« السابقةمتابعة »
treasure buried and concealed. He said that the Waliabees greatly prefer silver to gold, for which no reason was given. He confirmed the story of their horses being fed, at times, entirely on camel's milk. He was mounted on one of these horses, a light leggy animal, very different in appearance from those of the Arabs; he seemed to think the Wahabee sect very general, and said, jokingly, that Sheikh Yousouf was one, which the other denied with apparent horror.
We ascended into a country of downs, with verdure so close as to appear almost turf, and with corn fields at intervals; there were not many rocks, though the surface was sprinkled over with stones. In an hour and a half we reached a camp belonging to the people of Kerek, under Sheikh Ismayel, Yousouf's youngest son. After taking some leban (sour milk) and bread, we proceeded to the N.W., about a mile across some corn land, to a ruined village called Mahanna. The ruins are mostly those of ordinary buildings, but it is evident that one of them had been a Christian church. Another ruined site to the westward was called Dgellgood. The following ruined sites are visible from this point-Machad. Arti-Musshut, (which is the single building supposed to be the tomb of Abou-Taleb,) Harnahta or Mote, Toor, Howeeh, and Marrowhich. We now went due east for an hour to Medin, from whence we could see the following ruined sites, most of them on slight eminencesImriega, E. by N., Hadad, Shirsee, Behlanah, Suhl, and Nehkill; in short, the whole of the fine plains in this quarter are covered with sites of towns, on every eminence or spot convenient for the construction of one; and, as all the land is capable of rich cultivation, there can be little doubt that this country, now so deserted, once presented a continued picture of plenty and fertility. Having finished our survey of the neighbouring ruins, we returned to Ismayel's camp, where we slept.
May 15.-This morning we were off before sun-rise; the same downs con
tinued, with numerous Arab camps in various directions, the ruined sites being still visible in all directions. In about a quarter of an hour we came to the site of Hamahta or Mote, which last name, signifying death, it acquired from the circumstance of all its inhabitants having been exterminated by Abou Taleb, whose supposed tomb, "Musshut," is a building upon arches, standing in a small inclosure, less than half a mile distant to the W.S.W. Near this spot is a Roman mile-stone, inscribed in Latin, the number of miles is thirteen, but the rest of the inscription is indistinct. In about a quarter of an hour from Mote we reached the tomb of Sheikh Jaffa; here the Mahommedans of our party alighted, and entered the tomb to pray. Mahommed, the soldier, reported, that within there are two dark granite columns, well polished.
A quarter of an hour farther we reached the camp of Sheikh Sahlem, who commands, or has influence, at Djebal, and over all the country as far as Shobek. This man asked us two hundred piastres instead of thirty, which old Yousouf said was all he would require. We refused it, and Sahlem persisting, we mounted and retired to a distance. Upon our leaving the tent he expressed a wish "that we might be struck with lightning before we reached Kerek," and added, "that had not Sheikh Yousouf been present with us, he would have had our money by force." Finding, however, that he did not follow us, we sent back to offer one hundred and fifty piastres; the bargain was struck, and the money counted into his hands. He mounted his horse, and accompanied us, together with his son, a fine young man. In about half an hour he brought us to another large camp of his tribe, of thirty-three tents. Having remained here a short time, we proceeded, unattended, about two miles off, to visit the ruins of Dettrass. At the foot of the hill are many cisterns; the ruins are indistinct and of no interest, except three piles of buildings, which appear to be of Roman architecture; one was evidently a temple; the others, though
large, are so much ruined that it is impossible to ascertain what they had originally been. While we were examining these ruins, the people from the neighbouring camps flocked round us in considerable numbers, but were very civil. We returned to our camp in the evening, and observing that all the old women, and many of the young ones, had their cheeks covered with blood and scratches, we inquired the reason, when they told us they had mourned the day before for a death in one of the harems.
