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PALMYRA AND ZENOBIA. CHAPTER 26.

FOLDING STONE DOOR (HAURAN).
FOLDING STONE DOOR (HAURAN).

CHAPTER XXVI.

On our arrival at Mejdel, Sheikh Hazimeh was absent, but his son, a handsome lad of fourteen, received us with hereditary courtesy and hospitality. In Mejdel we could once more move about without our revolvers, and without wishing we had eyes in the backs of our heads to guard against sudden surprises. However, as I wandered in the suburbs of the village, I became the object of a very ridiculous demonstration.

I had left my colporteur with the crowd, and while copying an inscription at the end of the village, a Bedawi woman came up and slipped her hand into the open pocket of my coat. The action was so quick and skilful that I did not perceive it. Finding that she had only secured a central fire cartridge, she returned it to me with a look of disgust. She then commenced a jerking Bedawi dance, shouting or singing with a shrill voice. "Walla, w'alla, look at the smallness of his legs!" Her screams and laughter drew a crowd of Bedawi women, and they immediately [302]

TELL SHEEH¬N.
TELL SHEEH¬N.

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fell into a ring round me, and all clapping their hands together, joined in the chorus, "W'alla, w'alla, look at the smallness of his legs, just like pipe shanks!" When they saw that I rather enjoyed the scene, the din became deafening; but a Druze came to my rescue, and they all slunk off to their lairs, withered hags as they were.

These women belonged to a sub-tribe of the BedawÓn, which is always stationary in the neighbourhood, and while the Druzes protect them, they act as "hewers of wood and drawers of water" to the Druzes. They have the same gipsy appearance wherever seen. They are small and lean, have sharp, pinched features, which are all covered with blue marks, and their clothes are a bundle of grimy rags. They all have the same deep-set, small, piercing eyes, and the same uncombed but buttered locks.

DRUZE TANTUR.
DRUZE TANTUR.

At Nejr‚n we first came [305] upon the Druze women wearing the tea fur, or wonderful horn, which in many places they have since ceased to wear. The horn is a silver tube from twelve to twenty inches long, and three or four inches in diameter, tapering to the top. It is like a drinking-glass, greatly elongated, open at the bottom and closed at the top, and it is generally embossed with flowers and arabesque patterns. The horn is placed with its mouth on the tarboosh, or red felt cap, on the top of the head, slanting forward, and it is fastened by strings attached to hooks on the horn, and passing under the chin and behind the head. Over the horn a white veil is thrown, which falls down over the shoulders, and a hair rope passing round the head outside the veil keeps the horn in its place. The head-dress is then the shape of the "grenadiers' hats" winch we used to make of rushes.

The remainder of the toilet of those horned females consists of wide calico trousers, and a kind of blue calico shirt failing over all to below the knees. The feet are generally hare. In this strangest of costumes, which gives a "Mother Hubbard" appearance, they engage in all works Ė some of them are said to sleep with their horns on at night; and as one secs them going to the wells, with jars on their shoulders, and horns on their heads, they form a very striking picture.

All the women wear massive ornaments, so that on the same arms you will see bracelets of glass, brass, gold, and silver, the one above the other. A well-dressed, fashionable woman in the Hauran will have on her person fifteen or seventeen pounds' weight of jewellery. The Christian [306] women dress exactly like the Druze women, barring the horn. The children all wear little red caps with coins and charms suspended front the tassels.

On the 9th of April we cantered out of Mejdel on a clear bracing morning. Lebanon and I Hermon appeared very distinct, and very high, and the snows on their summits glowed like amethyst as they were lighted up by the rising sun. To the north-cast, Tell Sheehan stood gazing open-mouthed at the unlovely sable flood which it had vomited forth on the plain. The morning shadow lay dark on the month of the crater, showing very distinctly whence came the discharges which now drape the land. We believed we could trace the wavy outline of the fiery deluge that issued from its rugged throat; and the other smaller truncated cones around showed, by the deep gashes in their sides, that they were no idle spectators of the dismal work.

