beneficial to future libellers as the punishment is merited.
So it came to happen that all the broken-down Gassanian convents called El Diyúrá (the Dayrs) had never, to my knowledge, been visited by a European traveller.[FN#7] The Rev. Mr. Porter often alludes to them as the ‘ruins said to exist in the untrodden regions dimly seen on the eastern horizon;’ and he was told (chap. ix. 2d edit. Five Years in Damascus; London, Murray, 1870) that a hundred horsemen would not attempt a journey to the ‘Diûra.’ I was fortunate enough to inspect the three. My first excursion was in December 1869, when we - that is to say, M. Piochard de la Boulerie, a French entomologist, who spent three months in Syria making an immense collection, and myself - escorted by a very slender and timid party, pushed along the Robbers’ Road, and succeeded in reaching the two northern ruins. My companion was not a little surprised to find under the basaltic stones the coleopters of the Sinaitic desert; and he will doubtless give an interesting account of this curious fauna. On that occasion we nighted, without receiving or doing damage, at Harrán el ‘Awámid, the old Sun or Ba’al Temple said to contain the well of Abraham, so accurately described by my learned friend Dr. Beke.[FN#8] The second trip, in early December 1870, led me to the third or southern building. On this occasion I had less luck. The Ghiyás ruffians, not so much startled by our sudden appearance as acting upon a concerted plan, formed a line of some forty skirmishers, and advancing steadily as if on parade, treated us to a shower of bullets, severely wounding in the leg my gallant companion Bedr Bey, son of the deceased Kurdish chief Bedr Khan Pasha. Intending afterwards to visit their country, and knowing how fatal to such enterprise would be a blood feud we did not return their fire, although, being well mounted, and the riding-ground being good, we might have brought down as many of them as we pleased. It was a fiery trial to us both; and we afterwards bitterly repented our forbearance, when we found out that the ruffians were to remain unpunished, and that after answering our message by a declaration that some other tribe must have attacked us, the cowards openly boasted of the outrage. After the degradation of Rashid Pasha, the mystery was cleared up. We found nothing remarkable in the Diyúrá except their excellent state of preservation where man has left them uninjured. Their site is the Lohf,[FN#9] the Hebrew Chabal, the raised and rope-like edge of the lava torrents poured out by the volcanic Tulúl. The lip forms a true coast to the beds of the Damascus lakes, more properly called swamps, the Fanges of Spa, a salt clay-flat in the dry season, and a draining-ground for the Barada and the ‘Awaj, when they have any water which the irrigated fields can spare. The style of building, similar to that of the Haurán mountain and valley plain, and to that of the ‘Aláh or uplands north-east of Hamáh, is old Christian, dating probably from the days when the Benú Ghassán (Gassanides) of Yemen ruled the Damascene. The material is basalt, generally porous; the stones are for the most part rudely trimmed, and the shape of all the buildings is parallelogrammic. No.1, the northernmost, has round towers at the angles; the western wall is on the ground, and the entrance is by the south side. North of this is a large impost of white limestone, the lintel of a gate leading to the cells, and the outlines of the church may still easily be traced. Below the south-eastern tower is a well, now dry, but showing long use by a deeply-grooved kerb-stone, and hard by is a sarcophagus used as a trough.
A ride of forty-five minutes leads to the central Dayr, which is made conspicuous by a coat of dingy plaster revetting the lower third: from afar it looks more complete, but it is even more ruinous than the first. The large enceinte has fallen on the north-eastern corner, and the southern wall is hardly in better condition: the church on the north-west angle shows a cross cut in the stone, and remains of stucco tinted green and red, both colours remarkably fresh, like the Phoenician mason-marks found upon the subterranean walls of the Jerusalem Haram. The cells are on the south of the church, and to the east is a small alcoved building partly fallen - it may have been a refectory. The third Dayr lies some two hours’ ride from the second, and three from the villages of the plain west of the Swamps. It is much broken on the south and east; the south-western wall may be climed, and gives a fine view of the ‘Lake region.’ A rough cornice runs outside the building: the south-eastern door has a basaltic im- post six feet six inches long by one foot two inches deep; at each end there is a Greek cross, and in the centre I fancied might be traced the letters K Y P (Agios Kyrillos?).[FN#10] The impost is relieved by another basaltic block forming a shallow false arch; a favourite form in these regions, apparently derived from local Greek architecture, which possibly borrowed it from the Hebrews. Inside the southern door of the south-eastern room are three crosses, and outside, on the north-west, are two red crosses on a white ground, which might have been painted a year ago. From this Convent the Kasr Kasam, by some called the fourth Dayr, bore 189° (Mag.).
The Coenobites who owned these religious houses doubtless converted into smiling fields the now desolate clay-flats which separate the swamp beds from the true coast of basalt. In the present day the ruins might be utilised as guard-houses and dépôts for irregular cavalry; and the latter, when happier times come to the province, will patrol along this line between the villages El Hijánah and Dhumayr, so as to bar the Bedawin bandits from their occupation of driving the fertile Marj or Ager Damascenus. To conclude this part of the subject: in Mr. Keith Johnston’s map accompanying these pages the Diyúra will be found accurately laid down by compass observations from various points north and south; they are erroneously placed in the maps of Van de Velde, Kiepert, Wetzstein, Porter, and others.
On Wednesday, May 24, 1871, we - that is to say, Mr. C.F. Tyrwhitt-Drake and I, left Damascus, intending to crown a tour through the Hauran Mountain (Jebel Durúz Haurán) by an exploration of the Tulúl el Safá. Little need be said concerning our first eight days of travelling over a well-worn line, except that we found the mountain, like Syria and Palestine generally, explored as to the surface in certain well-worn lines, and elsewhere absolutely unknown, whilst the known part bore the proportion of a single seam to the rest of the garment. My fellow-traveller’s map of our tour will be a considerable addition to our scanty geographical knowledge of the Trachonitis. Its correctness will be vouched for by the fact that his unbroken series of compass-bearings through the Badiyat el Tíh (Desert of Wandering) and the rest of the Sinaitic Peninsula which, ‘covered 600 miles of country, shows an almost unappreciable error on subsequently joining a place the latitude of which has been ascertained’ (p. 7, No. I. June 1871, Palestine Exploration Fund; The Desert of the Tih and the Country of Moab, by E.H. Palmer).
We collected during that week some 120 inscriptions: of these some proved to be new, and after having been submitted to the Palestine Exploration Fund, they now appear for the first time ushered into the world by my old friend W.S.W. Vaux. They include the three lengthy copies of Greek hexameters and pentameters from the Burj or mortuary tower at Shakkah, a ruin long since identified as the Saccaea of Ptolemy.[FN#11] The subject is a certain ‘eutyches Bassos,’ whose wife and family and concubine are duly mentioned with all the honours: only one of the three, that on the left hand, and five lines out of the eleven on the right, had been copied by Burckhardt and by the Rev. Mr. Porter (chap. xi. Five Years in Damascus),[FN#12] who makes the era ‘71 of the city’ = A.D. 176. The building was a reduced copy of the old sandstone tomb-towers on the Necropolis road of Palmyra, one of those Viae Appiae which exist in all ancient Syrian settlements. The inscriptions are incised over the doorway of the first floor, which opens to the east; and they are contained in three tablets, the centre one large and the two side ones small. The naming is the usual ‘Lauh’ or writing-board, everywhere used in the East: and the triangular handles of the cartouches are ornamented with flowers like roses, showing four, five, and six petals, that with four being double. On the left handle of the large cartouche is a scroll.
On Friday, May 26, we ascended the quaintly-fashioned tumulus of clay, or rather indurated sand, suggesting that volcanoes like those of Krafla may here have existed: the surface was sprinkled over with scoriae. It is called by the people Tell Shayhán, from the Wali[FN#13] or Santon, equally respected by Druzes and Moslems, whose rude conical dome of basalt, carefully whitewashed to resemble a pigeon-house, and springing from an enceinte of the same material, natural colour, crowns the summit. Here, when taking a round of angles, we remarked for the first time that local influences greatly affected the magnetic needle; and subsequently, on the Tulúl el Safá, one reading showed an error of ten degrees. I could only regret that the Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund had refused the loan of a theodolite to one of their best observers, simply because his name did not conclude with the mystic letters R.E.
The ridge-like summit of Tell Shayhán - whose altitude is 3750 feet, and whose trend is north to south, with a slight deviation from the meridian - shows no sign of crater. In this matter it contrasted sharply with the neighbouring features - mere barrows pierced at the top, truncated, straight-lined cones, like the ‘Bartlow Hills,’ and similar formations in England. It was not till we had ridden round to the south-west, the route for Kanawát, that we sighted the huge lateral gash, garnished with stones, bristled with reefs, and fronted by heaps and piles of broken and disjointed lava, whence all the mischief had come. From the road its general appearance was that of a huge legless armchair. The first glance showed us that the well-known Leja, the Argob of the Hebrews, and the western Trachon of the Greeks and Romans, famed in these later days for the defeat of the Egyptian Generalissimo Ibrahim Pasha, is mostly the gift of Tell Shayhán. It is, in fact, a lava bed; a stone-torrent poured out by the lateral crater over the ruddy yellow clay and the limestone floor of the Hauran Valley, high raised by the ruins of repeated eruptions, broken up by the action of fumaroles or blow holes, and cracked and crevassed by contraction when cooling, by earth-quakes, and by the weathering of ages. This, the true origin of the Leja, is not shown in the maps of Mr. Cyril Graham and of Dr. Wetzstein (ll. cc.); and where they nod, all other travellers have slept soundly enough. In Jerusalem Recovered (p. 413), however, the Count de Vogüé, who visited Sí’a viâ Kanawát, suspected the source of the Leja to be from a mountain near ‘the city of Schehbah;’ the name is not given, but it is apparently Tell Shayhán. ‘Tel Shiehhan’ is distinguished by Burckhardt from ‘Tel Shohba,’ but he does not perceive the importance of the former. Dr. Wetzstein, on the other hand, rightly defines the limits of the pyriform ‘Mal paiz,’ placing ‘Brâk’ town (Burák, the Cisterns) on the north, at the stalk of the pear; Umm el Zaytún on the east; Zora’ (Dera’áh, before alluded to), at the westernmost edge; and to the south, Rímat el Lohf[FN#14] (Hillock of the Lip), a village visited by Burckhardt. His Leja receives a ‘grosser lavastrom,’ proceeding in an artificially natural straight line from Jebel Kulayb, and flowing from south-east to north-west. We therefore determined to inspect that feature. How far ‘abroad’ other travellers have been in the matter may be seen by the example of the Rev. Mr. Porter (Five Years in Damascus, p. 282). ‘The physical features of the Lejah are very remarkable. It is composed of black basalt, which appears to have issued from pores in the earth in a liquid state, and to have flowed out until the plain was almost covered. Before cooling, its surface was agitated by some powerful agency; and it was afterwards shattered and rent by internal convulsions and vibrations.’ The author, however, probably thinking of the Giants’ Causeway, ‘did not observe any columnar or crystallised basalt;’ whereas both forms are common; the former imperfect, but the latter unusually well marked.
Two whole days (May 27, 28) were spent in studying the remains of Kanawát - the ancient Canatha and Kenath, a ‘city of Og’ - meaning the underground aqueducts: these bald ruins[FN#15] are intricate, and they have been very imperfectly described. Burckhardt found only two Druze families in the place; now there are as many hundreds. We here, for the first time, remarked the ‘beauty of Bashan,’ in a comparatively well-wooded country, contrasting pleasantly with treeless plains and black cities of the Haurán. We copied many inscriptions, and found a few broken statues in the so-called Hippodrome: Mr. Tyrwhitt Drake fortunately secured a stone, which is evidently the head of an altar, with central bowl for blood, small horns at the four corners, and holes in the flat surface for metal plates. Upon opposite sides appear the features of Ba’al and Ashtarah of the ‘two cusps’ (Karnaim),[FN#16] boldly cut in high relief upon the closest basalt, with foliage showing the artistic hand, here unusual. We then travelled along the western folds of the celebrated Jebel Kulayb, and visited the noble remains of Sí’a (∉ϖℜ flowing - water or wine), a temple whose acanthus capitals, grape-vine
ornaments, and figures of gazelles and eagles, all cut as if the hardest basalt were the softest limestone, showed the ravages of Druze iconoclasm. The blocks reminded me of the huge cubes of travertin, said to be entirely without cement, which mark the arch of Diocletian at Rome, ruined in A.D. 1491 by Pope Innocent VIII. Here we met with three Palmyrene inscriptions, which were sent for decipherment to Professor E.H. Palmer: it is curious to find them so far from the centre, and they prove that the Palmyrene of Ptolemy, and other classical geographers, extended to the south-west, far beyond the limits usually assigned to it by the moderns. Otherwise, as a rule, these Tadmoran remains are not very ancient, and they have scant interest. The name of an Agrippa occurs in the Greek legends at Sí’a.
Travelling from Sí’a to Sahwat el Balát, the village of my influential friend Shaykh Ali el Hináwí, a Druze ‘Akkál or Illuminatus of the highest rank, we crossed three considerable ‘Stenaás’ - stone floods, or lava beds - whose rough and rugged discharge glooms the land. The northernmost flows from the Tell el Ahmar, a fine landmark; and the two others trend from the western slopes of Jebel Kulayb; all three take a west-south-westerly direction, and end upon El Nukra; for an explanation of which term see Dr. Wetzstein (p. 87): this flat bounds the southern and the south-western lips of the Leja. Thus we satisfactorily ascertained that the ‘grosser lavastrom’ is not in existence. Had it been there, we must have crossed it at right angles.
On the next day we ascended Jebel Kulayb, for the purpose of mapping the lay of many craters which appeared to be scattered about, inextricably confused. Viewed from the heights of the Libanus, the Anti-Libanus, and the Hermon, this mountain appears like a dwarf pyramid studding the crest of a lumpy blue wall, and it is popularly supposed to be the apex of the range which palaeogeographers have identified with the Ptolemeian ‘Alsadamus Mons.’[FN#17] The name has been erroneously written by Burckhardt and others, Kelb, Kelab, and Kulayb (∆ϖν∧), meaning ‘Little Dog,’ and is mispronounced Kulayyib: the
orthography, as pointed out by Mr. Porter, is Kulayb (∆ϖν⋅), ‘Little Heart,’ or ‘Turning-point;’ and the latter is doubtless the correct sense, as the central ridge of the Jebel Haurán here droops southwards into an upland valley. On a nearer view, El Kulayb has one peculiarity: where all the cones are barren heaps of red and yellow clay and scoriae, it is feathered with trees up to the summit. The vegetation does not, however, as is the case in other parts of Syria and Palestine, interfere with the view.
