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Travels in Syria and the Holy Land by John Burckhardt

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The largest niche is above a spacious cavern, under which the river
rises. This niche is six feet broad and as much in depth, and has a
smaller niche in the bottom of it. Immediately above it, in the

[p.39] perpendicular face of the rock, is another niche, adorned with
pilasters, supporting a shell ornament like that of Hereibe.

There are two other niches near these, and twenty paces farther two more
nearly buried in the ground at the foot of the rock. Each of these
niches had an inscription annexed to it, but I could not decipher any
thing except the following characters above one of the niches which are
nearly covered with earth.


In the middle niche of the three, which are represented in the
engraving, the base of the statue is still visible.[Banias, [Greek
text], or Caesareia Philippi, was the Dan of the Jews. The name Paneas
was derived from the worship of Pan. The niche in the cavern probably
contained a statue of Pan, and the other niches similar dedications to
the same or other deities. The cavern and [Greek text], or sanctuary of
Pan, are described by Josephus, from whom it appears also that the
fountain was considered the source of the Jordan, and at the same time
the outlet of a small lake called Phiala, which was situated 120 stades
from Caesareia towards Trachonitis, or the north-east. The whole
mountain had the name of Paneium. The hewn stones round the spring may
have belonged, perhaps, to the temple of Augustus, built here by Herod.
Joseph. de Bel. Jud. l.i,c.16. Antiq. Jud. l.3,c.10,-l.15,c.10. Euseb.
Hist. Eccl. l.12,c.17. The inscription appears to have been annexed to a
dedication by a priest of Pan, who had prefixed the usual pro salute for
the reigning Emperors. Ed.]

Upon the top of the rock, to the left of the niches, is a mosque
dedicated to Nebi Khouder, called by the Christians Mar Georgius, which
is a place of devotion for Mohammedan strangers passing this way. Round
the source of the river are a number of hewn stones. The stream flows on
the north side of the village; where is a well built bridge and some
remains of the ancient town, the principal part of which seems, however,
to have been on the opposite side of the river, where the ruins extend
for a

[p.40]quarter of an hour from the bridge. No walls remain, but great
quantities of stones and architectural fragments are scattered about. I
saw also an entire column, of small dimensions. In the village itself,
on the left side of the river, lies a granite column of a light gray
colour, one foot and a half in diameter.

October 15th.--It being Ramazan, we remained under a large tree before
the Menzel, smoking and conversing till very late. The researches which
Mr. Seetzen made here four years ago were the principal topic; he
continued his tour from hence towards the lake of Tabaria, and the
eastern borders of the Dead Sea. The Christians believe that he was sent
by the Yellow King (Melek el Aszfar, a title which they give the Emperor
of Russia) to examine the country preparatory to an invasion, to deliver
it from the Turkish yoke. The Turks, on the contrary, believe, that,
like all strangers who enquire after inscriptions, he was in search of
treasure. When questioned on this subject at Baalbec, I answered, "The
treasures of this country are not beneath the earth; they come from God,
and are on the surface of the earth. Work your fields and sow them; and
you will find the greatest treasure in an abundant harvest." "By your
life (a common oath) truth comes from your lips," ([Arabic] is a common
word used in Syria for [Arabic] which signifies "thy mouth."] [Arabic]
Wuhiyatak, el hak fi tummak) was the reply.

On the south side of the village are the ruins of a strong castle,
which, from its appearance and mode of construction, may be conjectured
to be of the same age as the castle upon the mountain. It is surrounded
by a broad ditch, and had a wall within the ditch. Several of its towers
are still standing. A very solid bridge, which crosses the winter
torrent, Wady el Kyd, leads to the entrance of the castle, over which is
an Arabic inscription; but for want of a ladder, I could make out
nothing of it but the date "600 and ... years (.... [Arabic])," taking
the era of the Hedjra,


[p.41]it coincides with the epoch of the crusades. There are five or six
granite columns built into the walls of the gateway.

I went to see the ruins of the ancient city of Bostra, of which the
people spoke much, adding that Mousa (the name assumed by Mr. Seetzen)
had offered thirty piastres to any one who would accompany him to the
place, but that nobody had ventured, through fear of the Arabs. I found
a good natured fellow, who for three piastres undertook to lead me to
the spot. Bostra must not be confounded with Boszra, in the Haouran;
both places are mentioned in the Books of Moses. The way to the ruins
lies for an hour and a half in the road by which I came from Rasheyat-
el-Fukhar, it then ascends for three quarters of an hour a steep
mountain to the right, on the top of which is the city; it is divided
into two parts, the largest being upon the very summit, the smaller at
ten minutes walk lower down, and resembling a suburb to the upper part.
Traces are still visible of a paved way that had connected the two
divisions. There is scarcely any thing in the ruins worth notice; they
consist of the foundations of private habitations, built of moderate
sized square stones. The lower city is about twelve minutes walk in
circumference; a part of the four walls of one building only remains
entire; in the midst of the ruins was a well, at this time dried up. The
circuit of the upper city may be about twenty minutes; in it are the
remains of several buildings. In the highest part is a heap of wrought
stones of larger dimensions than the rest, which seem to indicate that
some public building had once stood on the spot. There are several
fragments of columns of one foot and of one foot and a half in diameter.
In two different places a short column was standing in the centre of a
round paved area of about ten feet in diameter. There is likewise a deep
well, walled in, but now dry.

The country around these ruins is very capable of cultivation.


[p.42]Near the lower city are groups of olive trees. Pieces of feldspath
of various colours are scattered about in great quantities upon the
chalky rock of this mountain. I found in going up a species of locust
with six very long legs, and a slender body of about four inches in
length. My guide told me that this insect was called [This is the
abbreviation of - [Arabic].] [Arabic] Salli al-nabi, i.e. "pray to the

I descended the mountain in the direction towards the source of the
Jordan, and passed, at the foot of it, the miserable village of Kerwaya.
Behind the mountain of Bostra is another, still higher, called Djebel
Meroura Djoubba. At one hour E. from Kerwaye, in the Houle, is the tomb
of a Turkish Sheikh, with a few houses near it, called Kubbet el Arbai-
in w-el-Ghadjar [Arabic].

The greater part of the fertile plain of the Houle is uncultivated; the
Arabs El Faddel, El Naim, and the Turkmans pasture their cattle here. It
is watered by the river of Hasbeya, the Jordan, and the river of Banias,
besides several rivulets which descend from the mountains on its eastern
side. The source of the Jordan, or as it is here called, Dhan [Arabic],
is at an hour and a quarter N.E. from Banias. It is in the plain, near a
hill called Tel-el-Kadi. There are two springs near each other, one
smaller than the other, whose waters unite immediately below. Both
sources are on level ground, amongst rocks of tufwacke. The larger
source immediately forms a river twelve or fifteen yards across, which
rushes rapidly over a stony bed into the lower plain. There are no ruins
of any kind near the springs; but the hill over them seems to have been
built upon, though nothing now is visible. At a quarter of an hour to
the N. of the spring are ruins of ancient habitations, built of the
black tufwacke, the principal rock found in the plain. The few houses at
present inhabited on that spot are called Enkeil.


[p.43]I was told that the ancient name of the river of Banias was Djour,
which added to the name of Dhan, made Jourdan; the more correct
etymology is probably Or Dhan, in Hebrew the river of Dhan. Lower down,
between the Houle and the lake Tabaria, it is called Orden by the
inhabitants; to the southward of the lake of Tabaria it bears the name
of Sherya, till it falls into the Dead Sea.

October 15th.--My guide returned to Zahle. It was my intention to take a
view of the lake and its eastern borders; but a tumour, which threatened
to prevent both riding and walking, obliged me to proceed immediately to
Damascus. I had reason to congratulate myself on the determination, for
if I had staid a day longer, I should have been compelled to await my
recovery at some village on the road. Add to this, I had only the value
of four shillings left, after paying my guide: this alone, however,
should not have prevented me from proceeding, as I knew that two days
were sufficient to enable me to gratify my curiosity, and a guide would
have thought himself well paid at two shillings a day; as to the other
expenses, travelling in the manner of the country people rendered money
quite unnecessary.

There are two roads from Banias to Damascus: the one lies through the
villages of Koneitza and Sasa; the other is more northly; I took the
latter, though the former is most frequented, being the route followed
by all the pilgrims from Damascus and Aleppo to Jerusalem; but it is
less secure for a small caravan, owing to the incursions of the Arabs.
The country which I had visited to the westward is perfectly secure to
the stranger: I might have safely travelled it alone unarmed, and
without a guide. The route through the district of the Houle and Banias,
and from thence to Damascus, on the contrary, is very dangerous: the
Arabs as well as the Felahs, are often known to attack unprotected
strangers, and


[p.44]a small body of men was stripped at Koneitza during my stay at

As soon as I declared my wish to return to Damascus, I was advised by
several people present to take a guard of armed men with me, but knowing
that this was merely a pretext to extort money without at all ensuring
my safety, I declined the proposal, and said I should wait for a Kaffle.
It fortunately happened that the Sheikh of the village had business at
Damascus, and we were glad of each other's company. We set out in the
afternoon, accompanied by the Sheikh's servant. The direction of the
route is E.b.S. up the mountain of the Heish, behind the castle of
Banias. We passed several huts of Felahs, who live here the whole
summer, and retire in winter to their villages. They make cheese for the
Damascus market. At the end of an hour and a half we came to Ain el
Hazouri, a spring, with the tomb of Sheikh Othman el Hazouri just over
it; to the north of it one hour are the ruins of a city called Hazouri.
The mountain here is overgrown with oaks, but contains good pasturage; I
was told that in the Wady Kastebe, near the castle, there are oak trees
more than sixty feet high. One hour more brought us to the village of
Djoubeta, where we remained during the night at the house of some
friends of the Sheikh of Banias. This village belongs to Hasbeya; it is
inhabited by about fifty Turkish and ten Greek families; they subsist
chiefly by the cultivation of olives, and by the rearing of cattle. I
was well treated at the house where we alighted, and also at that of the
Sheikh of the village, where I went to drink a cup of coffee. It being
Ramadan, we passed the greater part of the night in conversation and
smoking; the company grew merry, and knowing that I was curious about
ruined places, began to enumerate all the villages and ruins in


[p.45]the neighbourhood, of which I subjoin the names.[The ruins of
Dara, Bokatha, Bassisa, Alouba, Afkerdouva, Hauratha (this was described
as being of great extent, with many walls and arches still remaining,)
Enzouby, Hauarit, Kleile, Emteile, Mesherefe, Zar, Katloube in the Wady
Asal, Kseire, Kafoua, Beit el Berek. The villages of Kfershouba, Maonyre
in the district Kereimat, Ain el Kikan, Mezahlak, Merj el Rahel, Sheba,
Zeneble, Zor or Afid, Merdj Zaa. In the Houle, Amerie, Nebi Djahutha,
Sheheil.] The neighbouring mountains of the Heish abound in tigers
([Arabic] nimoura); their skins are much esteemed by the Arab Sheikhs as
saddle cloths. There are also bears, wolves, and stags; the wild boar is
met with in all the mountains which I visited in my tour.

