« ElőzőTovább »
boughs were multiplied, and his branches became long, because of the multitude of waters when he shot forth. All the fowls of heaven made their nests in his boughs, and under his branches did all the beasts of the fields bring forth their young, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations; ” for now is “ Nineveh a desolation and dry like a wilderness, and flocks lie down in the midst of her : all the beasts of the nations, both the cormorant and bittern, lodge in the upper lintels of it; their voice sings in the windows; and desolation is in the thresholds.”* The entrance formed by the human-headed lions led into a chamber, round which were sculptured winged figures, such as I have already described. They were in pairs facing one another, and separated by the sacred tree. These bas-reliefs were inferior in execution, and finish, to those previously discovered. During the month of March I received visits from the principal Sheikhs of the Jebour Arabs, whose followers had now partly crossed the Tigris, and were pasturing their flocks in the neighbourhood of Nimroud, or cultivating millet on the banks of the river. The Jebours are a branch of the ancient tribe of Obeid, and their pasture grounds are on the banks of the Khabour, from its junction with the Euphrates, – from the ancient Carchemish or Circesium, to its source at Ras-el-Ain. Having been suddenly attacked and plundered a year or two before by the Aneyza, they had left their haunts, and taken refuge in the districts around Mosul. They were at this time divided into three branches, obeying different Sheikhs. The names of the three chiefs were Abd'rubbou, Mohammed-Emin, and Mohammed-ed-Dagher. Although all three visited me at Nimroud, it was the first with whom I was best acquainted, and who rendered me most assistance. I thought it necessary to give to each a few small presents, a silk dress, or an embroidered cloak, with a pair of capacious boots, as in case of any fresh disturbances in the country it would be as well to be on friendly terms with the tribe. The middle of March in Mesopotamia is the brightest epoch of spring. A new change had come over the face of the plain of Nimroud. Its pasture lands, known as the “Jaif,” are renowned for their rich and luxuriant herbage. In times of quiet, the studs of the Pasha and of the Turkish authorities, with the horses of the cavalry and of the inhabitants of Mosul, are sent here to graze. Day by day they arrived in long lines. The Shemutti and Jehesh left their huts, and encamped on the greensward which surrounded the villages. The plain, as far as the eye could reach, was studded with the white pavilions of the Hytas and the black tents of the Arabs. Picketed around them were innumerable horses in gay trappings, struggling to release themselves from the bonds which restrained them from ranging over the green pastures. Flowers of every hue enamelled the meadows; not thinly scattered over the grass as in northern climes, but in such thick and gathering clusters that the whole plain seemed a patchwork of many colors. The dogs, as they returned from hunting, issued from the long grass dyed red, yellow, or blue, according to the flowers through which they had last forced their way. The villages of Naifa and Nimroud were deserted, and I remained alone with Said (my host) and my servants. The houses now began to swarm with vermin; we no longer slept under the roofs, and it was time to follow the example of the Arabs. I accordingly encamped on the edge of a large pond on the outskirts of Nimroud. Said accompanied me; and Salah, his young wife, a bright-eyed Arab girl, built up his shed, and watched and milked his diminutive flock of sheep and goats. I was surrounded by Arabs, who had either pitched their tents, or, too poor to buy the black goat-hair cloth of which they are made, had erected small huts of reeds and dry grass. In the evening, after the labor of the day, I often sat at the door of my tent, and giving myself up to the full enjoyment of that calm and repose which are imparted to the senses by such scenes as these, gazed listlessly on the varied groups before me. . As the sun went down behind the low hills which separate the
* Ezekiel xxxi. 3. &c.; Zephaniah ii. 13, and 14.