The stones were here gathered out of the fields, and the corn was growing luxuriantly around the cairns. In a few minutes we crossed the Roman road which runs from Phaena to Bosra through the centre of the Lejah. On my previous visit l got a small bustard at this place. It was larger than a partridge, but the partridge was preferred at dinner.

In a little over an hour we reached Suleim, and the Skeikh Abu ShahÓn met us with the ever-ready Druze welcome. The sheikh was very proud of his new house which he had built in the flimsy Damascus style. Into the walls he had built stones with inscriptions and bits [307] of Greek ornaments, as he naively said, to save English-men from ranging through the town to look for them. On one stone there were the figures of two animals like lions, with wings and very long necks. They were much defaced but they seemed to have had the countenances of men.

North-east of the village there is a fine temple in ruins, and hard by the large village cistern. The Druze women,

TEMPLE OF KANAW¬T.
TEMPLE OF KANAW¬T.

as they stooped to fill their jars along the brink of this cistern, appeared from a distance like huge birds with their long beaks pointing down to the water. [308]

DRUZE LADIES OF LEBONON
DRUZE LADIES OF LEBONON

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From Suleim we struck up the hill to Kanaw‚t. The country most pleasantly reminded us of home, ó extensive cultivation and abundant vegetation, and the whole district wooded like an English park. On our left, on the curve of the hill, stood "Kasr Mabroom," a round tower, the most conspicuous artificial object in the whole landscape. We crossed a mountain stream opposite the Kasr Mabroom, and close to the ruined base of another round tower.

RUIN AT KANAW¬T
RUIN AT KANAW¬T

We now ascended among the evergreen oaks of Bashan," doubly pleasing in shade and colour, after the dismal and sterile districts which we had been traversing. Through the breaks in the trees on our left we saw a curious ruin, and, after vainly attempting to bring our horses up to it, we tied them in the thicket and approached it on foot. It was a huge round tower, with the side fallen out of it. The stones of which it was [311] built were dressed, and did not seem very old; but there were hard by a number of foundations of other round towers that had a very ancient look.

A considerable stream flowed close by these towers, and partridges roosted in the oaks that covered them. As we reached the edge of the wady on which the city stood, we came upon other foundations of round towers, one of which, with a little inscription lying beside it, was twelve yards in diameter.

The ruins of Kanaw‚t are among the most important in Bashan, and they date from the early centuries of our era. One of the earliest inscriptions in the Hauran is a fragment (of course rifled from an older structure) now in the wall of one of the churches. In this fragment, Agrippa (presumably the elder) reproaches the people for having lived up to that time as if in the dens of wild beasts and the remainder of the inscription, which is wanting, no doubt called upon them to build themselves houses and live like men. The testimony of Josephus and others corroborates Agrippa's tablets as to the habits of the people up to that period, and the ruins of private houses, as well as palatial residences, stand as proof that, at that time at least, they took to building houses.

From the time of Agrippa to the time of Justinian a gleam of sunshine fell upon Bashan, for to that palmy period of Roman rule belong all her wondrous monuments. Before and after that period, dark and troublous times were the portion of Bashan. But a wave of prosperity then passed over the land, leaving behind it monuments [312] which, in the grace and grandeur of their massive ruins, have been attributed to the giants by travellers of the nineteenth century.

This ruin has been hastily identified as the Kanath of the Bible; but the theory is one that must be thrown down. There is little in the Bible about Kanath, but that little goes to prove that it could not have been at Kanaw‚t.

When the Manassehites were settling into their possessions east of the Jordan, "Nobah went and took Kenath, and called it after his own name" (Num. xxxii. 42). Kanath is but once again mentioned in the Bible (1 Chron. ii. 23); but under its changed name, Nobah, we meet it again, in connection with other towns which approximately fix its location.

When Gideon pursued the flying Midianites across the Jordan, touching Succoth and Penuel in his pursuit, "he went up by the way of them that dwelt in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and smote the host" (Judges viii. 11).