October 16th.--The friends of the Sheikh of Banias having dissuaded him
from proceeding, on account of the dangers of the road, his servant and
myself set out early in the morning. In three quarters of an hour we
reached the village of Medjel, inhabited by Druses, with four or five
Christian families. The Druses who inhahit the country near Damascus are
very punctual in observing the rites of the Mohammedan religion, and
fast, or at least pretend to do so, during the Ramadan. In their own
country, some profess Christianity, others Mohammedism. The chief, the
Emir Beshir, keeps a Latin confessor in his house; yet all of them, when
they visit Damascus, go to the mosque. Medjel is situated on a small
plain high up in the mountain; half an hour further on is a spring; and
at one hour and a quarter beyond, is a spacious plain. The mountain here
is in most places capable of cultivation. In one hour more we reached
the top. The oak tree is very frequent here as well as the bear's plum
[Arabic] (Khoukh eddeb), the berries of which afford a very refreshing
nourishment to the traveller. The rock is partly calcareous, and partly
of a porous tufa, but softer than that which I saw in the Houle. At one
hour and a quarter farther is the Beit el Djanne (the House of
Paradise), in a narrow Wady, at a


[p.46]spot where the valley widens a little. On its western side are
several sepulchral caves hewn in the chalky rock. Another quarter of an
hour brought us to the Ain Beit el Djanne, a copious spring, with a mill
near it; and from thence, in half an hour, we reached the plain on the
eastern side of the mountain. Our route now lay N.E. by E.; to the right
was the open country adjoining the Haouran, to the left the chain of the
Heish, at the foot of which we continued to travel for the remainder of
the day. The villages on the eastern declivity of the Heish, between
Beit el Djanne and Kferhauar are, Hyna, Um Esshara, Dourboul, Oerna, and
Kalaat el Djendel.

At three hours and a half from the point where the Wady Beit el Djanne
terminates in the plain is the village Kferhauar. Before we entered it I
saw to the left of the road a tomb which attracted my attention by its
size. I was told that it was the Kaber Nimroud (the tomb of Nimrod); it
consists of a heap of stones about twenty feet in length, two feet high,
and three feet broad, with a large stone at both extremities, similar to
the tombs in Turkish cemeteries. This is probably the Kalat Nimroud laid
down in maps, to the south of Damascus; at least I never heard of any
Kalaat Nimroud in that direction.

To the right of our road, one hour and a half from Kferhauar, lay Sasa,
and near it Ghaptata. Half an hour farther from Kferhauar we alighted at
the village Beitima. On a slight eminence near Kferhauar stands a small
tower, and there is another of the same size behind Beitima. The
principal article of culture here is cotton: the crop was just ripe, and
the inhabitants were occupied in collecting it. There are Druses at
Kferhauar as well as at Beitima; at the latter village I passed an
uncomfortable rainy night, in the court-yard of a Felah's house.

October 17th.--We continued to follow the Djebel Heish (which


[p.47]however takes a more northern direction than the Damascus road
for four hours, when we came to Katana, a considerable village, with
good houses, and spacious gardens; the river, whose source is close to
the village, empties itself into the Merj of Damascus.

Three hours from Katana, passing over the district called Ard el Lauan,
we came to Kfersousa. Beyond Katana begins the Djebel el Djoushe, which
continues as far as the Djebel Salehie, near Damascus, uniting, on its
western side, the lower ridge of mountains of the Djebel Essheikh.
Kfersousa lies just within the limits of the gardens of the Merdj of
Damascus. In one hour beyond it I re-entered Damascus, greatly fatigued,
having suffered great pain.

After returning to Damascus from my tour in the Haouran, I was desirous
to see the ruins of Rahle and Bourkoush, in the Djebel Essheikh, which I
had heard mentioned by several people of Rasheya during my stay at
Shohba. On the 12th of December, I took a man with me, and rode to
Katana, by a route different from that through the Ard el Lauan, by
which I travelled from Katana to Damascus in October. It passes in a
more southerly direction through the villages of Deir raye [Arabic], one
hour beyond Bonabet Ullah; and another hour Djedeide; one hour and a
quarter from Djedeide is Artous [Arabic], in which are many Druse
families; in an hour from Artous we reached Katana. This is a very
pleasant road, through well cultivated fields and groves. I here saw
nurseries of apricot trees, which are transplanted into the gardens at
Damascus. To the south of Artous three quarters of an hour, is the
village of Kankab, situated upon a hill; below it is the village of
Djoun, opposite to which,


[p.48]and near the village Sahnaya, lies the Megarat Mar Polous, or St.
Paul's cavern, where the Apostle is related to have hidden himself from
the pursuit of his enemies at Damascus. The monks of Terra Santa, who
have a convent at Damascus, had formerly a chapel at Sahnaya, where one
of their fraternity resided; but the Roman Catholic Christians of the
village having become followers of the Greek church, the former
abandoned their establishment. To the N.E. of Djedeide, and half an hour
from it, is the village Maddharnie.

Katana is one of the chief villages in the neighbourhood of Damascus; it
contains about one hundred and eighty Turkish families, and four or five
of Christians. The Sheikh, to whom the village belongs, is of a very
rich Damascus family, a descendant of a Santon, whose tomb is shewn in
the mosque of the village. Adjoining to the tomb is a hole in the rocky
ground, over which an apartment has been built for the reception of
maniacs; they are put down into the hole, and a stone is placed over its
mouth; here they remain for three or four days, after which, as the
Turks pretend, they regain their senses. The Christians say that the
Santon was a Patriarch of Damascus, who left his flock, and turned
hermit, and that he gained great reputation amongst the Turks, because
whenever he prostrated himself before the Deity, his sheep imitated his
example. Katana has a bath, and near it the Sheikh has a good house. The
villagers cultivate mulberry trees to feed their silk worms, and some
cotton, besides corn. The day after my arrival I engaged two men to shew
me the way to the ruins. We began to cross the lower branches of the
Djebel Essheikh, at the foot of which Katana is situated, and after an
hour and a quarter came to Bir Karme, likewise called El Redhouan, a
spring in a narrow valley. We rode over mountainous ground in the road
to Rasheya, passed another well of


[p.49]spring water, and at the end of four hours reached Rahle, a
miserable Druse village, half an hour to the right of the road from
Katana to Rasheia. The ruins are to the north of the village, in the
narrow valley of Rahle, and consist principally of a ruined temple,
built of large square stones, of the same calcareous rock used in the
buildings of Baalbec: little else remains than the foundations, which
are twenty paces in breadth, and thirty in length; within the area of
the temple are the foundations of a circular building. Many fragments of
columns are lying about, and a few extremely well formed capitals of the
Ionic order. Upon two larger stones lying near the gate, which probably
formed the architrave, is the figure of a bird with expanded wings, not
inferior in execution to the bird over the architrave of the great
temple at Baalbec; its head is broken off; in its claws is something of
the annexed form, bearing no resemblance to the usual figure of the
thunderbolt. On the exterior, wall, on the south side of the temple, is
a large head, apparently of a female, three feet and a half high, and
two feet and a half broad, sculptured upon one of the large square
stones which form the wall: its features are perfectly regular, and are
enclosed by locks of hair, terminating in thin tresses under the chin.
This head seems never to have belonged to a whole length figure, as the
stone on which it is sculptured touches the ground. Near the ruins is a
deep well. A few hundred paces to the south, upon an eminence, are the
ruins of another edifice, of which there remain the foundations of the
walls, and a great quantity of broken columns of small size. Around
these edifices are the remains of numerous private habitations; a short
column is found standing in most of them, in the centre of the
foundations of the building. In the neighbouring rocks about a dozen
small cells are excavated, in some of which are cavities for bodies. I
found no inscriptions.


[p.50]S.W. from Rahle, one hour and a half, are the ruins of the castle
of Bourkush [Arabic]. We passed the spring called Ain Ward (the rose
spring), near a plain in the midst of the mountains called Merdj
Bourkush. The ruins stand upon a mountain, which appeared to me to be
one of the highest of the lower chain of the Djebel Essherk. At the foot
of the steep ascent leading up to the castle, on the N.W. side, is a
copious spring, and another to the W. midway in the ascent. These ruins
consist of the outer walls of the castle, built with large stones, some
of which are eight feet long, and five broad. A part only of the walls
are standing. In the interior are several apartments which have more the
appearance of dungeons than of habitations. The rock, upon which the
whole structure is erected, has been levelled so as to form an area
within, round which ran a wall; a part of this wall is formed by the
solid rock, upwards of eight feet high, and as many broad, the rock
having been cut down on both sides.

To the E. of this castle are the ruins of a temple built much in the
same style as that of Rahle, but of somewhat smaller dimensions, and
constructed of smaller stones. The architrave of the door is supported
by two Corinthian pilasters. A few Druse families reside at Bourkush,
who cultivate the plain below. On the S.E. side of the ascent to the
castle are small caverns cut in the rock. From this point Katana bore

We returned from Bourkush to Katana by Ain Embery, a rivulet whose
source is hard by in the Wady, with some ruined habitations near it. The
distance from Bourkush to Katana is two hours and a half brisk walking
of a horse. The summit of the mountain was covered with snow. I heard of
several other ruins, but had no time to visit them. There are several
villages of Enzairie in the mountain. On the third day from my departure
I returned to Damascus.





November 8th.--On returning from the preceding tour, I was detained at
Damascus for more than a fortnight by indisposition. As soon as I had
recovered my health I began to prepare for a journey into the plain of
the Haouran, and the mountains of the Druses of the Haouran, a country
which, as well from the reports of natives, as from what I heard that
Mr. Seetzen had said of it, on his return from visiting a part of it
four years ago, I had reason to think was in many respects highly
interesting. I requested of the Pasha the favour of a Bouyourdi, or
general passport to his officers in the Haouran, which he readily
granted, and on receiving it I found that I was recommended in very
strong terms. Knowing that there were many Christians, chiefly of the
Greek church, I thought it might be equally useful to procure from the
Greek Patriarch of Damascus, with whom I was well acquainted, a letter
to his flock in the Haouran. On communicating my wishes, he caused a
circular letter to be written to all the priest, which I found of


[p.52]weight among the Greeks than the Bouyourdi was among the Turks.

Being thus furnished with what I considered most necessary, I assumed
the dress of the Haouran people, with a Keffie, and a large sheep-skin
over my shoulders: in my saddle bag I put one spare shirt, one pound of
coffee beans, two pounds of tobacco, and a day's provender of barley for
my horse. I then joined a few Felahs of Ezra, of one of whom I hired an
ass, though I had nothing to load it with but my small saddle-bag; but I
knew this to be the best method of recommending myself to the protection
of my fellow travellers; as the owner of the ass necessarily becomes the
companion and protector of him who hires it. Had I offered to pay him
before setting out merely for his company on the way, he would have
asked triple the sum I gave him, without my deriving the smallest
advantage from this increase, while he would have considered my conduct
as extraordinary and suspicious. In my girdle I had eighty piastres,
(about L4. sterling) and a few more in my pocket, together with a watch,
a compass, a journal book, a pencil, a knife, and a tobacco purse. The
coffee I knew would be very acceptable in the houses where I might
alight; and throughout the journey I was enabled to treat all the
company present with coffee.

