Travels in Syria and the Holy Land by John Burckhardt

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  • 1822
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[p.i]It is hoped that little apology is necessary for the publication of a volume of Travels in Asia, by a Society, whose sole professed object is the promotion of discoveries in the African continent.

The Association having had the good fortune to obtain the services of a person of Mr. Burckhardt’s education and talents, resolved to spare neither time nor expense in enabling him to acquire the language and manners of an Arabian Musulman in such a degree of perfection, as should render the detection of his real character in the interior of Africa extremely difficult.

It was thought that a residence at Aleppo would afford him the most convenient means of study, while his intercourse with the natives of that city, together with his occasional tours in Syria, would supply him with a view of Arabian life and manners in every degree, from the Bedouin camp to the populous city. While thus preparing himself for the ultimate object of his mission, he was careful to direct his journeys through those parts of Syria which had been the least frequented by European travellers, and thus he had the opportunity of making some important additions to our knowledge of one of those countries of which the geography is not less interesting by its connection with ancient history, than it is imperfect, in consequence of the impediments which modern barbarism has opposed to scientific researches. After consuming near three years in Syria, Mr. Burckhardt, on his arrival in Egypt, found himself prevented from pursuing the execution of his instructions, by [p.ii] a suspension of the usual commercial intercourse with the interior of Africa, and was thus, during the ensuing five years, placed under the necessity of employing his time in Egypt and the adjacent countries in the same manner as he had done in Syria. After the journeys in Egypt, Nubia, Arabia, and Mount Sinai, which have been briefly described in the Memoir prefixed to the former volume of his travels, his death at Cairo, at the moment when he was preparing for immediate departure to Fezzan, left the Association in possession of a large collection of manuscripts concerning the countries visited by their traveller in these preparatory journeys, but of nothing more than oral information as to those to which he had been particularly sent. As his journals in Nubia, and in the regions adjacent to the Astaboras, although relating only to an incidental part of his mission to Africa, were descriptive of countries coming strictly within the scope of the African Association, these, together with all his collected information on the interior of Africa, were selected for earliest publication. The present volume contains his observations in Syria and Arabia Petraea; to which has been added his tour in the Peninsula of Mount Sinai, although the latest of all his travels in date, because it is immediately connected, by its subject, with his journey through the adjacent districts of the Holy Land. There still remain manuscripts sufficient to fill two volumes; one of these will consist of his travels in Arabia, which were confined to the Hedjaz, or Holy Land of the Musulmans, the part least accessible to Christians; the fourth volume will contain very copious remarks on the Arabs on the Desert, and particularly the Wahabys.

The two principal maps annexed to the present volume have been constructed under the continued inspection of the Editor, by Mr. John Walker, junior, by whom they have been delineated and engraved.

[p.iii]In the course of this process, it has been found, that our traveller’s bearings by the compass are not always to be relied on. Those which were obviously incorrect, and useless for geographical purposes, have been omitted in the Journal; some instances of the same kind, which did not occur to the Editor until the sheets were printed, are noticed in the Errata, and if a few still remain, the reader is intreated not to consider them as proofs of negligence in the formation of the maps, which have been carefully constructed from Burckhardt’s materials, occasionally assisted and corrected by other extant authorities. One cannot easily decide, whether the errors in our traveller’s bearings are chiefly to be attributed to the variable nature of the instrument, or to the circumstances of haste and concealment under which he was often obliged to take his observations, though it is sufficiently evident that be fell into the error, not uncommon with unexperienced travellers, of multiplying bearings to an excessive degree, instead of verifying a smaller number, and measuring intermediate angles with a pocket sextant. However his mistakes may have arisen, the consequence has been, that some parts of the general map illustrative of his journeys in Syria and the Holy Land have been constructed less from his bearings than from his distances in time, combined with those of other travellers, and checked by some known points on the coast. Hence also a smaller scale has been chosen for that map than may be formed from the same materials when a few points in the interior are determined by celestial observations. In the mean time it is hoped, that the present sketch will be sufficient to enable the reader to pursue the narrative without much difficulty, especially as the part of Syria which the traveller examined with more minuteness than any other, the Haouran, is illustrated by a map upon a larger scale, which has been composed from two delineations made by him in his two journeys in that province.

[p.iv]It appears unnecessary to the Editor to enter into any lengthened discussion in justification of the ancient names which he has inserted in the maps; he thinks it sufficient to refer to the copious exposition of the evidences of Sacred Geography contained in the celebrated work of Reland. Much is still wanting to complete this most interesting geographical comparison; and as a great part of the country visited by Burckhardt has since his time been explored by a gentleman better qualified to illustrate its antiquities by his learning; who travelled under more favourable circumstances, and who was particuarly diligent in collecting those most faithful of all geographical evidences, ancient inscriptions, it may be left to Mr. W. Bankes, to illustrate more fully the ancient geography of the Decapolis and adjoining districts, and to remove some of the difficulties arising from the ambiguity of the ancient authorities.

It will be found, perhaps, that our traveller is incorrect in supposing, that the ruins at Omkeis are those of Gamala, for the situalion of Omkeis, the strength of its position, and the extent of the ruins, all favour the opinion that it was Gadara, the chief city of Peraea, the strongest place in this part of the country, and the situation of which, on a mountain over against Tiberias and Scythopolis, [Polyb.1.5.c.71. Bel. Jud.l.4.c.8. Euseb. Onomast. in [Greek text]. The distance of the ruins at Omkeis from the Hieromax and the hot baths seems to have been Burckhardt’s objection to their being the remains of Gadara; but this distance is justified by St. Jerom, by Eusebius, and by a writer of the 5th century. According to the two former authors the hot baths were not at Gadara, but at a place near it called Aitham, or Aimath, or Emmatha; and the latter correctly states the distance at five miles. Reland Palaest. p.302, 775. Perhaps Gamala was at El Hosn; Gaulanitis, of which Gamala was the chief town, will then correspond very well with Djolan.] corresponds precisely with that of Omkeis. But it will probably be admitted, that our traveller has rightly placed several other cities, such as Scythopolis, Hippus, Abila,[There were two cities of this name. Abil on the Western borders of the Haouran appears to have been the Abila of Lysanias, which the Emperors Claudius and Nero gave together with Batanaea and Trachonitis, to Herodes Agrippa. Joseph. Ant. Jud. l.19.c.5.–sl.20.c.7.] Gerasa, Amathus;

[p.v]and he has greatly improved our knowledge of Sacred Geography, by ascertaining many of the Hebrew sites in the once populous but now deserted region, formerly known by the names of Edom, Moab, Ammon, and the country of the Amorites.

The principal geographical discoveries of our traveller, are the nature of the country between the Dead Sea and the gulf of Aelana, now Akaba;– the extent, conformation, and detailed topography of the Haouran;–the site of Apameia on the Orontes, one of the most important cities of Syria under the Macedonian Greeks;–the site of Petra, which, under the Romans, gave the name of Arabia Petraea to the surrounding territory;– and the general structure of the peninsula of Mount Sinai; together with many new facts in its geography, one of the most important of which is the extent and form of the AElanitic gulf, hitherto so imperfectly known as either to be omitted in the maps, or marked with a bifurcation at the extremity, which is now found not to exist.

M. Seetzen, in the years 1805 and 1806, had traversed a part of the Haouran to Mezareib and Draa, had observed the Paneium at the source of the Jordan at Banias, had visited the ancient sites at Omkeis, Beit-er- Ras, Abil, Djerash and Amman, and had followed the route afterwards taken by Burckhardt through Rabbath Moab to Kerek, from whence he passed round the southern extremity of the Dead Sea to Jerusalem. The public, however, has never received any more than a very short account of these journeys, taken from the correspondence of M. Seetzen with M. de Zach, at Saxe-Gotha.[This correspondence having been communicated to the Palestine Association, was translated and printed by that Society in the year 1810, in a quarto of forty-seven pages.] He was quite unsuccessful in his inquiries for Petra, and having taken the road which leads to Mount Sinai []from Hebron, he had no suspicion of the existence of the long valley known by the names of El Ghor, and El Araba.

This prolongation of the valley of the Jordan, which completes a longitudinal separation of Syria, extending for three hundred miles from the sources of that river to the eastern branch of the Red Sea, is a most important feature in the geography of the Holy Land,–indicating that the Jordan once discharged itself into the Red Sea, and confirming the truth of that great volcanic convulsion, described in the nineteenth chapter of Genesis, which interrupted the course of the river, which converted into a lake the fertile plain occupied by the cities of Adma, Zeboin, Sodom and Gomorra, and which changed all the valley to the southward of that district into a sandy desert.

The part of the valley of the Orontes, below Hamah, in which stood the Greek cities of Larissa and Apameia, has now for the first time been examined by a scientific traveller, and the large lake together with the modern name of Famia, which have so long occupied a place in the maps of Syria, may henceforth be erased.

The country of the Nabataei, of which Petra was the chief town, is well characterized by Diodorus,[Diod. Sic.l.2,c.48.] as containing some fruitful spots, but as being for the greater part, desert and waterless. With equal accuracy, the combined information of Eratosthenes, [Eratosth. ap. Strab. p.767.] Strabo,[Strabo, p.779.] and Pliny, [Plin. Hist Nat.l.6,c.28.] describes Petra as falling in a line, drawn from the head of the Arabian gulf (Suez) to Babylon,–as being at the distance of three or four days from Jericho, and of four or five from Phoenicon, which was a place now called Moyeleh, on the Nabataean coast, near the entrance of the AElanitic gulf,–and as situated in a valley of about two miles in length surrounded with deserts, inclosed within precipices, and watered by a river. The latitude of 30 degrees 20 minutes [p.vii]ascribed by Ptolemy to Petra, agrees moreover very accurately with that which is the result of the geographical information of Burckhardt. The vestiges of opulence, and the apparent date of the architecture at Wady Mousa, are equally conformable with the remains of the history of Petra, found in Strabo,[P.781.] from whom it appears that previous to the reign of Augustus, or under the latter Ptolemies, a very large portion of the commerce of Arabia and India passed through Petra to the Mediterranean: and that ARMIES of camels were required to convey the merchandise from Leuce Come, on the Red Sea,[Leuce Come, on the coast of the Nabataei, was the place from whence AElius Gallus set out on his unsuccessful expedition into Arabia, (Strabo, ibid.) Its exact situation is unknown.] through Petra to Rhinocolura, now El Arish. But among the ancient authorities regarding Petra, none are more curious than those of Josephus, Eusebius, and Jerom, all persons well acquainted with these countries, and who agree in proving that the sepulchre of Aaron in Mount Hor, was near Petra.[Euseb. et Hieron. Onomast. in Greek text]. Joseph. Ant. Jud.l.4.c.4.] For hence, it seems evident, that the present object of Musulman devotion, under the name of the tomb of Haroun, stands upon the same spot which has always been regarded as the burying-place of Aaron; and there remains little doubt, therefore, that the mountain to the west of Petra, is the Mount Hor of the Scriptures, Mousa being, perhaps, an Arabic corruption of Mosera, where Aaron is said to have died. [Deuter.c.x.v.6. In addition to the proofs of the site of Petra, just stated, it is worthy of remark that the distance of eighty-three Roman miles from Aila, or AElana, to Petra, in the Table (called Theodosian or Peutinger,) when compared with the distance on the map, gives a rate of about 7/10 of a Roman mile to the geographical mile in direct distance, which is not only a correct rate, but accords very accurately with that resulting from the other two routes leading from Aila in the Table, namely, from Aila to Clysma, near the modern Suez, and from Aila to Jerusalem. Szadeka, which Burckhardt visited to the south of Wady Mousa, agrees in distance and situation as well as in name with the Zadagasta of the Table, or Zodocatha of the Notitiae dignitatum Imperii. See Reland Palaest. p. 230. Most of the other places mentioned on the three roads of the Table are noticed by Ptolemy or in the Notitiae.

And here, the Editor may be permitted to add a few words on a third Roman route across these deserts, (having travelled the greater part of it three times,) namely, that from Gaza to Pelusium. In the Itinerary of Antoninus, the places, and their interjacent distances are stated as follows, Gaza, 22 M.P. Raphia, 22 M.P. Rhinocolura, 26 M.P. Ostracine, 26 M.P. Casium, 20 M.P. Pentaschoenus, 20 M.P. Pelusium. The Theodosian Table agrees with the Itinerary, but is defective in some of the names and distances; Gerrhae, placed by the Table at 8 M.P. eastward of Pelusium, is confirmed in this situation by Strabo and Ptolemy. Strabo confirms the Itinerary in regard to Raphia, omits to notice Ostracine, and in placing Casium at three hundred stades from Pelusium, differs not much from the 40 M.P. of the Itinerary, or the ten schoenes indicated by the word Pentaschoenus, midway.

