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eye. There is not there the majestic vastness of the Pyramids, nor the lonely grandeur of the "Throne of Jemshid," nor even the scathed and ghastly desolation of Babylon, to impress the imagination. The dust of Nineveh rests beneath a green and smiling sod; but, nevertheless, those lowly mounds contain all that remains of the second city of the patriarchal world; of that great capital which, sinful as were its people, the Almighty, once at least, in his mercy spared: and who is there that could pass them by with indifference?
About six caravan hours below those ruins and the city of Mosul are found the vestiges of an ancient place, called Nimrod by some of the inhabitants (according to Mr. Rich, regarded as Nimrod's own city), and named by others Al Athur or Asshur, from which the whole country received its appellation. That gentleman regarded it as the Larissa of Xenophon; and there appears some grounds for supposing that it may represent the Resin of the book of Genesis, for Al Resin, that is, Resin with the Arabic article affixed, might by the Greeks be easily transmuted into Larissa. The principal remains found here are a pyramidal mount of 144 feet in height, which forms the northwest angle of a flat mound, of about 1000 feet north and south by 514 east and west. The area of this platform is somewhat depressed below the height of the sides, giving the idea of a wall having surrounded them. The pyramid is steep, and the top very small; but its base measured upward of 700 feet in circumference. At the western side of this were found marks of concrete buildings, such as had been seen at Nineveh; and fragments of bricks with cuneiform inscriptions were scattered about. They were thicker than those of Babylon. Both to the north and east there were ruins to be traced; and the hills on the opposite side were interspersed with mounds. The country was well cultivated, and sprinkled with villages, one of which still bears the name of Nimrod, though sometimes called Deraweish.
Mr. Rich sailed down the Tigris from Mosul to Bagdad on a kellek or raft, one of the primitive boats of the country, described by Herodotus as formed of pieces of wood supported upon inflated skins. On his way he saw numerous sites, indicated by the usual mounds and heaps. Among the principal of these were Keshaf, at the mouth of
the Zab, supposed to be Haditha of the ancient geographers, Tel Sitteih, Tel Geloos, Mekook, Toprak Kalaa or Kalaat ul Shirgath,* Tecreet, Tel el Meheji, Samarra, Kadesia, and others which we have already mentioned.
While remaining at Mosul, he was indefatigable in examining the neighbourhood, and discovered many objects worthy of attention, among which we may include the convent of Mar Mattei, the Chaldean town of Al Kosh, and the convent of Rabban Hormuzd.
The convent of Mar Mattei or Sheik Muttee is situated on a mountain about twenty-five miles east of Mosul; and Mr. Rich, having passed through the alluvial tract in which the ruins of Nineveh are situated, rode over an undulating country to Baasheka, a village of Yezidees and Jacobite Christians, imbosomed in olive-trees. The oil from this and a similar wood surrounding Baazani chiefly supplies the city of Mosul, and is much used in the manufacture of soap. Baasheka is situated just in front of a defile, where there is a fountain that appears to be an object of veneration to the Yezidees, who in spring repair thither, and to another called by them Ain u Sofra, to make merry, offer sacrifices, play at various games, and to get drunk. "The Yezids," it is remarked, "seemingly have Christianity, or some barbarous remains of it, among them. They admit baptism and circumcision; believe in the metempsychosis; never say 'such a one is dead,' but that 'he is changed;' never enter a Christian church without kissing the threshold and putting off their shoes. Their principal burying-place is at Bozan, a village at the foot of the mountain of Rabban Hormuzd, and bodies are carried there from all parts. It was formerly a Christian village with a monastery.
"The Khan of Sheik Khan or Baadli is the pope of the Yezids. He is descended from the family of the Ommiades, and is esteemed the Emir Hadji of the Yezids. Their great place of pilgrimage is at Sheik Adi, three hours distant in the mountains beyond Sheik Khan, and it is saidt to have been a Christian monastery. The church, conventicle, or whatever it may be called, is said to resemble that at Jerusalem, every different tribe of Yezids having its own
*Or Shirkat, near Al Hadhr.
† A note informs us that it in reality was a Christian church, dedicated to St. Thaddeus.