My companions intending to leave Damascus very early the next morning, I
quitted my lodgings in the evening, and went with them to sleep in a
small Khan in the suburb of Damascus, at which the Haouaerne, or people
of Haouran, generally alight.

November 9th.--We departed through this gate of the Meidhan, three hours
before sun-rise, and took the road by which the Hadj annually commences
its laborious journey; this gate is called Bab Ullah, the Gate of God,
but might, with more propriety be named Bab-el-Maut, the Gate of Death;
for scarcely a third ever


[p.53]returns of those whom a devout adherence to their religion, or the
hope of gain impel to this journey. The approach to Damascus on this
side is very grand: being formed by a road above one hundred and fifty
paces broad, which is bordered on each side by a grove of olive trees,
and continues in a straight line for upwards of an hour. A quarter of an
hour from Bab Ullah, to the left, stands a mosque with a Kiosk, called
Kubbet el Hadj, where the Pasha who conducts the Hadj passes the first
night of his journey, which is invariably the fifteenth of the month
Shauwal. On the other side of the road, and opposite to it, lies the
village El Kadem (the foot), where Mohammed is said to have stopped,
without entering Damascus, when coming from Mekka. Half an hour farther
is a bridge over a small rivulet: to the left are the villages Zebeine
and Zebeinat; to the right the village Deir raye. In another half hour
we came to a slight ascent, called Mefakhar; at its foot is a bridge
over the rivulet El Berde; to the right is the village El Sherafie: to
the left, parallel with the road, extends a stony district called War-
ed-djamous [Arabic] the Buffaloes War, War being an appellation given to
all stony soils whether upon plains or mountains. Here the ground is
very uneven; in traversing it we passed the Megharat el Haramie [Arabic]
or Thief's Cavern, the nightly refuge of disorderly persons. On the
other side of the War is a descent called Ard Shoket el Haik, which
leads into the plain, and in half an hour to the village El Kessoue;
distant from Damascus three hours and a quarter in a S.S.E. direction.
El Kessoue is a considerable village, situated on the river Aawadj
[Arabic], or the crooked, which flows from the neighbourhood of Hasbeya,
and waters the plain of Djolan; in front of the village a well paved
bridge crosses the river, on each side of which, to the W. and E.
appears a chain of low mountains; those to the east are called Djebel
Manai [Arabic], and contain large caverns; the


[p.54]summits of the two chains nearest the village are called by a
collective name Mettall el Kessoue [Arabic]. I stopped for half an hour
at Kessoue, at a coffee house by the road side. The village has a small
castle, or fortified building, over the bridge.

From Kessoue a slight ascent leads up to a vast plain, called Ard
Khiara, from a village named Khiara. In three quarters of an hour from
Kessoue we reached Khan Danoun, a ruined building. Here, or at Kessoue,
the pilgrim caravan passes the second night. Near Khan Danoun, a rivulet
flows to the left. This Khan, which is now in ruins, was built in the
usual style of all the large Khans in this country: consisting of an
open square, surrounded with arcades, beneath which are small apartments
for the accommodation of travellers; the beasts occupy the open square
in the centre. From Khan Danoun the road continues over the plain, where
few cultivated spots appear, for two hours and a quarter; we then
reached a Tel, or high hill, the highest summit of the Djebel Khiara, a
low mountain chain which commences here, and runs in a direction
parallel with the Djebel Manai for about twenty miles. The mountains
Khiara and Manai are sometimes comprised under the name of Djebel
Kessoue, and so I find them laid down in D'Anville's map. The summit of
Djebel Khiara is called Soubbet Faraoun. From thence begins a stony
district, which extends to the village Ghabarib [Arabic], one hour and a
quarter from the Soubbet. Upon a hill to the W. of the road, stands a
small building crowned with a cupola, to which the Turks resort, from a
persuasion that the prayers there offered up are peculiarly acceptable
to the deity. This building is called Meziar Eliasha [Arabic], or the
Meziar of Elisha. The Hadj route has been paved in several places for
the distance of a hundred yards or more, in order to facilitate the
passage of the pilgrims in years when the Hadj takes place during the
rainy season.


[p.55]Ghabarib has a ruined castle, and on the side of the road is a
Birket or reservoir, with a copious spring. These cisterns are met with
at every station on the Hadj route as far as Mekka; some of them are
filled by rain water; others by small streams, which if they were not
thus collected into one body would be absorbed in the earth, and could
not possibly afford water for the thousands of camels which pass, nor
for the filling of the water-skins.

At one hour beyond Ghabarib is the village Didy, to the left of the
road: one hour from Didy, Es-szanamein [Arabic], the Two Idols; the
bearing of the road from Kessoue is S.b.E.[The variation of the compass
is not computed in any of the bearings of this journal.] Szanamein is a
considerable village, with several ancientbuildings and towers; but as
my companions were unwilling to stop, I could not examine them closely.
I expected to revisit them on my return to Damascus, but I subsequently
preferred taking the route of the Loehf. I was informed afterwards that
many Greek inscriptions are to be found at Szanamein.

From Szanamein the Hadj route continues in the same direction as before
to Tafar and Mezerib; we left it and took a route more easterly. That
which we had hitherto travelled being the high road from the Haouran to
Damascus, is perfectly secure, and we met with numerous parties of
peasants going to and from the city;

but we had scarcely passed Szanamein when we were apprised by some
Felahs that a troop of Arabs Serdie had been for several days past
plundering the passengers and villages in the neighbourhood. Afraid of
being surprised, my companions halted and sewed their purses up in a
camel's pack saddle; I followed their example. I was informed that these
flying parties of Arabs very rarely drive away the cattle of the Haouran
people, but are satisfied with stripping them of cash, or any new piece
of dress


[p.56]which they may have purchased at Damascus, always however giving
them a piece of old clothing of the same kind in return. The country
from Szanamein to one hour's distance along our road is stony, and is
thence called War Szanamein. After passing it, we met some other Haouran
people, whose reports concerning the Arabs so terrified my companions,
that they resolved to give up their intention of reaching Ezra the same
day, and proceeded to seek shelter in a neighbouring village, there to
wait for fresh news. We turned off a little to our left, and alighted at
a village called Tebne [Arabic], distant one hour and a half from
Szanamein. We left our beasts in the court-yard of our host's house, and
went to sup with the Sheikh, a Druse, at whose house strangers are
freely admitted to partake of a plate of Burgoul. Tebne stands upon a
low hill, on the limits of the stony district called the Ledja, of which
I shall have occasion to speak hereafter. The village has no water but
what it derives from its cisterns, which were at this time nearly dry.
It consists wholly of ancient habitations, built of stone, of a kind
which I shall describe in speaking of Ezra.

November 10th.--We quitted Tebne early in the morning, and passing the
villages Medjidel [Arabic], Mehadjer [Arabic], Shekara [Arabic], and
Keratha [Arabic], all on the left of the route, arrived, at the end of
three hours and a quarter, at Ezra [Arabic]. Here commences the plain of
the Haouran, which is interrupted by numerous insulated hills, on the
declivities, or at the foot of which, most of the villages of the
Haouran are seated. From Tebne the soil begins to be better cultivated,
yet many parts of it are overgrown with weeds. On a hill opposite
Manhadje, on the west side of the road, stands a Turkish Meziar, called
Mekdad. In approaching Ezra we met a troop of about eighty of the
Pasha's cavalry; they had, the preceding night, surprised the above-

[p.57]party of Arabs Serdie in the village of Walgha, and had killed
Aerar, their chief, and six others, whose heads they were carrying with
them in a sack. They had also taken thirty-one mares, of which the
greater number were of the best Arabian breeds. Afraid of being pursued
by the friends of the slain they were hastening back to Damascus, where,
as I afterwards heard, the Pasha presented them with the captured mares,
and distributed eight purses, or about L200. amongst them.

On reaching Ezra I went to the house of the Greek priest of the village,
whom I had already seen at the Patriarch's at Damascus, and with whom I
had partly concerted my tour in the Haouran. He had been the conductor
of M. Seetzen, and seemed to be very ready to attend me also, for a
trifling daily allowance, which he stipulated. Ezra is one of the
principal villages of the Haouran; it contains about one hundred and
fifty Turkish and Druse families, and about fifty of Greek Christians.
It lies within the precincts of the Ledja, at half an hour from the
arable ground: it has no spring water, but numerous cisterns. Its
inhabitants make cotton stuffs, and a great number of millstones, the
blocks for forming which, are brought from the interior of the Ledja;
the stones are exported from hence, as well as from other villages in
the Loehf, over the greater part of Syria, as far as Aleppo and
Jerusalem. They vary in price, according to their size, from fifteen to
sixty piastres, and are preferred to all others on account of the
hardness of the stone, which is the black tufa rock spread over the
whole of the Haouran, and the only species met with in this country.

Ezra was once a flourishing city; its ruins are between three and four
miles in circumference. The present inhabitants continue to live in the
ancient buildings, which, in consequence of the strength and solidity of
their walls, are for the greater part in complete preservation

[p.58]They are built of stone, as are all the houses of the villages in
the Haouran and Djebel Haouran from Ghabarib to Boszra, as well as of
those in the desert beyond the latter. In general each dwelling has a
small entrance leading into a court-yard, round which are the
apartments; of these the doors are usually very low. The interior of the
rooms is constructed of large square stones; across the centre is a
single arch, generally between two and three feet in breadth, which
supports the roof; this arch springs from very low pilasters on each
side of the room, and in some instances rises immediately from the
floor: upon the arch is laid the roof, consisting of stone slabs one
foot broad, two inches thick, and about half the length of the room, one
end resting upon short projecting stones in the walls, and the other
upon the top of the arch. The slabs are in general laid close to each
other; but in some houses I observed that the roof was formed of two
layers, the one next the arch having small intervals between each slab,
and a second layer of similar dimensions was laid close together at
right angles with the first. The rooms are seldom higher than nine or
ten feet, and have no other opening than a low door, with sometimes a
small window over it. In many places I saw two or three of these arched
chambers one above the other, forming so many stories. This substantial
mode of building prevails also in most of the ancient public edifices
remaining in the Haouran, except that in the latter the arch, instead of
springing from the walls or floor, rests upon two short columns. During
the whole of my tour, I saw but one or two arches, whose curve was
lofty; the generality of them, including those in the public buildings,
are oppressively low. To complete the durability of these structures,
most of the doors were anciently of stone, and of these many are still
remaining; sometimes they are of one piece and sometimes they are
folding doors; they turn upon hinges worked out of the stone, and are
about four [p.59]inches thick, and seldom higher than about four feet,
though I met with some upwards of nine feet in height.

