The Land of Midian

Richard F. Burton


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Table of Contents


Part I.

The March Through Madyan Proper (North Midian).

  1. Preliminary — from Trieste to Midian.
  2. The Start — from El-muwaylah to the “White Mountain” and ‘Aynúah.
  3. Breaking New Ground to Magháir Shu’ayb.
  4. Notices of Precious Metals in Midian — the Papyri and the Mediæval Arab Geographers.
  5. Work At, and Excursions From, Magháir Shu’Ayb.
  6. To Makná, and Our Work There — the Magáni or Maknáwis.
  7. Cruise from Maknáto El-‘Akabah.
  8. Cruise from El-‘Akabah to El–Muwaylah — the Shipwreck Escaped–Résumé of the Northern Journey.

Part II.

The March Through Central and Eastern Midian.

  1. Work in and Around El–Muwaylah.
  2. Through East Midian to the Hismá.
  3. The Unknown Lands South of the Hismá–Ruins of Shuwák and Shaghab.
  4. From Shaghab to Zibá— ruins of El–Khandakí’ and Umm Ámil — the Turquoise Mine–Return to El–Muwaylah.
  5. A Week Around and upon the Shárr Mountain–Résumé of the March Through Eastern or Central Midian.
  6. Down South — to El–Wijh–Notes on the Quarantine — the Hutaym Tribe.
  7. The Southern Sulphur-hill — the Cruise to El–Haurá— Notes on the Baliyy Tribe and the Volcanic Centres of North — Western Arabia.
  8. Our Last March — the Inland Fort — Ruins of the Gold-mines at Umm El–Karáyát and Umm El–Haráb.
  9. The March Continued to El–Badá–Description of the Plain Badais.
  10. Coal a “Myth”— March to Marwát — Arrival at the Wady Hamz.
  11. The Wady Hamz — the Classical Ruin — Abá‘l-Marú, the Mine of “Marwah”— Return to El–Wijh — Résumé of the Southern Journey.
  12. Conclusion.


  1. Dates of the Three Journeys (Northern, Central, and Southern) made by the Second Khedivial Expedition.
  2. Expenses of the Expedition to Midian
  3. Preserved provisions and other stores
  4. Botany and list of insects.
  5. Meteorological Journal

To the Memory of My Much Loved Niece,
Maria Emily Harriet Stisted,
Who Died at Dovercourt,
November 12, 1878.

“Gold shall be found, and found
In a land that’s not now known.”


A few pages by way of “Forespeache.”

The plain unvarnished tale of the travel in Midian, undertaken by the second Expedition, which, like the first, owes all to the liberality and the foresight of his Highness Ismail I., Khediv of Egypt, forms the subject of these volumes. During the four months between December 19, 1877, and April 20, 1878, the officers employed covered some 2500 miles by sea and land, of which 600, not including by-paths, were mapped and planned; and we brought back details of an old-new land which the civilized world had clean forgotten.

The public will now understand that one and the same subject has not given rise to two books. I have to acknowledge with gratitude the many able and kindly notices by the Press of my first volume (“The Gold Mines of Midian,” etc. Messrs. C. Kegan Paul & Co., 1878). But some reviewers succeeded in completely misunderstanding the drift of that avant courier. It was an introduction intended to serve as a base for the present more extensive work, and — foundations intended to bear weight must be solid. Its object was to place before the reader the broad outlines of a country whose name was known to “every schoolboy,” whilst it was a vox et praeterea nihil, even to the learned, before the spring of 1877. I had judged advisable to sketch, with the able assistance of learned friends, its history and geography; its ethnology and archaeology; its zoology and malacology; its botany and geology. The drift was to prepare those who take an interest in Arabia generally, and especially in wild mysterious Midian, for the present work, which, one foresaw, would be a tale of discovery and adventure. Thus readers of “The Land of Midian (Revisited)” may feel that they are not standing upon ground utterly unknown; and the second publication is shortened and lightened — perhaps the greatest advantage of all — by the prolegomena having been presented in the first.

The purpose of the last Expedition was to conclude the labours begun, during the spring of 1877, in a mining country unknown, or rather, fallen into oblivion. Hence its primary “objective” was mineralogical. The twenty-five tons of specimens, brought back to Cairo, were inspected by good judges from South Africa, Australia, and California; and all recognized familiar metalliferous rocks. The collection enabled me to distribute the mining industry into two great branches —(1) the rich silicates and carbonates of copper smelted by the Ancients in North Midian; and (2) the auriferous veins worked, but not worked out, by comparatively modern races in South Midian, the region lying below the parallel of El–Muwaylah. It is, indeed, still my conviction that “tailings” have been washed for gold, even by men still living. We also brought notices and specimens of three several deposits of sulphur; of a turquoise-mine behind Ziba; of salt and saltpetre, and of vast deposits of gypsum. These are sources of wealth which the nineteenth century is not likely to leave wasted and unworked.

In geography the principal novelties are the identification of certain ruined cities mentioned by Ptolemy, and the “Harrahs” or plutonic centres scattered over the seaboard and the interior. I venture to solicit the attention of experts for my notes on El–Harrah, that great volcanic chain whose fair proportions have been so much mutilated by its only explorer, the late Dr. Wallin. Beginning with Damascan Trachonitis, and situated, in the parallel of north lat. 28 degrees, about sixty direct miles east of the Red Sea, it is reported to subtend the whole coast of North–Western Arabia, between El–Muwaylah (north lat. 27 degrees 39’) and El–Yambu’ (north lat. 24 degrees 5’). Equally noticeable are the items of information concerning the Wady Hamz, the “Land’s End” of Egypt, and the most important feature of its kind in North–Western Arabia. Its name, wrongly given by Wallin, is unknown to the Hydrographic Chart, and to the erudite pages of my friend Professor Aloys Sprenger, who, however, suspects with me that it may be the mouth of the celebrated Wady el-Kura. For further topographical details the reader is referred to the “Itineraries” of the Expedition, offered to the Royal Geographical Society of London.

Some of the principal sites were astronomically determined by Commanders Ahmed Musallam and Nasir Ahmed, of the Egyptian navy. The task of mapping and planning was committed to the two young Staff-lieutenants sent for that purpose. They worked well in the field; and their sketches were carefully executed whilst under my superintendence. But it was different when they returned to Cairo. The maps sent to the little Exposition at the Hippo-drome (see conclusion) were simply a disgrace to the Staff-bureau. My departure from Egypt caused delay; and, when the chart reached me, it was far from satisfactory: names had been omitted, and without my presence it could not have been printed. With the able assistance of Mr. William J. Turner, of the Royal Geographical Society, who found the work harder than he expected, it has been reduced to tolerable shape. Still, it is purely provisional; and, when mining operations shall begin, a far more careful survey will be required.

