صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

person who was in the employ of the Pasha of Damascus, with two attendants, to read and examine our papers. 1t proved, however, that he was wholly unacquainted with the Turkish language, and in consequence confined himself entirely to the boyourdees of the two pashas, which he declared to be satisfactory and sufficient, although, in point of fact, they were altogether foreign to the question, being addressed to persons and places in quite a different part of the country. This man, in recompense for this favourable decision, attempted in the course of the evening to lay claim to some remuneration, but Yousouf fought off his pretensions, by asserting, that for his own part he had not seen the colour of our gold, which was so far true, that the four hundred piastres were deposited

in the hands of the Greek priest at Kerek.

In the evening we were visited by Abou Raschid, who was in high spirits; the weather had been considerably clearer, but it was still much colder than might have been expected at this season of the year. During the day we had explored the high land to the eastward of the camp, and found it covered, upon both its sides and on its summit, with lines of dry wall, and solid masses of masonry. These walls appeared to have inclosed cultivated grounds: the solid ruins seemed to be only the remains of towers for watching in harvest and vintage time. The whole neighbourhood of this spot bears similar traces of former industry, all which seem to indicate the vicinity of a great metropolis.


Wady Mousa-Encampment of the Inhabitants-The Necropolis of Petra-Remarkable Tombs-Narrowness of the Valley-Description of the Architecture-Romantic PassRepresentation of an Altar-Scene of the Murder of thirty Pilgrims-Course of the Stream-Magnificent Temple-Singular appearance of the Rocks-Ancient Authors on Petra Buildings in the Valley-Houses-Tombs-Visit to the Tomb of Aaron-View from the summit-Strange liberality of the Natives-Compelled to quit Petra-Parting with Abou Raschid-Locusts-Wady-el-Ahsa-Kerek-Mountains of the Franks-Start for the Dead Sea-The Ghorneys-The Oskar plant-The Dead Sea-Salt on its Shores→→→ Lumps of Nitre and Sulphur-Absence of living Creatures-Scene in Ismayel's TentOptical illusion-Wady Modjeb-Country of the Amorites-Mayn-Visit to the Hot Springs-A Vapour Bath-Ebn Fayes-His violent threat-The Pools of HeshbonPalace of Hircanus-Parting from Yousouf-His character-Djerash-The Valley of the Jordan-Tiberias-Acre-Observations on the Character and Customs of the ArabsArrival at Constantinople.

THE morning of the 24th May was obstructed by huge masses of sandless unfavourable than those which stone that had rolled down from above, had preceded it. Soon after sun-rise that it was obvious a very small force we set out from the camp; we were would be capable of holding it against in all about fifty persons, including the a great superiority of numbers. Todeputation from Wady Mousa and the wards the lower extremity of this pass men of Damascus, who had passed the the path branched off into two roads; night in the tents of our chief. The it had previously been whispered to first part of our road was that by us by our chief, that, without seeming which we went to the advanced camp to take any notice, we should let the on the 20th; but before we reached men of Wady Mousa go their way, that spot we turned off in an E.S.E. while we should follow one of his men, direction, constantly descending. We who would go forward and guide us in then passed into a rocky and steep a different direction. When we reached defile, where the footing is extremely the point of separation, the others, not bad, and the passage so completely being apprised of this determination, commanded from the sides, and so said all they could to induce Abou

Raschid to ascend to their tents, and even came to high words with him, but they could not prevail, he having sworn an oath, that neither we nor himself should eat or drink at their expense, or within the limits of their territory. Some few followed us for a time, hoping to persuade us to turn back with them, but before we reached the valley of Wady Mousa they had all withdrawn.


follows the course of the brook.
first of these is on the right hand, and
is cut in a mass of whitish rock, which
is in some measure insulated and de-
tached from the general range. The
centre represents the front of a square
tower, with pilasters at the corner, and
with several successive bands of frieze
and entablature above; two low wings
project from it at right angles, and
present each of them a recess, in the
manner of a portico, in which are two
columns, whose capitals have an affinity
with the Doric order, between corre-
sponding antæ; there are, however,
no triglyphs above. Three sides of a
square area are thus inclosed; the