At the village El Kafr,[FN#18] south of ‘Turning-point Mountain,’ we found large flakelike slabs of fine compact crystalline greenstone, the first and last seen in this purely volcanic region. They are brought from a Júrah, or pit, known as Bátt (Settlement) Marj el Daulah, lying half an hour’s walk to the east of El Kafr, and this is said to be the only quarry in the land. The exceptional outcrop may be connected with the greenstones, which in the northern part of the Sinaitic Peninsula overlie the true granites; and it will be remembered that these volcanic formations play an important part about the newly-discovered Diamond-fields of South Africa. Columns of granite and syenite are found profusely scattered about the ruins of Syria, extending even as far as Palmyra. The modern inhabitants invariably declare them to be Masnú’a - of made stone: similarly the Lyonnais, we are told, determined that the pillars of the Athenaeum or Augustan Temple, built at the confluence of the Rhone and the Saone, were artificial, because they were spotted red and white. Those on the coast, as at Kaisáryah (the Augustan Caesarea Palaestina, the old Tower of Strato), where they have been strewed to make modern jetties, were doubtless shipped from Egypt: in the southern interior, the material was probably conveyed from the Sinaitic regions viâ Moab and Ammon, even as in these unmechanical days basaltic millstones are rolled into Damascus from the Hauran. I found no traces of granite or of syenite in any part of the Holy Land proper; but, as will presently appear (Vol. II. Chap. III.), the northern cities, such as Hamáh, were supplied with syenite by the ‘Aláh, where it exists in situ. This is ending at a point where other men began. In the days of my earlier residence in Damascus, however, the people had declared that they could show me the quarries; the latter proved to be a reddish porphyry, and a pudding-stone, which, somewhat like the Giallo antico of Egypt, takes a high polish. It is locally called Shahm wa Lahm (‘Fat and Flesh’); and at Ba’albak many of the well-educated applied the term to the true granitic and syenitic columns.
We rode from El Kafr through heaps of ruins and a tract of mulberry plantation to the Hísh Hamáh,[FN#19] large vineyards whence the vine sacred to a goddess has departed, leaving only long broad ridges and occasional cairns of rough stone, like the débris of Cyclopean walls; over these in days of old the genial plant was probably trained, and they still serve to protect the country from the wild horseman and from civilised cavalry. ‘Dousaria’ is usually supposed to be ‘a deity who patronised the cultivation of the vine.’ I would suggest that the root may be the Arabic ‘daasa,’ whence the back-treading ceremony usually called ‘El Doseh’ at Cairo and in the Buká’a: thus the goddess would preside over the treading down and trampling upon the grape for wine. Farther south, my fellow-traveller had remarked a scene somewhat similar. ‘Among the most striking characteristics of the Negeb, or South Country of the Bible, are miles of hill-sides and valleys covered with the small stone heaps in regular swathes, along which the grapes were trained, and which still retain the name of Teleilat el ‘Anab, or grape-mounds’ (Desert of the Tih, &c. p. 21) In other places they were called ‘Rujúm el Kurúm, or vineyard (vine?) heaps’ (p. 45). The stranger who passes through beautiful Jaulán on the high-road from Banyás to Damascus first sees these cairns and swathes.
The broken ground at the foot of El Kulayb was bright with the Kiskays, a species of vetch; the Sha’arari, or red poppy; and the Sha’arari el Hamír, ‘donkey’ or yellow poppy; mistletoe, with ruddy berries, clung to the hawthorn boughs, as has been observed upon the olives in the highlands of Judea and in the regions east of the Jordan; and the vivid green of the maple and the sumach, whose berries are here eaten, contrasted with the dark foliage of the ilex-oak scrub, and of the wild white honey-suckle. Cultivation extended high up the southern flank, and the busy Druze peasantry was at work, the women in white and blue (Argentine colours), each, like the Tapada of the last generation in Peruvian Lima, sedulously veiling all but one eye. Half an hour led us from the village to the base; after eight minutes we left our horses upon a sheltered strip of flat ground, and seventeen minutes placed us upon the summit. The slope varied from 21° to 25°; the surface was strewed with light and well-baked scoriae of the usual red and yellow hues, especially the former, and a little south of the apex was a diminutive crater opening eastwards. The aneroid showed 4·18 lower than the summits of the Cedar Block, giving an altitude of 5785 feet.[FN#20] The hygrometer supplied by M. Casella stood at 0º. The air felt colder than on the heights of the Hermon in June 1870, and the western horizon was obscured by the thickest of wool-packs.
Amongst the thin shrubbery of Sindiyan-oak which capped and dotted the western or rainy windward slopes of El Kulayb, whilst the eastern was bare like its brother peaks, we traced on the summit a line of cut and bossed stones set in Roman cement and bearing 195°. We then visited three remarkable caves in the descent below the crater, and opening between south and south-west. All are evidently hand-hewn in the conglomerate of hard red scoriae; probably intended for rain-cisterns, they have become of late years dens of Arab thieves. The uppermost had an outer and an inner arch, with a barrel-roof and a kind of Mastabah or bench at the farther end. The second was double and supplied with two entrances, the western semicircular, and the other square: in the inner north-western wall of the latter was a cut lamp-niche, and at the bottom appeared a recess resembling a loculus. The third cave lay a few paces to the south-south-west; the outside slope on the western side showed a flight of steps much injured by wind and weather. The ceiling, like those of the other two, was arched, and the dimensions were 30 feet deep by the same width, and 45 feet in length. Light appeared at the northern or farther end; admitted by a small shaft, and a rude pier supported the wagon-tilt roof. The walls were white with etiolated moss which never saw the sun and we found nothing inside these cool quarters but gnats and fungi.
The summit of El Kulayb gave us two important observations. The apparently confused scatter of volcanic and cratered hill and hillock fell into an organised trend of 356° to 176°, or nearly north-south: the same phenomenon will be noticed in the Safá, and in its outliers the Tulúl el Safá, which lie hard upon a meridian. Thus the third or easternmost great range separating the Mediterranean from the Euphrates desert does not run parallel with its neighbours the Anti-Libanus and the Libanus, which are disposed, roughly speaking, northeast (38°); and south-west (218°).
The second point of importance is, that El Kulayb is not the apex of the Jebel Durúz Haurán. To the east appeared a broken range, whose several heights, beginning from the north, were named to us as follows:
During the course of the day we passed between Nos. 1 and 4, and we assured ourselves that an observation with a pocket clinometer and spirit-level taken from the summit of El Kulayb was not far wrong in assigning 300 feet of greater altitude to Tell Ijaynah; that is to say, in round numbers 5780+300 6080 English feet. But though the Turning-point Mountain is not the apex of the Haurán highlands, it conceals the greater elevation to those looking either from the crest of the Hermon, or from any part of the Auranitis Valley; and while one standing upon the plateau which forms its base considers it a hillock, it appears from the low-lands and from the opposite highlands a mountain of considerable importance. Still it is hard to identify it, as Mr. Cyril Graham appears inclined to do, with the ‘God’s high hill, even the hill of Bashan,’ spoken of by David.
A visit to the eastern settlements facing the Euphrates Desert - Sailah (Sâlâ, which Mr. Graham writes Sáli, and Mr. Porter Saleh); Bosán (Busán) Sa’nah, Rámah, El Mushannaf,[FN#22] Kariyat el ‘Agaylát (‘Ajilát), Tarbá, and Nimrah - convinced us that the Jebel Durúz has greatly changed since it was described by travellers and tourists. In these days it becomes necessary for those who would enter into the architectural minutiae of Syria and Palestine, to carry with them the words of Burckhardt, Buckingham, and Lord Lindsay; the old plans will help to distinguish ruins which almost everywhere during the past half century have been so damaged as hardly to be recognisable. The general style of building much resembles the ‘View of Chamber in Maes-Howe,’ drawn by Mr. Farrer (No. 88, Fergusson’s Rude Stone Monuments). Here the land until the last 150 years was wholly in the hands of the Bedawin, especially of the Wuld Ali branch of the great ‘Anizah family, and of the hill-tribes ‘Agaylát, Shitáyá, and Ghiyás, together with the others included under the generic name ‘Urbán el Jebel. About that time it began to be occupied by the Druzes, whom poverty and oppression drove from their original seats in the Wady Taym, and upon the slopes of the Libanus and the Hermon: Burckhardt found them settled here in 1810.[FN#23] During the last five years of Rashid Pasha’s reign, not less than seventeen mountain villages have been re-peopled, and in the autumn of 1866 some 700-800 families fled to this ‘safe retreat.’ We can hardly wonder at the Exodus when we are told that nearly half the settlements of the Jaydúr district, the ancient Ituraea[FN#24] - eleven out of twenty-four - have been within twelve months ruined by the usurer and the tax-gatherer. The fugitives find in the Jebel Durúz Haurán a cool and healthy though somewhat harsh climate, a sufficiency of water, ready-made houses, ruins of cut stone for building their hovels, land à discrétion awaiting the plough, pasture for their flocks and herds, and what they most prize, a rude independence under the patriarchal rule of their own chiefs. There is, it is true, a nominal Kaimakam, or Civil-governor, stationed by the Turks at Suwaydah, with a handful of foot-police and a few mounted irregulars. But the Nizam or regular troops do not extend here; the imposts are moderate, the Bedawin cannot harry the people, and Sergeant Kite is unknown. Hence, as has before been remarked, the only peaceful and prosperous districts of Syria are precisely those where exist the maximum of home-rule and the minimum of interference by the authorities.
It is hardly necessary to dwell upon the short-sighted and miserable management which drives an industrious peasantry from its hearths and homes to distant settlements where defence is much more easy than offence, and where, as Cromwell said of Pease Burn, ‘ten men to hinder are better than an hundred to make their way.’ This upon a small scale is a specimen of the system which keeps down to a million and a half the population of a province which, though not larger than Lancashire and Yorkshire united, in the days of Strabo and Josephus supported its ten millions and more. The European politician is not sorry to see the brave and sturdy Druzes thrown out as a line of forts to keep the Arab wolf from the doors of the Damascene. On the other hand, the antiquary finds to his regret the statues and architectural ornaments broken up, the inscribed stones preferred as being the largest and smoothest for building rude modern domiciles, and the most valuable remnants of antiquity whitewashed as lintels, or plastered over in the unclean interiors. Similarly in Ireland those venerable piles the Catholic abbeys were mutilated by the people for the benefit of their own shanties. Many cities of the dead, described by the guide-books as utterly ruinous, have now become villages which do not date from more than eight or nine years. The next generation of travellers will see nothing like the tasteful house of basalt, in fact a ‘mansion of Bashan,’ sketched by Dr. Wetzstein (p. 54); and the sentimentalist will no longer ‘find the perfect stillness and utter desolation very striking and impressive.’
On the evening of Wednesday, May 31, we reached Shakkah, the old Saccaea, still showing extensive ruins and sundry fine specimens of Hauranic architecture; especially the house of Shaykh Hasan ‘Brahim, with its coped windows and its sunken court. The chief public buildings will be alluded to in the Appendix. Here we were received by the Druze chief Kabalán[FN#25] el Kala’áni, who, meeting us at the Kanawát, had promised an escort to Umm Nírán: he had, however, warned us that his people were on bad terms with the Ghiyás Bedawin, who were now in their summer quarters, the Wady Ruhbah (Spacious Valley), distant only about fifteen geographical miles from the cave. We were greatly disappointed in this man. He had travelled with Dr. Wetzstein, from whom he had received for a trip of fourteen days 365 napoleons, besides sundry rich presents, a sword, and a pair of pistols - and so saying he lied. After putting us off with the usual excuses, he fixed - or rather, after the fashion of the Druzes, he caused to be fixed - as his ultimatum forty napoleons for ten horsemen; a lesser number could not go for fear of the Ghiyás. We simply refused, and the ruffian then hung out his true colours, declaring that we should not leave his house before signing a paper to show that we had set out in safety and that he was not answerable for our future; that is to say, he was to be allowed to plunder us, and to produce satisfactory testimonials that he had stood our friend. We laughed in his face, told him to stop us if he dared, sent for our horses, and at once made for the little village of Taymá, lying about eight miles to the south-east. It was out of our way; but the Shaykh Yusuf Sharaf, the brother of one Hamzah Sharaf, a Druze, who had accompanied us and who is domiciled at Damascus, showed far more good-will.
The first necessary step before venturing into a fighting country was to dismiss all the bouches inutiles. I sent back to Damascus my good old Kawwás Amín Agha, who had brought no weapon but his water-pipe, together with the muleteer-lad Ali Shadádat el Halabi, and his two mules carrying impedimenta not required for the desert. Old Hamzah Sharaf was also returned into stores (Bayt el Mauni): a few years’ residence at Damascus had converted him to the most timid and feeble of men. This change is often seen amongst the Druzes, a brave and even a desperate people in their own mountains, where they are ‘everybody;’ a residence in or about the capital, where their numbers are insignificant, appears utterly to demoralise them. We engaged as guide the Zabtiyah or policeman Ahmad el Shamí, who knew every inch of the road, who had travelled over it twelve years ago, who had never travelled it at all. During the night he was begged by Kabalán el Kala’áni to leave us in the lurch; but his hungry sense had scented bakhshish, and he pooh-poohed all threats even mortal. He had no gun, and evidently he never intended to use his two rusty single-barrelled barkers. It was a treat to see him doubled up - stockingless toes almost touching proboscid nose - bestriding his scurvy old gray mare, a vicious Rosinante which he had bought for a few measures of grain, and to hear the boastful ‘cracks’ about himself and his exploits, prolixly narrated in the corrupt Damascus jargon so grating to the ears after the pure speech of Nejd and El Hejáz. We also managed to secure the services of a queer old Bedawi, who answered to the name of Ráhíl. Rachel -like Marie in France and Evelyn and Anne in England, to mention no others - is not unusually adopted by the wild men as well as by certain Syrian Christians. Of course we did not ask his tribe, for fear of being answered ‘Ghiyás.’ Talji (Snow-ball),[FN#26] an assistant Bedawi, was also hired to lead the two mules which carried grain and water for our horses and the scanty rations which we had reserved for ourselves. The only attendant was Habib Jemayyil, a Syrian youth of good family from about Bayrut, who had during a year and a half more than once proved his pluck. This poor lad wept bitterly when he heard of my intended departure from Damascus, although. he knew that I had provided for him. He was inconsolable because he was too late to wish me a final farewell at Bayrut. I do not imagine that the feelings of the Englishman are less warm and acute than those of the Syrian; but the former struggles to conceal his tenderness, he hates ‘scenes,’ and he has had considerable experience in painful hours stoically endured. The latter has no object, natural or artificial, to hide his heart. This is probably one charm which attaches for life the memory of those dwelling in the chill and misty north to their few weeks of Syrian travel, despite the dragoman, the muleteer, and other inconveniences. They have gathered wild flowers in mid-December - that is to say, they have for once seen and felt the sun - to the benefit of the physical man, whilst the moral man has seen and felt what attention and affection the people have to bestow.
