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Travels in Syria and the Holy Land by John Burckhardt

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spring with sesamum, cucumbers, melons, and pulse. But a large part of
the fruit and vegetables consumed in the Haouran is brought from
Damascus, or from the Arabs Menadhere, who cultivate gardens on the
banks of the Sheriat el Mandhour.

The peasants of Haouran are extremely shy in speaking of the produce of
their land, from an apprehension that the stranger's enquiries may lead
to new extortions. I have reason to believe, however, that in middling
years wheat yields twenty-five fold; in some parts of the Haouran, this
year, the barley has yielded fifty-fold, and even in some instances
eighty. A Sheikh, who formerly

[p.297]inhabited the small village of Boreika, on the southern borders
of the Ledja, assured me that from twenty Mouds of wheat-seed he once
obtained thirty Ghararas, or one hundred and twenty fold. Fields watered
by rain (the Arabs call them Boal, [Arabic]), yield more in proportion to
the seed sown, than those which are artificially watered; this is owing
to the seed being sown thinner in the former. The Haouran crops are
sometimes destroyed by mice [Arabic], though not so frequently as in the
neighbourhood of Homs and Hamah. Where abundance of water may be
conducted into the fields from neighbouring springs, the soil is again
sown, after the grain harvests, with vegetables, lentils, peas,
sesamums, &c.

The Fellahs who own Fedhans often cultivate one another's fields in
company: a Turk living in a Druse village often wishes to have a Druse
for his companion, to escape in some degree the vexations of the Druse
Sheikh. At the Druse Sheikhs, black slaves are frequently met with; but
the Turk and Christian proprietors cultivate their lands by hired native
labourers. Sometimes the labourer contracts with a townsman, and
receives from him oxen, ploughs, and seed. A labourer who has one Fedhan
or two oxen under his charge, usually receives at the time of sowing one
Gharara of corn. After the harvest he takes one-third of the produce of
the field; but among the Druses only a fourth. The master pays to the
government the tax called Miri, and the labourer pays ten piastres
annually. The rest of the agricultural population of the Haouran
consists of those who subsist by daily labour. They in general earn
their living very hardly. I once met with a young man who had served
eight years for his food only at the expiration of that period he
obtained in marriage the daughter of his master, for whom he would,
otherwise, have had to pay seven or eight hundred piastres. When I saw
him he had been married three years;

[p.298]but he complained bitterly of his father-in-law, who continued to
require of him the performance of the most servile offices, without
paying him any thing; and thus prevented him from setting up for himself
and family.

Daughters are paid for according to the respectability of their father,
sometimes as high as fifteen hundred piastres, and this custom prevails
amongst Druses, Turks, and Christians. If her family is rich the girl is
fitted out with clothes, and a string of zequins or of silver coin, to
tie round her head; after which she is delivered to her husband. I had
an opportunity of witnessing an espousal of two Christians at Aaere, in
the house of a Christian: the bride was brought with her female friends
and relations, from her native village, one day's journey distant, with
two camels decorated with tassels, bells, &c., and was lodged with her
relations in Aaere. They entered the village preceded by women beating
the tamborine, and by the village youths, firing off their musquets.
Soon afterwards the bridegroom retired to the spring, which was in a
field ten minutes from the village, where he washed, and dressed himself
in new clothes. He then entered the village mounted on a caparisoned
horse, surrounded by young men, two of whom beat tamborines, and the
others fired musquets. He alighted before the Sheikh's house, and was
carried for about a quarter of an hour by two men, on their arms, amidst
continued singing and huzzaing: the Sheikh then exclaimed, "Mebarek el
Aris" [Arabic], Blessed be the bridegroom! which was repeated by all
present, after which he was set down, and remained till sunset, exposed
to the jests of his friends; after this he was carried to the church,
where the Greek priest performed the marriage ceremony, and the young
couple retired to their dwelling. The bridegroom's father had
slaughtered several lambs and kids, a part of which was devoured by mid-
day; but the best pieces were brought in three

[p.299]enormous dishes of Bourgul to the Sheikh's Medhafe; two being for
the mob, and the third for the Sheikh, and principal men of the village.
In the evening paras were collected by one of the bridegroom's friends,
who sung verses in praise of all his acquaintance, every one of whom,
when named, was expected to make a present.

The oppressions of the government on one side, and those of the Bedouins
on the other, have reduced the Fellah of the Haouran to a state little
better than that of the wandering Arab. Few individuals either among the
Druses or Christians die in the same village in which they were born.
Families are continually moving from one place to another; in the first
year of their new settlement the Sheikh acts with moderation towards
them; but his vexations becoming in a few years insupportable, they fly
to some other place, where they have heard that their brethren are
better treated, but they soon find that the same system prevails over
the whole country. Sometimes it is not merely the pecuniary extortion,
but the personal enmity of the Sheikh, or of some of the head men of the
village, which drives a family from their home, for they are always
permitted to depart. This continued wandering is one of the principal
reasons why no village in the Haouran has either orchards, or fruit-
trees, or gardens for the growth of vegetables. "Shall we sow for
strangers?" was the answer of a Fellah, to whom I once spoke on the
subject, and who by the word strangers meant both the succeeding
inhabitants, and the Arabs who visit the Haouran in the spring and

The taxes which all classes of Fellahs in the Haouran pay, may be
classed under four heads: the Miri; the expense of feeding soldiers on
the march; the tribute to the Arabs; and extraordinary contributions.
The Miri is levied upon the Fedhan; thus if a village pay twelve purses
to the Miri, and there are thirty pair of

[p.300] oxen in it, the master of each pair pays a thirtieth. Every
village being rated for the Miri in the land-tax book of the Pasha, at a
fixed sum, that sum is levied as long as the village is at all
inhabited, however few may be its inhabitants. In the spring of every
year, or, if no strangers have arrived and settled, in every second or
third spring, the ground of the village is measured by long cords, when
every Fellah occupies as much of it as he pleases, there being always
more than sufficient; the amount of his tax is then fixed by the Sheikh,
at the ratio which his number of Fedhans bears to the whole number of
Fedhans cultivated that year. Whether the oxen be strong or weak, or
whether the quantity of seed sown or of land cultivated by the owner of
the oxen be more or less, is not taken into consideration; the Fellah is
supposed to keep strong cattle, and plough as much land as possible.
Some sow six Gharara of wheat or barley in the Fedhan, others five, and
others seven. The boundaries of the respective fields are marked by
large stones [Arabic]. The Miri is paid in kind, or in money, at the
will of the Pasha; the Fellahs prefer the latter, by which they are
always trifling gainers.

From what has been said, it is evidently impossible for the Fellah to
foresee the amount of Miri which he shall have to pay in any year; and
in addition to this vexation, the Miri for each village, though it is
never diminished upon a loss of inhabitants, is sometimes raised upon a
supposed increase of population, or upon some other pretext. It may,
generally, be remarked, that the villages inhabited by the Druses
usually pay more Miri than those in the plain, because some allowance is
made to the latter, in consideration of the tribute which they are
obliged to pay to the Arabs, and from which the former are exempt. At
Aaere, the year before my first visit, the Fedhan had paid one hundred
and fifty piastres, at Ezra, one hundred and eighty, and at some
villages in the plain,

[p.301]one hundred and twenty. In the year 1812, the Miri, including
some extra demands, amounted in general to five hundred piastres the

The second tax upon the Fellahs is the expense of feeding soldiers on
the march; if the number is small they go to the Sheikh's Medhafe; but
if they are numerous, they are quartered, or rather quarter themselves,
upon the Fellahs: in the former case, barley only for their horses is
supplied by the peasant, while the Sheikh furnishes provisions for the
men, but the peasant is not much benefited by this regulation, for the
soldiers are in general little disposed to be satisfied with the frugal
fare of the Sheikh, and demand fowls, or butcher's meat; which must be
supplied by the village. On their departure, they often steal some
article belonging to the house. The proportion of barley to be furnished
by each individual to the soldiers horses, depends of course upon the
number of horses to be fed, and of Fedhans in the village: at Aaere, in
the year 1809, it amounted to fifty piastres per Fedhan. The Sheikh of
Aaere has six pair of oxen, for which he pays no taxes, but the presence
of strangers and troops is so frequent at his Medhafe, that this
exemption had not been thought a sufficient remuneration, and he is
entitled to levy, in addition, every year, two or three Gharara of corn,
each Gharara being in common years, worth eighty or one hundred
piastres. Some Sheikhs levy as much as ten Gharara, besides being
exempted from taxation for eight, ten, or twelve pair of oxen.

The third and most heavy contribution paid by the peasants, is the
tribute to the Arabs. The Fahely, Serdie, Beni Szakher, Serhhan, who are
constant residents in the Haouran, as well as most of the numerous
tribes of Aeneze, who visit the country only in the summer, are, from
remote times, entitled to certain tributes called Khone (brotherbood),
from every village in the Haouran. In return

[p.302]for this Khone, the Arabs abstain from touching the harvest of
the village, and from driving off its cattle and camels, when they meet
them in their way. Each village pays Khone to one Sheikh in every tribe;
the village is then known as his Ukhta [Arabic] or Sister, as the Arabs
term it, and he protects the inhabitants against all the members of his
own tribe. It may easily be imagined, however, that depredations are
often committed, without the possibility of redress, the depredator
being unknown, or flying immediately towards the desert. The amount of
the Khone is continually increasing; for the Arab Sheikh is not always
contented with the quantity of corn he received in the preceding year,
but asks something additional, as a present, which soon becomes a part
of his accustomed dues.

If the Pasha of Damascus were guided by sound policy, and a right view
of his own interests, he might soon put an end to the exactions of the
Arabs, by keeping a few thousand men, well paid, in garrison in the
principal places of the Haouran; but instead of this, his object is to
make the Khone an immediate source of income to himself; the chief
Sheikhs of the Fehely and Serdie receive yearly from the Pasha a present
of a pelisse, which entitles them to the tribute of the villages, out of
which the Fehely pays about twenty purses, and the Serdie twelve purses
into the Pasha's treasury. The Serdie generally regulate the amount of
the Khone which they levy, by that which the Fehely receive; and take
half as much; but the Khone paid to the Aeneze chiefs is quite
arbitrary, and the sum paid to a single Sheikh varies according to his
avidity; or the wealth of the Fellahs, from thirty and forty piastres up
to four hundred, which are generally paid in corn.

These various oppressive taxes, under which the poor Fellah groans, are
looked upon as things of course, and just contributions; and he
considers himself fortunate, if they form the whole of his

[p.303]sufferings: but it too often happens that the Pasha is a man who
sets no bounds to his rapacity, and extraordinary sums are levied upon
the village, by the simple command issued from the Hakim el Haouran to
the village Sheikh to levy three or four hundred piastres upon the
peasants of the place. On these occasions the women are sometimes
obliged to sell their ear-rings and bracelets, and the men their cattle,
to satisfy the demand, and have no other hope than that a rich harvest
in the following year shall make amends for their loss. The receipt of
the Miri of the whole Pashalik of Damascus is in the hands of the Jew
bankers, or Serafs of the Pasha, who have two and a half per cent. upon
his revenue, and as much upon his expenditure. They usually distribute
the villages amongst their creatures, who repair thither at the time of
harvest, to receive the Miri; and who generally extort, besides,
something for themselves.

The Druses who inhabit the villages in the Loehf, and those on the sides
of the Djebel Haouran, are to be classed with the Fellahs of the plain
with regard to their mode of living and their relations with the
government. Their dress is the same as that of the Fellahs to the W. of
Damascus; they seldom wear the Keffie, and the grown up men do not go
barefoot like the other Fellahs of the Haouran. I have already mentioned
that their chief resides at Soueida, of which village he is also the
Sheikh. On the death of the chief, the individual in his family who is
in the highest estimation from wealth or personal character succeeds to
the title, and is confirmed by the Pasha. It is known that on the death
of Wehebi el Hamdan, the present chief, who is upwards of eighty,
Shybely el Hamdan, the Sheikh of Aaere, will succeed him. The chief has
no income as such, it being derived from the village of which he is
Sheikh; and his authority over the others goes no further than to
communicate to them the orders of the Pasha. In manners these Druses
very much resemble those of the mountains of Kesrouan.

[p.304]The families form clans almost independent of each other; and
among whom there are frequent quarrels. Insults are studiously avenged
by the respective families, and the law of blood-revenge is in full
force among them, without being mitigated by the admission of any
pecuniary commutation. They all go armed, as do the Turks and Christians
of the Haouran in general. Few Druses have more than one wife; but she
may be divorced on very slight pretexts.