The defile brought us directly down into this valley, the name of which had become so familiar to us; it is, at the point where we entered it, stony but cultivated, of moderate size, without much character or beauty, and runs from E. to W. A lesser hollow, slop-fourth has been shut in by a low wall ing down to it from the southward, and two colossal lions on either side of meets it at an angle; at the upper end the entrance, all much decayed. The of the latter valley is the village, seen interior has been a place of sepulture over stages of hanging fruit-grounds for several bodies. On the front are and gardens, which are watered by a cut little niches and hollows, as if for rivulet. At the point of junction of the reception of votive offerings. Furthese valleys a spring issues from the ther on, upon the left, is a wide façade rock and forms a brook, into which the of rather a low proportion, loaded with rivulet flows to this Abou Raschid ornaments in the Roman style, but in pointed, with a look of exultation, a bad taste, with an infinity of broken observing, "there is the water about lines and unnecessary angles and prowhich there has been so much conten-jections, and multiplied pediments and tion and dispute." It flows towards the westward, and is, in point of fact, the head of the stream which Pliny has dignified with the name of a river. We approached no nearer to the village than this point, but as the distance did not exceed a quarter of a mile, we could plainly perceive that there was nothing ancient there; that the houses were mean and ragged, and not more than forty or fifty in number. On the summit of a broad, green hill, rising above it, we could not only distinguish the large encampment to which the inhabitants had retired on the night of the 20th, but could plainly see them collected in great numbers on the brow looking down at and watching us.

Some hundred yards below this spring begin the out-skirts of the vast Necropolis of Petra. Many door-ways are visible, upon different levels, cut in the side of the mountain, which towards this part begins to assume a more rugged aspect; the most remarkable tombs stand near the road, which

half pediments, and pedestals set upon columns that support nothing. It has more the air of a fantastical scene in a theatre than an architectural work in stone; and for unmeaning richness, and littleness of conception, might, as Mr. Bankes observed, have been the work of Boromini himself, whose style it exactly resembles, and carries to the extreme. This remark is applicable, more or less, to every specimen of Roman design at Petra. The doorway has triglyphs over the entablature, and flowers in the metopes. The chamber within is not so large as the exterior led us to expect; it has a broad, raised platform round three sides, on which bodies were probably disposed. Immediately over this front is another of almost equal extent, but so wholly distinct from it, that even the centres do not correspond; the door-way has the same ornaments. The rest of the body of the design is no more than a plain front, without any other decoration than a single

moulding. Upon this are set, in a and concave frieze. A very remarkrecess, four tall and taper pyramids; the effect is singular and surprising, but they combine too little with the rest of the elevation for it to be good. Our attention was the more attracted by this monument, as it presents, perhaps, the only existing example of pyramids so applied, though we read of them as placed in a similar manner on the summit of the tomb of the Maccabees, and of the Queen of Adiabæne, both in the neighbouring province of Palestine. The interior of the mausoleum is of moderate size, with two sepulchral recesses upon each side, and one in form of an arched alcove at the upper end; a flight of steps leads up to the narrow terrace upon which it opens.

The sides of the valley were now becoming very precipitous and rugged, and approaching nearer and nearer to each other, so that it might rather deserve the name of a ravine, with high detached masses of rock standing up here and there in the open space. Of these the architects had availed themselves. In some instances large and lofty towers are represented in relievo on the lower part of the precipice, and the live rock is cut down on all sides, so as to make the resemblance complete. The greater number of them face the high road, but there are others which stand back in the wild nooks and recesses of the mountain. All seemed to have been sepulchral, and it was here that we first observed a species of architecture that is, perhaps, to be found nowhere else.

