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Travels in Syria and the Holy Land by John Burckhardt

Part 3 out of 12

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low door. From this place W.S.W. three quarters of an hour is Tahoun el
Abiad [Arabic] i.e. the White Mill, the ruins of a mill on the banks of
the Wady Ras el Beder, which I noticed in speaking of Zahouet el Khuder.
S.W. from Tahoun, three quarters of an hour, is the ruined village Kourd
[Arabic], and W. from it one hour, the village Tellafe [Arabic]. Our way
from Deir Aboud lay W.S.W.; at one hour and a half from it is the
considerable ruined village Keires [Arabic], on the Wady Zedi, the
largest of all the Wadys which descend from the mountain into the plain.
The soil of this uncultivated district is of a red colour, and appears
to be very fertile. From hence I proceeded towards Boszra, which I
observed at the distance of half an hour, from the high ground above
Keires. The castle of Boszra bore W.S.W. that of Szalkhat E.S.S., and
the Kelab Haouran N.E.; I was near enough to distinguish the castle, and
the mosque which is called by the Mohammedans El Mebrek, from the lying
down of the Caliph Othman's camel.

Turning from hence, in a N.W. direction, we came to the ruined village
Shmerrin [Arabic], about three quarters of an hour from Keires. Over a
door in the village I read:


Near the village stands an insulated tower, with an Arabic inscription,


[p.106]but so high that I could not copy it; above it in large
characters is [Greek] [of Felix. Ed]. The Wady Zedi passes close to this
village, where a bridge of three arches is built over it; I was told
that in winter the waters often rise over the bridge. Farther to the
west this Wady joins that of Ghazale.

From Shmerrin we travelled to the northward; about an hour and a half to
our left was the village Kharaba. We were now upon the Hadj route
formerly pursued by the pilgrims from Damascus through the Ledja to
Soueida and Boszra. The road is still marked by stones scattered over
it, the remains, probably, of its pavement.

Thee quarters of an hour from Shmerrin, close to the right of the road,
stands Deir Esszebeir [Arabic], a ruined village with a building like a
monastery. At sunset we reached Aaere, two hours and a quarter from

November 24th and 25th.--I remained at Aaere these two days, during
which the Sheikh continued his friendly behaviour towards me. It was my
wish to make an excursion towards the western parts of the plain of the
Haouran, in order to visit Draa, and the ruins of Om Edjemal and Om
Ezzeroub, distant one day's journey from Draa, which, judging from all
the information I had received, seemed to be well worth seeing. I
offered to any person, or company of men, who would undertake to guide
me to the spot, thirty piastres, a large sum in these parts, but nobody
was to be found. The fact was that the road from Aaere to Draa, as well
as that from thence to Om Edjemal, was infested by a party of Arabs
Serdie, the brother of whose chief had recently been killed by the
Pasha's troops; and besides these, it was known that numerous parties of
Arabs Sheraka made incursions in the same direction I


[p.107]was therefore obliged to give up my project, but with the
intention of executing it at a future period.

November 28th.--I left Aaere in the company of a Druse; at parting the
Sheikh made me promise that I would again visit his village. The
direction of our route was to the N.W. In an hour and a quarter, over a
plain, in most parts cultivated, we reached El Kenneker [Arabic], a
solid building upon a hill, with a few habitations round it; all the
villages in this part are inhabited; we saw the traces of the Wahabi in
a burnt field. E. from hence one hour is Deir Ettereife [Arabic]. N.E.
half an hour, the village Hadid [Arabic]; half an hour farther passed
Ousserha [Arabic], a village with a copious spring. One hour and a half
E. we saw Walgha [Arabic]. Just before we reached Ousserha we passed the
Wady El Thaleth, which I have mentioned between Soueida and Zahouet.
Continuing on the side of the Wady for three quarters of an hour, we
came to Thaale [Arabic], where there is a Birket: here we stopped to
breakfast. It is inhabited by Mohammedans only.

In a building now used as a mosque, within which are four arches, and
three short pillars in the vestibule, I copied the two following
inscriptions placed opposite each other.

[Greek][A.D. 683, the twenty-third year of the Emperor Heraclius.].

On a long wall of a building entirely in ruins:


From Thaale one hour S.W. is Tel Sheikh Houssein, with the village Deir
Ibn Kheleif; to the W. of which is El Kerak. We


[p.108]proceeded from Thaale in a W. direction, half an hour, to Daara
[Arabic], a village with a Birket. On the wall of the mosque I read as


One hour to the W. of the village is Rakham. Travelling from Daara N.W.
we reached in one hour and a quarter the village Melihat Ali, to the S.
of which, half an hour, stands Melihat el Ghazale. In one hour and a
quarter from Melihat Ali we reached Nahita [Arabic], where we slept. On
the S. side of the village, near a well, now filled up, stands a small
square tower, built with large stones; there is a long inscription over
its entrance, but illegible.

November 27th.--In a ruined arched building I copied the following:


and over a door as follows:


This village has a large Birket, and contains a ruined tower, with
vaulted buildings adjoining.

We proceeded one hour to Melihat el Hariri, so named from


[p.109]its Sheikh being generally of the family of Hariri; the proper
name of the village is Melihat el Atash. I there copied the following,
over a door:


From thence, in one hour and a quarter, I reached Ezra, and alighted at
the house of the priest. I again endeavoured to visit Draa, but no body
would undertake to act as my guide except a peasant, in whose company I
did not think that I should be sufficiently secure; for it had been a
constant rule with me, during this tour, not to expose myself to any
hazard, well knowing that this was not the place, where duty and honour
obliged me to do so; on the contrary, I felt that I should not be
justified in risking my life, in this quarter, destined as I am to
other, and it is hoped, more important pursuits.

November 28th.--I left Ezra this morning with the priest, to visit some
villages in the northern Loehf, and if possible to enter the Ledja. We
rode one hour to Keratha, close to which is a spring. From Keratha, in
an hour and a quarter, we came to Mehadje, whence I saw Tel Shiehhan
bearing E.S.E. To the east of the road from Ezra to Mehadje on the Ledja
are the ruins of Sour and Aazim. From Mehadje we entered the Ledja, and
continued in it, at half an hour's distance from the cultivated plain,
in the direction N.E., till we reached Khabeb [Arabic] at the end of two
hours. Between Tebne and Khabeb lies the village Bossir. From Khabeb the
Kelab Haouran bears S.S.E. This is a considerable village, inhabited for
the greater part by Catholic Christians, who, as I have mentioned above,
emigrated from Szalkhat. The Sheikh is a Druse. I met here a poor Arab,
a native of the country three days journey from Mekka; he told me that


[p.110]Wahabi had killed four of his brothers; that he fled from home,
and established himself at Dael, a village in the Haouran, which was
ransacked last summer by the same enemies, when he lost the whole of his
property. This man corroborated what I have repeatedly been told, that a
single person may travel over the Wahabi dominions with perfect safety.

November 29th.--I here took two Druses to conduct me into the interior
of the Ledja. The Arabs who inhabit that district pay some deference to
the Druses, but none whatever to the Turks or Christians of the
neighbouring villages. In one hour we passed the two ruined cities
Zebair [Arabic] and Zebir [Arabic], close to each other. At the end of
two hours and a quarter, our road lying in the direction of the Kelab
Haouran, we came to the ruined village Djedel [Arabic]. Thus far the
Ledja is a level country with a stony soil covered with heaps of rocks,
amongst which are a number of small patches of meadow, which afford
excellent pasture for the cattle of the Arabs who inhabit these parts.
From Djedel the ground becomes uneven, the pasturing places less
frequent, the rocks higher, and the road more difficult. I had intended
to proceed to Aahere, where there is a fine spring; but evening coming
on we stopped near Dhami [Arabic], three hours and three quarters from
Khabeb, and two hours distant from Aahere. It appears strange that a
city should have been built by any people in a spot where there is
neither water nor arable ground, and nothing but a little grass amidst
the stones. Dhami may contain three hundred houses, most of which are
still in good preservation. There is a large building whose gate is
ornamented with sculptured vine leaves and grapes, like those at

Every house appears to have had its cistern; there are many also in the
immediate vicinity of the town: they are formed by excavations in the
rock, the surface of which is supported by props


[p.111]of loose stones. Some of them are arched and have narrow canals
to conduct the water into them from the higher grounds. S.E. of Dhami
half an hour is Deir Dhami [Arabic], another ruined place, smaller than
the former, and situated in a most dreary part of the Ledja, near which
we found, after a good deal of search, an encampment of Arabs Medledj,
where we passed the night.

November 30th.--These Arabs being of a doubtful character, and rendered
independent by the very difficult access of their rocky abode, we did
not think it prudent to tell them that I had come to look at their
country; they were told, therefore, that I was a manufacturer of
gunpowder, in search of saltpetre, for at Dhami, and in most of the
ruined villages in the Ledja, the earth which is dug up in the court-
yards of the houses, as well as in the immediate vicinity of them,
contains saltpetre, or as it is called in Arabic, Melh Baroud, i.e.
gunpowder salt.

The Ledja, which is from two to three days journey in length, by one in
breadth, is inhabited by several tribes of Arabs; viz. Selman [Arabic],
Medledj [Arabic], Szolout [Arabic], Dhouhere [Arabic], and Siale
[Arabic]; of these the Szolout may have about one hundred tents, the
Medledj one hundred and twenty, and the others fifty or sixty. They
breed a vast number of goats, which easily find pasturage amongst the
rocks; a few of them also keep sheep and cows, and cultivate the soil in
some parts of the Ledja, where they sow wheat and barley. They possess
few horses; the Medledj have about twenty, and the Szolout and Dhouhere
each a dozen. But I shall have occasion to speak of these Arabs again in
describing the people of the country.

The tent in which we slept was remarkably large, although it could not
easily be perceived amidst the labyrinth of rocks where it was pitched;
yet our host was kept awake the whole night by


[p.112]the fear of robbers, and the dogs barked incessantly. He told me
next morning that the Szolout had lately been very successful in their
nightly depredations upon the Medledj. Our host having no barley, gave
my horse a part of some wheat which he had just brought from the plain,
to bake into bread for his family.

December lst.--We departed at sunrise, the night having been so cold
that none of us was able to sleep. We found our way with great
difficulty out of the labyrinth of rocks which form the inner Ledja, and
through which the Arabs alone have the clue. Some of the rocks are
twenty feet high, and the country is full of hills and Wadys. In the
outer Ledja trees are less frequent than here, where they grow in great
numbers among the rocks; the most common are the oak, the Malloula, and
the Bouttan; the latter is the bitter almond, from the fruit of which an
oil is extracted used by the people of the country to anoint their
temples and forehead as a cure for colds; its branches are in great
demand for pipe tubes. There are no springs in any part of this stony
district, but water collects, in winter time, in great quantities in the
Wadys, and in the cisterns and Birkets which are every where met with;
in some of these it is kept the whole summer; when they are dried up the
Arabs approach the borders of the Ledja, called the Loehf, to water
their cattle at the springs in that district. The camel is met with
throughout the Ledja, and walks with a firm step over the rocky surface.
In summer he feeds on the flowers or dry grass of the pasturing places.
In the interior parts of the Ledja the rocks are in many places cleft
asunder, so that the whole hill appears shivered and in the act of
falling down: the layers are generally horizontal, from six to eight
feet, or more, in thickness, sometimes covering the hills, and inclining
to their curve, as appears from the fissures, which often traverse the
rock from top to bottom. In

[p.113] many places are ruined walls; from whence it may be conjectured
that a stratum of soil of sufficient depth for cultivation had in
ancient times covered the rock.

We had lost our road, when we met with a travelling encampment of
Medledj, who guided us into a more open place, where their companions
were pitching their tents. We breakfasted with them, and I was present
during an interesting conversation between one of my Druse companions
and an Arab. The wife of the latter, it appeared, had been carried off
by another Arab, who fearing the vengeance of the injured husband, had
gone to the Druse Sheikh of Khabeb, and having secured his Dakhil
[Arabic], or protection, returned to the woman in the Ledja. The Sheikh
sent word to the husband, cautioning him against taking any violent
measures against his enemy. The husband, whom we here met with, wished
to persuade the Druses that the Dakhil of the Sheikh was unjust, and
that the adulterer ought to be left to his punishment. The Druse not
agreeing with him, he swore that nothing should prevent him from
shedding the blood of the man who had bereft him of his own blood; but I
was persuaded that he would not venture to carry his threat into effect;
for should he kill his enemy, the Druses would not fail to be revenged
upon the slayer or his family.