separate station in it. Their peer or sheik reads prayers, every one at intervals crying out 'amen;' and this is the whole of their worship. It is true that they pay adoration, or at least a sort of worship, to Mellek Taous, the figure of a bird placed on a kind of candlestick. They will not spit into the fire, or blow out a candle with their breaths. When the sun just appears above the horizon, they salute it with three prostrations. When they are taxed by the Christians and Turks with having no books, they say it is because God has so peculiarly enlightened their minds as to render books and a written law unnecessary. Several mounds of ancient debris were seen in the country around this village."+
Next day, proceeding by a path through defiles and over hills, Mr. Rich reached the convent, which is situated on the mountain of Makloube, overlooking the course of the Bumadus or Ghazir-su, and to which he ascended by a steep path winding up the face of a precipice. This edifice, he observes, "has much the appearance of a stronghold, being composed of two large towers, or buildings resembling towers, at each extremity, united by a common wall. Had this curtain been embattled, and the wall a little thicker, it would pass for a very tolerable baron's castle of the fourteenth century. It is situated on the very edge of the precipice, and the bare rock rises immediately behind it, in which, indeed, are ensconced many chambers and parts of the structure. It is, in short, built in the abrupt face of the mountain, like a martin's nest; and the general plan is not very easy to describe. It consists principally of the aforesaid towers, and two courts between them, with an infinity of little detached holes, nooks, and chambers; but, from a great many of them now being in ruins, it is evident that the whole establishment must at one time have been much more considerable. Indeed, it formerly seems to have been a place of strength, for Tamerlane took it by storm. He assaulted it from the eastern side of the mountain, and entered just above its southeast angle. There were then works built on the rock, which is now unprotected, and commands it. The present habitable part, and the church, which is in the southeast angle,
It is the figure of a cock, and is produced but once a year for the purpose of worship.
t Rich's Koordistan, vol. ii., p. 69, 70.
have been recently fitted up under the protection of the Pacha of Mosul's brother, Hajee Osman Bey; but the skeleton of this part of the design seems to have been preserved. In the highest part of the enclosure up the hill are seen some lines of large stones, part of the original building. This convent belongs to the Jacobites, and the abbot is always a matran or bishop. The present incumbent is an old man; and, besides himself, he has only one monk, and a lad who is educating for the priesthood. According to the abbot Matran Mousa, the convent was founded in 334 A.D. by Mar Mattei, a saint, and companion of St. George, who fled from the persecution of Diocletian, and took refuge here. Having by his prayers healed the daughter, named Havla, of the King of the Assyrians, he obtained permission to build this convent. But this, to the best of my recollection, is recorded in Assemanni in a much more authentic manner.*
"The famous Gregory Bar Hebræus or Abul Faraj is buried here.
"From the terrace of the south tower, where we are lodged, we have a noble and extended view, comprising the whole of Alexander's operations, from the passage of the Tigris to the arrival at Arbela after the battle of Gaugamela. The Bumadus meanders at the foot or southern extremity of this mountain, and I am now told it rises just below Amadieh. I can trace the Zab plainly."+
From this elevated position the geographical lines of the country were easily comprehended. The mountains of Accra, with the loftier peaks of Zagros rising behind them, are plainly visible in the northeast; and a place is mentioned, called Ras ul Ain-the head of the waterstan old convent at the farther extremity of the plain of Naokor, through which flows the Ghazir-su. In the neighbourhood of this establishment there were found several caves and grottoes, partly natural and partly artificial, the interior of which contained many inscriptions in the Stranghelo or old Syriac character, in which the more ancient manuscripts are written.
* According to Assemanni, it was founded, together with one to St. Jonah, in the time of Shapour, king of Persia, and was called Chuchta. † Rich's Koordistan, vol. ii., p. 73-76.
Ras ul Ain is a common name for such localities. Query: Can the Ras ul Ain of Mesopotamia (the ancient Ressaina) have any pretensions to being the Resin of Asshur or Nimrod?
Leaving this place, Mr. Rich proceeded to the town of Al Kosh and the convent of Rabban Hormuzd, situated in a range of subordinate hills in front of the great Kurdish Mountains. Crossing the ridge which divides the valleys of the Gomel and the Khausser, he passed the villages of Seid Khan, Sirej Khan, and Girghiaour to Al Kosh. The Yezid capital Baadli, the residence of Meer Sheik Khan, a chief of very ancient family, and recognised as head of all the Yezidees, lay only three hours distant northeast of Sirej Khan, where he halted for a night. The country was inhabited by Kurds and Yezidees; and at that village he and his followers were entertained by the performance of a musician who played them many national airs. He speaks of the latter people in terms of high praise. "From what I have seen and heard of the Yezids," says he, "they seem lively, brave, hospitable, and good-humoured. They were delighted at this village to see us, and entertained our people most hospitably. Under the British government much might be made of them."*
The country now became broken and confused, consisting of ravines, bare ridges of crumbling sandstone, with only here and there a patch of vegetation where the soil admitted of it; and it is observed that the Mosul territory appeared well cultivated wherever it was susceptible of improvement. After ascending for some time, a gentle descent brought the party close to Al Kosh, a little way up the mountain, having on their right a fine extensive plain, very well improved and studded with villages. Baadli, which is nine miles distant, under the bare hills, near a defile whence the Gomel issues, is situated in the territory of Amadieh. On the left, while descending, was seen a large artificial mound, which gives its name, Girghiaour (the infidel's hillock), to the place; and several other such tumuli of greater or less size were scattered about. Of Al Kosh, which is entirely a Chaldean town, Mr. Rich tells us but little, as he did not visit it, choosing to proceed at once to the convent of Rabban Hormuzd. From his observations, that the Al Koshites are a very stout and independent class of men, who can muster about 400 musketeers, we gather that it is not either large or populous; and perhaps it may derive its chief interest from having been the birth and burial place of the Prophet Nahum,
Vol. ii., p. 87.