I remained at Ezra, in the priest's house, this and the following day,
occupied in examining the antiquities of the village. The most
considerable ruins stand to the S.E. of the present habitations; but few
of the buildings on that side have resisted the destructive hand of
time. The walls, however, of most of them yet remain, and there are the
remains of a range of houses which, to judge from their size and
solidity, seem to have been palaces. The Ezra people have given them the
appellation of Seraye Malek el Aszfar, or the Palace of the Yellow King,
a term given over all Syria, as I have observed in another place, to the
Emperor of Russia. The aspect of these ruins, and of the surrounding
rocky country of the Ledja, is far from being pleasing: the Ledja
presents a level tract covered with heaps of black stones, and small
irregular shaped rocks, without a single agreeable object for the eye to
repose upon. On the west and north sides of the village are several
public edifices, temples, churches, &c. The church of St. Elias
[Arabic], in which the Greeks celebrate divine service, is a round
building, of which the roof is fallen in, and only the outer wall
standing. On its S. side is a vestibule supported by three arches, the
entrance to which is through a short arched dark passage. Over the
entrance is the following inscription:


Over a small side gate I observed the following words:


[p.60] On the arch of the entrance alley,


On the outer wall, on the north side of the rotunda;


On the south side of the village stands an edifice, dedicated to St.
Georgius, or El Khouder [Arabic], as the Mohammedans, and sometimes the
Christians, call that Saint. It is a square building of about eighty-
five feet the side, with a semicircular projection on the E. side; the
roof is vaulted, and is supported by eight square columns, which stand
in a circle in the centre of the square, and are united to one another
by arches. They are about two feet thick, and sixteen high, with a
single groove on each side. Between the columns and the nearest part of
the wall is a space of twelve feet. The niche on the east side contains
the altar. The vaulted roof is of modern construction. The building had
two entrances; of which the southern is entirely walled up; the western
also is closed at the top, leaving a space below for a stone door of six
feet high, over which is a broad stone with the following inscription
upon it:


[p.61] [Greek] [A.D. 410. This was the third year of the Emperor
Theodosius the younger, in whose reign the final decrees were issued
against the Pagan worship. It appears from the inscription that the
building upon which it is written was an ancient temple, converted into
a church of St. George. Editor.]

Before the temple is a small paved yard, now used as the exclusive
burial ground of the Greek priests of Ezra.

In the midst of the present inhabited part of the village stand the
ruins of another large edifice; it was formerly applied to Christian
worship, and subsequently converted into a mosque: but it has long since
been abandoned. It consists of a quadrangle, with two vaulted colonnades
at the northern and southern ends, each consisting of a double row of
five columns. In the middle of the area stood a parallel double range of
columns of a larger size, forming a colonnade across the middle of the
building; the columns are of the Doric order, and about sixteen feet
high. The side arcades are still standing to half their height; those of
the middle area are lying about in fragments; the E. and W. walls of the
building are also in ruins. Over the entrance gate are three inscribed
tablets, only one of which, built upside down in the wall, is legible;
it is as follows:


Over an inner gate I saw an inscription, much defaced, which seemed to
be in Syrian characters.

Adjoining this building stands a square tower, about fifty feet high;
its base is somewhat broader than its top. I frequently saw

[p.62]similar structures in the Druse villages; and in Szannamein are
two of the same form as the above: they all have windows near the
summit; in some, there is one window on each side, in others there are
two, as in this at Ezra. They have generally several stories of vaulted
chambers, with a staircase to ascend into them.

To the E. of the village is the gateway of another public building, the
interior of which has been converted into private dwellings; this
building is in a better style than those above described, and has some
trifling sculptured ornaments on its gate. On the wall on the right side
of the gate is this inscription.


There are many private habitations, principally at the S. end of the
town, with inscriptions over the doors; most of which are illegible. The
following I found in different parts of the village, on stones lying on
the ground, or built into the walls of houses.

Over the entrance of a sepulchral apartment,


[p.63]I observed a great difference in the characters in which all the
above inscriptions were engraved. That of S. Georgius is the best

In the evening I went to water my horse with the priest's cattle at the
spring of Geratha, one hour distant from Ezra, N. by E. I met there a
number of shepherds with theyr flocks; the rule is, that the first who
arrives at the well, waters his cattle before the others; several were
therefore obliged to wait till after sunset. There are always some stone
basins round the wells, out of which the camels drink, the water being
drawn up by leathern buckets, and poured into them: disputes frequent1y
happen on these occasions. The well has a broad staircase leading down
to it; just by it lies a stone with an inscription, of which I could
make out only the following letters


This well is called Rauad.

November 12th.--I left Ezra with the Greek priest, to visit the villages
towards the mountain of the Haouran. I had agreed to pay him by the day,
but I soon had reason to repent of this arrangement. In order to
protract my journey, and augment the number of days,


[p.64]he loaded his horse with all his church furniture, and at almost
every village where we alighted he fitted up a room, and said mass; I
was, in consequence, seldom able to leave my night's quarters before
mid-day, and as the days were now short our day's journey was not more
than four or five hours. His description of me to the natives varied
with circumstances; sometimes I was a Greek lay brother, sent to him by
the Patriarch, a deception which could not be detected by my dress, as
the priesthood is not distinguished by any particular dress, unless it
be the blue turban, which they generally wear; sometimes he described me
as a physician who was in search of herbs; and occasionally he owned
that my real object was to examine the country. Our road lay S.E. upon
the borders of the stony district called Ledja; and at the end of two
hours we passed the village of Bousser [Arabic] on our left, which is
principally inhabited by Druses; it lies in the War, and contains the
Turkish place of pilgrimage, called Meziar Eliashaa. Near it, to the S.
is the small village Kherbet Hariri. In one hour we passed Baara, a
village under the control of the Sheikh of Ezra; and at half an hour
farther to our right, the village Eddour [Arabic]. The Wady Kanouat, a
torrent which takes its rise in the mountain, passes Baara, where it
turns several mills in the winter season; towards the end of May it is
generally dried up. At one hour from Baara is the Ain Keratha, or
Geratha, according to Bedouin and Haouran pronunciation [Arabic]. At the
foot of a hill in the War are several wells; this hill is covered with
the ruins of the ancient city of Keratha, of which the foundations only
remain: there had been such a scarcity of water this year, that the
people of Bousser were obliged to fetch it from these wells. A quarter
of an hour E. of them is the village Nedjran [Arabic], in the Ledja, in
which are several ancient buildings inhabited by Druses. In the Ledja,
in the neighbourhood of Keratha,


[p.65]are many spots of arable ground. Upon a low hill, in our route, at
an hour and a quarter from the Ain or well, is Deir el Khouat [Arabic],
i.e. the Brothers' Monastery, a heap of ruins. From thence we travelled
to the south-eastward for three quarters of an hour, to the village
Sedjen [Arabic], where we alighted, at the house of the only Christian
family remaining among the Druses of the place. Sedjen is built, like
all these ancient towns, entirely of the black stone peculiar to these

November 13th.--We left Sedjen about noon; and in half an hour came to
the spring Mezra [Arabic], the water of which is conducted near to
Sedjen by an ancient canal, which empties itself in the summer time into
a large pond; in the winter the stream is joined by a number of small
torrents, which descend from the Djebel Haouran between Kanouat and
Soueida; it empties itself farther to the west into the Wady Kanouat.
Above the spring is a ruined castle, and near it several other large
buildings, of which the walls only are standing; the castle was most
probably built to protect the water. There is a tradition that Tamerlane
filled up the well; and a similar story is repeated in many parts of the
Haouran: it is said that he threw quick-silver into the springs, which
prevented the water from rising to the surface; and that the water
collecting under ground from several sources near Mezerib, at length
burst forth, and formed the copious spring at that place, called Bushe.
From Mezra to Medjel we travelled E.N.E. one hour. It rained the whole
day. On arriving at Medjel I alighted to copy some inscriptions, when
the Druse Sheikh immediately sent for me, to know what I was about. It
is a general opinion with these people that inscriptions indicate hidden
treasure; and that by reading or copying them a knowledge is obtained
where the treasure lies. I often combated this opinion with success, by
simply asking them,

[p.66]whether, if they chose to hide their money under ground, they
would be so imprudent as to inform strangers where it lay? The opinion,
however, is too strongly rooted in the minds of many of the country
people, to yield to argument; and this was the case with the Sheikh of
Medjel. Having asked me very rudely what business I had, I presented to
him the Pasha's Bouyourdi; but of twenty people present no one could
read it; and when I had read it to them, they refused to believe that it
was genuine. While coffee was roasting I left the room, finished copying
some inscriptions, and rode off in a torrent of rain. On the left side
of a vaulted gate-way leading into a room in which are three receptacles
for the dead is this inscription:


And opposite to it, on the right side of the gate-way, in large


Over the eastern church, or mosque gate,



[p.67]On the northern church gate,


On two stones built into the wall of a house on the side of the road,
beyond the village,


There are two other buildings in the town, which I suppose to have been
sepulchral. In one of them is a long inscription, but the rain had made
it illegible. We rode on for three quarters of an hour farther to the
village Kafer el Loehha [Arabic], situated in the Wady Kanouat, on the
borders of the Ledja. I here passed a comfortable evening, in the
company of some Druses, who conversed freely with me, on their relations
with their own Sheikhs, and with the surrounding Arabs.

November 14th.--The principal building of Kafer el Loehha is


[p.68]a church, whose roof is supported by three arches, which, like
those in the private dwellings, spring from the floor of the building.
Upon a stone lying near it I read [Greek]. Not far from the church, on
its west side, is another large edifice, with a rotunda, and a paved
terrace before it. Over the gateway, which is half buried, is the
following inscription:


From Kafer el Loehha we rode N. forty minutes, to a village called Rima
el Loehf, [Arabic] inhabited by only three or four Druse families. At
the entrance of the village stands a building eight feet square and
about twenty feet high, with a flat roof, and three receptacles for the
dead; it has no windows; at its four corners are pilasters. Over the
door is this inscription:


The walls of this apartment are hollow, as appears by several


[p.69] holes which have been made in them, in search of hidden treasure.
Beneath it is a subterraneous apartment, in which is a double row of
receptacles for the dead, three in each row, one above the other; each
receptacle is two feet high, and five feet and a half long. The door is
so low as hardly to allow a person to creep in.

I copied the following from a stone in an adjoining wall:


This village has two Birkets, or reservoirs for water, which are filled
in winter time by a branch of the Wady Kanouat; they were completely
dried up this summer, a circumstance which rarely happens. Near both the
Birkets are remains of strong walls. Upon an insulated hill three
quarters of an hour S.E. from Rima, is Deir el Leben [Aarabic], i.e.
Monastery of Milk; Rima is on the limits of the Ledja; Deir in the plain
between it and the mountain Haouran. The Deir consists of the ruins of a
square building seventy paces long, with small cells, each of which has
a door; it contained also several larger apartments, of which the arches
only remain. The roof of the whole building has fallen in. Over the door
of one of the cells I read the following inscription:

[Greek] [Hence it appears that Rima has preserved its ancient name. Ed.]

