Imágenes de páginas

thick at the bottom, ornamented, not in very good taste, with four tiers of pilasters, having niches like windows rising above one another-the higher ones diminishing in height and increasing in numbers towards the top. In the centre there is an archway, which rises to a point, the apex of which is 101 feet from the ground, and of eighty feet span. This gives entrance to what has been a noble hall, 153 feet long, of which the arched roof remains in great part entire, though there are in it some extensive chasms. It is plastered and perforated with holes, from whence tradition tells that in the time of Khoosroo there hung a hundred silver lamps. These, no doubt, disappeared at the period when Ctesiphon was sacked by the Arabs; but there still remained a ring of yellow metal in the ceiling, near the centre of the arch, which tempted the cupidity of a pacha of Bagdad. He first caused his troops to fire at it with musket balls, which shattered the roof; but this expedient failing, he sent an Arab up who contrived to run a rope through the ring, and this being yoked to a number of buffaloes, it was at length torn down, and proved to be of simple brass.

There are also the remains of a fort, now intersected by the Tigris, called Kallah mal Kesra, in which are found broken sepulchral urns or jars; and, half an hour's march distant from the Tauk, there is a space of 1450 yards square, surrounded by walls of sun-dried bricks, in which are likewise seen shattered vases. It is called by the natives the Garden of Kesra or Khoosroo.

The next points of interest to the antiquary and geographer, particularly as connected with the celebrated retreat of the Ten Thousand, are the site of Opis and the line of the Median wall. That city is said by Xenophon to have stood on the northern side of the Physcus, where the stream was 100 feet broad, having a bridge over it; and we know from other sources that it was also on the Tigris. Now Dr. Ross, who made a journey to Samarra, the ruins of a Moslem city on the latter river, bounded by two branches of the Nahrawan canal, found the angle between the northwestern bank of the Physcus and the left bank of the Tigris covered with very ancient mounds, which, in common with some other inquirers well informed on these subjects, he believes to be the remains of Opis. But Mr. Ainsworth, who conceives that the Tigris has shifted its bed a good

deal towards the northeast, looks for the ancient junction of it with the Athem farther west than the present point of union, where there are certain ruins called Babelin (the second Babel); and these he is inclined to regard as marking the site of the Opis recorded in the Anabasis and in the campaigns of Alexander.

Strabo maintains that the Median wall was to be found on the Tigris as high as the Opis; and such must in all probability have been the case, as, had it touched the river lower down, it would have cut through the Dijeil Canal, an ancient work, which has its derivation from that stream immediately below Samarra. According to Xenophon, it was said to extend twenty parasangs (about seventy miles) in length; and in the account of Julian's expedition, it is mentioned as originating at Macepracta. Now the distance from the point of junction of the Athem with the Tigris to Felugia, which represents the ancient Macepracta, is just about seventy miles; and both Dr. Ross, in his visits to that part of the country in 1836, and Lieutenant Lynch of the Euphrates expedition, examined a continuous mound or embankment which, there can be little doubt, is the remains of this celebrated wall. The former describes it as a single straight and solid mound, twentyfive long paces in thickness, and from thirty-five to forty feet high, running in a line from north-northeast east, to south-southwest 4 west, as far in the latter direction as the eye can trace it, but cut off by the Dijeil Canal about half a mile from the point where he discovered it. On its western face there are bastions at every fifty-five paces, and on the same side a deep ditch twenty-seven yards broad. The Bedouins told him that it ran in the same line across the country till it touched two mounds named Ramelah, on the Euphrates, some hours above Felugia; and that in places far inland it is built of brick, in some points worn down to the level of the desert. Where Dr. Ross saw it, near the village of Jibbarah, it was constructed of the common pebbles of the country, imbedded in a tenacious lime cement. The Arab tradition is, that it was built by Nimrod to keep off the people of Nineveh, with whom he was at feud. The land in the vicinity presents numerous remains of ancient buildings; among which the doctor mentions particularly those of Istabolat as being of

considerable extent and very perfect.* Lynch confirms this account of the Median wall, along the side of which, he says, he galloped for more than an hour without finding any appearance of termination.†

This vicinity is thickly strewed with ancient ruins. The banks of the Athem, and Tigris, and the Nahrawan were also found by Ross to be crowded with the relics of extensive towns and cities; and among these, on the right bank of the Tigris, must be sought the Sittace of Xenophon. It was twenty parasangs below Opis, and fifteen stadia from the river; and Mr. Ainsworth conceives that he has discovered it in an extensive series of mounds and embankments, consisting of the usual materials, and stretching from "Sheriat el Beitha" westward, almost to Akkerkoof; from which, however, these works are for most part of the year separated by the overflow of the Euphrates.

The ruins of Samarra, the Sarra-manraa of Abulfeda, and the Labab, are extensive, and denote that it must have been a great city in the time of its prosperity, which was during the reign of the Caliph Motassem, its founder. The most remarkable specimen is an immense conical tower of brick, called the Malwiyah, upward of 100 feet in height; to the top of which a man could ascend on horseback, by means of a spiral path running round its outside. It has also a stair in the interior. Close to it are the remains of a jameh or mosque, of great dimensions, to which the other is said to have served for the minaret.