As regards archaeology, the second Expedition visited, described, and surveyed eighteen ruins of cities and towns, some of considerable extent, in North Midian, besides seeing or hearing of some twenty large Mashghal, apparently the ateliers of vagrant Gypsy-like gangs. This total of thirty-eight is not far short of the forty traditional Midianite settlements preserved by the mediaeval Arab geographers. Many others are reported to exist in the central or inland region; and fifteen were added by the South Country, including the classical temple or shrine, found upon the bank of the Wady Hamz before mentioned. The most interesting sites were recommended to M. Lacaze, whose portfolio was soon filled with about two hundred illustrations, in oil and water-colours, pencil croquis and “sun-pictures.” All, except the six coloured illustrations which adorn this volume, have been left in Egypt. His Highness resolved to embody the results of our joint labours in a large album, illustrated with coloured lithographs, maps, and plans, explained by letter-press, and prepared at the Citadel, Cairo.

The Meteorological Journal was kept by myself, assisted at times by Mr. Clarke. Mr. David Duguid, engineer of the Mukhbir, whose gallant conduct will be recorded (Chap. VIII.), and Commander Nasir Ahmed, of the Sinnar, obliged me by registering simultaneous observations at sea-level. The whole was reduced to shape by Mr. W. J. Turner, of the Royal Geographical Society.

My private collection of mineralogical specimens was deposited with Professor M. H. N. Story–Maskelyne. The spirit-specimens of zoology filled three large canisters: and the British Museum also received a hare and five birds (Mr. R. B. Sharpe); four bats (Rhinopoma) and a mouse; six reptiles, five fishes, thirty-five crustaceans, and about the same number of insects; five scorpions, six leeches, sixty molluscs, four echinoderms, and three sponges. Dr. A. Gunther (Appendix III.) determined and named two new species of reptiles. Mr. Frederick Smith (Appendix III.) took charge of the insects. Mr. Edward J. Miers, F. L.S., etc., described the small collection of crustaceae (Annals and Magazine of Natural History for November, 1878). Finally, Edgar A. Smith examined and named the shells collected on the shores of the ‘Akabah Gulf and the north-eastern recess of the Red Sea.

The main interest of the little hortus siccus was the Alpine Flora, gathered at an altitude of five thousand feet above sea-level. The plants were offered to Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, of Kew; and Professor D. Oliver, of the Herbarium, has kindly furnished me with a list of the names (Appendix IV.). Mr. William Carruthers and his staff also examined the spirit-specimens of fleshy plants (Appendix IV.).

Mr. Reginald Stuart Poole, Keeper of Coins and Medals, and Mr. Barclay V. Head were good enough to compare with their rich collections the coins of ancient Midian found (Chap. III.), for the first time, at Maghair Shu’ayb1. Some years ago, Mr. Robert Ready, of the British Museum, had bought from a Jew, Yusuf Kalafat (?), a miscellaneous collection, which included about sixty of the so-called Midianitic coins. But the place of discovery is wholly unknown. The Assistant Keeper read a paper “On Arabian Imitations of Athenian Coins,” Midianitic, Himyaritic, and others, at a meeting of the Numismatic Society (November 21, 1878); and I did the same at the Royal Asiatic Society, December 16, 1878. The little “find” of stone implements, rude and worked; and the instruments illustrating the mining industry of the country, appeared before the Anthropological Section of the British Association, which met at Dublin (August, 1878), and again before the Anthropological Institute of London, December 10, 1878.

Finally, the skulls and fragments of skulls from Midian were submitted to Professor Richard Owen, the Superintendent of Natural History; and my learned friend kindly inspected the Egyptian and Palmyrene crania which accompanied them. The whole was carefully described by Dr. C. Carter Blake, Ph.D., before the last-named seance of the Anthropological Institute (December 10, 1878).

The tons of specimens brought to Cairo were, I have said, publicly exhibited there, and created much interest. But the discovery of a mining-country, some three hundred miles long, once immensely wealthy, and ready to become wealthy once more, is not likely to be accepted by every one. Jealous and obstructive officials “did not think much of it.” Rivals opposed it with even less ceremony. A mild “ring” in Egypt attempted in vain to run the Hamamat and Dar–For mines (Chap. III.) against Midian. Consequently the local Press was dosed with rumours, which, retailed by the home papers, made the latter rife in contradictory reports. To quote one case only. The turquoise-gangue from Ziba (Chap. XII.) was pronounced, by the inexpert mineralogists at the Citadel, Cairo, who attempted criticism, to be carbonate of copper, because rich silicates of that metal were shown at the Exposition. No one seemed to know that the fine turquoises of Midian have been sold for years at Suez, and even at Cairo.

There was, indeed, much to criticise in the collection, which had been made with a marvellous carelessness. But we must not be hard upon M. Marie. He is an engineer, utterly ignorant of mineralogy and of assaying: he was told off to do the duty, and he did it as well as he could — in other words, very badly. He neglected to search for alluvial gold in the sands. Every Wady which cuts, at right angles, the metalliferous maritime chains, should have been carefully prospected; these sandy and quartzose beds are natural conduits and sluice-boxes. But the search for “tailings” is completely different from that of gold-veins, and requires especial practice. The process, indeed, may be called purely empirical. It is not taught in Jermyn Street, nor by the Ecole des Mines. In this matter theory must bow to “rule of thumb:” the caprices of alluvium are various and curious enough to baffle every attempt at scientific induction. Thus the “habits” of the metal, so to speak, must be studied by experiment with patient labour, the most accomplished mineralogist may pass over rich alluvium without recognizing its presence, where the rude prospector of California and Australia will find an abundance of stream-gold. Evidently the proportion of “tailings” must carefully be laid down before companies are justified in undertaking the expensive operation of quartz-crushing. Hence M. Tiburce Morisot, a practical digger from South Africa, introduced at Cairo by his compatriot, M. Marie, to my friend M. Yacoub Artin Bey, found a fair opportunity of proposing to his Highness the Khediv (October, 1878) a third Expedition in search of sand-gold. The Viceroy, however, true to his undertaking, refused to sanction any “interloping.”

The highly distinguished M. Ferdinand de Lesseps, when en route to Paris, kindly took charge of some cases of specimens for analysis. But the poorest stuff had been supplied to him by M. Marie; and the results, of which I never heard, were probably nil. The samples brought to England, by order of his Highness the Khediv, were carefully assayed. The largest collection was submitted to Dr. John Percy, F.R.S. Smaller items were sent to the well-known houses, Messrs. Johnston and Matthey, of Hatton Garden, and Messrs. Edgar Jackson and Co., Associates of the Royal School of Mines (fourteen samples). Finally, special observations were made by Mr. John L. Jenken, of Carrington, through Mr. J. H. Murchison, of “British Lead Mines,” etc., etc., etc.; by Lieut.-Colonel Ross, the distinguished author of “Pyrology;” and by Lieut.-Colonel Bolton, who kindly compared the rocks with those in his cabinet. M. Gastinel–Bey’s analysis of the specimens brought home by the first Expedition will be found at the end of Chap. VIII.