The outer Ledja is to be distinguished from the inner, on this side as
well as on that by which we entered it, the former being much less
rocky, and more fit for pasturage than the latter. On the borders of the
inner Ledja we passed several places where the mill-stones are made,
which I have mentioned in a former part of my journal. The stones are
cut horizontally out of the rocks, leaving holes of four or five feet in
depth, and as many in circumference; fifty or sixty of these excavations
are often met with in the circumference of a mile. The stones are
carried to be finished at Ezra, Mehadje, Aeib, Khabeb, and Shaara.


[p.114] In one hour and a half from the borders of the Ledja, we came to
Kastal Kereim, a ruined village, with a Birket; half an hour from it,
Kereim, a Druse village. Between Kereim and Khabeb in the Loehf, is Aeib
[Arabic], a Druse village, in which is a powder manufactory; there is
another at Khabeb. Half an hour from Kereim is Kalaat Szamma [Arabic], a
ruined village, with several towers. One hour and a half, Shaara, a
village inhabited by about one hundred Druse and Christian families. We
travelled this day about eight hours and a half. Shaara was once a
considerable city; it is built on both sides of a Wady, half an hour
from the cultivated plain, and is surrounded by a most dreary barren
War. It has several large solidly built structures, now in ruins, and
amongst others a tower that must have been about forty-five feet high.
In the upper town is an ancient edifice with arches, converted into a
mosque: over its door is this inscription:


There is a salt-petre manufactory in the town; the earth in which the
salt-petre is found, is collected in great quantities in the ruined
houses, and thrown into large wooden vessels perforated with small holes
on one side near the bottom. Water is then poured in, which drains
through the holes, into a lower vessel, from whence it is taken, and
poured into large copper kettles; after boiling for twenty-four hours,
it is left in the open air; the sides of the kettles then become covered
with crystals, which are afterwards washed to free them from all
impurities. One hundred Rotolas of saline earth give from one to one and
a half Rotola of salt-petre. I was told by the Sheikh of the village,
who is the manufacturer


[p.115]on his own account, that he sends yearly to Damascus as much as
one hundred Kantars. Here is also a gunpowder manufactory.

December 2d.--The Greek priest, who had not ventured to accompany me
into the Ledja, I found again at Shaara. I wished to see some parts of
the northern Loehf, and particularly the ruins of Missema, of which I
heard much from the country people. I therefore engaged a man at Shaara,
to conduct me to the place, and from thence to Damascus. We set out in
the morning, proceeded along the limits of the War, in an easterly
direction, and in three quarters of an hour came to the sources of water
called Sheraya [Arabic]; they are five or six in number, are situated
just on the borders of the War, and extend as far as Missema, watering
all the plain before them. Here, in the spring, the people of Shaara
grow vegetables and water melons, and in summer the Arabs of the Ledja
sometimes sow the neighbouring fields with wheat; but the frequent
passage of the Bedouins renders the collection of the harvest somewhat
precarious. Missemi, or Missema, is situated in the Ledja, at one hour
and a half from Shaara; it is a ruined town of three miles in circuit.
Over the door of a low vaulted building I read the following inscription
in well executed characters:

[Greek]. [Helvius]

The principal ruin in the town is a temple, in tolerable preservation;
it is one of the most elegant buildings which I have seen in the
Haouran. The approach to it is over a broad paved area, which has once
been surrounded by a row of short pillars; a flight of six steps, the
whole length of the facade,

[p.116] leads up to the portico, which consists of seven Doric columns,
but of which three only are now standing. The entrance to the temple is
through a large door in the centre, on each side of which is a smaller
door; over the latter are niches. There are no sculptured ornaments on
any part of the great door: the temple is sixteen paces square within.
Four Corinthian columns standing in a square in the centre of the
chamber support the roof. About two feet and a half under their capitals
is a ring; their pedestals are three feet and a half high. Opposite the
entrance is a large semicircular niche, the top of which is elegantly
sculptured so as to resemble a shell. On either side of the niche is a
pilaster, standing opposite to one of the columns. At the door are two
pilasters similarly placed, and two others upon each of the side walls.
Projecting from the bottom of each of these side walls, are four
pedestals for busts or statues. The roof is formed of several arches,
which, like the walls, are constructed with large stones. On either side
of the interior niche is a small dark room. The door of the temple faces
the south, and is almost completely walled up with small stones. Over
the pedestals of two of the remaining columns of the portico are the
following inscriptions:


Over the great door:



[p.117] [Greek].

In larger characters immediately under the former.

[Greek] [Legionis tertiae Gallicae. Ed.].

On one of the jambs of the door;


Upon a broken stone in the portico: [Greek].

[p.118] [Greek].

On the pedestal of a statue in the temple:


On another pedestal:

[Greek][Tribunum ([Greek]) Legionis Flaviae firmae. This was the 16th
legion, as appears from the two following inscriptions. The 16th has the
same title in an inscription in Gruter (p. 427). Ed.].

Under the niche to the left of the great door:


Under that to the right:


There are several other public buildings at Missema; but in no way
remarkable for their architecture. I had been told that in one of these
buildings was a large stone covered with small Greek characters. I
sought for it in vain. Missema has no inhabitants; we met with only a
few workmen, digging the saline earth: there are no springs here, but a
number of cisterns. E. of Missema are no inhabited villages, but the
Loehf contains several in ruins.


[p.119]From Missema our way lay N.N.W. over the desert plain, towards
Djebel Kessoue. This route is much frequented in the summer time by the
Aeneze, who pass this way to and from the Haouran. The plain is
intersected in every direction by paths formed by camels, called Daroub
el aarb [Arabic]. At the end of two hours we saw to the left, in the
mountains, the ruined village Om el Kezour; and one hour eastward from
thence, in the plain, an insulated pillar called Amoud Esszoubh
[Arabic], i.e. the Column of the Morning, on which, as I was afterwards
told, are several inscriptions. Our road now turned N. and we reached,
after sunset, in three hours and a quarter from Missema, the ruined
village Merdjan, where we found some men who had come to sow a few acres
of ground, and partook of a frugal supper with them.

December 3d.--The small village of Merdjan is picturesquely situated on
a gentle declivity near the foot of the mountain, and is surrounded by
orchards, and poplar trees, which have escaped the rapacious hands of
the Arabs: hard by flows a rivulet, which irrigates the adjacent
grounds. We left Merdjan early in the morning. Twenty minutes north is
Ain Toby [Arabic], or the spring of the gazelle, consisting of several
wells, round one of which are the remains of a well built wall. At one
hour and a half is Soghba [Arabic], a few houses surrounded by a wall;
three quarters of an hour from thence is Deir Ali [Arabic], a village at
the western foot of Djebel Mane; before we came to the village we
crossed the Moiet Deir Ali, a rivulet whose source is in the
neighbourhood. Half an hour from Deir Ali is Meshdie [Arabic], a small
village, in the valley between Djebel Mane and Djebel Khiara, which is
about three hours in breadth. The ground is here for the greater part
cultivated. Our route was N.N.W. from Deir Ali, from whence, in two
hours, we reached El Kessoue, and towards sunset we entered Damascus.







February 14th.--I LEFT Aleppo at mid-day; and in half an hour came to
the miserable village Sheikh Anszary [Arabic], where I took leave of my
Worthy friends Messieurs Barker and Van Masseyk, the English and Dutch
Consuls, two men who do honour to their respective countries. I passed
the two large cisterns called Djob Mehawad [Arabic], and Djob Emballat
[Arabic], and reached, at the end of two hours and a half, the Khan
called Touman [Arabic], near a village of the same name, situated on the
Koeyk, or river of Aleppo. The Khan is in a bad state; Pashas no longer
think of repairing public edifices.

February 15th--After a march of ten hours and a half, I arrived at
Sermein, having had some difficulty in crossing the muddy plain. The
neighbourhood of Sermein is remarkable for great numbers of cisterns and
wells hewn in the rock: in the town every house has a similar cistern;
those in the plain serve to water the peasants' cattle in the summer,
for there are no springs in these parts. On the S.E. side of Sermein is
a large subterraneous vault, cut in the solid rock, divided into several
apartments, and


[p.122]supported in various places by round pillars with coarsely
wrought capitals; near this are several other excavations, all inhabited
by the poor peasants. Sermein belongs to the family of Khodsy Effendy of

February 16th.--Half an hour to the left, near our road, is an insulated
hill, with the tomb of a saint, called Kubbet Denneit [Arabic]; the
plain is here well cultivated, but nothing is sown at present between
Khan Touman and Sermein. To the right of the road, on a similar hill,
stands Mezar Kubbet Menebya [Arabic]; and one hour to the right, also
upon a Tel, Mezar Tar [Arabic]. Half an hour S.E. from Denneit is the
village Gemanas.

In two hours and a half from Sermein we reached the town of Edlip
[Arabic], the approach to which is very picturesque; it lies round the
foot of a hill, which divides it into two parts; there is a smaller hill
on the N. side: the town is surrounded by olive plantations, and the
whole landscape put my companion, an English traveller, in mind of
Athens and its vicinity. Here again are many wells cut in the rocky soil
round the town. This place is called Little Edlip [Arabic]. Of Great
Edlip [Arabic], the name only remains: it stood at half an hour's
distance from the present town, which is of modern date, or about the
middle of the seventeenth century. I reckoned the number of its houses
at about one thousand. The inhabitants are for the most part Turks;
there are only eighty Greek Christian families, and three of Armenian
Greeks. They have a church, and three priests, and are under the
immediate jurisdiction of the Greek Patriarch of Damascus.

The principal trade of Edlip is in soap; there are some manufactories of
cotton stuffs, and a few dyeing-houses. The Bazars are well built, some
of them of stone. In the town are several Khans, two of which are
destined for the reception of strangers;

[p.123]but the best edifice is the soap manufactory (El Meszbane), a
large building. Edlip has no gardens, because there is no water but from
wells and cisterns; there are a few orchards of pomegranate and fig
trees, and some vine plantations. The place is supplied with vegetables
from Rieha, and from Aere, a village two hours distant, lying between
Darkoush and Djissr Shogher. There is a single spring in the town of
brackish water, which is never used but in seasons of great drought; a
man who had cleansed the bottom of the deep well in which the spring
issues, told me that he found two openings in the rock, near each other,
from the one of which flows sweet water, while that from the other is
brackish. I made the tour of the town in thirty-seven minutes; the rocky
ground is full of caverns, wells, and pits.

Edlip is held by the family of Kuperly Zaade of Constantinople; but a
part of its revenue is a Wakf to the Harameyn, that is to say, it
contributes to defray the expenses of the two holy cities Mekka and
Medina. The town pays annually to the above family, twenty purses for
themselves, and fifteen for the holy cities; the latter sum was formerly
sent to Mekka every year with the pilgrim caravan; but it is now paid
into the hands of the Kuperlys. The town of Djissr Shogher [Arabic],
distant six hours from Edlip, on the road to Ladikia, belongs to the
same family, and is likewise a Wakf attached to the holy cities; it pays
fifteen purses to the Kuperlys, and seven to the Harameyn. The revenue
arising from thirteen or fourteen villages in the neighbourhood of
Djissr Shogher has been assigned to the support of several hospitals
which the Kuperlys have built in that town, where a number of poor
people are fed daily gratis. Neither Edlip nor Shogher pays any land-tax
or Miri, in consequence of their being attached to Mekka; but there is a
custom-house at Edlip, where duties are levied on all kinds of
provisions, as rice, coffee, oil, raisins, tobacco, &c.

[p.124]the proceeds of which amount to nearly one hundred purses;
besides a house tax, which yields twenty purses. The duties levied on
provisions at Djissr Shogher amount to twenty purses.

The government of Edlip is in the hands of a Mutsellim, named by the
Porte; the real power had been for many years in the rich family of
Ayash [Arabic], till the present chief of that family, Mahmoud Ibn
Ayash, a man famous for his hospitality and upright character, had the
misfortune to lose all his influence. In 1810 his house became involved
in a deadly quarrel with that of Djahya, in consequence of a game of
Jerid, which took a serious turn, and in which much blood was shed.
Djahya left Edlip, and went to Rieha and Djissr Shogher, where he
succeeded in engaging in his interest Seyd Aga and Topal Aly, the rebel
chiefs of those towns, who only wanted a pretext to fall upon Edlip;
they accordingly stirred up the inhabitants against Mahmoud, who was
obliged to fly to Aleppo, and having sent the Mutsellim, Moury Aga, back
to Constantinople, they put Abou Shah, the brother-in-law of Topal Aly,
in his place, and brought Djahya back to Edlip. After some months the
two rebels came to a compromise with Mahmoud, who returned to Edlip, and
Djahya, in turn, fled to Aleppo; Mahmoud's power, however, was now at an
end: the two chiefs are at present masters of the town, and share its
spoils; but its wealth has much decreased since these events took place.
In eighteen months it has paid upwards of six hundred purses; and on the
day before our arrival a new contribution of two hundred had spread
despair among the inhabitants. A Kadhi is sent here early from
Constantinople. Sermein bears from hence S.E. by E. There are no
dependent villages in the territory of Edlip.

