Diaries

22/2/1909

Mon. Feb 22. [22 February 1909] When the sun rose at 6.30 he found me breakfasting outside my tent and very glad to see him for there was a sharp E. wind. Went up onto the Tell where there are a number of cut stones - lintels or door jambs? - but no inscriptions. They say a marble stone was found near the mill at the 'Ain with pictures on it, but the Arabs broke it. A woman cursed us for not giving money to her baby and immediately after Jusef's horse fell down! One man said Ibrahim Pasha passed here with 800 horse. Left Serin at 7.35 with Jusef and Hajj M. and rode down the valley towards the Euphrates. We saw Kala'at en Nejm in front of us. Turned up a bare valley to the left and came to a great cave inhabited by Arabs with a curious inscrip. in it - script unknown. This was 8.55. Rode on up the valley and out onto a wonderful rolling marj[?] with a few black tents on it. There are only Arabs of the villages round about but when the grass grows all the 'Anazeh camp here. Their chief Sheikh in these parts is Hakim Beg. So down to Mas'udiyyeh on its tell 10.20-10.40. On the top of the tell is a house and I saw outside it one of the pavements described by Oppenheim, but the other with the inscriptions has been washed away. The baggage caught us up here and we rode on over a long stretch of sand. At 11.10 passed near a small Tell called Tell el Banat which lies about a mile from the river. A few minutes later we passed by some tents of Sheikh Hamud of the 'Amirat who come down here. At 12 we reached a ridge of hills and by a graveyard I got off and lunched till 12.30, the baggage going on. At 12.30 we went on through a pass between the bare rocky hills and at 1.30 were down on a wonderful stretching grass country bounded by the Euphrates on one side and a semicircle of low hills on the other. In the centre was a hill called El Kulaib and the soft light lay over all. This land belongs to the Weldi; we saw their black tents scattered over it. So down to the wide reach of sand called Er Ramleh and Er Ramaileh, by the Euphrates, and there we found a small encampment of 8 tents, one of which belonged to Sheikh Sallal of theWeldi. His son Muhammad came out to welcome us. He took us to his tent and made coffee and presently Sallal came in. He had been to Meskeneh [Maskanah] with locust's eggs which they destroy there. As this is not Govt. country the Arabs are not paid for the eggs. Sallal is in reduced circumstances owing to a quarrel with the Govt about (I think) his brother who was taken for a soldier and deserted. Whereupon the Govt siezed Sallal's flocks and clapped him into gaol for many months, first in Deir [Dayr az Zawr] and then in Aleppo [Halab]. Finally he sold his best mare for £37 and got out. Now he has nothing and Heaven knows how they live. He asked Hajj M. about the new Govt and received no encouraging answer. Hajj M. thought Liberty in these parts an empty word; many men were still killed every week in Aleppo and for his part he did not know what the envoys did that they sent to C'ple [Istanbul (Constantinople)]. We talked of Ibrahim Pasha whom Sallal pronounced a great robber; he used to descend upon them and carry off their cattle. On the rising ground behind the tents are little mounds each of which has a ring of great stones round it. I saw 5 of these and in the biggest were foundations of rectangular chambers. Stones lay also about the tents, but very few cut stones. I think it must have been a Byz. place for Muhammad had a Byz. coin found here. When he had shown me all Muhammad said reproachfully "You haven't laughed once, not when I showed you the ruins nor when I told you the names of the hills." There is a big Chiflik on the other side of the river, with its centre at Abu Galgal. It reaches to Meskeneh. The inhabitants of Chifliks do not do military service. Fattuh saw a ragged Arab this morning who came begging for tobacco. He was riding a mare worth £200. Only eggs here; we paid 4 metaliks a piece for them. Cold wind all day but this evening after sunset it is 58? in my tent.

Previous page