The following is the text of Dr. Percy’s report:—

Metallurgical Laboratory, Royal School of Mines, Jermyn Street, London Dec 13 1878.

Dear Sir,

I now send the results of the analytical examination of the specimens which you submitted to me for that purpose. The examination has been conducted with the greatest care, in the metallurgical laboratory of the Royal School of Mines, by Mr. Richard Smith, who, for the last thirty years, has been constantly engaged in such work; and in whose accuracy I have absolute confidence. It is impossible that any one should have taken greater interest in, or have devoted himself with greater earnestness to, the investigation. I have almost entirely confined myself to a statement of facts, as I understand that was all you required for the guidance of his Highness the Khedive.

Section 1.

Examination of the mineral specimens contained in the boxes marked as under.

(An average representative sample of each specimen, of about six pounds in weight, was prepared for examination from portions broken off, or otherwise taken, by Mr. Richard Smith at the Victoria Docks.2

No. 1. “Box 22,” Quartz from Mugnah (Makna). Quartz coloured black and red-brown with oxides of iron. These were of two varieties, marked 22a and 22b respectively.

No. 2. The magnetic ironstone (22a) was examined and found to contain of —

Peroxide of iron (per cent.) . . . .85.29
Protoxide of iron (per cent.) . . . 9.83
Silica (quartz)(per cent.). . . . . 3.28

The oxides of iron together contain of metallic iron 66.8 per cent.

No. 3. The micaceous ironstone (22b) was examined and found to contain of–

Peroxide of iron (per cent.). . . . 91.0
Silica. . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . 5.52

The peroxide of iron contains of metallic iron 63.7 per cent.

No. 4. “Box No. 14,” Quartz from Mugnah, gave no results.

No. 5. “Box No. 27,” Iron from Mugnah, proved to be haematite (which is magnetic), with some red-brown oxide of iron and quartz. It was found to contain of —

Peroxide of iron (per cent.) . . . .75.46
Protoxide of iron (per cent.) . . . 4.69

The oxides of iron together contain of metallic iron 56.4 per cent.

No. 6. “Box No. 7,” Conglomerate from Mugnah, yielded no results.

No. 7 “Box No. 25,” Quartz from Mugnah. This quartz, veined and coloured black and red-brown with oxides of iron, was assayed with the following results:—

Gold and Silver. . .  . . . . None3

Nos. 8 and 9. “Boxes Nos. 50 and 37,”4 Quartz and red dust from Mugnah, yielded no results.

No. 10. “Box No. 37a,” Sulphur from Mugnah. Lumps of sulphur, crystallized and massive, irregularly distributed through a white, dull, porous rock. The latter was examined, and found to be hydrated sulphate of lime (gypsum), with a small quantity of magnesia; some of the lumps of rock were coloured with oxides of iron, and others intermixed with sand.

Nos. 11. and 12. “Boxes Nos. 3 and 6,” Black quartz and white quartz from the Jebel el-Abyaz, gave no results except a small portion of copper pyrites in a lump of quartz (Box No. 6).

No. 13. “Box No. 47,” Quartz from El–Wedge (Wijh), gave only oxide of iron.5

No. 14. “Box No. 5,” Red quartz from El–Wedge, a quartz with red-brown oxide of iron and earthy substances, was assayed with the following results:—

Gold (per statute ton = 3240 lbs.)2 dwts. 15 grs.
Silver. . . . . . . . . . . . . .Traces.

No. 15. “Box No. 16,” Mica schist from El–Wedge. This mica-schist undergoing decomposition from weathering action, mixed with small lumps of quartz, was assayed with the following results:—

Gold (per statute ton). . . . .6 grains.
Silver. . . . . . . . . . . . . .Traces.

No. 16. “Box No. 32,” White quartz from El–Wedge. This quartz coloured with red-brown oxide of iron, mixed with mica-schist, was assayed with the following results:—

Gold (per statute ton). .3 dwts. 22 grs.
Silver. . . . . . . . . . . . . .Traces.

No. 17. “Box No. 48,”6 Red sulphur from Sharm Yaharr, was found to have the following composition, while it was free from “native sulphur”:—

Peroxide of iron (per cent. ) . . .44.36
Sand, clay, carbonates and sulphates of lime and
magnesia. . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . .14.90
Salts soluble in water, chiefly alkaline
chlorides and chlorites, and sulphates of lime
and magnesia. . . . . . . . . . . . . .29.70
Water. . . . . . . . . . .  . . . .11.40

No. 18. “Box No. 48a,” Gypsum from Sharm Yaharr. Partly semi-transparent and granular, and partly dull white and opaque. It was found to be hydrated sulphate of lime, or gypsum, with carbonate of lime, and some sand, magnesia, and chloride of sodium.

No. 19 “Box No. 35,” Dust and stones from Sharma, yielded no results.

Section 2.

Examination of the mineral specimens contained in a box sent from Egypt. As the specimens were unlabelled, they were marked A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I, respectively.

No. 21. A. “Copper ore.” A fair average specimen was prepared for examination from the several lumps of ore and marked a.

a. It was submitted to analysis, and found to contain carbonates of lime and magnesia; silica, alumina, and oxides of iron; and of —

Copper (metallic) . . . .5.72 per cent.
b. A portion of the copper mineral, from which the rock or vein-stuff had
been detached as far as practicable, was found to consist of impure
hydrated silicate of copper (bluish-green chrysocolla) and carbonate of
copper. It was assayed and found to contain of —
Copper (metallic) . . . .23.14 per cent.

No. 22. “B.” A lump of soft, ochrey red-brown ironstone, coated with a thin layer of greyish white substance. A fair average sample, inclusive of this external layer, was prepared for examination, and was found to consist of–

Peroxide of iron (per cent. ) . . .81.14
Water. . . . . . . . . . .  . . . 11.50
Silica. . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . 3.07
Sulphuric acid, lime, magnesia, alumina 4.29

The peroxide of iron contains 56.8 per cent. of metallic iron. The greyish white substance was found to consist of silica, alumina, sulphate of lime, and a little oxide of iron and magnesia.

No. 23. “C.” Lump of red ironstone associated with sand and earthy substances, containing

Peroxide of iron (per cent.) . . . 68.09
Water of iron (per cent.) . . . . . 1.93
Silica and sand. . . . . . . . . .18.17
Lime, magnesia (in small quantity), alumina,
carbonic acid, sulphuric acid (traces) .11.81
The peroxide of iron contains 47.66 of metallic iron.