February 17th.--We left Edlip after mid-day. Our road lay through a wood
of olive trees, in a fertile uneven plain of red argillaceous soil. In
one hour we reached Sheikh Hassan, the tomb of


[p.125]a saint; in an hour and a quarter the insulated hill Tel Stommak
[Arabic], with the village Stommak on its west side. The direction from
Edlip S. by W.: this hill seems to be an artificial mound of earth. The
Wood of olive trees here terminates. In two hours and forty minutes we
arrived at Rieha [Arabic], which we did not enter, through fear of the
rebel Seyd Aga, who occupies it. It contains about four or five hundred
houses, is a much frequented market, and has two large soap
manufactories. Rieha is situated on the northern declivity of the Djebel
Erbayn [Arabic], or the Mountain of the Forty; and belongs to the
government of Aleppo; but since the expulsion of Mohammed Pasha, Seyd
Aga has been in the possession of it, and governs also the whole
mountain of Rieha, of which Djebel Erbayn forms a part. This man is a
chief of that kind of cavalry which the Turks call Dehlys. He has about
three hundred of them in his service, together with about one hundred
Arnaouts; common interests have closely connected him with Topal Aly,
the chief of the Dehlys at Djissr Shogher, who has about six hundred
under his command, and with Milly Ismayl, another chief, who commands at
Kalaat el Medyk. Unless the Porte finds means to disunite these three
rebels, there is little probability of its reducing them. They at
present tyrannize over the whole country from Edlip to Hamah.

About two hours to the S.E. of Rieha lies the village of Marszaf
[Arabic], and S. of the latter about one hour, the ruined town Benin. We
ascended the mountain from Rieha, turned round its eastern corner, and
in one hour from Rieha, reached the village of Kefr Lata [Arabic]. We
were hospitably received at the house of the Sheikh of Kefr Lata,
although his women only were at home. A wondering story-teller amused us
in the evening with chanting the Bedouin history of the Beni Helal. Kefr
Lata belongs to Ibn Szeyaf, one of the first families of Aleppo.

February 18th.--Kefr Lata is situated upon the mountain of


[p.126]Rieha, on the S. side of a narrow valley watered by a rivulet; it
contains forty or fifty houses, all well built of square stones, which
have been taken from the buildings of a town of the lower empire, which
occupied the same site. The remains deserve notice, on account of the
vast quantity of stone coffins and sepulchres. The mountain is a barren
calcareous rock, of no great hardness. In some places are a few spots of
arable ground, where the inhabitants of the village grow barley and
Dhourra. On the side of the rivulet are some fruit trees. We were
occupied the whole morning in visiting the neighbourhood of the village,
which must have been anciently the burying place of all the great
families of this district; the number of tombs being too considerable
for so small a town as Kefr Lata appears to have been; no such
sepulchres, or at least very few, are met with among the ruins of the
large cities which we saw afterwards in the same mountain. Beginning on
the west side of the village, I counted sixteen coffins and seven caves;
the coffins are all excavated in the rock; the largest are nine feet
long, and three feet and a half in breadth; the smaller seven feet long,
and three feet broad; their depth is generally about five feet. In the
greater part of them there is on one side a curved recess, cut in the
rock, about four feet in length, and two feet in breadth. All these
coffins had originally stone lids of a single block of stone, exactly
covering the aperture of the coffin. Only a small proportion of these
now remain entire, but there are some quite uninjured. I saw only two or
three in which a sculptured frieze or cornice was carried along the
whole length of the cover; the generality have only a few ornaments on
the two ends; they are all of the annexed shape.

The apertures of the coffins are invariably even with the surface of the
ground, and the lids only are seen from without, as if lying upon the

[p.127]The sepulchral caves vary in their sizes and construction; the
entrance is generally through a low door, sometimes ornamented by short
pilasters, into a vaulted room cut in the rock, the size of which varies
from six to fifteen feet in length, and from four to ten feet in
breadth; the height of the vault is about six feet; but sometimes the
cave terminates in a flat roof. They all contain coffins, or receptacles
for the dead; in the smaller chambers there is a coffin in each of the
three sides: the larger contain four or six coffins, two opposite the
entrance, and one on each side, or two on each of the three sides: the
coffins in general are very rudely formed. Some of the natural caverns
contain also artificial receptacles for the dead, similar to those
already described; I have seen many of these caverns in different parts
of Syria. The south side of the village being less rocky, there are
neither caves nor coffins on that side. On the east side I counted
twenty-one coffins, and five sepulchral caves; of the former, fourteen
are within a very small space; the greater part of them are single, but
in same places they have been formed in pairs, upon the same level, and
almost touching each other.

Crossing to the N. side of the valley of Kefr Lata, I met with a long
wall built with large blocks of stone; to the north of it is an oblong
square, thirty-seven paces in length, and twenty-seven in breadth, cut
out of the rock; in its walls are several niches. In the middle of it is
a large coffin, with the remains of a wall which had enclosed it. To the
E. of this is a similar square, but of smaller dimensions. I counted in
this neighbourhood twenty coffins and four sepulchral caves, besides
several open niches very neatly wrought in the side of the mountain,
containing recesses for the dead.

Returning towards the village I passed the source of the rivulet which
waters the valley. Over it stands an ancient building, which consists of
a vaulted roof supported by four short columns, in a very bad heavy
style; it is about thirieen feet in height. A


[p.128] few letters of a Greek in scription are visible on the lower
part of the roof:


We left the village about mid-day, and crossed the mountain in a
northerly direction, by the short foot way to Rieha; in half an hour we
reached the point of the mountain directly over Rieha. It is this part
of the Djebel Rieha which is properly called Djebel Erbayn. In the last
century a summer residence was built here just above the town; but it is
now abandoned, although a most beautiful spot, surrounded by fruit trees
of all sorts, with a copious spring, and presenting a magnificent view
over the plains of Aleppo and Edlip. A spring, which here issues from
under the rock, collects in front of the building into a large basin,
from whence it flows down to Rieha. I here took the following bearings;
Edlip N. by E.; Sermein N.E.b.N.; Mount St. Simon N.N.E.; Khan Touman
E.N.E.; Djebel el Ala N.; Djebel Akra W.N.W. About one hour N.E. of
Rieha lies the village Haleya.

From Djebel Erbayn we continued our road in a S.S.W. direction, on the
declivity of the mountain of Rieha. In half an hour


[p.129] we passed a copious spring, enclosed by a square building,
called El Monboaa [Arabic]. In the plain to the right we saw the village
Kefrzebou [Arabic], and half an hour to the west of it another, called
Ourim [Arabic]. We met with several sepulchral caves on our road.
Wherever, in these parts, the soil admits of culture, wheat and barley
are sown among the rocks. If such spots are distant from a village, the
cultivators pitch a few tents for the purpose of watching the seed and
crop; such encampments are called Mezraa [Arabic]. In an hour and ten
minutes we reached Nahle; two hours and forty minutes the village
Meghara [Arabic], with many remains of ancient buildings. Here I saw a
neat sepulchral cave with a vaulted portico supported by two pillars. In
three hours we reached the village Merayan [Arabic]; the direction of
our route sometimes S.W. sometimes S.S.W. Just by Merayan is a large
coffin, cut in the rocky ground, like those of Kefr Lata; and near it a
spring, with ancient walls. In three hours and twenty minutes we came to
Ahsin [Arabic], half an hour to the west of which is the village Eblim
[Arabic]. The principal produce of all these villages is grapes, which
are carried to the Aleppo market, and there sold, in ordinary years, at
about nine shillings per quintal; or else they are boiled to form the
sweet glutinous extract called Debs, which is a substitute for sugar all
over the East. At the end of four hours and a half we reached the
village El Bara [Arabic], where we finished our day's journey; but we
met with a very cold reception, although I had taken the precaution of
obtaining a letter of recommendation to the Sheikh of the village from
the proprietor of it, Taleb Effendi, of the family Tcheleby Effendi Toha
Zade, the first house of Aleppo.

Half an hour N.W. of Bara lies the village Belyoum. A high hill,
contiguous to the Djebel Rieha, called Neby Ayoub [Arabic], bears N.W.
from El Bara, distant about an hour and three

[p.130]quarters. On its summit is a Turkish chapel sacred to the memory
of the prophet Ayoub (Job). Two hours distant from El Bara, S. by W.
lies the village Kefr Nebyl.

February 20th.--The mountain of Rieha, of which El Bara forms a part, is
full of the ruins of cities, which flourished in the times of the lower
empire;[The following are the names of other villages and ruined towns,
situated upon the mountain of Rieha from the information of a man or El
Bara: viz. Medjellye [Arabic], Betersa [Arabic], Baouza [Arabic], Has
[Arabic], El Rebeya [Arabic], Serdjelle [Arabic], El Djerada [Arabic],
Moarrat Houl [Arabic], Moarrat Menhas [Arabic], Beshelle [Arabic],
Babouza [Arabic], El Deir [Arabic], El Roweyha [Arabic], with extensive
ruins; Zer Szabber [Arabic], Zer Louza [Arabic], Moar Bellyt [Arabic],
Moar Szaf [Arabic], Serdjeb Mantef [Arabic], Nahle [Arabic], El Rama
[Arabic], Kefr Rouma [Arabic], Shennan [Arabic], Ferkya [Arabic],
Belshou [Arabic], Ahsarein [Arabic], Moarrat Maater [Arabic], Djebale
[Arabic], Kefrneba [Arabic], Beskala [Arabic], Moarrata [Arabic],
Djousef [Arabic], El Fetteyry [Arabic], El Ahmeyry [Arabic], Erneba
[Arabic], El Arous [Arabic], Kon Szafra [Arabic], El Mezra [Arabic],
Aweyt [Arabic], Kefr Shelaye [Arabic], Szakhrein [Arabic], Benames
[Arabic], Kefr Djennab [Arabic], Szankoul [Arabic].] those of El Bara
are the most considerable of the whole, and as I had often heard the
people of the country mention them, I thought it worth while to take
this circuitous road to Hamah.

The ruins are about ten minutes walk to the west of the village.
Directing our researches to that side we met with a sepulchral cave in
the immediate vicinity of the town; a broad staircase leads down to the
entrance of it, over which I copied this inscription:


The following figure, in relief, was over it. We saw the same figure,
with variations, over the gates of several buildings in these ruins; the
episcopal staff is found in all

[p.131]of them. The best executed one that I saw was of this form. On
the outside of the town are several sepulchral caves, and a few coffins.

The town walls on the E. side are yet standing; they are very neatly
built with small stones, with a square pillar at every six or seven
paces, about nine feet high. The ruins extend for about half an hour
from south to north, and consist of a number of public buildings,
churches, and private habitations, the walls and roofs of some of which
are still standing. I found no inscriptions here. The stone with which
the buildings are constructed is a soft calcareous rock, that speedily
decays wherever it is exposed to the air; it is of the same description
as that found in the buildings of the towns about the mountain of St.
Simon, and in the ruins of St. Simon, where not a single legible
inscription remains, though, as at Bara, traces of them are seen in many
places. We surveyed the town in all directions, but saw no building
worth noticing, except three tombs, which are plain square structures
surmounted with pyramids. The pyramidal summit of one of them has
fallen. The interior of these tombs is a square of six paces; on the
side opposite the door is a stone coffin; and two others in each of the
other two walls; the pyramidal roof is well constructed, being hollow to
the top, with rounded angles, and without any interior support. On the
outside the pyramid is covered with thin slabs, on each of which is a
kind of knob, which gives the whole a very singular appearance. The
height of the whole building may be about twenty-four feet. In one of
the tombs is a window, the other is quite dark. Two of them stand near
together; a third is in a different part of the town. The sides of one
of the coffins is carved with a cross in the middle.

[p.132]The mode of construction in all the private habitations is
similar to that which I noticed in the ancient towns of the Haouran, and
which, in fact, is still in use in most of the Arab villages in Syria,
with this difference, that the latter build with timber and mud instead
of stone.