May 16.-We recovered the track which we had quitted, where it falls into a deep ravine, which has steep, rocky sides. At the extremity, where we turned out of this track to follow a more rapid descent into the Wady-elAhsa, we saw upon our left hand, on the height, the remains of an ancient fortress, which seems to have commanded the pass. It is of dry masonry and large stones, and is no doubt antique. They give it the name of Acoujah. As we proceeded downwards, there was on our right hand a great quantity of lava and black volcanic matter, which seem to have issued from the side of the neighbouring ridge of mountains. We presently reached the little rivulet called ElAhsa at the bottom of the ravine. It has in some parts cut out for itself a very deep channel in the rock, and there are occasionally some small picturesque water-falls, from 10 to 15 feet in height. The oleander, as usual upon the banks of most streams in this country, was in great beauty and profusion. From hence we began to ascend a steeper acclivity than that we had come down. It is observable that the sides of this valley El-Asha are more destitute of verdure than the plains above. We continued our course up a slanting hollow, in which we noticed the stones gathered into heaps, and converted into fences, in a manner which seemed to denote an abandoned cultivation, and we observed a field or two of corn near a little spring. A little further, upon the point of a sort of promontory of high land that stands between the fork of
two valleys, are the ruins of a small but rich building. Little or nothing is left entire, and the fragments are lying around in confusion. There are rich arabesque borders of vines and foliage, much in the taste of Diocletian's buildings at Palmyra, or the triumphal arch. The capitals are not of any regular order, but fanciful, and loaded with ornaments. The execution is sharp and neat. The temple appears to have fronted S.S.W., and there were apparently four semicolumns attached to the front wall, 3 feet 5 inches in diameter. Amongst the fragments are pieces of columns of a smaller size. Near this there are other vestiges of buildings, but nothing that gives reason to suppose there ever was a town. The great dark mass of volcanic matter which we passed, bears from these ruins N.N.E., it is called Elabahn, which is also the name of a clear spring issuing from the rock a little south of it. There are old mill-courses in the low ground. The ascent still continued for a short distance, when we reached the level of the high plain in a S.S.W. direction. There were reapers at work, who informed us that the chief persons of the town of Djebal were encamped at no great distance. This induced our two sheikhs to turn to the southward, out of the great track, towards the encampment. At one the afternoon we reached a camp of thirty-three tents. A feeble attempt was made here to extort money from us under pretext that the sheikh was independent. Upon our mentioning our intention of visiting their village, Djebal, which was two hours distant, objections were raised against our doing so. We therefore left it till our return. There were some specimens of volcanic stone in the valley near the camp, but not in any great quantity. Near this place we visited some uninteresting ruins called El-Hagre. Some person in the camp secreted a spy-glass which had dropped from Mr. Bankes' pocket. After confessing that it had been found, and was in the camp, they attempted to force him to give an extravagant reward. This was
obstinately refused, and by the intervention of Sheikh Yousouf it was at length restored on the payment of two rubees.
May 17.-After we had set out, Daoud, a relation of the Sheikh of Kerek, missed his sword, and rode back for it, but the rogues refused to restore it to him. Passing to the southward, in about half an hour we saw the village of Bsaida about a mile distant. About and beyond this village there are hanging woods of some extent, but the trees are small and stunted. From hence, in three hours, the descent becoming more considerable as we advanced, we reached the ruins which are called Gharundel. They are situated on the slope of a hill, and their extent is very considerable. Towards the centre of the ruins are the remains of two parallel rows of columns, of which three are standing in one row, and two in the other. Their diameter is 2 feet. None have capitals. There are also, near to this spot, fragments of columns of 3 feet diameter. The capitals appear to have been of bad Doric. A spring of water runs close below these ruins from Gharundel. We passed up a valley to an Arab camp. They were Bedouins of the tribe of Hadjeyah. While we were eating with these people, there was an alarm of an enemy having made an attempt to carry off some of their flocks. The women cried out and waved their scarfs from the top of the hill. We rode up but saw nothing of the robbers. Our road was now S.W., and a white iine in the desert, at a distance to the left, as far as the eye could reach, was pointed out as the hadj road to Mecca. We noticed three dark volcanic summits, very distinguishable from the sand. The lava that had streamed from them forms a sort of island in the plain. Close on the right of the road was another volcanic mount, covered with scoriæ of a reddish colour and extremely light. There was much black porous stone below it. Soon after we found an ancient Roman highway paved with black stone. The edges, and a line down the middle, were paved pretty
