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Travels in Syria and the Holy Land by John Burckhardt

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the streets, with a paved footway on each side; but the streets are all
narrow, just permitting a loaded camel to pass.

Near the Bab el Haoua are the springs above mentioned, called Ayoun el
Merdj; with some remains of walls near them. The late Youssef Pasha of
Damascus built here a small watch-tower, or barrack, for thirty men, to
keep the hostile Arabs at a distance from the water. The town walls are
almost perfect in this part, and the whole ground is covered with ruins,
although there is no appearance of any large public building. Upon an
altar near one of the springs was the following inscription:


[p.235] Near it is another altar, with a defaced inscription.

In going northward from the springs, I passed the rivulet Djeheir, whose
source is at a short distance, within the precincts of the town. It
issues from a stone basin, and was conducted anciently in a canal. Over
it seems to have stood a small temple, to judge by the remains of
several columns that are lying about. The source is full of small fish.
Youssef Pasha built a barrack here also; but it was destroyed by the
Wahabi who made an incursion into the Haouran in 1810, headed by their
chief Ibn Saoud, who encamped for two days near this spot, without being
able to take the castle, though garrisoned by only seven Moggrebyns. The
banks of the Djeheir are a favourite encampment of the Bedouins, and
especially of the Aeneze.

Beyond the town walls, and at some distance to the north of the Djeheir,
stands the famous mosque El Mebrak; and near it is the cemetery of the
town. Ibn Affan, who first collected the scattered leaves of the Koran
into a book, relates that when Othman, in coming from the Hedjaz,
approached the neighbourhood of Boszra with his army, he orderd his
people to build a mosque on the spot where the camel which bore the
Koran should lie down; such was the origin of the mosque El Mebrak.
[Mebrak [Arabic] means the spot where a camel couches down, or a
halting-place.] It is of no great size; its interior was embellished,
like that of the great mosque, with Cufic inscriptions, of which a few
specimens yet remain over the Mehrab, or niche towards which the face of
the Imam is turned in praying. The dome or Kubbe which covered its
summit has been recently destroyed by the Wahabi.

The above description comprises all the principal antiquities of Boszra.
A great number of pillars lie dispersed in all directions in the town;
but I observed no remains of granite. Its immediate

[p.236]invirons are also covered with ruins, principally on the W. and
N.W. sides, where the suburbs may have formerly stood.

Of the vineyards, for which Boszra was celebrated, even in the days of
Moses, and which are commemorated by the Greek medals of [Greek], not a
vestige remains. There is scarcely a tree in the neighbourhood of the
town, and the twelve or fifteen families who now inhabit it cultivate
nothing but wheat, barley, horse-beans, and a little Dhourra. A number
of fine rose trees grow wild among the ruins of the town, and were just
beginning to open their buds.

April 28th.--I was greatly annoyed during my stay at Boszra, by the
curiosity of the Aeneze, who were continually passing through the place.
It had been my wish to visit the ruined city of Om El Djemal [Arabic],
which is eight hours distant from Boszra, to the S.; but the demands of
the Arabs for conducting me thither were so exorbitant, exceeding even
the sum which I had thought necessary to bring with me from Damascus to
defray the expenses of my whole journey, that I was obliged to return to
Aaere towards mid-day, after having offered thirty piastres for a guide,
which no one would accept. None but Aeneze could have served me, and
with them there was no reasoning; they believed that I was going in
search of treasure, and that I should willingly give any sum to reach
the spot where it was hid.

April 29th.--I took leave of my worthy friend Shybely, who would not let
us depart alone, but engaged a Bedouin to accompany us towards the
western parts of the Haouran; this man was a Bedouin of Sayd, or Upper
Egypt, of the tribe of Khelafye, who inhabit to the west of Girge; he
had entered the service of the Mamelouks, and had been with one of them
to Mekka, from whence he returned to Damascus, where he entered into the
Pasha's cavalry; here he had the misfortune to kill one of his comrades,


[p.237]obliging him to fly, he repaired to the Aeneze, with whom he
found security and protection.

Half an hour from Aaere we passed Wady Ghothe [Arabic], with the village
of Ghothe to our left; route N.W.b.N. One hour and a half, the village
Om Waled [Arabic], one hour and three quarters, the village El Esleha
[Arabic], inhabited principally by Christians. Two hours and a quarter,
passed Wady Soueida. Two hours and a half the village Thale [Arabic], to
the west of which, one hour, is Tel Hossein, with the village Kheraba.
At three hours and a quarter is the village El Daara [Arabic], with Wady
Daara; here we dined at an encampment of Arabs of Djebel Haouran, who
are in the habit of descending into the plain to pasture their cattle,
as soon as the country is evacuated by the Aeneze. At four hours and
three quarters is Melieha el Aattash [Arabic], in a direction N.W. from
Daara; from thence our route lay W. by N. Not more than one-third of the
plain was cultivated, though the peasants had sown more grain this year,
than they had done for many years back. S. of Melieha half an hour lies
the village Rakham [Arabic]. Five hours and a half the village El Herak
[Arabic]. Five hours and three quarters, the village El Hereyek
[Arabic]. In all these villages are several reservoirs of water, for the
supply of the inhabitants during summer, and which are filled either by
the winter torrents descending from the Djebel Haouran, or by rain
water, which is conducted into them from every side by narrow channels:
they are all of ancient date, and built entirely with the black Haouran
stone; but I saw in none of the villages any edifice of magnitude. Near
Hereyek we fell in with the encampment of the Damascus beggars, who make
an excursion every spring to the Haouran, to collect alms from the
peasants and Arabs; these contributions are principally in butter and


[p.238]which they sell on their return to Damascus. They had about a
dozen tents, and as many asses, and I saw a good mare tied before the
tent of the Sheikh, who is a man of consequence among the thieves and
vagabonds of Damascus. His name is El Shuhadein [Arabic]: he invited us
to drink a cup of coffee, and take some refreshment; but my companions,
who knew him, advised me to keep clear of him. At six hours and a
quarter, we passed at a short distance to our left, the village Olma
[Arabic], our route being N.W. About one hour S.W. of Olma lies the
village El Kerek. Eight hours and twenty-five minutes, the village Naeme
[Arabic]. Most of these villages stand upon, or near, low hillocks or
Tels, the only objects which break the monotony of the plain.

It was at Naeme that I saw, for the first time, a swarm of locusts; they
so completely covered the surface of the ground, that my horse killed
numbers of them at every step, whilst I had the greatest difficulty in
keeping from my face those which rose up and flew about. This species is
called in Syria, Djerad Nedjdyat [Arabic] or Djerad Teyar [Arabic], i.e.
the flying locusts, being thus distinguished from the other species,
called Djerad Dsahhaf [Arabic], or devouring locusts. The former have a
yellow body; a gray breast, and wings of a dirty white, with gray spots.
The latter, I was told, have a whitish gray body, and white wings. The
Nedjdyat are much less dreaded than the others, because they feed only
upon the leaves of trees and vegetables, sparing the wheat and barley.
The Dsahhaf, on the contrary, devour whatever vegetation they meet with,
and are the terror of the husbandmen; the Nedjdyat attack only the
produce of the gardener, or the wild herbs of the desert. I was told,
however, that the offspring of the Nedjdyat produced in Syria partake of
the voracity of the Dsahhaf, and like them prey upon the crops of grain.


[p.239]Those which I saw in the Haouran, and afterwards in the gardens
of Damascus, fly in separate bodies, and do not spread over a whole
district. The young of this species are quite black until a certain age.

The Bedouins eat locusts, which are collected in great quantities in the
beginning of April, when the sexes cohabit, and they are easily caught;
after having been roasted a little upon the iron plate [Arabic], on
which bread is baked, they are dried in the sun, and then put into large
sacks, with the mixture of a little salt. They are never served up as a
dish, but every one takes a handful of them when hungry. The peasants of
Syria do not eat locusts, nor have I myself ever had an opportunity of
tasting them: there are a few poor Fellahs in the Haouran, however, who
sometimes pressed by hunger, make a meal of them; but they break off the
head and take out the entrails before they dry them in the sun. The
Bedouins swallow them entire. The natural enemy of the locust is the
bird Semermar [Arabic]; which is of the size of a swallow, and devours
vast numbers of them; it is even said that the locusts take flight at
the cry of the bird. But if the whole feathered tribe of the districts
visited by locusts were to unite their efforts, it would avail little,
so immense are the numbers of these dreadful insects.

At eight hours and three quarters from Aaere, and at a short distance to
the right, is the village Obta [Arabic]; our route N.W. by N. Nine hours
and a quarter, we saw, at one hour to the left, the village El Kherbe
[Arabic]. Nine hours and three quarters, Shemskein [Arabic], one of the
principal villages in the Haouran. As we had rode at a very brisk pace,
the above distance of nine hours and three quarters may be computed at
nearly twelve hours of the common travelling. Shemskein, a village
containing upwards of one hundred families, is situated on the Hadj
road, on the side of Wady

[p.240]Hareir [Arabic], over which a solid bridge has been built on one
side of the village: this Wady comes from the north-east at four or six
hours distance, and flows south-west. It is one of the largest torrents
of Haouran, and was at this moment full of water, while most of the
other Wadys were nearly dried up. The Sheikh of Shemskein has the title
of Sheikh el Haouran, and holds the first rank among the village Sheikhs
of the country. In the time of Hadj he collects from the Haouran and
Djolan about fifteen hundred camels, and accompanies them to Mekka. His
income is considerable, as the peasants of the different villages of the
Haouran, when engaged in disputes with neighbouring villagers, or with
their Sheikhs, generally apply in the first instance to his tribunal.

We alighted at the Sheikh's house, in the court-yard of which we found
almost the whole population of the village assembled: there had been a
nuptial feast in the village, and the Nowars or gypsies, were playing
music. These Nowar [Arabic], who are called Korbatt [Arabic] at Aleppo,
are dispersed over the whole of Syria; they are divided into two
principal bodies, viz. the Damascenes, whose district extends as far as
Hassia, on the Aleppo road; and the Aleppines, who occupy the country to
the north of that line. They never dare go beyond the limits which they
have allotted to each other by mutual consent; both bodies have an Aga,
who pays to the Grand Signior about five hundred piastres per annum, and
collects the tribute from his subjects, which in the Damascus territory
amounts annually to twenty piastres a head for every full grown male.

April 30th.--As I wished to visit from Shemskein the Mezareib, and to
ascend from thence the mountains of Adjeloun, I set out in the company
of an old acquaintance of Aleppo, a Janissary, who had entered into the
service of the Pasha of Damascus, and was now stationed at Mezareib.
Following the Hadj road, in a S.S.E. direction, in an hour and a quarter
from Shemskein we crossed the


[p.241]Wady Aar [Arabic], coming from the east. Half an hour to the left
of the road is Daal [Arabic], a considerable village; and between Daal
and Mezareib, but more to the eastward, lies the village of Draa
[Arabic], the ancient Edrei. Two hours, Tefas [Arabic], with a well
built mosque.

At the end of three hours, we arrived at El Mezareib [Arabic], El
Mezareib is the first castle on the Hadj road from Damascus, and was
built by the great Sultan Selym, three hundred and eight years ago. It
is the usual residence of the Aga of the Haouran; but that office is now
vacant, the late Aga having been deposed, and no one has yet been
appointed to succeed him. The garrison of the castle consisted of a
dozen Moggrebyns, whose chief, a young black, was extremely civil to me.
The castle is of a square form, each side being, as well as I can
recollect, about one hundred and twenty paces in length. The entrance is
through an iron gate, which is regularly shut after sunset. The interior
presents nothing but an empty yard enclosed by the castle wall, within
which are ranges of warehouses, where the provisions for the Hadj are
deposited; their flat roofs form a platform behind the parapet of the
castle wall, where sixteen or eighteen mud huts have been built on the
top of the warehouses, as habitations for the peasants who cultivate the
neighbouring grounds. On the east side two miserable guns are planted.
Within the castle is a small mosque. There are no houses, beyond its
precincts. Close by it, on the N. and E. sides, are a great number of
springs, whose waters collect, at a short distance, into a large pond or
lake, of nearly half an hour in circumference, in the midst of which is
an island. On an elevated spot at the extremity of a promontory,
advancing into the lake, stands a chapel, around which are many ruins of
ancient buildings. The water of the lake is as clear as crystal, neither

[p.242]nor grass growing in it; its depth in the middle is much more
than the heighth of a man; the bottom is sand, and gravel of the black
Haouran stone. It abounds with fish, particularly carp, and a species
called Emshatt [Arabic]. In summer time, after the harvests of the
Haouran have been gathered in, when the Aeneze approach the more
populous parts of the country, the borders of the lake are crowded every
evening with thousands of camels, belonging to these Arabs, who prefer
filling their water skins here, as they say that the water keeps better
than any other. The water of the springs is slightly tepid, and nearly
of the same temperature as that of the springs near Kalaat el Medyk, in
the valley of the Orontes. According to the Arabs the springs emit a
copious steam in the winter mornings. An ancient mill stands near one of
them, with a few broken stones around it; but it does not appear that
any village or city of note stood here, though the quantity of water
seems inviting to settlers. The springs as well as the lake are known by
the name of El Budje [Arabic].

