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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper
Egypt » Cairo

30.0444196, 31.2357116

Sarre, Friedrich

Wed 27 [27 January 1909] Did some shopping and went to see
Moritz. He was just going out so I went to Ibn Tulun, photographed the
Mihrab caps, the 2 plaster plaques and the other plaster decorations,
and so back to the library. Moritz told me Sarre has done Resafa and
showed me the Hatra [Hadr, Al] book. The only inscription seems to
be Syriac - he says the Parthian kings have Syriac names. There are
some interesting masons' marks, some appear to be Syriac letters
the other are Heaven knows what. In the absence of inscriptions the
place remains an enigma and must be dug. We talked of the Hittites.
He thinks the Mitani empire lay between Tigris and Euphrates and
never crossed the latter. Sinjirli is Khatti. He spoke of Carchemish
[Barak (Karkemis)] as being at the junction of the Sajur and the
Euphrates and that that must be the site. I showed him on
Oppenheim's map that it lay further north. He knows the site (Jerabis?
Jerablus [Jarabulus]) and says the town there must have been small
though he thought it was Carchemish. I begin to doubt whether Mr H.'s
site is not the true Carchemish. Moritz advised me to go down the E
side of the Euphrates from there as there are a number of towns to be
identified there and nothing has been done. So there I shall go. I saw
and subsequently bought Oppenheims's publication of his figures.
They are near Ras el 'Ain [R'as al 'Ayn[?]]. Note the remains of a
bridge over the Euphrates on what was the great road from Carrhes to
Hierapolis. The country through which that track passes is probably
not desert though S. of it is desert. In the afternoon walked into the
native town past the Barkukich to the stone mosque there. A stone
plaque on the faÁade very closely resembles Coptic wood work
panels - what a jumble of motives and nationalities there is here! The
mosque by the (Edina[?]) gate I visited again. It also is very
interesting. Some fine Byz. caps in it. It is falling more and more into
ruin yet the stucco decoration round the arches is splendid. So to
Sultan Hassan which I vow they have ruined by restoring. It consists
now of acres of stucco covering all the masonry, indescribably bare
and horrible. So home to tea. The first day in the East is perhaps the
day when one's impressions are sharpest. I felt myself seeing the
world with another perspective - perhaps a truer one. Here was a
world content to exist, pass its little day and vanish, content perhaps
with the knowledge that before it passed it had laid the foundations of
all the existence of the future - the physical foundations if no more and
after all they matter the most. "They live in eternity" said Ernest "like
the ancient Egyptians" We who take ourselves so desperately in
earnest are probably doing no more and with a vast deal more of
agitation. Ernest came to fetch me at 7 while I was talking to Mrs
Ogilvy, Mr van Lennep's sister. As we drove out to Deir el Kubbeh we
talked of the impossibility of European govt. over Orientals: ultimately
they must find their own salvation. A delightful dinner with him and
Muriel in their charming house. They say Gorst is doing everything
exactly contrary to the way the Lord did it, and succeeding. The
Khedive is reconciled for the moment, the nationalists are disunited
and without a leader. But crime increases - the fault, says Ernest, of
applying a Code NapolÈon with a European system ........ evidence.
Ernest drove me back.

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