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A Catalogue and Library of Arabic Works.
ed in this region. The two ranges of mountains come close together; and here I suppose was the “ entering in ” of the land of Hamath.
There are two objects at Hůrinel of peculiar interest. One is the ru. ined convent (cavern) of Màr Marón, the founder of the Maronites. It is bewo out of the solid rock, immediately over the great fountain of the Orontes, a dark prison-like construction, more resembling the stronghold of a bandit, than the peaceable abode of the ministers of Jesús Christ, and strikingly emblematical of the dark, fierce, boorish sect, which traces its rise to these dingy caverns. The other curiosity is a very large monument about two miles east of the fountain, called el-Kâmo Hurmul. It is built of large hewn stones, is twenty-five feet square at the base, rises seventy or eighty feet, and is terminated by a pyramid. The four sides are covered with figures of various animals, intermiogled with bows, arrows, spears, and other implements of the chase, in alto relievo, beautifully executed, and as large as life. This monument is in full view of Riblah, which lies on the river below. Can it have been the work of Nebuchadnezzar, when he was encamped here, and designed to commemorate bis conquests ? Or is it a great hunting trophy, erected by sotne one of the chase-loving Seleucidae ? I can meet with no description of this wonderful monument in any book of travels. The style of architecture will not contradict the first supposition. There is no inscription in Greek ; which would hardly have been the case, bad it been constructed by that scribbling people. They could hardly set up a stone in this region, without joscribing something upon it; and had this monoment, in some respects the most singular one now standing in Syria, been erected by any of the Graeco-Syrian monarchs, they would hardly hare failed to put at least their name upon it.
I passed up between the two ranges of Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon to the water-shed between the Orontes and the Litàug, near 'Ain (see Num. 34: 11); and so by way of Ba'albek and Zâbleh to my residence at Abeih.
My colleague, Dr. De Forest, was so much interested in my account of this route, that he set out to visit it a short time after my return. Following my directions, and having more leisure, he visited both sides of the lake Kedes, passing on the east as he went, and returning on the west side from Apamea. He also visited Selemqa east of Hamath ; and thinks he has discovered the site of Shepham, Num. 34: 11.
A little society of intelligent Arabs, mostly young men of Beirút, has lately been commenced; one of whose objects may possibly interest you. They are preparing a descriptive catalogue of all known works in Arabic; and these will prove to be more numerous than was supposed. When they shall have made this as complete as possible by corresponding with literary men in Egypt, Bagdad, Damascus, Aleppo, and other centres of Arabic learning, and by the catalogues of European libraries, it will be prepared for the press by Nasif el-Yazagy, the best native Arabic scholar now known in this country. I hope they will be able to print an English translation in parallel columns. Having then the name, character, subject, and value of all Arabic works, it is a part of their plan to use this catalogue as a guide in the purchase of books for an Arabic library.
May we not hope, that this undertaking will not only give a new impulse to the study of this noble and wide-spread language ; but that it will also aid in the effort to revive a taste for improvement, which bas slept for so many centuries in these oriental countries. With the revival of literature will be introduced the press with its mighty and transforming agency. As these young men are generally not wealthy, and the forming of an Arabic library will be expensive, the work must of course advance very slowly. Still, in fifteen or twenty years, a good deal may be done. I remain, with great respect, yours, etc.
W. M. Thomson."
I subjoin a few remarks upon some of the names of places mentioned in the above letter, viz. those printed in Italic.
Valley of Salt. This is the celebrated valley or lake of salt, now called es-Súbkh, about eighteen miles south-east of Aleppo, near the village Jebûl. It is described by Maundrell (p. 213), hy Pococke (II. p. 168), and more particularly in Russell's Nat. Hist. of Aleppo, I. p. 55. In winter the rains and torrents, with a few springs, convert the surface into a shallow but extensive lake. In summer the water evaporates, leaving a crust of salt of various thickness and quality. This is broken up, sorted, and carried to Jebûl; where it is dried and windowed, and thence sold to all parts of the country; furnishing indeed the main source of supply for all northern Syria.-It is related of David (2 Sam. 8: 319) that he undertook a military expedition in order to extend bis dominion to the Euphrates; and being attacked by Hadadezer, king of Syria-Zobah, he routed him and subdued the whole of northern Syria. After an enumeration of the rich offerings which David made in the temple on this occasion, it is immediately added, v. 13: “And David gat him a name when he returned from his smiting of the Syrians (ons) in the valley of Salt, eighteen thousand men." All the circumstances, and the vicinity of the Euphrates, leave little occasion to doubt, that the valley of Salt here named is that above described. It is true, that in the parallel passages, 1 Chron. 18: 12, Ps. 60: 2 (inscr.) we find the reading Edomites instead of Syrians. This has evidently arisen in the course of transcription, by the change of a single Hebrew letter (07% for 698). These passages all obviously refer to the same event; and a change of the name being here unquestionable, it is much easier to account for the substitution of Edom for Syria, than vice versa.