The pilgrim caravan to Mekka collects at the Mezareib, where the Pasha,
or Emir el Hadj, remains encamped for ten days, in order to collect the
stragglers, and to pay to the different Arab tribes the accustomed
tribute for the passage of the caravan through the desert. The
warehouses of the castle are annually well stocked with wheat, barley,
biscuit, rice, tobacco, tent and horse equipage, camel saddles, ropes,
ammunition, &c. each of which has its particular warehouse. These stores
are exclusively for the Pasha's suite, and for the army which
accompanies the Hadj; and are chiefly consumed on their return. It is
only in cases of great abundance, and by particular favour, that the
Pasha permits any articles to be sold to the pilgrims. At every station,
as far as Medina, is a castle, but generally smaller than this, filled
with similar stores.

[p.243]The Haouran alone is required to deliver every year into the
store houses of the Mezareib, two thousand Gharara of barley, or about
twenty or twenty-five thousand cwt. English. The town of Damascus has
been fed for the last three months with the biscuit stored in the
Mezareib for the Hadj.

As far as the Pasha was concerned, the affairs of the great Caravan were
generally well managed; but there still reigned a great want of economy,
and the expenses of the Hadjis increased every year. Of late years, the
hire of a single camel from Damascus to Mekka has been seven hundred and
fifty piastres; as much, and often more, was to be paid on coming back;
and the expenses on the road, and at Mekka, amounted at least to one
thousand piastres, so that in the most humble way, the journey could not
be performed at less than two thousand five hundred piastres, or L125.
sterling. A camel with a litter cost fifteen hundred in going, and as
much in coming back. Of the whole caravan not above one-tenth part were
real pilgrims, the rest consisted of soldiers, the servants of soldiers,
people attached to the Pasha's suite, merchants, pedlars, camel-drivers,
coffee and pipe waiters, a swarm of Bedouins, together with several
tents of public women from Damascus, who were so far encouraged, that,
whenever they were unable to obtain from their lovers the daily food for
their horses or mules, they obtained a supply from the Pasha's stores.

The greater part of the pilgrims usually contract for the journey with
one of the great undertakers, or Mekouam [Arabic], as they are called;
this agreement is only for a beast of transport and for water; as to
eating, the pilgrims generally mess together at their own expense, in
bodies of about half a dozen. The Mekouam, on agreeing to furnish a
beast of burthen, are bound to replace whatever may die on the road, and
are therefore obliged to carry with them at least one unloaded camel for
every loaded one. It is a general

[p.244]practice with the Mekouam to obtain as large sums as possible on
account from the pilgrims who engage with them for the journey; they
generally agree among each other upon the sum to be demanded, as well as
the moment at which it is to be called for: so that if the pilgrims
resist the imposition, the Hadj sometimes remains encamped on the same
spot for several days, the Mekouam all refusing to proceed, and feeing
the Pasha for his connivance at their injustice. On their return to
Damascus, if they have already extorted from the pilgrims in the course
of the journey more than the amount of their contract, as often happens,
they generally declare themselves to be bankrupts, and then the value of
a few camels is all that remains to pay their debts to the pilgrims.

Those pilgrims who do not engage with the Mekouam, as is generally the
case with those who come from Armenia and the borders of the Black sea,
perform the journey somewhat cheaper upon their own beasts; but they are
ill-treated on the road by the Mekouam, are obliged to march the last in
the caravan, to encamp on the worst ground, to fill their water skins
the last, and are often even avanized by the Pasha. It is difficult to
conceive the wretched condition of the greater part of the Hadjis, and
the bad conduct of the troops and Arabs. Thieving and robbery have
become general among them, and it is more the want of sleep from fear of
being plundered, which causes the death of so many pilgrims, than the
fatigues of the journey. The Pasha's troops, particularly those called
Howara, which bring up the rear of the caravan, are frequently known to
kill the stragglers during the night, in order to strip them of their
property. The Pasha, it is true, often punishes such delinquents, and
scarcely a day passes without some one being empaled alive; the caravan
moves on, and the malefactor is left to be devoured by the birds of
prey. The Bedouins are particularly dexterous in pilfering; at night
they sometimes assume the

[p.245]dress of the Pasha's infantry, and thus introduce themselves
unnoticed amongst the camels of the rich Hadjis, when they throw the
sleeping owner from his mule or camel, and in the confusion occasioned
by the cries of the fallen rider, drive off the beast.

The caravan marches daily from Asser, or about three hours after mid-
day, during the whole of the night, and till the followingmorning, when
the tents are pitched. It never stops but during prayers. The Arabs of
Sokhne, Tedmor, and Haouran, together with the Bedouins who let out
their camels, precede or follow the caravan at the distance of one day's
march. They transport the provisions for the Pasha's troops, of which
they steal, and publicly sell at least two-thirds. They march during the
day, and encamp in the evening. Their caravan is called El Selma
[Arabic]. It passes the great caravan once every two or three days, and
then encamps till the latter comes up, when they supply the Pasha's
suite with provisions. The cheapest mode of performing the pilgrimage is
to agree for a camel with one of those Arabs; but the fatigue is much
greater in following the Selma.

The last year in which the Hadj quitted Damascus, the pilgrims reached
the gates of Medina, but they were not permitted to enter the town, nor
to proceed to Mekka; and after an unsuccessful negotiation of seven
days, they were obliged to return to Damascus. About two hundred Persian
Hadjis only, who were with the caravan, were allowed to pass on paying a
large sum of money. Ibn Saoud, the Wahabi chief, had one interview with
Abdullah Pasha, accompanied by the whole of his retinue, at Djebel
Arafat, near Mekka; they exchanged presents, and parted as friends.

Of the seven different pilgrim caravans which unite at Mekka, two only
bear the Mahmal, the Egyptian and Syrian; the latter is the first in

We left Mezareib towards the evening, and were obliged to proceed


[p. 246]alone along the Hadj route, the fear of the Aeneze rendering
every one unwilling to accompany us. In a quarter of an hour we came to
a bridge over the Wady Mezareib, called Djissr Kherreyan [Arabic]; to
the left, near the road, is the ruined village Kherbet el Ghazale
[Arabic], where the Hadj sometimes encamps. It often happens that the
caravan does not encamp upon the usual spots, owing to a wish either to
accelerate or to prolong the journey. Past the Akabe, near the head of
the Red Sea, beyond which the bones of dead camels are the only guides
of the pilgrim through the waste of sand, the caravan often loses its
way, and overshoots the day's station; in such cases the water-skins are
sometimes exhausted, and many pilgrims perish through fatigue and

At one hour from the Mezareib, following the river that issues from the
small lake, are several mills: from thence, south-west, begins the
district called Ollad Erbed [Arabic]. Half an hour to the right, at some
distance from the road, is the village Tel el Shehab [Arabic]; forty
minutes, Wady Om El Dhan [Arabic], coming from the eastward, with a
bridge over it, built by Djezzar Pasha. In winter this generally proves
a very difficult passage to the Hadj, on account of the swampy ground,
and the peasants of the adjacent villages are, in consequence, obliged
to cover the road with a thick layer of straw. At one hour to the right
of the road is the village El Torra [Arabic], on the top of a low chain
of hills, forming a circle, through the centre of which lies the road.
Here, as in so many other parts of the Haouran, I saw the most luxuriant
wild herbage, through which my horse with difficulty made his way.
Artificial meadows can hardly be finer than these desert fields: and it
is this which renders the Haouran so favourite an abode of the Bedouins.
The peasants of Syria are ignorant of the advantages of feeding their
cattle with hay; they suffer the superfluous grass to wither away, and
in summer and winter feed them on cut straw. In one


[p. 247]hour and a quarter we passed Wady Torra; our road lying S.S.E.
One hour and three quarters, we came to Wady Shelale [Arabic], a torrent
descending from the southern hills, and flowing in a deep bed, along
which the road continues for some time. In two hours and three quarters
quick walking, we came to Remtha [Arabic], a station of the Hadj; which
encamps near two Birkets or reservoirs formed in the bed of the Wady by
means of three high walls built across it. A large tribe of Aeneze were
watering their cattle as we passed. The surrounding country is hilly:
the village is built upon the summits of several hills, and contains
about one hundred families. In its neighbourhood are a number of wells
of fresh water. We met with a very indifferent reception at the Sheikh's
house, for the inhabitants of the villages on the Hadj route exceed all
others in fanatism: an old man was particularly severe in his
animadversions on Kafers treading the sacred earth which leads to the
Kaabe, and the youngsters echoed his insulting language. I found means,
however, to show the old man a penknife which I carried in my pocket,
and made him a present of it, before he could ask it of me; we then
became as great friends as we had been enemies, and his behaviour
induced a like change in the others towards me. A penknife worth two
shillings overcomes the fanatism of a peasant; increase the present and
it will have equal effect upon a townsman; make it a considerable sum,
and the Mufti himself will wave all religious scruples. Remtha is the
last inhabited village on this side of the Haoun: the greater part of
its houses are built against the caverns, with which this calcareous
country abounds; so that the rock forms the back of the house, while the
other sides are enclosed by a semicircular mud wall whose extremities
touch the rock.

May 1st.--From Remtha I wished to cross the mountains directly to
Djerash, which, I had reason to believe, was not more than seven


[p.248]or eight hours distant. It was with difficulty that I found a
guide, because I refused to be answerable for the value of the man's
horse and gun, in case we should be plundered by Arab robbers. A sum of
twelve piastres, however, at last tempted one of the Fellahs, and we
rode off late in the morning, our road lying toward the southern
mountains, in a direction S. by W. Remtha is on the boundary line of the
Haouran; which to the south-eastward runs by Om el Djemal and Szamma,
two ruined towns. The district bordering upon the Haouran in this part
is called Ezzoueit [Arabic], and stretches across the mountain nearly as
far as Djerash. To the E. of Remtha runs a chain of low hills, called
Ezzemle [Arabic], extending towards the S.E. nearly to Kalaat Mefrek, a
ruined castle situated on the eastern extremity of Djebel Zoueit. At one
hour and a quarter, brisk walking of our horses, we saw to the right, or
west, about one hour distant, the ruins of a town called Eszereikh
[Arabic], at the foot of Djebel Beni Obeyd. From thence the village of
Hossn bore W. by S. The Kalaat el Mefrek, or, as the Arabs call it, El
Ferka, lay in a S.E. direction, distant about three hours. About one
hour and a half distant, in a S.W. direction, is the ruined village of
Remeith [Arabic], with several large columns lying on the ground. At two
hours and a half from Remtha we passed a Tel, with the ruined village
Dehama [Arabic], on its top; near the foot-way lay several broken shafts
of columns. At three hours, on reaching the Wady Warran [Arabic], our
route began to ascend. The Wady, which descends from the mountain
Zoueit, was at this time dry. Three hours and a quarter brought us to
three fine Doric columns lying on the ground. We met several Arabs, but
they did not venture to attack three men armed with musquets, and gave
us a friendly Salam Aleykum. We now ascended the mountain, which is
calcareous with flint, in following the windings of the Wady. Wild
pistachio trees abound;


[p.249]higher up oaks become more frequent, and the forest thickens;
near the top, which we reached in five hours and a quarter from Remtha,
are some remains of the foundations of ancient buildings. The Djebel
Kafkafa [Arabic], as this summit is called, commands a beautiful view
over the plain of Djerash and the neighbouring mountains of Zerka and
Belka. The ruins of Djerash, which were distinctly seen, and the highest
points of Djebel Belka behind them, bore S.S.W.; the highest points of
Djebel Zerka S. The district of Zoueit terminates at Djebel Kafkafa; and
the country called El Moerad [Arabic], lying S.W. and W. commences: to
the S. the Zoueit runs parallel with the Moerad as far as Wady Zerka.

On gaining Djebel Kafkafa, our guide discovered that he had gone astray,
for it was not our intention, on setting out, to make directly for
Djerash, but to rest for the night in the village of Souf, and from
thence to visit the ruins on the following morning. We therefore turned
more to the westward on quitting the Djebel, and fell in with the road,
which continued through a thick wood, till we saw Souf, an hour and a
half distant before us, bearing W.S.W. At the end of seven hours and a
quarter from Remtha, we reached the spring of Souf, and allayed our
thirst, for we had been without water the whole day; there being very
few springs in the Djebel Zoueit; though it abounds in luxuriant
pasture, and is full of hares and partridges. In seven hours and a half
we reached the village of Souf [Arabic], where I alighted, at the house
of the Sheikh El Dendel, an honest and hospitable man.

