Imágenes de páginas

of Workha rises pre-eminent; but, from the difficulty of approaching it, owing to the surrounding lakes and marshes, it has never been examined. We could descry this elevation at a distance of about four miles, but were unable to reach it. Not far from Workha is seen Sunkhera, one of a large number of mounds forming a sort of circle, built of fire-burned bricks; the whole surface being strewed with scoriæ, agates and carnelian fragments, and bits of copper, but no glass. The chief one was very large, and from fifty to sixty feet high; and the entire circle must have been more than a mile in diameter. The surface of the land around it was irregular, raised in heights and hollows; but whether or not these were sites of buildings could not be ascertained. In the area were traces of foundations, a square consisting of houses and courts, which, as they do not rise above the level of the soil, are probably of recent date. The rest was undoubtedly ancient. To the north and east were several clusters of mounds, the largest of which was called Yokha, of considerable size, and in the centre of a wide tract of debris. To the northwest of this was observed a lofty pyramidal mass called Til Eide, surrounded by the relics of old habitations.

Six or eight miles northeast of this last, our attention was attracted by an elevation, which belonged to a place that must have been of very great magnitude in its day. It appeared to have been a quadrangle of at least five or six miles each way, and of which the building in question formed the northeastern corner. It was a structure like a great bastion, formed of fire-burned bricks of the usual size, with layers of reeds between each tier as at the Mujelibé, and rising to a height of at least fifty feet from the plain, including the tuppeh or hillock of ruins out of which it springs. It was split from top to bottom into four pieces, and each opening afforded the means of entrance into the interior, which was partially hollowed out; but whether by original construction or effected by the rains, is uncertain.

From the summit may be traced, by irregular heaps and fragments, the course of the northern and eastern sides, converging at right angles to each other. The greater part of the area was bare, as is usual in such cases, and dotted all over with the black camps of Arab tribes. Following the line of the north wall for nearly five miles, the country

on the northern side appeared also covered with debris, and a boundless extent of them stretched to the west of the square space; besides which, there are huge ridges about the same distance to the south, which the natives call Hummam. They gave no name to the ruins in general, but assigned to the country at large the appellation of Guttubeh. The evidences of an extensive population in former times were more remarkable here, perhaps, than in any other part of the Jezirah.

A large portion of this district is low, and, to a great extent, periodically overflowed, so that the remains were less conspicuous; but about thirty miles northward the mounds again become frequent. Among the most remarkable are those of Iskhuriah, not far from the Tigris; and Zibliyeh, southwest of the former, nearly half way between the two rivers. The first is a name applied by the Arabs to a huge group, of which the highest may rise to twenty-five or thirty feet above the plain, and are covered with immense quantities of scoriæ and slag-like stones resembling the refuse of a brick furnace. These are either black, porous, hard, and heavy, or composed of yellow vitrified matter, being, in some cases, several feet square by six inches thick. The mounds themselves, except in this particular, are not very remarkable; but the size and multitude of the slabs were perplexing. It was told us that they are formed into millstones and various other articles; and, in truth, they might be supposed to have constituted some peculiar manufactory. The Arab name implies a "stony" place; and the tradition regarding them is, that this was the country of Lot (Loot), and that Heaven in its wrath showered them down on the wicked inhabitants. Looking from the top of the highest of these mounds, the whole region seemed covered with others of various sizes, insomuch that there was scarcely a quarter of the horizon without a height of some sort, all of which must be the remains of towns or villages.

The line of march, adopted from a camp of the Zobeid Arabs where we had halted for a night, led, for twelve or fourteen miles, over a country littered with ruins, to a group which rose in a circular space covered with bricks and potsherds. Of these, the principal objects were four pyramidal mounds, rising abruptly to a height of forty or fifty feet, and built of sun-dried brick. Two or three miles

[ocr errors]

distant from these was a still loftier structure, consisting of a tower or bastion-shaped building, about eighty feet in height. The exterior of it was formed of sun-dried brick, like the Mujelibe, and pierced with holes; but the interior was composed of furnace-baked bricks, like those of the Birs and similar edifices. The walls were plainly perceived in one part, and the external coating of sun-dried brick was deeply furrowed by the rains. The Arabs called it Zibliyeh, and gave a trivial name to each of the lesser mounds. The traces of a very large canal and two or three smaller ones, crossing from north to south near this place, showed that the district had been extensive and well cultivated.

These are but a very few of the relics of antiquity that lie scattered over this comparatively small tract, to which might be added many more, such as Tel Siphr, Atlah, Tel Medinah, Jera Supli, Mizisthah, Jayithah, and Abu-ghuroot, proving that this land must have once borne a dense population, and now possibly represents Beana, Chunduca, Chumana, Cæsa, Birande, Bethana, Thalme, Forthuda, Jamba, Rhajia, Rhalta, Chiriphe, and others merely mentioned by Ptolemy and Cellarius.

Waasut, the capital of the ancient province of Cascara, has lately been visited by two travellers, Lieutenant Ormsby and Captain Mignon; but neither appears to have discovered any remains worthy of notice. It consists of forty or fifty wretched houses, built of mud and fragments of brick taken from the old city, which last is strewed around in the shape of sand-covered hillocks, without a single object to give interest to the scene.

The next ruins that demand our attention are those of Seleucia and Ctesiphon or Ul Madayn, on opposite sides of the Tigris, nineteen miles below Bagdad. Of the first, little indeed is left to tell what it was, if we except part of the north and south walls, of great thickness, and built of unburned bricks, and an immense extent of mounds, covered with debris. Of Ctesiphon, besides a portion of the wall, which resembles that of Seleucia in fabric, there remains only one very remarkable object. It is known as the Tauk e Kesra, or the Arch of Khoosroo, and may be regarded as the façade of a very magnificent building that appears never to have been completed. It consists of a wall 284 feet long, rather more than 100 feet high, and nineteen feet

« AnteriorContinuar »