It is a quadrangular building, 264 paces by 160, having walls eleven spans thick, with turrets at short intervals, and a large bastion at each corner. There are five doors in the largest and three in the smallest sides; and here, in the time of the caliphate, the whole population of Samarra used to assemble for prayer. There are also the remains of the caliph's palace, magnificent walls, arches, gates, subterranean chambers, and courts, built of brick and mortar, little of which, however, is perfect except the great entrance, consisting of a very lofty arch, with smaller ones on either side.

Besides these, there are Til Allee, a high, sloping mass of rubbish; a group of mounds named Kaf or Chaf, which the Arabs believe to be the abode of the seven sleeper,

* Journal of Geographical Society, vol. ix., p. 446. + Ibid., p. 473 Rich considered it to be nearly 200 feet.

and of their dog, which is occasionally heard howling on a Friday night; and Giaoureah, or the palace of the infidels, a large assemblage of rubbish and brick, all of which are of a date far more ancient than the Mohammedan era.

At Gaim, six or seven miles south of Samarra, is seen a square pyramidal building of rough stone and mortar, from fifty to sixty feet in height, which marks the point of the lowest derivation of the Nahrawan Canal. Opposite to this, on the western bank of the Tigris, are Kadesia, a perfect heptagon fort, with bastions at every angle, and seventeen smaller ones, with a gate on each face, the distance from one bastion to another being ten or twelve yards. It is built of mud and sun-burned bricks, four inches thick, and the walls even now are twenty feet high. Around it the country is strewed with relics, as well as the banks of the Tigris on both sides. From a part of these ruins was taken the lower portion of a statue of black ba salt in a sitting posture, resembling the figures at Persepo lis, and which is now in the possession of Colonel Taylor, British resident at Bagdad. The Arabs say that the upper part of it is still in the water beneath the bank from whence the other fragment was dug.

At Kadesia there was formerly a great glass manufactory, the slag of which is scattered about in large hillocks, still affording crystals of almost every colour. The workmen are said to have been brought from Kadees, a village of Merve in Khorasan, from whence, also, is derived the name of the town in Mesopotamia.

About thirty miles north by west from Samarra lies Tecreet, which has been already noticed; and at two days' journey from thence are the ruins of Al Hadhr, the ancient Hatra, which have lately been twice visited at great personal risk by the indefatigable Doctor Ross, who thus describes them. They lie about thirty miles west by north of the ruin Kalah Sherkat, on the right bank of the Tigris, nearly ninety miles in a straight line north-northwest of Tecreet, and two from the western bank of the Tharthar River (the ancient Thirtha). They occupy a space of ground upward of a mile in diameter, enclosed by a circular wall of immense thickness, with square bastions or towers, at about sixty paces from each other, built of large regularly-cut stones. The upper part of the curtains have in most places been thrown down, along with some of the bastions; but

most of the latter are tolerably entire, having each vaulted chambers towards the city. Outside the wall is a broad and very deep ditch, now dry; and at the interval of 100 or 150 paces is a thick rampart, at present only a few feet high, which goes round the town. At some distance beyond the fortifications on the eastern and northern side stand two lofty mounds with square towers on them.

Nearly in the centre of the town stands a quadrangle, enclosed by a strong thick wall, the sides of which, 300 paces each, face the four cardinal points, and are defended, like the exterior wall, with bastions. This square is intersected in the centre by a range of ruinous buildings, comprising a maze of chambers, gateways, and a single pillar, reduced to thirty feet in height. Between these edifices and the eastern wall the ground is clear; but the space towards the west is partly occupied by a huge pile of building fronting the east, and part of a wing facing the north. The ground story of these alone remains perfect, and consists of a series of vaulted halls of two sizes, from thirty to sixty feet in height, and above twelve in breadth. The whole, like every other part of the city, is built of a brownish-gray limestone, each piece being so closely fitted in its place, that, if cement has been used, it cannot be seen; and almost every one composing the great pile has cut on it one or more letters, seemingly the builder's marks. The chambers are adorned with variously sculptured work, each stone at the spring of the arch having carved on it a human bust in high relief. Others bear figures of females, apparently in the air, with crossed feet and loose flying robes, and cornices of foliage and other devices beneath. In one chamber there is a line of eight bulls with human heads; and in others, griffons, serpents, and other animals, some of which, Ross thinks, bear evidence of having been touched by a Greek or Roman chisel.

The dwelling-houses appear to have been confined to the western part of the city; and, though now merely mounds and hillocks, the doctor believes that an attentive examination might ascertain the site of every street and square. A canal crosses the whole eastward of the central space; and the dreary aspect of certain detached buildings scattered thickly beyond it led him to conclude that it was the Necropolis. He looked eagerly for the statues said by the Arabs to exist here, but could discover

« AnteriorContinuar »