With respect to their religion, the Druses of the Haouran, like those in
Mount Libanus, have the class of men called Akoul (sing. Aakel), who are
distinguished from the rest by a white turban, and the peculiarity of
the folds in which they wear it. The Akoul are not permitted to smoke
tobacco; they never swear, and are very reserved in their manners and
conversation. I was informed that these were their only obligations; and
it appears probable, for I observed Akoul boys of eight or ten years of
age, from whom nothing more difficult could well be expected, and to
whom it is not likely that any important secret would be imparted. I
have seen Akouls of that age, whose fathers were not of the order,
because, as they told me, they could not abstain from smoking and
swearing. The Sheikhs are for the greater part Akouls. The Druses pray
in their chapels, but not at stated periods; these chapels are called
Khalawe [Arabic], i.e. an insulated place, and none but Druses are
allowed to enter them. They affect to follow the doctrines of Mohammed,
but few of them pray according to the Turkish forms: they fast during
Ramadan in the presence of strangers, but eat at their own homes, and
even of the flesh of the wild boar, which is frequently met with in
these districts. It is a singular belief both among the western Druses,
and those of the Haouran, that there are a great number of Druses in
England; an opinion founded perhaps upon the fanatical opinions of the
Christians of Syria, who deny the English to be followers of Christ,
because they neither confess nor fast. When I first arrived at the Druse
village of Aaere

[p.305]there was a large company in the Medhafe, and the Sheikh had no
opportunity of speaking to me in private; he therefore called for his
inkstand, and wrote upon a piece of paper the following questions, which
I answered as well as I could, and returned him the paper: "Where do the
five Wadys flow to, in your country?--Do you know the grain of the plant
Leiledj [Arabic]; and where is it sown?--What is the name of the Sultan
of China?--Are the towns of Hadjar and Nedjran in the Yemen known to
you?--Is Hadjar in ruins? and who will rebuild it?--Is the Moehdy (the
Saviour) yet come, or is he now upon the earth?".

I have not been able to obtain any information concerning the period at
which the Druses first settled in these parts. Min Kadim [Arabic], a
long time ago, was the general answer of all those whom I questioned on
the subject. During my stay at Aaere news arrived there, that a body of
one hundred and twenty Druses had left the western mountains, and were
coming to settle in Haouran.

The Pasha of Damascus has entrusted to the Druses of the Haouran, the
defence of the neighbouring villages against such of the Arabs as may be
at war with him; but the Druses perform this service very badly: they
are the secret friends of all the Arabs, to whom they abandon the
villages of the plain, on the condition that their own brethren are not
to be molested; and their Sheikhs receive from the Arabs presents in
horses, cattle, and butter. While at Aaere I witnessed an instance of
the good understanding between the Druses and the Arabs Serdie, whom I
have already mentioned as having been at war with the Pasha, at the time
of my visit to the Haouran: seeing in the evening some Arabs stealing
into the court-yard of the Sheikh's house, I enquired who they were, and
was told that they were Serdie, come in search of information, whether
any more troops were likely to be sent against them from Damascus. It is
for this kind of treachery that the Fellahs in the Haouran hate the

[p.306] The authority both of the Druse and Turkish village Sheikh is
very limited, in consequence of the facility with which the Fellahs can
transport themselves and families to another village. I was present
during a dispute between a Christian Fellah and a Druse chief, who
wished to make the former pay for the ensuing year at the rate of the
same number of Fedhans that he had paid for the preceding year, though
he had now one pair of oxen less. After much wrangling, and high words
on both sides, the Christian said, "Very well, I shall not sow a single
grain, but retire to another village;" and by the next morning he had
made preparation for his departure; when the Sheikh having called upon
him, the affair was amicably settled, and a large dish of rice was
dressed in token of reconciliation. When disputes happen between Druses,
they are generally settled by the interference of mutual friends, or by
the Sheikhs or their respective families, or by the great chiefs; or
failing these, the two families of the two parties come to blows rather
than bring their differences before the court of justice at Damascus.
Among the Turks litigations are, in the last extremity, decided by the
Kadhi of Damascus, or by the Pasha in person. The Christians often bring
their differences before the tribunal of priests or that of the
Patriarch of Damascus, and before the Kadhi in times when it is known
that Christians can obtain justice, which is not the case under every

The Bedouins of the Haouran are of two classes; those who are resident,
and those who visit it in the spring and summer only. The resident Arabs
are the Fehily [Arabic], Serdie [Arabic], Beni Szakher [Arabic], Serhhan
[Arabic]; the Arabs of the mountain Haouran, or Ahl el Djebel [Arabic],
and those of the Ledja [Arabic]. By resident, I do not mean a fixed
residence in villages, but that their wanderings are confined to the
Haouran, or to some particular districts of it. Thus the four first
mentioned move through every part of the country from Zerka up to the
plains of Ard

[p.307]Zeikal, according to their relations with other tribes, their own
affairs, and the state of pasturage in the different districts. The Beni
Szakher generally encamp at the foot of the western mountains of Belka
and the Heish, the Serhhan near them, and the Fehily and Serdie in the
midst of the cultivated districts, or at a short distance from them,
according to the terms they are upon with the Pasha.[When I was in the
Haouran the Fehliy were encamped near the Szaffa, the Beni Szakher near
Fedhein, the Serhhan at the foot of the Belka, and the Serdie near Om
Eddjemal.] The Ahl el Djebel move about in the mountain; those of the
Ledja seldom venture to encamp beyond their usual limits in that
district. But I have spoken more largely of these tribes and their
mutual interests in another place. The Fehily and Serdie are called Ahl
el Dyrel, or national Arabs, and pay tribute to the Pasha, who, however,
is often at war with them for withholding it, or for plundering his
troops or the Fellahs.

If the Pasha happens to be at war with other tribes, they are bound to
join his troops; but in this they are guided entirely by the advantage
which they are likely to derive from the contest. They receive Khone
from all the villages of the Haouran, the Djolan, and many of those in
the Djebel Adjeloun.

The Ahl el Djebel and the Arabs el Ledja are kept in more strict
dependence upon the Pasha than the other tribes; both are subject to an
annual tribute, which is levied on each tent according to the wealth of
its owner; this is collected from the Arabs el Ledja by the Sheikh of
the Fellahs, and ascends from ten to sixty piastres for each tent. It
seldom happens that the Arabs el Djebel prove rebels, but those of the
Ledja often with-hold the tribute, in the confidence that the recesses
of their abode cannot he forced; in this case nothing makes them yield
but want of

[p.308]water, when their own springs failing, they are obliged to
approach the perennial sources of the Loehf.

The Arabs of the Djebel Haouran are the shepherds of the people of the
plains, who entrust to them in summer and winter their flocks of goats
and sheep, which they pasture during the latter season amongst the rocks
of the mountains. In spring the Arabs return the flocks to their owners,
who sell a part of them at Damascus, or make butter from the milk during
the spring months. The Arabs receive for their trouble one-fourth of the
lambs and kids, and a like proportion of the butter. Casual losses in
the flocks are borne equally by both parties.

The following are the different tribes of the Ahl el Djebel;
Esshenabele, El Hassan, El Haddie, Ghiath, Essherefat, Mezaid, El Kerad,
Beni Adhan, and Szammeral. Of those of the Ledja I have already spoken.
The Ahl el Djebel are always at peace with the other Arabs; but those of
the Ledja are often at war with the Fehily and Serdie. I come now to the
second class, or wandering Arabs.

In May the whole Haouran is coverered with swarms of wanderers from the
desert, who remain there till after September; these are at present
almost exclusively of the tribe of Aeneze. Formerly the Haouran was
often visited by the Sherarat, from the Mekka road, at fifteen stations
from Damascus; by the Shammor, from Djebel Shammor, and by the Dhofir
from the Irak country. On the arrival of the Aeneze, the resident Arabs
who may happen to be at war with them, conceal themselves in the
neighbourhood of the western mountain or in the Szaffa, or they retire
towards Mezareib and Szannamein. The Aeneze come for a two-fold purpose,
water and pasturage for the summer, and a provision of corn for the
winter. If they are at peace with the Pasha they encamp quietly among
the villages, near the springs or wells if at

[p.309]war with him, for their relations with the government of Damascus
are as uncertain as their own with each other, they keep in the district
to the S. of Boszra, towards Om Eddjemal and Fedhein, extending their
limits south as far as El Zerka. The Pasha generally permits them to
purchase corn from the Haouran, but in years when a scarcity is
apprehended, a restriction is put upon them.

Till within a few years the Aeneze were the constant carriers of the
Hadj, and made yearly contracts with the Pasha for several thousand
camels, by which they were considerable gainers, as well as by the fixed
tribute which many of their Sheikhs had made themselves entitled to from
the pilgrim caravan; and by their nightly plunder of stragglers, and
loaded camels during the march. These advantages have made the Aeneze
inclined to preserve friendly terms with the Pashalik of Damascus, and
to break allegiance to the Wahabi chief, notwithstanding they have been
for twelve years converts to his religious doctrines. If, however, they
shall become convinced that the Hadj is no longer practicable, they will
soon turn their arms against their former friends, an event which is
justly dreaded by the people of the Haouran.

The tribe of Aeneze which most usually visits the Haouran is the Would
Ali, under their chiefs Etteiar and Ibn Ismayr; the latter has at
present more interest than any other Arab Sheikh, with the Pasha, from
whom he occasionally receives considerable presents, as an
indemnification for his losses by the suspension of the Hadj, as well as
to induce him to keep his Arabs on good terms with the Turkish governors
of the Pashalik.






WISHING to obtain a further knowledge of the mountains to the east of
the Jordan, and being still more desirous of visiting the almost unknown
districts to the east of the Dead sea, as well as of exploring the
country which lies between the latter and the Red sea, I resolved to
pursue that route from Damascus to Cairo, in preference to the direct
road through Jerusalem and Ghaza, where I could not expect to collect
much information important for its novelty. Knowing that my intended way
led through a diversity of Bedouin tribes, I thought it advisable to
equip myself in the simplest manner. I assumed the most common Bedouin
dress, took no baggage with me, and mounted a mare that was not likely
to excite the cupidity of the Arabs. After sun-set, on the 18th of June,
1812, I left Damascus, and slept that night at Kefer Souse, a
considerable village, at a short distance from the city-gate, in the
house of the guide whom I had hired to conduct me to Tabaria.

Kefer Souse [Arabic] is noted for its olive plantations; and the oil
which they produce is esteemed the best in the vicinity of Damascus.

June 19th.--In one hour we passed the village Dareya [Arabic];


[p.312] where terminate the gardens and orchards which surround Damascus
on all sides to a distance of from six to ten miles. We found the
peasants occupied with the corn harvest, and with the irrigation of the
cotton fields, in which the plants had just made their appearance above
ground. The plain is every where cultivated. In two hours and three
quarters we passed Kokab [Arabic], a small village on the western
extremity of the chain of low hills known by the appellation of Djebel
Kessoue. To the left of the road from Dareya to Kokab are the villages
Moattamye [Arabic], Djedeide [Arabic] and Artous [Arabic]; and to the
right of it, El Ashrafe [Arabic], and Szahhnaya [Arabic]. The direction
of our route was W.S.W. Beyond Kokab, a small part only of the plain is
cultivated. At three hours and three quarters, to our left, was the
village Wadhye [Arabic], and a little farther the village Zaky [Arabic].
Route S.W. b. W. Four hours and a half, Khan el Sheikh [Arabic], a house
for the accommodation of travellers, this being the great road from Akka
to Damascus. The Khan is inhabited by a few families, and stands near
the river Seybarany [Arabic], which flows towards the Ghoutta of
Damascus. We followed the banks of the river over a stony desert; on the
opposite bank extends the rocky district called War Ezzaky [Arabic],
mentioned in my former Journal.[See p. 284.] In five hours and three
quarters we passed a rocky tract called Om el Sheratytt [Arabic]. Several
heaps of stones indicate the graves of travellers murdered in this place
by the Druses, who, during their wars with Djezzar Pasha, were in the
habit of descending from the neighbouring mountain, Djebel el Sheikh, in
order to waylay the caravans. The Seybarany runs here in a deep bed of
the Haouran black stone. In six hours and a quarter we passed the river,
over a solid bridge. At six hours and


[p.313] three quarters is the village Sasa [Arabic], at the foot of an
insulated hill; it is well built, and contains a large Khan, with a good
mosque. The former was full of travellers. We slept here till midnight,
and then joined a small caravan destined for Akka.

June 20th.--Our road lay over a rocky plain, called Nakker Sasa
[Arabic], slightly ascending. In one hour we passed a bridge over the
river Meghannye [Arabic]. At the end of three hours we issued from the
rocks, and entered into a forest of low straggling oak-trees, called
Heish Shakkara [Arabic]. Three hours and a half, we passed to the right
of an insulated hill, called Tel Djobba. The whole country is
uncultivated. In four hours we saw, at about half an hour to our right,
the ruined Khan of Kereymbe [Arabic]; the road still ascending. Near
Kereymbe begins the mountain called Heish el Kanneytra, a lower ridge of
Djebel el Sheikh, (the Mount Hermon of the Scriptures), from which it
branches out southwards. At five hours Tel Hara [Arabic] was about one
hour and a half to the S. of the road, which from Sasa followed the
direction of S.W. and sometimes that of S.W. by W. At seven hours is the
village of Kanneytra [Arabic]; from Kereymbe to this place is an open
country, with a fertile soil, and several springs.