The name of Rafa is still preserved near a well in the desert, at six hours march to the southward of Gaza, where among many remains of of ancient buildings, two erect granite columns are supposed by the natives to mark the division between Africa and Asia. Polybius remarks (l.5,c.80), that Raphia was the first town of Syria, coming from Rhinocolura, which was considered an Egyptian town. Between Raphia and the easternmost inundations of the Nile, the only two places at which there is moisture sufficient to produce a degree of vegetation useful to man, are El Arish and Katieh. The whole tract between these places, except where it has been encroached upon by moving sands, is a plain strongly impregnated with salt, terminatig towards the sea in a lagoon or irruption of the sea anciently called Sirbonis. As the name of Katieh, and its distance from Tineh or Pelusium, leave no doubt of its being the ancient Casium, the only remaining question is, whether El Arish is Rhinocolura, or Ostracine? A commentary of St. Jerom, on the nineteenth chapter of Isaiah, v.18, suggests the possibility that the modern name El Arish may be a corruption of the Hebrew Ares, which, as Jerom observes, means [Greek text], and alludes to Ostracine. Jerom was well acquainted with this country; but as the translators of Isaiah have supposed the word not to have been Ares, and as Jerom does not state that Ares was a name used in his time, the conjecture is not of much weight. It is impossible to reconcile the want of water so severely felt at Ostracine (Joseph. de Bel. Jud. l.4, ad fin. Plutarch, in M. Anton. Gregor. Naz. ep. 46.), with El Arish, where there are occasional torrents, and seldom any scarcity of well water, either there or at Messudieh, two hours westward. Ostracine, therefore, was probably near the [Greek text] of the lagoon Sirbonis, about mid-way between El Arish and Katieh, on the bank described by Strabo (p. 760), which separates the Sirbonis from the sea. This maritime position of Ostracine is confirmed by the march of Titus, (Joseph. ibid.) Leaving the limits of the Pelusiac territory, he moved across the desert on the first day, not to the modern Katieh, but to the temple of Jupiter, at Mount Casium, on the sea shore, at the Cape now called Ras Kasaroun; on the second day to Ostracine; on the third to Rhinocolura; on the fourth to Raphia; on the fifth to Gaza. It will be seen by the map that these positions, as now settled, furnished exactly five convenient marches, the two longest being naturally through the desert of total privation, which lies between El Arish and Katieh. As the modern route, instead of following the sea shore, passes to the southward of the lagoon, the site of Ostracine has not yet been explored.

[p.viii]It would seem, from the evidence regarding Petra which may be collected in ancient history, that neither in the ages prior to the [p.ix]commercial opulence of the Nabataei, nor after they were deprived of it, was Wady Mousa the position of their principal town.

When the Macedonian Greeks first became acquainted with this part of Syria by means of the expedition which Antigonus sent against the Nabataei, under the command of his son Demetrius, we are informed by Diodorus that these Arabs placed their old men, women, and children upon a certain rock [Greek text], steep, unfortified by walls, admitting only of one access to the summit, and situated 300 stades beyond the lake Asphaltitis. [Diod. Sic. l.19.c.95, 98.] As this interval agrees with that of Kerek from the southern extremity of the Dead Sea, and is not above half the distance of Wady Mousa from the same point; and as the other parts of the description are well adapted to Kerek, while they are inapplicable to Wady Mousa, we can hardly doubt that Kerek was at that time the fortress of the Nabataei; and that during the first ages of the intercourse of that people with the Greeks, it was known to the latter by the name Petra, so often applied by them to barbarian hill-posts.

When the effects of commerce required a situation better suited than Kerek to the collected population and increased opulence of the Nabataei, the appellation of Petra was transferred to the new city at Wady Mousa, which place had before been known to the [p.x]Greeks by the name of Arce [Greek text], a corruption perhaps of the Hebrew Rekem.[Joseph. Antiq. Jud. l.4,c.4.] To Wady Mousa, although of a very different aspect from Kerek, the name Petra was equally well adapted; and Kerek then became distinguished among the Greeks by its indigenous name, in the Greek form of Charax, to which the Romans added that of Omanorum, or Kerek of Ammon,[Plin. Hist. Nat. l.6,c.28.] to distinguish it from another Kerek, now called Kerek el Shobak. The former Kerek was afterwards restored by the Christians to the Jewish division of Moab, to which, being south of the river Arnon, it strictly belonged, and it was then called in Greek Charagmoba, under which name we find it mentioned as one of the cities and episcopal dioceses of the third Palestine.[Hierocl. Synecd. Notit. Episc. Graec.]

When the stream of commerce which had enriched the Nabataei had partly reverted to its old Egyptian channel, and had partly taken the new course, which created a Palmyra in the midst of a country still more destitute of the commonest gifts of nature, then Arabia Petraea,[A comparison of the architecture at Wady Mousa, and at Tedmour, strengthens the opinion, that Palmyra flourished at a period later than Petra.] Wady Mousa was gradually depopulated. Its river, however, and the intricate recesses of its rocky valleys, still attract and give security to a tribe of Arabs; but the place being defensible only by considerable numbers, and being situated in a less fertile country than Kerek, was less adapted to be the chief town of the Nabataei, when they had returned to their natural state of divided wanderers or small agricultural communities. The Greek bishopricks of the third Palestine were obliterated by the Musulman conquest, with the sole exception of the metropolitan Petra, whose titular bishop still resides at Jerusalem, and occasionally visits Kerek, as being the only place in his province which contains [p.xi]a Christian community. Hence Kerek has been considered the see of the bishoprick of Petra, and hence has arisen the erroneous opinion often adopted by travellers from the Christians of Jerusalem, that Kerek is the site of the ancient capital of Arabia Petraea.

The Haouran being only once mentioned in the Sacred Writings, [Ezekiel. c. xlvii v. 16. ] was probably of inconsiderable extent under the Jews, but enlarged its boundaries under the Greeks and Romans, by whom it was called Auranitis. It has been still farther increased since that time, and now includes not only Auranitis, but Ituraea also, or Ittur, of which Djedour is perhaps a corruption; together with the greater part of Basan, or Batanaea, and Trachonitis. Burckhardt seems not to have been aware of the important comment upon Trachonitis afforded by his description of the singular rocky wilderness of the Ledja, and by the inscriptions which he copied at Missema, in that district.[See p. 117, 118.] It appears from these inscriptions, that Missema was anciently the town of the Phaenesii, and the metrocomia or chief place of Trachon, the descriptions of which district by Strabo and Josephus,[Strabo, 755, 756. Joseph. Antiq. Jud. l.15,c.13.] are in exact conformity with that which Burckhardt has given us of the Ledja.

From Strabo and Ptolemy,[Strabo, ibid. Ptolemy, l.5,c.15.] we learn that Trachonitis comprehended all the uneven country extending along the eastern side of the plain of Haouran, from near Damascus to Boszra. It was in consequence of the predatory incursions of the Arabs from the secure recesses of the Ledja into the neighbouring plains, that Augustus transferred the government of Trachonitis from Zenodorus, who was accused of encouraging them, to Herod, king of Judaea. [Joseph. Antiq. Jud.l.5,c.10. De Bell. Jud.l.1,c.20.] The two Trachones, into which Trachonitis was divided, agree with the two natural divisions of the Ledja and Djebel Haouran.

[p.xii]Oerman, an ancient ruin at the foot of the Djebel Haouran, to the east of Boszra, appears from an inscription copied there by Burckhardt, to be the site of Philippopolis, a town founded by Philip, emperor of Rome, who was a native of Boszra.

Another ancient name is found at Hebran, in the same mountains, to the N.E. of Boszra, where an inscription records the gratitude of the tribe of AEedeni to a Roman veteran. The Kelb Haouran, or summit of the Djebel Haouran, appears to be the Mount Alsadamum of Ptolemy.[Ptolem.l.5,c.15.]

Of the ancient towns just mentioned, Philippopolis alone is noticed in ancient history; and although the name of Phaeno occurs as a bishoprick of Palestine, and that the adjective Phaenesius is applied to some mines at that place [Greek text], it seems evident that these Phaenesii were different from those of Trachon, and that they occupied a part of Idumaea, between Petra and the southern extremity of the Dead Sea.[Reland. Palaest. 1.3, voce Phaeno.]

Mezareib, a village and castle on the Hadj route, appears to be the site of Astaroth, the residence of Og, king of Bashan; [Deuter. c.l.v.4. Josh. c.ix.v.10.] for Eusebius [Euseb. Onomast. in [Greek text].] places Astaroth at 6 miles from Adraa (or Edrei, now Draa,) between that place and Abila (now Abil), and at 25 miles from Bostra, a distance very nearly confirmed by the Theodosian Table, which gives 24 Roman miles between those two places. It will be seen by the map, that the position of Mezareib conforms to all these particulars. The unfailing pool of the clearest water, which now attracts the men and cattle of all the surrounding country to Mezareib in summer, must have made it a place of importance in ancient times, and therefore excited the wonder of our traveller at its having preserved only some very scanty relics of antiquity.

Although Mount Sinai, and the deserts lying between that peninsula [p.xiii]and Judaea, have not, like the latter country, preserved many of the names of Holy Scripture, the new information of Burckhardt contains many facts in regard to their geography and natural history, which may be useful in tracing the progress of the Israelites from Egypt into Syria.

The bitter well of Howara, 15 hours southward of Ayoun Mousa, corresponds as well in situation as in the quality of its water, with the well of Marah, at which the Israelites arrived after passing through a desert of three days from the place near Suez where they had crossed the Red Sea.[Exodus, c.xiv. xv. Numbers. c.xxxiii.]

The Wady Gharendel, two hours beyond Howara, where are wells among date trees, seems evidently to be the station named Elim, which was next to Marah, and at which the Israelites found “twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees.” [Exodus, c.xv. Numbers, c.xxxiii.] And it is remarkable, that the Wady el Sheikh, and the upper part of the Wady Feiran, the only places in the peninsula where manna is gathered from below the tamarisk trees, accord exactly with that part of the desert of Sin, in which Moses first gave his followers the sweet substance gathered in the morning, which was to serve them for bread during their long wandering;[Exodus, c.xvi.] for the route through Wady Taybe, Wady Feiran, and Wady el Sheikh, is the only open and easy passage to Mount Sinai from Wady Gharendel; and it requires the traveller to pass for some distance along the sea shore after leaving Gharendel, as we are informed that the Israelites actually did, on leaving Elim.[Numbers, c.xxxiii.v.10, 11.]

The upper region of Sinai, which forms an irregular circle of 30 or 40 miles in diameter, possessing numerous sources of water, a temperate climate, and a soil capable of supporting animal and vegetable nature, was the part of the peninsula best adapted to [p.xiv]the residence of near a year, during which the Israelites were numbered and received their laws.

About the beginning of May, in the fourteenth month from the time of their departure from Egypt, the children of Israel quitted the vicinity of Mount Horeb, and under the guidance of Hohab, the Midianite, brother- in-law of Moses, marched to Kadesh, a place on the frontiers of Canaan, of Edom, and of the desert of Paran or Zin.[Numbers, c.x. et seq. and c.33. Deuter. c.i.] Not long after their arrival, “at the time of the ‘first ripe grapes,'” or about the beginning of August, spies were sent into every part of the cultivated country, as far north as Hamah.[Numbers, c.xiii. Deuter. c.i.] The report which they brought back was no less favourable to the fertility of the land, than it was discouraging by its description of the warlike spirit and preparation of the inhabitants, and of the strength of the fortified places; and the Israelites having in consequence refused to follow their leaders into Canaan, were punished by that long wandering in the deserts lying between Egypt, Judaea, and Mount Sinai, of which the sacred historian has not left us any details, but the tradition of which is still preserved in the name of El Tyh, annexed to the whole country; both to the desert plains, and to the mountains lying between them and Mount Sinai.