Souf is situated on the declivity of the mountain, on the western side
of a Wady called El Deir, the stream of which, called also El Kerouan
[Arabic], is supplied from three copious springs that issue from under a
rock near the village, at a short distance from each

[p.250]other. They bear the names of Ain el Faouar [Arabic], Ain el
Meghaseb [Arabic], and Ain el Keykabe [Arabic], and with their united
waters the narrow plain of Djerash is irrigated. Souf is a village with
about forty families, whose principal riches are some olive plantations
on the sides of Wady Deir: it is the chief village in the country called
Moerad [Arabic], in which the following are also situated: Ettekitte
[Arabic], one hour distant from Djerash, and abandoned last year; Bourma
[Arabic]; Hamtha [Arabic]; Djezaze [Arabic]; and Debein [Arabic]. It is
customary in these mountains for every house to manufacture gunpowder as
well for its own consumption, as for sale to the neighbouring Arabs. In
every house which I entered I saw a large mortar, which was continually
in motion, even when a fire was kindled in the midst of the room: the
powder is formed of one part of sulphur, five and a half parts of
saltpetre, and one part of the charcoal of the poplar tree [Arabic]; it
is not very good, but serves very well the purposes of this people.

I passed a most unpleasant night here. It is the custom, for the sake of
saving lamp-oil, to light every evening a large fire, for the supply of
which, there is plenty of dry wood in the neighbouring mountain. The
room where I lodged was thus soon filled with smoke, which had no other
issue than a small door, and even this was shut to keep out the cattle.
The peasants seemed to delight in the heat thus occasioned; they took
off all their clothes except the Abba, and sat smoaking and laughing
till midnight; I wished to imitate them, but did not dare to strip, for
fear of shewing the leathern girdle containing my money, which I wore
under my clothes. Towards the morning the fire went out, and the company
was asleep: I then opened the door to let the smoke out, and slept a few
hours under the influence of the morning breeze.

[p.251]There is an ancient ruined square building at Souf, with several
broken columns. From one of them I copied the following inscription,
written in very small characters:


Upon a pillar near it is a fine inscription, but now quite illegible.

At the spring of Ayn Keykebe, which is covered by a small arched
building, I copied some characters from a broken stone lying in the
water; the following were the ending of the inscription:


Near the sources are numerous caverns, in which the poor families of
Souf reside.

May 2d.--Being impatient to reach Djerash, I left Souf early in the
morning, taking with me a guide, who was afterwards to have conducted me
towards Szalt, in the Djebel Belka. Our road lay along the mountain on
the west side of Wady Deir. On the E. side of the wady, half an hour
from Souf, is the ruined place called Kherbet Mekbela [Arabic]. Three
quarters of an hour from Souf, in our road, and just over the ruined
city of Djerash, are the ruins called Kherbet el Deir, with a Turkish
chapel named Mezar Abou Beker. Our road lay S.S.E. In one hour we
passed, n the declivity of the mountain, descending towards Djerash, a
place which I supposed to have been the burying place of


[p.252]Djerash. I counted upwards of fifty sarcophagi, and there were
many more; they are formed of the calcareous stone with which the Zoueit
and Moerad mountains are composed. Some of them are sunk to a level with
the surface of the ground, which is very rocky; others appear to have
been removed from their original position. The largest was ten spans in
length, and three and a half in breadth; but the greater part are much
smaller, and are not even large enough to contain the corpse of a full
grown person. On the sides of a few of them are sculptured ornaments in
bas-relief, as festoons, genii, &c. but in a mutilated state, and not
remarkable for beauty of execution; I saw only one that was elegantly
wrought. The whole of these sarcophagi had flat covers, a few of which
still remain. Upon one of the largest of the sarcophagi, and which is
one of those first met with in going from Souf, is a long inscription,
but so mutilated as to be almost wholly illegible. In the neighbourhood
are several heaps of large square stones, the remains of some building.

In an hour and a half from Souf we reached the city walls of Djerash, or
Kerash, [Arabic], the Dj being the Bedouin pronunciation of the letter
[Arabic], which in the language of the city corresponds with our K.
Djerash was built upon an elevated plain in the mountains of Moerad, on
uneven ground, on both sides of Wady Deir, which, besides the name of
Kerouan [Arabic], bears also that of Seil Djerash [Arabic], or the river
of Djerash. This river empties itself, at a short distance from the
town, into the Wady Zerka [Arabic], probably the Jabock of the ancients.
The principal part of the city stands on the right bank of the river,
where the surface is more level than on the opposite side, although the
right bank is steeper than the other. The present ruins prove the
magnitude and importance of the ancient city; and the modern name leads
to the belief that it was the ancient Gerasa, one of the principal


[p.253]towns of the Decapolis, although this position does not at all
agree with that given to Gerasa from the ancient authorities by
D'Anville, who places it to the north-east of the lake of Tiberias,
forty miles to the north-westward of this place. The ruins are nearly an
hour and a quarter in circumference, following insulated fragments of
the walls, which were upwards of eight feet in thickness, and built of
square hewn stones of middling size; I could not judge of their original
heighth, as the upper parts were every where demolished.

I shall now enumerate the principal curiosities of Djerash, agreeably to
the annexed plan, which may give a general idea of the whole; for its
accuracy in regard to distances I do not mean to vouch, as I had, at
most, only four hours to make my survey, and it was with great
difficulty that I could persuade my three companions to wait so long for
me. None of them would accompany me through the ruins, on account of
their fear of the Bedouins, who are in the habit of visiting this Wady,
they therefore concealed themselves beneath the trees that overshade the
river. The first object that strikes the attention in coming from Souf,
after passing the town-wall, is a temple (a). Its main body consists of
an oblong square, the interior of which is about twenty-five paces in
length, and eighteen in breadth. A double row, of six columns in each
row, adorned the front of the temple; of the first row five columns are
yet standing, of the second, four; and on each side of the temple there
remains one column belonging to the single row of pillars that
surrounded the temple on every side except the front. Of these eleven
columns nine are entire, and two are without capitals. Their style of
architecture is much superior to that of the great colonnade hereafter
to be mentioned, and seems to belong to the best period of the
Corinthian order, their capitals being beautifully ornamented with the
acanthus leaves. The shafts are composed of five or six pieces, and are
seven spans and a half in diameter,

[p.254]and thirty-five to forty feet in heighth. I was unable to
ascertain the number of columns in the flanks of the peristyle. The
temple stands upon an artificial terrace elevated five or six feet above
the ground. The interior of the temple is choaked with the ruins of the
roof; a part of the front wall of the cella has fallen down; but the
three other sides are entire. The walls are wthout ornament; on the
interior of each of the two side walls, and about mid-way from the
floor, are six niches, of an oblong shape, and quite plain: in the back
wall, opposite to the door, is a vaulted recess, with a small dark
chamber on each side. The upper part of a niche is visible on the
exterior of the remains of the front wall, with some trifling but
elegantly sculptured ornaments. This ruin stands within a peribolus or
large area surrounded by a double row of columns. The whole edifice
seems to have been superior in taste and magnificence to every public
building of this kind in Syria, the temple of the Sun at Palmyra
excepted. On the two sides marked (x) of the colonnade of the peribolus
many bases and broken shafts of the inner row of columns are yet
standing; on the two other sides there are but few; these columns are
three spans and a half in diameter. On the long side (x) forty columns
may be traced to have stood, at only three paces distant from each
other; on the opposite long side one perfect column is yet standing; on
the short side (x) are three in the outer row without their capitals.
The corner columns of this peribolus were double, and in the shape of a
heart, as in the annexed figure. Of the outer row of the peribolus very
little remains; indeed it may be doubted whether any outer row ever
existed opposite to the back of the temple, where the ground is rocky
and uneven. The number of columns which originally adorned the temple
and its area was not less than two hundred or two hundred and fifty.

Proceeding westwards from the above described ruin, through

[p.255]the remains of private habitations, at about two hundred yards
distant from it are the remains of a small temple (b), with three
Corinthian pillars still standing. A street, still paved in some places,
leads from thence south-westwards, to a spot where several small broken
columns are lying. Turning from thence to the south-east, I entered a
street (c) adorned with a colonnade on either side; about thirty broken
shafts are yet standing, and two entire columns, but without their
capitals. On the other side of the street, opposite to them, are five
columns, with their capitals and entablatures. These columns are rather
small, without pedestals, of different sizes, the highest being about
fifteen feet, and in a bad taste.

Originally there must have been about fifty pillars in this street; a
little farther on to the south-east this street crosses the principal
street of the town; and where the two streets meet, are four large
cubical masses of stone (d), each occupying one of the angles of the
intersection, similar to those which I saw at Shohba, and intended,
perhaps, to imitate the beautiful pedestals in the middle of the great
portico at Palmyra. These cubes are about seven feet high, and about
eighteen spans broad; on each side of them is a small niche; three are
entire, and the fourth is in ruins. They may have served as pedestals
for statues, or, like those at Palmyra, may have supported a small dome
upon columns, under which stood a statue. I endeavoured to examine the
tops of the cubes, but they are all thickly overgrown with shrubs, which
it was not in my power to clear away. There were no traces whatever of
statues having stood upon those which I saw at Shohba.

Following the great street, marked (e), south-westwards, I came again to
the remains of columns on both sides: these were much larger than the
former, and the street, of which some parts of the pavement yet remain,
was much broader than that marked (c). On the right hand side of the
street stand seventeen Corinthian

[p.256]columns, sixteen of which are united by their entablature; they
vary in size, and do not correspond in height either with those
opposite, to them or with those in the same line; a circumstance which,
added to the style of the capitals, seems to prove that the long street
is a patch-work, built at different periods, and of less ancient
construction than the temple. Some of the columns are as high as thirty
feet, others twenty-five; the shortest I estimated at twenty feet. Their
entablatures are slightly ornamented with sculptured bas-reliefs. Where
a high column stands near a shorter one the architrave over the latter
reposes upon a projecting bracket worked into the shaft of the higher
one. Next comes, following the street in the same S.W. direction, on the
right, one insulated column; and three large columns with their
entablature, joined to four shorter ones, in the way just described;
then two columns, and five, and two, all with their entablatures;
making, in the whole, on the right side of the street, counting from the
cubes, thirty-four columns, yet standing. On the left, opposite the
three large ones joined to the four smaller, are five columns of
middling size, with their entablatures, and a single large one; but the
greater number of the columns on this side have fallen, and are lying on
the ground. In some places behind the colonnade on the right, are low
apartments, some of which are vaulted, and appear to have been shops.
They are similar to those which I saw in the long street at Soueida, in
the mountain of the Druses.[See page 81.]

The long street just described terminates in a large open space (f)
enclosed by a magnificent semicircle of columns in a single row; fifty-
seven columns are yet standing; originally there may have been about
eighty. To the right, on entering the forum, are four, and then twenty-
one, united by their entablatures. To the

[p.257]left, five, seven, and twenty, also with entablatures; the latter
twenty are taller than the others, the lower ground on which they stand
having required an increased height of column in order to place the
whole entablature of the semicircle on the same level. The pillars near
the entrance are about fifteen feet in height, and one foot and a half
in diameter: they are all of the Ionic order, and thus they differ from
all the other columns remaining in the city. The radius of the
semicircle, in following the direction of the long street, was one
hundred and five paces.

At the end of the semicircle, opposite to the long street, are several
basins, which seem to have been reservoirs of water, and remains of an
aqueduct are still visible, which probably supplied them. To the right
and left are some low arched chambers. From this spot the ground rises,
and on mounting a low but steep hill before me, I found on its top the
remains of a beautiful temple (g), commanding a view over the greater
part of the town. The front of the temple does not stand directly
opposite to the long street and the forum, but declines somewhat to the
northward. Like the temple first described, it was adorned with a
Corinthian peristyle, of which one column only remains, at the south
angle. In front was a double row of columns, with eight, as I
conjecture, in each row. They seem to have been thrown down by an
earthquake, and many of them are now lying on the declivity of the hill,
in the same order in which they originally stood. They are six spans and
a half in diameter, and their capitals appeared to me of a still finer
execution than those of the great temple. I am unable to judge of the
number of columns on the long sides of the peristyle: their broken
shafts lie about in immense heaps. On every side of the temple except
the front, there appears to have been a large ditch round the temple. Of
the cella the walls only remain, the roof, entrance, and back wall

[p.258]fallen down. The interior of the cella is thirty paces in length,
and twenty-four in breadth; the walls within are in a better state than
those of the temple (a), which are much impaired. On the outside of each
of the two long walls, was a row of six niches, similar to those within
the temple (a).