On the N. side of El Bara stands a castle, built in the Saracen or
Crusade style, with a spring near it, called Bir Alloun [Arabic], the
only one in the neighbourhood of the ancient town, and which apparently
was insufficient to the inhabitants, as we found many cisterns cut very
deep in the rock. Turning from the spring towards the present village,
we passed the tomb of a Turkish saint, called Kubbet Ibn Imaum Abou
Beker, where the son of Abou Beker is reported to have been killed: near
it is a cave, with eight receptacles for the dead. I saw there some
rocks of the same basaltic tufwacke which I met with in the Djebel el
Hasz and in ome of the districts of Haouran.

The greater part of the villages of Djebel Rieha belong to the Dehly
Bashi, at Rieha. Feteyry belongs to the district of Marra; its
inhabitants have often been punished for their rebellious conduct, and
their predatory incursions into the neighbouring districts; their
spirit, however, is unbroken, and they still follow the same practices.
The frontiers of the Pashaliks of Damascus and Aleppo run across the
mountain of Rieha, which commences above Rieha, and extends to Kalaat el
Medyk, varying in breadth from two to five hours: it is a low but very
rocky chain, little fit for culture, except in the valleys; but it
abounds in game, especially wild boars; and ounces have sometimes been
killed in it.

We left the inhospitable Bara at mid-day, with two armed men, to escort
us over the mountain into the valley of the Orontes. In half an hour we
passed a ruined stone bridge across a narrow Wady; it rests upon piers,
which are formed of immense blocks


[p.133]of stone piled upon one another. In one hour and twenty minutes
we came to Kon Szafra, in a fertile valley on the top of the mountain,
where a few families live in wretched huts amidst the ruins of an
ancient town. N.W. about three quarters of an hour is the village of
Mezraa. In an hour and forty minutes we reached the ruined town Djerada,
and at the end of two hours and a half, Kefr Aweyt, a small village;
Kefr, in the vulgar dialect, means ruins. Here the mountain is much less
rocky, and more fit for culture. Our road lay S.W. b. S. The village of
Feteyry, lies about one hour and a half south of Aweyt. After travelling
three hours we came in sight of the Orontes, and then began to descend.
The mountain on this side is rather steep, and its side is overgrown
with herbs which afford an excellent pasturage. The plant asphodel
(Siris [Arabic]) is very common; the inhabitants of Syria, by
pulverising its dried roots, and mixing the powder with water, make a
good glue, which is superior to that made with flour, as it is not
attacked by worms. In the summer the inhabitants of the valley pasture
their cattle in these mountains, as do likewise a few tribes of Arabs;
among these are the Akeydat, of whom we passed a small encampment.

The part of Djebel Rieha which, beginning at Kon Szafra, extends to the
valley of the Orontes, on the one side towards Kalaat el Medyk, on the
other towards Djissr Shogher, bears the appellation of Djebel Shaehsabou
[Arabic]. The continuation of the same mountain towards Rieha, besides
its general name of Djebel Rieha, is likewise called Djebel Zaouy
[Arabic]. In four hours and a quarter we reached the plain below, near
an insulated hill, called Tel Aankye [Arabic], which seems to be

The valley bordered on the E. side by Djebel Shaehsabou, and on the W.
side by the mountains of the Anzeyry, is called El Ghab [Arabic]. It
extends almost due north from three hours S. of


[p.134]Kalaat el Medyk to near Djissr Shogher: its breadth is about two
hours, but becomes narrower towards the north; it is watered by the
Aaszy [Arabic], or Orontes, which flows near the foot of the western
mountain, where it forms numerous marshes. The inhabitants of El Ghab
are a mongrel race of Arabs and Fellahs, and are called Arab el Ghab.
They live in winter time in a few villages dispersed over the valley, of
which they cultivate only the land adjacent to their villages; on the
approach of hot weather they retire with their cattle to the eastern
mountains, in search of pasture, and in order to escape the immense
swarms of flies and gnats [Arabic], which infest the Ghab in that
season. In the winter the Aaszy inundates a part of the low grounds
through which it flows, and leaves many small lakes and ponds; the
valley is watered also by numerous springs and by rivulets, which
descend from the mountains, especially from those on the east. To the N.
of Tel Aankye, on the E. side towards Djissr Shogher, which is eight
hours distant from Aankye, are the springs Ayn Bet Lyakhom [Arabic], Ayn
Keleydyn [Arabic], Shaouryt [Arabic], Kastal Hadj Assaf [Arabic], Djob
Soleyman [Arabic], Djob el Nassouh [Arabic], Djob Tel el Tyn [Arabic].

Having passed to the left of Aankye, where is a small village, we
continued our road up the valley due south; we passed near the spring
Ayn el Aankye; in a quarter of an hour farther Ayn el Kherbe, and at the
same distance farther south, the copious spring Ayn el Howash [Arabic],
from whence we turned to the right into the plain, and at the end of
four hours and three quarters from El Bara, reached the village Howash,
where we alighted at the Sheikh's house.

February 21st--Howash is the principal village of the Ghab; it is
situated on the borders of a small lake, formed by the rivulet of Ayn el
Howash. The surrounding country was at this time for

[p.135]the greater part inundated, and the Arabs passed in small boats
from one village to another; in summer the inundation subsides, but the
lakes remain, and to the quantity of stagnant water thus formed is owing
the pest of flies and gnats abovementioned. There are about one hundred
and forty huts at Howash, the walls of which are built of mud; the roofs
are composed of the reeds which grow on the banks of the Orontes; the
huts in which these people live in the mountain during the summer are
formed also of reeds, which are tied together in bundles, and thus
transported to the mountain, where they are put up so as to form a line
of huts, in which the families within are separated from each other only
by a thin partition of reeds.

The Arabs of Howash cultivate Dhourra and wheat, and, like all the Arabs
of the Ghab, rear large herds of buffaloes, which are of a small kind,
and much less spirited than those I saw in the plains of Tarsous. It is
a common saying and belief among the Turks, that all the animal kingdom
was converted by their Prophet to the true faith, except the wild boar
and buffalo, which remained unbelievers; it is on this account that both
these animals are often called Christians. We are not surprised that the
boar should be so denominated; but as the flesh of the buffalo, as well
as its Leben or sour milk, is much esteemed by the Turks, it is
difficult to account for the disgrace into which that animal has fallen
among them; the only reason I could learn for it, is that the buffalo,
like the hog, has a habit of rolling in the mud, and of plunging into
the muddy ponds in the summer time, up to the very nose, which alone
remains visible above the surface.

The territory of Djissr Shogher extends as far as Howash; from thence,
southward, begins the district of Kalaat el Medyk. The Sheikh of Howash,
called Mohammed el Omar, is noted in the adjoining districts for his
hospitality; but within bthese few years he


[p.136]has been reduced from great wealth to poverty by the extortions
of Topal Aly of Djissr Shogher, and of Milly Ismayl of Kalaat el Medyk;
the troops which are continually passing from one place to another are
consuming the last remains of his property. The night we slept at his
house, there were at least fifty people at supper, of whom about thirty
were poor Arabs of his village; the others were all strangers.

We left Howash early in the morning, and rode along the eastern
mountains, in this beautiful valley, which I can compare only to the
valley of the Bekaa between the two Libani; the Ghab, however, has this
great advantage over the Bekaa, that it is copiously watered by a large
river and many rivulets, while the latter, in summer time, has little or
no water. At half an hour from Howash we met with several fragments of
shafts of columns, on the side of an ancient paved causeway. We followed
this causeway for upwards of an hour, although in some places no remains
of it were visible; at the distance of a quarter of an hour (at the rate
of about three miles and a half an hour), from the first heap of
fragments of columns, we met with a similar heap; then at an equal
interval a third, and again a fourth; not more than four columns seemed
to have stood together in any of these places. We conjectured that this
had been a Roman road, and the columns its milliaria. The causeway was
traced here and there farther to the south, but without any appearance
of stations; it probably followed the whole length of the valley from
Apamea to Djissr Shogher. One hour and a quarter from Howash is Ayn
Houyeth [Arabic], a copious spring. The Roman road is here about sixteen
feet in breadth. To the right, in the plain, is the village of Houyeth,
and near it another village, called Ain Uktol [Arabic]. On our right was
a perpendicular rock, upon which were patches of rich verdure. Two hours
and a quarter is Ayn el Taka [Arabic], a large spring, issuing


[p.137]from near the foot of the mountain, and forming a small lake
which communicates with the Orontes. Here are the remains of some
ancient walls. The temperature of this spring, as well as of those which
we passed on the way from Aankye, is like that of water which has been
heated by the sun in the midst of summer: it is probably owing to this
temperature, that we observed such vast numbers of fish in the lake, and
that they resort here in the winter from the Orontes; it is principally
the species called by the Arabs the Black Fish, on account of its ash-
coloured flesh; its length varies from five to eight feet. The fishery
is at present in the hands of the governor of Kalaat el Medyk, who
carries it on, on his own account; the period is from November till the
beginning of January. The fishermen, who are inhabitants of the village
Sherya [Arabic], situated on the borders of the lake, at half an hour's
distance from Ayn el Taka, enjoy a partial exemption from the Miri, or
land-tax; they fish with harpoons during the night, in small boats,
which carry five or six men; and so numerous are the fish, that by
throwing the harpoons at random, they fill their boats in the course of
the night. The quantity taken might be doubled, if there were a ready
market for them. The Kantar, of five hundred and eighty pounds weight,
is sold at about four pounds sterling. The fish are salted on the spot,
and carried all over Syria, and to Cyprus, for the use of the Christians
during their long and rigid fasts. The income derived from this fishery
by the governor of Kalaat el Medyk amounts to about one hundred and
twenty purses, or three thousand pounds sterling. Besides the black
fish, carp are also taken with nets, and carried to Hamah and Homs,
where the Turks are very fond of them. The depth of the lake is about
ten feet; its breadth is quite irregular, being seldom more than half an
hour; its length is about one hour and a half.

One hour from Ayn el Taka, and the lake El Taka, we arrived at


[p.138]the foot of the hill upon which stands Kalaat el Medyk [Arabic],
or the castle of Medyk. It probably occupies the site of Apamea: for
there can be little doubt that travellers have been wrong in placing
that city at Hamah, the ancient Epiphania, or at some ruins situated at
four hours distance from Hamah. Notwithstanding our desire to enter the
castle, we could not venture to do so. The governor, Milly Ismayl, a man
eighty-five years of age, and whose name has been well known in Syria
for the last twenty years, was last year, when governor of Hamah,
ordered by the Pasha of Damascus to march with his corps of Dehlys
towards Ladakie, to join the Tripoli army, then fighting against the
Anzeyrys, who inhabit the mountains between Ladakie and Antioch; in
passing by Kalaat el Medyk, on his way to Djissr Shogher, he found the
castle without a garrison, and took possession of it, thereby declaring
himself a rebel. Orders have in consequence been given to strike off his
head. Although his strong fortress enables him to defy these orders, his
dread of being surprised induces him to try every means in his power to
obtain his pardon from the Porte, and he has even sent considerable sums
of money to Constantinople. [Damascus. April 28, 1812.--In the latter
end of March, Milly Ismayl went to Hamah on some private business, and
during his absence with his troops Topal Aly quietly seized upon the
castle. The former now lives in retirement at Hamah, while the power and
reputation of Topal have been thus considerably increased in the
northern parts of Syria.] Under these circumstances my companion and
myself were afraid that he might lay hold of us, in order to make our
deliverance subservient to his purposes; we therefore passed by the foot
of the hill, while we sent in our attendants to buy some provisions. The
castle is built upon an almost insulated hill, communicating on its
eastern side only with the mountain called Djebel


[p.139]Oerimy [Arabic], the southernmost point of Djebel Shaehsabou,
which turns off here towards the east, and continues for about three
hours in an easterly direction. To the south of Oerimy the undulations
of the mountain continue for about three hours, and terminate in the
plain of Terimsy, of which I shall speak presently. The castle of Medyk
is built of small stones, with several turrets, and is evidently of
modern construction. On the E. side, close to the gate, are ruined
habitations; and to the S. on the declivity of the hill, is a mosque
enclosed by a wall, which forms a kind of out-work to the castle. Within
the castle wall are thirty or forty houses, inhabited by Turks and Greek
Christians. I was told that the only relic of antiquity is a wall in the
governor's palace, built with large blocks of stone. At the western foot
of the hill is a warm sulphureous spring, the water from which forms a
pond; on the edge of the pond I found a fragment of a fine fluted Doric
column. Near the spring is a large Khan for the accommodation of
travellers. On the N. side of the hill are several columns scattered

As we wished to follow the valley of the Orontes as far as possible, we
continued in the direction S. by W. along the plain, instead of taking
the straight road towards Hamah. Half an hour from Kalaat el Medyk is
Ayn Djoufar [Arabic], a rivulet flowing down the eastern hills through
Wady Djoufar; it runs towards the castle, and empties itself into the
pond at the castle spring. Up in the hills, in the direction of Wady
Djoufar, are the villages of Keframbouda [Arabic], Kournas [Arabic],
Sheikh Hadid [Arabic], and Djournye [Arabic], a little beyond Ayn
Djoufar we passed the spring Ayn Abou Attouf [Arabic]. In three quarters
of an hour, another rivulet called Ayn el Sheikh Djouban [Arabic], whose
source is up in the hills. The valley El Ghab continues here of the same
breadth as below. In the plain, about three quarters of


[p.140]an hour from Kalaat el Medyk, is a broad ditch, about fifteen
feet deep, and forty in breadth, which may be traced for an hour and a
half, towards the Orontes; near it is the village El Khandak (or the
Ditch.) This ditch is not paved, and may formerly have served for the
irrigation of the plain.