In the course of their residence in the neighbourhood of Kadesh, the Israelites obtained some advantages over the neighbouring Canaanites,[Numbers, c.xxi.] but giving up at length all hope of penetrating by the frontier, which lies between Gaza and the Dead Sea, they turned to the eastward, with a view of making a circuit through the countries on the southern and eastern sides of the lake. [Numbers, c.xx, xxi.] Here however, they found the difficulty still greater; Mount Seir of Edom, which under the modern names of Djebal, Shera, and Hesma, [p.xv]forms a ridge of mountains, extending from the southern extremity of the Dead Sea to the gulf of Akaba, rises abruptly from the valleys El Ghor and El Araba, and is traversed from west to east by a few narrow Wadys only, among which the Ghoeyr alone furnishes an entrance that would not be extremely difficult to a hostile force. This perhaps was the “high way,” by which Moses, aware of the difficulty of forcing a passage, and endeavouring to obtain his object by negotiation, requested the Edomites to let him pass, on the condition of his leaving the fields and vineyards untouched, and of purchasing provisions and water from the inhabitants.[Numbers, c.xx. Deuter, c.i.] But Edom “refused to give Israel passage through his border,” and “came out against him with much people, and with a strong hand.”[Numbers, c.xx.] The situation of the Israelites therefore, was very critical. Unable to force their way in either direction, and having enemies on three sides; (the Edomites in front, and the Canaanites, and Amalekites on their left flank and rear,) no alternative remained for them but to follow the valley El Araba southwards, towards the head of the Red Sea. At Mount Hor, which rises abruptly from that valley, “by the coast of the land of Edom,”[Numbers, ibid.] Aaron died, and was buried in the conspicuous situation, which tradition has preserved as the site of his tomb to the present day. Israel then “journeyed from Mount Hor, by the way of the Red Sea, to compass the land of Edom,”[Numbers, c.xxi.] “through the way of the plain from Elath, and from Eziongeber,” until “they turned and passed by the way of the wilderness of Moab, and arrived at the brook Zered.”[Deuter, c.ii.] It may be supposed that they crossed the ridge to the southward of Eziongeber, about the place where Burckhardt remarked, from the opposite coast, that the mountains were lower than to the northward, and it [p.xvi] was in this part of their wandering that they suffered from the serpents, of which our traveller observed the traces of great numbers on the opposite shore of the AElanitic gulf. The Israelites then issued into the great elevated plains which are traversed by the Egyptian and Syrian pilgrims, on the way to Mekka, after they have passed the two Akabas. Having entered these plains, Moses received the divine command, “You have compassed this mountain long enough, turn you northward.”–“Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir, and they shall be afraid of you.” [Deuter, c.ii.] The same people who had successfully repelled the approach of the Israelites from the strong western frontier, was alarmed now that they had come round upon the weak side of the country. But Israel was ordered “not to meddle” with the children of Esau, but “to pass through their coast” and to “buy meat and water from them for money,” in the same manner as the caravan of Mekka is now supplied by the people of the same mountains, who meet the pilgrims on the Hadj route. After traversing the wilderness on the eastern side of Moab, the Israelites at length entered that country, crossing the brook Zered in the thirty-eighth year, from their first arrival at Kadesh Barnea, “when all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host.”[Deuter, c.ii.] After passing through the centre of Moab, they crossed the Arnon, entered Ammon, and were at length permitted to begin the overthrow of the possessors of the promised land, by the destruction of Sihon the Amorite, who dwelt at Heshbon.[Numbers, c.xxi. Deuter, c.ii.] The preservation of the latter name, and of those of Diban, Medaba, Aroer, Amman, together with the other geographical facts derived from the journey of Burckhardt through the countries beyond the Dead Sea, furnishes a most satisfactory illustration of the sacred historians.

[p.xvii]It remains for the Editor only to add, that while correcting the foreign idiom of his Author, and making numerous alterations in the structure of the language, he has been as careful as posible not to injure the originality of the composition, stamped as it is with the simplicity, good sense, and candour, inseparable from the Author’s character. In the Editor’s wish, however, to preserve this originality, he cannot flatter himself that incorrect expressions may not sometimes have been left. In regard to the Greek inscriptions, he thinks it necessary only to remark, that although the propriety of furnishing the reader with fac-similes of all such interesting relicts of ancient history cannot in general be doubted, yet in the present instance, the trouble and expense which it would have occasioned, would hardly have been compensated by the importance of the monuments themselves, or by the degree of correctness with which they were copied by the traveller. They have therefore been printed in a type nearly resembling the Greek characters which were in use at the date of the inscriptions, and the Editor has taken the liberty of separating the words, and of supplying in the small cursive Greek character, the defective parts of the traveller’s copies.

The Editor takes this opportunity of stating, that in consequence of some discoveries in African geography, which have been made known since the publication of Burckhardt’s Travels in Nubia, he has made some alterations in the maps of the second edition of that work. The observations of Captain Lyon have proved Morzouk to be situated a degree and a half to the southward of the position formerly assigned to it, and his enquiries having at the same time confirmed the bearing and distance between Morzouk and Bornou, as reported by former travellers, a corresponding change will follow in the latitude of Bornou, as well as in the [p.xviii]position of the places on the route leading to those two cities from the countries of the Nile.

A journey into Nubia, by the Earl of Belmore, and his brother, the Hon. Capt. Corry, has furnished some latitudes and longitudes, serving to correct the map of “the course of the Nile, from Assouan to the confines of Dongola”, which the Editor constructed from the journals of Burckhardt, without the assistance of any celestial observatians. The error in the map as to the most distant point observed by Lord Belmore is however so small, that it has not been thought necessary to make any alteration in that map for the second edition of Burckhardt’s Journey in Nubia; but the whole delineation of this part of the Nile will be corrected from the recent observations, in a new edition of the Supplement to the Editor’s general Map of Egypt.

Since the Journey of Lord Belmore, Mr. Waddington and Mr. Hanbury, taking advantage of an expedition sent into AEthiopia by the Viceroy of Egypt, have prolonged the examination of the Nile four hundred miles beyond the extreme point reached by Burckhardt; and some French gentlemen have continued to follow the army as far as Sennaar. The presence of a Turkish army in that country will probably furnish greater facilities for exploring the Bahr el Abiad, or western branch of the Nile, than have ever before been presented to travellers; there is reason to hope, that the opportunity will not be neglected, and thus a survey of this celebrated river from its sources to the Mediterranean, may, perhaps, at length be made, if not for the first time, for the first time at least since the extinction of Egyptian science.

The expedition of the Pasha of Egypt has already produced some important additions to African geography. By permission of Mr. Waddington, the Editor has corrected, from that gentleman’s delineation, the parts of the Nile above Mahass, for the second [p.xix] edition of Burckhardt’s Nubia, and from the information transmitted to England by Mr. Salt, he has been enabled to insert in the same map, the position of the ruins of an ancient city situated about 20 miles to the north-eastward of Shendy.

These ruins had already been partially seen by Bruce and Burckhardt, [Burckhardt passed through the vestiges of what seems to have been a dependency of this city on the Nile, at seven hours to the north of Shendy, and two hours to the south of Djebail; the latter name, which is applied by Burckhardt to a large village on a range of hills, is evidently the same as the Mount Gibbainy, where Bruce observed the same ruins, which have now been more completely explored by M. Cailliaud. See Travels in Nubia, p.275. Bruce’s Travels, Vol. iv. p.538, 4to.] and there can be little doubt that Bruce was right in supposing them to be the remains of Meroe, the capital of the great peninsula of the same name, of which the general geography appears to have been known with considerable accuracy to men of science in the Augustan age, although it had not been visited by any of the writers whose works have reached us. For, assuming [To illustrate the following observations, as well as some of the preceding, a small drawing of the course of the Nile is inserted in the margin of the map of Syria which accompanies the present volume.] these ruins to mark the site of the city Meroe, and that the latitude and longitude of Shendy have been accurately determined by Bruce, whose instruments were good, and whose competency to the task of observation is undoubted, it will be found that Ptolemy is very nearly right in ascribing the latitude of 16.26 to the city Meroe.[Ptolem. l.4,c.8.] Pliny [Plin. Hist. Nat. l.2,c.73.] is equally correct in stating that the two points of the ecliptic, in which the sun is in the zenith at Meroe, are the 18th degree of Taurus, and the 14th degree of Leo. The 5000 stades which Strabo[Strabo, p. 113.] and Pliny [Plin. ibid.] We learn from another passage in Pliny, (l.6,c.29,) that the persons sent by Nero to explore the Nile, measured 884 miles, “by the river”, from Syene to Meroe.] assert to be the distance between Meroe and Syene is correct, at a rate of between 11 and 12 [p.xx]stades to the geographical mile; if the line be taken in direct distance, as evidently appears to have been the intention of Strabo, by his thrice stating (upon the authority of Eratosthenes,) that the distance from Meroe to Alexandria was 10,000 stades.[Eratosth. ap. strab. p. 62. Strabo, p. 113, 825.] The latitudes of Ptolemy equally accord in shewing the equidistance of Syene from Meroe and from Alexandria; the latitude of Syene being stated by him at 23-50,[Ptolem. l.4,c.6.] and that of Alexandria at 31-0. [Ptolem. ibid.] The description of the island of Meroe as being 3000 stades long, and 1000 broad, in form like a shield, and as formed by the confluence of the Astasobas, Astapus, and Astaboras,[Eratosth. ap. Strab. p.786. Strab. p.821. Diodor. Sic. l.l,c.33. Heliodor. AEthiop. l.10,c.5] is perfectly applicable to the great peninsula watered on the east by the Tacazze, and on the west by the Bahr el Abiad, after receiving the Bahr el Azrek. The position of the city Meroe is shewn by Artemidorus, Ptolemy, and Pliny,[Artemid. ap. Strab. p.771. Ptolem. l.4,c.8. Plin. Hist. Nat. l.6,c.29.] to have been, like the ruins near Shendy, near the northern angle of the island, or the confluence of the rivers. The island between Djebail and Shendy which Bruce calls Kurgos, answers to that which Pliny describes as the port of Meroe; and finally, the distance of “15 days to a good walker,” which Artemidorus [Artemid. ibid.] places between Meroe and the sea, giving a rate of about 16 English miles a-day, in direct distance, is a correct statement of the actual distance between the ruins near Shendy and Souakin. [It is fair to remark, that there are two authorities which tend to place the city of Meroe 30 or 40 miles to the southward of the ruins near Shendy. Eratosthenes states it to have been at 700 stades, and Pliny at 70 miles above the confluence. But it is rare indeed to find a coincidence of many ancient authorities in a question where numbers are concerned, unless one author has borrowed from another, which is probably the case in regard to the two just quoted.]

[p.xxi]It will hardly be contested, that the modern name of Merawe, which is found attached to a town near the ruins of an ancient city, discovered by Messrs. Waddington and Hanbury in the country of the Sheygya, is sufficient to overthrow the strong evidence just stated. It may rather be inferred, that the Greek Meroe was formed from a word signifying “city” in the ancient AEthiopic language, which has continued up to the present time, to be attached to the site of one of the chief cities on the banks of the Nile,–thus resembling in its origin many names of places in various countries, which from simple nouns expressive in the original language of objects or their qualities, such as city, mountain, river, sacred, white, blue, black, have been converted by foreigners into proper names.

The ruins near Merawe seem to those of Napata, the chief town of the country intermediate between Meroe and Egypt, and which was taken by the praefect Petronius, in the reign of Augustus, when it was the capital of Queen Candace;[Ptolem. l.4,c.7. Strabo, p.820. Plin. Hist. Nat.l.6,c.29.] for Pliny, on the authority of the persons sent by Nero to EXPLORE the river above Syene, states 524 Roman miles to have been the interval between Syene and Napata, and 360 miles to have been that between Napata and Meroe, which distances correspond more nearly than could have been expected with the real distances between Assouan, Merawe, and Shendy, taken along the general curve of the river, without considering the windings in detail.[We must not, however, too confidently pronounce on REAL distances until we possess a few more positions fixed by astronomical observations.]

The island of Argo, from its extent, its important ruins, its fertility, as well as from the similarity of name, seems to be the Gora, of Juba,[Ap. Plin. ibid.] or the Gagaudes, which the explorers of Nero reported to be situated at 133 miles below Napata.

[p.xxii]In placing Napata at the ruins near Merawe, it is necessary to abandon the evidence of Ptolemy, whose latitude of Napata is widely different from that of Merawe; and as we also find, that he is considerably in error, in regard to the only point between Syene and Meroe, hitherto ascertained, namely, the Great Cataract, which he places 37 minutes to the north of Wady Halfa, still less can we rely upon his authority for the position of the obscurer towns.

