Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

me of what was popularly known, and knew nothing of history or geography. It is probable, however, that the Kark, or Carcha, of Ammianus Marcellinus, and Simocattus, was the present Kark, near Samarra, on the banks of the Tigris, to the southward of this ; and that the Carcha nearer to Nineveh, spoken of by Masius and Ortelius, from which the former was distinct, was the present Kerkook, which is generally thought to be the Demetrias of Strabo, and the Corcura of Ptolemy. The three divisions of the town as it now stands are, however, large enough to admit a belief that it might have been a metropolitan see in later times, and have given its name to the district in earlier ones, if it be still thought to be the Garm of Assemani, as it is still the largest town throughout the plains to the east of the Tigris; while, on the other hand, the appearance of its castle, seated on an elevated mound, is sufficient to induce a belief of its having been always a fortified post of some importance, and with equal probability a military station of the Romans during the existence of their power here. At all events, little doubt can remain of this Kerkook being the place intended to be identified with these ancient stations by the French geographer, on a comparison of the details which he gives of its local features with those which actually exist near this spot.* Tibullus, in his Elegies,t speaks of the territory of Erec, one of the cities founded by Nimrod on the banks of the Tigris, and in the land of Shinar, as producing springs of naphtha, which the poet calls the 6 combustible waters of the land of Erec,” alluding, probably, to

* “ Dans le voisinage de cette ville, il sort des rochers, de l'huile de napthe, qui est reçue dans un espèce de puits ; et je trouve dans une relation manuscrite d'un voyage au Levant

par le Père Emanuel de St. Albert, visiteur des Missions de son ordre des Carmes, et depuis Evêque in partibus, qu'en remuant la terre aux environs, il en sort des bluettes. On lit dans la Géographie Turque, qu'en creusant la terre sur un tertre appellé Khor-kour-baba, il en sort du feu qui fait faire flamme, et que des vases posés dans des trous, qu’on y voie, bouillir l'eau dont en les a remplis; en ajoutant, qu'on éteint la chaleur de ces trous en les comblant de terre.”—D'Anville sur l'Euphrate et le Tigre, p. 107 + Lib. iv. Memoires de l'Academie des Inscriptions, tome xxvii. p.

30.

[ocr errors]

I

some known account in his own time of these springs, as the geography of Babylonia and Assyria must have been always popularly known to the learned among the Romans, after the histories of Alexander's expedition into the East were written.*

On my return to the house at which the Tartars had put up, found a large party assembled, who seemed to derive great entertainment from the antics of a dancing bear. This was a large white shaggy animal, which had been brought by the Koords, who exhibited it, from the snow-clad mountains of their own country, at a distance of four days' journey to the eastward. They said that these animals were very rare among their hills, and the liberality with which the spectators rewarded their shewing it, seemed to imply that it was a creature still less frequently seen here.f

From the report of my guide, corrected by some confronting testimonies of others whom I questioned on the same subject, I learnt that there were, in each of the three portions of which Kerkook is composed, ten mosques, twenty-four coffee-houses, ten khans, and two public baths; and that the number of Christian places of worship, of different sects, was either four or five. The town is subject to the Pasha of Bagdad, and its environs are sufficiently productive to yield him a respectable tribute. The governor is one of his own immediate dependants, and attached to him are just a sufficient number of soldiers only to form a body-guard for his personal defence.

* Naphtha is mentioned as abounding in Babylonia, and was said to run in the manner of liquid bitumen. The affinity between it and fire is insisted on, and it was thus, says Pliny, that Medea burnt her husband's concubine. Her girdle, being anointed by it, was caught by the fire when she approached the altars to sacrifice.—Plin. Nat. Hist. book ii. c. 105.

+ Wild beasts of almost all the larger species were found in this country in the time of the elder Cyrus; and the hunting of them formed an important part of the education of the princes and nobles of Persia.—Cyropædia, book i.

[graphic][merged small]

FROM KERKOOK, BY KIFFREE, TO KARA TUPPE, OR THE BLACK HILL.

When the Tartars had partaken of a hearty meal, and lounged away an hour over their pipes, we prepared again to depart, though the heat of the day, to avoid which was the alleged cause of our long halt here, instead of having subsided, was now at its greatest height. There was no persuading my companions to this, however, so that we saddled our horses and mounted, and at three o'clock set out from Kerkook.

Our course went now to the southward, over a country that was generally waste and uncultivated, and on the south-east of us was an extensive plain, the horizon of which was as boundless as that of the sea, and to the east and north-east the view terminated in the hills of Koordistan.

we had

At sun-set, having gone about eighteen or twenty miles, we came among a number of gardens, with watch-towers dispersed over them, and a small hamlet near; and before midnight, by which time

gone about ten miles more, we came to the village of Taook, having passed no stream throughout our way, though one of the branches of the Lesser Zab is there laid down by Major Macdonald Kinneir.

This place, from as much as we could observe of it at this hour of the night, appeared to be large; I noticed three mosques, with minarets, and a number of houses, built of ancient bricks. At the entrance of the town, was a Mohammedan tomb of a very singular construction. Its base was a square, on which was raised a dome, not of the usual shape, but pointed like a sugar-loaf, and formed of a chequered open work of bricks, resembling the pyramidal form, in which cakes of soap are sometimes piled up in perfumers' shops, with their ends only resting on each other, and the interstices hollow.

We were entertained at this place with a good supper ; changed horses with less noise and bustle than we had any where yet done; and being furnished with another escort of five Arab horsemen for the way, we departed about midnight, observing, as we went out of the town, a tall isolated minaret, with a square base and circular tower, like the pedestal and shaft of a large column.

July 10th.—On leaving Taook, we continued our course still southerly, over a desert country, which was often pebbly, and destitute of cultivable soil, but never loose or sandy.

We next came to a ground of gravel and clay, and passed in sight of some small villages scattered near our route, when, at sunrise, after a ride of about twenty miles, we entered the town of Koolmāty.

This is a large place, stretching itself along the eastern foot of a range of barren hills ; the whole town, however, lying in the midst of gardens, plantations of date-trees, and cultivated patches of land. There were three or four mosques, and some good dwellinghouses, a market abundantly supplied with fruit, and springs of ex cellent water.

We were entertained at the house of the Aga, or governor of the town, where it is usual, when there is no good caravanserai, for the Tartars to halt; and after sleeping for an hour, we set forward on the same horses, fresh ones not being to be procured at this station.

We left the town of Koolmāty, by a road leading out through gardens and

groves of palm-trees, enclosed on each side with mud walls, and resembling, in these features, many of the villages in the Sharkeeah, or eastern part of Lower Egypt. The resemblance was heightened by our coming suddenly out upon desert ground, and meeting large herds of camels and sheep, under the care of Arab drivers.

Our course was still generally a southern one, and, after a ride of about eight miles, we alighted at the Khan of Baiaat, around which were a few scattered dwellings, just sufficient in number to deserve the name of a village.

This caravanserai was one of the finest buildings that we had seen since leaving Mousul: it consisted of an outer and an inner room, both having domed ceilings, very nicely stuccoed, and the latter apartment containing a raised bench for a divan, with beds, carpets, and smaller recesses for the convenience of those who might desire to repose here.

We remained at this place two hours, which were divided in nearly equal portions between eating, drinking, smoking, and sleeping; and at El Assr, or near the hottest part of the day, we prepared again to mount, though, as before, the alleged reason of our making any stay here at all, was to avoid the oppressive power of

the sun.

We were furnished with fresh horses for our use, but the baggageanimals carrying the packets could not be replaced by others; and we had an escort of twenty Arab horsemen given to us for protec

« EdellinenJatka »