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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Gertrude Bell
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Thurs. 6 [6 March 1902] A blustering grey day. Left Soma at 7 with the
first drops of rain and got to Magnesia [Manisa] at 11.30. Mr
Gagossian an Armenian of the American mission and M. Sarandides
disputed the honour of my visit, but I went with M. Gagossian as Mr
Cumberbatch had written to him. We drove off in the rain through the
streets of a charming Turkish town. His house is the Haramlik of the
Kara Osmanli palace and not uncomfortable with big rooms. His wife
and 5 horrid little red faced children with beady eyes received me.
My room was all carpeted with a divan and the portrait of a dead
Armenian lying in bed en frac, but no bed! Texts and bibles galore.
We had a scrappy lunch with all the children. They came from
Erzeroum [Erzurum] where they knew Mr Graves. Their family is from
Bitlis where they suffered during the massacres and most of them
have emigrated to America. After lunch still pouring but I went out with
Mr G. to Sarandides office in the bazaar, then we fetched Mrs G. and
went to see the Sultanieh mosque which is Seljuk and has some fine
stained glass windows and a charming court. Across the way are a
nice old Medresseh also Seljuk and a lunatic asylum where I saw the
men and women in separate courts wrapped in white felts and kept
behind bars like wild animals. I believe when they first come in they
are well beaten to frighten them. We went on to the Mahmudieh - no
this is the place we went inside with the windows, we didn't get in the
other. It has a delightful medresseh near by with some Corinthian
capitals. We passed a good fountain made of a sarcophagus. Then
Mr G. and I climbed up the hill to the 'Ulu Jameh once a church. In the
court are the old columns and capitals, a cross on one column and a
Greek inscription on another. A good minbar inside of woodwork.
We climbed up and had a lovely view of the town; there is a clock
here without a face which strikes the hours; we waited to hear it strike.
On the way down we went into the Dervish Tekke - this is the greatest
dervish place after Conia [Konya [Iconium] - and saw all the felt hatted
dervishes sitting in their cells as comfy as possible. A peach tree
blooming in the court. The rain now ceased and we went home and I
took a carriage with [space left blank] and drove out by a most
muddy road to the Niobe passing over where Sultan Mahmud's great
palace and gardens were - now empty ground with a factory at one
corner. We drove round the foot of the hills on the top of which the
mists gathered and lifted till we came to the rock where she sits, high
up and very old, her body bent over her knees looking down with a
blank featureless face. You can see her knees and the top of the
arms and the breasts, all else but 2 wings like the arms of the seat, is
too disfigured. To the left are 3 Hittite tablets quite effaced, I thought. I
went over the spur to the E and walked along the face of the hill. High
up in the rock is a great tomb, the real tomb of Tantalus - and above
the tiny acropolis on which is the Throne of Pelops hanging over a
narrow dark ravine. Below in the plain is the tiny lake into which the
city of Tantalus vanished. Here one was at the very root of Greek
tradition with the images sung of by Homer before one. Further on is a
great chamber cut in the rock where the hot springs were - sacred to
Apollo I think. I saw it next day from the train. Drove back wet and
cold and called at the Sarandides house where I found the old father
also. Had great trouble in getting them to allow me to go. Got in
about 7 and found the Gs at supper, a meagre repast mostly
prepared on the stove in the room. Knives plates and spoons not
enough to go round. They had put me a bed down on the floor and I
went to bed and slept sound in spite of wind and rain.

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