Although the extreme northern point to which the Nile descends below Berber, before it turns to the south, is not yet accurately determined in latitude, nor the degree of southern latitude which the river reaches before it finally takes the northern course, which it continues to the Mediterranean, we cannot doubt that Eratosthenes had received a tolerably correct account of its general course from the Egyptians, notwithstanding his incorrectness in regard to the proportionate length of the great turnings of the river.

“The Nile,” he says “after having flowed to the north from Meroe for the space of 2700 stades, turns to the south and southwest for 3700 stades, entering very far into Lybia, until it arrives in the latitude of Meroe; then making a new turn, it flows to the north for the space of 5300 stades, to the great Cataract, whence inclining a little eastward, it traverses 1200 stades to the small Cataract of Syene, and then 5300 stades to the sea.[Ap. Strab. p.786. The only mode of reconciling these numbers to the truth, is to suppose the three first of them to have been taken with all the windings of the stream, the two last in a direct line, and even then they cannot be very accurate.] The Nile receives two rivers, which descending from certain lakes surround the great island of Meroe. That which flows on the eastern side is called Astaboras, the other is the Astapus, though some say it is the Astasobas,” &c.

This ambiguity, it is hardly necessary to observe, was caused by the greater magnitude of the Astasobas, or Bahr el Abiad, or White [p.xxiii] River, which caused it to give name to the united stream after its junction with the Astapus, or Bahr el Azrek, or Blue River; and hence Pliny,[Plin. Hist. Nat. l.5,c.9.] in speaking of Meroe, does not say that it was formed by the Astapus, but by the Astasobas. In fact, the Astapus forms the boundary of the island, as it was called, on the S.W. the Astasobas, or united stream, on the N.W.

WILLIAM MARTIN LEAKE, Acting Secretary of the African Association.

ERRATA. [Not included]


Journal of a Tour from Damascus, in the Countries of the Libanus and Anti-Libanus …………………………… 1

Journal of an Excursion into the Haouran, in the Autumn and Winter of 1810,………………………………………….51

Journal of a Tour from Aleppo to Damascus, through the Valley of the Orontes and Mount Libanus, in February and March, 1812…………………………………………………..121

Journal of a Tour from Damascus into the Haouran, and the Mountains to the E. and S.E. of the Lake of Tiberias, in the Months of April and May, 1812…………………………….211

Description of a Journey from Damascus through the Mountains of Arabia Petraea and Desert el Ty, to Cairo, in the Summer of 1812………………………………………………..311

Journal of a Tour in the Peninsula of Mount Sinai, in the Spring of 1816………………………………………………..457


No. I. An Account of the Ryhanlu Turkmans…………………..633

No. II. On the Political Division of Syria, and the recent changes in the Government of Aleppo……………………….648

No. III. The Hadj Route from Damascus to Mekka………………..656

No. IV. Description of the Route from Boszra in the Haouran, to Djebel Shammor……………………………………….662

No. V. A Route to the Eastward of the Castle El Hasa………….665



COUNTRIES OF THE LIBANUS, AND ANTI-LIBANUS. September 22, 1810.–I Left Damascus at four o’clock P.M. with a small caravan destined for Tripoli; passed Salehie, and beyond it a Kubbe,[Kubbe, a cupola supported by columns or walls; the sepulchre of a reputed saint.] from whence I had, near sun-set, a most beautiful view of the city of Damascus and its surrounding country. From the Kubbe, the road passes along the left side of the valley in which the Barrada runs, over uneven ground, which for the greater part is barren rock. After a ride of two hours and a quarter from Salehie, we descended to the river’s side, and passed the Djissr [Djissr–Bridge.]


[p.2]Dumar; on the other side of which we encamped. It is a well-built bridge, with two archies, at twenty minutes distance from the village Dumar.

September 23.–We set off before daylight, crossing the mountains, in one of whose Wadys[Wady–Valley.] the Barrada winds along; we crossed it repeatedly, and after two hours arrived at the village Eldjdide [Arabic], built on the declivity of a hill near the source of one of the numerous rivulets that empty themselves into the Barrada. One hour and three quarters further, we descended into the Wady Barrada, near two villages, built on either side of the river, opposite to each other, called Souk Barrada.[Souk (market) is an appellation often added to villages, which have periodical markets.] The valley of the Barrada, up to Djissr Barrada, is full of fruit trees; and where its breadth permits, Dhourra and wheat are sown. Half an hour further, is Husseine, a small village in the lower part of the valley. Three-quarters of an hour, El Souk; here the Wady begins to be very narrow. A quarter of an hour beyond, turning round a steep rock, the valley presents a very wild and picturesque aspect. To the left, in the mountain, are six chambers cut in the rock; said to be the work of Christians, to whom the greater part of the ancient structures in Syria are ascribed. The river was not fordable here; and it would have taken me at least two hours to reach, by a circuitous route, the opposite mountains. A little way higher up is the Djissr el Souk, at the termination of the Wady; this bridge was built last year, as appears by an Arabic inscription on the rock near it. From the bridge the road leads up the side of the mountain, and enters, after half an hour’s ride, upon a plain country. The river has a pretty cascade, near which are


[p.3] the remains of a bridge. The above mentioned plain is about three- quarters of an hour in breadth, and three hours in length; it is called Ard Zebdeni, or the district of Zebdeni; it is watered by the Barrada, one of whose sources is in the midst of it; and by the rivulet called Moiet[Moye–Water.] Zebdeni [Arabic], whose source is in the mountain, behind the village of the same name. The latter river, which empties itself into the Barrada, has, besides the source in the Ard Zebdeni, another of an equal size near Fidji, in a side branch of the Wady Barrada, half an hour from the village Husseine. The fall of the river is very rapid. We followed the plain of Zebdeni from one end to the other: it is limited on one side by the eastern part of the Anti- Libanus, called here Djebel Zebdeni. Its cultivable ground is waste till near the village of Beroudj [Arabic], where I saw plantations of mulberry trees, which seemed to be well taken care of. Half an hour from Beroudj is the village of Zebdeni [Arabic], and between them the ruined Khan Benduk (the bastard Khan). Zebdeni is a considerable village; its inhabitants breed cattle, and the silk-worm, and have some dyeing houses. I had a letter for the Sheikh of Zebdeni from a Damascene; the Sheikh ordered me an Argile[Argile–A Persian pipe, in which the smoke passes through water.] and a cup of coffee, but went to supper with his household, without inviting me to join them. This being considered an insult, I left his house and went to sup with the muleteers, with whom I slept upon an open piece of ground before a ruined bath, in the midst of the village. The inhabitants of Zebdeni are three-fourths Turks, and the remainder Greek Catholics; it is a place much frequented by those passing from Damascus to the mountain.

September 24.–Left the village before day-light and crossed the Anti- Libanus, at the foot of which Zebdeni lies. This chain of


[p.4] mountains is, by the inhabitants of the Bekaa and the Belad [Belad–District, province.] Baalbec, called Djebel[Djebel–Mountain.] Essharki (or the eastern mountain), in opposition to Djebel el Gharbi, the western mountain, otherwise called Djebel Libnan (Libanus); but that part of it which lies nearer to Zebdeni than to the great valley, is called Djebel Zebdeni. We travelled for the greater part of the morning upon the mountain. Its rock is primitive calcareous, of a fine grain; upon the highest part I found a sandy slate: on the summit and on the eastern side of this part of the Anti-Libanus there are many spots, affording good pasturage, where a tribe of Turkmans sometimes feed their cattle. It abounds also in short oak trees [Arabic], of which I saw none higher than twelve or fifteen feet. Our road lay N.W. Two hours and a half from Zebdeni we passed a spot with several wells, called Bir[Bir– Well.] Anhaur, or Bekai. The western declivity of the mountain, towards the district of Baalbec, is completely barren, without pasture or trees. After five hours and three quarters riding we descended into the plain, near the half-ruined village of El Kanne [Arabic], and passed the river of El Kanne, whose source is at three hours distance, in the mountain. It empties itself into the Liettani, in the plain, two hours below Kanne. I here left the caravan and took a guide to Zahle, where I meant to stay a few days. Our way lay W.b.N. across the plain; passed the village El Nahrien Haoush Hale, consisting of miserable mud cottages. The plain is almost totally uncultivated. Passed the Liettani [Arabic] at two hours from El Kanne. Half an hour, on the other side of it, is the village Kerak, at the foot of the Djebel Sannin; it consists of about one hundred and fifty-houses and has some gardens in the plain, which are watered by a branch of the Berdoun, or river of Zahle. Kerak is entirely inhabited by Turks; it belongs to:


[p.5] the dominions of the Emir of the Druses, who some years ago took it by force from the Emir of Baalbec. On the southern side of the village is a mosque, and adjoining to it a long building, on the eastern side of which are the ruins of another mosque, with a Kubbe still remaining. The long building contains, under a flat roof, the pretended tomb of Noah [Arabic]; it consists of a tomb-stone above ten feet long, three broad and two high, plastered all over; the direction of its length is S.E. and N.W. The Turks visit the grave, and pretend that Noah is really buried there. At half an hour from Kerak is the town of Zahle [Arabic], built in an inlet of the mountain, on a steep ascent, surrounded with Kerums (vineyards). The river Berdoun [Arabic] here issues from a narrow valley into the plain and waters the gardens of Zahle.

September 25th.–Took a walk through the town with Sheikh Hadj Farakh. There are eight or nine hundred houses, which daily increase, by fugitives from the oppressions of the Pashas of Damascus and of the neighbouring petty tyrants. Twenty-five years ago there were only two hundred houses at Zahle: it is now one of the principal towns in the territory of the Emir Beshir. It has its markets, which are supplied from Damascus and Beirout, and are visited by the neighbouring Fellahs, and the Arabs El Naim, and El Harb, and El Faddel, part of whom pass the winter months in the Bekaa, and exchange their butter against articles of dress, and tents, and horse and camel furniture. The inhabitants, who may amount to five thousand, are all Catholic Greeks, with the exception only of four or five Turkish families. The Christians have a bishop, five churches and a monastery, the Turks have no mosque. The town belongs to the territory of the Druses, and is under the authority of the Emir Beshir, but a part of it still belongs to the family of Aamara, whose influence, formerly very

[p.6] great in the Mountain, has lately been so much circumscribed by the Emir, that the latter is now absolute master of the town. The Emir receives the Miri, which is commonly the double of its original assessment (in Belad Baalbec it is the triple), and besides the Miri, he makes occasional demands upon the town at large. They had paid him forty-five purses a few weeks before my arrival. So far the Emir Beshir’s government resembles perfectly that of the Osmanlys in the eastern part of Syria: but there is one great advantage which the people enjoy under his command–an almost complete exemption from all personal exactions, and the impartiality of justice, which is dealt out in the same manner to the Christian and to the Turk. It is curious, that the peace of so numerous a body should be maintained without any legal power whatsoever. There is neither Sheikh nor governor in the town; disputes are settled by the friends of the respective parties, or if the latter are obstinate, the decision is referred to the tribunal of the Emir Beshir, at Deir el Kammar. The inhabitants, though not rich, are, in general, in independent circumstances; each family occupies one, or at most two rooms. The houses are built of mud; the roofs are supported by one or two wooden posts in the midst of the principal room, over which beams of pine-wood are laid across each other; upon these are branches of oak trees, and then the earth, which forms the flat terrace of the house. In winter the deep snow would soon break through these feeble roofs, did not the inhabitants take care, every morning, to remove the snow that may have fallen during the night. The people gain their subsistence, partly by the cultivation of their vineyards and a few mulberry plantations, or of their fields in the Bekaa, and partly by their shops, by the commerce in Kourdine sheep, and their manufactures. Almost every family weaves cotton cloth, which is used as shirts by the inhabitants and

[p.7] Arabs, and when dyed blue, as Kombazes, or gowns, by the men. There are more than twenty dyeing houses in Zahle, in which indigo only is employed. The Pike [The Pike is a linear measure, equal to two feet English, when used for goods of home manufacture, and twenty-seven inches for foreign imported commodities.] of the best of this cotton cloth, a Pike and a half broad, costs fifty paras, (above 1s. 6d. English). The cotton is brought from Belad Safad and Nablous. They likewise fabricate Abbayes, or woollen mantles. There are above one hundred horsemen in the town. In June 1810, when the Emir Beshir joined with his corps the army of Soleiman Pasha, to depose Youssef Pasha, he took from Zahle 400 men, armed with firelocks.