On entering the temple by the front door, I found on the right a side
door, leading towards a large theatre (h), on the side of the hill, and
at about sixty paces distant from the temple. It fronts the town, so
that the spectators seated upon the highest row of benches, enjoyed the
prospect of all its principal buildings and quarters. There are twenty-
eight rows of seats, upwards of two feet in breadth: between the
sixteenth and seventeenth rows, reckoning from the top, a tier of eight
boxes or small apartments intervenes, each separated from the other by a
thick wall. The uppermost row of benches is about one hundred and twenty
paces in circuit. In three different places are small narrow staircases
opening into the rows, to facilitate the ingress or egress of the
spectators. In front, the theatre is closed by a proscenium or wall,
about forty paces in length, embellished within by five richly decorated
niches, connected with each other by a line of middling sized columns;
of which two remain with their entablatures, and six without their
capitals. Within these was another parallel range of columns, of which
five are yet standing, with their entablatures. The entrance to the
theatre, was by steps between the two ends of the proscenium and the two
extremities of the semicircle. Near the proscenium the steps on both
sides are ruined, but in the other parts they are perfect. The town wall
runs very near the back of the theatre.

On this side of the town there are no other ruins of any consequence,
excepting the south-west gate, which is about five minutes walk from the
semicircle of columns: it is a fine arch, and, apparently,

[p.259] in perfect preservation, with a smaller one on each side adorned
with several pilasters. I did not examine it closely; meaning to return
to it in taking a review of what I had already seen, but my guides were
so tired with waiting, that they positively refused to expose their
persons longer to danger, and walked off, leaving me the alternative of
remaining alone in this desolate spot, or of abandoning the hope of
correcting my notes by a second examination of the ruins.

Returning from the theatre, through the long street, towards the four
cubic pedestals, I continued from thence in a straight line along the
main street (l), the pavement of which is preserved in several places.
On the right hand, were first seven columns, having their entablatures;
and farther on, to the left, seven others, also with their entablatures;
then, on the right, three large columns without entablatures, but with
pedestals, which none of those already mentioned have; opposite to the
latter, on the left hand side of the street, are two insulated columns.
The three large columns are equal in size to those of the peristyle of
the temple (a); they stand in the same line with the colonnade of the
street, and belonged to a small building (m), of the body of which
nothing remains except the circular back wall, containing several
niches, almost in complete ruins. On a broken pedestal lying on the
ground between two of the columns of this building, is the following


There is another stone with an inscription upon it; but I could make
nothing of it. The street is here choaked up with fragments of columns.
Close to the three columns stands a single one, and

[p.260] at a short distance further, to the left, is a large gateway
(n), leading up to the temple (a), which is situated on considerably
higher ground, and is not visible from the street. On either side of the
gateway are niches; and a wall, built of middling sized square stones,
which runs for some distance, parallel with the street. Among a heap of
stones lying under the gate I copied the following inscriptions:

From a broken stone:


The letters of the word OPNHA are five inches in length.

Upon another broken stone near it was this:


And close to the latter, upon the edge of a large stone, this:


Continuing along the main street, I came at (q), to a single column, and
then to two with entablatures, on the right; opposite to them, on the
left, are three single columns. Beyond the latter, for one hundred
paces, all the columns have fallen; I then came to an open rotunda (r),
with four entrances; around the inside of its wall are projecting
pedestals for statues; the entraces on the right

[p.261]and left, conduct into a street running at right angles to the
main street. I followed this cross street to my left, and found on the
right hand side of it three short Ionic pillars with their entablatures,
close to the rotunda. Proceeding in the same direction I soon reached a
quadrangle (s) of fine large Corinthian columns, the handsomest in the
town, next to those of the temple. To the right stand four with their
entablatures, and one single; formerly they were six in number, the
fifth is the deficient one: the first and sixth are heart-shaped, like
those in the area of the temple (a.) They are composed of more than a
dozen frusta, and what is remarkable in a place where stone is so
abundant, each frustum consists of two pieces; opposite to the two first
columns of the row just described are two columns with their

This colonnade stands in front of a theatre (t), to which it evidently
formed an appendage. This theatre is not calculated to hold so many
spectators as the one already described though its area is considerably
larger, being from forty-five to fifty paces in diameter. It has sixteen
rows of benches, with a tier of six boxes intervening between the tenth
and eleventh rows, reckoning from the top. Between every two boxes is a
niche, forming a very elegant ornament. This theatre was evidently
destined for purposes different from the other, probably for combats of
wild beasts, &c.; The area below the benches is more extensive, and
there is a suite of dark arched chambers under the lowest row of seats,
opening into the area near the chief entrance of the theatre, which is
from the south-east, in the direction by which I entered the colonnade
in front of the theatre. There seems formerly to have been a wall across
the diameter of the semi-circle, and between this wall and the colonnade
there is on both sides a short wall, with a large niche or apartment in
it; the colonnade stands upon lower ground than the theatre. Having
returned from hence to the rotunda in

[p.262]the long street, I followed it along the colonnade (v) and found
the greater number of the columns to have Ionic capitals. On the right
side are only two small columns, with their entablatures; to the left,
are eight, two, three, two, four, and again three, each set with their
entablatures; close to the ruined town-gate (w), near the bank of the
river, is a single column.

I shall now describe the ancient buildings, which I observed on the
south-west side of the long street. The street which leads from the
theatre across the rotunda (r) is prolonged from thence towards the side
of the river: it was lined with columns, of which two only, with their
entablatures, remain, and it terminates at a vast edifice (u), situated
over the river, and extending along its banks forty or fifty paces; it
is divided into many apartments, the greater part of which have arched
roofs; some of them are very lofty.

I now returned towards the gateway (n), and found, opposite to it, and
to the great temple (a), a second cross street running towards the
river; it had originally a colonnade, but none of the columns are now
standing; it terminates, at about thirty paces from the main street, in
a gate, through which I entered into a long quadrangle of columns,
where, on the right hand, four, and then three columns, with their
entablatures, are still standing. At the end of this place, are the
remains of a circular building fronting a bridge (p) across the river:
this bridge is of steep ascent, owing to the northern banks being
considerably higher than the southern, and it is no longer passable.

Having returned to the four cubical pedestals (d), I followed to the
left the continuation of the street (c), by which I had first approached
those pedestals, and which having crossed the main street at the
pedestals, leads south-westward to the river, where it terminated at a
broad flight of steps, leading down to the bridge (k); of the colonnade
of this street (i), some broken shafts

[p.263]only are standing. The bridge is fourteen feet wide, with a high
centre arch and two lower ones; it is built with great solidity, and its
pavement is exactly of the same construction as that which I observed in
the streets of Shohba;[See page 70.] its centre is broken down. An
aqueduct is traced from the side of the building (u), passing near the
two bridges, towards the southern gate of the town. Such weremy
observations of the ruins on the right bank of the Wady.

On the left bank little else remains than heaps of ruins of private
habitations, and numerous fragments of columns. I must confess, however,
that I did not examine the part of the town towards the south gate; but
I have reason to believe, from the view which I had of it while on the
temple hill, that nothing of consequence, either as to buildings or
columns, is there to be met with. The only buildings which I observed to
the left of the river are near to it, upon a narrow plain which
stretches along its banks. Nearly opposite to the temple (m), are the
remains of a building (y) similar in construction to that marked (u), on
the right bank. I supposed it to be a bath; a stream of water descends
from a spring in the mountain, and after flowing through this division
of the town, passes this building, and empties itself into the river.
The arched rooms of the building (y) are loftier than those in (u). Near
the former stand four columns; two insulated, and two with entablatures;
also two broken shafts, the only fluted ones that I saw in the city. On
the left bank of the river, nearly opposite to the town-gate (w), is a
ruined building (x), which appears to have been a small temple; a single
column is standing amidst a heap of broken ones.

Between this spot and the building (y) are the remains of an aqueduct.

Besides the one hundred and ninety columns, or thereabouts,

[p.264]which I have enumerated in the above description, there are
upwards of one hundred half columns also standing. I did not see any
marks of the frusta of the columns having been joined by iron hooks, as
at Palmyra. Of the private habitations of the city there is none in a
state of preservation, but the whole of the area within the walls is
covered with their ruins.

The stone with which Djerash is built is calcareous, of considerable
hardness, and the same as the rock of the neighbouring mountains; I did
not observe any other stone to have been employed, and it is matter of
surprise that no granite columns should be found here, as they abound in
Syrian cities of much less note and magnificence than Djerash.

It had been my intention to proceed from Djerash to the village of
Djezaze, in my way to the castle of Szalt in the mountains of Belka,
from whence I hoped to be able to visit Amman. After many fruitless
enquiries for a guide, a man of Souf at last offered to conduct me to
Szalt, and he had accompanied us as far as Djerash; but when, after
having surveyed the ruins, I rejoined my companions, he had changed his
mind, and insisted on returning immediately to Souf; this was occasioned
by his fear of the Arabs Beni Szakher, who had for sometime past been at
war with the Arabs of Djebel Belka and the government of Damascus, and
who were now extending their plundering incursions all over the
mountain. The name of the Beni Szakher is generally dreaded in these
parts; and the greater or less facility with which the traveller can
visit them, depends entirely upon the good or bad terms existing between
those Arabs and the Pasha; if they are friends, one of the tribe may
easily be found to serve as a guide; but when they are enemies, the
traveller is exposed to the danger of being stripped; and, if the
animosity of the two parties is very great, of even being murdered. The
Mutsellim of Damascus had given me letters to the chief of the


[p.265]Arabs El Belka, and to the commander of the Pasha's cavalry, who
had been sent to assist them against the Beni Szakher. The allies were
encamped in the neighbourhood of Kalaat el Zerka, while the Beni Szakher
had collected their forces at Amman itself, a place still famous for the
abundance of its waters. Under these circumstances, I determined to
proceed first to Szalt, hoping that I might from thence attain Amman
more easily, as the inhabitants of Szalt, who are always more or less
rebellious towards the government of Damascus, are generally on friendly
terms with the Bedouins. The fears of my guide, however, prevented me
from executing this plan, and I was most reluctantly obliged to return
to Souf, for it would have been madness to proceed alone.

We returned to Souf, not by the road over the mountain, but in following
the course of the rivulet in the valley El Deir, which we reascended up
to the village; we found the greater part of the narrow plain in the
valley sown with wheat and barley by the people of Souf. Half an hour
from the town, in the Wady, are the remains of a large reservoir for
water, with some ruined buildings near it. This is a most romantic spot;
large oak and walnut trees overshade the stream, which higher up flows
over a rocky bed; nearer the village are some olive plantations in the
Wady. We reached Souf in two hours from Djerash. I enquired in vain for
a guide to Szalt; the return of the man who had engaged to conduct me
made the others equally cautious, and nobody would accept of the fifteen
piastres which I offered. I thought in unnecessary, therefore, to stop
any longer at Souf, and left it the same evening, in order to visit
Djebel Adjeloun. Our road lay W.N.W. up a mountain, through a thick
forest of oak trees. In three quarters of an hour from Souf we reached
the summit of the mountain, which forms the frontier between the
district of Moerad and the Djebel Adjeloun. This is the thickest forest
I had yet seen in


[p.266]Syria, where the term forest ([Arabic] or [Arabic]) is often
applied to places in which the trees grow at twenty paces from each
other. In an hour and a half we came to the village Ain Djenne [Arabic],
in a fertile valley called Wady Djenne, at the extremity of which
several springs issue from under the rock.

May 3d.--There are several christian families at Ain Djenne. In the
neighbouring mountain are numerous caverns; and distant half an hour, is
the ruined village of Mar Elias. When enquiring for ruins, which might
answer to those of Capitolias, I had been referred to this place, no
person in these mountains having knowledge of any other ruins. An olive
plantation furnishes the principal means of subsistence to the eighty
families who inhabit the village of Ain Djenne.

We set out early in the morning, and descended the valley towards
Adjeloun [Arabic], which has given its name to the district: it is built
in a narrow passage on both sides of the rivulet of Djenne, and contains
nothing remarkable except a fine ancient mosque. I left my horse here,
and took a man of the village to accompany me to the castle of Rabbad
[Arabic], which stands on the top of a mountain three quarters of an
hour distant from Adjeloun. To the left of the road, at a short
distance, is the village Kefrandjy. From Ain Djenne Kalaat el Rabbad
bears W. by N.; it is the residence of the chief of the district of
Adjeloun. The house of Barekat, in whom this authority has for many
years resided, had lately been quarrelling about it among themselves;
the chief, Youssef el Barekat, had been besieged for several months in
the castle; he was now gone to the Aga of Tabaria, to engage him in his
interests; and his family were left in the castle with strict orders not
to let any unknown persons enter it, and to keep the gate secured. I had
letters of recommendation to Youssef from the Mutsellim of Damascus;
when I arrived at the castle-gate, all the inhabitants


[p.267]assembled upon the wall, to enquire who I was, and what I wanted.
I explained to them the nature of my visit, and shewed them the
Mutsellim's letter, upon which they opened the iron gate, but continued
to entertain great suspicions of me until a man who could read having
been sent for, my letter was read aloud; all the family then vied in
civilities towards me, especially when I told them that I intended to
proceed to Tabaria.