On the morning of Friday, June 2d, we quitted the inhospitable Shakkah, leaving the churl Kabalán, too surly even to return a parting salute, squatting baboon-like outside the Kaysariyyah, a fine old ruined pagan edifice converted to a Christian church, in which he and his had built their wasp-nests of clay. But we were not fated to set out for the wilderness so slenderly escorted. A late feud amongst the Druzes, wherein the villages of Dumá, Ruzaymah, and Junaynah had united against Shakkah, Taymá, and Nimrah, led to a conflict at the latter place, in which fifteen men were killed and a considerable number were wounded. The Druzes make their own gunpowder - it may be known by the smoke clinging to the ground and hanging long in air - of the saltpetre which they scrape from the sides and floors of their caverns,[FN#27] of holm-oak charcoal, and of sulphur bought in the towns. The Turkish authorities are as jealous about admitting ammunition as arms to the mountain. The consequence is, that the old long-barrelled guns can do little beyond some 250 paces, and that an ankle-bone will stop, instead of being broken by, a bullet. We had prescribed for three youths, of whom one, Mahmúd Kazamáni, had a shoulder-blade pierced clean through: his style of treatment was inserting a Fatílah (a wick or long pledget of cotton), which perfectly well acted as perpetual seton. They were ashamed of their kinsman’s conduct, and like the policeman, without dreaming of asking leave, they mounted their best mares and dropped in to Taymá by little parties, till at length we had a tail of six men. During our first march they were reinforced by an attendant who brought their rations, and thus our total amounted to the respectable figure of ten combatants - without paying forty napoleons.
We rather regretted than rejoiced at this act of supreme civility. It wasted our time in getting in forage for the quadrupeds; the barley required husking, and the peasant was busy with his harvest-home. Moreover in the short space of two or three days such a party cannot, without great violence, be duly disciplined. Each man carries out his own ideas: obstinate as a mule, he guides the guides; he squabbles to water his own mare first; he rides off the road, perhaps losing himself for hours; and he sings his war-song where he should be silent. Finally, the general object is to finish the distasteful, profitless task as quickly as possible, without any regard to the leader of the expedition. There was scant chance of fight being shown by seven youths against 200 or 300 Bedawin, a force which the bandits can generally muster; and the value of the mares suggested that the tactic would be the Parthian, without however the firing à tergo. Still it was intended as an act of civility, and we could not refuse it without seeming ungracious.
The youths escorted us during two day marches; and on the second evening, bidding us adieu at the Bir Kasam, they wended their way home. These Druzes are, as the natives say, Sháterin (clever) upon their own mountains; beyond them they will hardly house themselves, and they are as fish out of the sea. ‘Their gods are gods of the hills.’ Unable to walk, our friends ascended hardly a single volcano with us. They called for water every half-hour, pitilessly draining our scanty Zemzemiyyahs.[FN#28] They ate every hour, and they clamoured for rest every two hours, and for sleep every four hours. They complained of the heat and the cold; of the wind and the scirocco; of the dust, the mist, and the dew. They declared the fatigue of a half-night journey to be intolerable; and often they would throw themselves in the shadow of a rock, pitiably sighing forth the words, ‘Máyyat laymun’ - lemonade! After the first day’s work, they turned black with sun-burning; and one of them actually made for himself an umbrella of leaves, fastened to a long stick. On the march they were the most unmanageable, and at the halt the most unhandy of Eastern men; in fact they were far more like fractious children. The mares were as soft and lazy as their masters; they dropped their plates, and after the second day half of them were lame. Only one Druze youth, Mahmud Kazamáni, accompanied us to Damascus; and he received a five-shot revolver as an acknowledgment of his services. A similar weapon was also sent to the civil Shaykh Yusuf of Taymá - I only hope that it reached his hands.
Before leaving the Jebel Durúz Haurán, I can hardly refrain from giving my witness in the case of Porter versus Freshfield, which came on in the Athenaeum Court about July 1870. Plaintiff had asserted that he was the undoubted possessor, in virtue of discovery, presumption, and occupation, of certain giant cities, belonging not to Fin M’Coul, but to one Og King of Bashan;[FN#29] and he demanded an injunction against the defendant, who, wilfully mistaking sneering remarks and cynical allusions for logical arguments - ignorant moreover of the ethical law that ‘criticism, to be effectual, must be honest’ - had wilfully, scandalously, and injuriously asserted that most travellers in the aforesaid giant cities will be reminded, ‘not of Og, but of the Antonines; not of the Israelitish, but of the Saracenic conquest.’ The suit ended magno cum risu by a verdict of the jury of Reviewers, duly charged by Mr. Chief-justice Fergusson, that defendant and his party had ‘disproved the existence of any such giant cities whatever;’ and furthermore, that ‘the so-called giant cities of Bashan were in fact no giant cities at all, but mere provincial towns of the Roman Empire.’
To speak seriously, if it be possible upon such a subject: my conviction is, that Messrs. Freshfield and Fergusson, when assigning a recent origin to the Hauranic ruins, are thoroughly justified, if we assume the ‘early date’ to extend from the first to the sixth or seventh century of our era. We cannot in these days rank the Emim, the Rephaim, the Anakim, and the Zamzummim with the Titans, the Goetmagogs, the Corinaei, the Adamastors, and the Brobdingnagians, by translating the racial names ‘physical giants.’ They may have averaged a Patagonian stature, say from five feet ten inches to six feet four inches - the latter represented by the largest bones which I brought from the Palmyran tomb-towers. But the charpente osseuse of man is as unfit for gigantic height as his digestive organs are to endure through 600 to 930 modern solar years. All thee European and United States giants personally known to me have been, with one exception, mild and melancholy men - somewhat dull withal – afflicted with weak knees and often with chronic diarrhrea; ‘Whilst the dwarf struts the giant stoops.’ When skulls and bones, weapons and implements, of the Emim, Rephaim, &c. shall have been produced into court, and submitted to competent scientific authority, it will be time to believe that there were physical ‘giants’ on the earth. Ewald is not justified in asserting that a primitive race possesses gigantic stature more frequently than the advanced nations; the contrary is, if anything, the fact. Barbarism stunts, civilisation favours, the growth of man physically as well as morally. Privations and penury are adverse to, comfort and luxury increase, the development of human nature. Wealth prolongs, want shortens, the life of man. The process of deducing the antiquity of a people from architecture assumed to be primeval is merely begging the question; and the attempt to establish the gigantism of a race from the height of its doorways, or from the area of its halls, is hardly worthy of a modern observer. The old Conquistadores of Bolivia, finding the native huts provided with pigmy doors, called the tribe Los Chiquitos, whereas the ‘little ones’ proved to average above the ordinary stature of the so-called ‘Red Man.’ But to argue thus in the present age of the world is an anachronism. We want material proof to wait upon faith. To the iron bedstead of Og, which some have rendered a ‘sarcophagus of black basalt,’ we oppose the great bed of Ware.
MM. de Vogüé, Duthoit, and Waddington have published well-known plans and elevations of the chief Hauranic buildings. My fellow-traveller and I, thinking it just possible that the foundations might have escaped their observation, made a point of carefully examining them, and we found little, if any, difference between the groundwork and the superstructure. In buildings of undoubtedly high antiquity, such as Ba’albak, there is, I need hardly say, a notable contrast between the basement and what it supports. The point under dispute is simple, but it is not to be settled by an argumentum ad verecundiam, by the authority of Messrs. Graham and Robson. Let those who believe that any Hauranic building dates before the days of the Greeks and Romans, the Gassanides and the Palmyrenes, point out a single specimen of ‘hoar antiquity;’ show a single inscription, produce a single ‘relic of the primeval Rephaim.’ If Mr. Porter would draw or describe any building of the kind which has come under his observation, he would confer a lasting benefit on students, and he would offer a tangible opportunity of discussing the subject: at present there is none, nor can there be any whilst mere assertions and authority occupy the place of proof.
Finally, it appears to me that our visits to the ‘Aláh district, lying east of Hamáh, have brought to light the existence of an architecture which, though identical with that of the Hauran, cannot in any way be connected with that of Og and his days. Separated by barely seventy miles of latitude from the southern basaltic region, the northern has also its true ‘Bashan architecture;’ its giant cities; its Cyclopean walls, and its ‘private houses, low, massive and simple in style, with stone roofs and doors,’ and huge gates conspicuous for ‘simplicity, massiveness, and rude strength.’ Throughout Moab, again, we find the same style, only modified by limestone being used instead of basalt. Did the Rephaim and Co., then, extend from the southern parallel of the Red Sea to within a few miles of Aleppo? Did a Turanian race in the trans-Jordanic regions stretch from north lat. 31° to north lat. 36°, through 300 direct geographical miles, leaving Damascus to average humanity? Evidently such an architecture is the work of necessity: stone rafters must be short, and they require supporting arches as well as large projecting cornices and corbels; we can hardly expect a sloping roof without wood for framework, or great height of wall where the ceiling is necessarily limited. Hence the ‘simplicity’ of the architecture; hence also its ‘massiveness and its rude strength.’ And, it must be remembered, these buildings are the reverse of gigantic. The temple of Bassae shows stone rafters fifteen and sixteen feet long, whereas in ‘Bashan’ and the northern sister-region a stretch of eight feet is exceptional.
[FN#1] This is the popular derivation; but I much suspect that it took its name from the Kurdish Sultan Saláhl el Din (better known as Saladin). All the rulers of that race naturally enlisted their countrymen, who acted as Mamlúks before the days of the Circassians; and it is remarked of the Kurds that they always prefer for their quarters the highest ground in a city – ‘Like the English,’ add the natives. [FN#2] Pp. 502-3. The author contends that this is the Edrei of the Pentateuch (Numb. xxi. 33), and founds his third argument upon the similarity of the modern Arabic Edhr’a. I can assure him that no Arab either writes it or pronounces it otherwise than Izra’a (⊆ℵℑ↓), slightly
corrupted to Azra’a. On the other hand, Dera’áh (°⊂ℵ), evidently alluded to by Eusebius, is a far more suitable site for the ancient Bashanic city. There is much to attract special attention in this place, which the author of the Handbook apparently never visited. Otherwise he would not have described the mosque to the north as a large rectangular building ‘at the southern extremity of the town;’ nor would he have converted its common Hauranic minaret into a ‘high tower.’ [FN#3] The following is the form of certificate usually supplied to viator when not vacuus: Ducal Crown. Ducal Crown. Dove. Ducal Crown.
ARMS OF ST. FRANCIS - PLAIN CROSS SURROUNDED BY CORD.
In Dei Nomine, amen.
Omnibus et singulis praesentes literas inspecturis, lecturis, vel legi audituris fidem notumque facimus, Nos Terrae Sanctae Custos Devotum Peregrimum.
Illustrissimum Dominum Capit. R. Burton, Consulem Anglum Jerusalem, feliciter pervenisse die 3 mensis Aprilis anni 187l, inde subsequentibus diebus praecipua Sanctuaria, in quibus mundi Salvator dilectum populum suum, immo et totius humani generis perditam congeriem ab inferi servitute misericorditer liberavit, utpote Calvarium ubi Cruci affixus devicta morte, Coeli januas nobis aperuit, SS. Sepulcrum, ubi sacrosanctum ejus corpus reconditum, triduo ante suam gloriosissimam Resurrectionem quievit, ac tandem ea omnia Sacra Palestinae Loca gressibus Domini, ac Beatissimae ejus Matris Mariae consecrata a Religiosis nostris, et Peregrinis visitari solita, visitasse.
In quorum fidem has scripturas officii nostri sigillo munitas per Secretarium expediri mandavimus.