The later Jews were far more familiar with the neighhoring Edomites, than with the regions of northern Syria ; and would be very likely to confound this distant valley of Salt with that at the south end of the Dead Sea mentioned on another occasion in connection with Petra ; 2 Kings 14: 7.
Khunåsereh is mentioned by Abulfeda as siluated in the border of the descent about two stations south-east of Aleppo. It was at one time the seat of a Khalif Omar, of the line of the Ommiadae. But since the days of Abulfeda the name bas been entirely lost to modern geography; and
· The best maps for consultation are those of Berghaus and Hughes; the latter in the Atlas published by the London Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, No. 98.
El-Bara, Apamea and Seijár.
now re-appears for the first time. See Abulf. Tab. Syr. p. 170, ed. Köh
El-Bâra. This place was visited by Niebuhr in 1766, who writes the name Berua, in Arabic Birúah ; also Kefr el-Berha ; see Reisebeschr. III. p. 95. Burckhardt took it in his route from Aleppo to Hainath in 1812; he writes it correctly el-Bâra. He says: “ The mountain of Riha, of which el-Bâra forms part, is full of the ruins of cities which flourished in the times of the lower empire ; those of el-Bâra are the most considerable of the whole ;” Travels in Syria, p. 130. Both he and Niebuhr speak of the remains of public buildings, churches, and private dwellings; and especially of three tombs,-plain square structures surmounted with pyramids, one of which has fallen. Niebuhr, misled by the similarity of the name, seems to regard this as the ancient Beroea of Syria ; but the specifications of all ancient writers go to make that place identical with Aleppo; Cellarius Not. Orb. II. p. 362. But without much doubt, el-Bâra, as suggested by Niebuhr, marks the site of the city Albaria destroyed by the crusades in 1098; see Robert Monach. lib. VII, io Gesta Dei per Francos, p. 67.
Apamea was a large city on the valley of the Orontes, often mentioned by Josephus and other ancient writers; see Cellarius, II. p. 354. In the time of the crusades it was still a flourishing and important place nnder the Arabic name Fâmieh, and was occupied by Tancred; it is also described by Abulfeda as situated near an extensive lake in the valley; Wilken Gesch. der Kr. II. p. 274. Abulf. Tab. Syr. p. 114, 157. On the strength of these notices the name Fâmich has continned to be inserted on modern maps down to the present century; although both the pame and the site bave long been forgotten in those regions. Niebubr beard at Aleppo in 1766, that the site of the former Fàmieh was now called Kulat el-Mudik ; Reisebeschr. III. p. 97. Burckhardt in 1812 found the castle of this name occupying a hill projecting into the valley of the Orontes, not far from the lake et-Tâkah; and although he could not enter it nor examine the neighborhood, yet he fixes upon it as the probable site of Apamea; Trav. in Syr. p. 138. In connection with the Euphrates expedition in 1835, Mr. Ainsworth visited this region, and speaks of Kŭlat el-Mudik as the site of Apamea, and as exhibiting “ruins of a highly ornamental character. Part of the town is enclosed in an ancient castle situated on a hill; the other ruins lie in a plain; part of a strong wall and an archway still exist, and also remains of a temple. In the adjacent lake are the celebrated black-fish, the source of a distant commerce ;" see Journ. of the R. Geogr. Soc. 1837, p. 414, 415. The above account by Mr. Thomson is still more full and satisfactory.
Seijár is at the point where the Orontes issues from the mountain ridge which it breaks through below Hamath ; a bridge here crosses the river. On the suminit of the range on the west bank stands a castle ; which in its present state is from the times of the later Khaliss; but the many remains of Grecian architecture, fragments of columns and elegant Corinthian and Doric capitals, indicate that a Greek town formerly stood here. It is doutbless the site of the ancient Larissa of Syria, situated between Apamea and Hamath. See Burckh. Syr. p. 143. Cellarius, ib. p. 356.
Riblah, situated at the elbow of the Orontes, was first seen by Buckingham in 1816; he writes the Arabic name Rabla instead of Ribleh, and appears to have had no suspicion of its identity with the Riblah of Scripture ; Arab Tribes, p. 491. It was however recognized by Gesenius; but has since been described by no traveller until the visit of Mr. Thomson.