Kanneytra is now in ruins, having been deserted by its inhabitants since
the period of the passage of the Visier's troops into Egypt. It is
enclosed by a strong wall, which contains within its circuit a good
Khan, a fine mosque with several short columns of gray granite, and a
copious spring; there are other springs also near it. On the north side
of the village are the remains of a small ancient city, perhaps Canatha;
these ruins consist of little more than the foundations of habitations.
The caravans coming from Akka generally halt for the night at Kanneytra.
We reposed here a few hours, and then continued our journey, over ground


[p.314] which still continues to rise, until we reached the chain of
hills, which form the most conspicuous part of the mountain Heish. The
ground being here considerably elevated above the plain of Damascus and
the Djolan, these hills, when seen from afar, appear like mountains,
although, when viewed from their foot, they are of very moderate height.
They are insulated, and terminate, as I have already mentioned, at the
hill called Tel Faras, towards the plain of Djolan. The Bedouins who
pasture their cattle in these mountains retire in the hot season towards
the Djebel el Sheikh. The governor of the Heish el Kanneytra, who
receives his charge every year from the Pasha, used formerly to reside
at Kanneytra; but since that place has been deserted, he usually encamps
with the Turkmans of the Heish, and goes from one encampment to another,
to collect the Miri from these Arabs.

At the end of seven hours and a half we passed Tel Abou Nedy [Arabic],
with the tomb of the Sheikh Abou Nedy. At eight hours is a reservoir of
water, a few hundred paces to the S. of the road, which the Bedouins
call Birket el Ram [Arabic], and the peasants Birket Abou Ermeil
[Arabic]; it lies near the foot of Tel Abou Nedy, is about one hundred
and twenty paces in circumference, and is supplied by two springs which
are never dry; one of them is in the bottom of a deep well in the midst
of the Birket. Just by this reservoir are the ruins of an ancient town,
about a quarter of an hour in circuit, of which nothing remains but
large heaps of stones. Five minutes farther is another Birket, which is
filled by rain water only. The neighbourhood of these reservoirs is
covered with a forest of short oak trees. The rock of the mountain
consists of sand-stone, and the basalt of Haouran. Beyond the Birkets
the road begins to descend gently, and at nine hours and a half, just by
the road, on the left, is a large pond called Birket Nefah or Tefah
[Arabic] (I am uncertain which), about two hundred paces in


[p.315] circumference: there are remains of a stone channel
communicating with the Birket. Some of my companions asserted that the
pond contained a spring, while others denied it; from which I inferred
that the water never dries up completely. I take this to be the Lake
Phiala, laid down in the maps of Syria, as there is no other lake or
pond in the neighbourhood. From hence towards Feik, upon the mountains
to the E. of the lake of Tiberias, is an open country intersected by
many Wadys. At ten hours we passed a large hill to the left, called Tel
el Khanzyr [Arabic], the boar's hill. The ground was here covered with
the finest pasturage; the dry grass was as high as a horse, and so
thick, that we passed through it with difficulty. At ten hours and a
half are several springs by the side of the road, called Ayoun Essemmam
[Arabic]. Eleven hours and a quarter, are the ruins of a city called
Noworan [Arabic], with a copious spring near it. Some walls yet remain,
and large hewn stones are lying about. At thirteen hours is the bridge
over the Jordan, called Djissr Beni Yakoub [Arabic]; the road continues
in an easy slope till a quarter of an hour above the bridge, where it
becomes a steep descent. The river flows in a narrow bed, and with a
rapid stream; for the lake Houle, whose southern extremity is about
three quarters of an hour north of the bridge, is upon a level
considerably higher than that of the lake of Tiberias. The bridge is of
a solid construction, with four arches: on its E. side is a Khan, much
frequented by travellers, in the middle of which are the ruins of an
ancient square building constructed with basalt, and having columns in
its four angles. The Khan contains also a spring. The Pasha of Damascus
here keeps a guard of a few men, principally for the purpose of
collecting the Ghaffer, or tax paid by all Christians who cross the
bridge. The ordinary Ghaffer is about nine-pence a head, but the
pilgrims who pass here about Easter, in their way to Jerusalem, pay


[p.316] shillings. The bridge divides the Pashaliks of Damascus and
Akka. On the west of it is a guard-house belonging to the latter. Banias
(Caesarea Philippi) bears from a point above the bridge N. by E.

The lake of Houle, or Samachonitis, is inhabited only on the eastern
borders; there we find the villages of Esseira [Arabic] and Eddeir
[Arabic]; and between them a ruined place called Kherbet Eddaherye
[Arabic] complete. The south-west shore bears the name of Melaha, from the
ground being covered with a saline crust. The fisheries of the lake are
rented of the Mutsellim of Szaffad by some fishermen of that town. The
narrow valley of the Jordan continues for about two hours S. of the
bridge, at which distance the river falls into the lake of Tiberias.
About an hour and a quarter from the bridge, on the E. side of the
river, is the village Battykha (Arabic); its inhabitants cultivate large
quantities of cucumbers and gourds, which they carry to the market of
Damascus, three weeks before the same fruits ripen there; the village is
also noted for its excellent honey. June 21st.--We ascended the western
banks of the valley of the Jordan, and then continued upon a plain,
called Ard Aaseifera (Arabic), a small part of which is cultivated by
the inhabitants of Szaffad. There are several springs in the plain. In
an hour and a quarter, we began to ascend the chain of mountains known
by the name of Djebel Szaffad, which begin on the N.W. side of the lake
of Houle, being a southern branch of the Djebel el Sheikh, or rather of
the Anti-Libanus. On the steep acclivity of this mountain we passed to
the left of the village Feraab (Arabic). The road ascends through a
narrow valley, called Akabet Feraein, and passes by the spring of
Feraein (Arabic). In two hours and three quarters from the bridge, we
reached the summit of the mountain, from whence the Djebel el Sheik
bears N.E. The whole is calcareous,


[p.317] with very little basalt or tufwacke. At the end of three hours
and a half, after a short descent, we reached Szaffad (Arabic), the
ancient Japhet; it is a neatly built town, situated round a hill, on the
top of which is a castle of Saracen structure. The castle appears to
have undergone a thorough repair in the course of the last century, it
has a good wall, and is surrounded by a broad ditch. It commands an
extensive view over the country towards Akka, and in clear weather the
sea is visible from it. There is another but smaller castle, of modern
date, with halfruined walls, at the foot of the hill. The town is built
upon several low hills, which divide it into different quarters; of
these the largest is inhabited exclusively by Jews, who esteem Szaffad
as a sacred place. The whole may contain six hundred houses, of which
one hundred and fifty belong to the Jews, and from eighty to one hundred
to the Christians. In 1799 the Jews quarter was completely sacked by the
Turks, after the retreat of the French from Akka; the French had
occupied Szaffad with a garrison of about four hundred men, whose
outposts were advanced as far as the bridge of Beni Yakoub. The town is
governed by a Mutsellim, whose district comprises about a dozen
villages. The garrison consists of Moggrebyns, the greater part of whom
have married here, and cultivate a part of the neighbouring lands. The
town is surrounded with large olive plantations and vineyards, but the
principal occupations of the inhabitants are indigo dyeing, and the
manufacture of cotton cloth. On every Friday a market is held, to which
all the peasants of the neighbourhood resort. Mount Tabor bears from
Szaffad S.S.W.

June 22d.--As there is no Khan for travellers at Szaffad, and I had no
letters to any person in the town, I was obliged to lodge at the public
coffee house. We left the town early in the morning, and descended the
side of the mountain towards the lake; here the


[p.318] ground is for the greater part uncultivated and without trees.
At two hours and a quarter is Khan Djob Yousef (Arabic), or the Khan of
Joseph's Well, situated in a narrow plain. The Khan is falling rapidly
into ruin; near it is a large Birket. Here is shewn the well into which
Joseph was let down by his brothers; it is in a small court-yard by the
side of the Khan, is about three feet in diameter, and at least thirty
feet deep. I was told that the bottom is hewn in the rock: its sides
were well lined with masonry as far as I could see into it, and the
water never dries up, a circumstance which makes it difficult to believe
that this was the well into which Joseph was thrown. The whole of the
mountain in the vicinity is covered with large pieces of black stone;
but the main body of the rock is calcareous. The country people relate
that the tears of Jacob dropping upon the ground while he was in search
of his son turned the white stones black, and they in consequence call
these stones Jacob's tears (Arabic). Joseph's well is held in veneration
by Turks as well as Christians; the former have a small chapel just by
it, and caravan travellers seldom pass here without saying a few prayers
in honour of Yousef. The Khan is on the great road from Akka to
Damascus. It is inhabited by a dozen Moggrebyn soldiers, with their
families, who cultivate the fields near it.

We continued to descend from Djob Yousef; the district is here called
Koua el Kerd (Arabic), and a little lower down Redjel el Kaa (Arabic).
At one hour and a half from the Djob Yousef we came to the borders of
the lake of Tiberias. At a short distance to the E. of the spot where we
reached the plain, is a spring near the border of the lake, called Ain
Tabegha (Arabic), with a few houses and a mill; but the water is so
strongly impregnated with salt as not to be drinkable. The few
inhabitants of this miserable place live by fishing. To the N.E. of


[p.319] between it and the Jordan, are the ruins called Tel Houm
(Arabic), which are generally supposed to be those of Capernaum. Here is
a well of salt water, called Tennour Ayoub (Arabic). The rivulet El Eshe
(Arabic) empties itself into the lake just by. Beyond Tabegha we came to
a ruined Khan, near the borders of the lake, called Mennye (Arabic), a
large and well constructed building. Here begins a plain of about twenty
minutes in breadth, to the north of which the mountain stretches down
close to the lake. That plain is covered with the tree called Doum
(Arabic) or Theder (Arabic), which bears a small yellow fruit like the
Zaarour. It was now about mid-day, and the sun intensely hot, we
therefore looked out for a shady spot, and reposed under a very large
fig-tree, at the foot of which a rivulet of sweet water gushes out from
beneath the rocks, and falls into the lake at a few hundred paces
distant. The tree has given its name to the spring, Ain-et-Tin (Arabic);
near it are several other springs, which occasion a very luxuriant
herbage along the borders of the lake. The pastures of Mennye are
proverbial for their richness among the inhabitants of the neighbouring
countries. High reeds grow along the shore, but I found none of the
aromatic reeds and rushes mentioned by Strabo.[Greek. l.16, p.755] The
N.W. and S. shores are generally sandy, without reeds, but large
quantities grow at the mouths of the Wadys on the E. side.

In thirty-eight minutes from Khan Mennye we passed a small rivulet,
which waters Wady Lymoun. At about one hour's distance from our road, up
in the mountain, we saw the village Sendjol (Arabic), about half an hour
to the west of which lies the village Hottein (Arabic). In forty-five
minutes we passed the large branch of the Wady Lymoun. The mountains
which border the lake here terminate


[p.320] in a perpendicular cliff, which is basaltish with an upper
stratum of calcareous rock; and the shore changes from the direction
S.W. by S. to that of S. by E. In the angle stands the miserable village
El Medjdel (Arabic), one hour distant from Ain-et-Tin, and agreeing both
in name and position with the ancient Magdala. The Wady Hammam, in which
stands the Kalaat ibn-Maan, branches off from Medjdel. Proceeding from
hence the shore of the lake is overgrown with Defle (Solanum furiosum),
and there are several springs close to the water's side. At the end of
two hours and a quarter from Ain-et-Tin, we reached Tabaria (Arabic).

June 23d.--There being no Khan for travellers at Tabaria I went to the
Catholic priest, and desired him to let me have the keys of the church,
that I might take up my quarters there; he gave them to me, but finding
the place swarming with vermin, I removed into the open churchyard.

Tabaria, the ancient Tiberias,[Tel el Faras, the southern extremity of
Djebel Heish, bears from a point above Tabaria N.E. by E.] stands close
to the lake, upon a small plain, surrounded by mountains. Its situation
is extremely hot and unhealthy, as the mountain impedes the free course
of the westerly winds which prevail throughout Syria during the summer.
Hence intermittent fevers, especially those of the quartan form, are
very common in the town in that season. Little rain falls in winter,
snow is almost unknown on the borders of the lake, and the temperature,
on the whole, appears to be very nearly the same as that of the Dead
sea. The town is surrounded towards the land by a thick and well built
wall, about twenty feet in height, with a high parapet and loop-holes.
It surrounds the city on three sides, and touches the water at its two

[p.321] extremities; but there are some remains on the shore of the
lake, which seem to indicate that the town was once inclosed on this
side also. I observed, likewise, some broken columns of granite in the
water close to the shore. The town wall is flanked by twenty round
towers standing at unequal distances. Both towers and walls are built
with black stones of moderate size, and seem to be the work of not very
remote times; the whole being in a good state of repair, the place may
be considered as almost impregnable to Syrian soldiers.