Datis Jerusalem ex venerabili nostro Conventu SS. Salvatoris die 10 mensis Aprilis 187l. Secretarius Terrae Sanctae, (Signed) FR. ANTONIUS DE TYBURE, Ex. Prov. Reg. Seal of the Guardian of the Convent of Mount Sion. [FN#4] The word must not be written, with Capt. Wilson, R.E., ‘Tel’ (p. 123, No. IV. Palestine Exploration Fund). It corresponds with the Greek Μαγουλα and Hebrew Gibeah, a hill - a term once so common in the topography of Syria and Palestine. Safá, plural of Safát, means large smooth stones, and is the well-known name of a sacred eminence in Meccah. [FN#5] There were two traditional ruptures of this stone embankment, so celebrated in Arab history: the first took place about A.D. 100; the second shortly after the time of Mohammed. [FN#6] In 1857 we are told by Mr. Cyril Graham (p. 283, vol. xxviii. Journal of the Royal Geographical Society) that ‘Es-Solút’ have almost always blood-feuds with the Druzes. Mr. Porter, in a footnote, adds: ‘There are four other small tribes in the Léjah - namely, El-Medlij, Es-Selmân, Ed-Dhohery, and Es-Siyaleh. I am informed that all these are sub-classes of the Sulút, and that there are about a dozen other divisions.’ Burckhardt, in 1810, found that the ‘Arabs who inhabit the Leja pay some deference to the Druzes, but none whatever to the Turks: or Christians of the neighbouring villages.’ He names these tribes Sulút (100 tents), Madlej (120), and Salmán Dhoherah and Siyalah (50-60 each) Of the mountain tribes (Ahl el Jebel) he enumerates the following: Esshenabele, El Hassan, El Haddie, Ghiath, Essherefat, Mizaid, El Kerad, Beni Adham, and Szammeral. [FN#7] Mr. Cyril Graham visited the square tower of basalt called by the Arabs Dayr, or Kasr Kasam, and the two ‘Dayrs’ to the north; but he seems to have missed the northernmost near Dhumayr (vol. xxviii. p. 31, Journal of Royal Geographical Soc.). Curious to say, he believes them to be ‘evidently castles, the three forming most probably a line of border fortresses to protect the country against the incursions of the Arabs.’ Had that been the case, their cisterns would not have been outside the walls - to quote only one objection. [FN#8] Origines Biblicae (vol. i. p. 10, &c. &c.) treats of Padan-Aram; and Jacob’s Flight (passim) describes ‘Rebekah’s Well.’ [FN#9] Murray’s Handbook (p. 47l) translates El Luhf, confounding it with ‘Luhuf,’ the ‘Coverings.’ It is a local word, and it certainly does not mean ‘a narrow strip of the plain extending round the Lejah.’ This is apparently taken from Burckhardt, who repeatedly uses the word ‘Loehf,’ but confines it to the ‘borders of the Ledja.’ We heard the people apply it to the lip of the Sáfá as well. [FN#10] The light was peculiarly unfavourable. Perhaps the letters in question were merely faults in the basalt.
[FN#11] The skulls and other remains taken from the basement will be found described by Dr. C. Carter Blake in the Appendix I. of Vol. II. [FN#12] But Mr. Porter has carelessly applied this era to an inscription at Burák (which he writes Brakh), where one of them begins with ΕΤΟΥΣ Ε ΤΗΣ ΠΟΛΕΩΣ. The months are Macedonian (Peritius and Apuleius); but, as Mr. Freshfield remarks (Athenaeum, No. 2237, Sept. 10, 1870), they are used by Josephus, and consequently they might have extended to the Bostran era (A.D. 106). [FN#13] Usually written Wely. A curious misuse of this word has crept into general Anglo- Oriental use. It literally means a favourite, or a slave; hence, a slave of Allah, a saint. Saints are mostly buried under buildings of four walls, supporting a dome: the splendid building which covers the Sakhrah or rock in the Haram Sherif of Jerusalem is a well-known instance. The traveller would point to such a structure and ask its name. Házá Wali - that is a Santon! - would be the native answer. Hence, we read of a ‘little white-washed Wely,’ the receptacle being confounded with the inmate, who probably never required such civilised operation. I observe that ‘Nabi’ (prophet) is about to share the same fate, the contenu being confounded with the contenant. Similarly, a popular modern book on Syria explains Tell (mamelon, hill, or hillock) by an ‘Arab village,’ because in Syria villages are usually built upon mamelons, hills, or hillocks. [FN#14] It is thus distinguished from Rímat el Hezám (of the Girdles), Rímat el Khalkhal (of the Bangle), and a dozen other Rímats. [FN#15] The traveller fresh from Europe is immediately struck by the absence of ivy, which beautifies decay as far south as Portugal; and on his return to England is agreeably impressed by the difference. The plant is once mentioned in Scripture (2 Macc. vi. 7); but is it the true Hedera helix? I have nowhere seen it in Syria or Palestine, except at B’lúdán, where Mr. Consul R. Wood planted two stems near the western wall of his summer quarters. The plants did not die; but they would not grow; the cause might have been the normal pest, goats; or possibly a northern instead of the western presentation would have given better results. As will be found, however, in Vol. II. Chap. II., my friend and fellow-traveller found ivy growing in wild luxuriance upon the northern slopes of the Libanus. [FN#16] Murillo’s celebrated Virgin absolutely reproduces the idea of Ashtarah Karnaim. This fine relic was deposited at the Anthropological Institute, exhibited at the Society of Antiquaries, and forms the frontispiece of this volume. [FN#17] See, however, Dr. Wetzstein (p. 90). I avoid making extracts from his excellent Reisebericht, as my leisure moments at Damascus were employed in translating and in annotating it. [FN#18] M. Charles Clermont-Ganneau, Chancelier Dragoman of the French Consulate, Jerusalem, a man of singularly original mind and a conscientious student, suggested to me that Kafr and Kufr (a village and heathenism), being the same root, may bear the same relationship, as pagus and paganus. It will be remembered that our heathen and the German heiden, to mention no others, are palpably derived from heath and heide - synonymous words showing that when Christianity became a state religion, the ‘professors’ of the earlier faith fled the cities and retired in rus. [FN#19] In Syria and Palestine a difference is made between Hishsh and Hísh (Ωϖ≡), which
will not be found in the dictionaries. The former is applied to a volcanic cone almost bare of vegetation in the Jebel Durúz Haurán; the latter means a ragged bush, as in the Jebel el Hísh, which continues the southern Hermon. Of the word Hirsh I shall presently speak. Burckhardt, noticing Hísh and Hirsh, says that both are applied to ‘forests’ where the trees grow twenty paces from one another. [FN#20] Mr. Cyril Graham computed it to be about 6000 feet above the level of the Mediterranean.
[FN#21] In Syria and Palestine there are many Akribás, two villages of that name lying within a few hours of Damascus. The most celebrated of all is that built six miles south-east of Náblus, identified with Ekrebel (Judg. vii. 18), and afterwards capital of the Acrabattine district. [FN#22] This is apparently Mr. C. Graham’s ‘Beshennef’ on the wild glen that heads the ‘Wádi en Nemárah.’ In 1857 he found it, like Bosan and Sailah, freshly colonised by the Druzes. [FN#23] In 1812, when he was at ‘Arah, he was informed that one hundred and twenty Druze families had exchanged the western mountains for the Haurán. [FN#24] The classical Ituraea seems to have extended eastward of the modern Jaydúr (Jedûr). St. Luke makes Philip tetrarch of Ituraea, and of the region of Trachonitis - that is to say, of the two Trachons. We also read (J. de Vitry) that the former bounded or adjoined Trachonitis on the west, and Gaulanitis on the north. Possibly it then included the Iklim el Billán (the Camel-Thorn region), which occupies the south-eastern and eastern slopes of the Hermon; but it could hardly ‘lie along the base of Libanus, between Tiberias and Damascus.’ In these days it is a tract of fertile but deserted country, separated from Jaulán (Gaulanitis) by the southern continuation of the Hermon range, a versant known as Jebel el Hísh (scrub-mountain). Its chef-lieu, Kunayterah, is completely abandoned, though inhabited in the days of Burckhardt. I need hardly record my disagreement upon this point with this traveller. He makes Jaulán a plain (?) south of Jaydúr, and west of the Haurán, comprising part of Batanaea, Argob, Hippene, and perhaps Gaulanitis. But I agree with him when he remarks that the maps of Syria are incorrect regarding the mountains of his ‘Djolan.’ To the east, the Awwal Haurán, or northernmost extension of the Haurán Valley, divides it from the Leja (western Trachon). How small this is, and how densely populated it once was, requires but a glance. The tetrarchs Herod of Galilee, his brother Philip, and Lysanias of Abilene - not on the middle course of the Barada, but on the western limits of the Haurán - had frontiers distant from one another a single day’s ride. [FN#25] Mr. E.H. Palmer has, I believe, suggested that this word may be a corruption of the Turkish Kaplán, a tiger. I have an indistinct memory of its being used as a name before the Turkish or Turkoman period. The Arabic signification would suggest ‘acceptance,’ i.e. from Allah. [FN#26] The polite Arab version of our rude address ‘snow-ball’ is ‘Y’abú sumrah’ (‘O father of brownness’). [FN#27] It is also supplied by earth taken from ruined cities. The stuff is first placed in large wooden colanders, with another vessel below; water is added, and after a single straining it is drawn off into copper caldrons. It is now boiled for a day and a night; and then, on exposure to the open air, impure crystals, which require washing, form round the sides of the boiler. [FN#28] The word is explained in my Pilgrimage to Meccah and El Medinah, vol. i. p. 24. Damascus does not make the neat crescent-shaped goatskin water-bags, which hang so handily along the saddle: its highest art resembles an old leathern fire-bucket. [FN#29] See preface, 2d edit. Five Years in Damascus.
EXPLORATION OF THE UMM NIRAN CAVE AND THE TUTUL EL SAFA, THE VOLCANIC REGION EAST OF THE DAMASCUS SWAMP.
DUMA and Taymá were visited by Mr. Cyril Graham (loc. cit.), Who Writes the latter word Theimeh, whilst Mr. Porter suggests that it is ‘probably the Bezeine Burckhardt heard of.’ It is described as ‘presenting some of the most perfect examples of the old houses of Bashan.’ We searched the village carefully, but we could not find a single specimen now remaining. The photographer should lose no time in visiting these lands.
A stiff scirocco began at 9 A.M. (Friday, June 2), blurring the outlines of the far highlands, before beautifully crisp and clear, and feeling at this elevation - 4400 feet - exceptionally cool. During the day it worked round, as we had so often observed at Jerusalem, by the south to the west, probably the effect of the heated basaltic region on the east, which would make room for the sea-breeze. Clouds also appeared to the north-east and the northwest, and a distant rag or two of rain - at this season not unusual, we were informed - trailed upon the head of Jebel Durúz Haurán.
After a copious breakfast with Shaykh Yusúf we resolved to waste no more time, and at 1.50 P.M., though the water-skies were deplorably tearful, we rode down the hill-side upon which, like a Morean or rather Pelopónnesan township, the little Taymá is situated. Travelling toward the north-east, we passed on our left the Bir Arází, where the goatherds were watering their charges. It is so called from a village now ruined by the seizure of its lands, and lying à cheval upon both sides of the (Wady) Ghabíb el Jahjáh (≈°ϑΛϑ⇔↓ ∆ϖΧ∠): of these words the first
is meaningless; the second, signifying a chief or an unworthy fellow, is sometimes used as a proper name.[FN#1] Farther afield lay Dumá, Ruzaymah occupied by three Buyút (great houses where there are no small), and the Junaynah hamlet. We had visited the latter, which is still, as in 1810, ‘the last inhabited village on this side towards the desert.’ We were obliged to give up the two former, owing to the blood’ between them and to our escort; these youths gave Ruzaymah the worst of bad names.
Our route now lay down the well-defined Wady Jahjáh, which after rains discharges eastward into the basaltic country known as El Harrah, the hot or burnt land.[FN#2] To the right was the Tell el Barakah (of Blessing), a regular earthwork mound, with a quaintly-shaped mass of basalt, probably the top of a crater, hanging to its western flank. Beyond it rose the Tell el Hishsh, a truncated cone of bright red scoriae regularly shaped as if heaped up by man. An hour’s ride over rough but not difficult ground placed us at the Krá’a (⊆Ρϕ⇔↓), the
‘hard’ or the ‘firm,’ which is simply a lava-torrent showing volcanic dykes, secondary craters, and blow-holes, with barrows arbitrarily disposed at all angles. The two normal types, the long barrow and the round barrow, are sketched by Dr. Wetzstein (p. 13). He considers them to be big bubbles whose surface, reticulated like the armadillo’s mail, is almost invariably blown off at the top or split along the ridge by the bursting of the gases which elevated them. In some cases, however, the narrowness and sharpness of the gashes at the summit and of the cleft which bisects the length seem to argue that the mere contraction of the cooling mass was sufficient to part it; moreover, not a few have cross cracks as well as longitudinal fissures. This may especially be remarked in the mounds or round barrows: where the gases had been actively at work the whole head had been heaved off as if a mine had been sprung within the mound, and only a circle of stone remained visible upon the ground.
The basaltic formation of the Anti-Libanus, the Hermon, and the Jebel Durúz generally may be divided into five kinds: compact, porous, ropy, crystalline, and subcolumnar. As a rule, it is quadrangular; in some places we found five angles, but never more. The pores are not rarely filled with an opalline substance, like that of Aden, and with that crystallised calcareous spar which has been noticed between basaltic pillars by travellers in volcanic regions, and which forms a remarkably white deposit in the black Wadys.
Externally the colour is a dull red, the effect of iron oxide; often it is a pure lamp-black, which appears extra dark when parts are overgrown with the hard and persistent white cryptogams that make their base resemble calcareous stone. This lichen is very difficult to remove, and it renders many inscriptions more or less illegible. My fellow-traveller, after long taking thought, hit upon the common currycomb as the best remedy, and he found it completely successful. Some men waste much trouble and more time in cleaning before they venture to copy inscriptions; we could almost always tell by the look of the stone when it had been handled by some such ‘slow coach.’ The basalt in the classical buildings, when spared by vegetation, has often assumed by age the mellow cream-colour which we admire in the marbles of Tuscan Pisa; but the fracture is invariably black; at first I often mistook it for reddish-yellow sandstone. The ropy variety either stands up like a shield with concentric circles of metal, or it lies upon the ground like treacle freshly poured out. Nowhere in the Trachonitis did we see the old and degraded material of a dull French gray, and simulating slate, which is met upon the slopes of the Hermon; for instance, about the Kataná village.
Evidently the basaltic formation of the Trachons is of younger date than that of the Hermon. An active volcano always presupposes the neighbourhood of the sea or of some large lake.[FN#3] This outbreak probably belongs to the days when the Eastern Desert - a flat stoneless tract, extending from the Trachonitis to the Euphrates - was a mighty inlet of the Indian Ocean. The northern limit of this extinct Mediterranean may be found in the range of limestones and sandstones, the farthest outliers of the Anti-Libanus, upon whose southern and eastern feet Palmyra is built, and which runs viâ Sukhnah eastward to the actual valley of the Great River. At the ruin known as Kasr el Hayr (ΡϖΛ⇔↓, of the lowland where water lodges), in
the Jayrud-Palmyra Valley, I found the stone composed mainly of pectines so loosely agglutinated, that the fingers could pick them out.