Half an hour E. of Deir el Leben lies a ruined, uninhabited village upon
a Tel, called Doubba [Arabic] it has a Birket and a


[p.70]spring. To the N.E. of it is the inhabited Druse village Bereike
[Arabic]. We advanced half an hour E. to the village Mourdouk [Arabic]
on the declivity of the Djebel Haouran; it has a spring, from whence the
Druses of Rima and Bereike obtain their daily supply of water. From the
spring we proceeded to the eastward on the side of the mountain. At our
feet extended the Ledja from between N.E.b.N. where it terminates, near
Tel Beidhan, to N.W. by N. its furthest western point, on the Haouran
side. Between the mountain and the Ledja is an intermediate plain of
about one hour in breadth, and for the greater part uncultivated. Before
us lay three insulated hills, called Tel Shiehhan, Tel Esszoub, which is
the highest, and Tel Shohba; they are distant from each other half an
hour, the second in the middle. One hour and a half to the S.E. of Tel
Shohba is one of the projecting summits of the mountain called Tel Abou

From Mourdouk our road lay for an hour and a half over stony ground, to
Shohba [Arabic] the seat of the principal Druse Sheikhs, and containing
also some Turkish and Christian families. It lies near the foot of Tel
Shohba, between the latter and the mountain; it was formerly one of the
chief cities in these districts, as is attested by its remaining town
walls, and the loftiness of its public edifices. The walls may be traced
all round the city, and are perfect in many places; there are eight
gates, with a paved causeway leading from each into the town. Each gate
is formed of two arches, with a post in the centre. The eastern gate
seems to have been the principal one, and the street into which it opens
leads in a straight line through the town; like the other streets facing
the gates, it is paved with oblong flat stones, laid obliquely across it
with great regularity. Following this street through a heap of ruined
habitations on each side of it, where are many fragments of columns, I
came to a place where four massy cubical structures

[p.71]formed a sort of square, through which the street runs; they are
built with square stones, are twelve feet long by nine high, and, as
appears by one of them, which is partly broken down, are quite solid,
the centre being filled up with stones. Farther on to the right, upon a
terrace, stand five Corinthian columns, two feet and a quarter in
diameter, all quite entire. After passing these columns I came to the
principal building in this part of the town; it is in the form of a
crescent, fronting towards the east, without any exterior ornaments, but
with several niches in the front. I did not venture to enter it, as I
had a bad opinion of its present possessor, the chief of Shohba, who
some years ago compelled M. Seetzen to turn back from hence towards
Soueida. I remained unknown to the Druses during my stay at Shohba.
Before the above mentioned building is a deep and large reservoir, lined
with small stones. To the right of it stands another large edifice of a
square shape, built of massy stones, with a spacious gate; its interior
consists of a double range of vaults, one above the other, of which the
lower one is choaked up as high as the capitals of the columns which
support the arches. I found the following inscription upon an arch in
the upper story:


Beyond and to the left of this last mentioned building, in the same
street, is a vaulted passage with several niches on both sides of it,
and dark apartments, destined probably for the reception of the bodies
of the governors of the city. Farther on are the remaining walls of a
large building. Upon two stones, close to each other, and projecting
from the wall, I read the following inscriptions:

[p.72] On the first,


On the second,


To the west of the five Corinthian columns stands a small building,
which has been converted into a mosque; it contains two columns about
ten inches in diameter, and eight feet in height, of the same kind of
fine grained gray granite, of which I had seen several columns at Banias
in the Syrian mountains.

To the south of the crescent formed building, and its adjoining edifice,
stands the principal curiosity of Shohba, a theatre, in good
preservation. It is built on a sloping site, and the semicircle is
enclosed by a wall nearly ten feet in thickness, in which are nine
vaulted entrances into the interior. Between the wall and the seats runs
a double row of vaulted chambers one over the other. Of these the upper
chambers are boxes, opening towards the seats, and communicating behind
with a passage which separates them from the outer wall. The lower
chambers open into each other, those at the extremities of the semi-
circle excepted, which have openings towards the area of the theatre.
The entrance into the area is by three gates, one larger, with a smaller
on either side;

[p.73] on each side of the two latter are niches for statues. The
diameter of the area, near the entrance, is thirty paces; the circle
round the upper row of seats is sixty-four paces; there are ten rows of
seats. Outside the principal entrance is a wall, running parallel with
it, close to which are several small apartments.

To the S.E. of Shohba are the remains of an aqueduct, which conveyed
water into the town from a spring in the neighbouring mountain, now
filled up. About six arches are left, some of which are at least forty
feet in height. At the termination of this aqueduct, near the town, is a
spacious building divided into several apartments, of which that nearest
to the aqueduct is enclosed by a wall twelve feet thick, and about
twenty-five feet high; with a vaulted roof, which has fallen in. It has
two high vaulted entrances opposite to each other, with niches on each
side. In the walls are several channels from the roof to the floor, down
which the water from the aqueduct probably flowed. On one side of this
room is an entrance into a circular chamber fourteen feet in diameter;
and on the other is a similar apartment but of smaller dimensions, also
with channels in its walls; adjoining to this is a room without any
other opening than a very small door; its roof, which is still entire,
is formed of small stones cemented together with mortar; all the walls
are built of large square stones. The building seems evidently to have
been a bath.

On a stone built in the wall over the door of a private dwelling in the
town, I copied the following:




[Greek] [Legionis Decimae Flavianae Fortis. Ed.]

To the margin of the third line the following letters are annexed:


The inhabitants of Shohba fabricate cotton cloth for shirts and gowns.
They grow cotton, but it is not reckoned of good quality. There are only
three Christian families in the village. There are three large Birkets
or wells, in two of which there was still some water. There is no spring
near. Most of the doors of the houses, are formed of a single slab of
stone, with stone hinges.

November 15th.--Our way lay over the fertile and cultivated plain at the
foot of the Jebel Haouran, in a north-easterly direction. At a quarter
of an hour from the town we passed the Wady Nimri w-el Heif [Arabic], a
torrent coming from the mountain to the S.E. In the winter it furnishes
water to a great part of the Ledja, where it is collected in cisterns.
There is a great number of ruined mills higher up the Wady. Three or
four hours distant, we saw a high hill in the Djebel, called Um Zebeib
[Arabic]. Three quarters of an hour from Shohba we passed the village
Asalie [Arabic], inhabited by a few families; near it is a small Birket.
In one hour and three quarters we came to the village Shakka [Arabic];
on its eastern side stands an insulated building, consisting of a tower
with two wings: it contains throughout a double row of arches and the
tower has two stories, each of which forms a single chamber, without any
opening but the door. Upon the capital of a column is:


[p.75]Adjoining the village, on the eastern side, are the ruins of a
handsome edifice; it consists of an apartment fourteen paces square
opening into an arcade, which leads into another apartment similar to
the first. In the first, whose roof has fallen down, there are pedestals
for statues all round the walls. On one side are three dark apartments,
of which that in the centre is the largest; on the opposite side is a
niche. The entrance is towards the east. To the south of these ruins
stood another building, of which the front wall only is standing; upon a
stone, lying on the ground before the wall, and which was probably the
architrave of the door, I found the following inscription:


Opposite to these ruins I copied the following from a stone built in the
wall of one of the private dwellings:


and this from a stone in the court-yard of a peasant's house:


[p.76]On the north side of the village are the ruins also of what was
once an elegant structure; but nothing now remains except a part of the
front, and some arches in the interior. It is thirty paces in length,
with a flight of steps, of the whole length of the building, leading up
to it. The entrance is through a large door whose sides and architrave
are richly sculptured. On each side is a smaller door, between which and
the great door are two niches supported by Ionic pilasters, the whole
finely worked. Within are three aisles or rows of arches, of which the
central is much the largest; they rest upon short thick columns of the
worst taste.

At some distance to the north of the village stands a small insulated
tower; over its entrance are three inscriptions, of which I copied the
two following; the third I was unable to read, as the sun was setting
before I had finished the others:

1. [Greek].


2. [Greek]


There are several similar towers in the village, but without

The inhabitants of Shakka grow cotton; they are all Druses, except a
single Greek family. To the S.E. of the village is the spring Aebenni
[Arabic] with the ruined village Tefkha, about three quarters of an hour
distant from Shakka. E.b.N. from Shakka one hour lies Djeneine
[Arabic], the last inhabited village on this side towards the desert. Its
inhabitants are the shepherds of the people of El Hait. Half an hour to
the north of Djeneine is Tel-Maaz [Arabic], a hill on which is a ruined
village. This is the N.E. limit of the mountain, which here turns off
towards the S. behind Djeneine. At three quarters of an hour from
Shakka, N.N.W. is El Hait, inhabited entirely by Catholic Christians.
Here we slept. I copied the following inscriptions at El Hait:

From a stone in one of the streets of the village:


From a stone over the door of a private dwelling:



[p.78]Upon a stone in the wall of another house, I found the figure of a
quadruped rudely sculptured in relief.

On the wall of a solid building are the two following inscriptions:


On the wall of another building:


East of El Hait three quarters of an hour lies the village Heitt

November 16th.--We returned from Hait, directing our route towards Tel
Shiehhan. In one hour we passed the village of Ammera.

From Ammera our way lay direct towards Tel Shiehhan. The village Um
Ezzeitoun lay in the plain below, one hour distant, in the borders of
the Ledja. Upon the top of Tel Shiehhan is a Meziar. Tel Szomeit
[Arabic], a hill in the Ledja, was seen to the N.W. about three hours
distant; Tel Aahere [Arabic], also in the Ledja, to the west, about four
hours distant. The Tel Shiehhan is completely barren up to its top: near
its eastern foot we passed the Wady Nimri w-el Heif, close to a mill
which works in the winter


[p.79]time. From hence we passed between the Tel Shiehhan and Tel Es-
Szoub; the ground is here covered with heaps of porous tufa and pumice
stone. The western side of the Tel Shohba seems to have been the crater
of a volcano, as well from the nature of the minerals which lie
collected on that side of the hill, as from the form of a part of the
hill itself, resembling a crater, while the neighbouring mountains have
rounded tops, without any sharp angles.