On the west side of the town, in the bottom of the Wady, lies the monastery of Mar Elias, inhabited by a prior and twenty monks. It has extensive grape and mulberry plantations, and on the river side a well cultivated garden, the products of which are sold to the town’s people. The prior received me with great arrogance, because I did not stoop to kiss his hands, a mark of respect which the ecclesiastics of this country are accustomed to receive. The river of Zahle, or Berdoun, forms the frontier of the Bekaa, which it separates from the territory belonging to the Emir of Baalbec, called Belad Baalbec; so that whatever is northward from the bridge of the Berdoun, situated in the valley, a quarter of an hour below Zahle, belongs to Belad Baalbec; and whatever is south-ward, to the Bekaa. Since Soleiman Pasha has governed Damascus, the authority of the Emir Beshir has been in some measure extended over the Bekaa, but I could not inform myself of the distinct laws by which it had been regulated. The Pashas of Damascus, and the Emir Beshirs, have for many years been in continual dispute about their rights over the villages of the Bekaa.


[p.8] Following up the Berdoun into the Mountain, are the villages of Atein, Heraike, and another in the vicinity of Zahle.

September 26.–On the night of the 25th to the 26th, was the Aid Essalib, or feast of the Cross, the approach of which was celebrated by repeated discharges of musquets and the lighting of numerous fires, which illuminated all the mountains around the town and the most conspicuous parts of the town itself.

I rode to Andjar [Arabic], on the eastern side of the Bekaa, in a direction south-east by south, two hours and a half good walking from Zahle. I found several encampments of the Arabs Naim and Faddel in the plain. In one hour and a quarter, passed the Liettani, near an ancient arched bridge; it had very little water: not the sixth part of the plain is cultivated here. The place called Andjar lies near the Anti-Libanus, and consists of a ruined town-wall, inclosing an oblong square of half an hour in circumference; the greater part of the wall is in ruins. It was originally about twelve feet thick, and constructed with small unhewn stones, loosely cemented and covered by larger square stones, equally ill cemented. In the enclosed space are the ruins of habitations, of which the foundations alone remain. In one of these buildings are seen the remains of two columns of white marble, one foot and a quarter in diameter. The whole seems to have been constructed in modern times. Following the Mountain to the southward of these ruins, for twenty minutes, I came to the place where the Moiet Andjar, or river of Andjar, has its source in several springs. This river had, when I saw it, more than triple the volume of water of the Liettani; but though it joins the latter in the Bekaa, near Djissr Temnin, the united stream retains the name Liettani. There are remains of ancient well-built walls round all the springs which constitute the source of the Andjar; one of the springs, in particular,

[p.9]which forms a small but very deep basin, has been lined to the bottom with large stones, and the wall round it has been constructed with large square stones, which have no traces of ever having been cemented together. In the wall of a mill, which has been built very near these springs, I saw a sculptured architrave. These remains appear to be much more ancient than those of Andjar, and are perhaps coeval with the buildings at Baalbec. I was told, by the people of the mill, that the water of the larger spring, in summer time, stops at certain periods and resumes its issue from under the rock, eight or ten times in a day. Further up in the mountain, above the spring, is a large cavern where the people sometimes collect saltpetre; but it is more abundant in a cavern still higher in the mountain.

Following the road northward on the chain of the Anti-Libanus, half an hour from these springs, I met with another copious spring; and a little higher, a third; one hour further, is a fourth, which I did not visit. Near the two former are traces of ancient walls. The waters of all these sources join in Moiet Andjar, and they are all comprised under the appellation of the Springs of Moiet Andjar [Arabic]. They are partly covered with rushes, and are much frequented by water fowls, and wild boars also resort to them in great numbers.

August 27th.–Being disappointed in my object of proceeding to Baalbec, I passed the day in the shop of one of the petty merchants of Zahle, and afterwards supped with him. The sales of the merchants are for the greater part upon credit; even those to the Arabs for the most trifling sums. The common interest of money is 30 percent.

August 28th.–Set out in the afternoon for Baalbec, with a native of that place, who had been established with his family at Zahle, for several years. Passed the villages of Kerak, Abla, Temnin, Beit


[p.10]Shaeme, Haoush el Rafka, Tel Hezin, and arrived, after seven hours, at Baalbec.[The following are the names of villages in Belad Baalbec, between Baalbec and Zahle. On the Libanus, or on the declivity near its foot; Kerak, Fursul, Nieha, Nebi Eily, Temnin foka (the upper Temnin) Bidneil, Smustar, Hadad Tareie, Nebi Ershaedi, Kefferdein Saide, Budei, Deir Akhmar, Deir Eliaout, Sulife, Btedai. In the plain; Abla, Temnin tahte (the lower Temnin) Ksarnabe, Beit Shaeme, Gferdebesh, Haoush el Rafka, Haoush el Nebi, Haoush Esseneid, Telhezin (with a copious spring), Medjdeloun, Haoush Barada, Haoush Tel Safie, Tel Wardin, Sergin, Ain, Ouseie, Haoush Mesreie, Bahami, Duris, Yead. On the Anti-Libanus, or near its foot; Briteil, Tallie, Taibe, Khoreibe, El Aoueine, Nebi Shit, Marrabun, Mouze, Kanne, Deir el Ghazal, Reia, Hushmush. All these villages are inhabited by Turks or Metawelis; Abla and Fursul are the only Christian villages. I subjoin the villages in the plain to the N. of Baalbec, belonging to the territory of Baalbec. On the Libanus; Nebba, Essafire, Harbate. On the Plain; Tunin, Shaet, Ras el Haded, Leboue, El Kaa. Anti-Libanus, and at its foot: Nahle, El Ain, Nebi Oteman, Fiki, Erzel, Mukra, El Ras.]

The territory of Baalbec extends, as I have before mentioned, down to the Bekaa. On the eastern side it comprises the mountain of the Anti- Libanus, or Djebel Essharki, up to its top; and on the western side, the Libanus likewise, as far as its summits. In the plain it reaches as far as El Kaa, twelve hours from Baalbec and fourteen hours from Homs, where the Anti-Libanus terminates, and where the valley between the two mountains widens considerably, because the Anti-Libanus there takes a more eastern direction. This district is abundantly watered by rivulets; almost every village has its spring, all of which descend into the valley, where most of them lose themselves, or join the Liettani, whose source is between Zahle and Baalbec, about two hours from the latter place, near a hill called Tel Hushben. The earth is extremely fertile, but is still less cultivated than in the Bekaa. Even so late as twelve years ago, the plain, and a part of the mountain, to the distance of a league and a half round the town, were covered with grape plantations; the oppressions of the governors,

[p.11]and their satellites have now entirely destroyed them; and the inhabitants of Baalbec, instead of eating their own grapes, which were renowned for their superior flavour, are obliged to import them from Fursul and Zahle. The government of Baalbec has been for many years in the hands of the family of Harfush, the head family of the Metaweli of Syria.[The Metaweli are of the sect of Ali, like the Persians; they have more than 200 houses at Damascus, but they conform there to the rites of the orthodox Mohammedans.] In later times, two brothers, Djahdjah and Sultan, have disputed with each other the possession of the government; more than fifteen individuals of their own family have perished in these contests, and they have dispossessed each other by turns, according to the degree of friendship or enmity which the Pashas of Damascus bore to the one or the other. During the reign of Youssef Pasha, Sultan was Emir; as soon as Soleiman was in possession of Damascus, Sultan was obliged to fly, and in August, 1810, his brother Djahdjah returned to his seat, which he had already once occupied. He pays a certain annual sum to the Pasha, and extorts double its amount from the peasant. The Emir Beshir has, since the reign of Soleiman Pasha, likewise acquired a certain influence over Baalbec, and is now entitled to the yearly sum of fifteen purses from this district. The Emir Djahdjah resides at Baalbec, and keeps there about 200 Metaweli horsemen, whom he equips and feeds out of his own purse. He is well remembered by several Europeans, especially English travellers, for his rapacity, and inhospitable behaviour.

The first object which strikes the traveller arriving from the Bekaa, is a temple [This temple is not seen in approaching Baalbec from Damascus.] in the plain, about half an hour’s walk from the town, which has received from the natives the appellation of Kubbet Duris. Volney has not described this temple. It is an

[p.12]octagon building supported by eight beautiful granite columns, which are all standing. They are of an order resembling the Doric; the capitals project very little over the shaft, which has no base. Over every two pillars lies one large stone, forming the architrave, over which the cornice is still visible, very little adorned with sculpture. The roof has fallen in. On the N.W. side, between two of the columns, is an insulated niche, of calcareous stone, projecting somewhat beyond the circumference of the octagon, and rising to about two feet below the roof. The granite of the columns is particularly beautiful, the feldspath and quartz being mixed with the hornblende in large masses. The red feldspath predominates. One of the columns is distinguished from the rest by its green quartz. We could not find any traces of inscriptions.

September 29th.–I took lodgings in a small room belonging to the catholic priest, who superintends a parish of twenty-five Christian families. This being near the great temple, I hastened to it in the morning, before any body was apprised of my arrival.

The work of Wood, who accompanied Dawkins to Baalbec in 1751, and the subsequent account of the place given by Volney, who visited Baalbec in 1784, render it unnecessary for me to enter into any description of these ruins. I shall only observe that Volney is incorrect in describing the rock of which the buildings are constructed as granite; it is of the primitive calcareous kind, but harder than the stone of Tedmor. There are, however, many remains of granite columns in different parts of the building.

I observed no Greek inscriptions; there were some few in Latin and in Arabic; and I copied the following Cufic inscription on the side of a stair-case, leading down into some subterranean

[p.13]chambers below the small temple, which the Emir has walled up to prevent a search for hidden treasures. [Cufic inscription]

Having seen, a few months before, the ruins of Tedmor, a comparison between these two renowned remains of antiquity naturally offered itself to my mind. The entire view of the ruins of Palmyra, when seen at a certain distance, is infinitely more striking than those of Baalbec, but there is not any one spot in the ruins of Tedmor so imposing as the interior view of the temple of Baalbec. The temple of the Sun at Tedmor is upon a grander scale than that of Baalbec, but it is choked up with Arab houses, which admit only of a view of the building in detail. The archilecture of Baalbec is richer than that of Tedmor.

The walls of the ancient city may still be traced, and include a larger space than the present town ever occupied, even in its most flourishing state. Its circuit may be between three and four miles. On the E. and N. sides the gates of the modern town, formed in the ancient wall, still remain entire, especially the northern gate; it is a narrow arch, and comparatively very small. I suppose it to be of Saracen origin.

[p.14] The women of Baalbec are esteemed the handsomest of the neighbouring country, and many Damascenes marry Baalbec girls. The air of Belad Baalbec and the Bekaa, however, is far from being healthy. The chain of the Libanus interrupts the course of the westerly winds, which are regular in Syria during the summer months; and the want of these winds renders the climate extremely hot and oppressive.

September 30th.–I again visited the ruins this morning. The Emir had been apprised of my arrival by his secretary, to whom I had a letter of recommendation. He sent the secretary to ask whether I had any presents for him; I answered in the negative, but delivered to him a letter, which the Jew bankers of the Pasha of Damascus had given me for him; these Jews being men of great influence. He contented himself with replying that as I had no presents for him, it was not necessary that I should pay him my respects; but he left me undisturbed in my pursuits, which was all I wanted.

Near a well, on the S. side of the town, between the temple and the mountain, I found upon a stone the following inscription;


In the afternoon I made a tour in the invirons of Baalbec. At the foot of the Anti-Libanus, a quarter of an hour’s walk from the town, to the south is a quarry, where the places are still visible from whence several of the large stones in the south wall of the castle were extracted; one large block is yet remaining, cut on three sides, ready to be transported to the building, but it must be done by other hands than those of the Metaweli. Two other blocks, cut in

[p.15]like manner, are standing upright at a little distance from each other; and near them, in the rock, are two small excavated tombs, with three niches in each, for the dead, in a style of workmanship similar to what I saw to the north of Aleppo, in the Turkman mountains towards Deir Samaan. In the hills, to the S.W. of the town, just behind this quarry, are several tombs, excavated in the rock, like the former, but of larger dimensions. In following the quarry towards the village of Duris, numerous natural caverns are met with in the calcareous rocks; I entered more than a dozen of them, but found no traces of art, except a few seats or steps rudely cut out. These caverns serve at present as winter habitations for the Arabs who pasture their cattle in this district. The principal quarry was a full half hour to the southward of the town.