regularly. On the right, at intervals of about a mile and a half, are ruins of square stone buildings. In one of them there was a cistern. They were probably intended for the use of travellers. Proceeding in a direction parallel to this road, we saw towards the S.W. a large mass of ruins, called El-Gaig, they offered no objects of interest. We found three mile-stones; the last only was erect. All the inscriptions were effaced by time and the climate. From one of these stones we turned off, about a mile from the road, to examine some buildings, but found them Turkish. One had an Arabic inscription over the door, which appeared ancient. Some crosses were scrawled about the door, and these signs are three times repeated +λ11. Seeing some Arabs in the distance to the south, we rejoined our companions, who had advanced just a Roman mile on the road, and were waiting at another mile-stone. We followed the road till we came to the edge of a deep vale. Here we deviated to the right and descended, the original road continuing straight on the height. At the S.W. end of the vale rises a hill, upon which stands "Showbec," like a gigantic mound. At its foot the ground is terraced out into gardens, and thickly planted with figs, now in full leaf. There are numerous caves in the side of the hill. Nearly at the bottom of the descent we passed a sheikh's tomb, called " Abou Soliman." Then passing a ravine, we approached the town on its N.E. side by a zig-zag path, which seems to be the only one leading to it. It appeared that almost all that side of the castle-hill by which we ascended has once been covered with buildings. Our coming seemed to excite considerable alarm amongst the natives, who stood on the walls shouting and throwing down stones. We entered at an iron gate, when the inhabitants seeing Sheikhs Yousouf and Sahlem with us, received us very civilly, some crying out, "Go and get bread and fire-wood for these poor fellows, who are come to lodge a night amongst us." We were carried up to a sort of divan, in the open air, con
and, relying upon some passages in Diodorus Siculus, aads, that it seems to have borne that name in the historian's time. The most remarkable circumstance is, that while the interior parts of this church are in the pure Gothic style, resembling that of the same age in Europe, the ornaments of the inscribed doorway are of the genuine eastern taste, exhibiting that border of convex fluting which is common in Turkish buildings. The pointed arch itself inclines slightly inwards at the bottom, in the manner of a horse-shoe. The construction also has more of the Oriental than the Norman style. The transome, instead of consisting of a single stone, being composed of many, irregularly locked together by dove-tails and angular inequalities. In the walls, at the gates of Antioch, there are similar examples, and certainly of the time of the crusades.
structed upon what seemed to be the ruins of a church of crusade architecture, standing due east and west. The tower of the castle has Arabic inscriptions upon it. The three doors of what we supposed to have been a church are square-topped, and the centre is under a pointed arch, and has more the air of Mahommedan than Christian architecture. We had a most extensive view from hence, comprising the whole skirts of the desert, with the volcanic hills which I have mentioned. The inhabitants brought us figs split and dried, of a green colour and delicious flavour, tasting nearly like the fresh fruit. They told us they were on the trees when the pilgrims arrived at Damascus. This was in December. We observed much kissing in the salutations. Each party generally kissed the right cheek first, once, and then the left four or five times. They evinced their good breeding in suppressing their curiosity as to the mo- May 18.-Quitting Shobek, tive of our journey, whence we came, wound by a spiral road into the valley &c., though evidently labouring under which surrounds it, and observed that the greatest anxiety to know every the road had been artificially deepened, particular. Shortly after our arrival and in some parts cased with masonry. we had an alarm of Arabs. Thirty Thence we ascended to the S. W., and men with muskets immediately ran soon came to a brook which contriout. Others drove in the flocks in butes to the watering of the gardens great haste. They returned in about below Shobek, but is not the only supan hour, saying, the Arabs had killed ply. Upon the two parallel ridges, forty of their goats, but that they between which our road led, we noticed would find an opportunity of return- stones arranged in fences and gathered ing the compliment. We, however, into heaps, denoting the boundaries of doubted the truth of this story. The former fields and gardens; and near name of Showbec, or Shobek*, occurs the spring there appeared the remains among those who sealed the cove- of a village. Our course continued nant. After a diligent search for in- much in the same direction, between scriptions, we found one in the archi- west and S.W. for about a mile, gently trave of the principal door. It is in ascending till we arrived at a large Latin, and though imperfect, Mr. Arab camp, situated upon high ground, Bankes made so much of it out as to with still higher about it. Here we leave no doubt that it relates to one of expected to have found the Sheikh the Frank kings of Jerusalem. One" Mahommed Abou Raschid," that is of their principal strongholds, some- to say, Mahommed the father of Raswhere in this direction, was called chid, which latter is the title he goes "Mons Regalis." This might either be Kerek or the place in question; though Miletus, extending their conquests still further, says, that this name was applied by them to Petra,
Now those that sealed were . . . . Hallohesh, Pileha, Shobek. Nehemiah, x. 24.
