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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Gertrude Bell
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Tues Feb 9. [9 February 1909] Went in the morning with M.
Roqueferrier and M. Rouflart to Firdaus. On the way we stopped to
look at the ruined minaret by the Antioch gate and found a beautiful
Cufic inscrip. on it. Went to a big cemetary [sic] round the mosque
called As Salihin. Some very good tombs with ornamented Cufic
inscrips and the corners decorated with vine rinceaux with bunches of
grapes. Inside the mosque is Abraham's footstep of enormous size.
This quarter contained the palaces of the Ayyubites. There was also
a Byz. cap which I photographed. Then round across the fields by
various kubbehs. A good many basalt doors - from Jebel el Hass?
So to the Turbeh from which Rouflart got the tomb I saw at the
Consulate. And on to the lovely half ruined mosque of El Firdaus
where there is a mihrab with the bold entrelac above it that I saw at
Meshed Hussein. This mosque belongs to the same period - it was
built by the wife of Melek ed Daher when she was regent for her son.
So home and to lunch with Mme Koch. Bought 10 naps worth of
cylinders from Hajj 'Amr. Then she and I and Rouflart went to the
castle. The {bronze} iron doors are dated Malek ez Zaher. One
doorway is ornamented with an entrelac of snakes, another with a pair
of Mamluk(?) lions. Inside are Mr H's 2 basalt Hittite lions. A great
reception room over the gateway, all ruined. Below it vaulted
chambers in which are built the Jewish gravestones which Mr Christie
told me are dated in the 13th c. Therefore this part of the castle was
probably restored after the destruction by Tamburlane. It was he who
took away the revetment of stones from the castle hill. The oldest
thing in the castle (and in Aleppo [Halab]) is a little mosque built by
Nur ed Din, the last of the Atabegs about 1100. There is a very fine
carved wooden mihrab in it, as good as some of the best Cairo work.
Climbed up the tower for the view. Rouflart went down the steps to the
bottom of the well which is I believe 80 metres deep. He found
vaulted passages for overflow water on either side of it and a Cufic
inscrip. Then went to see Mme Reshhid Bey a very attractive woman
with charming children. Reshid Bey was secretary to the Sultan but
was sent to Jerusalem [(El Quds esh Sherif, Yerushalayim)], she
thinks, because he was suspected of having too liberal opinions. At
5.30 Hikmet Bey editor of the Echo d'Alep came to see me. He is the
son of Nazim Bey who is now governor of Konia [Konya (Iconium)].
The committee consists here of 300 people of whom 7 are chosen by
secret ballot to be the executive committee. I think Hikmet Bey is one
of these 7 and a certain Ismail Bey, an oculist is another. He says for
the next 2 or 3 years the local committees will have to continue their
function of surveillance but they will gradually be merged into a
Parliamentary Liberal, or perhaps it might be called Unionist, party.
They have not a majority in the Chamber at present. The Aleppo
committee has local committees under it in all the smaller towns of the
vilayet. He was at Salonica [Thessaloniki (Saloniki)] for some years
but did not form part of the Committee or know much what was going
on. The paper does not as yet pay. He scoffs at the idea of a
reactionary committee in Diarbekr [Diyarbakir (Amida)]. In the
evening I went to the Club where I was received by Hikmet, Ismail and
others - one talked English. In the little room of the directors of the
Club are a number of horrible objects, pictures and embroideries,
made by the ladies of Aleppo - they are to be sold for the benefit of
the Messina people. In the big hall was a long table with papers on it
and the portrait of [space left blank] Pasha at the end of it. A good
many people, mostly civilians were sitting there. I was taken into a
committee room where the newly formed committee for commerce
was sitting - all sorts, one in a robe and a turban. Then they made me
a great ovation. I spoke to them about the Muristan and they
promised to see to it. We talked of the Alexandretta [Iskenderun
(Alexandria ad Issum)] rly. They said the chief business of the
committees was to educated the people. So I left with Vive
l'Angleterre in my ears.

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