The mountains above Baalbec are quite uncultivated and barren, except at the Ras el Ain, or sources of the river of Baalbec, where a few trees only remain. This is a delightful place, and is famous amongst the inhahitants of the adjoining districts for the salubrity of its air and water. Near the Ain, are the ruins of a church and mosque.

The ruined town of Baalbec contains about seventy Metaweli families, and twenty-five of Catholic Christians. Amidst its ruins are two handsome mosques, and a fine bath. The Emir lives in a spacious building called the Serai. The inhabitants fabricate white cotton cloth like that of Zahle; they have some dyeing houses, and had, till within a few years, some tanneries. The men are the artizans here, and not the women. The property of the people consists chiefly of cows, of which every house has ten or fifteen, besides goats and sheep. The goats are of a species not common in other parts of Syria; they have very long ears, large horns, and long hair, but not silky like that of the goats of Anatolia.

[p.16]The breed of Baalbec mules is much esteemed, and I have seen some of them worth on the spot L30 to L35. sterling.

October 1st.–After having again visited the ruins, I engaged a man in the forenoon, to shew me the way to the source of the rivulet called Djoush [Arabic]. It is in a Wady in the Anti-Libanus, three quarters of an hour distant from Baalbec. The rivulet was very small, owing to the remarkable dryness of the season, and was lost in the Wady before it reached the plain; at other times it flows down to Baalbec and joins the river, which, after irrigating the gardens and fields round the town, loses itself in the plain. A little higher in the mountain than the spot where the water of the Djoush first issues from the spring, is a small perpendicular hole, through which I descended, not without some danger, about sixteen feet, into an aqueduct which conveys the water of the Djoush underground for upwards of one hundred paces. This aqueduct is six feet high and three feet and a half wide, vaulted above, and covered with a thick coat of plaister; it is in perfect preservation; the water in it was about ten inches deep. In following up this aqueduct I came to a vaulted chamber about ten feet square, built with large hewn stones, into which the water falls through another walled passage, but which I did not enter, being afraid that the water falling on all sides might extinguish the only candle that I had with me. Below this upper passage, another dark one is visible through the water as it falls down. The aqueduct continues beyond the hole through which I descended, as far as the spot where the water issues from under the earth. Above ground, at a small distance from the spring, and open towards it, is a vaulted room, built in the rock, now half filled with stones and rubbish.

Ten or twelve years ago, at the time when the plague visited


[p.17]these countries and the town of Baalbec, all the Christian families quitted the town, and encamped for six weeks around these springs.

From Djoush we crossed the northern mountain of the valley, and came to Wady Nahle, near the village of Nahle, situated at the foot of the mountain, and one hour and a half E.b.N. from Baalbec. There is nothing remarkable in the village, except the ruins of an ancient building, consisting at present of the foundations only, which are strongly built; it appeared to me to be of the same epoch as the ruins of Baalbec. The rivulet named Nahle rises at one hour’s distance, in a narrow Wady in the mountain. The neighbourhood of Baalbec abounds in walnut trees; the nuts are exported to Zahle and the mountains, at two or two and a half piastres per thousand.

In the evening we left Baalbec, and began to cross the plain in the direction of the highest summit of Mount Libanus. We passed the village of Yeid on the left, and a little farther on, an encampment of Turkmans. During the winter, the territory of Baalbec is visited by a tribe of Turkmans called Suedie, by the Hadidein Akeidat, the Arabs Abid, whose principal seat is near Hamil, between El Kaa and Homs; and the Arabs Harb. The Suedie Turkmans remain the whole year in this district, and in the valleys of the Anti-Libanus. All these tribes pay tribute to the Emir of Baalbec, at the rate of twelve or fifteen pounds of butter for each tent, for the summer pasture. At the end of three hours march we alighted at the village Deir el Akhmar, two hours after sunset. This village stands just at the foot of the mountain; it was at this time deserted, its inhabitants having quitted it a few weeks before to escape the extortions of Djahdjah, and retired to Bshirrai. In one of the abandoned houses we found a shepherd who tended a flock belonging to the Emir; he treated us with some milk, and made a large fire, round which we lay down, and slept till day-break.


[p.18]October 2d.–The tobacco of Deir el Akhmar is the finest in Syria. There is no water in the village, but at twenty minutes from it, towards the plain, is a copious well. After ascending the mountain for three hours and a half, we reached the village Ainnete: thus far the mountain is covered with low oak trees (the round-leaved, and common English kinds), and has but few steep passages. Nearly one hour from Ainnete begins a more level country, which divides the Upper from the Lower Libanus. This part was once well cultivated, but the Metaweli having driven the people to despair, the village is in consequence deserted and in ruins. A few fields are still cultivated by the inhabitants of Deir Eliaout and Btedai, who sow their seed in the autumn, and in the spring return, build a few huts, and watch the growing crop. The walnut tree abounds here.

There are three springs at Ainnete, one of which was dried up; another falls over the rock in a pretty cascade; they unite in a Wady which runs parallel with the upper mountain as far as the lake Liemoun, two hours west of Ainnete; at this time the lake was nearly dry, an extraordinary circumstance; I saw its bed a little higher up than Ainnete.

From Ainnete the ascent of the mountain is steep, and the vegetation is scanty; though it reaches to the summit. A few oaks and shrubs grow amongst the rocks. The road is practicable for loaded mules, and my horse ascended without difficulty. The honey of Ainnete, and of the whole of Libanus, is of a superior quality.

At the end of two hours and a half from Ainnete we reached the summit, from whence I enjoyed a magnificent view over the Bekaa, the Anti- Libanus, and Djebel Essheikh, on one side, and the sea, the sea shore near Tripoli, and the deep valley of Kadisha on the other. We were not quite upon the highest summit, which lay half an hour to the right. Baalbec bore from hence S. by E,

[p.19]and the summit of Djebel Essheikh S. by W. The whole of the rock is calcareous, and the surface towards the top is so splintered by the action of the atmosphere, as to have the appearance of layers of slates. Midway from Ainnete I found a small petrified shell, and on breaking a stone which I picked up on the summit, I discovered another similar petrifaction within it.

Having descended for two hours, we came to a small cultivated plain. On this side, as well as on the other, the higher Libanus may be distinguished from the lower; the former presenting on both sides a steep barren ascent of two to two hours and a half; the latter a more level wooded country, for the greater part fit for cultivation this difference of surface is observable throughout the Libanus, from the point where I crossed it, for eight hours, in a S. W. direction. The descent terminates in one of the numerous deep valleys which run towards the seashore.

I left my guide on the small plain, and proceeded to the right towards the Cedars, which are visible from the top of the mountain, standing half an hour from the direct line of the route to Bshirrai, at the foot of the steep declivities of the higher division of the mountain. They stand on uneven ground, and form a small wood. Of the oldest and best looking trees, I counted eleven or twelve; twenty-five very large ones; about fifty of middling size; and more than three hundred smaller and young ones. The oldest trees are distinguished by having the foliage and small branches at the


[p.20]top only, and by four, five, or even seven trunks springing from one base; the branches and foliage of the others were lower, but I saw none whose leaves touched the ground, like those in Kew Gardens. The trunks of the old trees are covered with the names of travellers and other persons, who have visited them: I saw a date of the seventeenth century. The trunks of the oldest trees seem to be quite dead; the wood is of a gray tint; I took off a piece of one of them; but it was afterwards stolen, together with several specimens of minerals, which I sent from Zahle to Damascus.

At an hour and a quarter from the Cedars, and considerably below them, on the edge of a rocky descent, lies the village of Bshirrai, on the right bank of the river Kadisha [Arabic].

October 3d.–Bshirrai consists of about one hundred and twenty houses. Its inhabitants are all Maronites, and have seven churches. At half an hour from the village is the Carmelite convent of Deir Serkis (St. Sergius,) inhabited at present by a single monk, a very worthy old man, a native of Tuscany, who has been a missionary to Egypt, India, and Persia.

Nothing can be more striking than a comparison of the fertile but uncultivated districts of Bekaa and Baalbec, with the rocky mountains, in the opposite direction, where, notwithstanding that nature seems to afford nothing for the sustenance of the inhabitants, numerous villages flourish, and every inch of ground is cultivated. Bshirrai is surrounded with fruit trees, mulberry plantations, vineyards, fields of Dhourra, and other corn, though there is scarcely a natural plain twenty feet square. The inhabitants with great industry build terraces to level the ground and prevent the earth from being swept down by the winter rains, and at the same time to retain the water requisite for the irrigation of their crops. Water is very abundant, as streams from numerous springs descend


[p.21]on every side into the Kadisha, whose source is two hours distant from Bshirrai, in the direction of the mountain from whence I came.

Bshirrai belongs to the district of Tripoli, but is at present, with the whole of the mountains, in the hands of the Emir Beshir, or chief of the Druses. The inhabitants of the village rear the silk-worm, have excellent plantations of tobacco, and a few manufactories of cotton stuffs used by the mountaineers as shawls for girdles. Forty years ago the village was in the hands of the Metaweli, who were driven out by the Maronites.

In the morning I went to Kanobin; after walking for two hours and a half over the upper plain, I descended the precipitous side of a collateral branch of the valley Kadisha, and continued my way to the convent, which I reached in two hours and a half. It is built on a steep precipice on the right of the valley, at half an hour’s walk from the river, and appears as if suspended in the air, being supported by a high wall, built against the side of the mountain. There is a spring close to it. The church, which is excavated in the rock, and dedicated to the Virgin, is decorated with the portraits of a great number of patriarchs. During the winter, the peasants suspend their silk-worms in bags, to the portrait of some favourite saint, and implore his influence for a plenteous harvest of silk; from this custom the convent derives a considerable income.

Kanobin is the seat of the patriarch of the Maronites, who is at the head of twelve Maronite bishops, and here in former times he generally passed the summer months, retiring in the winter to Mar Hanna; but the vexations and insults which the patriarchs were exposed to from the Metaweli, in their excursions to and from Baalbec, induced them for many years to abandon this residence. The present patriarch is the first who for a long time has resided in


[p.22]Kanobin. Though I had no letter of introduction to him, and was in the dress of a peasant, he invited me to dinner, and I met at his table his secretary, Bishop Stefano, who has been educated at Rome, and has some notions of Europe. While I was there, a rude peasant was ordained a priest. Kanobin had once a considerable library; but it has been gradually dispersed; and not a vestige of it now remains. The cells of the monks are, for the most part, in ruins.

Three hours distant from Kanobin, at the convent Kashheya, which is near the village Ehden, is a printing office, where prayer-books in the Syriac language are printed. This language is known and spoken by many Maronites, and in this district the greater part of them write Arabic in the Syriac characters. The names of the owners of the silk-worms were all written in this character in different hands, upon the bags suspended in the church.

I returned to Bshirrai by an easier road than that which I had travelled in the morning; at the end of three quarters of an hour I regained the upper plain, from whence I proceeded for two hours by a gentle ascent, through fields and orchards, up to the village. The potatoe succeeds here very well; a crop was growing in the garden of the Carmelite convent; it has also been cultivated for some time past in Kesrouan. In the mountains about Kanobin tigers are said to be frequently met with; I suppose ounces are meant.

October 4th.–I departed from Bshirrai with the intention of returning to Zahle over the higher range of the Libanus. We crossed the Kadisha, at a short distance from Bishirrai, above the place where it falls over the precipice: at one hour distant from Bshirrai, and opposite to it, we passed the village of Hosrun. The same cultivation prevails here as in the vicinity of Bshirrai; mulberry and


walnut [p.23]trees, and vines, are the chief productions. From Hosrun we continued our way along the foot of the highest barren part of Libanus. About two hours from its summit, the mountain affords pasturage, and is capable of cultivation, from the numerous springs which are everywhere met with. During the greater part of this day’s journey I had a fine view of the sea shore between Tartous and Tripoli, and from thence downwards towards Jebail.

At three hours and a half from Hosrun, still following the foot of the upper chain of the Libanus, we entered the district of Tanurin (Ard Tanurin), so called from a village situated below in a valley. The spots in the mountain, proper for cultivation, are sown by the inhabitants of Tanurin; such as afford pasture only are visited by the Arabs El Haib. I was astonished at seeing so high in the mountain, numerous camels and Arab huts. These Arabs pass the winter months on the sea shore about Tripoli, Jebail, and Tartous. Though like the Bedouins, they have no fixed habitations, their features are not of the true Bedouin cast, and their dialect, though different from that of the peasants, is not a pure Bedouin dialect. They are tributary to the Turkish governors, and at peace with all the country people; but they have the character of having a great propensity to thieving. Their property, besides camels, consists in horses, cows, sheep, and goats. Their chief is Khuder el Aissy [Arabic].