by. Most of the sheikhs have some denomination of this kind to distinguish them. "Mahommed Aga," for instance, is called "Abou Nabout," (the master of the mace or stick); and in Sir Sydney Smith's transactions at Acre, his principal coadjutor, the
pasha, was surnamed "Dgezar," which in Turkish signifies the "Cutter." Shobek, and the district about it, is commanded by Abou Raschid. He was absent, but messengers were dispatched to acquaint him with our arrival. From this camp we saw another to the southward, and beyond it a hill thinly scattered with trees. We were hospitably received. A merchant whom we had known at Hebron came in, complaining that he had been robbed of twenty-eight pieces of merchandise, which he had brought to sell amongst the Arabs, who had laid hands on the goods in their tents, and refused to give them up. At particular seasons of the year the inhabitants of these tents are in the habit of passing to Cairo, whence they carry on the charcoal trade between that city and Suez. They said it was a five days' journey from hence to Suez. In passing into Egypt they usually take the road to Gaza, though they seem to be fully aware of the shorter way; it is, therefore, only for the sake of security. At Shobek there was a small caravan which was to set out on the day of our departure; the leader of it offered to carry us to Cairo in eight days.
May 19.-About noon Abou Raschid arrived. He was a middle-sized man, with very marked features, having a dark complexion, very dark beard, black piercing eyes, and aquiline nose; his age might be about thirty. He was full of life and spirits, but a man of few words, and plain, unaffected manners. Ever since our arrival we had heard him spoken of in great raptures in the camp. Having dined with us, the Hebron merchant pleaded his cause before him, when he presently gave orders "that his goods should be restored to him." With regard to ourselves, he very soon came to terms with us, assuring us that he would willingly conduct us to Wady Mousa for nothing, for the sake of Mahommed Ali, Pasha of Egypt. Soon after a great dispute and tumult arose in the tent, Abou Zatoun (the Father of the Olives), the Sheikh of Wady Mousa, declaring, with violent gestures, and swearing "by the beard
of the prophet," and "by the honour of their women," that, we should notgo forward; and seeing that, notwithstanding his violence, both Abou Raschid and ourselves were preparing our horses, he quitted the tent, uttering threats and execrations, and rode off for Wady Mousa, determined to prevent our going. All the Wady Mousa people also quitted the camp, joining in their chief's hostility, and repeatedly exclaiming, "Let the dogs go and perish if they please" and swearing we should neither drink of their water nor pass into their territory. While this was passing, our good old friend Sheikh
Yousouf's resolution was shaken, and both he and Sahlem of Djebal strongly urged us to return and give up the business, saying that all further perseverance would be fruitless. Abou Raschid twice dismounted to answer the arguments of his people, or to overcome their opposition, for they had surrounded him in numbers, imploring him to desist, and asking him "why he risked himself for the mere gratification of the curiosity of fellows who were only Christians." The sheikh seeing that all his arguIments had no effect, seized his spear and sprang on his horse, exclaiming, "I have set them on their horses; let us see who will dare to stop Abou Raschid." We presently descended in a S.W. direction, through a ravine, whose sides, rocky as they are, have in former times been terraced and cultivated. The Wady Mousa people rode in a parallel line with us, keeping on the high ground on our left. In about half an hour (four o'clock) we reached a spring that issues from the rock, and is called Sammack. Here we were joined by a host of people, all armed, and subject to our sheikh; some were on horseback and some on foot. Sheikhs Yousouf and Sahlem still remained behind at the camp. Abou Raschid, on the coming up of his people, took an oath, "By the honour of their women," and "by the faith of a true Mussulman," that we should drink of the water of Wady Mousa, and go whithersoever it pleased him to carry us. Thus were the rival chiefs