No. 24. “D.” Lump of white quartz said to contain visible gold. I did not observe any, but found a few minute specks of pyrites, and partially resembling mica.

No. 25. Lump of quartz associated with red-brown oxide of iron. It yielded no results.

No. 26. Lump of rock in which the “turquoise” occurs. There was a thin layer of greenish blue turquoise mineral on one surface, and minute seams of a similar substance throughout the specimen.

a. The layer of turquoise mineral, from which the rock or vein-stuff had been detached as far as practicable, was found to contain phosphoric acid, alumina, oxide of copper, oxide of iron, and water; which occur in turquoise.

b. After the layer a had been separated, a fair average sample of the rock was found to contain 1.69 per cent. of metallic copper. It was also assayed and found to be free from silver7 and gold.

No. 27. “G.” A variety of jasper, having a somewhat polished, and irregular and deeply indented surface, the result of sand-action. The fractured surface was red, with patches of yellow. It was found to consist chiefly of silica, coloured with oxides of iron.

No. 28. “H.” Lump of “sard,” of a pale-red flesh colour. A variety of chalcedony. It was found to consist almost entirely of silica8.

No. 29. “I.” Lumps of pure ironstone.

A small lump of metal9, supposed to contain antimony10 and platinum, was brought for examination by Captain R. F. Burton. It was submitted to analysis, and found to be iron and combined carbon, or white cast-iron, containing small quantities of lead, copper, and silver, and free from antimony, platinum, and gold. It is evidently the product of a fusion operation. A few “shots” of lead were attached to the surface of the metal11.

Dr. Percy concludes the assays in these words:—

Three of the specimens (Nos. 14, 15, and 19) from the same locality contain gold. The amount of gold, however, is small. I consider these indications of the presence of the precious metal not altogether unsatisfactory; and certainly to justify further exploration. My conviction is, that the ancients were adepts in the art of extracting gold, and that, owing to the small value of human labour, they could get out as much of the metal as could now be done. They knew perfectly what was worth working and what was not; and I think it likely that what you have brought home, had been rejected by the ancients as unworkable12. Further search may lead to the discovery of workable stuff; but would doubtless require a good deal of time, unless lucky accident should intervene.

The specimens Nos. 2, 3, 5, 22, and 23 contain sufficient iron to render them available as iron ores, provided they occur in large quantity. The copper present in No. 21a is too small in amount to render it available as a source of that metal [Footnote: Analyses of copper ore from Midian at the Citadel, Cairo, gave in certain cases forty percent.]. If it is practicable on a large scale, by hand-labour or other means, to separate the “copper mineral” (as in b), it would be sufficiently rich in copper, provided the cost of the transit were not too great.

The specimen No. 17 is only of scientific interest, as it gives off an acid vapour when heated; and this substance may have been used by the ancients in the separation of silver from gold by the process termed “cementation.”

I remain, dear Sir, yours very truly,

(Signed) JOHN PERCY, M.D., F.R.S. Lecturer on Metallurgy at the Royal School of Mines, London.

Capt. R. F. Burton, etc.

Upon this able report I would offer the following observations. We, who have travelled through a country like Midian, finding everywhere extensive works for metallurgy; barrages and aqueducts, cisterns and tanks; furnaces, fire-bricks, and scoriae; open mines, and huge scatters of spalled quartz, with the remains of some eighteen cities and towns which apparently fell to ruin with the industry that founded and fed them; — we, I say, cannot but form a different and a far higher idea of its mineral capabilities than those who determine them by the simple inspection of a few specimens. The learned Dr. Percy at once hits the mark when he surmises that worthless samples were brought home; and this would necessarily occur when no metallurgist, no practical prospector, was present with the Expedition. As will appear from the following pages, all the specimens were collected a ciel ouvert, and wholly without judgment.

I therefore expect that future exploration will develop Midian as it has done India. The quartzose outcrop called the “Wynaad reef” (Madras Presidency) produced only a few poor penny-weights per ton, two and seven being the extremes, while much of it was practically unproductive. Presently, in February, 1878, the district was visited by Sir Andrew Clarke, of Australian experience, member of the Viceregal Council. He invited Mr. Brough Smyth, of Victoria, to explore and test the capabilities of the country; and that eminent practical engineer discovered, in an area of twenty-five by thirteen miles, ninety outcrops, some yielding, they say, two hundred ounces per ton of gold, fine and coarse, “with jagged pieces as large as peas.” And British India now hopes to draw her gold coinage from Wynaad.

I conclude this abstract of the book, which would have been reduced in size had the mass of matter permitted, with the heartfelt hope that the grand old Land of Midian will not be without attraction to the public of Europe.



December 16.

1 My collection dates from between the first century B.C. and the first century A.D.; this can be gathered from comparison with the coins of Alexander Jannaeus and his successor, Alexander II. The tetradrachm may belong to the reign of Alexander the Great, or the ages preceding it.

2 Here probably disappeared some fine specimens of silicate of copper which caused a delay of three months in the report. — R. F. B.

3 Messrs. Edgar Jackson found in the same box:—

Silver (per statute ton). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 oz. 17 dwts. 11 grs.

4 “Box No. 37” yielded silver. . . . 13 dwts. 1.6 grs.

5 “Box. No. 47” yielded silver . . . 12 dwts. 1.6 grms.

6 In boxes Nos. 48 and 51 Mr. Jenken found silver 2 oz. 13 dwts. 8 grs.; and 4 oz. 5 dwts. 12 grms.

7 In a fragment of similar “turquoise rock,” from the same site (Ziba), Dr. L. Karl Moser, of Trieste, found silver.

8 In a fragment of similar chalcedony, from the same site (Aba’l-Maru), Dr. Moser found specks of “free gold.”

9 This was the “splendid button” smelted at Makna.

10 The “button” was pronounced to be almost pure antimony in the Government Establishment of Mines, Trieste.

11 In “box No. 4” Messrs. Jackson found rough crystals of corundum; and a qualitative analysis of this sample and “box No. 7” yielded quartz, carbonate of lime, alumina, and oxide of iron.

12 The italics are mine. Mr. Mathey remarks of the specimen containing 48 grains of gold per ton, “It would be worthless in its present condition; if however, it could be enriched by proper washing and dressing, and the cost in labour, etc., be not too great, it might be made to give fair returns.”

Part I.

The March Through Madyan Proper
(North Midian).

Chapter I.

Preliminary — from Trieste to Midian.