We repassed Ain Mourdouk, and continued our way on the sloping side of
the mountain to Saleim, a village one hour from the spring; it has been
abandoned by its former inhabitants, and is now occupied only by a few
poor Druses, who take refuge in such deserted places to avoid the
oppressive taxes; and thus sometimes escape the Miri for one year. They
here grow a little tobacco. In the village is a deep Birket. At the
entrance of Saleim are the ruins of a handsome oblong building, with a
rich entablature: its area is almost entirely filled up by its own
ruins. Just by is a range of subterraneous vaults. The Wady Kanouat
passes near the village. The day was now far gone, and as my priest was
afraid of travelling by night, we quickened our pace, in order to reach
Soueida before dark. From Saleim the road lies through a wood of stunted
oaks, which continues till within one hour of Soueida. We had rode three
quarters of an hour when I was shewn, E. from our road, up in the
mountain, half an hour distant, the ruins of Aatin [Arabic], with a Wady
of the same name descending into the plain below. In the plain, to the
westward, upon a hillock one hour distant, was the village Rima el
Khalkhal, or Rima el Hezam [Arabic] (Hezam means girdle, and Khalkhal,
the silver or glass rings which the children wear round their ankles.)
Our road from Saleim lay S. by E. over a stony uncultivated ground, till
within one hour of Soueida, where the wood of oaks terminates, and the
fields begins, which extend up

[p.80]the slope of the mountain for half an hour to the left of the
road. From Saleim to Soueida is a distance of two hours and three

Soueida is situated upon high ground, on a declivity of the Djebel
Haouran; the Kelb Haouran, or highest summit of the mountain, bearing
S.E. from it. It is considered as the first Druse village, and is the
residence of the chief Sheikh. To the north, and close to it, descends
the deep Wady Essoueida, coming from the mountain, where several other
Wadys unite with it; it is crossed by a strong well built bridge, and it
turns five or six mills near the village. Here, as in all their
villages, the Druses grow a great deal of cotton, and the cultivation of
tobacco is general all over the mountain. Soueida has no springs, but
there are in and near it several Birkets, one of which, in the village,
is more than three hundred paces in circuit, and at least thirty feet
deep: a staircase leads down to the bottom, and it is entirely lined
with squared stones. To the S. of the village is another of still larger
circumference, but not so deep, also lined with stone, called Birket el
Hadj, from the circumstance of its having, till within the last century,
been a watering place for the Hadj, which used to pass here.

To the west of Soueida, on the other side of the Wady, stands a ruined
building, which the country people call Doubeise: it is a perfect square
of thirteen paces, with walls two feet thick, and ornamented on each
side with six Doric pilasters, sixteen spans high, and reaching to
within two feet of the roof, which has fallen down, and fills up the
interior. No door or opening of any kind is visible. On the wall between
the pilasters are some ornaments in bas-relief.

On the N. wall is the following inscription, in handsome characters;

[p.81] [Greek].

Soueida was formerly one of the largest cities of the Haouran; the
circuit of its ruins is at least four miles: amongst them is a street
running in a straight line, in which the houses on both sides are still
standing; I was twelve minutes in walking from one end to other. Like
the streets of modern cities in the East, this is so very narrow as to
allow space only for one person or beast to pass. On both sides is a
narrow pavement. The great variety seen in the the mode of construction
of the houses seems to prove that the town has been inhabited by people
of different nations. In several places, on both sides of the street,
are small arched open rooms, which I supposed to have been shops. The
street commences in the upper part of the town, at a large arched gate
built across it; descending from thence I came to an elegant building,
in the shape of a crescent, the whole of whose front forms a kind of
niche, within which are three smaller niches; round the flat roof is
written in large characters:


On a stone lying upon the roof [Greek]. Continuing along the street I
entered, on the left, an edifice with four rows of arches, built with
very low pillars in the ugly style already described.

Upon a stone, built upside down in one of the interior walls, was this;


[p.82] [Greek] [The fourteenth Legion was surnamed Gemina. See several
inscriptions in Gruter. Ed.]

At the lower end of the street is a tower about thirty feet high, and
eighteen square.

Turning from the beginning of the street, to the south, I met with a
large building in ruins, with many broken pillars; it seems to have been
a church; and it is joined to another building which has the appearance
of having once been a monastery. In the paved area to the S. of it lies
a water trough, formed of a single stone, two feet and a half in
breadth, and seven feet in length, ornamented with four busts in relief,
whose heads have been knocked off.

In a stony field about three hundred yards S. of the Sheikh's house, I
found engraved upon a rock:



[p.83]Round a pedestal, which now serves to support one of the columns
in the front of the Sheikh's house, is the following: [Greek]. On the
side of the pedestal is a figure of a bird with expanded wings, about
one foot high, and below it is a man's hand grasping at something.

Near the Sheikh's house stands a colonnade of Corinthian columns, which
surrounded a building, now entirely in ruins, but which appears to have
been destined for sepulchres, as there are some small arched doors,
quite choaked up, leading to subterraneous apartments.

November 17th.--We rode to the ruined city called Kanouat [Arabic], two
hours to the N.E. of Soueida; the road lying through a forest of stunted
oaks and Zarour trees, with a few cultivated fields among them. Kanouat
is situated upon a declivity, on the banks of the deep Wady Kanouat,
which flows through the midst of the town, and whose steep banks are
supported by walls in several places. To the S.W. of the town is a
copious spring. On approaching Kanouat from the side of Soueida, the
first object that struck my attention was a number of high columns, upon
a terrace, at some distance from the town; they enclosed an oblong
square fifteen paces in breadth, by twenty-nine in length. There were
originally six columns on one side, and seven on the other, including
the corner columns in both numbers; at present six only remain, and the
bases of two others; they are formed of six pieces of stone, and measure
from the top of the pedestal to the base of the capital twenty-six feet;
the height of the pedestal is five feet; the circumference of the column
six feet. The capitals are elegant, and well finished. On the northern
side was an

[p.84]inner row of columns of somewhat smaller dimensions than the outer
row; of these one only is standing. Within the square of columns is a
row of subterraneous apartments. These ruins stand upon a terrace ten
feet high, on the N. side of which is a broad flight of steps. The
pedestals of all the columns had inscriptions upon them; but nothing can
now be clearly distinguished except [Greek] upon one of them.

Two divisions of the town may be distinguished, the upper, or principal,
and the lower. The whole ground upon which the ruined habitations stand
is overgrown with oak trees, which hide the ruins. In the lower town,
over the door of an edifice which has some arches in its interior, and
which has been converted in modern times into a Greek church, is an
inscription, in which the words [Greek] only, were distinguishable.

A street leads up to this building, paved with oblong flat stones placed
obliquely across the road in the same manner which I have described at
Shohba. Here are several other buildings with pillars and arches: the
principal of them has four small columns in front of the entrance and an
anti-room leading to an inner apartment, which is supported by five
arches. The door of the anti-room is of one stone, as usual in this
country, but it is distinguished by its sculptured ornaments. A stone in
this building, lying on the ground, is thus inscribed: [xxxxx].

[p.85]The principal building of Kanouat is in the upper part of the
town, on the banks of the Wady. The street leading up to it lies along
the deep bed of the Wady, and is paved throughout; on the side opposite
to the precipice are several small vaulted apartments with doors. The
entrance of the building is on the east side, through a wide door
covered with a profusion of sculptured ornaments. In front of this door
is a vestibule supported by five columns, whose capitals are of the
annexed form. This vestibule joins, towards the north, several other
apartments; their roofs, some of which were supported by pillars, have
now all fallen down. The abovementioned wide door opens into the
principal apartment of the edifice, which is twenty-two paces in breadth
by twenty-five in length. From each side of the entrance, through the
middle of the room, runs a row of seven pillars, like those described
above; at the further end, this colonnade is terminated by two
Corinthian columns. All the sixteen columns are twenty spans high, with
pedestals two feet and a half high. In the wall on the left side of this
saloon are three niches, supported by short pillars. To the west is
another vestibule, which was supported by five Corinthian columns, but
four of them only are now standing. This vestibule communicates through
an arched gate with an area, on the W. side of which are two Corinthian
pillars with projecting bases for statues. On the S. side of the area is
a large door, with a smaller one on each side. That in the centre is
covered with sculptured vines and grapes, and over the entrance is the
figure of the cross in the midst of a bunch of grapes. I observed
similar ornaments on the great gate at Shakka, and I have often seen
them since, over the entrances of public edifices. In the interior of
the area, on the E. side, is a niche sixteen feet deep, arched at the
bottom, with small vaulted rooms on both its sides, in which there is no
other opening than the low door.


[p.86]On the S. and W. sides, the building is enclosed by a large paved

At a short distance from thence is another building, whose entrance is
through a portico consisting of four columns in front and of two others
behind, between two wings; on the inner sides of which are two niches
above each other. The columns are about thirty-five feet high, and three
feet and a half in diameter. Part of the walls only of the building are
standing. In the wall opposite the entrance are two niches, one above
the other. Not far from this building, toward its western side, I found,
lying upon the ground, the trunk of a female statue of very inelegant
form and coarse execution; my companion the priest spat upon it, when I
told him that such idols were anciently objects of adoration; by its
side lay a well executed female foot. I may here mention for the
information of future travellers in these parts, that on my return to
Soueida, I was told that there was a place near the source of spring
water, where a great number of figures of men, women, beasts, and men
riding naked on horses, &c. were lying upon the ground.

Besides the buildings just mentioned, there are several towers with two
stories upon arches, standing insulated in different parts of the town;
in one of them I observed a peculiarity in the structure of its walls,
which I had already seen at Hait, and which I afterwards met with in
several other places; the stones are cut so as to dovetail, and fit very

The circuit of this ancient city may be about two miles and a half or
three miles. From the spring there is a beautiful view into the plain of
the Haouran, bounded on the opposite side by the mountain of the Heish,
now covered with snow. There were only


[p.87]two Druse families at Kanouat, who were occupied in cultivating a
few tobacco fields. I returned to Soueida by the same road which I had

November 18th.--After having made the tour of the city, I took coffee at
the house of the Sheikh, whose brother and sons received me very
politely, and I visited some sick people in the village,--for I was
continually pressed, wherever I went, to write receipts for the sick,--I
then left Soueida, with the intention of sleeping the following night in
some Arab tent in the mountain, where I wished to see some ruined
villages. The priest's fear of catching cold prevented me from
proceeding according to my wishes. Passing the Birket el Hadj, we
arrived in an hour and a quarter at a miserable village called Erraha
[Arabic]; twenty minutes farther we passed the Wady el Thaleth [Arabic],
so called from three Wadys which, higher up, in the mountain unite into
one. Here were pointed out to me, at half an hour to the N.E. on the
side of the Wady in the mountain, the spring called Ain Kerashe, and at
half an hour's distance, in the plain, the Druse village Resas. In a
quarter of an hour from Thaleth, we reached Kherbet Rishe, a ruined
village, and in one hour more Ezzehhoue [Arabic], where my companion
insisted upon taking shelter from the rain.

November 19th.--A rivulet passes Ezzehhoue, called Ain Ettouahein
[Arabic]; i.e. the Source of the Mills, which comes down from Ain Mousa,
the spring near Kuffer, and flows towards Aaere. Ezzehhoue is a Druse
village, with a single Christian family. I was not well received by the
Druse Sheikh, a boy of sixteen years, although he invited me to
breakfast with him; but I was well treated by the poor Christian family.
When I left the village there was a rumor amongst the Druses, that I
should not be permitted to depart, or if I was, that I should be waylaid
on the road, but neither happened. The people of the village make coffee
mortars out of


[p.88]the trunks of oak trees, which they sell at twenty and twenty-five
piastres each, and export them over the whole of the Haouran. At three
quarters of an hour from Ezzehhoue, to the left of our route, is the Tel
Ettouahein, an insulated hill in the plain, into which the road descends
at a short distance from the village. Near the hill passes the Wady
Ezzehhoue, a winter torrent which descends from the mountain. Two hours
from Ezzehhoue is Aaere [Arabic], a village standing upon a Tel in the

Aaere is the seat of the second chief of the Druses in the Haouran: he
is one of the most amiable men I have met with in the East, and what is
still more extraordinary, he is extremely desirous to acquire knowledge.
In the conversations I had with him during my repeated visits at Aaere,
he was always most anxious to obtain information concerning European
manners and institutions. He begged me one day to write down for him the
Greek, English, and German alphabets, with the corresponding sound in
Arabic beneath each letter; and on the following day he shewed me the
copy he had taken of them. His kindness towards me was the more
remarkable, as he could not expect the smallest return for it. He
admired my lead pencils, of which I had two, but refused to accept one
of them, on my offering it to him. These Druses, as well as those of
Kesrouan, firmly believe that there are a number of Druses in England; a
belief originating in the declaration of the Christians in these
countries, that the English are neither Greeks, nor Catholics, and
therefore not Christians.