Kalaat Er-Rabbad is very strong, and, as appears from several Arabic
inscriptions, was built by Sultan Szelah-eddyn [Arabic]; its date is,
therefore, that of the Crusades, and the same as that of many castles in
other parts of Syria, which owe their origin to the vigilance, and
prudence of that monarch; I saw nothing particularly worth notice in it;
its thick walls, arched passages, and small bastions, are common to all
the castles of the middle ages. It has several wells; but on the
outside, it is distinguished by the deep and broad ditch which surrounds
it, and which has been excavated at immense labour in the rock itself
upon which the castle stands. Rabbad is two hours distant from the Ghor,
or valley of the river Jordan, over which, as well as the neighbouring
mountains, it commands a fine prospect. It is now inhabited by about
forty persons, of the great family of El Barekat.

I returned from Kalaat Rabbad to Adjeloun, where I rejoined my
companions, and after mid-day set out for El Hossn, the principal
village in the district of Beni Obeid. Our road lay up the mountain, in
the narrow Wady Teis. At half an hour from Adjeloun we passed the spring
called Ain Teis [Arabic]. At two hours the district of Djebel Adjeloun
terminates, and that of Obeid begins. The country is for the greater
part woody, and here the inhabitants collect considerable quantities of
galls. Our road lay N.E.; the summits of the mountain bear the name El
Meseidjed [Arabic]. At three hours and a half is a Birket of rain-water,
from whence the


[p.268]road descends over barren hills towards El Hossn, distant five
hours and a quarter from Adjeloun.

El Hossn is the principal village of the district called Beni Obeid; it
stands on the declivity of the mountain, and is inhabited by upwards of
one hundred families, of which about twenty-five are Greek Christians,
under the jurisdiction of the patriarch of Jerusalem. I saw nothing
remarkable here but a number of wells cut out of the rock. I happened to
alight at the same house where M. Seetzen had been detained for eleven
days, by bad weather; his hospitable old landlord, Abdullah el Ghanem,
made many enquiries after him.

May 4th.--I found very bad company at El Hossn. It is usual for the
Pasha of Damascus to send annually one of the principal officers of his
government to visit the southern provinces of the Pashalik, to exact the
arrears of the Miri, and to levy new extortions. The Aga of Tabaria, who
was invested this year with the office, had just arrived in the village
with a suite of one hundred and fifty horsemen, whom he had quartered
upon the peasants; my landlord had seven men and fifteen horses for his
share, and although he killed a sheep, and boiled about twenty pounds of
rice, for supper, yet the two officers of the party in his house were
continually asking for more, spoiled all his furniture, and, in fact,
acted worse than an enemy would have done. It is to avoid vexations of
this kind that the peasants abandon the villages most exposed to such

We left Hossn late in the morning and proceeded to Erbad [Arabic], one
hour and a quarter N.N.E. from the former. Our road lay over the plain.
Erbad is the chief place in the district of that name, likewise called
the district of Beni Djohma [Arabic], or of Bottein [Arabic], from the
Sheikh's being of the family of Bottein. The names of Beni Obeid, and
Beni Djohma, are probably derived


[p.269]from Arab tribes which anciently settled here; but nobody could
tell me the origin of these appellations. The inhabitants do not pretend
to be descendants of those tribes, but say that these were their
dwelling places from time immemorial.

The castle of Erbad stands upon a low hill, at the foot of which lies
the village. The calcareous rock which extends through Zoueit, Moerad,
Adjeloun, and Beni Obeid, begins here to give way to the black Haouran
stone, with which all the houses of Erbad are built, as well as the
miserable modern walls of the castle. A large ancient well built
reservoir is the only curiosity of this place; around it lay several
handsome sarcophagi, of the same kind of rock, with some sculptured bas-
reliefs upon them. Part of the suite of the Aga of Tabaria, consisting
of Moggrebyns, was quartered at Erbad. From hence I wished to visit the
ruins of Beit el Ras [Arabic], which are upon a hill at about one hour
and a half distant. I was told that the ruins were of large extent, that
there were no columns standing, but that large ones were lying upon the
ground. From Beit el Ras I intended again to cross the mountain in order
to see the ruins of Om Keis, and from thence to visit the Djolan.

We were shewn the road from Erbad, but went astray, and did not reach
Beit el Ras. One hour and a half N. by W. of Erbad we passed the village
Merou [Arabic]; from thence we travelled W.N.W. to El Hereimy [Arabic],
two hours from Erbad; and from El Hereimy N.N.W. to Hebras [Arabic],
three hours from Erbad. Hebras is the principal village in the district
of Kefarat, and one of the largest in these countries. It is inhabited
by many Greek Christian families. One hour and a half to the N.E. of it
are the ruins of Abil [Arabic], the ancient Abila, one of the towns of
the Decapolis; neither buildings nor columns remain standing; but I was
told that there are fragments of columns of a very large size.


[p.270]May 5th.--I took a guide from hence to shew me to Om Keis, which,
I was told, was inhabited by several families. I there intended to pass
the night, and to proceed the next day to Feik, a village on the E. side
of the lake of Tabaria. In half an hour from Hebras we passed the spring
Ain el Terab [Arabic], in a Wady, which farther to the north-westward
joins the Wady Szamma, and still lower down unites with the Wady Sheriat
el Mandhour. At one hour and a quarter to our right was the village
Obder [Arabic], on the banks of Wady Szamma, which runs in a deep
ravine, and half an hour farther north-west, the village Szamma
[Arabic]. The inhabitants of the above villages cultivate gardens of
fruit trees and all kinds of vegetables on the side of the rivulet. The
villages belong to the district of Kefarat. To the left of our route
extends a country full of Wadys, called the district of Serou [Arabic],
to the southward of which begins that of Wostye [Arabic]. At one hour
and a half to our left, distant half an hour, we saw, in the Serou, the
village Faour [Arabic]. Between Hebras and Szamma begins the Wady el
Arab [Arabic], which continued to the left parallel with our route; it
is a fertile valley, in which the Arabs Kelab and others cultivate a few
fields. There are several mills on the water-side. Our route lay W. by
N. and W.N.W. across the Kefarat, which is uneven ground, rising towards
the west, and is intersected by many Wadys. At the end of three hours
and a quarter we reached Om Keis [Arabic].

Om Keis is the last village to the west, in the district of Kefarat; it
is situated near the crest of the chain of mountains, which bound the
valley of the lake of Tabaria and Jordan on the east. The S. end of the
lake bears N.W. To the N. of it, one hour, is the deep Wady called
Sheriat el Mandhour, which is, beyond a doubt, the Hieromax of the
Greeks and Jarmouk of the Israelites.

To the south, at the same distance, flows the Wady el Arab,

[p.271]which joins the Sheriat in the valley of El Ghor , not far from
the junction of the latter with the Jordan. I am doubtful to what
ancient city the ruins of Om Keis are to be ascribed.[It was probably
Gamala, which Josephus describes as standing upon a mountain bordered by
precipices. Gadara appears from the authorities of Pliny and Jerom to
have been at the warm baths, mentioned below, on the north side of the
Sheriat el Mandhour; Gadara Hieromiace praefluente. Plin. Nat. Hist.
l.i.c.18. Gadara, urbs trans Jordanem contra Scythopolin et Tiberiadem,
ad orientalem plagam, sita in monte, ad cujns radices aquae calidae
erumpunt, balneis super aedificatis,--Hieron. in Topicis.]

At Om Keis the remains of antiquity are very mutilated. The ancient town
was situated round a hill, which is the highest point in the
neighbourhood. To the east of the hill are a great number of caverns in
the calcareous rock, some of which have been enlarged and rendered
habitable. Others have been used as sepulchral caves. Great numbers of
sarcophagi are lying about in this direction: they are all of black
stone, which must have been transported from the banks of the river
below: the dimensions of the largest are nine spans in length by three
in breadth; they are ornamented with bas-reliefs of genii, festoons,
wreaths of flowers, and some with busts, but very few of them are of
elegant wor[k]manship. I counted upwards of seventy on the declivity of
the hill. On the summit of the hill are heaps of wrought stones, but no
remains of any important building: on its west and north sides are the
remains of two large theatres, built entirely of black stone. That on
the W. side is in better preservation than the other, although more
ruined than the theatres at Djerash. The walls and the greater part of
the seats yet remain; a tier of boxes intervenes between the rows of
seats, as at Djerash, and there are deep vaulted apartments beneath the
seats. There are no remains of columns in front of either theatre. The
theatre on the north side of the hill, which is in a very dilapidated
state, is remarkable for its great depth,

[p.272]caused by its being built on a part of the steepest declivity of
the hill; its uppermost row of seats is at least forty feet higher than
the lowest; the area below the seats is comparatively very small. From
these two theatres the principal part of the town appears to have
extended westwards, over an even piece of ground at the foot of the
hill; its length from the hill was at least half an hour. Nothing is at
present standing; but there are immense heaps of cut stones, columns,
&c. dispersed over the plain. A long street, running westward, of which
the ancient pavement still exists in most parts, seems to have been the
principal street of the town. On both sides there are vast quantities of
shafts of columns. At a spot where a heap of large Corinthian pillars
lay, a temple appears to have stood. I here saw the base of a large
column of gray granite. The town terminates in a narrow point, where a
large solid building with many columns seems to have stood.

With the exception of the theatres, the buildings of the city were all
constructed of the calcareous stone which constitutes the rock of every
part of the country which I saw between Wady Zerka


[p.273]and Wady Sheriat. In Djebel Adjeloun, Moerad, and Beni Obeid,
none of the basalt or black stone is met with; but in some parts of El
Kefarat, in our way from Hebras to Om Keis, I saw alternate layers of
calcareous and basaltic rock, with thin strata of flint. The habitations
of Om Keis are, for the greater part, caverns. There is no water but
what is collected in reservoirs during rains; these were quite dried up,
which was the occasion, perhaps, of the place having been abandoned, for
we found not a single inhabitant.

My guide being ignorant of the road to Feik, wished to return to Hebras;
and I was hesitating what to do, when we were met by some peasants of
Remtha, in the Haouran, who were in their way to the Ghor, to purchase
new barley, of which grain the harvest had already begun in the hot
climate of that valley. I joined their little caravan. We continued, for
about half an hour from Om Keis, upon the high plain, and then descended
the mountains, the western declivity of which is entirely basaltic. At
the end of two hours from Om Keis, we reached the banks of the Sheriat
el Mandhour, or Sheriat el Menadhere (Arabic] or Arabic) which we passed
at a ford. This river takes the additional name of the Arabs who live
upon its banks, to distinguish it from the Sheriat el Kebir (Great
Sheriat), by which the Jordan is known. The Sheriat el Menadhere is
formed by the united streams of the Nahr Rokad [Arabic], which flows
from near Ain Shakhab, through the eastern parts of Djolan; of the
Hereir, whose source is in the swampy ground near Tel Dilly, on the Hadj
route, between Shemskein and El Szannamein: of the Budje, which comes
from Mezareib, and after its junction with the Hereir, is called Aweired
[Arabic], and of the Wady Hamy Sakkar, besides several other smaller
Wadys. The name of Sheriat, is first applied to the united streams near
Szamme. From thence it flows in a deep bed of tufwacke; and its banks
are cultivated by the Arabs Menadhere (sing. Mandhour), who live under


[p.274]tents, and remove from place to place, but without quitting the
banks of the river. They sow wheat and barley, and cultivate
pomegranates, lemons, grapes, and many kinds of fruit and vegetables,
which they sell in the villages of the Haouran and Djolan. Further to
the west the Wady becomes so narrow as to leave no space between the
edge of the stream, and the precipices on both sides. It issues from the
mountain not far from the south end of the lake of Tabaria, and about
one hour lower down is joined by the Wady el Arab; it then empties
itself into the Jordan, called Sheriat el Kebir, at two hours distant
from the lake; D'Anville is therefore wrong in making it flow into the
lake itself. The river is full of fish, and in the Wady its course is
very rapid. The shrub called by the Arabs Defle [Arabic], grows on its
banks; it has a red flower, and according to the Arabs is poisonous to
cattle. The breadth of the stream, where it issues from the mountains,
is about thirty-five paces, its depth (in the month of May) between four
and five feet.