[Map not included] a, The town gate; b, the Serai or palace of the
Mutsellim, a spacious building, which has lately been repaired; c, the
mosque, a fine building, but in bad condition; d, the Catholic church;
e, the gate of the Jews quarter; f, a mosque; g, a range of large
vaults; h, a small town-gate now walled up; i, a newly built Bazar. The
mosque (f) is a handsome arched building, and was anciently a church.
The range of vaults at g, which are close to the sea shore, communicate
with each other by cross alleys and have very low roofs, which terminate
at top in a point: they are well built with stones joined with a very
thick cement, and appear to have been destined for warehouses; in summer
they are almost the only cool places in the town. I could not find any
inscriptions, that might assist in determining their date.

Tabaria, with its district of ten or twelve villages, forms a part of
the Pashalik of Akka. Being considered one of the principal points of
defence of the Pashalik, a garrison of two or three hundred

[p.322] men is constantly kept here, the greater part of whom are
married, and settled. During the reign of Djezzar a colony of two
hundred Afghan soldiers were persuaded by the Pasha to establish
themselves at Tabaria; many of them were natives of Kashmir: and among
others their Aga, who was sent for expressly by Djezzar. After the
Pasha's death they dispersed over Syria, but I found two Kashmirines
still remaining, who gave me the history of their colony in broken

The Christian church is dedicated to St. Peter, and is said to have been
founded on the spot where St. Peter threw his net. It belongs to the
community of Terra Santa and is visited annually on St. Peter's day by
the Frank missionaries of Nazaret, who celebrate mass in it on this
occasion. In the street, not far from the church, is a large stone,
formerly the architrave of some building; upon which are sculptured in
bas-relief two lions seizing two sheep.

There are about four thousand inhabitants in Tabaria, one-fourth of whom
are Jews. The Christian community consists only of a few families, but
they enjoy great liberty, and are on a footing of equality with the
Turks. The difference of treatment which the Christians experience from
the Turks in different parts of Syria is very remarkable. In some places
a Christian would be deprived of his last farthing, if not of his life,
were he to curse the Mohammedan religion when quarrelling with a Turk;
while in others but a few hours distant, he retorts with impunity upon
the Mohammedan, every invective which he may utter against the Christian
religion. At Szaffad, where is a small Christian community, the Turks
are extremely intolerant; at Tiberias, on the contrary, I have seen
Christians beating Turks in the public Bazar. This difference seems
chiefly to depend upon the character of the local

[p.323] government. That of Soleiman Pasha of Akka, the successor of
Djezzar, is distinguished for its religious tolerance; while Damascus
still continues to be the seat of fanatism, and will remain so as long
as there are no Frank establishments or European agents in that city.

A Bazar has lately been built at Tabaria, in which I counted about a
dozen retail shops. The traffic of the inhabitants is principally with
the Bedouins of the Ghor, and of the district of Szaffad. The
shopkeepers repair every Monday to the Khan at the foot of Mount Tabor,
where a market, called Souk el Khan (Arabic) is held, and where the
merchandize of the town is bartered chiefly for cattle. The far greater
part of the inhabitants of Tabaria cultivate the soil; they sow the
narrow plain to the west of the town, and the declivity of the western
mountain, which they irrigate artificially by means of several springs.
The heat of the climate would enable them to grow almost any tropical
plant, but the only produce of their fields are wheat, barley, Dhourra,
tobacco, melons, grapes, and a few vegetables. The melons are of the
finest quality, and are in great demand at Akka and Damascus, where that
fruit is nearly a month later in ripening. Knowing how fond the Syrians
in general are of the early fruits, I sent to my friends at Damascus a
mule load of these melons, which, according to eastern fashion, is a
very acceptable and polite present. About three hundred and fifty pounds
weight English of melons sell at Tabaria for about eight shillings. I
was informed that the shrub which produces the balm of Mecca succeeds
very well here, and that several people have it in their gardens.[Strabo
mentions the [Greek], as growing on the lake, p. 755. Ed.] It was
described to me as a low shrub, with leaves resembling those of the
vine, the fruit about three inches long and in the form of a cucumber,
changing from green to a yellow colour when ripe; it is gathered in
June, oil is then poured over

[p.324] it, and in this state it is exposed to the sun, after which the
juic[e] forming the balm is expressed from it.

The Jews of Tiberias occupy a quarter on the shore of the lake in the
middle of the town, which has lately been considerably enlarged by the
purchase of several streets: it is separated from the rest of the town
by a high wall, and has only one gate of entrance, which is regularly
shut at sunset, after which no person is allowed to pass. There are one
hundred and sixty, or two hundred families, of which forty or fifty are
of Polish origin, the rest are Jews from Spain, Barbary, and different
parts of Syria. Tiberias is one of the four holy cities of the Talmud;
the other three being Szaffad, Jerusalem, and Hebron. It is esteemed
holy ground, because Jacob is supposed to have resided here, and because
it is situated on the lake Genasereth, from which, according to the most
generally received opinion of the Talmud, the Messiah is to rise. The
greater part of the Jews who reside in these holy places do not engage
in mercantile pursuits; but are a society of religious persons occupied
solely with their sacred duties. There are among them only two who are
merchants, and men of property, and these are styled Kafers or
unbelievers by the others, who do nothing but read and pray. Jewish
devotees from all parts of the globe flock to the four holy cities, in
order to pass their days in praying for their own salvation, and that of
their brethren, who remain occupied in worldly pursuits. But the
offering up of prayers by these devotees is rendered still more
indispensible by a dogma contained in the Talmud, that the world will
return to its primitive chaos, if prayers are not addressed to the God
of Israel at least twice a week in these four cities; this belief
produces considerable pecuniary advantage to the supplicants, as the
missionaries sent abroad to collect alms for the support of these
religious fraternities plead the danger of the threatened chaos, to
induce the rich Jews to send supplies of money, in

[p.325] order that the prayers may be constantly offered up. Three or
four missionaries are sent out every year; one to the coasts of Africa
from Damietta to Mogadore, another to the coasts of Europe from Venice
to Gibraltar, a third to the Archipelago, Constantinople, and Anatolia;
and a fourth through Syria. The charity of the Jews of London is
appealed to from time to time; but the Jews of Gibraltar have the
reputation of being more liberal than any others, and, from four to five
thousand Spanish dollars are received annually from them. The Polish
Jews settled at Tabaria send several collectors regularly into Bohemia
and Poland, and the rich Jewish merchants in those countries have their
pensioners in the Holy Land, to whom they regularly transmit sums of
money. Great jealousy seems to prevail between the Syrian and Polish
Jews. The former being in possession of the place, oblige the foreighers
to pay excessively high for their lodgings; and compel them also to
contribute considerable sums towards the relief of the indigent Syrians,
while they themselves never give the smallest trifle to the poor from

The pilgrim Jews, who repair to Tiberias, are of all ages from twelve to
sixty. If they bring a little money with them the cunning of their
brethren here soon deprives them of it; for as they arrive with the most
extravagant ideas, of the holy cities, they are easily imposed upon
before their enthusiasm begins to cool. To rent a house in which some
learned Rabbin or saint died, to visit the tombs of the most renowned
devotees, to have the sacred books opened in their presence, and public
prayers read for the salvation of the new-comers, all these inestimable
advantages, together with various other minor religious tricks, soon
strip the stranger of his last farthing; he then becomes dependent upon
the charity of his nation, upon foreign subsidies, or upon the fervour
of some inexperienced pilgrim. Those who go abroad as

[p.326] missionaries generally realise some property, as they are
allowed ten per cent. upon all alms collected, besides their travelling
expenses. The Jewish devotees pass the whole day in the schools or the
synagogue, reciting the Old Testament and the Talmud, both of which many
of them know entirely by heart. They all write Hebrew; but I did not see
any fine hand-writing amongst them; their learning, seems to be on the
same level as that of the Turks, among whom an Olema thinks he has
attained the pinnacle of knowledge if he can recite all the Koran
together with some thousand of Hadeath, or sentences of the Prophet, and
traditions concerning him; but neither Jews, nor Turks, nor Christians,
in these countries, have the slightest idea of that criticism, which
might guide them to a rational explanation or emendation of their sacred
books. It was in vain that I put questions to several of the first
Rabbins, concerning the desert in which the children of Israel sojourned
for forty years; I found that my own scanty knowledge of the geography
of Palestine, and of its partition amongst the twelve tribes, was
superior to theirs.

There are some beautiful copies of the books of Moses in the Syrian
synagogue, written upon a long roll of leather, not parchment, but no
one could tell me when or where they were made; I suspect, however, that
they came from Bagdad, where the best Hebrew scribes live, and of whose
writings I had seen many fine specimens at Aleppo and Damascus. The
libraries of the two schools at Tiberias are moderately stocked with
Hebrew books, most of which have been printed at Vienna and Venice.
Except some copies of the Old Testament and the Talmud, they have no

They observe a singular custom here in praying; while the Rabbin recites
the Psalms of David, or the prayers extracted from them, the
congregation frequently imitate by their voice or gestures,

[p.327] the meaning of some remarkable passages; for example, when the
Rabbin pronounces the words, "Praise the Lord with the sound of the
trumpet," they imitate the sound of the trumpet through their closed
fists. When "a horrible tempest" occurs, they puff and blow to represent
a storm; or should he mention "the cries of the righteous in distress,"
they all set up a loud screaming; and it not unfrequently happens that
while some are still blowing the storm, others have already begun the
cries of the righteous, thus forming a concert which it is difficult for
any but a zealous Hebrew to hear with gravity.

The Jews enjoy here perfect religious freedom, more particularly since
Soleiman, whose principal minister, Haym Farkhy, is a Jew, has succeeded
to the Pashalik of Akka. During the life of Djezzar Pasha they were
often obliged to pay heavy fines; at present they merely pay the
Kharadj. Their conduct, however, is not so prudent as it ought to be, in
a country where the Turks are always watching for a pretext to extort
money; they sell wine and brandy to the soldiers of the town, almost
publicly, and at their weddings they make a very dangerous display of
their wealth. On these occasions they traverse the city in pompous
procession, carrying before the bride the plate of almost the whole
community, consisting of large dishes, coffee pots, coffee cups, &c.,
and they feast in the house of the bridegroom for seven successive days
and nights. The wedding feast of a man who has about fifty pounds a
year, and no Jew can live with his family on less, will often cost more
than sixty pounds. They marry at a very early age, it being not uncommon
to see mothers of eleven and fathers of thirteen years. The Rabbin of
Tiberias is under the great Rabbin of Szaffad, who pronounces final
judgment on all contested points of law and religion.

I found amongst the Polish Jews, one from Bohemia, an honest

[p.328] German, who was overjoyed on hearing me speak his own language,
and who carried me through the quarter, introducing me to all his
acquaintance. In every house I was offered brandy, and the women
appeared to be much less shy than they are in other parts of Syria. It
may easily be supposed that many of these Jews are discontented with
their lot. Led by the stories of the missionaries to conceive the most
exalted ideas of the land of promise, as they still call it, several of
them have absconded from their parents, to beg their way to Palestine,
but no sooner do they arrive in one or other of the four holy cities,
than they find by the aspect of all around them, that they have been
deceived. A few find their way back to their native country, but the
greater number remain, and look forward to the inestimable advantage of
having their bones laid in the holy land. The cemetery of the Jews of
Tiberias is on the declivity of the mountain, about half an hour from
the town; where the tombs of their most renowed persons are visited much
in the same manner as are the sepulchres of Mussulman saints. I was
informed that a great Rabbin lay buried there, with fourteen thousand of
his scholars around him.

The ancient town of Tiberias does not seem to have occupied any part of
the present limits of Tabaria, but was probably situated at a short
distance farther to the south, near the borders of the lake. Its ruins
begin at about five minutes walk from the wall of the present town, on
the road to the hot-wells. The only remains of antiquity are a few
columns, heaps of stones, and some half ruined walls and foundations of
houses. On the sea-side, close to the water, are the ruins of a long
thick wall or mole, with a few columns of gray granite, lying in the
sea. About mid-way between the town and the hot-wells, in the midst of
the plain, I saw seven columns, of which two only are standing upright;
and there may probably be more lying on the ground, hid among the high

[p.329] grass with which the plain is covered; they are of gray granite,
about twelve or fourteen feet long, and fifteen inches in diameter; at a
short distance from them is the fragment of a beautiful column of red
Egyptian granite, of more than two feet in diameter. These ruins stretch
along the sea-shore, as far as the hot springs, and extend to about
three hundred yards inland. The springs are at thirty-five minutes from
the modern town, and twenty paces from the water's edge; they were
probably very near the gate of the ancient town. No vestiges of
buildings of any size are visible here; nothing being seen but the ruins
of small arched buildings, and heaps of stone.

