Routine maintenance is scheduled to take place 26/04/2024 23:00 - 27/04/2024 08:00, some images on the site may not load during this time.

Request a high resolution copy

Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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

34.9310361, 36.2430833

Tues 14. [14 March 1905] Off at 7 with the Zabit and the other 2
soldiers and Mikhail to Drekish [Ad Duraykish]. We rode through
valleys. The mules went direct to Husn Suleiman by a different route.
Got to Drekish a little before 9. In an olive grove at the foot of the
village 4 frock coated notables were waiting to receive me. Others
joined us on the way up till my procession had swelled to 12 or 13.
The Kaimakam was waiting on top of his steps to receive me. His
name is Riza al 'Abid [Arabic characters] and he comes of a high
family and is of the Arabs Muwaly (Maulai). He is cousin to Izzet
Pasha and a very pleasant man. We went to his official room and
drank the necessary coffee some 30 people sitting round. Then he
took me into his own house where I saw his wife, an attractive little
Damascene. The Beg has a house in Damascus [Dimashq (Esh
Sham, Damas)] near the Consulate. There we lunched, the beg and I,
the Kadi who spoke very elaborate Arabic (whenever he cd
remember) Muhammad Ali Effendi the Zabit, one Ahmed Effendi who
has property near Tartus and another 10 or 12 cousins - very pleasant
talk, a great deal about the Jap war. I enjoyed it all thoroughly. After
the guests had gone I had a little talk with the Beg who told me he had
relations in Yemen and in the extreme south in the Hedramant but he
did not dare to communicate in any way with his Yemen people. He
is sick of office and wd like to get out of it and take to commerce. He
says Izzet Bey is also weary of it. The latter is the only Syrian in very
high office. I ought to have visited Yahmur but it is too far off near the
sea. They say the foundations are very old. So I rode off at 11.45 with
Muhammad Ali, one in plain clothes whose name was Ra'ib Effendi Al
Helu [Arabic]. We rode over the very tops of the hills and left spring
behind and after 23/4 hours or rather less we came to Husn Suleiman
which lies in the top of a valley. It consists of an oblong temenos with
an enclosing wall of very big stones and 4 gates, of which the N is the
principal. Inside is a temple with columns like pilasters in the wall.
The W end is standing and seems to have been raised like the
Temple of Jupiter at Baalbek. To the E of it is the altar, a platform built
of fine stone work with a very beautifully cut inscription on it. I found
violets flowering on the great wall. The largest stone is at the NE
corner and has a lion carved on it. I take the temple to have been
built by the builders of Baalbek. At the NW corner a spring flows out
from under the wall. There is another spring lower down which is the
principal source of the river. The peasants say there are Kabbu,
'Akut, that is underground vaults beneath the temple. To the N is
another enclosure, the wall built of smaller stones. At the SW corner is
a small temple in ante with 2 columns of which one stands. Round the
top of it runs a classic cornice of the simplest kind, rather flat
moulding. Over the door is an eagle and there are nail marks of
letters. In the centre of the N wall are the remains of an apse which is
also round outside. Steps lead up to it and there are the bases of 4
big columns much broken. In the middle was a church with a round
apse against the E wall. The ground plan seems to have been thus
[sketch] to the S of this church there are some steps but whether they
belonged to the church or to the classic apse I cannot say. Probably
to the latter. They come up from a door in the S side of the wall.
Puchstan dug here a little. Great ivy plants on the walls. The ground
falls away on the W side of the temenos and the W door is now high
above the level of the earth below. I was provided with 3 lambs 4
chickens and some eggs. I refused the lambs, the soldiers eat one
and took the others - all for nothing I afterwards heard. My 3 friends
dined with me. My tents were pitched on a charming lawn below the
W wall. A few Nosairieh hovels about the temple.

IIIF Manifest