Upon a stone in the village I copied the following;


November 20th.--Being desirous of visiting the parts of the Haouran
bordering upon the desert, of crossing the Djebel Haouran, or
mountainous part of the district, and of exploring several ruined


[p.89]cities which I had heard of in the desert, I engaged, with the
Sheikh's permission, two Druses and a Christian, to act as guides. As
there was considerable risque of meeting with some hostile tribe of
Arabs on the road, I gave my purse to the Greek priest, who promised to
wait for my return; he did not keep his word, however, for he quitted
Aaere, taking my money with him, no doubt in the view of compelling me
to follow him to his village, from whence he might again have a chance
of obtaining a daily allowance, by accompanying me, though he well knew
that it was my intention to return to Damascus by a more western route;
nor was this all, he took twenty piastres out of my purse to buy straw
for his camels. On his repeatedly confessing to me, afterwards, his
secret wishes that some Frank nation would invade and take possession of
the country, I told him that he would by no means be a gainer by such an
event, as a trick such as that he had played me would expose him to be
turned out of his living and thrown into a prison. "You must imprison
all the people of the country then," was his reply; and he spoke the
truth. I have often reflected that if the English penal laws were
suddenly promulgated in this country, there is scarcely any man in
business, or who, has money-dealings with others, who would not be found
liable to transportation before the end of the first six months.

Our road lay over the plain, E.N.E. for three quarters of an hour; we
then began to mount by a slight ascent. In an hour and a quarter we came
to two hills, with the ruins of a village called Medjmar [Arabic], on
the right of the road. At a quarter of an hour from thence is the
village Afine [Arabic], in which are about twenty-five Druse families;
it has a fine spring. Here the ascent becomes more steep. At one hour
from Afine, E.b.S. upon the summit of the lower mountain, stands Hebran
[Arabic]. Here is a spring and a ruined church, with the foundations


[p.90]of another building near it. Withinside the gate is the following


On the eastern outer wall:


In a ruined building, with arches, in the lower town;


Upon a stone over a door, in a private house:


The mountain upon which Hebran stands is stony, but has places fit for
pasturage. The plain to the S. is called Amman, in which is a spring.
That to the E. is called Zauarat, and that to the S.W. Merdj el Daulet;
all these plains are level grounds, with several hillocks, and are
surrounded by mountains.

There are a few families at Hebran.

Proceeding from Hebran towards the Kelb (dog), or, as the Arabs here
call it, Kelab Haouran, in one houre we came to Kuffer [Arabic], once a
considerable town. It is built in the usual style of this country,
entirely of stone; most of the houses are still entire; the doors are
uniformly of stone, and even the gates of the town, between nine and ten
feet high, are of a single piece of stone. On each side

[p.91]of the streets is a foot pavement two feet and a half broad, and
raised one foot above the level of the street itself, which is seldom
more than one yard in width. The town is three quarters of an hour in
circumference, and being built upon a declivity, a person may walk over
it upon the flat roofs of the houses; in the court-yards of the houses
are many mulberry trees. Amongst several arched edifices is one of
somewhat larger dimensions, with a steeple, resembling that at Ezra; in
the paved court-yard lies an urn of stone. In later times this building
had been a mosque, as is indicated by several Arabic inscriptions. In
the wall within the arched colonnade is a niche elegantly adorned with
sculptured oak-leaves.

We dined in the church, upon the Kattas [Arabic] which my guides had
killed. These birds, which resemble pigeons, are in immense numbers
here; but I found none of them in the eastern parts of the Djebel

To the N.E. of Kutfer is the copious spring already mentioned, called
Ain Mousa, the stream from which, we had passed at Ezzehhoue. There is a
small building over it, on which are these letters:


We arrived, after sunset, in one hour from Kuffer, at an encampment of
Arabs Rawafie, immediately at the foot of the Kelab; and there took up
our quarters for the night. The tent of our host was very neat, being
formed with alternate white and black Shoukes, or cloth made of goat's
hair. I here found the Meharem to the right of the man's apartment. We
were treated as usual with coffee and Feita. I had been rather feverish
during the whole day, and in the evening the symptoms increased, but,
cold as the night was, and more especially on the approach of morning

Wady Awairid.

[p.92]when the fire which is kept up till midnight gradually dies out, I
found myself completely recovered the next day. This encampment
consisted of ten or twelve tents, in the midst of the forest which
surrounds the Kelab.

November 21st.--The Kelab is a cone rising from the lower ridge of the
mountains; it is barren on the S. and E. sides, but covered on the N.
and W. with the trees common to these mountains. I was told that in
clear weather the sea is visible from its top, the ascent to which, from
the encampment, was said to be one hour. The morning was beautiful but
very cold, the whole mountain being covered with hoar frost. We set off
at sun-rise, and rode through the forest one hour, when we breakfasted
at an encampment of Arabs Shennebele, in the midst of the wood. From
thence I took two Arabs, who volunteered their services, to guide me
over the mountains into the eastern plain. We soon reached the
termination of the forest, and in half an hour passed the Merdj el
Kenttare [Arabic], a fine meadow (where the young grass had already made
its appearance), in the midst of the rocky mountain, which has no wood
here. A rivulet called El Keine [Arabic], whose source is a little
higher up in the mountain, flows through the meadow. Three quarters of
an hour farther, and to the right of the road, upon a hill distant half
an hour, are the ruins of the village El Djefne; to the left, at the
same distance, is Tel Akrabe. We passed many excellent pasturing places,
where the Arabs of the mountain feed their cattle in the spring; but the
mountain is otherwise quite barren. Half an hour farther, descending the
mountain, we passed Wady Awairid [Arabic], whose torrent, in winter,
flows as far as Rohba, a district so called, where is a ruined city of
the same name, on the eastern limits of the Szaffa.[The Szaffa [Arabic]
is a stony district, much resembling the Ledja, with this difference,
that the rocks with which it is covered are considerably larger,
although the whole may be said to be even ground. It is two or three
days in circumference, and is the place of refuge of the Arabs who fly
from the Pasha's troops, or from their enemies in the desert. The Szaffa
has no springs; the rain water is collected in cisterns. The only
entrance is through a narrow pass, called Bab el Szaffa, a cleft,
between high perpendicular rocks, not more than two yards in breadth,
which one ever dared to enter as an enemy. If a tribe of Arabs intend to
remain a whole year in the Szaffa, they sow wheat and barley on the
spots fit for cultivation on its precincts. On its E. limits are the
ruined villages of Boreisie, Oedesie, and El Koneyse. On its western
side this district is called El Harra, a term applied by the Arabs to
all tracts which are covered with small stones, being derived from Harr,
i.e. heat (reflected from the ground.)] Our route lay to the north-east;


[p.93]descended by the banks of the Wady into the plain, and at a short
distance from where the Wady enters it, arrived at Zaele [Arabic] in two
hours and three quarters from the Arab encampment where we had

Zaele owes its origin to the copious spring which rises there, and which
renders it, in summer time, a much frequented watering place of the
Arabs. The ruined city which stands near the spring is half an hour in
circuit; it is built like all those of the mountain, but I observed that
the stone doors were particularly low, scarcely permitting one even to
creep in. A cupola once stood over the spring, and its basin was paved.
I found the following inscription upon a stone lying there:


And another above the spring, upon a terrace adjoining the ruins of a


The spring of Zaele flows to the S.E. and loses itself in the plain.

[p.94]One hour and a half to the eastward of Zaele stands Tel Shaaf
[Arabic], with a ruined city. E. four hours, Melleh [Arabic], a ruined
city in the plain; and upon a Tel near it, Deir el Nuzrany. The plain,
for two hours from Zaele, is called El Haoui. Towards the E. and S.E. of
Zaele are the following ruined places: Boussan [Arabic], at the foot of
the mountain; Khadera [Arabic]; Aans [Arabic], Om Ezzeneine [Arabic];
Kherbet Bousrek [Arabic]; Habake [Arabic].

The great desert extends to the N.E.E., and S.E. of Zaele; to the
distance of three days journey eastward, there is still a good arable
soil, intersected by numerous Tels, and covered with the ruins of so
many cities and villages, that, as I was informed, in whatever direction
it is crossed, the traveller is sure to pass, in every day, five or six
of these ruined places. They are all built of the same black rock of
which the Djebel consists. The name of the desert changes in every
district; and the whole is sometimes called Telloul, from its Tels or
hillocks. Springs are no where met with in it, but water is easily found
on digging to the depth of three or four feet. At the point where this
desert terminates, begins the sandy desert called El Hammad [Arabic],
which extends on one side to the banks of the Euphrates, and on the
other to the N. of Wady Serethan, as far as the Djof.

I wished to proceed to Melleh, but my Druse companions were not to be
prevailed upon, through fear of the Arabs Sheraka, a tribe of the Arabs
Djelaes, who were said to be in that neighbourhood. We herefore
recrossed the mountain from Zaele, and passed its south-eastern corner,
on which there are no trees, but many spots of excellent pasture. In two
hours from Zaele we came to a spring called Ras el Beder [Arabic], i.e.
the Moon's Head, whose waters flow down into the plain as far as Boszra.
From the spring we redescended, and reached Zahouet el Khudher [Arabic],
a ruined city, standing in a Wady, at a short distance from the


[p.95]plain. One hour from these ruins a rivulet called Moiet Maaz
[Arabic] passes through the valley, whose source is to the N.W. up in
the mountain, one hour distant, near a ruined place called Maaz. This is
a very romantic, secluded spot; immediately behind the town the valley
closes, and a row of willows, skirting both banks of the rivulet in its
descent, agreeably surprise the traveller, who rarely meets in these
districts with trees raised by the labour of man; but it is probable
that these willows will not long withstand the destroying hands of the
Arabs: fifteen years ago there was a larger plantation here, which was
cut down for fire wood; and every summer many of the trees share the
same fate.

Zahouet el Khudher was formerly visited by the Christians of the
Haouran, for the purpose of offering up their prayers to the Khudher, or
St. George, to whom a church in the bottom of the valley is dedicated.
The Turks also pay great veneration to this Saint, so much so that a few
goats-hair mats, worth five or six piastres, which are left on the floor
of the sanctuary of the church, are safe from the robbers. My Druse
guides carried them to a house in the town, to sleep upon; but returned
them carefully on the following morning. The Arabs give the name of Abd
Maaz to St. George. The church has a ruined cupola. On the outer door is
this inscription:


On an arch in the vestibule



[p.96] Within the church:


Upon elevated ground on the W. side of the Wady stands the small ruined
town of Zahouet, with a castle on the summit of the hill. I could find
no legible inscriptions there.