Throughout the summer of 1877 I was haunted by memories of mysterious Midian. The Golden Region appeared to me in the glow of primaeval prosperity described by the Egyptian hieroglyphs; as rich in agriculture and in fertility, according to the old Hellenic travellers, as in its Centres of civilization, and in the precious metals catalogued by the Sacred Books of the Hebrews. Again I saw the mining works of the Greek, the Roman, and the Nabathæan, whose names are preserved by Ptolemy; the forty cities, mere ghosts and shadows of their former selves, described in the pages of the mediaeval Arab geographers; and the ruthless ruin which, under the dominion of the Bedawin, gradually crept over the Land of Jethro. The tale of her rise and fall forcibly suggested Algeria, that province so opulent and splendid under the Masters of the World; converted into a fiery wilderness by the representatives of the “gentle and gallant” Turk, and brought to life once more by French energy and industry. And such was my vision of a future Midian, whose rich stores of various minerals will restore to her wealth and health, when the two Khedivial Expeditions shall have shown the world what she has been, and what she may be again.

I was invited to resume my exploration during the winter of 1877–78, by the Viceroy of Egypt, Ismail I., a prince whose superior intelligence is ever anxious to develop the resources of his country. His Highness was perhaps the only man in his own dominions who, believing in the buried wealth of Midian, had the perspicacity to note the advantages offered by its exploitation. For the world around the Viceroy pronounced itself decidedly against the project. My venerable friend, Linant Pasha, suggested a comparison with the abandoned diggings of the Upper Nile; forgetting that in at least half of Midian land, only the “tailings” have been washed: whereas in the Bishárí country, and throughout the “Etbaye,” between the meridians of Berenike and Sawákín, the very thinnest metallic fibrils have been shafted and tunnelled to their end in the rock by those marvellous labourers, the old Egyptians. In the Hamámát country, again, the excessive distances, both from the Nile and from the Red Sea, together with the cost of transport, must bar all profit. Even worse are the conditions of Fayzoghlú and Dár-For; whilst the mines of Midian begin literally at the shore.

Another Pasha wrote to me from Alexandria, congratulating me upon having discovered, during our first Expedition, “a little copper and iron.” Generally, the official public, knowing that I had brought back stones, not solid masses of gold and silver, loudly deplored the prospective waste of money; and money, after the horse-plague, the low Nile, and the excessive exigencies of the short-sighted creditor, was exceptionally scarce. The truly Oriental view of the question was taken by an official, whom I shall call Árif Pasha — the “Knowing One.” When told that M. George Marie, the Government engineer detailed to accompany the first Expedition, had sent in official analyses with sample tubes of gold and silver, thus establishing the presence of auriferous and argentiferous rocks on the Arabian shore, Son Excellence exclaimed, “Imprudent jeune homme, thus to throw away the chances of life! Had he only declared the whole affair a farce, a flam, a sell, a canard, the Viceroy would have held him to be honest, and would have taken care of his future.”

Still, through bad report the Khediv, who had mastered, with his usual accuracy of perception and judgment, the subject of Midian and her Mines, was staunch to his resolve; and when one of his European financiers, a Controleur Général de Dépenses, the normal round peg in the square hole, warned him that there were no public funds for such purpose, his Highness warmly declared, on dit, that the costs of the Expedition should be defrayed at his own expense.

Meanwhile I had passed the summer of 1877 in preparation for the work of the ensuing winter. A long correspondence with many learned friends, and a sedulous study of the latest geographers, especially German, taught me all that was known of mining in Arabia generally, and particularly in Midian. During my six months’ absence from Egypt my vision was fixed steadily upon one point, the Expedition that was to come; and when his Highness was pleased to offer me, in an autograph letter full of the kindest expressions, the government of Dár-For, I deferred accepting the honour till Midian had been disposed of.

Unhappily, certain kindly advisers persuaded me to make well better by a visit to Karlsbad, and a course of its alkaline “Fountains of Health.” Never was there a greater mistake! The air is bad as the water is good; the climate is reeking damp, like that of Western Africa; and, as in St. Petersburg, a plaid must be carried during the finest weather. Its effects, rheumatic and neuralgic, may be judged by the fact that the doctors must walk about with pocketed squirts, for the hypodermal injection of opium. Almost all those whom I knew there, wanting to be better, went away worse; and, in my own case, a whole month of Midian sun, and a sharp attack of ague and fever were required to burn out the Hexenschuss and to counteract the deleterious effects of the “Hygeian springs.”

At last the happy hour for departure struck; and on October 19, 1877, the Austro–Hungarian Espero (Capitano Colombo) steamed out of Trieste. On board were Sefer Pasha, our host of Castle Bertoldstein; and my learned friends, the Aulic Councillor Alfred von Kremer, Austrian Commissioner to Egypt, and Dr. Heinrich Brugsch–Bey. The latter gave me a tough piece of work in the shape of his “Ægypten,” which will presently be quoted in these pages. It would be vain to repeat a description of the little voyage described in “The Gold–Mines of Midian.” The Dalmatian, or first day; the second, or day of Corfu loved and lost; and the third, made memorable by Cephalonia and the glorious Canale, all gave fine smooth weather. But the usual rolling began off still-vexed Cape Matapan. It lasted through the fourth day, or of Candia, this insula nobilis et amæna —

“Crete, the crown of all the isles, flower of Levantine waters”

— while the fifth, or Mediterraneo–Alexandrian day, killed two of the seventeen fine horses, Yuckers and Anglo–Normans, which Sefer Pasha was conveying to Cairo.

On Thursday morning (October 25), after rolling through the night off the old port Eunostus, which now looks brand-new, we landed, and the next day saw me at Cairo. Such was my haste that I could pay only a flying visit to the broken beer-bottles, the burst provision-tins, the ice-plants, and the hospitable society of Ramleh the Sand-heap; and my many acquaintances had barely time to offer their congratulations upon the prospects of my “becoming an Egyptian.”

My presence at the capital was evidently necessary. A manner of association for utilizing the discoveries of the first Expedition had been formed in London by the Messieurs Vignolles, who knew only the scattered and unofficial notices; issued, without my privity, by English and continental journals. Their representative, General Nuthall, formerly of the Madras army, had twice visited Cairo, in August and October, 1877, seeking a concession of the mines, and offering conditions which were perfectly unacceptable. The Viceroy was to allow, contrary to convention, the free importation of all machinery; to supply guards, who were not wanted; and, in fact, to guarantee the safety of the workmen, who were perfectly safe. In return, ten per cent. on net profits, fifteen being the royalty of the Suez Canal, was the magnificent inducement offered to the viceregal convoitise. I could not help noting, by no means silently, this noble illustration of the principle embodied in Sic vos non vobis. I was to share in the common fate of originators, discoverers, and inventors: the find was mine, the profits were to go — elsewhere. General Nuthall professed inability to regard the matter in that light; while to all others it appeared in no other. However, after a few friendly meetings, the representative left Egypt, with the understanding that possibly we might work together when the exploration should have been completed. His Highness, who had verbally promised me either the concession or four per cent. on gross produce, acted en prince, simply remarking that the affair was in my hands, and that he would not interfere with me.

