« ElőzőTovább »
Whilst at Mosul, Mormous, an Arab of the tribe of Haddedeen, informed me that figures had been accidentally uncovered in a mound near the village of Tel Kef. As he offered to take me to the place, we rode out together; but he only pointed out the site of an old quarry, with a few rudely hewn stones. Such disappointments were daily occurring; and I wearied myself in scouring the country to see remains which had been most minutely described to me as sculptures, or slabs covered with writing, and which generally proved to be the ruin of some modern building, or an early tombstone inscribed with Arabic characters.
The mounds, which I directed to be opened, were those of Baasheikha (of considerable size), Baazani, Karamles, Karakush, Yara, and Jerraiyah. Connected with the latter ruin many strange tales were current in the country. It was said that on its lofty conical mound formerly stood a temple of black stone, held in great reverence by the Yezidis, or worshippers of the devil; its walls covered with all manner of sculptured figures, and with inscriptions in an unknown language. When the Bey of Rowandiz fell upon the Yezidis, and massacred those who were unable to escape, he destroyed this house of idols; but the ruins of the building, it was declared, had only been covered by a small accumulation of rubbish. The lower part of an Assyrian figure, in relief on basalt, dug up, it was said, in the mound, was actually brought to me; but I had afterwards reason to suspect that it was discovered at Khorsabad. Excavations were carried on for some time at Jerraiyah, but no remains of the Yezidi temple were brought to light.
Having finished my arrangements in Mosul, I returned to Nimroud on the 19th. During my absence, my Cawass had carried the excavations along the back of a wall, in the S.W. corner of the mound*, and had discovered an entrance or doorway. \ Being anxious to make as much progress as possible, I increased my workmen to thirty, and distributed them in
* Wall e, plan 1. t Entrance d, same plan,
three parties. By opening long trenches at right angles in various directions, we came upon the top of a wall*, built of slabs with inscriptions similar to those already described. One, however, was reversed, and was covered with characters, exceeding in size any I had yet seen. On examining the inscription carefully, I found that it corresponded with those of the chamber in the N. W. corner; but as the edges of this, as well as of all the other slabs hitherto discovered in the S. W. ruins, had been cut away to make the stones fit into the wall, several letters had been destroyed. From these facts it was evident that materials taken from another building had been used in the construction of the one we were now exploring; but as yet it could not be ascertained whether the face or the back of the slabs had been uncovered; for the general plan of the edifice could not be determined until the heap of rubbish and earth under which it was buried had been removed. The excavations were now carried on but slowly. The soil, mixed with sun-dried and baked bricks, pottery, and fragments of alabaster, offered considerable resistance to the tools of the workmen; and when loosened, could only be removed in baskets to be thrown over the edge of the mound. The Chaldaeans from the mountains, strong and hardy men, could alone wield the pick; the Arabs were employed in carrying away the earth. Spades could not be used, and there were no other means, than those I had adopted, to clear away the rubbish from the ruins. A person standing on the mound could see no remains of building until he approached the edge of the trenches, into which the workmen descended by steps, where parts of the walls were exposed to view.
The Abou-Salman and Tai Arabs continuing their depredations in the plains of Nimroud and surrounding country, I deemed it prudent to remove from Naifa, where I had hitherto resided, to Selamiyah. This village is built on a rising ground near the Tigris, and was formerly a place of some importance,
• Wall m, same plan.
being mentioned at a very early period as a market town by the Arab geographers, who generally connect it with the ruins of Athur or Nimroud. It occupies an ancient site, and in long lines of mounds, enclosing the village, can be traced the walls of an Assyrian town, or more probably of one of the suburbs of the capital. Even five years ago Selamiyah was a flourishing place, and could furnish 150 well-armed horsemen. The Pasha had, however, plundered it; and the inhabitants had fled to the mountains or into the neighbouring province of Baghdad. Ten miserable huts now stood in the midst of ruins of bazaars and streets surrounding a kasr or palace, belonging to the old hereditary Pashas of Mosul, well built of alabaster, but rapidly falling into decay. I had intended to take possession of this building, which was occupied by a few Hytas or irregular troops; but the rooms were in such a dilapidated condition that the low mud hut of the Kiayah, or chief of the village, appeared to be both safer and warmer. I accordingly spread my carpet in one of its corners, and giving the owner a few piastres to finish other dwelling-places which he had commenced, established myself for the winter. The premises, which were speedily completed, consisted of four hovels, surrounded by a mud wall, and roofed with reeds and boughs of trees. I occupied half of the largest habitation, the other half being appropriated for beasts of the plough, and various domestic animals. We were separated by a wall; in which, however, numerous apertures served as a means of communication. These I studiously endeavored for some time to block up. A second hut was devoted to the wives, children, and poultry of my host; a third served as kitchen and servants' hall: the fourth was converted into a stall for my horses. In the enclosure formed by the buildings and outer wall, the few sheep and goats which had escaped the rapacity of the Pasha, congregated during the night, and kept up a continual bleating and coughing until they were milked and turned out to pasture at day-break.
The roofs not being constructed to exclude the winter rains