On leaving the district of Tanurin, I entered Ard Laklouk [Arabic], which I cannot describe better, than by comparing it to one of the pasturages in the Alps. It is covered with grass, and its numerous springs, together with the heavy dews which fall during the summer months, have produced a verdure of a deeper tint than any I saw in the other parts of Syria which I visited. The Arabs El Haib come up hither also, and wander about the district for five months in the year; some of them even remain here the whole


[p.24]year; except that in winter they descend from the pastures, and pitch their tents round the villages of Tanurin and Akoura, which are situated in a valley, sheltered on every side by the perpendicular sides of the Upper Libanus. At Tanurin and Laklouk the winter corn was already above ground. The people water the fields for three or four days before they sow the seed.

Akoura has a bad name amongst the people of this country; its inhabitants, who are all Greek Catholics, are accused of avarice, and inhospitality. The mountaineers, when upon a journey, never think of spending a para, for their eating, drinking, or lodging. On arriving in the evening at a village, they alight at the house of some acquaintance, if they have any, which is generally the case, and say to the owner, “I am your guest,” Djay deyfak [Arabic]. The host gives the traveller a supper, consisting of milk, bread, and Borgul, and if rich and liberal, feeds his mule or mare also. When the traveller has no acquaintance in the village, he alights at any house he pleases, ties up his beast, and smokes his pipe till he receives a welcome from the master of the house, who makes it a point of honour to receive him as a friend, and to give him a supper. In the morning he departs with a simple “Good bye.” Such is the general custom in these parts; the inhabitants of Akoura, however, are noted for refusing to receive travellers, to whom they will neither give a supper, nor sell them provision for ready money; the consequence of which conduct is, that the Akourans, when travelling about, are obliged to conceal their origin, in order to obtain food on the road. My guide had a friend at Akoura, but he happened to be absent; we therefore alighted at another house, where we obtained with much difficulty a little barley for our horses; and we should have gone supperless to rest, had I not repaired to the Sheikh, and made him believe I was a Kourdine (my dress being somewhat like that of the Kourds) in the service of the

[p.25] Pasha of Damascus, on my way to the Emir Beshir. As I spoke with confidence, the Sheikh became alarmed, and sent us a few loaves of bread, and some cheese; on my return, I found my guide in the midst of a large assembly of people, abusing them for their meanness.

The property of the inhabitants of this village consists of cows and other cattle, silkworms, and plantations of olive trees.

At Akoura Djebel Libnan terminates; and farther down towards Zahle and the Bekaa, the mountain is called Djebel Sannin [Arabic]. The Libanus is here more barren and wild than further to the north. The rocks are all in perfectly horizontal layers, some of which are thirty to forty yards in thickness, while others are only a few yards.

October 5th.–We left the inhospitable Akoura before day light, and reached, after one hour and three quarters, a village called Afka, situated in the bottom of a valley, near a spring, whose waters join those of Wady Akoura, and flow down towards Jebail.

The name Afka is found in the ancient geography of Syria. At Aphaca, according to Zosimus, was a temple of Venus, where the handsomest girls of Syria sacrificed to the goddess: it was situated near a small lake, between Heliopolis and the sea coast. [Zosim. l.i.c.58.] The lake Liemoun is at three hours distance from Afka. I could not hear of any remains of antiquity near Afka. All the inhabitants are Metaweli, under the government of Jebail. Near it, towards Jebail, are the Metaweli villages of Mghaiere, Meneitere, and Laese.

From Afka the road leads up a steep Wady. At half an hour from it is the spring called Ain Bahr; three quarters of an hour beyond it is a high level country, still on the western side of the summit of the mountain. This district is called Watty el Bordj


[p.26] [Arabic], from a small ruined tower. It is three or four hours in length, and two in breadth. In the spring the Arabs Abid, Turkmans, and Kourdines, here pasture their cattle. These Kourdines bring annually into Syria from twenty to thirty thousand sheep, from the mountains of Kourdistan; the greater part of which are consumed by Aleppo, Damascus, and the mountains, as Syria does not produce a sufficient number for its inhabitants. The Kourd sheep are larger than those of Syria, but their flesh is less esteemed. The Kourd sheep-dealers first visit with their flocks Aleppo, then Hama, Homs, and Baalbec; and what they do not sell on the road, they bring to pasture at Watty el Bordj, whither the people of Zahle, Deir el Kammar, and other towns in the mountains repair, and buy up thousands of them, which they afterwards sell in retail to the peasants of the mountains.

They buy them for ready money at twenty to thirty piastres a head, and sell them two months afterwards at thirty to forty. The mountaineers of the Druse and Maronite districts breed very few sheep, and very seldom eat animal food. On the approach of their respective great festivals, (Christmas with the Maronites, and Ramadan with the Druses) each head of a family kills one or two sheep; during the rest of the year, he feeds his people on Borgul, with occasionally some old cow’s, or goat’s flesh. It is only in the largest of the mountain towns of the Druses and Maronites that flesh is brought daily to market.

There are no springs or water in the Watty el Bordj; but the melting of the snow in the spring affords drink for men and cattle, and snow water is often found during the greater part of the summer in some funnel- shaped holes formed in the ground by the snow. At the time I passed no water was any where to be found. In many places the snow remains throughout the year; but this year none was left, not even on the summits of the mountain, [p.27] except in a few spots on the northern declivity of the Libanus towards the district of Akkar. Watty el Bordj affords excellent pasturage; in many spots it is overgrown with trees, mostly oaks, and the barbery is also very frequent. We started partridges at every step. Our route lay generally S.W. by S.

Four hours from Ain Bahr, we entered the mountain, a part of which is considered to belong to Kesrouan. It is completely stony and rocky, and I found some calcareous spath. I shall here remark that the whole of the mountain from Zahle to Belad Akkar is by the country people comprehended under the general name of Djurd Baalbec, Djurd meaning, in the northern Arabic dialect, a rocky mountain.

Crossing this part of the mountain Sannin for two hours, we came to a spring called Ain Naena, from whence another road leads down north- eastwards, into the territory of Baalbec. This route is much frequented by the people of Kesrouan, who bring this way the iron ore of Shouair, to the Mesbek or smelting furnaces at Nebae el Mauradj, two hours from hence to the north-east, Shouair, which is at least ten hours distance, affording no fuel for smelting. The iron ore is carried upon mules and asses, one day’s journey and a half to the Mesbek, where the mountain abounds in oak. From Aine Naena we gradually descended, and in three hours reached Zahle.

October 6th.–At Zahle I found the Catholic bishop, who was absent on his episcopal tour during my first visit to this place. He is distinguished from his countrymen by the politeness of his manners, the liberality of his sentiments, his general information, and his desire of knowledge, though at a very advanced age. I had letters for him; and he recommended himself particularly to me by being the friend of Mr. Browne, the African traveller, who had lived with him a fortnight, and had visited


[p.28] Baalbec in his company. His diocese comprises the whole Christian community in the Bekaa, and the adjoining villages of the mountain. He is, with five other bishops, under the orders of the Patriarch at Mekhalis, and there are, besides, seven monasteries under this diocese in Syria. The Bishop’s revenue arises from a yearly personal tax of half a piastre upon all the male adults in his diocese. He lives in a truly patriarchal manner, dressing in a simple black gown, and black Abbaye, and carries in his hand a long oaken stick, as an episcopal staff. He is adored by his parishioners, though they reproach him with a want of fervour in his intercourse with other Christian sects; by which they mean fanatism, which is a striking feature in the character of the Christians not only of the mountain, but also of the principal Syrian towns, and of the open country. This bigotry is not directed so much against the Mohammedans, as against their Christian brethren, whose creed at all differs from their own.

It need hardly be mentioned here, that many of those sects which tore Europe to pieces in the earlier ages of Christianity, still exist in these countries: Greeks, Catholics, Maronites, Syriacs, Chaldeans, and Jacobites, all have their respective parishes and churches. Unable to effect any thing against the religion of their haughty rulers the Turks, they turn the only weapons they possess, scandal and intrigue, with fury against each other, and each sect is mad enough to believe that its church would flourish on the ruins of those of their heretic brethren. The principal hatred subsists between the Catholics and the Greeks; of the latter, many thousands have been converted to Catholicism, so that in the northern parts of Syria all Catholics, the Maronites excepted, were formerly of the Greek church: this is the case in Aleppo, Damascus, and in all the intermediate country; communities of original Latin Christians being found only around Jerusalem and Nablous. The Greeks


[p.29] of course see with indignation the proselytism of their brethren, which is daily gaining ground, and avenge themselves upon the apostates with the most furious hatred. Nor are the Greek and original Latin Christians backward in cherishing similar feelings; and scenes most disgraceful to Christianity are frequently the consequence. In those parts where no Greeks live, as in the mountains of Libanus, the different sects of Catholics turn their hatred against each other, and the Maronites fight with the converted Greek Catholics, or the Latins, as they do at Aleppo with the followers of the Greek church. This system of intolerance, at which the Turkish governors smile, because they are constantly gainers by it, is carried so far that, in many places, the passing Catholic is obliged to practise the Greek rites, in order to escape the effects of the fanatism of the inhabitants. On my way from Zahle to Banias, we stopped one night at Hasbeya and another at Rasheya el Fukhar; at both of which places my guide went to the Greek church, and prayed according to its forms; in passing through Zahle, as he informed me, the Greeks found it equally necessary to conform with the rites of the Latin Catholics. The intrigues carried on at Jerusalem between the Greek and Latin monks contribute to increase these diputes, which would have long ago led to a Christian civil war in these countries, did not the iron rod of the Turkish government repress their religious fury.

The vineyards are estimated at the exact number of vines they contain, and each vine, if of good quality, is worth one piastre. The Miri or land tax of every hundred [Arabic] vines is ten paras. For many years past a double Miri has been levied upon Zahle.

October 7th.–Remained at Zahle, and enjoyed the instructive conversation of the Bishop Basilios.

October 8th.–I went to see the ruined temple called Heusn Nieha, two hours from Zahle, in the Djebel Sannin, and half an hour

[p.30] from the village of Fursul. These remains stand in a Wady, surrounded by barren rocks, having a spring near them to the eastward. The temple faced the west. A grand flight of steps, twelve paces broad, with a column three feet and a half in diameter at each end of the lower step, formed the approach to a spacious pronaos, in which are remains of columns: here a door six paces in width opens into the cella, the fallen roof of which now covers the floor, and the side walls to half their original height only remain. This chamber is thirty-five paces in length by fifteen in breadth. On each of the side walls stood six pilasters of a bad Ionic order. At the extremity of the chamber are steps leading to a platform, where the statue of the deity may, perhaps, have stood: the whole space is here filled up with fragments of columns and walls. The square stones used in the construction of the walls are in general about four or five cubic feet each, but I saw some twelve feet long, four feet high, and four feet in breadth. On the right side of the entrance door is a staircase in the wall, leading to the top of the building, and much resembling in its mode of construction the staircase in the principal temple of Baalbec. The remains of the capitals of columns betray a very corrupt taste, being badly sculptured, and without any elegance either in design or execution; and the temple seems to have been built in the latest times of paganism, and was perhaps subsequently repaired, and converted into a church. The stone with which it has been built is more decayed than that in the ruins at Baalbec, being here more exposed to the inclemency of the weather. No inscriptions were any where visible. Around the temple are some ruins of ancient and others of more modern habitations.

Above Fursul is a plain called Habis, in which are a number of grottos excavated in the rock, apparently tombs; but I did not visit them.


[p.31] October 9th.–I was disappointed in my intention of proceeding, and passed the day in calling at several shops in the town, and conversing with the merchants and Arab traders.