After proceeding for two hours from the castle, our two guides refused
to go any farther, insisting that it would be impossible to continue
longer in the valley; to say the truth, it was in many parts covered
with water, or deep mud, for the rains had been incessant during several
months, and the road we had already come, from the castle, was with
difficulty passable; we were therefore obliged to yield, and turning to
our left a little way up the hill, rested at the village of Sekeylebye
[Arabic], situated on one of the low hills, near a rivulet called Wady
Sekeylebye. I may here observe that the springs coming from the eastern
mountains of the Ghab never dry up, and scarcely even diminish during
the height of summer.

From a point over the village, which belongs to Hamah, I took the
following bearings: Tel Zeyn Abdein, near Hamah, S.E. Djebel Erbayn,
between Hamah and Homs, S.S.E. The gap which separates the Anti-Libanus
from the northern chain, to the W. of Homs and Hamah, S.by E. The
highest point of Djebel Szoleyb, to the W. of Hamah and Homs, S. Tel
Aasheyrne, in the plain, S. by W., Djebel Maszyad S.W. The eastern
termination of Djebel Shaehsabou N.E. by E. To the S. and E. of
Sekeylebye open the great plains which extend to the desert. To the S.
distant one hour, near the borders of the hills which enclose the valley
of the Ghab on this side, lies the Anzeyry village of Sherrar [Arabic],
a quarter of an hour from whence is an insulated hill called Tel
Amouryn. Two hours southward of Sekeylebye is Tel Aasheyrne, and half an
hour farther, Tel el Shehryh. In the valley,

[p.141]about one hour and a half S.W. of Sekeylebye, lies the village El
Haourat [Arabic], with a ford over the Orontes, where there is a great
carp [Arabic] fishery. On the other side of the river is the insulated
hillock Tel el Kottra [Arabic]. The highest point of the mountain of the
Anzeyrys, on the W. side of the Orontes, appears to be opposite to
Kalaat el Medyk; it is called Kubbet Neby Metta [Arabic], and has a
chapel upon it, dedicated to the saint Metta, who is held in great
veneration by the Anzeyrys. The principal villages in this mountain,
belonging to the Anzeyrys, who live there upon the produce of their
excellent tobacco plantations, are the following: to the W. of Howash,
El Shattha [Arabic], to the S. of it, Merdadj [Arabic], farther S. Aanab
[Arabic]. To the W. of Kalaat el Medyk, Ayn el Keroum [Arabic], a
village whose inhabitants are rebels. To the W. of Ayn Djoban, Fakrou
[Arabic]; above Tel el Kottra, Kalaat el Kebeys [Arabic]. The mountain
belongs to the government of Ladakie, but is immediately under the
Anzeyry chief, El Fakker [Arabic], who resides in the castle of

The inhabitants of the Ghab hold the Anzeyrys in contempt for their
religion, and fear them, because they often descend from the mountains
in the night, cross the Aaszy, and steal, or carry off by force, the
cattle of the valley. [A peasant of Sekeylebye enumerated to me the
following villages belonging to the government of Hamah, and situated to
the N. and W. of that town. Beginning east-wards of his own village, he
first mentioned El Sohhrye, then Setouhh, El Deyr, Kfer Djebein, Um
Kaszr, Kassabye, Um el Aamed, Kferambouda, Kornas, El Djeleyme, El
Mogheyer, El Habyt, Kefer Sedjen, Maar Zeyt, Maart Maater, Kefr Ayn,
Kadhyb el Ban, Tel Aas, Kefr Zeyty, El Lattame [Arabic], the principal
village of the district of Hamah, Khan Shiehoun, Maryk, Howeyr, Tel
Berran, Wady Edjfar, Wady Daurat, Maszyn Latmein, Tel Faes, Besseleya,
Meskyn, Tayebe, Um Tennoura, El Hammamye, El Seyh, Seidjar, Khattab,
Meharabe, Helfeya, Bellata, Kefr Behon, Zauran, Mardys, Maar Shour, El
Djadjye, Zeyn Abdein, El Oesher. East and south-east of Hamah are the
ruined villages: Kefr Houn, Ekfer Tab, Um Sedjra, Altouny, Kefr Eydoun,
Sahyan, Marhatal, Heish, Moaka, Wady el Fathh, [Arabic], Kefr Baesein,
El Tahh, El Djofer Djerdjenaes, El Ghatfa, Mart Arab, Aar [Arabic],
Seker, Turky, Etleyl el Szauan, El Temaanaa, El Taamy, El Sheteyb, El
Beleyl, Um Harteyn, El Zekeyat, El Hamra, Kfer Dadein, Maar Zelem,
Naszab, Tel Faes, El Medjdel, Howeyr, Aatshan el Gebeybat, Sydy Aaly,
Djaafar, Berdj el Abyadh, Berdj el Assuad, Kalaat el Ans, Stabelt Antar,
Deh lubby.]


[p.142]We passed the night in a half ruined house, without being able to
get any refreshments, although the village belonged to a particular
friend of mine at Hamah; indeed these peasants have scarcely any thing
left to keep themselves from starving.

February 22d--Early this morning we set off in the direction of Hamah,
and after a march of an hour and a half over the plain, reached Tel
Szabba [Arabic], an insulated hillock in the plain; half an hour from it
lies a lake called Behirat Terimsy [Arabic], or, simply El Terimsy. Its
extent is from S.W. to N.E. about five to six miles long by two or three
in breadth; its waters are scarcely any where deeper than five feet; but
the depth of mud at the bottom is so great as to render it fatal for any
one to enter the lake, at least so I was informed by several peasants
who joined us. The water of the lake diminishes considerably in the
summer time, but very seldom dries up entirely; the only instance upon
record was during the great drought in 1810, when it is asserted that
springs were discovered in the bed of the lake. I am not quite certain
whether it communicates on the western side with the Orontes; our guides
were not unanimous in their answers; the river, however, must at least
pass very close to the lake. On the southern borders of the lake are the
Tels or mounds of earth, called Telloul el Fedjera [Arabic]; on the E.
side is the Tel Waoyat [Arabic]. The soil in the vicinity of the lake is
a soft clay; and I had great


[p.143]difficulty in extricating my mare from the swamp as I approached
to reconnoitre the lake, which our company had left to the right of the
road. In the spring the earth hardens and is then covered with most
luxuriant pasturage. In March the peasants and Arabs of all the
neighbouring districts and villages, as well as the inhabitants of
Hamah, send their horses and mules here to graze under the care of
herdsmen, who regularly pitch their tents near the Waoyat, and each of
whom receives a piastre a head from the owners. The cattle remain here
till April. The best pasture seems to be on the S. and E. sides, the
banks of the lake being there lower than on the opposite sides. It was
here, perhaps, that the Seleucidae fed their herds of elephants.

Two hours and a half from Sekeylebye, to the left of the road, is a
ruined mosque, called El Djelame; two hours and a half, Tel el Mellah, a
hillock in the plain. Our road continued through fertile but
uncultivated fields. E. of Tel Mellah about two hours is Tel Szeyad. Af
ter three hours and a half slow march we reached the Orontes, near a
spot where a large wheel, of the same construction as those at Hamah,
raises the water from the river, and empties it into a stone canal, by
means of which the neighbouring fields are irrigated. At the end of four
hours we came to a bridge over the river, on the other side of which the
castle of Seidjar is [Arabic] situated. If I recollect rightly, the
bridge rests upon thirteen arches; it is well built, but of modern
construction. It is placed at the point where the Aaszy issues from
between rugged mountains. On the summit of the range on the left bank
stands the castle. To the S.E. of the castle, on the right bank of the
river, is the tomb of a Sheikh called Aba Aabeyda el Djerrah [Arabic],
and to the S.E. of the latter, the Turkish chapel El Khudher. The
windings of the river in the narrow rocky valley, where no space
intervenes between the water and the base of the mountains, resemble


[p.144]those of the Wye in Monmouthshire. At the bridge of Seidjar, it
is nearly as large as the Wye at Chepstow. Just by the bridge is a Khan
of ancient construction; probably of the period of the crusades. A paved
way leads up to the castle, which is at present inhabited by a few
hundred families of peasants. It appears from the style of construction
that the castle as it now stands, is of the time of the latter Califes;
the walls, towers, and turrets, which surround it on the N., W. and S.
sides, are evidently Saracen; but it should seem, from the many remains
of Grecian architecture found in the castle, that a Greek town formerly
stood here. Fragments of columns and elegant Corinthian and Doric
capitals lie dispersed about it: amongst them is a coffin of fine
marble, nine feet long, but I could find no remains of any ancient
building. On the east side the river runs at the foot of a deep
precipice. In the south wall a strong well built tower is still in
perfect preservation; near it is a deep well, and a subterraneous
passage, which, we were informed, leads down to the river side. We
searched in vain for Greek inscriptions; on the above mentioned tower is
a fine Arabic inscription, but too high to be copied by such short-
sighted people as we both happened to be. On the gate of the castle,
which leads through an arched passage into the interior, I copied the
following, in which many foreign words are mixed with the Arabic:


Part of the declivity of the hill upon which the castle is built is
paved with flat stones, like the castle hills of Aleppo, El Hossn,


[p.145]and Szalkhat. In the plain to the S. and S.W. of the castle are
the remains of ancient buildings, which indicate the site of a town;
several fragments of columns, wrought stones, and a great deal of
rubbish, are lying about. We dug up an altar about four feet and a half
high, and one foot and an half square; on one of its four sides was this


To the S.W. of the bridge is the tomb of a saint named Sheikh Mahmoud,
which is to the W. of a small village called Haourein [Arabic]. The rock
of the hills, in the neighbourhood of Seidjar, is calcareous, of
considerable hardness, and of a reddish yellow colour; on the S. side of
the castle the rock seems to have been cut perpendicularly down almost
as low as the river, either for the purpose of adding to the defence of
the fortress on this side, or to facilitate the drawing up of water from
the river.

We now crossed the low hills to the south of Seidjar, and entered the
plain of Hamah, which is very little cultivated here. We proceeded in a
south-easterly direction. In one hour and a half from Seidjar we passed
a number of wells cut close to each other in the rocky ground. At one
hour and three quarters is a small bridge over a torrent called El
Saroudj [Arabic], which empties itself into the Orontes. In two hours we
saw to our left, about half an hour distant, the village Hedjam, on the
right bank of the river; in two hours and three quarters, a small


[p.146]called El Shyhy [Arabic], was to our right; at three hours, we
passed the village El Djadjye [Arabic], distant from the left of the
road a quarter of an hour; and near it the village El Kasa. The fertile
soil now begins to be well cultivated. In four hours we reached Hamah,
where we alighted, at the house of Selym Keblan, one of the Mutsellim's
secretaries, the most gentlemanly Levantine I had yet known.

Hamah is situated on both sides of the Orontes; a part of it is built on
the declivity of a hill, and a part in the plain; the quarters in the
plain are called Hadher [Arabic] and El Djissr; those higher up El
Aleyat [Arabic], and El Medine. Medine is the abode of the Christians.
The town is of considerable extent, and must contain at least thirty
thousand inhabitants, of whom the Greek families, according to the
Bishop's information, are about three hundred. In the middle of the city
is a square mound of earth, upon which the castle formerly stood; the
materials, as well as the stones with which it is probable that the hill
was faced, have been carried away and used in the erection of modern
buildings. There are four bridges over the Orontes

in the town. The river supplies the upper town with water by means of
buckets fixed to high wheels (Naoura) [Arabic], which empty themselves
into stone canals, supported by lofty arches on a level with the upper
parts of the town. There are about a dozen of the wheels; the largest of
them, called Naoura el Mohammedye, is at least seventy feet in diameter.
The town, for the greater part, is well built, although the walls of the
dwellings, a few palaces excepted, are of mud; but their interior makes
amends for the roughness of their external appearance. The Mutsellim
resides in a seraglio, on the banks of the river. I enquired in vain for
a piece of marble, with figures in relief, which La Roque saw; but in
the corner of a house in the Bazar is a stone with a number

[p.147]of small figures and signs, which appears to be a kind of
hieroglyphical writing, though it does not resemble that of Egypt. I
counted thirteen mosques in the town, the largest of which has a very
ancient Minaret.