We had now entered the valley of the Ghor [Arabic], which may be
compared to the valley of the Bekaa, between the Libanus and Anti-
Libanus, and the valley El Ghab of the Orontes. The mountains which
enclose it are not to be compared in magnitude with those of the Bekaa;
but the abundance of its waters renders its aspect more pleasing to the
eye, and may make its soil more productive. It is one of the lowest
levels in Syria; lower than the Haouran and Djolan, by nearly the whole
height of the eastern mountains; its temperature is hotter than I had
experienced in any other part of Syria: the rocky mountains
concentrating the heat, and preventing the air from being cooled by the
westerly winds in summer. In consequence of this higher degree of heat,
the productions of the Ghor ripen long before those of the Haouran. The
barley harvest, which does not begin in the upper plain till fifteen
days later


[p.275]we here found nearly finished. The Haouran, on the other hand,
was every where covered with the richest verdure of wild herbage, while
every plant in the Ghor was already dried up, and the whole country
appeared as if in the midst of summer. Volney has justly remarked that
there are few countries where the changes from one climate to another
are so sudden as in Syria; and I was never more convinced of it than in
this valley. To the north was the Djebel El Sheikh, covered with snow;
to the east the fertile plainsof Djolan clothed in the blossoms of
spring; while to the south, the withered vegetation of the Ghor seemed
the effect of a tropical sun. The breadth of the valley is about an hour
and a half, or two hours.

From the ford over the Sheriat we proceeded across the plain in a N.W.
direction; it was covered with low shrubs and a tree bearing a fruit
like a small apple, very agreeable to the taste; Zaarour [Arabic] is the
name given to it by the inhabitants of Mount Libanus; those of Damascus
call it Zaaboub [Arabic]; and the Arabs have also another name for it,
which I forget. In an hour and upwards, from the ford, we reached the
village Szammagh [Arabic], situated on the most southern extremity of
the lake of Tabaria; it contains thirty or forty poor mud houses, and a
few built with black stone. The Jordan issues out of the lake about a
quarter of an hour to the westward of the village, where the lake ends
in a straight line, extending for about forty minutes in a direction
nearly east and west. From hence the highest point of Djebel el Sheikh
bears N.N.W.; the town of Szaffad N. by E. Between the lake and the
first bridge over the Jordan, called Djissr el Medjami, at about two
hours and a half from hence, are two fordable passages across the river.

Excepting about one hundred Fedhans around Szammagh, no part of the
valley is cultivated in this neighbourhood. Somewhat


[p.276]lower down begin the corn fields of the Arabs el Ghor, who are
the principal inhabitants of the valley: those living near Szammagh are
the Arabs el Sekhour, and the Beshaatoue. The only villages met with
from hence as far as Beysan (the ancient Scythopolis), are to the left
of the Jordan, Maad [Arabic], at the foot of Djebel Wostye, and El
Erbayn [Arabic]. From Szammagh to Beysan the valley is called Ghor
Tabaria. I swam to a considerable distance in the lake, without seeing a
single fish; I was told, however, that there were privileged fishermen
at Tabaria, who monopolize the entire fishery. The beach on this side is
a fine gravel of quartz, flint, and tufwacke. There is no shallow water,
the lake being of considerable depth close in shore. The only species of
shell which I saw on the beach was of the smallest kind, white and about
an inch and a half long. There are no kinds of rushes or reeds on the
shores in this neighbourhood.

May 6th.--The quantities of mosquitos and other vermin which always by
preference attack the stranger accustomed to more northern climates,
made me pass a most uncomfortable night at Szammagh. We departed early
in the morning, in order to visit the hot wells at the foot of the
mountain of Om Keis, the situation of which had been pointed out to me
on the preceding day. Returning towards the place where the Sheriat
issues from the Wady, we followed up the river from thence and in one
hour and three quarters from Szammagh, we reached the first hot-well.
The river flows in a deep bed, being confined in some places on both
sides by precipices of upwards of one hundred feet in height, whose
black rocks present a most striking contrast with the verdure on their
summits. For several hundred yards before we arrived at the hot-well, I
perceived a strong sulphureous smell in the air. The spring is situated
in a very narrow plain, in the valley, between the river and the


[p.277]cliffs, which we descended. The plain had been covered with rich
herbage, but it was now dried up; a great variety of shrubs and some old
palm trees also grow here: the heat in the midst of the summer must be
suffocating. The spring bubbles up from a basin about forty feet in
circumference, and five feet in depth, which is enclosed by ruins of
walls and buildings, and forms below a small rivulet which falls at a
short distance into the river. The water is so hot, that I found it
difficult to keep my hand in it; it deposits upon the stones over which
it flows a thick yellow sulphureous crust, which the neighbouring Arabs
collect, to rub their camels with, when diseased. Just above the basin,
which has originally been paved, is an open arched building, with the
broken shaft of a column still standing; and behind it are several
others, also arched, which may have been apartments for the
accommodation of strangers; the large stones forming these structures
are much decayed, from the influence of the exhalations. This spring is
called Hammet el Sheikh [Arabic], and is the hottest of them all. At
five minutes distance, ascending the Wady, is a second of the same kind,
but considerably cooler; it issues out of a basin covered with weeds,
and surrounded with reeds, and has some remains of ancient buildings
about it; it is called Hammet Errih [Arabic], and joins the waters from
the first source. Following the course of the river, up the Wady, eight
more hot springs are met with; I shall here mention their names, though
I did not see them. 1. Hammet aand Ettowahein [Arabic], near some mills;
2. Hammet beit Seraye [Arabic]; 3. Hammet Essowanye [Arabic]; 4. Hammet
Dser Aryshe [Arabic]; 5. Hammet Zour Eddyk [Arabic]; 6. Hammet Erremlye
[Arabic]; 7. Hammet Messaoud [Arabic]; 8. Hammet Om Selym [Arabic]; this
last is distant from that of El Sheikh two hours and a half. These


[p.278]eight springs are on both sides of the Wady, and have remains of
ancient buildings near them. I conceive that a naturalist would find it
well worth his time to examine the productions of this Wady, hitherto
almost unknown. In the month of April the Hammet el Sheikh is visited by
great numbers both of sick and healthy people, from the neighbourhood of
Nablous and Nazaret, who prefer it to the bath of Tabaria; they usually
remain about a fortnight.

We returned from the Hamme by the same road we came; on reaching the
plain of El Ghor we turned to our right up the mountain. We here met a
wild boar of great size; these animals are very numerous in the Ghor,
and my companions told me that the Arabs of the valley are unable to
cultivate the common barley, called here Shayr Araby [Arabic], on
account of the eagerness with which the wild swine feed upon it, they
are therefore obliged to grow a less esteemed sort, with six rows of
grains, called Shayr Kheshaby [Arabic], which the swine do not touch. At
three quarters of an hour from the spot where we began to ascend, we
came to a spring called Ain el Khan, near a Khan called El Akabe, where
caravans sometimes alight; this being the great road from the Djolan and
the northern parts of the Haouran to the Ghor. Akabe is a general term
for a steep descent. In one hour we passed a spring called Ain el Akabe,
more copious than the former. From thence we reached the summit of the
mountain, one hour and a quarter distant from its foot, where the plain
commences; and in one hour and three quarters more, entered the village
of Feik, distant about four hours and a half from Szammagh, by the road
we travelled.

One hour to the E. of Szammagh, on the shore of the lake, lies the
village Kherbet Szammera [Arabic], with some ancient buildings: it is
the only inhabited village on the E. side of the lake, its

[p.279]site seems to correspond with that of the ancient Hippos. Farther
north, near the shore, are the ruined places called Doeyrayan [Arabic],
and Telhoun [Arabic]. Three quarters of an hour to the N. of Khan el
Akabe, near the summit of the mountain, lies, the half ruined, but still
inhabited village of Kefer Hareb [Arabic].

The country to the north of the Sheriat, in the direction of Feik, is,
for a short distance, intersected by Wadys, a plain then commences,
extending northwards towards the Djebel Heish el Kanneytra, and
eastwards towards the Haouran.

Feik is a considerable village, inhabited by more than two hundred
families. It is situated at the head of the Wady of the same name, on
the ridge of a part of the mountain which incloses the E. shore of the
lake of Tabaria, and it enjoys a fine view over the middle part of the
lake. The rivulet of Feik has three sources, issuing from beneath a
precipice, round the summit of which the village is built in the shape
of a crescent. Having descended the hill for three quarters of an hour,
a steep insulated hill is met with, having extensive ruins of buildings,
walls, and columns on its top; they are called El Hossn, and are,
perhaps, the remains of the ancient town of Regaba or Argob.

Feik [Arabic], although situated in the plain of Djolan, does not

[p.280]actually belong to that district, but constitutes a territory of
itself; it forms part of the government of Akka, and is, I believe, the
only place belonging to that Pashalik on the E. side of the Jordan; it
was separated from the Pashalik of Damascus by Djezzar Pasha. There
being a constant passage through Feik from the Haouran to Tabaria and
Akka, more than thirty houses in the town have open Menzels for the
entertainment of strangers of every description, and supply their
cattle, gratis. The landlords have an allowance from the government for
their expenses, which is made by a deduction from the customary taxes;
and if the Menzel is much frequented, as in the case of that of the
Sheikh, no Miri at all is collected from the landlord, and the Pasha
makes him also an yearly allowance in money, out of the Miri of the
village. The establishment of these public Menzels, which are general
over the whole country to the S. of Damascus, does great honour to the
hospitable spirit of the Turks; but it is, in fact, the only expense
that the government thinks itself obliged to incur for the benefit of
the people of the country. A peasant can travel for a whole month
without expending a para; but people of any distinction give a few paras
on the morning of their departure to the waiter or watchman [Arabic]. If
the traveller does not choose to alight at a public Menzel, he may go to
any private house, where he will find a hospitable landlord, and as good
a supper as the circumstances of his host can afford.

I observed upon the terraces of all the houses of Feik, a small
apartment called Hersh [Arabic], formed of branches of trees, covered
with mats; to this cool abode the family retires during the mid-day
heats of summer. There are a few remains of ancient buildings at Feik;
amongst others, two small towers on the two extremities of the cliff.
The village has large olive plantations.

May 7th.--Our way over the plain was in the direction N.E. by E.


[p.281]Beyond the fields of Feik, the district of Djolan begins, the
southern limits of which are the Wady Hamy Sakker, and the Sheriat.
Djolan appears to be the same name as the Greek Gaulanitis; but its
present limits do not quite correspond with those of the ancient
province, which was confined to a narrow strip of land along the lake,
and the eastern shore of the Jordan. The territory of Feik must have
formed part of Hippene; the mountain in front of it was mount Hippos,
and the district of Argob appears to have been that part of the plain
(making part of Djolan), which extends from Feik northwards for three or
four hours, and which is enclosed on the east by the Djebel Heish, and
on the west by the descent leading down to the banks of the lake.

Half an hour from Feik we passed, on our left, a heap of ruins called
Radjam el Abhar [Arabic]. To the S.E. at about one hour distant, is the
village Djeibein [Arabic]; to the left, at three quarters of an hour, is
the ruined village El Aal [Arabic], on the side of the Wady Semak
[Arabic], which descended from the Djebel Heish: there is a rivulet of
spring-water in the Wady, which empties itself into the lake near the
ruined city of Medjeifera [Arabic], in this part the Wady is full of
reeds, of which the people make mats. On the other side of the Wady,
about half an hour distant from it, upon a Tel, is the ruined city
called Kaszr Berdoweil [Arabic] (Castle of Baldwin). The plain here is
wholly uncultivated, and is overgrown with a wild herb called Khob
[Arabic], which camels and cows feed upon. At one hour and three
quarters is a Birket of rain water, called Nam [Arabic], with a spring
near it. At two hours and a quarter are the extensive ruins of a city,
called Khastein [Arabic], built with the black stone of the country, but
preserving no remains of any considerable building. Two hours and three
quarters, on our left, is Tel Zeky [Arabic], to the left of which, about
one hour and a half, is the southern extremity of the Djebel Heish,
where stands a Tel


[p.282]called El Faras. The Djebel Heish is separated from the plain bya
stony district, of one hour in breadth, where the Arabs of the country
often take refuge from the extortions of the Pasha. In three hours we
passed Wady Moakkar [Arabic], flowing from the mountain into the
Sheriat. Here the direction of our road was E.S.E. The Arab who
accompanied me presented me with a fruit which grows wild in these
parts, and is unknown in the northern parts of Syria, and even at
Damascus; it is of the size of a small egg, of the colour of the Tomato
or love-apple, of a sweet agreeable taste, and full of juice. It grows
upon a shrub about six inches high, which I did not see, but was told
that its roots were three or four feet in length, and presented the
figure of a man in all its parts. The fruit is called by the Arabs
Djerabouh [Arabic].