October 10th.–I set out for Hasbeya, accompanied by the same guide with whom I had made the mountain tour. We crossed the Bekaa nearly in the direction of Andjar.[The following are the villages in the Bekaa, and at the foot of the western mountain, which from Zahle southward takes the name of Djebel Riehan; namely, Saad-Nayel [Arabic], Talabaya [Arabic], Djetye [Arabic], Bouarish [Arabic], Mekse [Arabic], Kab Elias [Arabic], Mezraat [Arabic], Bemherye [Arabic], Aamyk [Arabic], Deir Tenhadish [Arabic], Keferya [Arabic], Khereyt Kena [Arabic], Beit Far [Arabic], Ain Zebde [Arabic], Segbin [Arabic], Deire el Djouze [Arabic], Bab Mara [Arabic], Aitenyt [Arabic], El Kergoue [Arabic], El Medjdel [Arabic], Belhysz [Arabic], Lala [Arabic], Meshgara [Arabic], Sahhar Wyhbar [Arabic], Shedite, Nebi Zaour, Baaloul [Arabic], Bedjat [Arabic], Djub Djenin [Arabic], Tel Danoub [Arabic], El Khyare [Arabic], El Djezyre [Arabic], El Estabbel [Arabic], El Merdj [Arabic], Tel el Akhdar [Arabic], Taanayl [Arabic], Ber Elias [Arabic], Deir Zeinoun [Arabic].] The generality of the inhabitants of the Bekaa are Turks; one fifth, perhaps, are Catholic Christians. There are no Metaweli. The land is somewhat better cultivated than that of Belad Baalbec, but still five- sixths Of the soil is left in pasture for the Arabs. The Fellahs (peasant cultivators) are ruined by the exorbitant demands of the proprietors of the soil, who are, for the greater part, noble families of Damascus, or of the Druse mountains. The usual produce of the harvest is tenfold, and in fruitful years it is often twenty fold.

After two hours and three quarters brisk walking of our horses, we passed Medjdel to our right, near which, on the road, lies a piece of a large column of acalcareous and flinty breccia. Half an hour beyond Medjdel, we reached a spring called Ain Essouire. Above it in the hills which branch out of the Anti-Libanus, or


[p.32] Djurd Essharki, into the Bekaa, is the village Nebi Israi, and to the left, in the Anti-Libanus, is the Druse village of Souire. A little farther on we passed Hamara, a village on the Anti-Libanus. At one hour from Ain Essouire, is Sultan Yakoub, with the tomb of a saint, a place of holy resort of the Turks. Below it lies the Ain Sultan Yakoub. Half an hour farther is Nebae el Feludj, a spring. Our road lay S. by W. At the end of three hours and a half from Ain Essouire, we reached the village El Embeite, on the top of a hill, opposite to Djebel Essheikh. The route to this place, from Medjdel, lay through a valley of the Anti- Libanus, which, farther on, towards El Heimte, loses itself in the mountains comprised under the name of Djebel Essheikh. The summit of this mountain, which bears west from Damascus, is probably the highest in Syria, for snow was still lying upun it. The mountain belongs to the district of the Emir of the Druses, commanding at Rasheia, a Druse village at one hour and a half from El Heimte. We slept at El Heimte, in the house of the Druse Sheikh, and the Khatib, or Turkish priest of the village, gave us a plentiful supper. The Druses in this district affect to adhere strictly to the religious precepts of the Turks. The greater part of the inhabitants of El Heimte are Druses belonging to Rasheia. Near it are the villages of Biri and Refit.

October 11th.–We set out at day-break, and at the end of an hour passed on the left the Druse villages Deneibe and Mimis, and at two hours Sefa on our right, also a Druse village. Our road lay over an uneven plain, cultivated only in spots. After three hours and a half, we came to Ain Efdjur, direction S.W. by W.; from thence in two hours and a half we reached the Djissr-Moiet-Hasbeya, or bridge of the river of Hasbeya, whose source is hard by; the road lying the whole way over rocky ground little susceptible of culture. From the Djissr we turned up a steep Wady E. b. S. and arrived, in about three quarters of an hour, at Hasbeya, situated

[p.33] on the top of a mountain of no great height. I had letters from the Greek patriarch of Damascus to the Greek bishop of Hasbeya, in whose house, four years ago, Dr. Seetzen spent a week, having been prevented from proceeding by violent snow and rain. The bishop happened to be absent on my arrival, and I therefore took up my lodging in the house of a poor Greek priest, with whose behaviour towards me I had every reason to be satisfied.

October 12th.–The village or town of Hasbeya may contain seven hundred houses; half of which belong to Druse families; the other half are inhabited by Christians, principally Greeks, though there are also Catholics and Maronites here. There are only forty Turkish families, and twenty Enzairie. The inhabitants make cotton cloth for shirts and gowns, and have a few dyeing houses. The principal production of their fields is olives. The chief of the village is an Emir of the Druses, who is dependent both on the Pasha of Damascus and the Emir Beshir. He lives in a well-built Serai, which in time of war might serve as a castle. The following villages belong to the territory of Hasbeya: Ain Sharafe, El Kefeir, Ain Annia, Shoueia, Ain Tinte, El Kankabe, El Heberie, Rasheyat el Fukhar, Ferdis, Khereibe, El Merie, Shiba, Banias, Ain Fid, Zoura, Ain Kamed Banias, Djoubeta, Fershouba, Kefaer Hamam, El Waeshdal, El Zouye.

The neighbourhood of Hasbeya is interesting to the mineralogist. I was told by the priest that a metal was found near it, of which nobody knew the name, nor made any use. Having procured a labourer, I found after digging in the Wady a few hundred paces to the E. of the village, several small pieces of a metallic substance, which I took to be a native amalgam of mercury. According to the description given me, cinnabar is also found here, but we could discover no specimen of it after half an hour’s digging. The ground all around, and the spring near the village, are


[p.34] strongly impregnated with iron; the rock is sandstone, of a dark red colour. The other mineral curiosities are, a number of wells of bitumen Judaicum, in the Wady at one hour below the village on the west side, after recrossing the bridge; they are situated upon the declivity of a chalky hill; the bitumen is found in large veins at about twenty feet below the surface. The pits are from six to twelve feet in diameter; the workmen descend by a rope and wheel, and in hewing out the bitumen, they leave columns of that substance at different intervals, as a support to the earth above; pieces of several Rotolas in weight each[The Rotola is about five pounds.] are brought up. There are upwards of twenty-five of these pits or wells, but the greater part of them are abandoned and overgrown with shrubs. I saw only one, that appeared to have been recently worked; they work only during the summer months. The bitumen is called Hommar, and the wells, Biar el Hommar [Arabic]. The Emir possesses the monopoly of the bitumen; he alone works the pits, and sells the produce to the merchants of Damascus, Beirout, and Aleppo. It was now at thirty-three paras the Rotola, or about two-pence-halfpenny the pound.

I left Hasbeya on the same day, and continued to descend the valley on the side of the river. Half an hour from the bridge, I arrived at Souk el Khan. In the hills to the right is the village Kankabe. Souk el Khan is a large ruined Khan, where the inhabitants, to the distance of one day’s journey round, assemble every Tuesday to hold a market. In the summer they exhibit their merchandize in the open air; but in the winter they make use of some large rooms, still remaining within the Khan. The road to Banias leads along the valley, parallel with the course of the river; but as I had heard of some ruins in the mountain, at a village called Hereibe, to the east of the route, I turned in that direction, and reached the


[p.35] village in two hours after quitting Hasbeya. Between Souk el Khan and Hereibe lies the village Ferdous. Hereibe is considerably higher than the river. All this neighbourhood is planted with olive-trees; and olives, from hence to Damascus, are the most common food of the inhabitants, who put them into salt, but they do not thereby entirely remove the bitter taste. At Aleppo and Damascus, olives destined for the table are immersed for a fortnight in water, in which are dissolved one proportion of chalk and two proportions of alkali; this takes away all bitterness, but the fruit is at the same time deprived of a part of its flavour.

On the west side of the village of Hereibe stands a ruined temple, quite insulated; it is twenty paces in length, and thirteen in breadth; the entrance is towards the west, and it had a vestibule in front with two columns. On each side of the entrance are two niches one above the other, the upper one has small pilasters, the lower one is ornamented on the top by a shell, like the niches in the temple at Baalbec. The door- way, which has no decoration whatever, opens into a room ten paces square, in which no columns, sculpture, or Ornaments of any kind are visible; three of the walls only are standing. At the back of this chamber is a smaller, four paces and a half in breadth, by ten in length, in one corner of which is a half-ruined staircase, leading to the top of the building; in this smaller room are four pilasters in the four angles; under the large room are two spacious vaults. On the outside of the temple, at the east corners, are badly wrought pilasters of the Ionic order. The roof has fallen in, and fills up the interior. The stone employed is of the same quality as that used at Heusn Nieha and Baalbec.

From Hereibe I came to the spring Ain Ferkhan in one hour; and from thence, in three quarters of an hour, to the village


[p.36]Rasheyat-el-Fukhar, over mountainous ground. The village stands on a mountain which commands a beautiful view of the lake Houle, its plain, and the interjacent country. It contains about one hundred houses, three-fourths of which are inhabited by Turks and the remainder by Greeks. The inhabitants live by the manufacture of earthen pots, which they sell to the distance of four or five days journey around, especially in the Haouran and Djolan; they mould them in very elegant shapes, and paint them with a red-earth: almost every house has its pottery, and the ovens in which the pots are baked are common to all. The Houle bears from Rasheyat-el-Fukhar, between S. by E. and S.E. by S. Kalaat el Shkif, on the top of the mountain, towards Acre, E. by N. and Banias, though not visible, S.

October 13th.–We set out in a rainy morning from Rasheyat-el-Fukhar. I was told that in the mountain to the E. one hour and a half, were considerable ruins. The mountains of Hasbeya, or the chain of the Djebel Essheikh, divide, at five hours N. from the lake, into two branches. The western, a little farther to the south, takes the name of Djebel Safat, the eastern joins the Djebel Heish and its continuations, towards Banias. Between the two lie the lake of the Houle and the Ard el Houle, the latter from three to four hours in breadth. We descended from Rasheyat-el-Fukhar into the plain, in which we continued till we reached Banias, at the end of four hours, thoroughly drenched by a heavy shower of rain. We alighted at the Menzel or Medhaafe; this is a sort of Khan found in almost every village through which there is a frequented route. Strangers sleep in the Medhaafe, and the Sheikh of the village generally sends them their dinner or supper; for this he does not accept of any present, at least not of such as common travellers can offer; but it is custmary to give something to the servant or watchman (Natur) who brings the meal, and takes care that


[p.37]nothing is stolen from the strangers’ baggage. The district of Banias is classic ground; it is the ancient Caesarea Philippi; the lake Houle is the Lacus Samachonitis.

My money being almost expended, I had no time to lose in gratifying my curiosity in the invirons of Banias. Immediately after my arrival I took a man of the village to shew me the way to the ruined castle of Banias, which bears E. by S. from it. It stands on the top of a mountain, which forms part of the mountain of Heish, at an hour and a quarter from Banias; it is now in complete ruins, but was once a very strong fortress. Its whole circumference is twenty-five minutes. It is surrounded by a wall ten feet thick, flanked with numerous round towers, built with equal blocks of stone, each about two feet square. The keep or citadel seems to have been on the highest summit, on the eastern side, where the walls are stronger than on the lower, or western side. The view from hence over the Houle and a part of its lake, the Djebel Safad, and the barren Heish, is magnificent. On the western side, within the precincts of the castle, are ruins of many private habitations. At both the western corners runs a succession of dark strongly built low apartments, like cells, vaulted, and with small narrow loop holes, as if for musquetry. On this side also is a well more than twenty feet square, walled in, with a vaulted roof at least twenty-five feet high; the well was, even in this dry season, full of water: there are three others in the castle. There are many apartments and recesses in the castle, which could only be exactly described by a plan of the whole building. It seems to have been erected during the period of the crusades, and must certainly have been a very strong hold to those who possessed it. I saw no inscriptions, though I was afterwards told that there are several both in Arabic and in Frank (Greek or Latin). The castle has but one gate, on the south side. I could discover no traces


[p.38]of a road or paved way leading up the mountain to it. The valley at its S.E. foot is called Wady Kyb, that on its western side Wady el Kashabe, and on the other side of the latter, Wady el Asal. In winter time the shepherds of the Felahs of the Heish, who encamp upon the mountain, pass the night in the castle with their cattle.

Banias is situated at the foot of the Heish, in the plain, which in the immediate vicinity of Banias is not called Ard Houle, but Ard Banias. It contains about one hundred and fifty houses, inhabited mostly by Turks: there are also Greeks, Druses, and Enzairie. It belongs to Hasbeya, whose Emir nominates the Sheikh. On the N.E. side of the village is the source of the river of Banias, which empties itself into the Jordan at the distance of an hour and a half, in the plain below. Over the source is a perpendicular rock, in which several niches have been cut to receive statues.