We crossed the Krá’a in fifty-five minutes, and entered the Naka (∉ϕρ⇔↓): the word, meaning a flat country where rain stagnates, is here applied to rolling ground of loose ruddy-yellow soil, the detritus of basalt, which during wet weather balls, the feet so as to prevent walking, and in which during the dries horses sink up to the fetlock. This is the staple material of the Haurán Valley, and the Anti-Libanus shows it especially in the little basins, such as that which faces the well-known classic temple Dayr el ‘Asháyir. The Naka’ is distinguished by thin yellow grass and a scatter of stones, with here and there a deep hole dug by the rainwater, and enlarged in some cases by animals. We started two hares - an ill-omened move. The Lepus Syriacus, very little bigger than a young rabbit, has remarkably long ears, possibly developed by the perpetual necessity of being vigilant, and the coat is pale ash, very well suiting the ground. The rotten surface is dotted with Rujúm or stone-heaps, placed as landmarks, and there were not a few graves and Maráh (≈↓Ρ⇑), where goats are herded during
the spring. Here the Bedawin distinguish between the Rasm (θℜℵ) or winter place, and the Maráh or Makíl used during the rest of the year. In the Libanus and the Anti-Libanus, ‘Maráh’ and ‘Makíl’ are most used; and the building may consist of dry stone walls, or of well-made and carefully-roofed huts, like the Greek καλυβια.
About 4 P.M. we halted to await the camels at a Rajm whose name was unknown. The shadow of the cloud crept over us like the beginning of an eclipse; a few drops of rain fell, and we were never without gnats or mosquitos, whilst fleas seemed everywhere to grow from the ground. The aneroid corrected showed 26·26, the thermometer 85° Fahr., showing that we had descended to 3780 feet; and the hygrometer stood at 13° dry. Our passage of the Naka’ occupied two hours. Then ascending a hill-brow, which in Spain would be termed a Loma, we fell into El Hazir, ‘the Hollows.’ The only difference in the aspect of the land was a trifle more of stone, whilst the basalt was either lamp-black or snow-white with the usual cryptogam. These people borrow from the Bedawin a special term for every modification of terrain, however trifling. The lands to the north, a mixture of clayey soil and stone, are called El Hármiyyah; the stony ground to the east is El Wa’ar, the usual generic word; and still on our right ran the stony Wady el K’rá’a, which we had crossed and left southwards.
The term Wa’ar is explained by Dr. Wetzstein (p. 15). It is not a little singular that the three Hebrew words signifying forest - namely, Jear (Kirjath-Jearim, City of Forests), Chóresh, and Pardês, a forest, a wood, and a garden - are all preserved in Arabic, and are intelligible in Syria, with some changes of signification. Wa’ar is rocky ground especially hilly, with or without trees: Burckhardt explains it as an appellation given to all stony soils, whether upon plains or mountains. Hirsh, from a root that means ‘scratching,’ is a scrub; and Furaydís (παραδεισος, opposed to κηπος, an orchard, and often confounded in the English Version) is what our imaginative travellers insist upon dignifying by the name of a ‘garden:’ correctly speaking, it is a hunting-park.
From the Loma we had our first fair view of the Safá. The little volcanic block, with its seven main summits, is well laid down in outline by the Prussian traveller (p. 7); to its south is an outlying scatter of cones and craters, which the Druze youths called Tulúl el Safá[FN#4]: a term naturally confined at Damascus, where no others can be seen, to the northern offsets. A deeper blackness made the Safá stand conspicuously out of the Harrah; here the latter is a rolling waste of dark basalt, broken by and dotted with lines, basins, and pans of yellow clay, bone-dry at this season, and shimmering in the summer sun. These veins are generically known as ‘Ghadír,’ or hollows where water stagnates. The general trend is north-east to the Ruhbah, a long waving streak of argillaceous formation. In the far distance, extending from east to south-east, and raised by refraction above the middle ground of flat basalt, which lay beyond and below our rolling volcanic foreground, glittered the sunlit horizon of the Euphrates desert - that mysterious tract never yet crossed by European foot.
The Ruhbah was afterwards described to me by Daúd Effendi, Governor of Yabrúd, as a clay plain, dotted with stones (basaltic?) of egg size, gradually becoming larger as they neared the enclosure of mountain, but in shape always three-cornered. To the north of the Kasr or Khirbat el Bayzá is a valley, upon whose stony sides are cut figures of men and beasts, and cuneiform perpendicular tracings which appeared to be inscriptions. Copies, he said, had been sent to Berlin, but they had not yet been deciphered. This account reminds us of Mr. Cyril Graham’ ‘written plain’ in the Harrah, where he found hosts of stones covered with inscriptions in a character resembling the Sinaitic, accompanied with hundreds of such figures, representing horsemen, camels, leopards, deer, and asses. These ‘writings’ are reported to be scattered all over the Harrah, frequently where no traces of ruins remain. We here began to find out the right names of the several features, which had been changing ever since we left the Hijánah village, and to appreciate the precautionary measures by which the old Roman soldiery kept the Bedawin at bay. Far to the east, and in the heart of the Harrah, which is bisected by a military road, are shown their outstations, Khirbat el Bayzá, El Odaysiyyah, and Nimárah,[FN#5] which must have been impregnable to the wild man, and behind which lay the waterless waste moating the fertile regions of Syria. But whilst civilisation in these regions flows and ebbs, Bedawi barbarism exerts a constant thrust and pressure from without: the moment he finds a weak place, he rushes at it with ruin in his van and with savagery in his rear. Hence, according to no less an authority than Napoleon the Great, the ephemeral tenure of empire in olden West Asia. As has been shown, under modern Turkish rule the Bedawi is lord of the land, and he will remain so till some strong European power revives the strong system of the Romans.
At 6.20 P.M. we halted for a few minutes near the Mintár el Kharúf (Look-out Place of the Lamb), upon the borders of the stony black Wa’ar; a distorted and devilish land. Here we remarked, for the first time in Syria and Palestine, that the secondary limestone, over which the basalt had been poured out, was baked to a drab colour, and crystallised by the heated contact. In a subsequent page the reader will find that parts of the ‘Alah show basalt deposited in shallow strata upon limestone. As the shadows of night deepened around us, and the clouds, which at times shed heat-drops, obscured the moon though near its full, we could see nothing but the wild ink-tinted stone region, now in front, then on either side, and we could distinguish only that we were following - now crossing, and then recrossing - the course of a Wady which had become so winding that at times it ran south-east and even south, instead of north-east. We almost repented not having made the Bir Kasam, where we were sure of a full well, and having trusted to the Ghadír Abú Sarwál, the ‘near’ water of an Arab guide, whose ‘karíb’ may mean half a day’s march. The young Druzes insisted upon hurrying on and chattering with old Ráhíl, who, mourning for his water, and unaccustomed to be flurried, more especially to be conversationised with, on the line of march, lost his way; consequently our small party of three was obliged to creep in the rear alongside of Talji and his camels.
At last, after two hours and forty-five minutes of this weary work, we called a halt, determined not to exhaust for the next day horses already thirsty. Our escort wasted enough water for a week, and were more utterly helpless than European children would have been under similar circumstances. The stallions had their usual stand-up fight, which injured the accoutrements much more than the wearers; and the camp, reckless of watch or ward, slept the sleep of the weary. Our day’s march had been a total of six hours and forty minutes, which may be assumed at seventeen indirect geographical miles.
We left our hard beds at four A.M. on Saturday, June 3, and a few yards of advance showed us the Ghadír where we had been promised water. It is called Abu Sarwál (of the Man in Drawers); which, not having been used by the sansculotte Prophet, are ‘un-Arab,’ as a beard was ‘un-English’ in the year of grace 1830. This dwarf depression in a shallow Wady underlies a mass of rock which forms the right bank, and the yellow surface of caked and curling silt proved to us that it had been bone-dry for the last six weeks. Here we again fell into the ‘Sultáni,’ or main track, which we had lost during the night; and after half an hour we struck El Nabash, a depression in the slope, thinly clothed with light green; it is said to reach the Ghadír el Ka’al (ο∈ϕ⇔↓). The name was not intelligible to our Druzes, and the dictionaries
offer the usual extensive choice of significations common to Arabic triliterals: ‘El Ka’al’ may mean a miser, (a man) short of body, debased or unfortunate and the forked stick that props young vine-branches, especially about Hebron. Limestone appeared once more in situ, and the surface was scattered with the normal snail-shells: at this season the tenements were all ‘to let.’ On the right of the Wady lay the shapeless ruins of the village El Nabash - meaning a camel whose sole is so marked that its footprint is at once known: - the Bedawin had long ago caused the place to be deserted; the left bank showed dykes and piles of rough stones, which may have been homesteads or graves. Ráhíl with his beasts, intending to cut off the projecting corners of the Lohf, had pushed forwards to the north-east, the straight line for Umm Nírán, whilst the Druzes had ridden eastwards to see if the second Ghadír was also waterless. Presently a shot recalled us; and we bent south-east to a point where a network of paths converged through a stony tract, upon whose wave-crests appeared ruins of small towers and look-out places. At six A.M. we reached the Ghadír el Ka’al, thus expending a total of eight hours and forty minutes upon a march which all assured us may be covered by laden camels in six hours to six hours and thirty minutes.
The Ghadír el Ka’al is, according to our guides, the drainage basin of the Wady el K’rá’a; at this season a mere sink without watershed; trending east to west, it is about 90 yards long, and some 4 feet deep. It does not outlast the year, and its highest watermark never exceeds four feet above the actual level, when it would flood the eastern clay-plain. South of the pool rises a bank of basalt, showing two artificial watercourses, which may have been made by the now ruined village, El Hubbayríyyah; and on the north is a narrow line of basaltic gravel and mud, like the floor of the Ghadír, here and there garnished with heaps and ribs of volcanic stone. The water was yellow, forming a green slime round the twigs which had fallen into it, and it abounded in small diatomaceae. The birds were Katás (Pterocles alchata), a white-and-black duck, and the desert partridge; we saw tracks of waders, and we heard of wild pig. The vegetation was composed of the perfumed Shíh (Absinthium), the alkali plant, and salsolaceae, whose lower growth was almost of mauve colour; a shrub with a mimosa-like leaf and known as El Kharayríyyah (ΕΡΡΝ⇔↓); together with the conspicuous blue
-flowered ‘Ghár,’ so common to the Wadys of these regions.
We spent an enjoyable fifty minutes at the water, which lies 3290 feet above sea-level, and when the watch showed 7.15 A.M., we began to retrace the ground already covered. Presently we fell into the Saut (⊇υΤ⇔↓), or Scourge,[FN#6] a line of drab-coloured clay which
subtends the Western Lohf, or rim of the Northern Tulúl el Safá region, and which sheds to the south-south-east; the mud dries as the basalt splits, in lozenges and in five-angled flakes. The same phenomenon was remarked by Captain Forbes when travelling about Ellborg. ‘The mud, in many cases, had separated itself into perfect basaltic forms, not always regular in their number of sides’ (Iceland, chap. x.). According to Dr. Uno von Troil (Letters on Iceland,
p. 283), this distinct and peculiar appearance has been noticed by him, not only in dry clay, but ‘even in starch when dried in a cup or basin.’ Here the country was good travelling; we saw many old footmarks of sheep, goats, and shod horses; overlying them, however, was the fresh spoor of a dromedary, which still bore the sign of last night’s heat-drops. The rider was evidently bound, like ourselves, from Shakkah, or an adjacent village, for the north-eastern regions, where the Bedawin dwelt; but not on a visit of curiosity, nor for the purpose of exploration; and we gave the ill-omened footprints all the significancy which they deserved. We had set out on a Friday, we had seen a crow, and two hares had crossed our path. Hard on our right hand rose the Lohf, a crusted embankment of black and ‘mailed’ basalt, somewhat resembling the old Saracenic revetments of Hums, and of David’s Tower at Jerusalem. It is evidently the bank formed by the lava torrent when beginning to cool, and thus becoming able to resist, like a dyke, the pressure and thrust of heated matter in its rear. The height varied from 30 to 50 feet without a break, and the cast-iron prism projected into the yellow wady capes, bluffs, and headlands, separated by dwarf bays. The feature is familiar to those who have crossed the Leja, and it gives the volcanic patch the shape of a frying-pan without the handle. We did not, however, sight the Eastern Lohf of this north-western dependency of the Safá; and when we thought to see it, the elevation proved to be merely an independent fragment of eruption. Small ruins and look-out places of the liveliest coal-black crown the coping, and in places where the outline droops it is crossed by paths practicable to horsemen. As the attack must be made in front, a small party taking shelter behind any natural breastwork on the crest could easily defend itself against Arabs in force. Near a spot called El Hezábah (Ε±↓Σ〈⇔↓) we ascended the summit, and found the shape a tolerably regular prism,
disposed in sections at right angles like giant fortifications. Here the western side was lampblack, and the eastern was white with the normal cryptogam; there the rule was reversed; in fact, we could only determine, that the lichen least affects the sunny southern frontings.
After one hour and fifty minutes up the Saut, which often became a scatter of stones, apparently swept down from the Lohf, we turned sharp to the right, and crossed the lava ridge-lip where it had a break. Here it was subtended by several parallels, which bore much the appearance of earthworks and cavaliers. Within the rim the surface of the naked plateau was rough to the last degree: now the basaltic barrows showed heads blown off, where the gases had converted them to suffiones and fumaroles; then they were domed, where the force of the explosion was insufficient to burst them. Upon the slopes here and there lay concentric circles of ropy lava, as if poured out upon a level and then tilted up. This shield-like formation is not uncommonly seen in the contortions of the limestone strata; near ‘Cana of Galilee’ there is a remarkable specimen. The surface was everywhere striated with longitudinal gashes and fissures; between the lava-passages were circles and long streaks of stoneless yellow clay, now dry as summer dust, but impassable during the rains, except by working round the stone-scattered edges. It was a grim and grisly scene of volcanic struggle and devastation, mocking all the ruins ever made by ‘Tamerlane’ el Wahsh;[FN#7] a landscape spoiled and broken to pieces, blistered, wrinkled, broken-backed, and otherwise tormented; here ghastly white, there gloomiest black, and both glowing under the gay sunlight of a Syrian June. The altitude was 1300 feet, some 900 below that of Damascus city; but the light sweet breath of the morning from the north ceased when we left the Ghadír, and the shape as well as the components of the Wa’ar or Trachon admirably condensed the heat; the air danced and reeked upwards, the abnormal evaporation affecting man and beast with intolerable thirst.