There are some other remains of ancient habitations on the north side of
the town, upon a hill close to the sea, which is connected with the
mountain; here are also some thick walls which indicate that this point,
which commands the town, was anciently fortified. None of the ruined
buildings in Tiberias or the neighbourhood are constructed with large
stones, denoting a remote age; all the walls, of which any fragments yet
remain, being of small black stones cemented together by a very thick
cement. Upon a low hill on the S.W. side of the town stands a well built
mosque, and the chapel of a female saint.

The present hot-bath is built over the spring nearest the town, and
consists of two double rooms, the men's apartment being separated from
that of the women. The former is a square vaulted chamber, with a large
stone basin in the centre, surrounded by broad stone benches; the spring
issues from the wall, and flows into the basin or bath. After remaining
in the water for about ten minutes, the bathers seat themselves naked
upon the stone benches, where they remain for an hour. With this chamber
a coffee room cummunicates, in which a waiter lives during the bathing
season, and where visitors from a distance may lodge. The spring

[p.330] which has thus been appropriated to bathing, is the largest of
four hot sources; the volume of its water is very considerable, and
would be sufficient to turn a mill. Continuing along the shore for about
two hundred paces, the three other hot-springs are met with, or four, if
we count separately two small ones close together. The most southern
spring seems to be the hottest of all; the hand cannot be held in it.
The water deposits upon the stones over which it flows in its way
towards the sea, a thick crust, but the colour of the deposit is not the
same from all the springs; in some it is white, in the others it is of a
red yellowish hue, a circumstance which seems to indicate that the
nature of the water is not the same in all the sources. There are no
remains whatever of ancient buildings near the hottest spring.

People from all parts of Syria resort to these baths, which are reckoned
most efficacious in July; they are recommended principally for rheumatic
complaints, and cases of premature debility. Two patients only were
present when I visited them. Some public women of Damascus, who were
kept by the garrison of Tabaria, had established themselves in the
ruined vaults and caverns near the baths.

In the fourteenth century, according to the testimony of the Arabian
geographers, the tomb of Lokman the philosopher was shewn at Tiberias.
Not having been immediately able to find a guide to accompany me along
the valley of the Jordan, I visited a fortress in the mountain near
Medjdel,[See page 320.] of which I had heard much at Tabaria. It is
called Kalaat Ibn Maan (Arabic), the castle of the son of Maan, or
Kalaat Hamam (Arabic), the Pigeon's castle, on account of the vast
quantity of wild pigeons that breed there. It is situated half


[p.331] An hour to the west of Medjdel, on the cliff which borders the
Wady Hamam. In the calcareous mountain are many natural caverns, which
have been united together by passages cut in the rock, and enlarged, in
order to render them more commodious for habitation; walls have also
been built across the natural openings, so that no person could enter
them except through the narrow communicating passages; and wherever the
nature of the almost perpendicular cliff permitted it, small bastions
were built, to defend the entrance of the castle, which has been thus
rendered almost impregnable. The perpendicular cliff forms its
protection above, and the access from below is by a narrow path, so
steep as not to allow of a horse mounting it. In the midst of the
caverns several deep cisterns have been hewn. The whole might afford
refuge to about six hundred men; but the walls are now much damaged. The
place was probably the work of some powerful robber, about the time of
the Crusades; a few vaults of communication, with pointed arches, denote
Gothic architecture. Below in the valley runs a small rivulet, which
empties itself into the Wady Lymoun. Here the peasants of Medjdel
cultivate some gardens.

In returning from the Kalaat Hamam I was several times reprimanded by my
guide, for not taking proper care of the lighted tobacco that fell from
my pipe. The whole of the mountain is thickly covered with dry grass,
which readily takes fire, and the slightest breath of air instantly
spreads the conflagration far over the country, to the great risk of the
peasant's harvest. The Arabs who inhabit the valley of the Jordan
invariably put to death any person who is known to have been even the
innocent cause of firing the grass, and they have made it a public law
among themselves, that even in the height of intestine warfare, no one
shall attempt to set his enemy's harvest on fire. One evening, while at
Tabaria, I saw a large fire on the opposite side of the lake, which


[p.332] spread with great velocity for two days, till its progress was
checked by the Wady Feik.

The water of the lake of Tiberias along its shores from Medjdel to the
hot-wells, is of considerable depth, with no shallows. I was told that
the water rises during the rainy season, three or four feet above its
ordinary level, which seems not at all improbable, considering the great
number of winter torrents which empty themselves into the lake. The
northern part is full of fish, but I did not see a single one at
Szammagh at the southern extremity.[See p. 276] The most common species
are the Binni, or carp, and the Mesht (Arabic), which is about a foot
long, and five inches broad, with a flat body, like the sole. The
fishery of the lake is rented at seven hundred piastres per annum: but
the only boat that was employed on it by the fishermen fell to pieces
last year, and such is the indolence of these people, that they have not
yet supplied its loss. The lake furnishes the inhabitants of Tiberias
with water, there being no spring of sweet water near the town. Several
houses have salt wells.

June 26th.--I took a guide to Mount Tabor. The whole of this country,
even to the gates of Damascus, is in a state of insecurity, which
renders it very imprudent to travel alone. Merchants go only in large
caravans. We ascended the mountain to the west of the town, and in
thirty-five minutes passed the ruined vil[lage] of Szermedein (Arabic),
on the declivity of the mountain, where is a fine spring, and the tomb
of a celebrated saint. The people of Tabaria here cultivate Dhourra,
melons, and tobacco. At the end of one hour we reached the top of the
steep mountain, from whence Mount Tabor, or Djebel Tor (Arabic), as the
natives call it, bears S.W. by S. From hence the road continues on a


[p.333] declivity, in the midst of well cultivated Dhourra fields, as
far as a low tract called Ardh el Hamma (Arabic). The whole district is
covered with the thorny shrub Merar (Arabic). On the west side of Ardh
el Hamma we again ascended, and reached the village of Kefer Sebt
(Arabic), distant two hours and a half from Tabaria, and situated on the
top of a range of hills which run parallel to those of Tabaria. About
half an hour to the N.E. is the spring Ain Dhamy (Arabic), in a deep
valley. From hence a wide plain extends to the foot of Djebel Tor; in
crossing it, we saw on our right, about three quarters of an hour from
the road, the village Louby (Arabic), and a little farther on, the
village Shedjare (Arabic). The plain was covered with the wild
artichoke, called Khob (Arabic); it bears a thorny violet coloured
flower, in the shape of an artichoke, upon a stem five feet in height.
In three hours and a quarter, we arrived at the Khan of Djebel Tor
(Arabic), a large ruinous building, inhabited by a few families. On the
opposite side of the road is a half ruined fort. A large fair is held
here every Monday. Though the Khan is at no great distance from the foot
of Mount Tabor, the people could not inform us whether or not the Mount
was inhabited at present; nor were they hospitable enough either to lend
or sell us the little provision we might want, should there be no
inhabitants. At a quarter of an hour from the Khan is a fine spring,
where we found an encampment of Bedouins of the tribe of Szefeyh
(Arabic), whose principal riches consist in cows. My guide went astray
in the valleys which surround the lower parts of Djebel Tor, and we were
nearly three hours, from our departure from the Khan, in reaching the
top of the Mount.

Mount Tabor is almost insulated, and overtops all the neighbouring
summits. On its south and west sides extends a large

[p.334] plain, known by the name of Merdj Ibn Aamer (Arabic), the Plain
of Esdrelon of the Scriptures. To the S. of the plain are the mountains
of Nablous, and to the N. of it, those of Nazareth, which reach to the
foot of Mount Tabor, terminating at the village of Daboury. The plain of
Esdrelon is about eight hours in length and four in breadth, it is very
fertile, but at present almost entirely deserted. The shape of Mount
Tabor is that of a truncated cone; its sides are covered to the top with
a forest of oak and wild pistachio trees; its top is about half an hour
in circuit. The mountain is entirely calcareous. We found on the top a
single family of Greek Christians, refugees from Ezra, a village in the
Haouran, where I had known them during my stay there in November, 1810.
They had retired to this remote spot, to avoid paying taxes to the
government, and expected to remain unnoticed; they rented the upper
plain at the rate of fifty piastres per annum from the Sheikh of
Daboury, to which village the mountain belongs; the harvest, which they
were now gathering in, was worth about twelve hundred piastres, and they
had had the good fortune not to be disturbed by any tax-gatherers, which
will certainly not be the case next year, should they remain here.

On the top of Mount Tabor are found the remains of a large fortress. A
thick wall, constructed with large stones, may be traced quite round the
summit, close to the edge of the precipice; on several parts of it are
the remains of bastions. On the west side a high arched gate, called Bab
el Haoua (Arabic), or the gate of the winds, is shewn, which appears to
have been the principal entrance. The area is overspread with the ruins
of private dwellings, built of stone with great solidity. There are no
springs, but a great number of reservoirs have been cut in the rock, two
of which are still of service in supplying water. The Christians

[p.335] Mount Tabor a holy place, in honour of the Transfiguration, but
the exact spot at which it took place is not known; and the Latins and
Greeks are at variance upon the subject. The Latins celebrate the sacred
event in a small cavern, where they have formed a chapel; at about five
minutes walk from which, the Greeks have built a low circular wall, with
an altar before it, for the same purpose. The Latin missionaries of the
Frank convent of Nazareth send annually two fathers to celebrate a mass
in their chapel; they generally choose St. Peter's day for making this
visit, and arrive here in the morning, in order that they may read the
evening mass in the church of St. Peter at Tabaria. The Greek priests of
Nazareth visit their chapel of Mount Tabor on the festival of the
Virgin, on which occasion several thousand pilgrims repair to the
mountain, where they pass the night under tents with their families, in
mirth and feasting.

During the greater part of the summer Mount Tabor is covered in the
morning with thick clouds, which disperse towards mid-day. A strong wind
blows the whole of the day, and in the night dews fall, more copious
than any I had seen in Syria. In the wooded parts of the mountain are
wild boars and ounces. I lodged with my old acquaintance the Arab of
Ezra, who had taken up his quarters in one of the ruined habitations.

June 27th.--After mid-day we returned to Tabaria by the same road. On
entering the church-yard of St. Peter's, my old lodgings, I was not a
little surprised to find it full of strangers. Mr. Bruce, an English
traveller, had arrived from Nazareth, in company with several priests of
the Frank convent, who intended to celebrate mass at night, this being
St. Peter's day. I was easily prevailed on by Mr. Bruce to accompany him
on his return to Nazareth the following morning, the more so, as I there
hoped to find a guide for the valley of the Jordan; for no person at


[p.336] seemed to be inclined to undertake the journey, except in the
company of an armed caravan.

June 28th.--We left Tabaria two hours before sun-rise. There are two
direct roads to Nazareth; one by Kefer Sebt and El Khan, the other by
Louby. We took a third, that we might visit some spots recorded in the
New Testament. In one hour from Tabaria we passed a spring called Ain el
Rahham (Arabic). At two hours and a half, the road leads over a high
uncultivated plain, to Hedjar el Noszara (Arabic), the Stones of the
Christians, four or five blocks of black stone, upon which Christ is
said to have reclined while addressing the people who flocked around
him. The priests of Nazareth stopped to read some prayers over the
stones. Below this place, towards the N.E. extends a small plain, called
Sahel Hottein (Arabic). The country is intersected by Wadys. About one
hour distant from the stones, upon the same level, stands a hill of an
oblong shape, with two projecting summits on one of its extremities; the
natives call it Keroun Hottein (Arabic), the Horns of Hottein. The
Christians have given it the appellation of Mons Beatitudinis, and
pretend that the five thousand were there fed. We travelled over an
uneven, uncultivated ground, until we arrived at Kefer Kenna (Arabic),
four hours and a quarter from Tabaria, a neat village with a copious
spring surrounded by plantations of olive and other fruit trees, and
chiefly inhabited by Catholic Christians. This is the Cana celebrated in
the New Testament for the miracle at the marriage feast; and the house
is shewn in which Our Saviour performed it. We rested under an immense
fig-tree, which afforded shelter from the sun to a dozen men and as many
horses and mules. From hence the road ascends, and continues across
chalky hills, overgrown with low shrubs, as far as Naszera (Arabic) or
Nazareth, eight hours from Tabaria, by the road we travelled. I alighted
at the convent

[p.337] belonging to the missionaries of Terra Santa. Here Mr. Bruce
introduced me to Lady Hester Stanhope, who had arrived a few days before
from Jerusalem and Akka, and was preparing to visit the northern parts
of Syria, and among other places Palmyra. The manly spirit and
enlightened curiosity of this lady ought to make many modern travellers
ashamed of the indolent indifference with which they hurry over foreign
countries. She sees a great deal, and carefully examines what she sees;
but it is to be hoped that the polite and distinguished manner in which
she is every where received by the governors of the country, will not
impress her with too favourable an opinion of the Turks in general, and
of their disposition towards the nations of Europe.