We had reached Zahouet after sunset; and the dread of Arabs, who very
frequently visit this place, made us seek for a night's shelter in the
upper part of the town, where we found a comfortable room, and lighted a
still more comfortable fire. We had tasted nothing since our breakfast;
and my guides, in the full confidence of meeting with plenty of Kattas
and partridges on our road, had laid in a very small provision of bread
on setting out, but had brought a sack of flour mixed with salt, after
the Arab fashion. Unluckily, we had killed only two partridges during
the day, and seen no Kattas; we therefore had but a scanty supper.
Towards midnight we were alarmed by the sound of persons breaking up
wood to make a fire, and we kept upon our guard till near sun-rise, when
we proceeded, and saw upon the wet ground the traces of men and dogs,
who had passed the night in the church, probably as much in fear of
strangers as we were ourselves.

November 22d.--I took a view of the town, after which we descended into
the plain, called here Ard Aaszaf [Arabic], from a Tel named Aazaf, at
half an hour from the Khudher. The abundant rains had already covered
the plain with rich verdure. Our way lay S. At the end of an hour and a
quarter we saw to our left, one mile distant from the road, a ruined
castle upon a Tel called Keres [Arabic]; close to our road was a low
Birket. To the


[p.97]right, three or four miles off, upon another Tel, stands the
ruined castle El Koueires [Arabic]. From Keres to Ayoun [Arabic], two
hours distant from Zahouet el Khudher, the ground is covered with walls,
which probably once enclosed orchards and well cultivated fields. At
Ayoun are about four hundred houses without any inhabitants. On its west
side are two walled-in springs, from whence the name is derived. It
stands at the eastern foot of the Szfeikh [Arabic] a hill so called, one
hour and a half in length. I saw in the town four public edifices, with
arches in their interior; one of them is distinguished by the height and
fine curve of the arches, as well as by the complete state of the whole
building. Its stone roof has lost its original black colour, and now
presents a variety of hues, which on my entering surprised me much, as I
at first supposed it to be painted. The door is ornamented with grapes
and vine leaves. There is another large building, in which are three
doors, only three feet high; over one of them are these letters:

Over an arch in its interior is this:


From Ayoun ruined walls of the same kind as those we met with in
approaching Ayoun extend as far as Oerman [Arabic], distant one hour and
a half, in the open plain. Oerman is an ancient city, somewhat larger
than Ayoun. In it are three towers, or steeples, built in the usual
mode, which I have described at Kuffer. On the walls of a miserable
building adjoining the S. side of the town are the following six
inscribed tablets, built into the wall; the second is inverted, a proof
that they have been placed in this situation by modern barbarians as



1. [Greek].

2. [Greek].

3. [Greek].

4. [Greek].

5. [Greek].

[p.99] [Greek].

Between the first and second inscriptions is a niche in the wall, about
four feet high; resembling the annexed figure: [xxxxx].

Over a door in the western part of the town is the following:


Oerman has a spring; but my guides, afraid of prolonging our stay in
these desert parts, denied its existence when I enquired for it. I was
informed afterwards that a large stone, on which is an inscription, lies
near it. There are also several Birkets.

From Oerman we proceeded one hour and a quarter, to the town and castle
called Szalkhat [Arabic]: the intermediate country is full of ruined
walls. The soil of the desert, as well here


[p.100]as between Zahouet and Oerman, is black; and, notwithstanding the
abundant rains, the ground was intersected in every direction by large
fissures caused by the summer heat. The castle of Szalkhat is situated
upon a hill at the southern foot of the Szfeikh. The town, which
occupies the south and west foot of the castle hill, is now uninhabited;
but fifteen years since a few Druse and Christian families were
established here, as well as at Oerman: the latter retired to Khabeb,
where I afterwards saw them, and where they are still called Szalkhalie.
The town contains upwards of eight hundred houses, but presents nothing
worthy of observation except a large mosque, with a handsome Madene or
Minaret; the mosque was built in the year 620 of the Hedjra, or A.D.
1224, as appears from an inscription upon it; the Minaret is only two
hundred years old. But even the mosque seems to have been nothing more
than a repaired temple or church, as there are several well wrought
niches in its outer walls: and the interior is vaulted, with arches
supported by low pillars similar to those which have been before
described. Several stones are lying about, with Greek inscriptions; but
all so much defaced as to be no longer legible. Within the mosque lies a
large stone with a fleur-de-lis cut upon it. In the court-yards of the
houses of the town are a great number of fig and pomegranate trees; the
former were covered with ripe fruit, and as we had tasted nothing this
day but dry flour, we made a hearty dinner of the figs. There is no
spring either in the castle or town of Szalkhat, but every house has a
deep cistern lined with stone; there is also a large Birket.

The castle stands upon the very summit of the hill, and forms a complete
circle; it is a very commanding position, and of the first importance as
a defence of the Haouran against the Arabs. It is surrounded by a deep
ditch, which separates the top of the hill

[p.101]from the part immediately below it. I walked round the outside of
the ditch in twelve minutes. The upper hill, except in places where the
rock is firm, is paved with large flat stones, similar to those of the
castle of Aleppo: a number of these stones, as well as parts of the
wall, have fallen down, and in many places have filled up the ditch to
half its depth. I estimated the height of the paved upper hill to be
sixty yards. A high arched bridge leads over the ditch into the castle.
The wall of the castle is of moderate thickness, flanked all round by
towers and turrets pierced with numerous loop holes, and is constructed
of small square stones, like some of the eastern walls of Damascus. Most
of the interior apartments of the castle are in complete ruins; in
several of them are deep wells. On entering I observed over the gate a
well sculptured eagle with expanded wings; hard by, on the left of the
entrance, are two capitals of columns, placed one upon the other, each
adorned with four busts in relief projecting from a cluster of palm
leaves. The heads of the busts are wanting; the sculpture is
indifferent. A covered way leads from the inside of the gateway into the
interior; of this I took a very cursory view, as the day was near
closing, and my companions pressed me very much to depart, that we might
reach a village three hours distant; there being no water here for my
horse, I the more readily complied with their wishes. Over the entrance
of a tower in the interior I read these two lines:


"In the name of God, the merciful and the munificent. During the reign
of the equitable king Saad-eddin Abou-takmar, the Emir--- ordered the
building of this castle;" which makes it probable that it was erected
for the defence


[p.102]of the country against the Crusaders. In one of the apartments I
found, just appearing above the earth, the upper part of a door built of
calcareous stone, a material which I have not met with in any part of
the Haouran: over it is the following inscription, in well engraved


Upon the architrave of the door, on both sides of the inscription, are
masques in bas-relief.

In an apartment where I saw several small entrances to sepulchres, and
where there are several columns lying about, is this:


And, on a stone in the wall of the same apartment:


The hill upon which the castle stands consists of alternate layers of
the common black tufwacke of the country, and of a very porous deep red,
and often rose-cloured, pumice-stone: in some caverns formed in the
latter, salt-petre collects in great quantities. I met with the same
substance at Shohba.

S.W. of Szalkhat one hour and a half, stands the high Tel Abd Maaz, with
a ruined city of the same name; there still remain large plantations of
vines and figs, the fruit of which is


[p.103]collected by the Arabs in autumn. Near Abd Maaz is another ruin
called Deffen. S. one hour is Tel Mashkouk [Arabic], towards which are
the ruins Tehhoule [Arabic], Kfer ezzeit [Arabic], and Khererribe

We left Szalkhat towards sunset, on a rainy evening, in order to reach
Kereye, a village three good hours distant. In one hour we passed the
ruined village Meneidhere [Arabic], with a copious spring near it. Our
route lay through a stony plain, and the night now becoming very dark,
with incessant rain, my guides lost their way, and we continued for
three hours uncertain whether we should not be obliged to take up our
night's quarters in the open plain. At length, however, we came to the
bed of a Wady called Hameka, which we ascended for a short distance, and
in half an hour after crossing it reached Kereye, about ten at night;
here we found a comfortable Fellah's house, and a copious dish of

November 23d.--Kereye is a city containing about five hundred houses, of
which four only were at this time inhabited. It has several ancient
towers, and public buildings; of the latter the principal has a portico
consisting of a triple row of six columns in each, supporting a flat
roof; seven steps, extending the whole breadth of the portico, lead from
the first row up to the third; the capitals of the columns are of the
annexed form; their base is like the capital inverted. Behind the
colonnade is a Birket surrounded with a strong wall. Upon a stone lying
upon the upper step, in the midst of which is an excavation, is this



[p.104]To the S. and E. of Kereye are the ruins called Ai-in [Arabic],
Barade [Arabic], Nimri [Arabic], Bakke [Arabic], Hout [Arabic], Souhab
[Arabic], Rumman [Arabic], Szemad [Arabic], and Rafka [Arabic]. Kelab
Haouran bears from Kereye N.&.E. Kereye is three hours distance from
Boszra [Arabic], the principal town in the Haouran, remarkable for the
antiquity of its castle, and the ancient ruins and inscriptions to be
found there. I wished very much to visit it, and might have done so in
perfect safety, and without expense; but I knew that there was a
garrison of between three and four hundred Moggrebyns in the town; a
class of men which, from the circumstance of their passing from one
service to another, I was particularly desirous of avoiding. It was very
probable that I might afterwards meet with some of the individuals of
this garrison in Egypt, where they would not have failed to recognize my
person, in consequence of the remarkable circumstance of my visit to
Boszra; but as I did not think proper to state these reasons to my
guides, who of course expected me to examine the greatest curiosity in
the Haouran, I told them that I had had a dream, which made it advisable
for me not to visit this place. They greatly applauded my prudent
determination, accustomed as they had been to look upon me as a person
who had a secret to insure his safety, when travelling about in such
dangerous places. We therefore left Kereye in the morning, and
proceeding N.E. reached in three quarters of an hour Houshhoush
[Arabic], after having crossed the Wady Djaar [Arabic], which descends
from the mountain. Houshhoush is a heap of ruins, upon a Tel in the
plain, and is famed over all the Haouran for the immense treasures said
to be buried there. Whenever I was asked by the Fellahs where I had
been, they never failed to enquire particularly whether I had seen
Houshhoush. The small ancient village contains nothing remarkable except
a church, supported by a single arch which rests on pillars much higher
than those generally seen in this country. At the


[p.105]foot of the hill are several wells. We found here a great number
of mushrooms; we had met with some at Szalkhat; my guides taught me to
eat them raw, with a morsel of bread. The quantity of Kattas here was
beyond description; the whole plain seemed sometimes to rise; and far
off in the air they were seen like large moving clouds.

W. of Houshhoush half an hour, in the plain, are Tel Zakak and Deir
Aboud; the latter is a building sixty feet square, of which the walls
only are standing; they are built with small stones, and have a single

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