To erect quadrangular towers for sepulchres, seems to have been the fashion in several inland districts of the east; they abound at Palmyra, and are seen in the valley of Jehoshaphat near Jerusalem, &c.: but the details and ornaments of these universally betray an imitation of Roman architecture, whilst at Petra they bear all the marks of a peculiar and indigenous style; their sides have generally a slight degree of that inclination inwards, which is one of the characteristics of Egyptian edifices, and they are surmounted by the Egyptian torus

able superstructure rises above as a parapet. Two corresponding flights of four or six steps are represented in relievo, ascending in opposite directions, from two points near the centre; they are connected together by a horizontal line drawn between the uppermost steps. At the angles are pilasters, which in many instances have a considerable diminution upwards; the capital is very peculiar, and appears like the rough draft of an unfinished Ionic capital as it comes from the quarry. It is, however, almost universal on these tombs, and may be called the Arabian order of architecture. An entablature and frieze, little differing from the Ionic or Corinthian, rests upon these pilasters; above that is a blank space, in the nature of a low attic, which is surmounted by the Egyptian torus and frieze, bearing the superstructure which I have described. There is one single example, near the theatre, of an upper door-way; it opens into this attic, to which there is no visible access; there may possibly, however, be some stairs in the interior; the lower door-way being unluckily choked up, we could not ascertain this. In some instances there are as many as four pilasters in the front, which are rounded instead of being angular. The part least peculiar in the details of these Arabian elevations, is the decorations of the door-ways, which have in many instances a pediment not distinguishable from those of Roman buildings, and in others a plain horizontal architrave with the same sort of mouldings. It is remarkable, that in very many instances the whole frame and ornament of the door has been of separate pieces, and grafted on upon the solid rock. Sometimes there are cavities for pegs or rivets, which would seem to have fastened decorations in metal or in wood; in others they seem to have been of marble or some fine sort of stone, let into grooves, which shew, in the hollow, their exact form. We were at a loss to account for the apparent conformity of this single portion of the building to the rules of the Greek and Roman

structure has disappeared entirely, and the upper part is left hanging from the rock above, without any base whatever. This is not the only proof that is to be found, among the remains at Petra, that those who wrought on the rock, contrary to the necessary practice of builders, began their work at the top. To return to the inscription; it is upon an oblong tablet, without frame or relief, but is distinguished from the rest of the surface by being more delicately wrought; there project, from each of its ends, those wings in form of the blade of an axe, which are common both in the Roman and Greek tablets, and which would seem to have been intended originally to receive screws or fastenings, without encroaching on the part inscribed. Although the whole tablet is in the solid rock, there is upon each side a stain of metal caused by studs of bronze driven in, to give the whole tablet the appearance of a sepa

architecture; it seems too strong to be accidental; and if we suppose the imitation to have taken place so far back as the first Macedonian expedition into this country, it will still make the tombs more recent, by many ages, than it is probable that many of them really are; since, from the days of Rekem, King of the Midianites, who passes for the founder of Petra, to those of Alexander the Great, there must have been a long line of kings, and these monarchs probably had excavated tombs. Yet if this form of the door-ways be considered sufficient to prove them decidedly posterior to that period, it is so general, that few, if any of the larger sort will remain for that early dynasty. If we bring them still later, and suppose them a Roman innovation, the difficulty is increased, because we must then believe a much greater lapse of ages to have passed in a flourishing kingdom, without any considerable monuments, although archi-rate piece. The letters are well cut, tecture was not unknown. It is possible such of the door frames as were not cut in the solid rock, may have been added afterwards, but this does not appear very probable, nor does it entirely remove the difficulty; especially, as in some instances in the higher parts of the design, broad bands seem to have been attached in a similar manner, which very probably bore inscriptions.

It is surprising, amongst such a multitude of tombs, to find so few with any inscription recording for whom they were constructed. We only met with two instances; one was on the tomb, near the theatre already described; it is much mutilated; the other, which we copied, is on the left hand side of the track leading towards Dibdebar, on a large front of pure Arabian design, with four attached columns. In this monument, the architect, from failure, or a defective vein in the sand-stone, has been obliged to carry up the lower part in masonry, so as to meet the upper, which is sculptured on the face of the mountain; in this part, also, there were flaws, and pieces have been let in to make up what was defective; these last remain, but the whole sub