The principal trade of Hamah is with the Arabs, who buy here their tent
furniture and clothes. The Abbas, or woollen mantles made here, are much
esteemed. Hamah forms a part of the province of Damascus, and is usually
the station of three or four hundred horsemen, kept here by the Pasha to
check the Arabs, who inundate the country in spring and summer. Few rich
merchants are found in the town; but it is the residence of many opulent
Turkish gentlemen, who find in it all the luxuries of the large towns,
at the same time that they are in some measure removed from the
extortions of the government. Naszyf Pasha, of the family of Adein, who
has an annual income of about L8000. sterling, has built a very handsome
house here. He is well known for his travels in Europe, and Barbary, and
for his brave defence of Cairo, after the defeat of the Grand Vizir by
General Kleber near Heliopolis. Being curious to see him, I waited upon
him, notwithstanding the rule I had prescribed to myself of mixing as
little as possible with Turkish grandees, and presented him a letter of
recommendation. We conversed for about half an hour; he was very civil
for a Pasha, and made many enquiries concerning Prince Augustus (the
Duke of Sussex), whom he had known in Italy.

The government of Hamah comprises about one hundred and twenty inhabited
villages, and seventy or eighty which have been abandoned. The western
part of its territory is the granary of northern Syria, though the
harvest never yields more than ten for one, chiefly in consequence of
the immense numbers of mice,

[p.148]which sometimes wholly destroy the crops. I did not see any of
these animals.

From a point on the cliff above the Orontes, called El Sherafe, the
traveller enjoys a beautiful view over the town. At one hour and a half
from it lies the Djebel Zeyn Aabdein [Arabic] in the direction N. by E.;
this mountain has two prominent summits, called the Horns of Zeyn
Aabdein [Arabic]; its continuation southward is called Djebel Keysoun,
the highest point of which bears E. 1/2 N.; still farther south it
protrudes in a point in the neighbourhood of Salamie, which bears S.E.
and is called Djebel el Aala, upon which stands the castle called Kalaat
Shemmasye [Arabic]. To the S. of Hamah, two hours distant, lies an
insulated chalky mountain, two or three hours in length, from west to
east, called Djebel Erbayn; its highest point bearing from Hamah S. 1/2
E. The Orontes flows on its E. side.

The Aaszy irrigates a great number of gardens belonging to Hamah, which
in winter time are generally inundated. Whereever the gardens lie higher
than the river, wheels like those already mentioned are met with in the
narrow valley, for the purpose of raising up water to them. In summer
the water of the river is quite clear.

February 27th.--We remained five days in the hospitable house of Selym,
where a large company of Turks and Arabs assembled every evening; and it
was with difficulty that we could prevail upon him to let us depart. The
distance between Hamah and Tripoli, by the direct road, is four days, or
three days by performing on the first a thirteen hours journey from
Hamah to Hossn; but we wished to visit the castle of Maszyad, the seat
of the Ismaylys, which is laid down upon most of the maps of Syria, but
has rarely been visited by any travellers. We set out about mid-day, and
travelling in a S.W.


[p.149]direction came in an hour and a half to the Christian village
Kefrbehoun Arabic]; and in two hours, to a hillock in the plain called
Tel Afyoun [Arabic], i.e. the opium-hill, with an ancient well. The
number of these insulated mounds of earth in the eastern plain of Syria
is very remarkable; their shape is sometimes so regular, that there can
be no doubt of their being artificial; in several places there are two
standing close together. It is a general remark that wherever there is
such a mound, a village is found near it, and a spring, or at least an
ancient well. At two hours and a half from Hamah is El Dobbe, a small
village near the road: here the ground begins to be uneven, covered with
rocks, and little fit for cultivation. At three hours and three quarters
is Tel Mowah [Arabic] upon elevated ground, with the ruins of a
considerable village; from hence Tel Afyoun bears W. 1/2 S., Hamah
E.N.E., Homs S.S.E. In four hours and a half we came to considerable
heaps of large hewn stones, and ruined habitations, called El Feiryouny
[Arabic], where a few families of Kurdines had pitched their tents. On
the side of the road is a large and very neatly cut ancient well. The
face of the country is hilly with a rocky soil, here and there
cultivated. At the end of five hours and a half we reached Byszyn
[Arabic], a village inhabited by Anzeyrys, where we slept.

February 28th.--One hour and a half from Byszyn is the village of
Shyghata [Arabic] The road ascends, through a rocky country, overgrown
with shrubs and low trees. At two hours and a half is a ruined bridge
over the winter torrent El Saroudj, which we had passed in the plain
below, between Seidjar and Hamah; it was now so much swelled by the
heavy rains, that we were trying in vain to cross it in different
places, when a shepherd came to our assistance, and shewed us a ford.
Considerable as the stream was, it is dried up in summer. We proceeded
from the bridge in a W.N.W. direction, and, after a march of an hour and
three quarters, during [p.150]which we crossed several torrents, we
reached the castle of Maszyad [Arabic], or, as it is written in the
books of the Miri, Meszyaf [Arabic]. The approach to the castle on two
sides is across a large moor; to the N. of it are the highest points of
the mountain of Maszyad, at the foot of which it stands, upon a high and
almost perpendicular rock, commanding the wild moor in every direction,
and presenting a gloomy romantic landscape. On the W. side is a valley,
where the inhabitants cultivate wheat and barley. The town of Maszyad is
built between the castle and the mountain, on the declivity of the
mountain; it is upwards of half an hour in circumference, but the houses
are in ruins, and there is not a single well built dwelling in the town,
although stone is the only material used. The town is surrounded by a
modern wall, and has three stone gates, of more ancient construction; on
one of them I saw the following inscription:


The last line, as I was told by a man of Tripoli, contains the names of
some of the deities of the Ismaylys. The mosque is now in ruins. There
are several Arabic inscriptions in different parts of the town, which
are all of the time of El Melek el Dhaher [Arabic]. The castle is
surrounded by a wall of moderate thickness; and contains a few private
habitations. Near the entrance, which is arched, stands a Corinthian
capital, of indifferent workmanship, the only remain of Grecian
architecture that I saw here. Within this gate is an arched passage,
through which the road ascends to the inner and highest parts of the
castle. Upon the vault I read the following inscription in large


[p.151]"The deed (or fabric) of the Mamlouk Kosta." On the top of the
rock are some apartments belonging to the castle; which appear to have
had several floors. From a Kyosk, which the present governor has built
here, there is a beautiful view down into the western valley. Maszyad is
remarkable from being the chief seat of the religious sect called
Ismayly [Arabic]. Enquiries have often been made concerning the
religious doctrines of this sect, as well as those of the Anzeyrys and
Druses. Not only European travellers, and Europeans resident in Syria,
but many natives of influence, have endeavoured to penetrate the
mysteries of these idolaters, without success, and several causes
combine to make it probable, that their doctrines will long remain
unknown. The principal reason is, that few individuals among them become
acquainted with the most important and secret tenets of their faith; the
generality contenting themselves with the observance of some exterior
practices, while the arcana are possessed by the select few. It will be
asked, perhaps, whether their religious books would not unveil the
mystery? It is true that all the different sects possess books, which
they regard as sacred, but they are intelligible only to the initiated.
A sacred book of the Anzeyrys fell into the hands of a chief of the army
of Youssef Pasha, which plundered the castles of that sect in 1808; it
came afterwards into the possession of my friend Selym of Hamah, who had
destined it as a present to me; but he was prevailed upon to part with
it to a travelling physician, and the book is now in the possession of
M. Rousseau, the French consul at Aleppo, who has had it translated into
French, and means to publish it; but it will probably throw little light
upon the question. Another difficulty arises from the extreme caution of
the Ismaylys upon this subject whenever they are obliged to visit any
part of the country under the Turkish government, they assume the
character of Mussulmans; being

[p.152]well aware that if they should be detected in the practice of any
rite contrary to the Turkish religion, their hypocrisy, in affecting to
follow the latter, would no longer be toleraled; and their being once
clearly known to be pagans, which they are only suspected to be at
present, would expose them to the heaviest exactions, and might even be
followed by their total expulsion or extirpation. Christians and Jews
are tolerated because Mohammed and his immediate successors granted them
protection, and because the Turks acknowledge Christ and the prophets;
but there is no instance whatever of pagans being tolerated.

The Ismaylys are generally reported to adore the pudendum muliebre, and
to mix on certain days of the year in promiscuous debauchery. When they
go to Hamah they pray in the mosque, which they never do at Kalaat
Maszyad. This castle has been from ancient times their chief seat. One
of them asserted that his religion descended from Ismayl, the son of
Abraham, and that the Ismaylys had been possessed of the castle since
the time of El Melek el Dhaher, as acknowledged by the Firmahns of the
Porte. A few years since they were driven out of it by the Anzeyrys, in
consequence of a most daring act of treachery. The Anzeyrys and Ismaylys
have always been at enmity, the consequence, perhaps, of some religious
differences. In 1807, a tribe of the former having quarrelled with their
chief, quitted their abode in their mountains, and applied to the Emir
of Maszyad for an asylum. The latter, glad of an opportunity to divide
the strength of his enemies, readily granted the request, and about
three hundred, with their Sheikh Mahmoud, settled at Maszyad, the Emir
carrying his hospitality so far as to order several families to quit the
place, for the purpose of affording room for the new settlers. For
several months all was tranquil, till one day, when the greater part of
the people were at work in the fields, the Anzeyrys, at a given signal,

[p.153]killed the Emir and his son in the castle, and then fell upon the
Ismaylys who had remained in their houses, sparing no one they could
find, and plundering at the same time the whole town. On the following
day the Anzeyrys were joined by great numbers of their countrymen, which
proved that their pretended emigration had been a deep-laid plot; and
the circumstance of its being kept secret for three months by so great a
number of them, serves to shew the character of the people. About three
hundred Ismaylys perished on this occasion; the families who had escaped
in the sack of the town, fled to Hamah, Homs, and Tripoli, and their
treacherous enemies successfully attacked three other Ismayly castles in
the mountain. The Ismaylys then implored the protection of Youssef
Pasha, at that time governor of Damascus, who marched with four or five
thousand men against the Anzeyrys, retook the castles which had belonged
to the Ismaylys, but kept the whole of the plunder of the Anzeyrys to
himself. This castle of Maszyad, with a garrison of forty men, resisted
his whole army for three months.

In 1810, after Youssef Pasha had been exiled by the Porte, the Ismaylys
who had fled to Hamah, Homs, and Tripoli returned, and Maszyad is now
inhabited by about two hundred and fifty Ismayly families, and by thirty
of Christians. The chief, who resides in the castle, is styled Emir; his
name is Zogheby [Arabic], of the family of Soleiman; he informed me that
his family had been possessors of the Emirship from remote times, and
that they are recognised as such by express Firmahns from the Porte;
Zogherby is a nephew of Mustafa, the Emir who was slain by the Anzeyrys.
Some of his relations command in the Ismayly castles of El Kadmous, El
Kohf, El Aleyka, and El Merkah, in the mountains towards Ladakie. After
what has lately taken place, it

[p.154]extreme: they are, apparently, at peace, but many secret murders
are committed: "Do you suppose," said a handsome young man to me, while
his eyes flashed with anger, "that these whiskers shall turn gray before
I shall have taken my revenge for a slaughtered wife and two infant
children?" But the Ismaylys are weak; I do not think that they can
muster eight hundred fire-locks, while the Anzeyrys are triple that

The principal produce of the neighbourhood of Maszyad is silk. They have
large plantations of mulberry trees, which are watered by numerous
rivulets descending on all sides from the mountain into the valley; and
as few of them dry up in summer, this must be a delightful residence
during the hot season. There are three or four Ismayly villages in the
neighbourhood of Maszyad.

From the castle the ruins called Deir Szoleib bear W. distant about two
hours and a half. I was told that there are large buildings at that
place constructed with immense blocks of stone, and bearing infidel
inscriptions; but the natives of these countries are unable to
distinguish sculptured ornaments from letters in unknown languages, and
travellers are often deceived by reports of long inscriptions, which
prove to be nothing more than a few decorations of architecture.