Now, Succoth, and Penuel, and Jogbehah belonged to Gilead (Josh. xiii. 27; Num. xxxii. 35), and Jerome places Succoth east of the Jordan, opposite Scythopolis, 1 at the place where Burckhardt found its ruins. 2

We would thus expect to find Nobah on the east of Gilead, beyond the places mentioned in connection with [313] it, certainly not on a remote mountain distant from them a march of three or four days. But when we read that "he went up by the way of them that dwelt in tents on the east of Nobah," we see from the slightest knowledge of the country that Nobah could not have been Kanaw‚t, for the country east of Kanaw‚t is mountain, and to have gone up by the people who dwelt in tents east of Kanaw‚t it, Gideon must have taken his noble three hundred round behind Jebel el-Druze, into the distant and inhospitable desert, El-Kra.

1Jerome ad Gen. 33. 17. 2Burckhardt's Travels, p. 345. Beisan is now finally identified by the P. E. F. party as Scythopolis.

We thus see the utter absurdity of identifying Kanath or Nobah of the Bible with the Kanaw‚t of the Druze mountain. Kanath must be sought for much nearer Gilead; and it is of the utmost importance, in the interests of Biblical geography, that attention should be called

COIN OF KANAW¬T.
COIN OF KANAW¬T.

to fanciful identifications which have already taken up recognized positions on the maps.

I wish to trouble the reader with as few as possible of these crude identifications; but I should be inexcusable did I give the approval even of silence to so manifestly [314] incorrect identifications as those of the Pharpar, Edrei, and Kanaw‚t.1

There is little doubt that Kanatha, or Kanaw‚t, grew into importance as the summer residence of the Roman rulers of Bashan. It was the sanitarium of the district. Even Florentinus, whose great tomb is at Petra, is supposed to have had a summer residence at Kanaw‚t, and his name remains over the door of a private house to this day. What Simla is to the English of India, and Blud‚n to the European resident at Damascus, that was Kanaw‚t to the Romans, whose presence brought order and prosperity, for the first and last time, to the manifold districts of Basilan.

At Kanaw‚t they had wooded hill and bracing air and ice-cold springs and murmuring streams, and the scene of their stewardship spread out before them like an open book; and so they builded temples to their gods, which were no gods, and when Christianity became patronized by the Constantines, they pulled their temples about and made them into Christian churches. And they had their baths, and their theatres, and their hippodrome, and their promenades. And when the city was plucked from the feeble grasp of the Byzantines, the blight of Islam, whose [315] genius is destruction, fell upon it, and from that period to the present day time and man have united to make this lovely town once more like a burrowing-place of wild

GATEWAY, KANAW¬T.
GATEWAY, KANAW¬T.

beasts. Their success has been considerable; but as we gaze on the airy columns that proudly rise above the oaks, [316] and stumble over statue and column and capital, and listen to the partridge, and see the gazelles roaming tamely through the evergreen parks, and drink the crystal waters, and then turn to the Wondrous landscape, stretching away to Jordan, and Hermon, and Lebanon, we can form still a conception of the paradise which Roman energy and taste created in this mountain dell.

1 In Roman times there were two cities in Bashan, Kanatha and Kanata, and writers have not been sufficiently careful to distinguish between them. I have in my cabinet coins of both cities. Kanatha is Kanaw‚t, and Kanata is supposed (Waddington, p. 519) to be Kerah, a ruin in the vicinity of Bosra. This Kanata has been pointed out with some probability as the Kanatha of the Bible ; but though it answers better to the Scripture account of it than Kanaw‚t, I believe it is also too far distant from the Jordan to be the Nobah, to the east of which Gideon went up with his improvised and famishing little troop.

I was glad the sheikh was not at home, for he was so warm a friend of mine that he would certainly have encumbered us with kindness. Unimpeded by friend or foe, we roamed over the whole ruins but we were not a little surprised to find that all the men carried arms ready for use, and wherever we came upon any one suddenly his first instinct was to grasp his weapon.

I returned from my explorations, having sold every book I took with me.

The women are just like those we spoke of at Mejdel, and they wear an additional red robe under the blue one, doubtless necessitated by the greater altitude of the village. The horn is more common, and the size and weight of the numerous bracelets worn on the same arm are more striking. They all have a trick of drawing the veil that hangs from the horn coquettishly over the face, leaving only a little hole for the right eye to peep through, óa bright eye in a sooty setting.

