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"the El Koshite," who was of a Jewish family that resided here during the captivity of Nineveh. Israelites from all parts come on pilgrimage to his tomb.
Having passed very near this town, the party turned to the right, where, about a mile higher up, in a rocky defile or opening in the mountains, was the convent, and which from thence wore a most imposing appearance. "Nothing," it is remarked, "was clearly distinguishable but a heavy square building of a dusky red colour, hanging quite over a precipice, like some lama pagoda. The dark clouds rolled over the summit of the mountain almost down to the convent, and greatly increased the gloominess of its aspect, and its apparent height. We seemed to be retreating from the world, and entering on some wild and untried state of existence, when we found ourselves in the rocky strait by which it is approached. The situation appeared to be well chosen for devotion, but devotion of a savage and gloomy character. The hills gradually rose very soon after the slope had terminated. An immense torrent, now dry, had brought down prodigious fragments of rock. Keeping along its edge, we reached, at eleven o'clock, the entrance of the defile along a rocky and rough road. This defile expands, and scoops out the mountain into a kind of wild amphitheatre, in which, not half way up, the convent is situated. It was only the latter part of the road which was very steep. The red building we had seen from afar was part of a church, or, rather, churches, there being several together. All the amphitheatre, from the top to the bottom, is full of little caves and grottoes, those near the church, and extending up the rock far above it, being appropriated to the use of the monks, of whom there are fifty, only four or five of whom are priests. Each monk has a separate cell, and the communications between them are by little terraces. The rocks are craggy and broken, and of fine harmonious tints, being of freestone, of which the church is built. It stands on a platform elevated from the precipice; but very little of the ancient fabric remains.
"We arrived at half past eleven. We were accommodated in rather an airy lodging, in a kind of sacristy or chapel adjoining the church. Our people established themselves as well as they could in the surrounding caves, and the horses we sent back to the village.
"In the afternoon I went to vespers. The congregation of rustic, dark-looking monks, together with the gloominess and simplicity of the church-which is merely a narrow arched or vaulted room, with no light but what is admitted from the small dome-might well remind one of the solitude of St. Saba. Indeed, the monks were not less Thebaid in their appearance, being dusky-looking men, clothed in the coarsest manner like peasants, but more sombre in their colours, their gown being of a dark blue or black canvass, with a common abba or Arab cloak of brown woollen over it. On their heads they wear a small scull-cap of brown felt, with a black handkerchief tied round it. The priests are rather better clothed in black dresses, with black turbans on their heads. The monks are of all trades-weavers, tailors, smiths, carpenters, and masons, so that the wants of the convent are entirely supplied by the convent itself. Their wants are, indeed, very few, the order being that of St. Anthony, and very rigorous in its observances. The monks never eat meat except at Christmas and Easter. Sometimes, indeed, if any of their friends bring them a little as a present, they are not forbidden to eat it; but no meat is provided for the convent. The daily food is some boiled wheat and bread, and even this in small quantities. Wine and spirits are altogether prohibited; and none but the treasurer is allowed to touch money." To this account the editor adds in a note, that "the monks live separately and alone in their cells when not employed at their work, and are forbidden to talk to one another. A bell summons them to church several times a day; besides which, they meet in the church at midnight for prayer; again at daybreak; and at sunset, when they retire to their cells without fire or candle. Some of these cells are far from the others, in very lonely situations, high up the mountains, in steep places, and look difficult to get at by day; how much more so in dark and stormy nights! They are surrounded by wild, plundering tribes of Kurds, who might come down and murder them in their different retreats, without their cries for help being heard; but their poverty preserves them from such attacks. There were several young men among them, who had retired here, being, as they told us, weary of the world, and hoping to find rest in this solitude, and acceptance with God through religious exercises of a painful and
mortifying nature. They did not look happy or healthy, and we are told they die young." ""*
The monastery was founded, according to the abbot's account, by Tomarsa, patriarch of the Chaldeans at Seleucia or Ctesiphon, between A.D. 384 and 392. Assemannit says that Rabban Hormuzd, the bishop, was martyred about the thirty-sixth year of the persecution, and the sixty-sixth of the reign of Shapour; and it appears that John Sulaca, who was ordained Patriarch of the Chaldeans at Rome in 377, lived at the monastery of Rabban, which seems to have then consisted of fifty monks. Rabban Hormuzd is said to have been afterward the residence of the Nestorian bishop, the Catholic-Chaldean one residing at Diarbekr.t
This Hormuzd, who is reported to have been the son of a king of Persia, and put to death for his faith, is the grand national saint of the Chaldeans, whether Nestorian or Catholic. His body was brought from Persia and deposited here.
