epoch from which the Arabs of Mesopotamia date events concerning their tribe. Mohammed-Emin, Sheikh of the Jebours, assured me that he had seen Sofuk ride down the wild ass of the Sinjar on her back, and the most marvellous stories are current in the desert of her fleetness and powers of endurance. Sofuk esteemed her and her daughter above all the riches of the tribe; for her he would have forfeited all his wealth, and even Amsha herself. Owing to the visit of the irregular troops, the best horses of the Sheikh and his followers were concealed in a secluded ravine at some distance from the tents.

Al Hather was about eighteen miles from Sofuk's encampment. He gave us two well-known horsemen to accompany us to the ruins. Their names were Dathan and Abiram. The former was a black slave, to whom the Sheikh had given his liberty and a wife — two things, it may be observed, which are in the desert perfectly consistent. He was the most faithful and brave of all the adherents of Sofuk, and the fame of his exploits had spread through the tribes of Arabia. As we rode along, I endeavored to obtain from him some information concerning his people, but he would only speak on one subject. "Ya Bej,"* said he, "the Arab only thinks of two things, war and love: war, Ya Bej, every one understands; let us, therefore, talk of love."

As we rode to Al Hather, we passed large bodies of the Shammar moving with their tents, flocks, and families. On all sides appeared the huge expanding wings of the ladies' camel-saddle, looking, as it rose above the horizon, like some stupendous butterfly skimming slowly over the plain. Dathan was known to all. As the horsemen approached, they dismounted and embraced him, kissing him, as is customary, on both cheeks, and holding him by the hand until many compliments had been exchanged.

* "0 my Lord :" he so prefaced every sentence. The Sharnmar Arabs pronounce the word Beg, which the Constantinopolitans soften into Bey, Bej.

A dark thunder-cloud rose behind the time-worn ruins of Al Hather as we approached them. The sun, still throwing its rays upon the walls, lighted up the yellow stones until they shone like gold.* Mr. Ross and myself, accompanied by an Arab, urged our horses onwards, that we might escape the coming storm; but it burst upon us in its fury ere we reached the palace. The lightning played through the vast buildings, the thunder re-echoed through its deserted halls, and the hail compelled us to rein up our horses, and turn our backs to the tempest. It was a fit moment to enter such ruins as these. They rose in solitary grandeur in the midst of a desert, " in media solitudine posits," as they stood fifteen centuries before, when described by the Roman historian.! On my previous visit, the first view I obtained of Al Hather was perhaps no less striking. We had been wandering for three days in the wilderness without seeing one human habitation. On the fourth morning a thick mist hung over the place. We had given up the search when the vapors were drawn up like a curtain, and we saw the ruins before us. At that time within the walls were the tents of some Shammar Arabs, but now as we crossed the confused heaps of fragments, forming a circle round the city, we saw that the place was tenantless. Flocks on a neighboring rising ground showed, however, that Arabs were not distant.

We pitched our tents in the great court-yard, in front of the palace, and near the entrance to the inner inclosure. During the three days we remained amongst the ruins I had ample time to take accurate measurements, and to make plans of the various buildings still partly standing within the walls. As Al Hather has already been described by others, and as the information I was able to collect has been placed before the public \, I need

* The rich golden tint of the limestone, of which the great monuments of Syria are built, is known to every traveller in that country. The ruins of Al Hather have the same bright colour; they look as if they had been steeped in the sunbeams.

f Ammianus Marcellinus, lib. xxv. cap. 8.

% See Dr. Ross's Memoir in the Geographical Society's Journal, and Dr. Ainsworth's Travels. A memoir on the place by me, accompanied by plans, &c, was read before the Institute of British Architects.

not detain the reader with a detailed account of the place. Suffice it to mention, that the walls of the city, flanked by numerous towers, form almost a complete circle, in the centre of which rises the palace, an edifice of great magnificence, solidly constructed of squared stones, and elaborately sculptured with figures and ornaments. It dates probably from the reign of one of the Sassanian Kings of Persia, certainly not prior to the Arsacian dj-nasty, although the city itself was, I have little doubt, founded at a very early period, being one of the great caravan stations, like Palmyra, connecting the cities of Syria with those on the banks of the Tigris. The singular marks upon the stones, which appear to be either a builder's sign or to have reference to some religious observance, are found in most of the buildings of Sassanian origin in Persia, Babylonia, and Susiana.