The only sign that human foot ever trod this inhospitable wild was here and there a goat-Maráh, with a Mintar (sentinel-place) perched on some commanding spot. Bedawin, however strong and however safely camped, never fail to keep, at all hours of the day and sometimes at night, as sharp a look-out as the most prudent of old ‘salts;’ and their little parties of scouts, reduced not unfrequently to a solitary tribesman perched on a Tell-top, are the first to see and to be seen by the strangers. Our guide, and the two Bedawin, apparently knew nothing of the way, and the latter were confused by the perpetual interpellations of the Druze Mashaikh (Chiefs). The road was simply a goat-track over the domes of cast-iron ovens in endless succession. I remember it as truly a ‘maniac ride.’ We should have taken the southeastern line, where the land is higher and flatter: we preferred winding from east to south, when our course was north-east. No less than five halts were required, after periods varying from forty-five minutes to one hour and five minutes, in order to await the camels, of which one was badly cut by the sharp basaltic edges. At the Rajm el Shalshal (‘of dripping water’), where we took refuge in a shady fissure, we again saw traces of our friend on the dromedary. We were reminded of the world of life by the usual swarms of flies, gnats, and fleas, and in one place by a quaint pair of rock lizards, possibly Baron et feme; one of a bright French blue, the other with azure head and coat of lively green and red. Our Arabs of course called them Hardún (chameleons), like the Brazilians of the Sâo Francisco River and their ‘Cameleâo.’ The queer beasts, bobbing their heads with the action of the black lizard, that mocks the Moslem at his prayers and prostrations, watched us curiously as we watched them.
We were presently surprised, at 4.20 P.M., by seeing the advanced party spring suddenly from their mares, and by hearing the welcome words, ‘Umm Nírán.’ Day was wearing on, and the attempts at pointing out the site had become vague in the extreme. A night march over such a country would have been worse than a moonlight tramp up to the crest of the Camarones Mountain, or of Santa Isabel, Fernando Po. The transit of the ugly monotonous Wa’ar had occupied four hours twenty-five minutes, and the day’s journey a total of eight hours fifteen minutes. From Taymá we had spent seventeen hours, whose result was a distance of twenty-three and a half direct geographical miles.
We hastened to inspect a feature concerning which we had heard so many curious and contradictory tales. It lies at the north-western foot of a scarped, round-topped, and fang-shaped block, which the Arabs call, from its likeness to a grinder tooth, El Zirs (℘Ρ∪). Dr.
Wetzstein was therefore misled in changing it to El Turs (the Target). This accomplished writer, who was a philologist rather than a topographer, did not, I have said, visit in person the Umm Nírán and the Tulúl el Safá; hence his description of the former and his map of the latter abound in inaccuracies, which contrast remarkably with the exact descriptions of what he really saw. The mysterious cave, occupying the eastern slope of a rounded bubble of basalt, opens to the S.S.East (133°) with a natural arch of trap, which at first appears broken into artificial voussoirs; and it is fronted by a circular hollow of the usual yellow clay, to which rude steps lead from the stony eastern edge. There is another approach from the west, and both show that at times the water is extensively used. All above the cave is dry as the Land of Sind, and in the summer sunshine the hand could not rest upon the heated surface. After rain, however, there is evidently a drainage from the fronting basin into the cave.
The preceding plan (p. 223) by Mr. C.F. Tyrwhitt Drake will explain the form of Umm Nírán better than any words of mine. The floor, coated with shallow dry mud, is of ropy and other basalt; therefore the entrance, low as it is, can never have been more than a few inches higher. The slope is easy and regular; but we found no sign of the inside ‘treppen’ alluded to by Dr. Wetzstein (p. 38). The roof displays a longitudinal ribbing, as if the breadth had, near the entrance, been almost doubled by the handiwork of man. A sensible widening with a lozenge-shaped pier, the rock being left to act column, succeeds the narrow adit through which a man must creep; and boulders are heaped up along the tight side, apparently to show the way. Passing this bulge, and entering a second tunnel, we came, after a total distance of same 200 feet to the water; a ditch-like channel, averaging four feet in breadth, with mud-clothed Mastabahs, or flat benches of cut rock on either side, varying from two to six feet wide. The line then bent from N.N.East at an angle of 50º to the right (north-east). Here, by plunging his head below the water, and by raising it beyond where the roof-spine descended, my companion found an oval-shaped chamber, still traversed by the water, which gleamed fitfully in the candle-light. He could not, however, reach the end; a little beyond this point the rock ceiling and the water definitively met. The supply was perfectly sweet, depressing the immersed thermometer from 74° in the air to 71°-72°. The atmosphere was close and dank; and whilst the roof was an arid fiery waste of the blackest lava, the basalt ceiling of the cave sweated and dripped: apparently simple evaporation could not have been the only cause. The water, which varied in depth from a few inches to mid-thigh, is said by the Bedawin to be warmer in the morning; but that may be explained by the air being colder to the sense. The taped length of the tank was 140 feet, making a total of 340 feet; but the extent may be greater. According to the Arabs, it is supplied by springs as well as by rain, and the hottest season fails to dry it. The altitude by aneroid proved to be 2745 feet, or 446 feet above our lowest level. A water-scorpion was the only living thing found in the cave.
This curious tunnelled reservoir is evidently natural; but it has been enlarged and disposed by man. There is no local legend concerning the origin of a work so far beyond the powers of the Bedawin past and present; we could only conjecture that it was made by some of the olden kings of the Damascene, who, finding a fountain and a rain-cistern so inconveniently placed as to be almost useless, enlarged the approach for the benefit of their flocks and herds intrusted to Arab care-takers. The Bedawin knew naught of cut blocks, written stones, or of ruins in the neighbourhood; and we could see only the rudest of dry walls, used to shelter the shepherd from wind and rain. As regards the Shitáyá clansman mentioned by Dr. Wetzstein (p. 38), who went in with black locks, and who after the third day came out with white hair, such a visitor in such a place would be easily frightened out of his wits, and, losing his light, he would grope and wander round and round the pier, in mortal dread of the Jánn (genii) and other creatures of his fancy. We carefully searched the bays and enlargements in the two branches around the pier, and we found no trace of human bones. Of course the Mother of Fires, which should be called the Father of Waters, situated and constructed as it is, would naturally be a theme for the grossest exaggeration. One of our Druze lads declared that he had taken an hour to reach the water; we timed the approach, which was on all-fours, and found it occupy three minutes.
Our straggling and losing way upon the march was the more regretable, as it prevented our inspecting the mountain El Zirs, whose bluff northern face, distant about three miles, suggested the necessity of a long détour. The ‘Grinder-tooth’ is the northernmost apex of the Tulúl el Raghaylah (Ενϖ∠ℵ), which Dr. Wetzstein’s map, adopting the apocope of the Fellahin, erroneously calls El Ġele (Anglicè Ghaylah).[FN#8] The Raghaylah range has three well- marked summits, without including the Hlewá (↓υϖν≡) - an un-Arabic term, which some
pronounce Hlewiyyá (°υϖν≡) - and other cones to the east, or the detached volcanic cone El Mafradah (the Solitary), which lies upon the southern decline. The minor altitudes of all these Tulúl are technically known as El Istirát, or the Outliers: thus the Bedawin say Istirát Umm Izn, Istirát el Dakwah, and so forth.
We are now at the southern limit of the northern Tulúl el Safá, a projection from the Safá proper, the eastern Trachon (τραχων, or rough range) of the classics, which apparently has been so puzzling to modern translators. Strabo (book xvi. chap. 2, par. 20, Hamilton and Falconer’s translation; London, Bohn, 1857) says: ‘Above [read beyond] Damascus are the two hills called Trachones [read the two so-called Trachons, namely the twin Wa’ars of the Leja and the Safá]; then towards the parts (i.e. south and south-east) of Damascus occupied by Arabians and Ituraeans promiscuously are mountains of difficult access, in which are caves extending to a great depth. One of these caves (Umm Nírán?) is capable of containing 4000 thieves.’ Pliny (vol. i. chap. 16, Bostock and Riley; Bohn, 1855) reckons Trachonitis amongst the Tetrarchies. The ‘revolt of the Trachonitis’ is the subject of Josephus’s essay (book xvi. chap. 9, Antiquities of the Jews); but though familiar with the sea and the shores of Tiberias, he evidently, knew nothing of the northern regions. Ptolemy (chap. xv. table 4) mentions among Syrian mountains the Alsadamus, whose centre would be in E. long. 71° and N. lat. 33°; and the Bathaneae provinciae (Bataniyyah, Bashan), a cujus orientali parte est Saccoea (Shakkah). Et hujus sub Alsadamum montem sunt Trachonitae Arabes. Popular works (e.g. Smith’s Classical Dictionary, sub voce) of course repeat that ‘Trachonitis was for the most part a sandy desert, intersected by two ranges of rocky mountains called Trachones;’ a grand ‘elimination’ from the self-conscious depths of the author. Similarly in the Concise Dictionary of the Bible, Trachonitis is represented ‘to have included the whole of the modern province (!) called El Lejâh, with a section of the plain (?) southward, and also a part of the western (add eastern) declivities of Jebel (Durúz) Haurân. This may explain Strabo’s two Trachones.’ One fortnight’s excursion will, it is hoped, introduce correct topography to future educational writers. The fact is, that the Safá or eastern Trachon together with the western - that is to say, the Leja proper - would be included in the Tetrarchy of Trachonitis, which thus extended from Auranitis or the Haurán[FN#9] Valley, to the Ruhbah Valley and the Hammád or Desert of the Euphrates.[FN#10]
The shape of the Tulúl el Safá region is pyri-form, like the Leja. The lone El Mafradah forms the stalk; the bluff end to the north is the Tell Shámát, together with its dependencies abutting upon the limestone range of the Anti-Libanus, at whose base runs the desert road to Karyatayn and Palmyra; whilst the boundary to the north-west is represented by a dark outpouring of lava known as the Arz el Jaháshiyyah (of Asses’ Colts?), and looking like the dry bed of a torrent, brown and rust-stained upon the yellow surface of the limestone. We did not lay down the eastern limit; but the villagers of Dhumayr pointed out certain unnamed cones (‘Istirát’) depending upon the Umm Rakíbah: this frontier may perhaps be extended to Jebel Says (the Ses of Dr. Wetzstein’s map), bordering upon the Hammád region. The western Lohf projects a few yards beyond the second or middle Dayr, and the last heights in this direction are the outliers of Jebel Dakwah.
After bathing in the Mother of Fires, and a comfortable sleep upon the lap of Mother Hertha, we set out, in a cool west wind, at 5 A.M. on June 4th. Striking north, with a tantinet of westing, we made for the great red cinder-heap known as Umm el Ma’azah (Mother of the She-goat). The ground suggested that the eastern Lohf was not distant: it was mostly stony, and we passed on the right a crater whose surroundings when viewed from lower levels, the surface over which we were travelling, appeared like giant earthworks. The course was very devious, and frequently a stiff descent compelled us to dismount: at the base of the wall we found a dry well and a stone trough. After one hour and thirty-five minutes, in .which we covered perhaps four and a half direct geographical miles, we halted for observations at the southern slope of the Umm el Ma’azah, and we then fell into the trodden way which winds round the west of this volcano. It leads from the Ghútah section of the Damascus plain, about Harrán el Awamíd in fourteen hours - twelve upon a good dromedary - to the Ruhbah Valley. No Arabs, however, had passed since the spring rains, as the camel-chips all well washed showed, and our escort did not for five minutes cease singing their war-song.
As we wound round the western side of the great cinder-heap we found its crater in its
literally thighs, lap, as if it extended far out upon the plain two fat red thighs, the Jarcat (
hips, loins) of the Hebrews, applied to the Libanus and Mount Ephraim, the East African Tumbo la Mlímá (Belly of the Mount). After twenty minutes of slow march we ordered the camel-men to make straight for the Bir Kasam, whilst we ascended a remarkable feature, the Tell ‘Akir (by the Bedawin pronounced El ‘Ajir).[FN#11] Usually known as the Shaykh el Tulúl, this ‘Headman of the Hillocks’ rises some seven statute miles north, with a suspicion of westing from the Umm el Ma’azah. We then rode up in one hour and twenty minutes to the foot of the cone, which springs from a high plane with large outliers trending to the south, with a little easting. Seven minutes were spent in stiff climbing up the ridgy surface of exceptionally light and thoroughly burnt scoriæ, dark below, and above light red and yellow, containing sulphur. The angle of the north-western slope was 19° 30’; that of the northeastern 22°; the southern range up which we walked showed 22° 30’; and the stoniest part above the lateral folds reached 24º. The altitude proved to be 3328 feet.
We had expected to stand upon the lip of a large crater; we found only a tall horseshoe open to the north and the north-west, without any sign of a bowl. Accordingly we ascended the eastern or highest point for a better view of the peculiar scene before us. Seen from this elevatian, the volcanic Tells and craters, modern, tertiary and pleiocene, which before seemed scattered in wild confusion, fell into regular lines, with trifling interjections, towards north-south, slightly deviating to east-west. The parallels are distinctly three. The middle range is represented on the north by Umm Izn (Mother of an Ear), so called because the table-top, bearing 246°, has a projection at one end, a kind of ‘cock-nose’ breaking the straight line of features: the word is classical; we read in Joshua (xix. 34) of Aznoth Tabor, the ears or projections of Tabor. About the centre of the line stands the Monarch of the Mounts, Tell el ‘Akir, and to the south project the Zirs and the Raghaylah blocks. The map will give the best idea of the meridional lines which flanked us on the east and west. The ground at the foot of El ‘Akir was of silt upon a limestone floor, and its high level explained how from afar a yellow sheet appears shelving up to the very bases of the pyramids: it here represents the Arz Tanánír (Land of Gathering Water),[FN#12] the system of shallow and heated basins between the Hijánah village and the Dayrs or monasteries. The volcanoes rise from this sterile investment in naked heaps, black and white, red and yellow; they are conical, table-topped, or saddle-backed, whilst inky dots show the smaller fumaroles, and sable bars and lines denote the connecting bars and ridges of basalt. The section from Umm Izn to Jebel Dakwah, where the basalt preponderates over other formations, explains the low and widespread dark dome called at the Hijánah village El Mutallá. The effect of these upheavals displays itself in the tilting-up of the northern range of limestone hills about Dhumayr, where the strata have been raised almost to a perpendicular, and the intervening waves of calcareous ground are deeply fissured. We could not at the time explain why all the Tells, especially those to the north-west, projected immensely long black tails to the east.