"The quantity of caves and little grottoes all over the hollow of the mountain or rocky amphitheatre," continues the traveller, "is quite surprising. An earthquake filled a great many of them, and the natural ruin and crumbling down of the mountain has also obliterated multitudes. The monks say they frequently discover grottoes in clearing away rubbish. It is not likely that this immense number of grottoes, dispersed at all heights and distances, should have been purposely constructed by the founder of the church; yet that the greater part cannot be natural is quite evident on the slightest inspection. Some may possibly have been made in cutting stone; but this cannot be the case with by far the greater number, as their form testifies, being small, oven-like excavations, with a little aperture, and sometimes two, for a door and a window. One or two of those which I entered had two stone beds or niches in the wall, exactly as if they had been intended for the reception of dead bodies, like those at Kufri. They may all at one time have served for this, and this immense amphitheatre have been no more than a dakhmeh or burying-place of the old Persians. Some of the lost Syriac
Rich's Koordistan, vol. ii., p. 90-93.
† Vol. i., p. 525.
Rich's Koordistan, vol. ii., p. 94, with note to ditto and Assemanai, vol. i., p. 528, note.
and Chaldean manuscripts would in all probability have thrown light upon this curious place. There were formerly kept in this convent about 500 volumes of old Stranghelo manuscripts on vellum; but they were thrown together in an old vault on the side of the hill, a part of which was carried away by a torrent, and the books, being damaged, were deemed of no farther value, and, consequently, were torn up and thrown about. Some scattered leaves were shown to me, which were unquestionably of the highest antiquity. Manuscripts are fast perishing in the East, and it is almost the duty of a traveller to rescue as many as he can from destruction."*
On their way back to Mosul, Mr. Rich and his party passed through Teliskof, that is to say, "the Bishop's Mount," where there are some nuns, but no monastery. These live in the houses of their parents or relations, as they do at Al Kosk, there being no female establishment. Prodigious crowds of Chaldean Catholics assembled to see the strangers, taking pleasure, as it seemed, in beholding a Christian coming among them with something like the appearance and attributes of power.
These villages are described as large and populous. The Kiahya of Tel Keif, a town wholly inhabited by that people, informed our countryman that it contained a thousand houses, in some of which were thirty souls. This may be overrated; but it was certainly crowded with people, who, like most of the race, were dirty, ill favoured, and dark complexioned, and all much addicted to the use of strong liquors.
On his return to Mosul, the traveller visited the remains of the convent of Mar Elias near the town, and the churches of Mar Toma and Mar Shemaoon Sava within it. The former is now a heap of ruins, having been destroyed by Nadir Shah, but still exhibiting some interesting remains. It was founded, according to Assemanni, in the latter end of the sixth century. The church of Mar Toma is unquestionably ancient, and is divided into a centre and two aisles by three heavy-pointed but obtuse arches, supported by octagonal piers. The great door of the sanctuary was surrounded by a border of carved work in marble, containing figures of Christ and the twelve apostles in medallions,
* Rich's Koordistan, vol. ii., p. 94-96.
with twisted scroll-work. Mr. Rich discovered a stone, which, on examination, proved to be adorned with an inscription in flowered Arabic letters of the age of the Sahibs, containing the very chapter of the Koran particularly directed against Christians. "So here," he observes,
had these poor people been devoutly rubbing their foreheads against a monument, of which, had they known its import, they would have had the greatest horror and detestation. I believe the archbishop gave orders for its removal from its present place." The other church is very ancient, and, like that of Rabban Hormuzd, consists of a single room.
Subsequent History of Mesopotamia and Assyria.
Rennell's Opinion of Xenophon's Retreat.-Advance of Cyrus.-Battle of Cunaxa, and Death of Cyrus.-Truce between the Greek Generals and the King. The former advance to the Tigris, and cross it at Sittace. Their March to Opis-And to the Banks of the Zab.-Treachery of Tissaphernes.-Clearchus and other Officers put to Death.Farther Attempts at Treachery.-Defeated by the Prudence of the Grecian Officers.-Xenophon appointed to the Command.-The Greeks cross the Zab.-Are assailed by Mithradates.-Arrangements for repulsing the Enemy's light Troops.-March to Larissa-To Mespila.Struggles during their Progress to the Carduchian Mountains.-Resolve to ascend them in Preference to crossing the River.-Are resolutely opposed by the Carduchians.-Abandon their useless Slaves and Baggage.--Difficulties of the Ascent.-Severe Contests with the Enemy-And Losses.-Cross the Centrites, and pass into Armenia.Change of Dynasty.-Battle of Arbela.-The Seleucida.-Arsacida. -Appearance of the Romans in Mesopotamia.-Reduced to a Roman Province.-First Expedition of Crassus.-Embassy from Orodes.-The Romans driven out by the Parthians.-Second Expedition of Crassus. -Advice of the King of Armenia.-Treachery of Abgarus-Who conducts them into the Deserts of Charræ.-Infatuation of Crassus.-His Army attacked by Surenas.-His Son slain.-The Romans forced to retreat with great Loss to Charræ.-Again betrayed and surrounded.Crassus forced by the Legionaries to negotiate.-Is slain during an Interview with Surenas.-The Army destroyed.-Reflections on the Conduct of Xenophon and Crassus.
ALTHOUGH the history of these provinces, as the seat of a separate nation, undoubtedly terminates with the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus, yet their claim to attention cannot be held to have ceased with their independent exist