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holds a ring, and is raised on a horse caparisoned as in the sculptures of Khorsabad; the third wields an object precisely similar to the conventional thunderbolt of the Greek Jove, and is supported by a winged lion; the fourth is beardless, carries a ring, and stands on a lion without wings. The two kings who are facing the divinities, have one hand elevated, and bear an object resembling a mace, always represented as carried by the monarch when engaged in religious ceremonies. All the tablets have suffered much from exposure to the atmosphere, and one has been almost destroyed by the entrance into a tomb, which was probably cut in the A.D. o.o. rock at a long period subsequent to the tablet at Malthaiyah. Assyrian empire. The details in the bas-reliefs are similar in character to those on the later Assyrian monuments, and are interesting in many respects. The thrones or arm-chairs, supported by animals and human figures, resemble those of the ancient Egyptians, and of the monuments of Kouyunjik, Khorsabad, and Persepolis. They also remind us of the throne of Solomon, which had “stays (or arms) on either side on the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the stays. And twelve lions stood there, on the one side and on the other upon the six steps.” I returned to the village after sunset. My Cawass and servants had established themselves for the night on the roof of the church; and the Kiayah had prepared a very substantial repast. The inhabitants of Malthaiyah are Catholic Chaldaeans; their conversion not dating many years. The greater part joined us in the evening.
* 1 Kings, x. 19, 20.
Next morning we rode over a dreary plain to Alkosh. In a defile, through the hills behind the village, I observed several
rock-tombs, -excavations similar to those of Malthaiyah; some having rude ornaments above the entrance, the door-ways of others being simply square holes in the rock.
Alkosh is a large Christian village. The inhabitants, who were formerly pure Chaldæans, have been converted to Roman Catholicism. It contains, according to a very general tradition, the tomb of Nahum, the prophet—the Alkoshite, as he is called in the introduction to his prophecies. It is a place held in great reverence by Mohammedans and Christians, but especially by Jews, who keep the building in repair, and flock here in great numbers at certain seasons of the year. The tomb is a simple plaster box, covered with green cloth, and standing at the upper end of a large chamber. On the walls of the room are pasted slips of paper, upon which are written, in distorted Hebrew characters, religious exhortations, and the dates and particulars of the visits of various Jewish families. The house
containing the tomb is a modern building. There are no inscriptions, nor fragments of any antiquity about the place; and I am not aware in what the tradition originated, or how long it has attached to the village of Alkosh.* After visiting the tomb, I rode to the convent of Rabban Hormuzd, built on the almost perpendicular sides of lofty rocks, enclosing a small recess or basin, out of which there is only one outlet, —a narrow and precipitous ravine, leading abruptly into the plains. The spot is well suited to solitude and devotion. Half buried in barren crags, the building can scarcely be distinguished from the natural pinnacles by which it is surrounded. There is scarcely a blade of vegetation to be seen, except a few olive trees, encouraged, by the tender solicitude of the monks, to struggle with the barren soil. Around the convent, in almost every accessible part of the mountain, are a multitude of artificial chambers in the rock, said to have once served as retreats for a legion of hermits, and from which most probably were ejected the dead, to make room for the living; for they appear to have been, at a very remote period, places of burial. The number of these recesses must at one time have been very considerable. They are now rapidly disappearing, and have been so doing for centuries. Still the sides of the ravine are in some places honey-combed by them. The hermits, who may once have inhabited the place, have left no successors. A lonely monk from the convent may occasionally be seen clambering over the rocks; but otherwise the solitude is seldom disturbed by the presence of a human being. The ascent to the convent, from the entrance of the ravine, is partly up a flight of steps rudely constructed of loose stones, and partly by a narrow pathway cut in the rock. We were, therefore, obliged to dismount, and to leave our horses in a cavern at the foot of the mountain.
* According to St. Jerome, El Kosh or El Kosha, the birth-place of the prophet, was a village in Galilee; and his tomb was shown at Bethogabra near Emmaus. As his prophecies were written after the captivity of the ten tribes, and apply exclusively to Nineveh, the tradition which points to the village in Assyria as the place of his death, is not without weight.
Rabban Hormuzd was formerly in the possession of the Nestorian Chaldaeans; but has been appropriated by the Catholics since the conversion of the inhabitants of Alkosh, Tel Kef, and other large villages of the plain. It is said to have been founded by one of the early Chaldaean patriarchs, in the latter part of the fourth century. The saint, after whom the convent is called, is much venerated by the Nestorians, and was, according to some traditions, a Christian martyr, and the son of a king of Persia. The convent is partly excavated in the rocks, and partly constructed of well-cut stone. Since it was plundered by the Kurds, under the Bey of Rowandiz, no attempt has been made to restore the rich ornaments which once decorated the chapel, and principal halls. The walls are now naked and bare, except where hung with a few hideous pictures of saints and holy families, presented or stuck up by the Italian monks who occasionally visit the place. In the chapel are the tombs of several Patriarchs of the Chaldaean church, buried here long before its division, and whose titles, carved upon the monuments, are always “Patriarch of the Chaldaeans of the East.” Six or eight half-famished monks reside in the building. They depend for supplies, which are scanty enough, upon the faithful of the surrounding country.
It was night before we reached the large Catholic village of Tel Kef. I had sent a horseman in the morning, to apprise the people of my intended visit; and Gouriel, the Kiayah, with several of the principal inhabitants, had assembled to receive me. As we approached they emerged from a dark recess, where they had probably been waiting for some time. They carried a few wax lights, which served as an illumination, and whose motion, as the bearers advanced, was so unsteady, that there could be no doubt of the condition of the bearers.
Gouriel and his friends reeled forwards towards my Cawass, who chanced to be the first of the party; and believing him to be me, they fell upon him, kissing his hands and feet, and clinging to his dress. Ibrahim Agha struggled hard to extricate himself, but in vain. “The Bey is behind,” roared he. “Allah! Allah l will no one deliver me from these drunken infidels P” Rejoicing in the mistake, I concealed myself among the horsemen. Gouriel, seizing the bridle of Ibrahim Agha's horse, and unmindful of the blows which the Cawass dealt about him, led him in triumph to his residence. It was not before the wife of the Kiayah and some women, who had assembled to cook our dinner, brought torches, that the deputation discovered their error. I had alighted in the meanwhile unseen, and had found my way to the roof of the house, where all the cushions that could be found in the village were piled up in front of a small table covered with bottles of raki and an assortment of raisins and parched peas, prepared in my honor. I hid myself among the pillows, and it was some time before the Kiayah discovered my retreat. He hiccupped out excuses till he was breathless, and endeavoring to kiss my feet, asked forgiveness for the unfortunate blunder. “Wallah! O Bey,” exclaimed Ibrahim Agha, who had been searching for a stable, “the whole village is drunk. It is always thus with these unbelievers. They have now a good Pasha, who neither takes jerums nor extra salian *, nor quarters Hytas upon them. What dirt do they then eat? Instead of repairing their houses, and sowing their fields, they spend every para in raki, and sit eating and drinking, like hogs, night and day.” I was forced to agree with Ibrahim Agha in his conclusions, and would have remonstrated with my hosts; but there was no one in a fit state to hear advice; and I was not sorry to see them at midnight scattered over the roof, buried in profound sleep. I ordered the horses to be loaded, and reached Mosul as the gates opened at daybreak. The reader may desire to learn the fate of Tkhoma. A few
* The seal used by Mar Shamoun bears the same title; and the Patriarch so styles himself in all public documents. It is only lately that he has been induced, on some occasions, when addressing Europeans, to call himself “Patriarch of the Nestorians,” the name never having been used by the Chaldaeans themselves.