Naszera is one of the principal towns of the Pashalik of Akka; its
inhabitants are industrious, because they are treated with less severity
than those of the country towns in general; two-thirds of them are
Turks, and one-third Christians; there are about ninety Latin families;
together with a congregation of Greek Catholics and another of
Maronites. The house of Joseph is shewn to pilgrims and travellers; but
the principal curiosity of Nazareth is the convent of the Latin friars,
a very spacious and commodious building, which was thoroughly repaired,
and considerably enlarged in 1730. Within it is the church of the
Annunciation, in which the spot is shewn where the angel stood, when he
announced to the Virgin Mary the tidings of the Messiah; behind the
altar is a subterraneous cavern divided into small grottos, where the
Virgin is said to have lived: her kitchen, parlour, and bedroom, are
shewn, and a narrow hole in the rock, in which the child Jesus once hid
himself from his persecutors; for the Syrian Christians have a plentiful
stock of such traditions, unfounded upon any authority of Scripture. The
pilgrims who visit these holy spots are in the habit of knocking off
small pieces of stone from the

[p.338] walls of the grottos, which are thus continually enlarging. In
the church a miracle is still exhibited to the faithful; a fine granite
column, the base and upper part of which remain, has lost the middle
part of its shaft. According to the tradition, it was destroyed by the
Saracens, ever since which time, the upper part has been miraculously
suspended from the roof, as if attracted by a load-stone. All the
Christians of Nazareth, with the friars of course at their head, affect
to believe in this miracle, although it is perfectly evident that the
upper part of the column is connected with the roof. The church is the
finest in Syria, next to that of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, and
contains two tolerably good organs. Within the walls of the convent are
two gardens, and a small burying ground; the walls are very thick, and
serve occasionally as a fortress to all the Christians of the town.
There are at present eleven friars in the convent.

The yearly expenses of the establishment amount to upwards of L900.
sterling, a small part of which is defrayed by the rent of a few houses
in the town, and by the produce of some acres of corn land; the rest is
remitted from Jerusalem. The whole annual expenses of the Terra Santa
convents are about L15,000. They have felt very sensibly the occupation
of Spain by the French, and little has been received from Europe for the
last four years; while the Turkish authorities exact the same yearly
tribute and extraordinary contributions, as formerly;[The Terra Santa
pays to the Pasha of Damascus about L12000. a year; the Greek convent of
Jerusalem pays much more, as well to maintain its own privileges, as
with a view to encroach upon those of the Latins.] so that if Spain be
not speedily liberated, it is to be feared that the whole establishment
of the Terra Santa must be abandoned. This would be a great calamity,
for it cannot be doubted that they have done honour to the European

[p.339] name in the Levant, and have been very beneficial to the cause
of Christianity under the actual circumstances of the East.

The friars are chiefly Spanjards; they are exasperated against France,
for pretending to protect them, without affording them the smallest
relief from the Pasha's oppressions:[I understood from the Spanish
consul at Cairo, that when the news of the capture of Madrid, in August,
1812, reached Jerusalem, the Spanish priests celebrated a public
Te Deum, and took the oaths prescribed by the new constitution of the
Cortes.] but they are obliged to accept this protection, as the Spanish
ambassador at Constantinople is not yet acknowledged by the Porte. They
are well worth the attention of any ambassador at the Porte, whose
government is desirous of maintaining an influence in Syria, for they
command the consciences of upwards of eighty thousand souls.

When the French invaded Syria, Nazareth was occupied by six or eight
hundred men, whose advanced posts were at Tabaria and Szaffad. Two hours
from hence, General Kleber sustained with a corps not exceeding fifteen
hundred men, the attack of the whole Syrian army, amounting to at least
twenty-five thousand. He was posted in the plain of Esdrelon, near the
village of Foule, where he formed his battalion into a square, which
continued fighting from sun-rise to mid-day, until they had expended
almost all their ammunition. Bonaparte, informed of Kleber's perilous
situation, advanced to his support with six hundred men. No sooner had
he come in sight of the enemy and fired a shot over the plain, than the
Turks, supposing that a large force was advancing, took precipitately to
flight, during which several thousands were killed, and many drowned in
the river Daboury, which then inundated a part of the plain. Bonaparte
dined at Nazareth, the most northern point that he reached in Syria, and
returned the same day to Akka.

[p.340] After the retreat of the French from Akka, Djezzar Pasha
resolved on causing all the Christians in his Pashalik to be massacred,
and had already sent orders to that effect to Jerusalem and Nazareth;
but Sir Sidney Smith being apprized of his intentions reproached him for
his cruelty in the severest terms, and threatened that if a single
Christian head should fall, he would bombard Akka and set it on fire.
Djezzar was thus obliged to send counter orders, but Sir Sidney's
interference is still remembered with heartfelt gratitude by all the
Christians, who look upon him as their deliverer. "His word," I have
often heard both Turks and Christians exclaim, "was like God's word, it
never failed." The same cannot be said of his antagonist at Akka, who
maliciously impressed the Christians, certainly much inclined in his
favour, with the idea of his speedy return from Egypt. On retreating
from Akka he sent word to his partizans at Szaffad and Nazareth,
exhorting them to bear up resolutely against the Turks but for three
months, when, he assured them upon his honour, and with many oaths, that
he would return with a much stronger force, and deliver them from their

The inhabitants of Nazareth differ somewhat in features and colour from
the northern Syrians; their physiognomy approaches that of the
Egyptians, while their dialect and pronunciation differ widely from
those of Damascus. In western Palestine, especially on the coast, the
inhabitants, seem in general, to bear more resemblance to the natives of
Egypt, than to those of northern Syria. Towards the east of Palestine,
on the contrary, especially in the villages about Nablous, Jerusalem,
and Hebron, they are evidently of the true Syrian stock, in features,
though not in language. It would be an interesting subject for an artist
to pourtray accurately the different character of features of the Syrian
nations; the Aleppine, the Turkman, the native of Mount

[p.341] Libanus, the Damascene, the inhabitant of the sea-coast from
Beirout to Akka, and the Bedouin, although all inhabiting the same
country, have distict national physiognomies, and a slight acquaintance
with them enables one to determine the native district of a Syrian, with
almost as much certainty as an Englishman may be distinguished at first
sight from an Italian or an inhabitant of the south of France.

The Christians of Nazareth enjoy great liberty. The fathers go a
shooting alone in their monastic habits to several hours distance from
the convent, without ever being insulted by the Turks. I was told that
about thirty years ago the padre guardiano of the convent was also
Sheikh or chief justice of the town, an office for which he paid a
certain yearly sum to the Pasha of Akka; the police of the place was
consequently in his hands, and when any disturbance happened, the
reverend father used to take his stick, repair to the spot, and lay
about him freely, no matter whether upon Turks or Christians. The
guardian has still much influence in the town, because he is supposed,
as usual, to be on good terms with the Pasha, but at present the chief
man at Nazareth is M. Catafago, a merchant of Frank origin, born at
Aleppo. He has rented from the Pasha about twelve villages situated in
the neighbourhood of Nazareth and the plain of Esdrelon, for which he
pays yearly upwards of L3000.[The villages in the Pashalik of Akka are
all of the description which the Turkish law calls Melk. They are all
assessed at certain yearly sums, which each is obliged to pay, whatever
may be the number of its inhabitants. This is one of the chief causes of
the depopulation of many parts of Syria.] His profits are very
considerable, and as he meddles much in the politics and intrigues of
the country, he has become a person of great consequence. His influence
and recommendations may prove very useful to travellers in Palestine,
especially to those who visit the dangerous districts of Nablous.


[p.342] It happened luckily during my stay at Nazareth, that two petty
merchants arrived there from Szalt, to take up some merchandize which
they sell at Szalt on account of their principals at this place. Szalt
was precisely the point I wished to reach, not having been able to visit
it during my late tour in the mountains of Moerad; on their return
therefore I gladly joined their little carayan, and we left Nazareth at
midnight, on the 1st of July.

July 2d.--Our road lay over a mountainous country. In two hours from
Nazareth we passed a small rivulet. Two hours and a half, the village
Denouny (Arabic), and near it the ruins of Endor, where the witch's
grotto is shewn. From hence the direction of our route was S.S.E.
Leaving Mount Tabor to the left we passed along the plain of Esdrelon:
meeting with several springs in our road; but the country is a complete
desert, although the soil is fertile. At five hours and a half is the
village of Om el Taybe (Arabic), belonging to the district of Djebel
Nablous, or as it is also called Belad Harthe (Arabic). The inhabitants
of Nablous are governed by their own chiefs, who are invested by the
Pasha. It is said that the villages belonging to the district can raise
an army of five thousand men. They are a restless people, continually in
dispute with each other, and frequently in insurrection against the
Pasha. Djezzar never succeeded in completely subduing them, and Junot,
with a corps of fifteen hundred French soldiers, was defeated by them.
The principal chief of Nablous at present is of the family of Shadely
(Arabic). In six hours and three quarters we passed the village of
Meraszrasz (Arabic), upon the summit of a chain of hills on the side of
Wady Oeshe (Arabic), which falls into the Jordan. At about half an hour
to the north of this Wady runs another, called Wady Byre (Arabic),
likewise falling into that river. Between these two valleys are situated
the villages of Denna (Arabic) and Kokab (Arabic). Beyond Meraszrasz


[p.343] we began to descend, and reached the bottom of the valley El
Ghor in seven hours and three quarters from our departure from Nazareth.
We now turned more southward, and followed the valley as far as Bysan,
distant eight hours and a quarter from Nazareth.

The two merchants and myself had left the caravan at Meraszrasz, and
proceeded to Bysan, there to repose till the camels came up: but the
drivers missed the road, and we continued almost the whole day in search
of them. Bysan (Bethsan, Scythopolis) is situated upon rising ground, on
the west side of the Ghor, where the chain of mountains bordering the
valley declins considerably in height, and presents merely elevated
ground, quite open towards the west. At one hour distant, to the south,
the mountains begin again. The ancient town was watered by a river, now
called Moiet Bysan (Arabic), or the water of Bysan, which flows in
different branches towards the plain. The ruins of Scythopolis are of
considerable extent, and the town, built along the banks of the rivulet
and in the valleys formed by its several branches, must have been nearly
three miles in circuit. The only remains are large heaps of black hewn
stones, many foundations of houses, and the fragments of a few columns.
I saw only a single shaft of a column standing. In one of the valleys is
a large mound of earth, which appeared to me to be artificial; it was
the site perhaps of a castle for the defence of the town. On the left
bank of the stream is a large Khan, where the caravans repose which take
the shortest road from Jerusalem to Damascus.

The present village of Bysan contains seventy or eighty houses; its
inhabitants are in a miserable condition, from being exposed to the
depredations of the Bedouins of the Ghor, to whom they also pay a heavy
tribute. After waiting here some time for the arrival of the caravan, we
rode across the valley, till we reached the


[p.344] banks of the Jordan, about two hours distant from Bysan, which
bore N.N.W. from us. We here crossed the river at a ford, where our
companions arrived soon afterwards.

The valley of the Jordan, or El Ghor (Arabic), which may be said to
begin at the northern extremity of the lake of Tiberias, has near Bysan
a direction of N. by E. and S. by W. Its breadth is about two hours. The
great number of rivulets which descend from the mountains on both sides,
and form numerous pools of stagnant water, produce in many places a
pleasing verdure, and a luxuriant growth of wild herbage and grass; but
the greater part of the ground is a parched desert, of which a few spots
only are cultivated by the Bedouins. In the neighbourhood of Bysan the
soil is entirely of marle; there are very few trees; but wherever there
is water high reeds are found. The river Jordan, on issuing from the
lake of Tiberias, flows for about three hours near the western hills,
and then turns towards the eastern, on which side it continues its
course for several hours. The river flows in a valley of about a quarter
of an hour in breadth, which is considerably lower than the rest of the
plain of Ghor; this lower valley is covered with high trees and a
luxuriant verdure, which affords a striking contrast with the sandy
slopes that border it on both sides. The trees most frequently met with
on the banks of the Jordan are of the species called by the Arabs Gharab
(Arabic) and Kottab (Arabic) [The following are the names or the rivulets
which descend from the western mountains into the Ghor, to the north or
Bysan. Beginning at the southern extremity of the lake of Tiberias are
Wady Fedjaz (Arabic), Ain el Szammera (Arabic), Wady Djaloud (Arabic),
Wady el Byre (Arabic), and Wady el Oeshe (Arabic). To the south of Bysan
are Wady el Maleh (Arabic), Wady Medjedda (Arabic), with a ruined town
so called, Wady el Beydhan (Arabic), coming from the neighbourhood of
Nablous, and Wady el Farah (Arabic). On the east side of the Jordan,
beginning at the Sheriat el Mandhour, and continuing to the place where
we crossed the river, the following Wadys empty themselves into it: Wady
el Arab (Arabic), Wady el Koszeir (Arabic), Wady el Taybe (Arabic), Wady
el Seklab (Arabic), which last falls into the Jordan near the village
Erbayn, about one hour's distance north of the place where we crossed.
This Wady forms the boundary between the districts; called El Koura and
El Wostye.