With the exception of occasional alarms in the night, caused by thieves attempting to steal our horses, we were not disturbed during our visit. The Arabs from the tents in the neighborhood brought us milk, butter, and sheep. We drank the water of the Thathar, which is, however, rather salt; and our servants and camel-drivers filled during the day many baskets with truffles.

On our return we crossed the desert, reaching Wadi Ghusub the first night, and Mosul on the following morning. Dathan and Abiram, who had both distinguished themselves in recent forays, and had consequently accounts to settle with the respectable merchants of the place, the balance being very much against them, could not be prevailed upon to enter the town, where they were generally known. We had provided ourselves with two or three dresses of Damascus silk, and we invested our guides as a mark of satisfaction for their services. Dathan grinned a melancholy smile as he received his reward. "Ya Bej," he exclaimed, as he turned his mare towards the desert; "may God give you peace! Wallah! your camels shall be as the camels of the Shammar. Be they laden with gold, they shall pass through our tents, and our people shall not touch them."

A year after our visit the career of Sofuk was brought to its close. I have mentioned that Nejris, his rival, had obtained the support of nearly the whole tribe of Shammar. In a month Sofuk found himself nearly alone. His relations and immediate adherents, amongst whom were Dathan and Abiram, still pitched their tents with him; but he feared the attacks of his enemies, and retreated for safety into the territory of Beder Khan Bey, to the East of the Tigris, near Jezirah. He then sought the support of Nejib Pasha of Baghdad, under whose authority the Shammar were supposed to be, and having succeeded in bringing back a considerable part of the tribe, proposed to Nejris, that they should meet at his tents, forget their differences, and share equally the Sheikhship of the Shammar. The unfortunate Sheikh was induced by Ferhan, the son of Sofuk, to enter the encampment of his rival, where he was perfidiously murdered, in violation of those laws of hospitality which are so much respected by the Arabs. The Shammar were amazed and disgusted by an act of perjury which brought disgrace upon the tribe. They withdrew a second time from Sofuk, and placed themselves under a new leader, a relation of the murdered Sheikh. Sofuk again appealed to Nejib Pasha, justifying his conduct by the dissensions which would have led to constant disorders in Mesopotamia had there still been rival candidates for the Sheikhship. Nejib pretended to be satisfied, and agreed to send out a party of irregular troops to assist Sofuk in enforcing his authority throughout the desert.

The commander of the troops sent by Nejib was joyfully received by Sofuk, who immediately marched against the tribe. But he had scarcely left his tent, when he found that he had fallen into a snare such as he had more than once set for others. In a few hours after, his head was in the palace of the Pasha of Baghdad.

Such was the end of one whose name will long be remembered in the wilds of Arabia; who, from his power and wealth, received the title of "the King of the Desert,'' and led the great tribe of Shammar from the banks of the Khabour to the ruins of Babylon. The tale of the Arab will turn for many years to come on the exploits and magnificence of Sofuk.











On my return to Mosul I hastened back to Nimroud. During my absence little progress had been made, as only two men had been employed in removing the rubbish from the upper part of the chamber to which the great human-headed lions formed an entrance. The lions to the east of them* had, however, been completely uncovered ; that to the right had fallen from its place, and was sustained by the opposite sculpture. Between them was a large pavement slab covered with cuneiform characters.

In clearing the earth from this entrance, and from behind the fallen lion, many ornaments in copper, two small ducks in baked clay, and tablets of alabaster inscribed on both sides were discovered.f Amongst the remains in copper were the head of a ram or bull J, several hands (the fingers closed and slightly bent), and a few flowers. The hands may have served as a casing to similar objects in baked clay, frequently found amongst the ruins, and having an inscription, containing the names, titles, and genealogy of the King, graved upon the fingers. The heads of the ducks are turned and rest upon the back, which bears an inscription in cuneiform characters. Objects

* Entrance d, plan 2.

f AH these objects are now in the British Museum.

} This head probably belonged to a throne or seat.

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