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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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

33.223191, 43.679291

Wed Ap 21. [21 April 1909] We had all our shopping to do this
morning so we did not get off till 7.30. I spent the time in walking up to
the castle which stood to the N of the present town. Nothing remains
but a great fragment of the door which led probably to the bridge over
the small ...... to the S of the mound. It has a round tower on either side
of the door. It is built of pebbles and concrete. Round the edge of the
top of the mound fragments of similar pebble and concrete. I bought
from a boy a very interesting bit of plaster work with a woman on it - I
think Arab. Then rode out to the tombs of the 'Arbain. We passed
through the city wall of pebble and concrete, the line of it clearly
visible. At the 'Arbain 2 domes standing on squinches, very rough,
covered with plaster decoration, double columns and arches like the
Imam Dur; and one or two ruined - also plaster work which I
photographed. I take them to be of the same age as the Imam Dur.
Humeidi Beg's servant had been to see me at breakfast and gave
me the names of some of Ferban's sons: Bedr, Ahmeh, Zaid and
Maizar. We rode from 7.30 to 10.55 over an interminable bare upland
out of sight of the river. Then went down onto the low ground by the
river which was partly covered with corn and irrigated from the river
and from wells. I think it belongs to the Tekrit [Tikrit] people. A sheikh
of the Jebur rode with us, Khalaf el 'Ali, rather taciturn. He said the
'Abeid had recently raided the Shammar and carried off sheep. The
Shammar are hereditary foes with the 'Anazeh and the Yezid. A few
showers of rain after which a wind rose. Very hot; temp. at 4, 85?. At
11.45-12.5 lunched under the cliffs below Kal'at Rayyash. It has
almost entirely fallen down into the low ground; only a few traces of
mud towers can be seen. The Tigris is eating away the right bank
and destroying the path every year. The baggage caught us up and
we rode on together. Fattuh became a muleteer at the age of 13 when
his father bought him 5 horses. At 18 he had 15. He worked first with
his uncle who was the best muleteer and carriage driver in Aleppo
[Halab] and drove all the camels - so Fattuh came to know them. He
travelled twice in the winter to Wan. In a caravan every 4 animals
have to have a muleteer. At 18 F. went into partnership with another
man; they bought the animals together and Fattuh did the travelling.
Then he fell ill and lost all he had made. Selim was once the
possessor of near £2000, but "idhuma timsik masari." He made his
money by emigrating Armenians "inhazzim" said F, a curious use of
the 7th form! Each one gave him £15 and he made a lot of money.
Then he drank and lost it all. Now he has nothing and he works
chiefly at smuggling "inhazzim" tobacco out of the mts to the north.
When F. began life all the muleteers were Xians, now all are Islam.
My Samarra soldier, Salih has come on with me and one from Tekrit,
Khalaf el 'Asi. He says the Shammar rule here with a rod of iron.
Mejwal ibn Farhan and his son Muhammad ibn Mejwal raise a tax
from all the Jebur along the river. These Jebur used to keep mares
but they don't any longer because the Shammar siezed them. They
also tax all caravans between Tekrit and Mosul [Mawsil, Al], a beshlik
for every mule and half a beshlik for every donkey. A couple of
armed men hold them up on the way and exact the dues. They being
poor and feeble, have to pay. The govt has built a kishla at Khan el
Kharnin and put into it from 40 to 50 foot soldiers who are absolutely
useless as they cannot pursue the Arabs. Mejwal holds the country
from Baghdad to Mosul, and El 'Asi bn Ferhan between Mosul and
Diarbekr [Diyarbakir (Amida)]. Hameidi is however[?] amin. We got
to Khan el Kharnin at 2.20. It has been a wonderful building but has
been destroyed to build the kishla. A beautiful mihrab. Extraordinarily
interested to see by the vaults the tubes of Khethar [Ukhaydir]. Some
Chaldaeans from the mts N of Mosul are travelling with us. They say
they are friends with no one but the English. Islam and Armenians
hate them. We have too some Moslems from the hills about Mardin.
All these hill people wear trousers and pointed felt caps with a turban
wound round. The Chaldaeans speak Chaldaean. The son of one
old man is being educated at a missionary school at Urmi[?]. [Written
at top of page:] The tell near Khan el Karnina is Tell Libdah (or El

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