On the west side of the river, to the north of Bysan, are the following
ruined places in the Ghor: beginning at the lake, Faszayl (Arabic), El
Odja (Arabic), Ayn Sultan (Arabic). Near where we crossed, to the south,
are the ruins of Sukkot (Arabic). On the western banks of the river,
farther south than Ayn Sultan, which is about one hour distant from
Bysan, there are no ruins, as far as Rieha, or Jericho, the yalley in
that direction being full of rocks, and little susceptible of

[p.345] The river, where we passed it, was about eighty paces broad, and
about three feet deep; this, it must be recollected, was in the midst of
summer. In the winter it inundates the plain in the bottom of the narrow
valley, but never rises to the level of the upper plain of the Ghor,
which is at least forty feet above the level of the river. The river is
fordable in many places during summer, but the few spots where it may be
crossed in the rainy season are known only to the Arabs.

After passing the river we continued our route close to the foot of the
eastern mountain. In half an hour from the ford we crossed Wady Mous
(Arabic), coming from the mountains of Adjeloun. In one hour and a
quarter we passed Wady Yabes, and near it, the Mezar, or saint's tomb
called Sherhabeib (Arabic). In two hours we came to a stony and hilly
district, intersected by several deep but dry Wadys, called Korn el
Hemar (Arabic), the Ass's Horn. Our direction was alternately S. and S.
by W. Here the Jordan returns to the western side of the valley. The
Korn el Hemar


[p.346] projects into the Ghor about four miles, so that when seen from
the north the valley seems to be completely shut up by these hills. From
thence a fertile tract commences, overgrown with many Bouttom (Arabic)
or wild pistachio trees. Large tracts of ground were burnt, owing
probably to the negligence of travellers who had set the dry grass on
fire. At the end of six hours, and late at night, we passed to the
right, the ruins of an ancient city standing on the declivity of the
mountain and still bearing its original name Amata (Arabic). My
companions told me that several columns remain standing, and also some
large buildings. A small rivulet here descends into the plain. In six
hours and a half we reached the Mezar Abou Obeida (Arabic), where we
rested for two hours. The tomb of the Sheikh is surrounded by a few
peasant's houses; but there are no inhabitants at present, except the
keeper of the tomb and his wife, who live upon the charity of the
Bedouins. It appears from the account given by the great Barbary
traveller, Ibn Batouta, that in the sixteenth century this part of the
Ghor was well cultivated, and full of villages.

The valley of the Jordan affords pasturage to numerous tribes of
Bedouins. Some of them remain here the whole year, considering it as
their patrimony; others visit it only in winter; of the latter
description are the Bedouins who belong to the districts of Naszera and
Nablous, as well as those of the eastern mountains. We met with several
encampments of stationary Bedouins, who cultivate a few fields of wheat,
barley, and Dhourra. They are at peace with the people of Szalt, to many
of whom the greater part of them are personally known; we therefore
passed unmolested; but a stranger who should venture to travel here
unaccompanied by a guide of the country would most certainly be
stripped.[For the names of the Bedouin tribes see the classification, in
the Appendix.]


[p.347]July 3d.--We departed from Abou Obeida long before sun-rise,
proceeding from thence in a more western direction. In a quarter of an
hour we passed the northern branch of the river El Zerka, near a mill,
which was at work. In one hour we passed the principal stream, a small
river, which empties itself into the Jordan about one hour and a half to
the S.W. of the spot where it issues from the mountain. Its banks are
overgrown with Defle (Solanum furiosum). On the other side of the Zerka
we ascended the mountain by a steep acclivity, but the road, from being
much frequented, is tolerably good. The mountain consists of calcareous
rock, with layers of various coloured sand-stone, and large blocks of
the black Haouran stone, or basalt, which forms a principal feature in
the mineralogy of Eastern Syria. In two hours and three quarters we
arrived at the top of the mountain, from whence Abou Obeida bore N.N.W.
Here we had a fine view over the valley below.

On the west side of the Jordan, between the river and the mountains of
Nablous, I remarked a chain of low calcareous rocky heights which begin
at about three hours north of Abou Obeida, and continue for several
hours distance to the S. of that place on the opposite side of the
river. The highest point of Djebel Nablous bore N.W.; the direction of
Nablous itself was pointed out to me as W.N.W. On the summit where we
stood are some large heaps of hewn stones, and several ruined walls,
with the fragments of three large columns. The Arabs call the spot El
Meysera (Arabic). The Zerka, or Jabock of the Scriptures, divides the
district of Moerad from the country called El Belka (Arabic). The
highest summit of the mountains of Moerad seems to be considerably
higher than any part of the mountains of Belka. From Meysera the road
continues over an uneven tract, along the summit of the lower ridge of
mountains which form the northern limits of


[p.348] the Belka. We had now entered a climate quite different from
that of the Ghor. During the whole of yesterday we had been much
oppressed by heat, which was never lessened by the slightest breeze; in
the Belka mountains, on the contrary, we were refreshed by cool winds,
and every where found a grateful shade of fine oak and wild pistachio
trees, with a scenery more like that of Europe than any I had yet seen
in Syria. In three quarters of an hour from Meysera we passed a spring.
I was told that in the valley of the Zerka, at about one hour above its
issue from the mountains into the plain, are several hills, called
Telloul el Dahab (Arabic) (the Hills of Gold), so called, as the Arabs
affirm, from their containing a gold mine. In one hour and a quarter we
passed the ruined place called El Herath (Arabic). The Arabs cultivate
here several fields of Dhourra and cucumbers. My companions seeing no
keepers in the neighbouring wood carried off more than a quintal of
cucumbers. About one hour to the S.E. of Herath are the ruined places
called Allan (Arabic), and Syhhan (Arabic). At the end of two hours we
reached the foot of the mountain called Djebel Djelaad and Djebel
Djelaoud (Arabic), the Gilead of the Scriptures, which runs from east to
west, and is about two hours and a half in length. Upon it are the
ruined towns of Djelaad and Djelaoud. We ascended the western extremity
of the mountain, and then reached the lofty mountain called Djebel Osha,
whose summit overtops the whole of the Belka. In three hours and a
quarter from Meysera we passed near the top of Mount Osha (Arabic), our
general direction being still S.S.E. The forest here grows thicker; it
consists of oak, Bouttom, and Balout (Arabic) trees. The Keykab is also
very common. In three hours and three quarters we descended the southern
side of the mountain, near the tomb of Osha, and reached Szalt (Arabic),
four hours and a half distant from Meysera. Near the tomb of Osha was an
encampment of about sixty tents


[p.349] of the tribe of Abad (Arabic); they had lately been robbed of
almost all their cattle by the Beni Szakher, and were reduced to such
misery that they could not afford to give us a little sour milk which we
begged of them. They were still at war with the Beni Szakher, and were
in hopes of recovering a part of their property; but as they were too
weak to act openly, they had encamped, for protection, in the
neighbourhood of their friends the inhabitants of Szalt. They intended
to make from hence some plundering excursions against their enemies, for
they had now hardly any thing more to lose in continuing at war with
them. I alighted at Szalt at the house of one of my companions, where I
was hospitably entertained during the whole of my stay at this place.

The town of Szalt is situated on the declivity of a hill, crowned by a
castle, and is surrounded on all sides by steep mountains. It is the
only inhabited place in the province of Belka, and its inhabitants are
quite independent. The Pashas of Damascus have several times endeavoured
in vain to subdue them. Abdulla Pasha, the late governor, besieged the
town for three months, without success. The population consists of about
four hundred Musulman and eighty Christian families of the Greek church,
who live in perfect amity and equality together: the Musulmans are
composed of three tribes, the Beni Kerad (Arabic), the Owamele (Arabic),
and the Kteyshat (Arabic), each of which has its separate quarter in the
town; the principal Sheikhs, at present two in number, live in the
castle; but they have no other authority over the rest than such as a
Bedouin Sheikh exercises over his tribe. The castle was almost wholly
rebuilt by the famous Dhaher el Omar,[See the history of Sheikh Dhaher,
the predecessor of Djezzar Pasha in the government of Akka, in Volney.
Voyage en Egypte et en Syrie, vol. ii. chap. 25. Ed.] who resided here
several years. He obtained possession by the assistance of the weakest
of the two parties into which the place


[p.350] was divided, but he was finally driven out by the united efforts
of both parties.

The castle is well built, has a few old guns, and is surrounded by a
wide ditch. In the midst of the town is a fine spring, to which there is
a secret subterraneous passage from the castle, still made use of in
times of siege. In a narrow valley about ten minutes walk from the town,
is another spring called Ain Djedour (Arabic), the waters of both serve
to irrigate the gardens and orchards which lie along the valley.
Opposite to Ain Djedour is a spacious sepulchral cave cut in the rock,
which the people affirm to have been a church. In the town, an old
mosque is the only object that presents itself to the antiquary. The
Christians have a small church, dedicated to the Virgin, where divine
service is performed by two priests, who each receive annually from
their community about L4. They are not very rigid observers either of
their prayers or fasts; and although it was now the time of Lent with
the Greeks, I daily saw the most respectable Christians eating flesh and

The greater part of the population of Szalt is agricultural, a few are
weavers, and there are about twenty shops, which sell on commission for
the merchants of Nazareth, Damascus, Nablous, and Jerusalem, and furnish
the Bedouins with articles of dress and furniture. The prices are at
least fifty per cent. higher than at Damascus. The culture consists of
wheat and barley, the superfluous produce of which is sold to the
Bedouins; vast quantities of grapes are also grown, which are dried and
sold at Jerusalem. The arable fields are at least eight miles distant
from Szalt, in the low grounds of the neighbouring mountains, where they
take advantage of the winter torrents. In the time of harvest the
Szaltese transport their families thither, where they live for several
months under tents, like true Bedouins. The principal encampment


[p.351] is at a place called Feheis, about one bour and a half to the
S.E. of Szalt.

In addition to the means of subsistence just mentioned the inhabitants
of Szalt have several others: in July and August they collect, in the
mountains of the Belka the leaves of the Sumach, which they dry and
carry to the market at Jerusalem, for the use of the tanneries; upwards
of five hundred camel loads are yearly exported, at the rate of fifteen
to eighteen piastres the cwt. The merchants also buy up ostrich feathers
from the Bedouins, which they sell to great advantage at Damascus.

The food and clothing of the Szaltese are inferior in quality to those
of the peasants of northern Syria. Their dress, especially the women's
approaches to that of the Bedouins: their language is the true Bedouin
dialect. The only public expense incurred by them is that of
entertaining travellers: for this purpose there are four public taverns
(Menzel, or Medhafe), three belonging to the Turks and one to the
Christians; and whoever enters there is maintained as long as he
chooses, provided his stay be not prolonged to an unreasonable period,
without reasons being assigned for such delay. Breakfast, dinner, and
supper, with a proportionate number of cups of coffee, are served up to
the stranger, whoever he may be. For guests of respectability a goat or
lamb is slaughtered, and some of the inhabitants then partake of the
supper. The expenses incurred by these Menzels are shared among the
heads of families, according to their respective wealth, and every
tavern has a kind of landlord, who keeps the accounts, and provides the
kitchen out of the common stock. I was told that every respectable
family paid about fifty piastres per annum into the hands of the master
of the Menzels, which makes altogether a sum of about L1000. spent in
the entertainment of strangers. Were the place dependent on any Turkish

[p.352] more than triple that sum would be extorted from its inhabitants
for the support of passengers. Besides the Menzels every family is
always ready to receive any acquaintances who may prefer their house to
the public inn. It will readily be conceived, that upon these terms the
people of Szalt are friends of the neighbouring Bedouins; who moreover
fear them because they have a secure retreat, and can muster about four
hundred fire-locks, and from forty to fifty horses. The powerful tribe
of Beni Szakher alone is fearless of the people of Szalt; on the
contrary, they exact a small yearly tribute from the town, which is
willingly paid, in order to secure the harvest against the depredations
of these formidable neighbours; disputes nevertheless arise, and Szalt
is often at war with the Beni Szakher.

While I remained at Szalt I was told of a traveller of whom I had also
heard in the Haouran; he was a Christian of Abyssinia, whose desire it
was to end his days at Jerusalem; he first sailed from Massoua to
Djidda, where he was seized by the Wahabi, and carried to their chief
Ibn Saoud at Deraye, where he remained two years. From Deraye he crossed
the desert with the encampments of wandering Bedouins, in the direction
of Damascus, and last year he reached Boszra in the Haouran, from whence
he was sent by the Christians to Szalt, where he remained a few days,
and then proceeded for Jerusalem. When he arrived at the Jordan, he
declared to his companions that he was a priest, a circumstance which he
had always kept secret; he continued two days on the banks of the river
fasting and praying, and from thence made his way alone to Jerusalem. He
never tasted animal food, and although he had experienced no sickness on
the road, he died soon after his arrival in the holy city.