At three hours and a quarter, at a short distance to our left, was the
ruined village Om el Kebour [Arabic]. In three hours and a half we
passed Wady Seide [Arabic]; and at the end of three hours and three
quarters reached the bridge of Wady Hamy Sakker We met all the way Arabs
and peasants going to the Ghor to purchase barley.

The bridge of Hamy Sakker [Arabic] is situated near the commencement of
the Wady , where it is of very little depth; lower down it has a rapid
fall, and runs between precipices of perpendicular rocks of great
height, until it joins the Sheriat, about two hours and a half from the
bridge. The bridge is well built upon seven arches. At four hours we
reached a spring called Ain Keir [Arabic], and a little farther another
called Ain Deker [Arabic]. The rocky district at the foot of Djebel
Heish extends on this side as far as these springs. In five hours we
passed Wady Aallan [Arabic], a considerable torrent flowing towards the
Sheriat, with a ruined bridge; and in five hours and a half Tseil,
[Arabic], an inhabited village. Here the plain begins to be cultivated.

[p.283]are no villages excepting Djeibein to the south of the road by
which we had travelled, as far as the banks of the Sheriat. The
inhabitants of the country are Bedouins, several of whose encampments we
passed. Tseil is one of the principal villages of Djolan, and contains
about eighty or one hundred families, who live in the ancient buildings
of the ruined town; there are three Birkets of rain water belonging to
it. The only building of any size is a ruined mosque, which seems to
have been a church. In coming from Feik the soil of the plain is black,
or gray; at Tseil it begins to be of the same red colour as the Haouran

After dinner we continued our route. In half an hour from Tseil we
passed on our left Tel Djemoua [Arabic]. The greater part of the plain
was covered with a fine crop of wheat and barley. During the years 1810
and 1811, the crops were very bad all over Syria; the rains of last
winter, however, having been very abundant, the peasants are every where
consoled with the hopes of a good harvest. It was expected that the
Haouran and Djolan would yield twenty-five times the quantity of the
seed sown, which is reckoned an excellent crop. Half an hour north of
Tel Djemoua lies Tel Djabye [Arabic], with a village. At one hour and
three quarters from Tseil is the village Nowa [Arabic], where we slept.
This is the principal village in the Djolan, and was formerly a town of
half an hour in circumference. Its situation corresponds with that in
D'Anville's map of Neve. There are a number of ruined private dwellings,
and the remains of some public edifices. A temple, of which one column
with its entablature remains, has been converted into a mosque. At the
S. end of the village is a small square solid building, probably a
mausoleum; it has no other opening than the door. Beyond the precincts
of the village, on the N. side, are the ruins of a large square
building, of which the sculptured entrance only remains, with heaps of
broken columns before it. The village


[p.284]has several springs, as well as cisterns. The Turks revere the
tomb of a Santon buried here, called Mehy eddyn el Nowawy [Arabic].

May 8th.--Our route lay N.E. At two hours from Nowa is the village Kasem
[Arabic], which forms the southern limits of the district of Djedour,
and the northern frontier of Djolan; some people, however, reckon Djolan
the limits of Nowa. One hour E.b.S. of Kasem stands the village Om el
Mezabel [Arabic]; one hour and a half E.N.E. of Kasem. the great village
Onhol [Arabic]. In two hours and a half from Nowa we passed, to the
left, distant about half an hour, the Tel el Hara [Arabic], with the
village of the same name at its foot; this is the highest Tel in the
plains of Haouran and Djolan. Three hours and a quarter is the village
Semnein [Arabic]; and three hours and three quarters, the village Djedye
[Arabic]. The plain was badly cultivated in these parts. From hence our
road turned N.N.E. At five hours is Kefer Shams [Arabic], with some
ancient buildings; all these villages have large Birkets. At five hours
and three quarters is Deir e Aades [Arabic], a ruined village in a stony
district, intersected by several Wadys. Six hours and a quarter, Tel
Moerad [Arabic]; eight hours Tel Shak-hab [Arabic], a village with a
small castle, and copious springs; it lies about an hour and a half to
the west of Soubbet Faraoun. The cattle of a large encampment of Naym wa
spread over the whole plain near Shak-hab. At eight hours and three
quarters, there was on our left a rocky country resembling the Ledja; it
is called War Ezzaky [Arabic], and has a ruined Khan called Ezzeiat
[Arabic]; the millstones for the supply of Damascus are hewn in this
War, which consists of the black Haouran stone. In ten hours we reached
Khan Denoun; and in ten hours and three quarters, long after sun-set,
the village El Kessoue.

May 9th.--We arrived early in the morning at Damascus.






Before I submit to the reader, a few general remarks upon the
inhabitants of the Haouran, I shall briefly recapitulate the political
divisions of the country which extends to the southward of Damascus, as
far as Wady Zerka.

1. El Ghoutta [Arabic]. Under this name is comprehended the immediate
neighhourhood of Damascus, limited on the north by Djebel Szalehie, on
the west by the Djebel el Sheikh, on the south by Djebel Kessoue, and on
the east by the plain El Merdj. It is under the immediate government of
the Mutsellim of Damascus. All the gardens of Damascus are reckoned in
the Ghoutta, which contains upwards of eighty villages, and is one of
the most fertile districts in Syria.

2. Belad Haouran [Arabic]. To the south of Djebel Kessoue and Djebel
Khiara begins the country of Haouran. It is bordered on the east by the
rocky district El Ledja, and by the Djebel Haouran, both of which are
sometimes comprised within the Haouran; and in this case the Djebel el
Drouz, or mountain of the Druses, whose chief resides at Soueida, may be
considered another subdivision of the Haouran. To the S.E. where Boszra
and El Remtha are the farthest inhahited villages, the Haouran borders
upon the desert. Its western limits are the chain of villages on the
Hadj road, from Ghebarib as far south as Remtha. The greater part of its
villages will he found enumerated in the two Journals.


[p.286]The Haouran comprises therefore part of Trachonitis and Ituraea,
the whole of Auranitis, and the northern districts of Batanaea. Edrei,
now Draa, was situated in Batanaea.

3.Djedour [Arabic]. The flat country south of Djebel Kessoue, east of
Djebel el Sheikh, and west of the Hadj road, as far as Kasem or Nowa, is
called Djedour. It contains about twenty villages.

The following are the names of the inhabited villages of the country
called Djedour; El Kenneya [Arabic], Sheriat el Ghoufa [Arabic], Sheriat
el Tahna [Arabic], Deir Maket, [Arabic], Um el Mezabel [Arabic], El
Nakhal [Arabic], El Szannamein, Teil Kefrein, Merkasem, Nawa, where are
considerable ruins; Heitt [Arabic], El Hara, Akrebbe eddjedour [Arabic],
Essbebhara, Djelein [Arabic], Namr [Arabic], Essalemie [Arabic],
[Arabic], El Nebhanie [Arabic], Deir el Ades, Deir el Bokht, [Arabic],
Kafershamy, Keitta [Arabic], Semlein, Djedeie, Thereya [Arabic], Um
Ezzeijtoun [Arabic].

The greater part of Ituraea appears to be comprised within the limits of
Djedour. The governor of Djolan usually commands also in Djedour.

4. Djolan [Arabic], which comprises the plain to the south of Djedour,
and to the west of Haouran. Its southern frontier is the Nahr Aweired by
which it is separated from the district of Erbad, and the Sheriat el
Mandhour, which separates it from the district El Kefarat. On the west
it is limited by the territory of Feik, and on the northwest by the
southern extremity of Djebel Heish. Part of Batanaea, Argob, Hippene,
and perhaps Gaulanitis, is comprised within this district. The maps of
Syria are in general incorrect with regard to the mountains of Djolan.
The mountain El Heish, which is the southern extremity of Djebel el
Sheikh, terminates (as I have mentioned before) at Tel el Faras, which
is about three hours and a half to the north of the Sheriat or Hieromax;
and the mountains begin again at about the same distance to the south of
the same river, in


[p.287]the district of Wostye; leaving an open country between them,
which extends towards the west as far as Akabe Feik, and Akabe Om Keis,
which are the steep descents forming the approaches to the lake of
Tabaria, and to the Ghor of Tabaria from the east. The maps, on the
contrary, make the Djebel Heish join the southern chain of Wostye,
instead of leaving an open country of near eight hours between them. The
principal villages of Djolan, beginning from the south, are the
following: Aabedein [Arabic], Moarrye [Arabic], Shedjara [Arabic],
Beiterren [Arabic], Sahhem [Arabic], Seisoun [Arabic], Kefr Essamer
[Arabic], Seiatein [Arabic], Beit Akkar [Arabic], Djomra [Arabic],
Sheikh Saad [Arabic], near Tel Sheikh Saad, Ayoub [Arabic], Deir Ellebou
[Arabic], Kefr Maszer [Arabic], Adouan [Arabic], Tel el Ashaara
[Arabic], Tseil, El Djabye [Arabic], Esszefeire [Arabic], Djernein
[Arabic], El Kebbash [Arabic], Nowa [Arabic]. The Aga of Haouran is
generally at the same time governor of Djolan.

5. El Kanneytra [Arabic] comprises the mountain El Heish, from the
neighbourhood of Banias to its southern extremity. It is the Mount
Hermon of the ancients. Its chief place is Kanneytra (perhaps the
ancient Canatha), where the Aga el Kanneytra resides.

6. Belad Erbad, or Belad Beni Djohma [Arabic], likewise called El
Bottein, which name it derives from the family of Bottein, who are the
principal men of the country. It is limited on the north by the Aweired,
which separates it from the Djolan, on the east by the Hadj route, on
the south by the territory of Beni Obeid, and on the west, by the rising
ground and the many Wadys which compose the territory of El Kefarat. The
greater part of Batanaea is comprised within its limits; and it is
remarkable that the name of Bottein has some affinity with that of
Batanaea. Its principal villages are: Erbad [Arabic] (the Sheikh's
residence), El Bareha [Arabic], Kefr Djayz [Arabic], Tokbol [Arabic], El
Aaal [Arabic] (by some reckoned in Djolan), Kefr Youba [Arabic], Djemha


[p.288][Arabic]. The ruined villages and cities of Belad Erbad are as
follows: Djerye [Arabic], Zebde [Arabic], Hanneine [Arabic], Beit el Ras
[Arabic], Ain ed Djemel [Arabic].

7. El Kefarat [Arabic], a narrow strip of land, running along the south
borders of the Wady Sheriat el Mandhour from the frontiers of Belad
Erbad to Om Keis. Its principal village is Hebras.

8. Esserou [Arabic]. This district lies parallel to El Kefarat, and
extends from Belad Erbad to the Ghor. It is watered by Wady el Arab. Its
principal village is Fowar [Arabic].

The Kefarat as well as the Serou are situated between the Sheriat and
the mountains of Wostye. They may be called flat countries in comparison
with Wostye and Adjeloun; and they appear still more so from a distance;
but if examined near, they are found to be intersected by numerous deep
valleys. There seems, however, a gradual ascent of the ground towards
the west. The valleys are inhabited for the greater part by Bedouins.

9. Belad Beni Obeid [Arabic] is on the eastern declivity of the
mountains of Adjeloun. It is bordered on the north by Erbad, on the west
by the mountain Adjeloun, on the east and south by the district
Ezzoueit. The southern parts of Batanaea are comprised within these
limits. Its principal village is El Hossn, where the Sheikh resides. Its
other villages are: Haoufa [Arabic], Szammad [Arabic], Natefa [Arabic],
El Mezar [Arabic], Ham [Arabic], Djehfye [Arabic], Erreikh [Arabic],
Habdje [Arabic], Edoun [Arabic]. In the mountain near the summit of
Djebel Adjeloun, in that part of the forest which is called El
Meseidjed, are the following ruined places: Nahra [Arabic], Kefr Khal
[Arabic], Hattein [Arabic], Aablein [Arabic], Keferye [Arabic], Kherbat
[Arabic], Esshaara [Arabic], Aabbein [Arabic], Sameta [Arabic], Aabeda
[Arabic], Aafne [Arabic], Deir Laouz [Arabic].

11. El Koura [Arabic] Is separated from Adjeloun on the S.W.


[p.289]side by Wady Yabes [Arabic], which empties itself into the
Jordan, in the neighbourhood of Beysan. To the west and north-west it
borders on Wostye, to the east on Belad Beni Obeid. It is a mountainous
country which comprizes the northern parts of the ancient Galaaditis.
Its principal villages are, Tobne [Arabic], where resides the Sheikh or
el Hakem, who exercises his influence likewise over the villages of Omba
[Arabic], Szammoua, [Arabic], Deir Abou Seid [Arabic], Hannein [Arabic],
Zemmal [Arabic], Kefer Aabeid [Arabic], Kefer Awan [Arabic], Beit Edes
[Arabic], Khanzyre [Arabic], Kefer Radjeb [Arabic], Kefer Elma [Arabic].