February 29th.--Having been disappointed in our hopes of finding any
thing remarkable at Kalaat el Maszyad, we directed our course to
Tripoli. We began to fear that the incessant rains would make the
torrents impassable, particularly the Saroudj, which we crossed
yesterday. The Emir gave us one of his men to guide and protect us
through his territories. After travelling for an hour and a half across
the moor, along the side of the upper ridge of the mountains of Maszyad,
we arrived at the village Soeida, near to which is the Mezar Sheikh
Mohammed, with some plantations of mulberry trees. E. of it half an hour


[p.155]Kherbet Maynye, a ruined village, with some ancient buildings;
and in the mountain above it, the ruined castles Reszafa [Arabic], and
Kalaat el Kaher [Arabic]. There are several other ruined castles in this
district, which appear to have been all built about the twelfth century.
At two hours and a half is Beyadhein [Arabic] a village inhabited by
Turkmans; to the E. of it, about half an hour, is a Tel in the plain,
with an arched building upon it called Kubbet el Aadera, or the dome of
the Virgin Mary, reported to be the work of the Empress Helena. On the
summit of a mountain S. of the village, one hour, is the ruined castle
Barein [Arabic]. Near Beyadhein we crossed the torrent Saroudj a second
time; its different branches inundated the whole plain. Two hours and a
half is the village Kortouman [Arabic], inhabited by Turkmans, from
whence Maszyad bears N. by W. Here we passed another torrent, near a
mill, and in a storm of heavy rain and thunder reached Nyszaf, three
hours and three quarters from Maszyad, the road from Kortouman lying S.
by W. for the greater part in the plain.

Nyszaf is a considerable village, with large plantations of mulberry
trees. It is inhabited by Turks and Anzeyrys. The mountain to the
eastward, on the declivity of which it is built, is peopled by Turkmans,
the greater part of whom do not speak Arabic. We dried our clothes at a
fire in the Sheikh's house, and took some refreshment; we then ascended
the mountain to the S. of the village, and my guides, who were afraid of
the road through the upper part of the mountain, refusing to proceed, we
halted for the night at Shennyn [Arabic], an Anzeyry village halfway up
the mountain. The declivity of the mountain is covered with vineyards,
growing upon narrow terraces, constructed to prevent the rain from
washing away the soil. From the grapes is extracted the Debs, which they
sell at Hamah; three quintals of grapes are


[p.156]necessary to make one quintal of Debs, which was sold last year
at the rate of L1. per quintal.

As our hosts appeared to be good natured people, I entered, after
supper, into conversation with them, with a view to obtain some
information upon their religious tenets; but they were extremely
reserved upon this head. I had heard that the Anzeyrys maintained from
time to time some communication with the East Indies, and that there was
a temple there belonging to their sect, to which they occasionally sent
messengers. In the course of our conversation I said that I knew there
were some Anzeyrys in the East Indies; they were greatly amazed at this,
and enquired how I had obtained my information: and their countenances
seemed to indicate that there was some truth in my assertion. They are
divided into different sects, of which nothing is known except the
names, viz. Kelbye, Shamsye, and Mokladjye. Some are said to adore the
sun and the stars, and others the pudendum muliebre. The Mokledjye wear
in their girdle a small iron hook, which they use when making water; it
is also said that they prostrate themselves every morning before their
naked mothers, saying [Arabic], and it is asserted that they have a
promiscuous intercourse with their females in a dark apartment every
Friday night; but these are mere reports. It is a fact, however, that
they entertain the curious belief that the soul ought to quit the dying
person's body by the mouth. And they are extremely cautious against any
accident which they imagine may prevent it from taking that road. For
this reason, whenever the government of Ladakie or Tripoli condemns an
Anzeyry to death, his relations offer considerable sums, that he may be
empaled instead of hanged. I can vouch for the truth of this belief,
which proves at least that they have some idea of a future state. It
appears that


[p.157]there are Anzeyrys in Anatolia and at Constantinople. Some years
since a great man of this sect died in the mountain of Antioch, and the
water with which his corpse had been washed was carefully put into
bottles and sent to Constantinople and Asia Minor.

March lst.--The weather having cleared up a little, we set out early,
and in an hour and a half reached the top of the mountain, from whence
we enjoyed a beautiful view to the east over the whole plain, and to the
W. and S. towards Hossn and the Libanus. Hamah bore E.N.E. and Kalaat
Maszyad N. by E. The castle of Hossn bore S.S.W. This part of the
mountain is called Merdj el Dolb [Arabic] or Dhaheret Hadsour [Arabic].
On the top there is fine pasturage, with several springs. To the left,
half an hour, is the high point called Dhaheret Koszeir, where is a
ruined castle; this summit appears to be the highest point of the chain.
The summit, on the western declivity, is the copious spring called Near
Ayn Kydrih [Arabic]. In two hours we came to the village Hadsour, on the
western side of the mountain, with the Mezar Sheikh Naszer. The country
to the west of the summit belongs to the government of the district of
Hossn. We now descended into the romantic valley Rowyd [Arabic], full of
mulberry and other fruit trees, with a torrent rolling in the bottom of
it. At the end of two hours and three quarters is the village
Doueyrellin [Arabic], on the E. side of the Wady; on its W. side, in a
higher situation, stands the village El Keyme; and one hour farther, to
the S. of the latter, on the same side, is the village El Daghle
[Arabic]. We crossed the Wady at the foot of the mountain, and continued
along its right bank, on the slope of the mountain, through orchards and
fields, till we arrived at the foot of the mountain upon which Kalaat el
Hossn is built. Our horses being rather fatigued, we sent them on to
Deir Djordjos, (the convent of St. George), where we intended


[p.158]to sleep, and walked up to the castle, which is distant six hours
and a half from Shennyn. It is built upon the top of an insulated hill,
which communicates on its western side only, with the chain of mountains
we had passed. Below the walls of the castle, on the east side, is the
town of Hossn, consisting of about one hundred and fifty houses. The
castle is one of the finest buildings of the middle age I ever saw. It
is evidently of European construction; the lions, which are carved over
the gate, were the armorial bearings of the Counts of Thoulouse, whose
name is often mentioned in the history of the crusades. It is surrounded
by a deep paved ditch, on the outside of which runs a wall flanked with
bastions and towers. The walls of the castle itself are very regularly
constructed, and are ornamented in many places with high gothic arches,
projecting several feet from the wall. The inner castle, which is
seventy paces in breadth, and one hundred and twenty in length, is
defended by bastions. A broad staircase, under a lofty arched passage,
leads up from the gate into the castle, and was accessible to horsemen.
In the interior we particularly admired a large saloon, of the best
Gothic architecture, with arches intersecting each on the roof. In the
middle of a court-yard we noticed a round pavement of stones elevated
about a foot and a half above the ground, and eighteen paces in
diameter; we could not account for its use; it is now called El Sofra,
or the table. There are many smaller apartments in the castle, and
several gothic chambers, most of which are in perfect preservation;
outside the castle an aqueduct is still standing, into which the rain
water from the neighbouring hills was conducted by various channels, and
conveyed by the aqueduct into the castle ditch, which must have served
as a reservoir for the use of the garrison, while it added at the same
time to the strength of the fortress. Figures of lions are seen in
various places on the outer wall, as well as Arabic inscriptions,


[p.159]which were too high to be legible from below. In other places,
amidst half effaced inscriptions, the name of El Melek el Dhaher is
distinguished. I saw no Greek inscriptions, nor any remains of Grecian
architecture. The following is upon a stone at the entrance of one of
the peasants' huts, of which there are about fifty within the castle and
on the parapets:


There are roses sculptured over the entrance of several apartments.

If Syria should ever again become the theatre of European warfare, this
castle would be an important position; in its neighbourhood the Libanus
terminates and the mountains of northern Syria begin; it therefore
commands the communication from the eastern plains to the sea shore. El
Hossn is the chief place of a district belonging to the government of
Hamah; the Miri is rented of the Pasha of Damascus, by the Greek family
of El Deib, who are the leading persons here. There is an Aga in the
castle, with a few men for its defence. Having examined Hossn, we
descended to the convent of Mar Djordjos (St. George), which lies half
an hour to the N.W. and there passed the night. In the Wady towards the
convent chestnut trees grow wild; I believe they are found in no other
part of Syria. The Arabs call them Abou Feroue [Arabic], i.e.
"possessing a fur."

March 2d.--The Greek convent of St. George is famous throughout Syria,
for the miracles which the saint is said to perform there. It is
inhabited by a prior and three monks, who live in a state of


[p.160]affluence; the income of the convent being very considerable,
passengers of all descriptions are fed gratis, and as it stands in the
great road from Hamah to Tripoli, guests are never wanting. The common
entertainment is Bourgul, with bread and olives; to Christians of
respectability wine is added. The convent has large vine and olive
plantations in its neighbourhood; it collects alms all over Syria,
Anatolia, and the Greek islands, and by a Firmahn of the Porte, is
declared to be free from all duties to the Pasha. Youssef Pasha of
Damascus, however, made them pay forty thousand piastres, on the
pretence that they had built a Khan for poor passengers without his
permission. The prior, who is chosen by the brotherhood of the convent,
is elected for life, and is under the immediate direction of the
Patriarch of Damascus. Caravans generally stop at the Khan, while
respectable travellers sleep in the convent itself. A spring near the
convent is said to flow only at intervals of two or three days. The
prior told me that the convent was built at the same time with the
castle of Hossn.

We left Mar Djordjos in a heavy rain, descended into the Wady Mar
Djordjos, and after two hours slight descent reached the plain near a
spring called Neba el Khalife [Arabic], round which are some ancient
walls. A vast plain now opened before us, bordered on the west by the
sea, which, however, was not yet distinguishable; on the N. by the
mountains of Tartous, on the E. by the Anzeyrys mountains, and on the
south by the Djebel Shara [Arabic], which is the lower northern
continuation of the Djebel Libnan and Djebel Akkar. To the right,
distant about three hours, we saw the castle of Szaffytta [Arabic], the
principal seat of the Anzeyry, where their chief El Fakker resides. It
is situated on the declivity of the Anzeyry mountains; near it stands an
ancient tower, called Berdj Mar Mykhael, or St. Michael's Tower. About
seven hours from Szaffytta, towards Kalaat Maszyadt,

[p.161]are the ruins of a temple now called Hassn Soleiman, which,
according to all reports, is very deserving of the traveller's notice;
as indeed are all the mountains of Szaffytta, and the whole Anzeyry
territory, where are the castles of Merkab, Khowabe, Kadmous, El Aleyka,
El Kohf, Berdj Tokhle, Yahmour, Berdj Miar, Areyme, and several others.
It would take ten days to visit these places.

We continued along the foot of the hills which form the Djebel Shara;
they are inhabited by Turkmans and Kurdines. We passed several torrents,
and had great difficulty in getting through the swampy soil. After a
march of five hours and a half, we came to a rivulet, which had swollen
so much from the rain of last night and this day that we could not
venture to pass it. We found several peasants who were as anxious to
cross it as ourselves, but who could not get their mules over. As the
rain had ceased, we waited on the banks for the decrease of the waters,
which is usually as rapid as their rise, but it soon appeared that the
rain still continued to fall in the mountains, for the stream, instead
of decreasing, became much larger. In this difficulty we had to choose
between returning to the convent and sleeping in the open air on the
banks of the rivulet; we preferred the latter, and passed an
uncomfortable night on the wet ground. By daylight the waters had so far
decreased, that we passed over without any accident.