I must not trouble the reader with the tedious tale of the pains and the labour which accompany the accouchement of such an Expedition. All practicals know that to organize a movement of sixty men is not less troublesome — indeed, rather more so — than if it numbered six hundred or six thousand. The Viceroy had wisely determined that we should not only carry out the work of discovery by tracing the precious metals to their source; but, also, that we should bring back specimens weighing tons enough for assay and analysis, quantitive and qualitive, in London and Paris. Consequently, miners and mining apparatus were wanted, with all the materials for quarrying and blasting: my spirit sighed for dynamite, but experiments at Trieste had shown it to be too dangerous. The party was to consist of an escort numbering twenty-five Súdán soldiers of the Line, negroes liberated some two years ago; a few Ma’danjiyyah (“mine-men”), and thirty Haggárah (“stone-men” or quarrymen).

The Government magazines of Cairo contain everything, but the difficulty is to find where the dispersed articles are stored: there is a something of red-tapeism; but all is plain sailing, compared with what it would be in Europe. The express orders of his Highness Husayn Kámil Pasha, Minister of Finance and Acting Minister of War, at once threw open every door. Had this young prince not taken in the affair a personal interest of the liveliest and most intelligent nature, we might have spent the winter at Cairo. And here I cannot refrain from mentioning, amongst other names, that of Mr. Alfred E. Garwood, C.E., locomotive superintendent; who, in the short space of four months, has introduced order and efficiency into the chaos known as the Bulák magazines. With his friendly cooperation, and under his vigorous arm, difficulties melted away like hail in a tropical sun. General Stone (Pasha), the Chief of Staff, also rendered me some assistance, by lending the instruments which stood in his own cabinet de travail.13

Poor Cairo had spent a seedy autumn. The Russo–Turkish campaign, which had been unjustifiably allowed, by foreign Powers, to drain Egypt of her gold and life-blood — some 25,000 men since the beginning of the Servian prelude — not only caused “abundant sorrow” to the capital, but also frightened off the stranger-host, which habitually supplies the poorer population with sovereigns and napoleons. The horse-pest, a bad typhus, after raging in 1876 and early 1877, had died out: unfortunately, so had the horses; and the well-bred, fine-tempered, and high-spirited little Egyptians were replaced by a mongrel lot, hastily congregated from every breeding ground in Europe. The Fellahs, who had expected great things from the mission of MM. Goschen and Joubert, asked wonderingly if those financiers had died; while a scanty Nile, ten to twelve feet lower, they say, than any known during the last thousand years, added to the troubles of the poor, by throwing some 600,000 feddans (acres) out of gear, and by compelling an exodus from the droughty right to the left bank. Finally, when the river of Egypt did rise, it rose too late, and brought with it a feverish and unwholesome autumn. Briefly, we hardly escaped the horrors of Europe —

“Herbstesahnung! Triste Spuren
In den Wäldern, auf den Fluren!
Regentage, böses Wetter,” etc.

Meanwhile, in the Land of the Pharaohs, whose scanty interest about the war was disguised by affected rejoicings at Ottoman successes, the Prophet gallantly took the field, as in the days of Yúsuf bin Ishák. This time the vehicle of revelation was the learned Shayhk (má? ) Alaysh, who was ordered in a dream by the Apostle of Allah (upon whom be peace!) to announce the victory of the Moslem over the Infidel; and, as the vision took place in Jemádi el-Akhir (June), the first prediction was not more unsuccessful than usual. Shortly afterwards, the same reverend man again dreamt that, seeing two individuals violently quarreling, with voies de fait, he had hastened, like a true believer, to separate and to reconcile them. But what was his surprise when the brawlers proved to be the Sultan and the Czar, the former administering condign personal punishment to his hereditary foe. This, the enlightened Shaykh determined, was a sign that in September the Osmanli would be gloriously triumphant. Nor was he far wrong. The Russians, who had begun the campaign, like the English in India, with a happy contempt both for the enemy and for the elementary rules of war, were struck with a cold fit of caution: instead of marching straight upon and intrenching themselves in Adrianople, they vainly broke their gallant heads against the improvised earthworks of Plevna. And ignorant Europe, marvelling at the prowess of the “noble Turk,” ignored the fact that all the best “Turkish” soldiers were Slavs, originally Christians, renegades of old, unable to speak a word of Turkish; preserving their Bosniac family-names, and without one drop of Turkish blood in their veins. Sulayman Pashás army was about as “Turkish” as are the Poles or the Hungarians.

Not the less did Cairo develop the normal season-humours of the Frank. Among the various ways of “doing the Pyramids,” I registered a new one: Mr. A—— junior, unwilling wholly to neglect them, sent his valet with especial orders to stand upon the topmost plateau. The “second water” of irrigation made November dangerous; many of the “Shepheards” suffered from the Ayán el-Mulúk, the “Evil of Kings” (gout), in the gloomy form as well as the gay; and whisky-cum-soda became popular as upon the banks of the Thames and the Tweed. As happens on dark days, the money-digger was abroad, and one anecdote deserves record. Many years ago, an old widow body had been dunned into buying, for a few piastres, a ragged little manuscript from a pauper Maghrabi. These West Africans are, par excellence, the magicians of modern Egypt and Syria; and here they find treasure, like the Greeks upon the shores of the Northern Adriatic. Perhaps there may be a basis for the idea; oral traditions and written documents concerning buried hoards would take refuge in remote regions, comparatively undisturbed by the storms of war, and inhabited by races more or less literary. At any rate, the Maghrabi Darwaysh went his ways, assuring his customer that, when her son came of age, a fortune would be found in the little book. And true enough, the boy, reaching man’s estate, read in its torn pages ample details concerning a Dafi’nah (hoard) of great value. He was directed, by the manuscript, to a certain spot upon the Mukattam range, immediately behind the Cairene citadel, where the removal of a few stones would disclose a choked shaft: the latter would descend to a tunnel, full of rubbish, and one of the many sidings would open upon the golden chamber. The permission of Government was secured, the workmen began, and the directions proved true —“barring” the treasure, towards which progress was still being made. Such was the legend of Cairo, as recounted to me by my good friend, Yacoub Artin Bey; I can only add to it, Allaho A’alam! — Allah is all-knowing!

