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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper
Hogarth, D.G.

34.802075, 38.996815

Tues. Feb 16. [16 February 1909] I got up at 5.45 but a heavy shower delayed loading and the baggage was not off till 7.50. We left at 8 and got in to Bumbuj at 3.15; the baggage came in at 4.45, a long day. We rode across the sort of valley there is at El Bab [Al Bab] and onto rising uplands all cultivated. The barometer went up 250ft at the highest part of the road but dropped again to the same point as at El Bab when we got to Bumbuj. It may however have varied a little by reason of the strong wind we had during the day. There was a little rain but not much. About an hour after leaving El Bab we were joined by a charming Circassian from Bumbuj, Mahmud Agha. His father came from Russia but he was born at Bumbuj. They went first from the Caucasus [Bol'shoy Kavkaz] to Roumeli where they settled down and built houses; then the Russians took that land also and they again left all and came here where they are well content. But if the Russians came again wallahi he didn't know where they wd go. We reached Arime in 31/2 hours. There I saw the inscrip. on the column copied by Mr Hogarth and in a house a large stone with an inscrip. of Melek ez Zaher [Arabic characters] that was all I cd read. Also above this place a fragment of a bas relief with a pair of feet and one single foot, in shoes not pointed and not I shd think of any period before Rome. Mahmud Agha told me that all the Arab fellahin in the villages had no votes because they wd not register themselves. If they but thought they were "written down" in the books of the Govt. they would all take to flight at once. At Bumbuj and round about there are only 1000 voters out of a much larger possible number. He had a vote and knew the names of all the Aleppo [Halab] vilayet deputies. He also told me that now all people were equal, all were to have equal justice and none were to wait for months before the Seraya cd be got to attend to them - and then only with bribes. He saw no difficulty as to Xians serving in the army but thought they cd not rise very high in the service. Fattuh was away when the election took place. He is not inscribed. Before we reached Bumbuj we saw a great kanat on either side. Mahmud said they came in to the town from all sides but the E (where the water runs down to the Euphrates) and still bring water. There is a large and very deep pond just inside the ruined line of the walls at Bumbuj, fed by an underground spring. We put up at a khan and I went out and photographed the sacred pond and walked half round the line of the walls till I came to the site of the theatre. The Circassians have dug down into the walls and taken out the stones. There is a great open space within them scattered over with featureless ruins. Then I visited a little mosque with a Ziyara of Sheikh 'Akil. He was living in Bumbuj, Mahmud told me, when Timur Long beseiged the city. He sent me a message to the Sheikh who had a great reputation saying he intended to take the town. The Sheikh asked him to wait 3 days and on his advice during those days the inhabitants themselves ruined the city. Whereupon Timur passed it by. Near the khan is a new mosque built by the Sultan on the site of a mosque of Melek ez Zaher's. Nothing was left of the latter but a ruined minaret (I doubt whether Murray is right in speaking of an inscrip. of Salah ed Din - the 3 now remaining are all of M. ez Zaher) this was pulled down and the new and very ugly mosque built. Below its pavement they found another which they say belonged to a Xian church. There were a good many columns about and one cap. but it was antique not Xian. When the mules came in I watched them being watered in the sacred pool. The cold wind dropped and my room is large and comfortable with my own furniture, but the double door won't shut by a good inch and more. Tomorrow the Euphrates and plans of Carchemish [Barak (Karkemis)] and of joining my camp at Tell Ahmar [Tall al Ahmar] in the evening having been stopped by Hajj Muhammad: "Oh my brother! it is the Euphrates." Remember a greeting from an old man with a donkey and a rifle: "Whither going in peace?" "To Carchemish." How often must that have been said!

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