In twenty minutes we walked down the whole height of El ‘Akir, and remounting, we proceeded to cross the silty plain on the W.S.West, which was cut and broken by many shallow Wadys. A little southwards of our course was a detached block, a long ridge, red above and dark below, which seemed to be crowned by a castellated ruin; this, however, proved to be a mass of rock. The gash of El ‘Akir presently showed big and ruddy. After forty minutes we passed an extinct crater in the western range; it is known as El Halayyawát, probably a corrupted diminutive of El Hlewa, before mentioned; forty-five minutes then placed us at the foot of the small black cone El Huwayfir, remarkable for the dispro- portionate bigness of its bowl; hence probably its name, derived from El Hufr, the digging.
The last of this day’s march was wearying and monotonous. The only new feature was a fine white sand, composed mainly of triturated fresh-water and land shells (Neritinoe and Helices), the latter belonging chiefly to two species. They are produced in considerable quantities by the limestone region generally, and especially by the Fanges or swamps, when these basins bear water: after the death of the mollusk, they are swept up inland by the strong and regular west wind, which rushes from the Anti-Libanus to the Desert. It may here be mentioned, that during nearly two years in Damascus I never saw a drop of water upon the chalky-white surface of the so-called ‘Lakes.’ Mr. Porter (chap. ix. Five Years in Damascus) assures his readers that he has established two points of some importance: the first being, that the Barada continues to flow into the lake during the whole summer; whilst the second is, that the waters of the lake do not dry up during the hot season. Between December 1869 and June 1871 I repeatedly followed the course of the Damascus river; and I also had ‘ocular demonstration’ that, firstly, the stream does not reach its basin (Bahrat el ‘Utaybah);[FN#13] secondly, that the said basin, like the three southern features which look so neatly and prettily blue upon the maps, showed nothing of the element, except in pits and wells. I shall not easily forget the disappointment of my first visit, when eyes accustomed to lake scenery in the four quarters of the globe fell upon an ugly expanse of dried and flaky mud, varied only by dwarf white rises where the salt outcropped, and by lines of thickety rush, denoting that the subsoil was a trifle muddier than usual. Our statements, however, are easily reconciled. Mr. Porter visited the swamp region during years of average rain-fall; I during two years whose winters were remarkable for drought: for the winter of 1870-71, the pluviometer at Damascus gave only 3.32 inches.
I may be allowed a few words touching these so-called lakes, which have of late been made the subject of discussion.[FN#14] Moreover, some maps show two, others three, and mostly four waters. They are laid down with tolerable accuracy, and are correctly named, in the map of Dr. Wetzstein, which Van de Velde has evidently transferred bodily to his own. The Prussian traveller, however, calls the northern-most basin ‘Atêbe, and Dr. Beke Atabeh; whereas I would write ‘Utaybah, with the initial Ayn moved by Dammah, the name of the village on the western plain, and also that of the ruffian tribe of hill-Bedawin who fired upon our caravan as we were approaching Meccah. The terms Bahrat el Sharkiyah (Eastern Tank) and El Kibliyah (Southern Tank), applied by mappers to the same basin, are totally unknown to the people, and are simply absurd, because one ‘lake’ does not lie east of the other. The basin also is not bisected by a band of higher ground, as shown by Mr. Porter, although a shallow natural trench, connecting the northern half of the kidney-formed depression with the lower, is distinctly to be traced. In rare places I found mud, though the people spoke of dangerous quagmires. The dry bed is here and there white with a saltine efflorescence, and all the sheep fed upon the grass would become près salé perforce, as in Northern France, where mutton is now unknown. The ground-waves not usually submerged are known by the tamarisk-scrub, and the deeper depressions are overgrown with tall reeds and rushes, which rear colonies of shells and shelter wild pig. Ducks and aquatic birds also are said to abound when the place is flooded.
The second ‘lake’ to the south, called from a village also on its west Bahrat el Hijánah, receives, when there is any to spare, the drainage of the ‘Awaj River. I found it a chalky-white surface, with mushroom-shaped pillars horizontally ribbed and left in the harder material by the water, which has washed away the rest. This ground is in spring and autumn the favourite camping-place of the Wuld Ali; they find water in pits some five to six feet deep, generally sweet, but here and there brackish. When riding from El Hijánah to visit my friend Shaykh Salih Tayyár, I crossed a deep drain which connects the basin with that of ‘Utaybah, and down which Mr. Macgregor probably paddled the ‘young lady.’ I cannot agree with that traveller, who suggests that the Abana (Barada?) and the ‘Awaj (Pharpar?) do not flood or dry up together; both are fed by the same rains and by the same snows, whilst their springs are perennial.
The Bahrat Bálá, so called from a village now ruined,[FN#15] and at times swamped by the surplus of the Bahrat Hijánah, evidently occupies the lowest gradient of the plain, which is bounded eastward by the westernmost Lohf, a rim of the volcanic floods poured out by the Tulúl el Safá. The surface is of the light bistre-coloured soil (goldgelbe humus), called farther west Arz Haurániyyah: friable in the extreme, and in places rotten, it becomes after rain ankle-deep mud, and in the dry season it is full of treacherous sinks and holes, attributed by the people to the sinking of water. These man-traps often widen below, and in one of them I have seen a horse fall to the saddle-flaps. Similar to this is the formation of the fourth water, the Matkh B’rák (Burák), the ‘Flooded Plain of the Cisterns.’ It takes its name from an almost deserted town at the stalk or northern end of the pyriform Leja. Here Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt established his commissariat, and upon this point, where the stone breastwork still remains, he fell back when the flower of his army was destroyed by the Druzes. The Matkh B’rák, separated from the Hijánah basin by a high wave of rugged basaltic ground called Fas’hat Tell el Ra’as, admits after heavy rains the waters of the Wady Liwá or Luwá, a fiumara defining the eastern limits of the Leja. This rough and rocky conduit receives, a little north of B’rák town, the tributary Wady Abu Khunayfis, and the latter drains off the southern slopes of the basaltic block through which the ‘Awaj Valley passes, and whose culminating point is the Jebel el Máni’a (the Forbidding or Difficult Mountain). Rising from the northern slope of the Jebel el Ashkárá (Schkâra in Dr. Wetzstein), and the eastern gradient of Tell el Huzaynah, the Liwá conducts, under a complexity of names, the surface-water of the Jebel Durúz Haurán; and it often becomes a violent torrent with a rapid descent and overfalls, carrying with it boulders of basalt, and here and there forming little holms. In the dry season the bed is lined with the pinkest and greenest oleanders, and with the blue-flowered Ghár. Mr. Porter derives the Wady Liwá from the neighbourhood of Nimrah town, where a deeply-cut river-valley runs up far beyond it; and he terminates it in the Hijánah ‘lake;’ finally, he omits the third and the fourth basins.
The Druzes, as usual, rode on, leaving us to follow with the camels, and every hour and a quarter of march obliged us to halt, wearying us by want of exertion. We saw only a small drab-coloured snake and a few Katás, where the ground was faintly green. Pterocles once saved my life, and I never shoot him or his kind.[FN#16] At last, after three hours and thirty minutes of actual riding, we came upon the scorched yellow-white plain of the Kala’at and Bir Kasam (the Fort and Well of an Oath), concerning which I could find no trace of tradition. Features now familiar stood before us: the Hermon hogsback, El Kulayb of the Druzes; Abu ‘l Atá, on the Palmyra road; Jebel el Máni’a, on the way to Moab;[FN#17] and others familiar to me for the last year and a half. The shallow silty basin in front was backed by what seemed to be plantations round villages, and a little to the south was the Tell Kasam; a small black rock, conspicuous from afar, supporting a ruin, which some Arabs call the fourth Dayr, others the Kasr (Palace) Kasam. We reached the fort in thirty minutes; and thus ended our total of nine hours and forty-eight minutes, the work of that day.
The arrival at the well was not, as it usually is, a time of rejoicing, of smoking long pipes, of coffee-drinking, and of rest upon cushioned carpets. The Druzes, who had finished the journey, twelve and a half direct statute miles from the Halayyawát cone, a good hour and a half before us - the camel escort - had dispersed wildly in all directions looking for water, which they could not find. We inspected the fort, a square of modern construction, sadly broken down; and to the west we were shown a large ‘Jurn’ or sarcophagus-trough, which, according to our guides, once denoted the well. My companion and I, obedient to the maps, took the south-eastern direction, in which the Bir Kasam is laid down by Dr. Wetzstein and his copiers. He had, however, passed it by night, with fear and trembling of his escort; and his mistake caused us a couple of hours of thirst and general discomfort. In the high west wind, fast stiffening to a gale, which seemed to confound earth and sky, and which filled the air with acrid and pungent dust, like a storm in Sind or the Panjáb, we could descry no trace of the water-pit, although I had taken a ‘blind sight’ to it in December 1869. On the south were two rubbish-filled pits, both evidently unused for years, and north of the fort lay a third in the same condition. At last a wanderer of the party, happening to go farther afield, was lucky enough, when we began asking each other what on earth could be done, to hit upon the well, bearing 10° from the Kala’at, and 39º 30' from the Tell Kasam. The lip, well-worn and deeply-grooved in the hard basaltic stone, shows how long it has been used by the Bedawin. It is sunk some twenty feet deep in the live rock, and it is flanked by two shallow pans or vats, for the convenience of watering cattle. The salt and silty plain around had made its yield particularly unsavoury, and it is never sweet except when copiously drawn. Our eyes were peppered with pungent dust, and we felt in the flesh what spoils the water.
The Druzes kept us waiting as long as possible, each, according to custom, fighting to water his mare first; and here, upon the very Darb el Ghazawát (the Road of Razzias from time immemorial), they seemed unwilling to leave the well. A Bedawi never commits the imprudence of lingering near water, especially about sunset; so, leading the way to a shallow bulge in a Wady south of the fort, we made preparations for the night. As evening fell, we found that a ‘palaver’ was to be held. Every attempt was of course made to find out what our intentions were, and all equally failed. Presently we told our friends that we were not going direct either to Damascus or to the Dhumayr village; and this item of news determined their action. All but one disappeared during the night; and when morning dawned, we felt a sense of relief in having seen the last of men and mares. The society of the Fellahin is not more wearying, and our horses had become utterly demoralised.
The next day (Monday, June 5) saw the last of our excursion into the desert. We set out from the well at 5.30 A.M., leaving the third Dayr or monastery to the north; whilst far beyond it, and a little, westward, appeared the break in the lime-stone ridge which allows passage to the Ruhaybah rivulet of Dhumayr.[FN#18] This was to be our resting-place; but luckily for ourselves, we bent to the north-east, intending to inspect the Dakwah Mountain - the cone which from Damascus appears the best defined and the most picturesque.
Travelling slowly, in unusually hot and still weather, over an exceptionally rough country – a sea of basalt, a mass of lava, which, in the moment of its most violent commotion, appeared suddenly to have cooled - we reached, after three hours and five minutes, the base of El Dakwah,[FN#19] and we found the ascent a stiffer affair than usual. The height was 3370 feet above sea-level, and 580 feet above the plateau from which it rises. The slope must again be compared with a well-stuffed and legless arm-chair; or, to describe it less prosaically, it is
‘Hooke’d and crook’d like the horn’d moon.’
The ‘Dakwah’ is a kind of shell, with a hollow opening to the north-west. The inside of this crater of eruption is ribbed with semicircular rocks, whilst the outside is ridged with long shunts and shoots. My fellow-traveller ascended from the interior hollow; I tried the western rim, which had two slopes, the lower occupying eight minutes, and the upper ten minutes. The surface is the usual red and yellow scoriacious matter resting upon what seems to be hardened mud. At the highest point we found masses of rock, in whose shade grew lichens and small-leaved plants. The beetles were all elytra and exuviæ; but the big and little flies appeared lively enough. We cast scrutinising glances about the lowlands, which were a complete network of foot-paths; and we were easily consoled at not seeing a living thing. This had been the rule, since we left Taymá, with but one exception, those ominous dromedary tracks. The shepherds evidently frequent the Dakwah in the days of grass; and, returning to Damascus, we were told that a Mangalah (Mankalah), a pitted stone used for a popular Egyptian and Syrian game, is found upon the very summit. We were afterwards shown from Dhumayr a cone to some distance north-eastward of the Dakwah, and called Milh el Kuranful (Salt of Cloves?). Upon this the stranger may pick up cloves; but if he does, he dies. It is said that snow falls upon the ‘Hillock volcano;’ but in this matter I am disposed to be incredulous.
The summit of the Dakwah explained to us the secret of the long dark brushes which the western-most of the three lines of cones project far to the east. The zebra-like stripes of black and white are the effect of the regularly blowing west wind, which disposes the shell-dust in thin sheets over the western slopes of the cones, whilst the latter shelter the basaltic ground to their lee or east. Thus on the Jebel Dakwah we found the line of wind to run about 60°; the leeward plain was a sooty stripe of naked lava about one mile broad: north of this lay a snowy band averaging about half that width; and farther north was a second black ribbon about one-third of a mile in breadth, kept clear and clean by the ‘Three Brothers.’ As will be seen in the map, this triple formation adjoins the Dakwah, whereas Dr. Wetzstein places it on a parallel instead of a meridional line, and distant some twelve direct geographical miles to the north. He also gives them the curiously corrupted name ‘Tulesawa’ for Salás Akhwán (the Three Brothers), which only the most ignorant of peasants would pronounce ‘Tulays a’wwá.’