The sole cause of delay in beginning exploration was the want of money; and this, of course, even the Prince Minister of Finance could not coin. Egypt, the fertile, the wealthy, the progressive, was, indeed, at the time all but insolvent. At the suggestion of foreigners, “profitable investments,” which yielded literally nothing, had been freely made for many a year, and the sole results were money difficulties and debt. The European financiers had managed admirably for their shareholders; but, having assumed the annual national income at a maximum, instead of a minimum, they had brought the goose of the golden eggs to the very verge of death. The actionnaires were to receive, with a punctuality hardly possible in the East, the usurious interest of six per cent., not including one per cent. for sinking fund. Meanwhile, the officers and officials, military, naval, and civil, had been in arrears of salary for seven to fifteen months; and even the Jews refused to cash at any price their pay certificates.

Nothing could be more unwise or unjust than the exactions of the creditors. Men must live; if not paid, they perforce pay themselves; and thus, of every hundred piastres, hardly thirty find their way into the treasury. Ten times worse was the condition of the miserable Felláhín, who were selling for three or four napoleons the bullocks worth fifteen per head. Thus they would tide over the present year; but a worse than Indian famine was threatened for the following. And the “Bakkál,” at once petty trader and money-lender, whose interest and compound interest here amount, as in Bombay, to hundreds per cent., would complete the ruin which the “low Nile” and the Christian creditor had begun.

A temporary reduction of interest to three per cent., with one per cent of amortization, should content the greedy shareholder, who seeks to combine high profits with perfect security. During November, 1877, there were five M.P.‘s at Shepheard’s; and all cried shame upon the financial condition of the country. Sir George Campbell opened the little game. In his “Inside View of Egypt” (Fortnightly Review, Dec., 1877) he drew a graphic picture of the abnormal state of poor Egypt; he expressed the sensible opinion that, in the settlement, the claims of the bond-holders have been too exclusively considered, and he concluded that no more payments of debt-interest should be made until official arrears are discharged.

At last the Phare d’Alexandrie (November 29, 1877), doubtless under official inspiration, put forth the following article, greatly to the satisfaction of the unfortunate employés:—

“Si nos renseignements particuliers sont exacts, le comité des finances vient de prendre une excellente décision. Elle consiste en ce que, aussitôt l’argent pour le paiement du prochain coupon, préparé, le ministe’re, avant tout autre, procédera au paiement des appointements arriérés des employés.

“Nous apprenons, on outre, que S. A. le ministre des finances, même, a déclaré, molu proprio, que jusqu’au complet paiement des arriérés dûs aux employés, et dans le cas oú il se présenterait une dépense de grande importance, prévue même par le budget, de ne pas en ordonner le paiement sans, au préalable, le sommettre à l’adhésion du comité.

“Nous applaudissons de toutes nos forces à cette bonne nouvelle d’abord, parcequ’elle affirme une fois de plus la scrupuleuse exactitude qu’on apporte au paiement des coupons, ensuite elle prouve le vif intérèt qu’ inspire au gouvernement la situation de ses nombreux employés, enfin elle nous fait espérer qu’après avoir songé à eux, on s’occupera aussi à payer les autres sommes portées et pre’vues au budget de l’année.”

Accordingly, on December 2nd, the Prince Minister of Finance took heart of grace, and distributed among the officials one month’s pay, with a promise that all arrears should presently be made good. On the same day his Highness issued to the Expedition 2000 napoleons, in addition to the 620 already expended upon instruments and provisions. This was the more liberal, as I had calculated the total at 1500: the more, however, the better. In such work it is money versus time, the former saving the latter; and we were already late in the year — it had been proposed to start on November 15th, and we had lost three precious weeks of fine autumnal weather. The stores were equally abundant: I wanted one forge, and received three.

Of course, many details had been forgotten; e.g., a farrier and change of mule-irons, a tinsmith and tinning tools, a sulphur-still, boots for the soldiers and the quarrymen, small shot for specimens, and so forth. I had carried out my idea of a Dragoman with two servants; and the result had been a model failure, especially in the most important department. The true “Desert cook” is a man sui generis; he would utterly fail at the Criterion, and even at Shepheard’s; but in the wilderness he will serve coffee within fifteen minutes, and dish the best of dinners within the hour after the halt.

Mr. Clarke and Lieutenant Amir worked with a will; and they were ably seconded by Colonel Ali Bey Robi and Lieutenant–Colonel (of the Staff) Mohammed Bey Báligh. But the finishing touch to such preparations must be done by the master hand; and my unhappy visit to Karlsbad rendered that impossible. The stores and provisions were supplied by MM. Voltéra Brothers, of Cairo: I cannot say too much in their praise; and the packing was as good as the material. M. Gross, of Shepheard’s, was good enough to let me have a barrel of claret; which improved every week by travelling, and which cost only a franc a bottle: it began as a bon ordinaire, and the little that returned to Cairo ranked with a quasi-grand vin, at least as good as the four-shilling Medoc. Finally, Dr. Lowe, of Cairo, kindly prepared for us a medicine chest, containing about £10 worth of the usual drugs and appliances — calomel, tartar emetic, and laudanum; blister, plaster, and simple ointment.14

A special train was made ready for Thursday, December 6th; and, at ten a.m., after taking leave of their Highnesses, who courteously wished me good luck and God-speed, the Expedition found itself under weigh. We were accompanied to the station by many kind friends: my excellent kinsman Lord Francis, and Lady F. Conyngham, Yacoub Artin Bey, General Stone, and MM. George, Garwood, Girard, and Guillemine.

The change from the damp air of Cairo to the drought of the Desert was magical: light ailments and heavy cares seemed to fall off like rags and tatters. We halted at Zagázig, remarking that this young focus of railway traffic has become the eastern key of Lower Egypt, as Benhá is to the western delta; and prophesying that some day, not far distant, will see the glories of Bubastis revived. Here we picked up my old friend Haji Wali, whom age — he declares that he was born in the month Mízán of 1797 — had made only a little fatter and greedier. We gave a wide berth to the future Alexandria, Ismailíyyah, whose splendid climate has been temporarily spoilt by the sweet-water canal of the same name. The soil became literally sopped; and hence the intermittent fevers which have lately assailed it. A similar disregard for drainage has ingeniously managed to convert into pest-houses Simla and other Himalayan sanitaria.

The day ended with running the train into the Suez Docks, so as to embark all our impediments on the next morning; and I fondly expected Saturday to see us sail. But the weather-wise had been true in their forecasts. Friday opened with howling, screaming gusts of southerly wind; and, during the night we were treated to a fierce display of storm — thunder and lightning, and rain. The gale caused one collision on the Canal, and twenty-five steamers were delayed near the Bitter Lake; it broke down the railway and sanded it up for miles, and it levelled fifty English and forty Egyptian telegraph-posts — an ungentle hint to prefer the telephone. Saturday, the beginning of winter, opened with a cold raw souther and a surging sea, which washed over the Dock-piers; in such weather it was impossible to embark ten mules without horse-boxes. On Sunday the waves ran high, but the gale fell about sunset to a dead calm; as usual in the Gulf, the breakers and white horses at once disappeared; and the slaty surface, fringed with dirty yellow, immediately reassumed its robes of purple and turquoise blue. The ill wind, however, had blown us some good by deluging with long-hoped-for rain the now barren mountains of Midian.