It was not my intention to tarry at Szalt; I wished to proceed by the
first opportunity to Kerek, a town on the eastern side of the


[p.353] Dead sea; but the communications in these deserted countries are
far from being regular, and the want of a proper guide obliged me to
delay my departure for ten days; during this delay I had the good
fortune to see the ruins of Amman, which I had not been able to visit in
the course of my late tour in the Decapolis. But before I describe Amman
I shall subjoin some notes on the neighbourhood of Szalt.

A narrow valley leads up from Szalt towards the Mezar Osha, which I have
already mentioned. Half way up, the valley is planted with vines, which
are grown upon terraces as in Mount Libanus, to prevent their being
washed away by the winter torrents. The Mezar Osha is supposed to
contain the tomb of Neby Osha, or the prophet Hosea, equally revered by
Turks and Christians, and to whom the followers of both religions are in
the habit of offering prayers and sacrifices. The latter consist
generally of a sheep, to be slain in honour of the saint, or of some
perfumes to be burnt over his tomb. I was invited to partake of a sheep
presented by a suppliant, to whose prayers the saint had been
favourable. There was a large party, and we spent a very pleasant day
under a fine oak-tree just by the tomb. The wives and daughters of those
who were invited were present, and mixed freely in the conversation. The
tomb is covered by a vaulted building, one end of which serves as a
mosque; the tomb itself, in the form of a coffin, is thirty-six feet
long, three feet broad, and three feet and a half in height, being thus
constructed in conformity with the notion of the Turks, who suppose that
all our forefathers were giants, and especially the prophets before
Mohammed. The tomb of Noah in the valley of Coelo-Syria is still longer.
The coffin of Osha is covered with silk stuffs of different colours,
which have been presented to him as votive offerings. Visitors generally
throw a couple of paras upon the tomb. These are

[p.354] collected by the guardian, and pay the expenses of illuminating
the apartment during the summer months; for in the winter season hardly
any body seeks favours at the shrine of the saint. In one corner stands
a small plate, upon which some of the most devout visitors place a piece
of incense. A wooden partition separates the tomb from the mosque, where
the Turks generally say a few prayers before they enter the inner
apartment. On the outside of the building is a very large and deep
cistern much frequented by the Bedouins. Here is a fine view over the
Ghor. Rieha, or Jericho, is visible at a great distance to the
southward. About half an hour to the N.W. of Osha, on the lower part of
the mountain, is the ruined place called Kafer Houda (Arabic).

As pilgrimage in the east is generally coupled with mercantile
speculations, Osha's tomb is much resorted to for commercial purposes,
and like Mekka and Jerusalem, is transformed into a fair at the time of
the visit of the pilgrims. The Arabs of the Belka, especially the Beni
Szakher, bring here Kelly or soap-ashes, which they burn during the
summer in large quantities: these are bought up by a merchant of
Nablous, who has for many years monopolized the trade in this article.
The soap-ashes obtained from the herb Shiman, of the Belka, are esteemed
the best in the country, to the S. of Damascus, as those of Palmyra are
reckoned the best in northern Syria. They are sold by the Arabs for
about half a crown the English cwt., but the purchaser is obliged to pay
heavy duties upon them. The chief of the Arabs of El Adouan, who is
looked upon as the lord of the Belka, although his tribe is at present
considerably weakened, exacts for himself five piastres from every camel
load, two piastres for his writer, and two piastres for his slave. The
town of Szalt takes one piastre for every load, the produce of which
duty is divided among the public taverns of the town. The quantity of
soap-ashes brought to

[p.355] the Osha market amounts, one year with another, to about three
thousand camel loads. The Nablous merchant is obliged to come in person
to Szalt in autumn. According to old customs, he alights at a private
house, all the expenses of which he pays during his stay; he is bound
also to feed all strangers who arrive during the same period at Szalt;
in consequence of which the Menzels remain shut; and he makes
considerable presents on quitting the place. In order that all the
inhabitants may share in the advantages arising from his visits, he
alights at a different house every year.

In descending the narrow valley to the south of Szalt, the ruins of a
considerable town are met with, consisting of foundations of buildings
and heaps of stones. The Arabs call the place Kherbet el Souk (Arabic).
Near it is a fine spring called Ain Hazeir (Arabic) (perhaps the ancient
Jazer), which turns several mills, and empties itself into the Wady
Shoeb (Arabic). The latter joins the Jordan near the ruined city of
Nymrein (Arabic). In a S.W. direction from Szalt, distant about two
hours and a half, are the ruined places called Kherbet Ayoub (Arabic),
Heremmela (Arabic), Ayra (Arabic), one of the towns built by the tribe
of Gad, and Yerka (Arabic). East of Szalt, about one hour, are the ruins
called El Deir (Arabic).

I found it impossible at Szalt to procure a guide to Amman; the country
was in a state which rendered it very dangerous to travel through it:
the Beni Szakher were at war with the Arabs of Adouan, with the
government of Damascus, and with the Rowalla, a branch of the Aeneze;
and we heard daily of skirmishes taking place between the contending
parties, principally near the river Zerka. Amman being a noted spring,
was frequented by both the hostile parties; and although, the people of
Szalt were now at peace with the Beni Szakher, having concluded it on
the day of my arrival, yet they were upon very indifferent terms with


[p.356] Adouan and Rowalla. I had once engaged four armed men to
accompany me on foot to the place, but when we were just setting out,
after sunset, their wives came crying to my lodging, and upbraided their
husbands with madness in exposing their lives for a couple of piastres.
Being equally unsuccessful in several other attempts, and tired of the
exaggerations of my land-lord, who pretended that I should be in danger
of being stripped, and even killed, I at length became impatient, and
quitting Szalt in the evening of the 6th, I rode over to Feheis, where
the greater part of the Szaltese were encamped, for the labours of the
harvest, and where it was more likely that I should meet with a guide.
On my way I passed the deep Wady Ezrak (Arabic), where is a rivulet and
several mills.

El Feheis is a ruined city, with a spring near it; here are the remains
of an arched building, in which the Christians sometimes perform divine
service. Below Feheis, upon the top of a lower mountain, is the ruined
place called El Khandok (Arabic), which appears to have been a fort; it
is surrounded with a wall of large stones, and the remains of several
bastions are visible. From a point near Khandok, the Dead sea, which I
saw for the first time, bears S.W. b. W.

At Feheis I was so fortunate as to find a guide who five years ago had
served in the same capacity to Mousa, the name assumed by M. Seetzen. As
he was well acquainted with all the Bedouins, and on friendly terms with
them, he engaged to take me to Amman, in company with another horseman.

July 7th.--We set off before sunrise. On leaving Feheis we crossed a
mountainous country, passed through a thick forest of oak trees, and in
three quarters of an hour reached the Ardh el Hemar, which is the name
of a district extending north and south for about two hours. Here are a
number of springs, which have rendered it a


[p.357] favourite place of resort of the Bedouins: the valley was
covered with a fine coat of verdant pasture. From hence the road
ascended through oak woods and pleasant hills, over flinty ground, till
we reached, after a march of two hours and a half, an elevated plain,
from whence we had an extensive view towards the east. The plain, which
in this part is called El Ahma (Arabic), is a fertile tract,
interspersed with low hills; these are for the greater part crowned with
ruins, but they are of irregular forms, unlike the Tels or artificial
heights of the Haouran, and of northern Syria. Just by the road, at the
end of three hours, are the ruins called El Kholda (Arabic). To the left
are the ruins of Kherbet Karakagheish (Arabic); and to the right, at
half an hour's distance, the ruins of Sar (Arabic), and Fokhara
(Arabic). At about one hour south of Sar begins the district called
Kattar (Arabic) or Marka (Arabic). The ruins which we passed here, as
well as all those before mentioned in the mountains of Belka, present no
objects of any interest. They consist of a few walls of dwelling houses,
heaps of stones, the foundations of some public edifices, and a few
cisterns now filled up; there is nothing entire, but it appears that the
mode of building was very solid, all the remains being formed of large
stones. It is evident also, that the whole of the country must have been
extremely well cultivated, in order to have afforded subsistence to the
inhabitants of so many towns. At the end of three hours and a half we
entered a broad valley, which brought us in half an hour to the ruins of
Amman, which lies about nineteen English miles to the S.E. by E. of
Szalt. The annexed plan [not included] will give an idea of the
situation and ruins of Amman, one of the most ancient of the cities
recorded in Jewish history. The town lies along the banks of a river
called Moiet Amman, which has its source in a pond (a), at a few hundred
paces from the south-western end of the town; I was informed that this
river is

[p.358] lost in the earth one hour below the pond, that it issues again,
and takes the name of Ain Ghazale (Arabic); then disappears a second
time and rises again near a ruined place called Reszeyfa (Arabic);
beyond which it is said to be lost for a third time, till it reappears
about an hour to the west of Kalaat Zerka, otherwise called Kaszr
Shebeib (Arabic), near the river Zerka, into which it empties itself.
Ain Ghazale is about one hour and a half distant from Amman, Kalaat
Zerka is four hours distant. The river of Amman runs in a valley
bordered on both sides by barren hills of flint, which advance on the
south side close to the edge of the stream.

The edifices which still remain to attest the former splendour of Amman
are the following: a spacious church (b), built with large stones, and
having a steeple of the shape of those which I saw in several ruined
towns in the Haouran. There are wide arches in the walls of the
church.--A small building (c), with niches, probably a temple.--A temple
(d), of which a part of the side walls, and a niche in the back wall are
remaining; there are no ornaments either on the walls, or about the
niche.----A curved wall (e) along the water side, with many niches: before
it was a row of large columns, of which four remain, but without
capitals, I conjecture this to have been a kind of stoa, or public walk;
it does not communicate with any other edifice.--A high arched bridge (f)
over the river; this appears to have been the only bridge in the town,
although the river is not fordable in the winter. The banks of the
river, as well as its bed, are paved, but the pavement has been in most
places carried away by the violence of the winter torrent. The stream is
full of small fish. On the south side of the river is a fine theatre,
the largest that I have seen in Syria. It has forty rows of seats;
between the tenth and eleventh from the bottom occurs a row of eight
boxes or small apartments, capable of holding about twelve spectators
each; fourteen rows higher, a similar row

[p.359] of boxes occupies the place of the middle seats, and at the top
of all there is a third tier of boxes excavated in the rocky side of the
hill, upon the declivity of which the theatre is built. On both wings of
the theatre are vaults. In front was a colonnade, of which eight
Corinthian columns yet remain, besides four fragments of shafts; they
are about fifteen feet high, surmounted by an entablature still entire.
This colonnade must have had at least fifty columns; the workmanship is
not of the best Roman times. Near this theatre is a building (h), the
details of which I was not able to make out exactly; its front is built
irregularly, without columns, or ornaments of any kind. On entering I
found a semi-circular area, enclosed by a high wall in which narrow
steps were formed, running all round from bottom to top. The inside of
the front wall, as well as the round wall of the area, is richly
ornamented with sculptured ornaments. The roof, which once covered the
whole building, has fallen down, and choaks up the interior in such a
way as to render it difficult to determine whether the edifice has been
a palace, or destined for public amusements. Nearly opposite the
theatre, to the northward of the river, are the remains of a temple (k),
the posterior wall of which only remains, having an entablature, and
several niches highly adorned with sculpture. Before this building stand
the shafts of several columns three feet in diameter. Its date appears
to be anterior to that of all the other buildings of Amman, and its
style of architecture is much superior. At some distance farther down
the Wady, stand a few small columns (i), probably the remains of a
temple. The plain between the river and the northern hills is covered
with ruins of private buildings, extending from the church (c) down to
the columns (i); but nothing of them remains, except the foundations and
some of the door posts. On the top of the highest of the northern hills
stands the castle of Amman, a very extensive

[p.360] building; it was an oblong square, filled with buildings, of
which, about as much remains as there does of the private dwellings in
the lower town. The castle walls are thick, and denote a remote
antiquity: large blocks of stone are piled up without cement, and still
hold together as well as if they had been recently placed; the greater
part of the wall is entire, it is placed a little below the crest of the
hill, and appears not to have risen much above the level of its summit.
Within the castle are several deep cisterns. At (m) is a square
building, in complete preservation, constructed in the same manner as
the castle wall; it is without ornaments, and the only opening into it
is a low door, over which was an inscription now defaced. Near this
building are the traces of a large temple (n); several of its broken
columns are lying on the ground; they are the largest I saw at Amman,
some of them being three feet and a half in diameter; their capitals are
of the Corinthian order. On the north side of the castle is a ditch cut
in the rock, for the better defence of this side of the hill, which is

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