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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

Reference code
Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper
Iraq ยป Tikrit

34.5990025, 43.675025

Tues. Ap 20. [20 April 1909] Got off at 6.15 and rode up to the mosque
where I took some measurements till 6.50. We rode N along what
was evidently a main street of the town. On either side the rectangular
enclosures of the houses and gardens were quite clear and one cd
plan the city here. At 7.20 we came to an immense enclosure in the
angle of the Nahrawan, no doubt the palace of Mutawakkil. The
towers were a cheval in the walls. Towards the NE side there were
long ridges of mounds - parallel chambers? - but he seems to have
been content with a building of libin and jeis[?], at least I saw no brick
foundations. But there may be some near the river. So to the Jisr er
Resas of which the brick foundations on either side of the canal still
remain. The canal itself very striking. So across the plain, caught up
the baggage and passed it. Near Dur we met a lot of the inhabitants
going out with rifles to meet a caravan coming from Samarra - they
were anxious about its safety. There are no nuktas on this side of the
river. About a week ago a great flock of sheep was carried off by the
[space left blank]; they were brought back by the soldiers of Samarra
and we saw them peacefully eating dust under El 'Ashik. We got to
the Imam Dur at 8.25 and stayed till 9.40. There was a regular town of
storks on the shoulders of the pointed dome. I sent for the key and
there presently appeared a charming sheikh. I believe they were
unwilling to let me in, but my soldier Salih said I was a govt. official (I
often pass for an engineer here) and I was allowed to go in. It is
covered with plaster decoration right up to the top of the spire, but
rough, not like the beautiful work of the great Samarra ....., though it is
the direct descendant of it. To the S is a small mihrab niche. Where
the plaster has peeled away there are traces of coloured decoration
below. Meantime a kind man washed the plaster off the marble
inscrip. by the door and we found the date - 871 AH. When I took out
my purse to give tips there was nothing in it but a few piastres - nasib!
So we rode on a little distance from the river and came down onto the
low ground at 11.15 and lunched till 11.40. Cloudy, a little rain fell and
some wind rose. We rode on to the Kubbeh which is I think called es
Sanam. It is reported to be a church which I think it certainly is not, but
all that remains is a squarish tell with remains of a libin wall on one
side. So we rode down to the ford or rather ferry. Tekrit [Tikrit] stands
finely over the river but all the castle has disappeared. We got to the
ferry at 1.20; wind and a high shahtur, we had an awful business. I
went over first with the baggage and lay on the smelly strand reading
the Weekly Times till Fattuh came over with the baggage horses
about 4.45. We then went up through the town and camped on the
high ground behind. I had a visit from Hamdy Beg ibn Ferban of the
Shammar. He is here on some business connected with the sheep
stealing. His tents are S of the Sinjar. He says the new govt has up to
now been only talk and that so far from their [sic] being any
improvement, things are worse than before, and crime more frequent.
If any terms are to be made with the Arabs, Adl[?] is needed and
absence of corruption. He says Ibn er Rashid's maternal uncles are
ruling for him and are strong men. Ibn Sa'oud is dead from the results
of a wound. There is a rumour that the Parl. in C'ple [Istanbul
(Constantinople)] is dissolved.

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