emulate the verdant clothing of the plain— its receding rays were gradually withdrawn, like a transparent veil of light, from the landscape. Over the pure, cloudless sky was the glow of the last light. The great mound threw its dark shadow far across the plain. In the distance, and beyond the Zab, Keshaf, another venerable ruin, rose indistinctly into the evening mist. Still more distant, and still more indistinct was a solitary hill overlooking the ancient city of Arbela. The Kurdish mountains, whose snowy summits cherished the dying sunbeams, yet struggled with the twilight. The bleating of sheep and lowing of cattle, at first faint, became louder as the flocks returned from their pastures, and wandered amongst the tents. Girls hurried over the greensward to seek their fathers' cattle, or crouched down to milk those which had returned alone to their wellremembered folds. Some were coming from the river bearing the replenished pitcher on their heads or shoulders; others, no less graceful in their form, and erect in their carriage, were carrying the heavy load of long grass which they had cut in the meadows. Sometimes a party of horsemen might have been seen in the distance slowly crossing the plain, the tufts of ostrich feathers which topped their long spears showing darkly against the evening sky. They would ride up to my tent, and give me the usual salutation, “Peace be with you, O Bey,” or, “Allah Aienak, God help you.” Then driving the end of their lances into the ground, they would spring from their mares, and fasten their halters to the still quivering weapons. Seating themselves on the grass, they related deeds of war and plunder, or speculated on the site of the tents of Sofuk, until the moon rose, when they vaulted into their saddles and took the way of the desert. The plain now glittered with innumerable fires. As the night advanced, they vanished one by one until the landscape was wrapped in darkness and in silence, only disturbed by the barking of the Arab dog. Abd-ur-rahman rode to my tent one morning, and offered to take me to a remarkable cutting in the rock, which he described as the work of Nimrod, the Giant. The Arabs call it “Negoub,” or The Hole. We were two hours in reaching the place, as we hunted gazelles and hares by the way. A tunnel through the rock opens by two low arched outlets, upon the river. It is of considerable length, and is continued for about a mile by a deep channel, also cut in the rock, but open at the top. I suspected at once that this was an Assyrian work, and on examining the interior of the tunnel, discovered a slab covered with cuneiform characters, which had fallen from its place, and had been wedged in a crevice. With much difficulty I ascertained that an inscription had also been cut on the back of the tablet. From the darkness of the place, I could scarcely copy even the few characters which had resisted the wear of centuries. Some days after, others who had casually heard of my visit, and conjectured that some Assyrian remains might have been found there, sent a party of workmen to the spot; who, finding the slab, broke it into pieces, in their attempt to displace it. This wanton destruction of the tablet is much to be regretted; as, from the fragment of the inscription copied, I can perceive that it contained several royal names previously unknown.” The tunnel of Negoub is undoubtedly a remarkable work, undertaken, as it would appear from the inscription, during the reign of the builder of the palace at Kouyunjik. Its object is doubtful. It may have led the waters of the Zab into the surrounding country for irrigation; or it may have been the termination of the great canal, which is still to be traced by a double range of lofty mounds near the ruins of Nimroud, and which may have united the Tigris with the neighboring river, and thus fertilised a large tract of land. In either case, the level of the two rivers, as well as the face of the country, must have changed considerably since the period of its construction. At present Negoub is above the Zab, except at the time of the highest floods in spring, and then water is only found in the mouth of the tunnel; all other parts having been much choked up with rubbish and river deposits.
* I have since been able to restore the greater part of the inscription from the fragments of this tablet. It is of considerable importance, as it gives us the names of the father and perhaps grandfather of the Khorsabad King, with which we were not previously acquainted.
PREPARATIONS FOR A JOURNEY TO AL HATHER. — GATHERING OF THE
CARAVAN. LEAVE MOSUL. —THE DESERT.-FLOCKS OF CAMELS. THE HADDEDEEN ARABS.-AN ARAB REPAST.-AN ENCAMPMENT. AN ARAB TRIBE MOVING.—THE TENTS OF SOFUK,DESCRIPTION OF THE SHAMMAR SHEIKH. — HIS HISTORY. – SOFUK'S HAREM AND WIVES. — HIS MARE. — RIDE TO AL HATHER. — ARAB GUIDES. — THE RUINS OF AL HATHER. RETURN TO MOSUL. - MURDER OF NEJRIS — AND OF SOFUK.
The operations at Nimroud having been completely suspended until orders could be received from Constantinople, I thought the time not inopportune to visit Sofuk, the Sheikh of the great nomad Arab tribe of Shammar, which occupies nearly the whole of Mesopotamia. He had lately left the Khabour, and was now encamped near the western bank of the Tigris, below its junction with the Zab, and consequently not far from Nimroud. I had two objects in going to his tents ; in the first place I wished to obtain the friendship of the chief of a powerful tribe of Bedouins, who would probably cross the river in the neighbourhood of the excavations during the summer, and might indulge, to my cost, in their plundering propensities ; and, at the same time, I was anxious to visit the remarkable ruins of Al Hather, which I had only examined very hastily on my former journey.
Mr. Rassam (the Vice-Consul) and his wife, with several native gentlemen of Mosul, Mussulmans and Christians, were induced to accompany me; and, as we issued from the gates of the town, and assembled in the well-peopled burying-ground opposite the Governor's palace, I found myself at the head of a formidable party. Our tents, obtained from the Pasha, with our provisions and necessary furniture, were carried by a string of twelve camels. Mounted above these loads, and on donkeys, was an army of camel-drivers, tent-pitchers, and volunteers ready for all services. There were, moreover, a few irregular