12. El Wostye [Arabic]. To the south of Serou, and east of the Ghor

13. Djebel Adjeloun [Arabic]. On the north-east and east, it borders on
Beni Obeid, on the south and south-east on the district of Moerad; on
the west on the Ghor, and on the north on the Koura. It is throughout a
mountainous country, and for the greater part woody. Part of the ancient
Galaaditis is comprised within its limits. Its principal place is Kalaat
Rabbad, where the Sheikh resides. It contains besides the following
villages: Ain Djenne [Arabic], Adjeloun [Arabic], Ain Horra [Arabic],
Ardjan [Arabic], Rasoun [Arabic], Baoun [Arabic], Ousera [Arabic],
Halawe [Arabic], Khara [Arabic], El Kherbe [Arabic], Kefrendjy [Arabic].
The principal ruined places in this district are, Rostem [Arabic],
Seleim [Arabic], Kefer Eddorra [Arabic], Szoan [Arabic], Deir Adjeloun

14. Moerad [Arabic], is limited on the north by Djebel Adjeloun, on the
east by Ezzoueit, on the south by Wady Zerka, on the west by the Ghor.
It forms part of Galaaditis, and is in every part mountainous. Its
principal village, where the Sheikh lives, is Souf; its other villages
are Borma [Arabic], Ettekitte [Arabic], at present


[p.290]abandoned; Debein [Arabic], Djezaze [Arabic], Hamthe [Arabic].
The summits of the mountain of Adjeloun, which mark the limits between
Adjeloun and Moerad, are called Oeraboun [Arabic]. Half of it belongs to
Adjeloun, the other to Moerad. It contains the following ruined places;
Szafszaf [Arabic], El Hezar [Arabic], Om Eddjeloud [Arabic], Om Djoze
[Arabic], El Haneik [Arabic], Eshkara, [Arabic], Oeraboun [Arabic], El
Ehsenye [Arabic], Serabeis [Arabic], Nedjde [Arabic].

15. Ezzoueit [Arabic] lies to the east of Beni Obeid and Moerad, being
separated from the latter by the Wady Deir and Seil Djerash; it is
situated to the north of Wady Zerka, and extends eastwards beyond the
Hadj route to the southward of the ruined city of Om Eddjemal, between
Remtha and El Fedhein. Part of it is mountainous, the remainder a flat
country. There are at present no inhabited villages in the Zoueit. Its
ruined places are Erhab, Eydoun, Dadjemye, Djebe, Kafkafa, Mytwarnol,
Boeidha, Khereysan, Kherbet, Szamara, Khenezein, Remeith, Abou Ayad, El
Matouye, Essaherye, Ain Aby, Eddhaleil, Ayoun. It forms the southern
parts of the Galaaditis.

Beyond the Zerka the chain of mountains increases in breadth, and the
Belka begins; it is divided into different districts, of which I may be
able to give some account hereafter.

The whole country, from Kanneytra (exclusive) to the Zerka, is at
present in the government of the Aga of Tabaria; but this can only
happen when the Pasha of Acre is at the same time Pasha of Damascus.



Remarks on the Inhabitants of the Haouran.

The Haouran is inhabited by Turks, Druses, Christians, and Arabs, and is
visited in spring and summer by several Arab tribes from the desert. The
whole country is under the government of the Pasha of Damascus, who
generally sends a governor to Mezareib, intituled Agat el Haouran.

The Pasha appoints also the Sheikh of every village, who collects the
Miri from both Turks and Christians. The Druses are not under the
control of the Agat el Haouran, but correspond directly with the Pasha.
They have a head Sheikh, whose office, though subject to the
confirmation of the Pasha, has been hereditary from a remote period, in
the family of Hamdan. The head Sheikh of the Druses nominates the Sheikh
of each village, and of these upwards of eight are his own relations:
the others are members of the great Druse families. The Pasha constantly
maintains a force in the Haouran of between five and six hundred men;
three hundred and fifty or four hundred of whom are at Boszra, and the
remainder at Mezareib, or patrolling the country. The Moggrebyns are
generally employed in this service. I compute the population of the
Haouran, exclusive of the Arabs who frequent the plain, the mountain
(Djebel Haouran), and the Ledja, at about fifty or sixty thousand, of
whom six or seven thousand are Druses; and about three thousand
Christians. The Turks and Christians have exactly the same modes of
life; but the Druses are distinguished from them in many respects. The
two former very nearly resemble the Arabs in their customs and manners;
their ordinary dress is precisely that of the Arabs; a coarse white
cotton stuff forms their Kombaz or gown, the Keffie round the head is
tied with a rope of camel's hair, they wear the Abba over the shoulder,
and have the breast and feet naked; they have also adopted, for the

[p.292]part, the Bedouin dialect, gestures, and phraseology; according
to which most articles of housebold furniture have names different from
those in the towns; it requires little experience however to distinguish
the adults of the two nations from one another. The Arabs are generally
of short stature, with thin visage, scanty beard, and brilliant black
eyes; while the Fellahs are taller and stouter, with a strong beard, and
a less piercing look; but the difference seems chiefly to arise from
their mode of life; for the youth of both nations, to the age of
sixteen, have precisely the same appearance. The Turks and Christians of
the Haouran live and dress alike, and religion seems to occasion very
little difference in their respective conditions. When quarrels happen
the Christian fears not to strike the Turk, or to execrate his religion,
a liberty which in every town of Syria would expose the Christian to the
penalty of death, or to a very heavy pecuniary fine. Common sufferings
and dangers in the defence of their property may have given rise to the
toleration which the Christians enjoy from the Turks in the Haouran; and
which is further strengthened by the Druses, who shew equal respect to
both religions. Of the Christians four-fifths are Greeks; and the only
religious animosities which I witnessed during my tour, were between
them and the Catholics.

Among the Fellahs of the Haouran, the richest lives like the poorest,
and displays his superior wealth only on the arrival of strangers. The
ancient buildings afford spacious and convenient dwellings to many of
the modern inhabitants, and those who occupy them may have three or four
rooms for each family; but in newly built villages, the whole family,
with all its household furniture, cooking utensils, and provision
chests, is commonly huddled together in one apartment. Here also they
keep their wheat and barley in reservoirs formed of clay, called Kawara
[Arabic], which are about five feet high and two feet in diameter. The
chief articles

[p.293]of furniture are, a handmill, which is used in summer, when there
is no water in the Wadys to drive the mills; some copper kettles; and a
few mats; in the richer houses some woollen Lebaet are met with, which
are coarse woollen stuffs used for carpets, and in winter for horse-
cloths: real carpets or mattrasses are seldom seen, unless it be upon
the arrival of strangers of consequence. Their goat's hair sacks, and
horse and camel equipments, are of the same kind as those used by the
Bedouins, and are known by the same names. Each family has a large
earthen jar, of the manufacture of Rasheiat el Fukhar, which is filled
every morning by the females, from the Birket or spring, with water for
the day's consumption. In every house there is a room for the reception
of strangers, called from this circumstance Medhafe; it is usually that
in which the male part of the family sleeps; in the midst of it is a
fire place to boil coffee.

The most common dishes of these people are Burgoul and Keshk; in summer
they supply the place of the latter by milk, Leben, and fresh butter. Of
the Burgoul I have spoken on other occasions; there are two kinds of
Keshk, Keshk-hammer and Keskh-leben; the first is prepared by putting
leaven into the Burgoul, and pouring water over it; it is then left
until almost putrid, and afterwards spread out in the sun, to dry; after
which it is pounded, and when called for, served up mixed with oil, or
butter. The Keskh-leben is prepared by putting Leben into the Burgoul,
instead of leaven; in other respects the process is the same. Keskh and
bread are the common breakfast, and towards sunset a plate of Burgoul,
or some Arab dish, forms the dinner; in honour of strangers, it is usual
to serve up at breakfast melted butter and bread, or fried eggs, and in
the evening a fowl boiled in Burgoul, or a kid or lamb; but this does
not very often happen. The women and children eat up whatever the men
have left on

[p.294] their plates. The women dress in the Bedouin manner; they have a
veil over the head, but seldom veil their faces.

Hospitality to strangers is another characteristic common to the Arabs,
and to the people of Haouran. A traveller may alight at any house he
pleases; a mat will be immediately spread for him, coffee made, and a
breakfast or dinner set before him. In entering a village it has often
happened to me, that several persons presented themselves, each begging
that I would lodge at his house; and this hospitality is not confined to
the traveller himself, his horse or his camel is also fed, the first
with half or three quarters of a Moud[The Moud is about nineteen pounds
English.] of barley, the second with straw; with this part of their
hospitality, however, I had often reason to be dissatisfied, less than a
Moud being insufficient upon a journey for a horse, which is fed only in
the evening, according to the custom of these countries. As it would be
considered an affront to buy any corn, the horse must remain ill-fed,
unless the traveller has the precaution to carry a little barley in his
saddle-bag, to make up the deficiency in the host's allowance. On
returning to Aaere to the house of the Sheikh, after my tour through the
desert, one of my Druse guides insisted upon taking my horse to his
stables, instead of the Sheikh's; when I was about to depart, the Druse
brought my horse to the door, and when I complained that he had fallen
off greatly in the few days I had remained in the village, the Sheikh
said to me in the presence of several persons, "You are ignorant of the
ways of this country [Arabic]; if you see that your host does not feed
your horse, insist upon his giving him a Moud of barley daily; he dares
not refuse it." It is a point of honour with the host never to accept of
the smallest return from a guest; I once only ventured to give a few
piastres to the child of a very poor family at Zahouet, by whom we had
been most hospitably treated, and rode off without

[p.295] attending to the cries of the mother, who insisted upon my
taking back the money.

Besides the private habitations, which offer to every traveller a secure
night's shelter, there is in every village the Medhafe of the Sheikh,
where all strangers of decent appearance are received and entertained.
It is the duty of the Sheikh to maintain this Medhafe, which is like a
tavern, with the difference that the host himself pays the bill: the
Sheikh has a public allowance to defray these expenses, &c. and hence a
man of the Haouran, intending to travel about for a fortnight, never
thinks of putting a single para in his pocket; he is sure of being every
where well received, and of living better perhaps than at his own home.
A man remarkable for his hospitality and generosity enjoys the highest
consideration among them.

The inhabitant of the Haouran estimates his wealth by the number of
Fedhans,[The word Fedhan is applied both to the yoke of oxen and to the
quantity of land cultivated by them, which varies according to
circumstances. In some parts of Syria, chiefly about Homs, the Fedhan el
Roumy, or Greek Fedhan, is used, which means two pair of oxen.] or pairs
of cows or oxen which he employs in the cultivation of his fields. If it
is asked, whether such a one has piastres (Illou gheroush [ARABIC]), a
common mode of speaking, the answer is, "A great deal; he drives six
pair of oxen," (Kethiar bimashi sette fedhadhin [Arabic]); there are but
few, however, who have six pair of oxen; a man with two or three is
esteemed wealthy: and such a one has probably two camels, perhaps a
mare, or at least a Gedish (a gelding), or a couple of asses: and forty
or fifty sheep or goats.

The fertility of the soil in the Haouran depends entirely upon the water
applied to it. In districts where there is plenty of water for
irrigation, the peasants sow winter and summer seeds; but where they
have to depend entirely upon the rainy season

[p.296]for a supply, nothing can be cultivated in summer. The harvest in
the latter districts, therefore, is in proportion to the abundance of
the winter rains. The first harvest is that of horse-beans [Arabic] at
the end of April: of these there are vast tracts sown, the produce of
which serve as food for the cows and sheep. Camels are fed with the
flour made from these beans, mixed with barley meal, and made into a
paste. Next comes the barley harvest, and towards the end of May, the
wheat: in the interval between the two last, the peasants eat barley
bread. In abundant years, wheat sells at fifty piastres the
Gharara,[Three Rotola and a half make a Moud, and eighty Moud a Gharara.
A Rotola is equal to about five and a halfpounds English.] or about two
pounds ten shillings for fifteen cwt. English. In 1811, the Gharara rose
as high as to one hundred and ninety piastres. The wheat of the Haouran
is considered equal, if not superior to any other in Syria. Barley is
generally not more than half the price of wheat. When I was in the
Haouran, the price of an ox or cow was about seventy piastres, that of a
camel about one hundred and fifty piastres.

The lands which are not capable of artificial irrigation are generally
suffered to lie fallow one year; a part of them is sometimes sown in

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