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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Gertrude Bell
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1 entry, paper

Mon. Feb 15. [15 February 1909] Very warm and misty. I got up at
6.15 and we got the baggage off at 8. I have with me 3 muleteers; Hajj
Amr who was with me when I went to Antioch [Antakya (Hatay)], Habib
and Selim. The two first are to get £T2 a month, the latter £T3. I have
2 soldiers who are to go to Rakka [Ar Raqqah] with me, Abbas
Chowwish a Turk, and Hajj Muhammad. I left at 8.30 with Abbas and
Mr Mygind who rode out with me for an hour and a half. Beautiful warm
morning. We talked politics, English and German relations etc. He
said he had found our Consular service better than theirs; both {in Urfa
[Sanliurfa (Edessa)] and in} Young[?] and Major Dickson had been
his best sources of information for their towns. In Baghdad when the
Committee asked the leading consuls to a function, the English and
French went and the German refused because he had no instructions.
He thinks if the Constitution breaks down it will be the fault of the
Xians. We parted with many expressions of esteem. Abbas
Chowwish and I rode on together and presently Jusef rode up from
behind (he had been with the mules) and joined us. Fattuh did not
appear till long after, having been detained at the post office. The
country is monotonous, rolling cultivated ground. They work the fields
every second year. Last year the locusts came and this spring the
ground is full of the {crysalises} eggs. We saw the peasants
grubbing them up and the govt pays them by weight for the eggs.
None the less they do not work at it very hard and I expect there will
be a plague of locusts this year. The eggs are only in the
unploughed ground and wherever they are the ground is pitted as if it
had smallpox. We passed by Sheikh Najar and Sh. Ziyad where I
went up to see the Ziyara but there was nothing old in it, only a clay
tomb. We left Serbes to the right and did not see it - it was beyond a
ridge. There was a very small modern village called Shammar about
half way. Several Tells and a good many cisterns - jubl - cut in the
rock. After 5 hours riding we came to Tell el Hal which was one of the
best examples of an old site with a mud village lying under the Tell.
Just before it was a column base with a moulding at the spring of the
shaft and beyond the village in the graveyard were a number of
fragments of columns. I climbed the Tell but found no pottery of any
interest. Fattuh joined us soon after we left Tell el Hal. We saw the
high minaret of the Ziyara above El Bab [Al Bab] an hour before we
reached it. We got to El Bab at 4 - 71/2 hours and the mules took
exactly 9. Went to the Khan. We had a shower of rain in the morning
and one in the afternoon, nothing much. Walked out into the town and
saw a ziyara with a stone dome and some rather nice but rough wood
work before the tomb. Then climbed to the high Ziyara of Sheikh
Hashil. The foundations of the building are certainly old big stones,
dressed round the edges and left rustic[?] in the middle. The actual
tomb was locked. From the minaret fine view of the beautiful fruitful
plain, strewn with villages, reaching up to the Jebel Hass. I counted 4
tells in it, no doubt all artificial. As Fattuh had not been there I had
lunched off a bit of bread from A. Ch. and a little chocolate in my
pocket. I also had no tea so I was very hungry when my dinner came
in at 7.30.

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