At eleven A.M., leaving the foot of Jebel Dakwah, we made for Dhumayr, to the north-west. The white shell- sand seemed to gather mostly around this western group of hills, and presently we passed out of it. The limestone flooring of the plain again exposed itself; it was more deeply fissured than usual by volcanic action, possibly by earthquakes. This line led to an irregular north-western Lohf, composed of long narrow dykes and barrows, blow-holes and circlets, the drums of domes which had burst into space: all was of the blackest basalt. Gradually the igneous formation fined off, and we found ourselves riding over the Arz Tannúrín (the Land of Furnaces), and the Zuhúr el Surr (Ground-waves of the Billán-thorn), the rolling ground which outskirts the rich plain of Dhumayr. We passed the well-known features, Hayt Rambay (Rambay’s Wall), which defends the entrance to cultivated land, and which runs straight up hill and down dale; and the Sadd Rambay (Rambay's Dyke), vestiges of a dam which, formerly spanning the narrow neck between the basalts on the south and the limestone outliers of the Anti-Libanus, pent up the eastern waters, and converted a widening expanse of meadow into a tank. Its large blocks of white limestone have been used to make two diminutive drains; according to the villagers, they were mill-races. A gallop over the plain placed us (4.50 P.M.) at the Maskabahs[FN#20] (of Dhumayr, where we were well received by the good Rasid el Bostají. We had covered twenty indirect miles from Jebel Dakwah, and a day’s total of thirty.
Our arrival was in the very nick of time. The Druze traitor sent from Shakkah by Kabalán el Kala’áni, at the instigation of the Governor-general of Syria, set out on Friday, June 2d, and reached the Ruhbah Valley on the evening of the next day. The Sunday was employed in mustering the Bedawin: the Razzia missed us on Monday at the Umm Nirán, at the Bir Kasam, and upon the direct Lake-road to Dhumayr; they were, in fact, a few hours too late. On Tuesday they plundered, although some 600 Turkish soldiers were in camp within half an hour’s ride, three neighbouring villages - Suwaydah, Abbádah, and Harrán el Awáníd;[FN#21] the first mentioned belonging to M. Hanna Azar, dragoman to her Majesty’s Consulate, Damascus. They also threatened the life of this valuable official; and the inspectors sent by the Governor-general pronounced the damage done to his property to have been the work of wild pigs! Such was the justice to be obtained by English-protected subjects at Damascus, and this was the state to which England in Syria has been allowed to fall.
We rode into Damascus before noon on Wednesday, June 7th, escaping by peculiar good fortune a plundering party numbering 80 to 100 horsemen and some 200 Radifs (dromedary-riders), two to each saddle. I duly appreciated the compliment - can any unintentional flattery be more sincere? - of sending 300 men to dispose of three. Our zigzag path had saved us from the royaume des taupes, for these men were not sent to plunder; besides, honneur oblige. The felon act, however, failed; and our fifteen days of wandering ended without accident.
[FN#1] It was a favourite with the Harfush family, the feudal heads of the Metaweli or Shiahs of Syria. [FN#2] Dr. Wetzstein (p. 98) explains the term, which is applied to many similar features; and I have alluded to it in my Pilgrimage to El Medinah and Meccah (ii. 230-5). Burckhardt’s editor confines the term too much when he hints that to the west of the Safá proper is a district called ‘El Harra - a term applied by the Arabs to all tracts which are covered with small stones, being derived from Harr, i.e. heat (reflected from the ground).’ This Harrah must not be confounded with that south of Damascus - a hitherto unvisited region, said to abound in ruins and ‘written stones.’ I have committed it also to the charge of my friend and travelling companion. [FN#3] Upon this subject I venture to subjoin a correspondence which took place in the Field, Dec. 16 and Dec. 23, 1871.
The reviewer of the discussion about the ‘Lake Victoria Nyanza’ remarked, in two bracketed paragraphs, of which it is enough to quote one: ‘It is a somewhat curious circumstance, that in the Royal Geographical Society Captain Burton made his assertions at two following meetings, and it was only at the second of these he was reminded, in a rather timid way, that what he supposed to be new was known before. So well known is the fact, that, when Humboldt supposed two active volcanoes to exist in the Thian-Shan, geographers were obliged to cast about for the sheet of water which was considered essential to be found near volcanoes, and adopted Lake Balkash as not too far distant. When the two Thian-Shan volcanoes of Humboldt, Peshan and Ho-chew, were shown by a Russian geographer, M. Semenof, to have no actual existence, there remained no exception to the well-known general rule as to the proximity of active volcanoes to water. Lyell has a theory about it which will be found fully detailed in his Principles of Geology; and, in fact, the statement is constantly repeated in manuals of physical geography. It is, therefore, not easy to understand either why Captain Burton should have claimed the idea as one specially his own, or why geographers were so slow and timid in reminding him that he advanced nothing new - unless, indeed, they imagined that he had something quite fresh to bring forward, which he would develop in process of time.’
My text is left as I wrote it in September 1871 – it does not seem to claim any idea as my own - and the following copy was at once addressed to the editor of the Field:
‘To the Editor of the “Field.”
‘Sir, - Perhaps you will allow me to notice in a few lines certain remarks which appeared in your last issue: I allude to two bracketed paragraphs - one long, the other short in your correspondent’s report of our third session of the Royal Geographical Society, when the discussion concerning the existence of the so-called “Lake Victoria Nyanza” took place.
‘My attention has been strongly drawn to the fact that the existence of an active volcano presupposes the vicinity of a large sheet of water, salt or fresh, by my last two years’ residence in Syria and Palestine. The Hermon, for instance, which I propose to place in a separate orine system from the Anti-Libanus, is distinctly basaltic to the south, to the east, and to the west. The lava evidently issued from the mountain-tarn known to Josephus as Lake Phiala, and to the moderns as Birket el Ram, or Tank of the Highland. On the other hand, as history tells us, the now shrunken “Waters of Merom,” still subtending the southern flank of the Hermon, extended far to the north of the present site, and occupied, indeed, the whole southern third of the noble Coelesyrian Valley proper.
‘Again, when travelling about the trachytic region known as Jebel Durúz Haurán, which is to the Anti-Libanus what this is to the Libanus, and when inspecting the multitude of little volcanic cones called the (Northern) Tulúl el Safá, I remembered my journey to Palmyra
- that wondrous city built upon the very shore where the last waves of the wilderness break upon the easternmost outlines of the northern Anti-Libanus. It became apparent that the desert, a flat and mostly stoneless tract, rich in salt-diggings, and showing maritime fossils, was the bed of an extinct Mediterranean - an arm, in fact, of the Persian Gulf, which during geological ages - before it was raised, not by a catastrophe, but by secular upheavals -occupied part of what is now the lower valley of the Euphrates.
Returning to England, I spoke upon the subject with sundry geographical friends, two of whom were named at the meeting - Mr. John Arrowsmith and Mr. Trelawney Saunders. Both told me that they had not given the subject that attention which it merits. Mr. Saunders, indeed, quoted Thian-Shan as an exception. Mr. John Ball afterwards named Cotopaxi, distant about two direct degrees from the Pacific, but possibly connected by a tunnel, whose spiracles are the great cones to its west. Others have since pointed out Jorullo. In fact, I have never found my friends “slow and timid when differing from me in opinion.
‘The “somewhat curious circumstance” alluded to by your able correspondent loses all its “curiosity” when accurately stated. I have no right to originality of idea in the matter, after reading Humboldt and Lyell like most other men. I did not propose the theory as new, but rather as one still deserving our attention, and at any rate far from hackneyed even to professed geographers. I regret having conveyed a “wrong impression;” but we are all liable to be misunderstood. I hope it is not my habit to claim what is not my own. And, finally, the naïveté with which a very serious charge is insinuated, if not advanced, argues either some hastiness of composition, or a somewhat lax morality in the larger sense of the term.
‘Richard F. Burton, F.R.G.S.’
[FN#4] Mr.Cyril Graham (loc. cit.) prefers Safáh to Safá. But the names of regions
terminating in Alif often take and reject indifferently a terminal Ha (): cases in point are Leja or Lejah, and ‘Ala or ‘Alah. [FN#5] All visited by Mr. Cyril Graham. The word may be translated ‘panthers’ (Nimárat, not ‘tigers,’ as Burckhardt has it, p. 45); but the usual plural of Namir, popularly pronounced Nimr, is ‘Numur.’ He is, I imagine, in error when he writes for Odaysiyyah ‘Tell ‘Odza.’ Dr. Wetzstein has, after the German fashion, ‘Ode’sije;’ whilst Burckhardt gives ‘Oedesie.’ [FN#6] It may also mean a place where water collects: Arabic contains several hundred terms which express every possible modification of this common geographical feature. [FN#7] The civil name of this mighty devastator is the Amir Taymúr, a corruption of Dimir, Lord Iron. The Persian Shiahs, who hated his orthodoxy, nicknamed him Taymur-i-lang, i.e. limping Taymur, whence our Tamerlane. He is called El Wahsh (the wild beast) by the Damascans, because he rode his horse over the corpses of their ancestors, whilst his people played at Chaugán or hookey with the heads of the slain. The city caught a Tartar when the Amir Taymúr stabled his horse in it. In the Haurán he is still accused of filling up the wells, and of throwing quicksilver into the springs so as to prevent the water rising to the surface. [FN#8] They will sometimes also, like the Bedawin, broaden the word to Gháilah, as if written Εν°∠. Raghl, the root of Raghaylah, means sucking (as a lamb sucks the ewe), grain
fresh-formed in the ear, or fulness of grain in an ear of corn. Raghlat is also sucking, or a small animal (e.g. lamb or kid). Ghayl and Ghilat have also the signification of sucking; but the former more generally denotes thickly-tangled trees: hence Umm Ghaylán (literally Mother of Thickets), Egyptian thorn, Acacia Nilotica. [FN#9] Haurán is popularly derived from Hor (rwh), a hole, a cave, therefore cognate with troglodyte or Horite - Firlbog, Terrigena, Cavigena - which is not satisfactory. The word occurs once only in Scripture; Ezekiel (xlvii. 16) speaks of ‘Hazar Hatticon, which is by the coast of Hauran.’ Haur in Arabic means only a poplar, and the region is as a rule utterly destitute of trees. The Hawárinah or actual tenants of the Haurán have a very bad name, and as far as my experience enables me to judge they merit it: Hayyarú Rasúl Ullah salasah marrát (‘They bewildered the Prophet of Allah three times’), is the punning explanation of the Arabs. [FN#10] Burckhardt had heard that this Hammád is sandy. [FN#11] By changing the Káf (¬) into Jím (≠). So they say Jiblah for Kiblah, and Jaryatayn
for Karyatayn. In the Hejaz the words would become Giblah and Garyatayn. The eastern Bedawin, however, like the Syrian, prefer Jawásim to Kawásim (the name of the noted pirates of the Persian Gulf). There are several ‘Akir villages in Syria and Palestine; and one of them in the Philistian Plain represents the Ekron or Accaron of old. The word means a high sandhill, or (large tracts of) unfertile sands. [FN#12] The Hebrew Tanur in our version is translated furnace; but it mostly applies to a baking-oven. The latter in modern Arabic would be Furn, opposed to Tannúr (plural Tannúrín and Tanánír), a smelting-place. In Jerusalem the Furn is still called Tabúmat. Tannúr also means the surface of the earth, or any place where water gushes out, or gathers in a depression. [FN#13] A small collection of shells made in Syria and Palestine was presented to the British Museum, where Messrs. Gwyn Jeffreys, F.R.S., and Edgar Smith kindly named the species as follows:
FRESH-WATER - Unio Niloticus, Férussac; Unio dignatus, Lea; Corbicula fluminalis, Müller; Neritina turris, Mousson; Neritina Numidica, Récluz; Melania tuberculata, Müll.; Melanopsis praerosa, Linné; Melanopsis cariosa, L.
LAND - Helix candidissima, Draparnaud; Helix candidissima, var. prophetiva, Bourguignat; Helix lactea, Müll.; Helix spiriplana, Olivier; Helix figulina, Jan, and var. minor; Helix simulata, Fér.; Bulimus Alepi, Fér; Bulimus Syriacus, Pfeiffer; Clausilia Boissieri, Charpentier.
The fossil shells were in such bad condition that Mr. Woodward could not give specific names. He found the genera to consist of: 1. Pecten; 2. Ostrea; 3. Turritella. [FN#14] Athenaeum, Nov. 1870 (passim). [FN#15] There is a prosperous place of the same name upon the Damascus Plain, near the well-known Tell Sálihiyyah. [FN#16] Surely this is the bird alluded to by Isaiah (xxxiv. 10) when he speaks of the ‘Land of Edom being abandoned to kath’ of which the commentators have by turns made an onocrotalus, a pelican, a bustard, a stork, and a cormorant? [FN#17] I hope that the geographical reader will not understand me to agree with the Rev. Mr. Porter (passim), who, instead of assigning Wady Mújib (Mojeb, the ancient Arnon), about the middle parallel of the so-called Dead Sea, as the northern limit of later Moab proper, unjustifiably prolongs the latter region northwards through Ammon, and El Barriyyah, the chalky lands north-east of Jebel Ajlun (Gilead), right into the Hauranic Valley. By thus confusing the Roman city of Bostra (Nova Trajana), or Bosra in Bashan, which he calls (p. 67, Giant Cities of Bashan) ‘this city of Moab,’ with the true ‘Bozrah of Moab,’ the southern settlement of the same name, better known as Bosrah the Lesser, he is able to apply to the rich and well-peopled lands of the Haurán, still the granary of Syria, all the hideous curses and denunciations pronounced by the Jewish prophets against their illegitimate cousins. Strange to say, he is followed in this course by Mr. Cyril Graham (Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, vol. xxviii, p. 230) . The curious student will do well to consult the ‘Carte pour l’intelligence des Campagnes de Mesa, Roi de Moab,’ which concludes La stèle de Dhiban (see Appendix I. Vol. II.). [FN#18] Erroneously called in maps and plans the ‘Mukabrit,’ or Sulphur Water. This name is applicable only to the produce of the western influent, which flows, or rather which used to flow for a few yards a little to the north-west of the gate or gap debouching upon the Damascus Plain. These waters would answer all the purposes of the Tiberius thermal springs; and formerly there was a Hammam for the accommodation of invalids. The cupidity of the peasants, however, has ruined all prospect of reëstablishing it. [FN#19] The word is probably derived from Dakk, or Dukk, a hillock or low hill. [FN#21] It must not be confounded with Harrán in the Leja, famous for its bilingual inscription, Greek and Nabathaean. The first traveller who passes there is strongly advised to get a ‘squeeze’ of the stone.