The Druze women were all busy, and always busy, nursing babies, kneading bread for food or dung for fuel, or carrying water in jars, or grinding at the mill, or making rays and baskets of straw, or spinning with the distaff. [317]

A short distance up the hill from Kanaw‚t we came upon the interesting ruins of Sia. The temple was dedicated to our Lord, King Herod the Great," and was adorned with groups of sculptured birds and animals, and festooned fruits and flowers. Herod's statue, of which one foot remains, was destroyed probably by the early Christians, who bore no good-will to the murderer of the infants.

This monument to Herod the Great is exceedingly interesting, when taken in connection with a statement by Josephus. Herod commenced the work of civilization in Bashan, and Josephus (Aut. Jud. xvi. 9. 2) tells us that "he placed three thousand Idumeans in Trachonitis, and thereby restrained the robbers that were there." On the stones about there are Idumeans inscriptions, and it has been plausibly conjectured that Herod placed the three thousand in Kanaw‚t, and that they erected the monument of Sia. And this conjecture seems almost certain, when we remember how badly the great king's efforts at civilizing these wild regions were appreciated; and, indeed, so unpopular was he with the people, that a monument could only have been erected in his honour in a place protected by his garrison.

Descending from Kanaw‚t, we passed one of the loveliest ruins in the Hauran. On a knoll to the right, a number of beautiful Corinthian columns stand on a raised platform, towering over the wooded landscape. Time has made gaps among them, so that they stand charmingly irregular, like the trees of the field around them. [318]

We passed down to AtÓl through a lovely wooded country, in which every piece of open ground waved with luxuriant wheat. Streams murmured between grassy margins, and the air was heavy with the scent of hawthorn

PERIPTERAL TEMPLE AT KANAW¬T.
PERIPTERAL TEMPLE AT KANAW¬T.

and other blossoms, and on the grassy slope our horses crushed, with iron heel,

"The little speedwell's darling blue;
Deep, tulips, dashed with fiery dew;
Laburnums, dropping wells of fire."

When our minds wandered, led by the association of ideas, to the days that are no more," we were generally abruptly called back to the reality of our position by the [319] appearance of some ruffian among the trees, braced in the antique armour of his hereditary robber race.

In AtÓl, the ancient Athila, there are two temples and many inscriptions, one of which was addressed to the Idumean god Theandrias, who was worshipped elsewhere in Bashan, especially in Bosra. Several broken statues, some of them equestrian, are lying about, and there is one fine bust built into a garden wall.

Here first we met the Druzes armed and excited, but as yet we did not know the cause. A young Druze, who was once in a Protestant school, recognized me, and we had a good sale of books.

The whole village pressed upon us more familiarly than was pleasant, and I found one man whose hand had strayed into my pocket. He seemed greatly amused when I asked him if that was an ordinary custom among them.

We discovered in AtÓl a wonder such as no traveller has, I believe, seen in the Hauran since or before. It was nothing less than a Druze woman reading a book. She had the "notable horn between her eyes," like the other unicorns, and was sewing with her book propped up before her. The book was a manuscript, written, she said, by a Magraby, containing the traditions of the Pharaohs; but it was really a miserable work on magic. I could not get her interested in the Bible, but she bought a copy of "Henry and his Bearer" in Arabic.

Here, during a halt of an hour, we sold thirty-three different books; and when we left, an armed Druze followed us for a tract, and as he paid for one he snatched [320]

RUINS OF KANAW¬T
RUINS OF KANAW¬T

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another by force from the colporteur, and ran away with it in triumph.

From AtÓl to Suweideh our path lay for the most part along the Ronan road. Nothing in that land gives one such an idea of the earnest, stern purpose and iron will of those old Roman teachers of order as that road, striking straight as an arrow over rock and hollow, through the whole length of this dismal land. We passed what seemed to have been roadside inns at regular intervals on the road.

RUINS AND DRUZES, KANAW¬T.
RUINS AND DRUZES, KANAW¬T.

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