and in a wonderful state of preservation, owing to the shelter which they receive from the projection of cornices, and an eastern aspect. None of our party had ever seen these characters before, excepting Mr. Bankes, who, upon comparing them, found them to be exactly similar to those which he had seen scratched on the rocks in the Wady Makootub, and about the foot of Mount Sinai. He subsequently found a passage in Diodorus Siculus, wherein he speaks of a letter written by the Nabathæi of Petra, to Antigonus, in the Syriac character; though this, perhaps, is no proof that the Syriac was in use with them, since they may have chosen that language only, as more familiar to the court they were addressing. The tablet has five long lines, and immediately underneath a single figure of a larger size, probably the date; the same occurs at the bottom of the Hebrew characters on the tomb of Aaron. The interior of the tomb on which this tablet is placed, has two chambers, with recesses for bodies, but no peculiarity worthy of notice; the front is crowned with a double flight of steps in the usual form. In many instances, in lieu of two flights

diverging from each other, they are brought to meet in the form of pyramids, being reduced to a much smaller scale, and repeated in the manner of battlements, to the number of three, or five, with the half of one at each extremity.

We have preferred collecting into one view, the most remarkable features of these tombs, before we advance further, without confining ourselves strictly to those which are met with in the approach from Wady Mousa to the city, in order to generalise the description, and avoid interrupting the narrative by alluding to them as they present themselves, which they do, not only in every avenue to the city, and upon every precipice that surrounds it, but even intermixed almost promiscuously with its public and domestic edifices. As we advanced towards the eastern approach to Petra, the natural features of the defile grew more and more imposing at every step, and the excavations and sculpture more frequent on both sides, till it becomes at last a continued street of tombs, beyond which the rocks gradually approaching each other, seemed all at once to close without any outlet. There is, however, one frightful chasm for the passage of the stream, which furnishes, as it did anciently, the only access to Petra on this side. It is impossible to conceive anything more awful or sublime than such an approach; the width is not more than just sufficient for the passage of two horsemen abreast, the sides are in all parts perpendicular, varying from four hundred to seven hundred feet in height, and they often overhang to such a degree, that without their absolutely meeting, the sky is intercepted, and completely shut out for one hundred yards together, and there is little more light than in a cavern.

The screaming of the eagles, hawks, and owls, who were soaring above our heads in considerable numbers, seemingly annoyed at any one approaching their lonely habitation, added much to the singularity of this scene. The tamarisk, the wild fig, and the oleander, grow luxuriantly about the road, rendering the passage often difficult; in

some places they hang down most beautifully from the cliffs and crevices where they have taken root; the caper plant was also in luxuriant growth.


Very near the entrance into this ro mantic pass, a bold arch is thrown across at a great height, connecting the opposite sides of the cliff. Whether this was part of an upper road upon the summit of the mountain, or whether it be a portion of an aqueduct, which seems less probable, we had no opportunity of examining; but as the traveller passes under it, its appearance is most surprising, hanging thus above his head betwixt two rugged masses, apparently inaccessible. Immediately under it are sculptured niches in the rock, destined probably for statues; and we suspect that on careful inspection inscriptions might be found there; but the position in which they are viewed is disadvantageous, and the height so great, that it would require a good glass to distinguish them. Farther down, upon a much lower level, there is an object frequently repeated in sculpture along the road side, which we were at a loss to understand. altar is represented in a niche, upon which is set a mass of a lumpish form, sometimes square, and sometimes curved in its outline, and rising to a sharper or obtuser cone; in one instance, three of them are placed together in one niche. It may possibly be a representation of the god Terminus, or perhaps one of the stones which were objects of worship amongst the Arabs, down to the time of the coming of Mahomed. The number of these representations on the face of the rock is very considerable; in some instances there are many, almost contiguous, with Greek inscriptions on them, all of which are too much defaced to explain their object. The ravine, without changing its general direction, presents so many elbows and windings in its course, that the eye can seldom penetrate forward beyond a few paces, and is often puzzled to distinguish in what direction the passage will open, so completely does it appear obstructed. The exact spot was not pointed out to us, but it is somewhere amidst these

« السابقةمتابعة »