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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

37.518974, 42.453714

Monday May {18} 17. [17 May 1909] Off at 5.30 with Jusef and Reshid
leaving the caravan to follow. We rode over wide uplands, in great
part entirely uncultivated and covered with small oaks. It reminded
me rather of the slopes leading out of the Belka towards the desert -
from Gilead to Road[?]. Very little water. No streams but
occasionally deep rain water pools in the valleys. At 6.30 we passed
a ruined site marked in K [Kiepert]. At 7.5 the small village of Salak¸n
(Moslem). At 8 Middeh (K. Middo) Xian, on the further side of a deep
dry gorge. Then we got into the oak woods. At 9 we saw Irmez about
a mile to the S. and at 9.25 'Arba also about a mile to the S. It is Xian.
At 9.45 we came to the ruined Der Mar Shim'un in a valley below Ba
Sabrin [Basbirin]. I stayed here till 10.35, examined it and lunched. It
has no architectural interest. The church is a chapel without aisles, 2
engaged piers on either side of the nave, very high walls and a vault.
The half caps of the piers are built and plastered - no decoration. To
the S. of it lies a kind of vaulted narthex separating it from the central
court of the monastery in which is a vaulted cistern or spring. The
monastic buildings are vaulted chambers on the N., W. and S. of the
court. So we rode on to Der Barsanma[?] which we reached at 11.20.
Stayed there till 11.45. It is inhabited by one young priest and
distinguished by its high rather tapering rectangular tower. There is
the usual central court with the cistern, rooms to the N, the tower to the
E, then you enter the monastic buildings a single chamber which
leads into the church which lies to the S of it. The church is again an
aisleless chapel with one engaged pier on either side. Vaulted and
very rudely built. (All these buildings are of rough feld steine.)
Through the monastic chamber to the E you pass into other vaulted
rooms, totally dark and with pools of water on the floor. So we rode up
to the village of Ba Sabrin [Basbirin] and went to the small monastery
of Miriam el 'Adda. A tiny chapel to the N of the court with one
engaged pier on either side, very rude, remains of rude fresco -
angels; monastic chambers to the W of the court. Curious stone built
book rests in the court on which the priest lays the holy books when
he celebrates the feast of the monastery. So on to the principal
monastery Mar Dodo. It is very large, surrounded by a high wall. The
church lies to the N of the court with a narthex along the S side of it.
The single nave has 4 engaged piers on either side. The whole
building is very rude and unskilful. For instance the apse is not
covered with a semi dome but with a barrel vault and the corners of
the walls are roughly built in to simulate the half circle [sketch]. There
is a porch over the narthex door and a stair to the left leads up to the
top of it where there is an inscrip built into the wall saying that the
church was built in 1510 Seleucid. But the inscrip. is modern. To the
right of the porch on the E side of the court there is a big niche with a
semidome. Engaged caps on either side rough Corinthian and a
cross in relief carved over the semidome. The monastic chambers
lie to the N, W and S. So we rode down the hill and lay under a tree
waiting for the caravan, I slept. Ba Sabrin was almost destroyed 2
years ago by Kurds from Midyat way and many of the inhabitants
killed. The caravan came up and we went on 3/4 of an hour through
vineyards to Sare. After tea went into the village to see the Parthian(?)
stele. It is a square column, perhaps an altar(?) with an inscrip. on one
side and the figure of a man on another. The other 2 sides much
ruined. Found the Agha of the village, who is the chief Agha of all
these parts, [space left blank], entertaining friends. Went into the
church but was driven out by the fleas. It seemed however interesting.
Two piers in nave with 2 barrel vaults running N and S. Then the
sanctuary. The priest declared that the fleas were swept out every

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