March 3rd.--On the opposile side we met with another and larger branch
of the same stream, and at the end of an hour and a quarter reached the
Nahr el Kebir (the ancient Eleutherus), near a ruined bridge. This is a
large torrent, dangerous at this period of the year from its rapidity.
The Hamah caravans have been known to remain encamped on its banks for
weeks together, without being able to cross it. On the opposite side
stands a Khan, called Ayash, with the tomb of the saint, Sheikh Ayash


[p.162]which is usually the third day's station of the caravans from
Hamah to Tripoli. Having crossed the river we followed the northern
swellings of the mountain Akkar in a S.W. direction, having the plain
all the way on our right. In one hour and a quarter from the Khan, we
passed at half an hour's distance to the S. an insulated hillock in the
plain, on which are some ruined buildings called Kella [Arabic], and to
the east of it half an hour, another hillock called Tel Aarous [Arabic];
and at the same distance S.E. of the latter, the village Haytha

At two hours and a quarter from the Khan Ayash we passed the torrent
Khereybe, coming down the Wady of that name, on our left, and the castle
and village Khereybe, at a quarter of an hour from the road. Two hours
and three quarters, is the village Halbe, on the declivity of the
mountain. Three hours and a half, an old mosque upon the mountain above
the road, with a village called El Djamaa ([Arabic] the mosque). Near to
it, and where the mountains runs out in a point towards the north, is a
hill called Tel Arka, which appears by its regularly flattened conical
form and smooth sides to be artificial. I was told that on its top are
some ruins of habitations, and walls. Upon an elevation on its E. and S.
sides, which commands a beautiful view over the plain, the sea, and the
Anzeyry mountains, are large and extensive heaps of rubbish, traces of
ancient dwellings, blocks of hewn stone, remains of walls, and fragments
of granite columns; of the latter I counted eight, six of which were of
gray, and the other two of fine red granite. Here then must have stood
the ancient town of Arca, where Alexander Severus was born: the hill was
probably the citadel, or a temple may have stood on its top. On the west
side of the hill runs the deep valley Wady Akka, with a torrent of the
same name, which we passed, over a bridge near a mill. From thence the
direction of our road continued W.S.W. From an elevated spot, at four


[p.163]hours and a half, Sheikh Ayash bore N.E. b. N. In five hours we
reached the sea-shore; the sea here forms a bay extending from the point
of Tartous as far as Tripoli. We now turned round the mountains on our
left, along the sea-beach, and passed several tents of Turkmans. Five
hours and a half, at a short distance to the left, is an ancient tower
on the slope of the mountain, called Abou Hannein [Arabic]. Five hours
and three quarters is Khan el Bered, with a bridge over the Nahr el
Bered, or cold river. At six hours and a half is the village Menny, to
the left, at the foot of the mountain, the road lying through a low
plain half an hour in breadth, between the mountain called Torboul and
the sea; that part only which is nearest to the mountain is cultivated.
In nine hours we arrived at Tripoli, and alighted at the house of the
English agent Mr. Catziflis.

This city, which is called Tarabolos by the Arabs, and Tripoli by the
Greeks and Italians, is built on the declivity of the lowest hills of
the Libanus, and is divided by the Nahr Kadisha [Kadisha, in the Syrian
language, means the holy [Arabic], the proper name of the river is Nahr
Abou Ali.] into two parts, of which the southern is the most
considerable. On the N. side of the river, upon the summit of the hill,
stands the tomb of Sheikh Abou Naszer, and opposite to it, on the S.
side, the castle, built in the time of the crusades; this castle has
often been in a ruined state, but it has lately been put into complete
repair by Berber Aga. Many parts of Tripoli bear marks of the ages of
the crusades; amongst these are several high arcades of gothic
architecture, under which the streets run. In general the town is well
built, and is much embellished by the gardens, which are not only
attached to the houses in the town, but cover likewise the whole
triangular plain lying between it and the sea. Tripoli stands in

[p.164]one of the most favoured spots in all Syria; as the maritime
plain and neighbouring mountains place every variety of climate within a
short distance of the inhabitants. The Wady Kadisha, higher up than
Tripoli, is one of the most picturesque valleys I ever saw. At half an
hour from the town is an aqueduct across the Wady, built upon arches;
the natives call it Kontaret el Brins [Arabic], a corruption, perhaps,
of Prince. It conveys the water used for drinking, into the town, by
means of a canal along the left bank of the Kadisha. A few yards above
the aqueduct is a bridge across the stream.

I estimate the inhabitants of Tripoli at about fifteen thousand; of
these one-third are Greek Christians, over whom a bishop presides. I was
told that the Greeks are authorized, by the Firmahns of the Porte, to
prevent any schismatic Greek from entering the town. This may not be the
fact;--it is however certain, that whenever a schismatic is discovered
here, he is immediately thrown into prison, put in irons, and otherwise
very ill-treated. Such a statement can be credited by those only who are
acquainted with the fanatism of the eastern Christians. There is no
public building in the town deserving of notice. The Serai was destroyed
during the rebellion of Berber. The Khan of the soap manufacturers is a
large well built edifice, with a water basin in the middle of it.

Ten minutes above the town, in the Wady Kadisha, is a convent of
Derwishes, most picturesquely situated above the river, but at present
uninhabited. At half an hour's walk below the town, at the extreme angle
of the triangular plain, is El Myna, or the port of Tripoli, which is
itself a small town; the interjacent plain was formerly covered with
marshes, which greatly injured the air; but the greater part of them
have been drained, and converted into gardens. The remains of a wall may
still be traced [p.165]across the triangular plain; from which it
appears that the western point was the site of the ancient city;
wherever the ground is dug in that direction the foundations of houses
and walls are found; indeed it is with stones thus procured that the
houses in the Myna are built.

From the Myna northward to the mouth of the Kadisha runs a chain of six
towers, at about ten minutes walk from each other, evidently intended
for the defence of the harbour; around the towers, on the shore, and in
the sea, lie a great number of columns of gray granile; there are at
least eighty of them, of about a foot and a quarter in diameter, lying
in the sea; many others have been built into the walls of the towers as
ornaments. To each of the towers the natives have given a name. The most
northern is called Berdj Ras el Nahr, from its being near the Kadisha;
those to the south are Berdj el Dekye, Berdj el Sebaa [Arabic], or the
lion's tower;[The natives say, that on the shield carved above The
gateway of this tower two lions were formerly visible.--These were the
arms of Count Raymond de Thoulouse. I saw at Tripoli a leaden seal of
the Count, with a tower, meant probably for the Berdj el Sebaa, on the
reverse.] Berdj el Kanatter [Arabic]; Berdj el Deyoun [Arabic], and
Berdj el Mogharabe [Arabic].

The harbour of Tripoli is formed by a line of low rocks, stretching from
the point of the Myna about two miles into the sea, towards the north;
they are called by the natives Feitoun [Arabic]. On the north the point
of Tartous in some measure breaks the impetuosity of the sea; but when
the northern winds blow with violence, vessels are often driven on
shore. In a N.N.W. direction from the harbour extends a line of small
islands, the farthest of which is about ten miles distant from the main
land. They are named as follow: El Bakar [Arabic], which is nearest to
the harbour, Billan [Arabic], about half a mile in circumference, with
remains of [p.166]ancient habitations, and several deep wells; there are
several smaller rocks, comprised under the general name of El Mekattya
[Arabic], whose respective appellations are, [Arabic]--next is Sennenye
[Arabic], Nakhle, or El Eraneb [Arabic], with several palm trees,
formerly inhabited by a great number of rabbits; El Ramkein [Arabic],
and Shayshet el Kadhi [Arabic].

The inhabitants of the Myna are chiefly Greek sailors or ship-wrights; I
found here half a dozen small country ships building or repairing. There
is also a good Khan. On the southern side of the triangular plain is a
sandy beach, where the sand in some places has formed itself by
concretion into rocks, in several of which are large cisterns. In the
bottom of the bay formed by the plain and by the continuation of the
shore to the south, is a spring of sweet water, and near it large
hillocks of sand, driven up from the shore by the westerly winds. The
sea abounds in fish and shell fish; the following are the names of the
best, in French and Arabic; they were given to me by a French merchant,
who has long resided in Tripoli; Dorade [Arabic], Rouget [Arabic], Loupe
[Arabic], Severelle [Arabic], Leeche [Arabic], Mulaye [Arabic], Maire
noir [Arabic], Maire blanc [Arabic], Vieille [Arabic]; these are caught
with small baskets into which bait is put; the orifice being so made
that if the fish enters, he cannot get out again. It is said that no
other fish are ever found in the baskets. The names of some others fit
for the table are Pajot ([Arabic or Arabic]). [Arabic]. [Arabic], and

Half an hour north of Tripoli, on the road we came by, is the tomb of
Sheikh El Bedawy, with a copious spring near it, enclosed by a wall; it
contains a great quantity of fish, which are considered sacred by the
Turks of Tripoli, and are fed daily by the guardians of the tomb, and by
the Tripolitans; no person dares kill any of them; they are, as the
Turks express it, a Wakf to the tomb. The same kind of fish is found in
the Kadisha.

[p.167]The commerce of Tripoli has decreased lately, in proportion with
that of the entire commerce of Syria. There are no longer any Frank
establishments, and the few Franks who still remain are in the greatest
misery. A French consul, however, resides here, M. Guys, an able
antiquary, and who was very liberal in his literary communications to
us. He has a very interesting collection of Syrian medals. Mr.
Catziflis, who is a Greek, is a very respectable man, and rendered
considerable services to the English army during the war in Egypt. He is
extremely attentive and hospitable to English travellers.

The principal commerce of Tripoli is in silk produced upon the mountain,
of which it exports yearly about 800 quintals or cwt., at about L80.
sterling per quintal. Formerly the French merchants used to take silk in
return for their goods, as it was difficult to obtain money in the
Levantine trade; it is true that they sold it to a disadvantage in
France; yet not so great as they would have done had they insisted on
being reimbursed ready money, upon which they must have paid the
discount. The silk was bought up at Marseilles by the merchants of
Barbary, who thus procured it at a lower rate than they could do at
Tripoli. This intercourse however has ceased in consequence of the ruin
of French trade, and the Moggrebyns now visit Tripoli themselves, in
search of this article, bringing with them colonial produce, indigo, and
tin, which they buy at Malta. The sale of West India coffee has of late
increased greatly in Syria; the Turks have universally adopted the use
of it, because it is not more than half the price of Mokha coffee; a
considerable market is thus opened to the West India planters, which is
not likely to be interrupted, until the Hadj is regularly re-
established, the principal traffic of which was in coffee.

The next chief article of exportation is sponges; they are procured on
the sea shore; but the best are found at a little depth in

[p.168]the sea. The demand for them during the last two years has been
very trifling; but I was told that fifty bales of twelve thousand
sponges each might be yearly furnished; their price is from twenty-five
to forty piastres per thousand. Soap is exported to Tarsous, for
Anatolia and the Greek islands, as well as alkali for its manufacture,
which is procured in the eastern desert. It is a curious fact, that soap
should also be imported into Tripoli from Candia; the reason is that the
Cretan soap contains very little alkali; here one-fourth of its weight
of alkali is added to it, and in this state it is sold to advantage. The
other exports are about one hundred or one hundred and twenty quintals
of galls from the Anzeyry mountains: of yellow wax, from Libanus, about
one hundred and twenty quintals, at about one hundred and fifty piastres
per quintal; of Rubia tinctorum [Arabic], which grows in the plains of
Homs and Hamah, about fourteen hundred quintals, at from twenty to
twenty-four piastres per quintal; of scammony, very little; of tobacco,
a few quintals, which are sent to Egypt.

The territory of Tripoli extends over the greater part of Mount Libanus.
The Pashalik is divided into the following districts, or Mekatta
[Arabic], as they are called: viz. El Zawye [Arabic], or the lower part
of Mount Libanus to the right of the Kadisha,--Djebbet Bshirrai
[Arabic], which lies round the village of that name near the Cedars.--El
Kella [Arabic],--El Koura [Arabic], or the lower part of Mount Libanus
to the left of the Kadisha.--El Kattaa [Arabic], or the mountains
towards Batroun;--Batroun [Arabic],--Djebail [Arabic],--El Fetouh, over
Djebail, as far as Kesrouan.--Akkar [Arabic], the northern declivity of
Mount Libanus, a district governed at present by Aly Beg, a man famous
for his generosity, liberality, and knowledge of Arabian literature.--El
Shara [Arabic], also under the government of Aly Beg.--El Dhannye
[Arabic].--The mountains to the N. and N.W. of Bshirrai.--El Hermel
[Arabic], towards Baalbec, on the

[p.169] eastern declivity of the Libanus; Szaffeita [Arabic], and
Tartous [Arabic]. The greater part of the mountaineers are Christians;
in Bshirrai they are all Christians; in Akkar, Shara, and Koura, three-
fourths are Christians. The Metawelis have possessions at Djebail,
Dhannye, and Hermel. About eighty years since the latter peopled the
whole district of Bshirrai, El Zawye, Dhannye, and part of Akkar; but
the Turk and Christian inhabitants, exasperated by their vexatious
conduct, called in the Druses, and with their assistance drove out the
Metawelis. Since that period, the Druses have been masters of the whole
mountain, as well as of a part of the plain. The Emir Beshir pays to the
Pasha of Tripoli, for the Miri of the mountain, one hundred and thirty
purses, and collects for himself upwards of six hundred purses. The
duties levied upon the peasants in this district are generally
calculated by the number of Rotolas of silk which the peasant is

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