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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper

34.802075, 38.996815

Friday Feb 26. [26 February 1909] Dense fog. Went up onto Chahf ez
Zaqq but there are precious little remains on it. Off at 7.15. At 8.10 the
path goes behind the hill of Mahariz where there are vestiges of ruins
(I believe) but I did not see them in the fog. Soon after the road went
quite close to the river and at 9 we came to some caves. The place
is called Kdiran (Kiepert calls it Ghiran). We turned inwards again; at
9.30 the fog lifted and showed an immense grass plain, quite flat and
very dull. It is the camping ground of the 'Anazeh in the summer.
Camels of the Weldeh on it. I found in the rocky ground a lovely small
iris growing on a short stalk out of narrow glaucous leaves. It was
grey with a bold yellow stripe down the inside of the outer leaves. At
10.55 we came to Billaneh by the river. You see it from a long way off
because it is a ziarah and marked by great branches and trees stuck
into the ground by the graves. Fragments of the marble columns of
the temple that once stood there also mark the modern tombs. The
site very fine; the Euphrates comes down to it fan shaped through
many channels gathers itself up, broad and deep, into a single
stream and sweeps under the temple and beyond it round a wide
bend. The Karakol marked in Kiepert is old and ruined. The new one
is a little higher up the river. We left Billaneh at 11.10 and rode till
11.35 through thickets of Tarfa [Arabic characters], saghl [Arabic] (a
thorny bush just coming into leaf) and alga' (blackberry). Under a low
ridge of hills called Billaneh also. We lunched by the river under the
thorn bushes, very delightful and hot. Left here at 12.30 and shortly
after saw and caught up the baggage. All the way here along the river
the Tarfa grows - sometimes into quite respectable bushes. But the
Arabs cut it for fuel and the cattle and horses eat it. At 3 Tell 'Abd 'Ali
where there has been building, but no stones are left only little
mounds. The baggage came in 10 min. later having marched 71/2
hours. We are camped very far from the river. There are 2 tents of the
Afadh about 1/2 a mile off and we sent one of the Arabs with a girbeh
to bring us water. He did not return till after 6.30 but the muleteers
brought up some in our pail when they went down to water the horses.
Wonderful clear sunset. A cloudless sky with a half moon. Temp. 47?
at 7 o'clock. Barom. rising. We can see from the tell the hills behind
Raqqa [Ar Raqqah]. A very loud owl like a boy crying to sheep.

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