Laodicea ad Libanam. This place is often mentioned by ancient writers; but the only specifications of its position are found in the Itineraries. The Itinerary of Antoninus places it between Emessa (Hums) and Heliopolis (Ba'albek), at eighteen Roman miles from the former and sixty-four Roman miles from the latter. The Peutinger Tables give it at twenty Roman miles south of Emessa. These distances, so far as is yet imperfectly known, accord best with the site of Jûsy, three or four miles south-east of Riblah, on the side of Anti-Lebanon. “It was said to be a large city, and to bave pillars and aqueducts and castles in it; and below it, on the plain, about two miles to the north of it, was another tower called Jûsy el-Jedid. The former was now entirely deserted ; but the latter still retained some inbabitants ;” Buckingham, Arab Tribes, p. 490. All this accords well with an ancient site upon the mountain; while the name and the inhabitants have apparently been transferred to the plain. Compare the similar case of Sarepta, now Surafend; Bibl. Res. III. p. 412—414.
Source of the Orontes. The remotest source is a rivulet coming from Anti-Lebanon near the village of Lebmeh ten or twelve miles north of Ba'albek. This little stream flows through the plain, and approaches the western hills that skirt the foot of Lebanon near Hůrmul; where it unites with the waters of the large fountain spoken of by Mr. Thomson. This latter is usually regarded as the head of the Orontes; the natives considering not the most distant, but the most copious fountain, as the proper source. The same is true in relation to the sources of the Litâny, the Barada, and the Jordan. A large volume of water “springs with some violence from a natural basin in the rock, of a triangular form, measuring about fifty paces, and nearly concealed on each side by trees and bushes ;" see W. B. Barker in Journ. of the R. Geogr. Soc. 1837, p. 99.—The cavern now called Deir Már Márûn or Convent of St. Màrôn, was known in Abulfeda’s day as Mūghârat er-Râhib, the Monks Cavern; Tab. Syr. p. 150. The reference of it therefore to the founder of the Maronites, may not improbably be of later date.
The Monument described by Mr. Thomson near Hůrmul is unique, and deserves the early and attentive examination of travellers and antiquarians. It was seen across the plain by Buckingham, who merely speaks of it as
a high and large tower, seen at a great distance, and called Koormee ;" Arab Tribes, p. 489.
'Ain is most probably, as suggested, the Scriptural name occurring in Num. 34: 11, and obviously situated south of Riblah. It lies vorth of Lebmeh, and is therefore north of the water-sbed. It is mentioned by Buckingham, ib. p. 487.
III. THE SABBATICAL RIVER. RAPHANEA. The famous Sabbatical River of Josephus (B. J. 7. 5. 1) has recently been identified, by the Rev. W. M. Thomson, with a large intermitting fountain near the Convent of Mâr Jirjis and the castle el-Husn north of Lebanon ; see Silliman's Journ. of Science, Nov. 1846. This fountain had already been noted by Burckhardt ; Trav. in Syr. p. 150. There can be no question as to the identity; and thus another incidental proof is given of the general correctness, and trustworthiness of the Jewish historian. On two points, however, there is perhaps room for future elucidation. Josephus describes the river as “ between Arka which belonged to Agrippa's kingdom, and Raphanea.” Arka is situated at the north end of Lebanon not far from the coast, and doubtless made part of Agrippa's original kingdom of Chalcis ; this latter city having been situated in the Bůkâ’a, not far from Ba'albek; see Jos. Antiq. 14, 3. 2. The text of Josephus therefore needs here no change. As to Raphanea, which Mr. Thomson supposed he had found at some distance north of the fountain, there are several historical notices which serve to fix it in another place. Raphanea was still a town of importance in the time of the crusades. In 1126 King Baldwin II. subdued it, in connection with Count Pontius, who had for a long time pressed hard upon it from a castle he bad built upon a neighboring mountain ; Wilken Gesch, der Kr. II. p. 527. This castle was called Barinum, in Arabic Bårin, and came at last from its importance to supersede the name or mention of Rapbanea itself; Wilken ib. II. p. 605 u. 652. It was destroyed in 1236; ib. VI. p. 557. lo like manner Abulfeda testifies, that the castle Bârîn was founded by the Christians about 1120; and that in bis day it was a small place with ruins and ancient substructions, called Rasaniyeh, situated a day's journey south-west of Hamath; Tab. Syr. p. 107. In accordance with all this, Burckhardt while on bis way from Hamath to the castle el-Husn, at the distance of ten or eleven hours from Hamath, was pointed to a ruined castle on a mountain, an hour from his road, called el-Bârin ; Trav. in Syr. p. 155. The coincidence is complete; and there can be little doubt but that these ruins mark the position of Raphanea. The ancient name of the city has been supplanted by that of the modern castle ; as in the parallel instance of Apamea described above.
LITERARY AND MISCELLANEOUS INTELLIGENCE. Vatican Library. This library was founded by Pope Nicholas V. in 1447, who transferred to his new Vatican palace the Mss. which had been collected in the Lateran as early as the fifth century. The present building was erected by Sixtus V. in 1588. The library has been augmented from time to time by various purchases, bequests and donations. In this work, Leo X. was particularly active, sending agents into distant countries to collect Mss. The great body of the treasures, especially of Vol. IV. No. 14.