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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Gertrude Bell
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1 entry, paper

Sat 25. [25 March 1905] Spent the day at Tarutin watching the
Americans work. Mr Butler planned a lot of villas of the usual
courtyard type this sort: [plan] stables in the corner. Many Arab
additions which had rows of columns down the middle of the rooms
instead of the arches for roofing. He said the big temple at Paestum
was the only classic example of a room with a row of columns down
the middle. Some of the houses had towers at the corner. We also
found a fortified tower with loophole windows and an inscription
saying it was a fort and giving the date of the 5th cent - era of .........
always used here. Most of the inscriptions are dated. One on a villa
was of the 4th cent - none earlier I think. Inscribed tombs and
sarcophagi. After lunch we discovered the big central ruin to be a
huge church with a narthex and a great triple arched door leading into
it. It had all been built round by a later wall probably by Arabs to
convert it into a fort. Diaconicum [sic] and prothesis, apse square
outside and curved in. The whole surrounded by a wall which also
enclosed a small building to the S, with a triple arched gate, a room
and an outer stair. The S wall of it had been broken later to make a
mihrab. All the work horrid, uncut Corinthian capitals, strange
aberrations of the Tuscan order, sometimes rude Ionic (one of these
had isthis[?] on it) Always the same very badly cut scroll pattern of
lintel and jamb and the circle with the cross and perhaps AW in the
middle. Sometimes (this is specially true of the military building) the
carved lintel is set on uncarved jambs so that the side moulding
breaks off abruptly. So here. They had a hideous plan of carving the
capital and the top bit of the column all in one piece which entirely
destroys the effect. 6 pointed stars often in the corners of the cross
besides or instead of the letters. Stone doorways roughly decorated
with incised patterns the same on many of the arches. Mr Butler said
this work, bad as it was, was much better than that of the black stone
country out of which they had come (Tarutin too is black stone) and is
a half way house between it and the beautiful building to the W. The
black stone is very difficult to build with. It slips. Dined with them and
had a pleasant evening. One of my former muharis, Muhammad, who
went with me to Palmyra [Tadmur] is with them. Great recognitions.

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