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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
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Extent and medium
1 entry, paper

31.8044945, 35.9403631

Fri 10. [10 February 1905] Still stormy but better. Decided to stay one
day more and sent into Madeba [Madaba] for corn. The day
improved and after lunch Namrud and I rode out to Kastal [Qastal, El]
which has been a very big Roman camp I think. It seems to have had
a number of small rooms, vaulted, all round and an open space in the
middle. To the north is a separate building with an immense vaulted
room, a court and a tower, round, with a stair inside it and a band of
carving outside something like this [sketch] as near as I can
remember. In the big building I saw 2 gates to the East and North.
The whole inhabited now by Fellahin. There are two big birkets on
the north and the valley runs down to Ziza [Jiza] where there is an
immense birket. This sail[?] was full of water flowing swiftly and pretty
deep. The Sultan has appropriated the whole of this country as far
south as Ma'an and is going to make an immense chiflik. At Ziza
there is nothing very interesting. The big kal'a I take to be Muslim
work, Soktan of the Sukhur built it up into a house for himself but it has
now fallen to the Sultan. Behind there is what I take to have been a
Xian church with an apse to the east but recent work, and the ruins of
houses. There is a tradition that this place and Kastal was colonized
500 years ago from Nablus [(Shekhem)]; I daresay it's true of Ziza, but
Kastal is older. So we rode down to the Sukhur tents where we dined
with Nahar, a charming person and very handsome. 3 of the Sherarat
came in and finally Kublan cousin of Al Muhkeimir sheikh of the Da'ja
and son of Hamud. He had come on purpose for me, hearing that
Namrud was looking for a guide for someone. We drank tea and
coffee and had a dinner of meat, rice, leban and thin flaps of bread
shirah [Arabic characters]. By 6.30 I was back in my tent. The
weather is settling. I asked Namrud whether the Arabs believed in
Jinn. He said yes, to certain places they dare not go alone at night,
and if a horse turns suddenly aside they say it is because it has seen
a jinnÈ. 5 years ago when I was here cultivation ceased an hour out of
Madeba, now it stretches almost to the railway. There is a little thistly
plant called [Arabic] which makes an excellent salad. There is blood
between the Sherarat and the Da'ja which was the reason Gablan
remained so quiet and why we left with him so soon.

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