This “Fortuna,” according to the people, sets in with the fourth Coptic month, Kayhak,15 which begins the first Arba’ín (“Forty-day period”); and the fourth day is known as the Imtizáj el-Faslayn, or “Mixture of the two Seasons”— autumn and winter. The storm is expected to blow three days from the Azyab (south-east) or from the Shirs (south-west). The qualities of the several winds are described in the following distich:—

“Mirísi Shaytán, wa Gharbi Wazírhu;
Tiyáb Sultán, wa Sharki Nazírhu.”

“The south-wester’s a Satan, and the wester’s his minister;
The norther’s a Sultan, and the easter’s his man.”

On the other hand, fair weather was predicted after the first quarter of the moon (December 12th), according to the saying of the Arab sailor:—

“When the moon sleeps, the seaman may sleep;
When the moon stands, the seaman must stand.”

The “sleeping” moon — náim or rákid, also called Yemáni — is that of the first quarter, which we mark concave to the left; the “standing” moon is that of the last.

Our stay at Suez was saddened by the sudden death of Marius Isnard, who had acted cook to the first Khedivial Expedition. The poor lad, aged only eighteen, had met us at the Suez station, delighted with the prospect of another journey; he had neglected his health; and, after a suppression of two days, which he madly concealed, gangrene set in, and he died a painful death at the hospital during the night preceding our departure.

On December 10th we ran down from Suez Quay in the Bird of the Sea (Tayr el-Bahr), the harbour mouche, or little steam-launch, accompanied by the Governor, Sa’íd Bey, who has not yet been made a Pasha; by Mr. Consul West; by the genial Ra’íf Bey, Wakíl el-Komandaníyyah or acting commodore of the station; by Mr. Willoughby Faulkner, my host at Suez; by the Messieurs Levick, and by other friends. In the highest spirits we boarded our “gun-carriage,” the aviso Mukhbir (Captain Mohammed Siráj); and, after many mutual good wishes, we left the New Docks at 6.10 p.m.

Nothing could be more promising than the weather, a young moon mirrored in a sea smooth as oil. The “Giver of Good News” (El–Mukhbir), however, for once failed in her mission. She had lately conducted herself well upon a trial trip round the Zenobia lightship (“Newport Rock”).16 But the two Arab firemen who acted engineers, worn-out grey-beards that hated the idea of four months on the barbarous Arabian shore, had choked the tubes with wastage, and had filled the single boiler, taking care to plug up, instead of opening, the relief-pipe. The consequence was that the engines sweated at every pore; steam instead of water streamed from the sides; and the chimney discharged, besides smoke, a heavy shower of rain. The engine (John Jameson, engineer, Newcastle-on-Tyne, 1866), a good article, in prime condition as far as a literally rotten boiler would allow, presently revenged itself by splitting the air-pipe of the condenser from top to bottom; and after two useless halts the captain reported to me that we must return to Suez. What a beginning! The fracture somewhat relieved the machinery; we did better work after than before the accident, but we were ignobly towed into dock by the ship’s boats.

A telegram with a procès-verbal was at once sent off to the Prince; Sa’íd Bey and Ra’íf Bey hastened to our aid, and Mr. Williams, superintending engineer of the Khedivíyyah line, with the whole of his staff, stripped and set to work at the peccant tubes and air-pump. They commenced with extinguishing a serious fire which burst from the waste-room — by no means pleasant when close to kegs of blasting-powder carefully sewn up in canvas. They laboured with a will, and before sunset Mr. Williams informed us that he would guarantee the engines for eight days, when we were starting on a dangerous cruise for four months. He also supplied us with an Egyptian boiler-maker and with eleven instead of sixty new tubes: we lost forty-two of the old ones between Suez and El–Muwaylah. Before sunset we made a trial trip, the wretched old kettle acting tant bien que mal; we returned to re-embark the soldiers and the mules, and we set out for the second time at 5.30 p.m.

The Mukhbir, 130 feet long, 380 tons, and 80 to go horse-power, under charge of the English or rather Scotch engineer, Mr. David Duguid, who had taken the place of the two Arab firemen, began with 7 1/2 knots an hour, 68 revolutions per minute, and a pressure of 9 lbs. to the square inch. The condenser-vacuum was 26 inches (30 being complete)— 13 lbs. Next morning the rate declined to six miles in consequence of the boiler leaking, and matters became steadily worse. As a French writer says of the genre humain, we were placed, not entre le bien et le mal, but entre le mal et le pire. After sundry narrow escapes in the Gulf of ‘Akabah, we were saved, as will be seen, by a manner of miracles. Briefly, the Mukhbir caused us much risk, heartburn, and loss of time.

Seven a.m. (December 11th) found us crossing the Birkat Fara’ún — Pharaoh’s Gulf — some sixty miles from the great port. Its horrors to native craft I have already described in my “Pilgrimage.” Between this point and Ras Za’faránah, higher up, the wind seems to split: a strong southerly gale will be blowing, whilst a norther of equal pressure prevails at the Gulf-head, and vice versâ. Suez, indeed, appears to be, in more ways than one, a hydrographical puzzle. When it is low water in and near the harbour, the flow is high between the Straits of Jobal and the Daedalus Light; and the ebb tide runs out about two points across the narrows, whilst the flood runs in on a line parallel with it. Finally, when we returned, hardly making headway against an angry norther, Suez, enjoying the “sweet south,” was congratulating the voyagers upon their weather.

The loss of a good working day soon made itself felt. The north wind rose, causing the lively Mukhbir, whose ballast, by-the-by, was all on deck, to waddle dangerously for the poor mules; and it was agreed, nem. con., to put into Tor harbour. We found ourselves at ten a.m. (December 12th) within the natural pier of coralline, and we were not alone in our misfortune; an English steamer making Suez was our companion. This place has superseded El Wijh as the chief quarantine station for the return pilgrimage; and I cannot sufficiently condemn the change.17 The day lagged slowly, as we

“Walked in grief by the merge of the many-voiced
sounding sea.”

But we looked in vain for our “tender,” a Sambúk of fifty tons, El–Musahhil (Rais Ramazan), which Prince Husayn had thoughtfully sent with us as post-boat. She disappeared on the evening of the 11th, and she did not make act of presence until the 16th, when her master was at once imprisoned in the fort of El–Muwaylah. Moreover, the owner, Mohammed Bukhayt, of Suez, who had received £90 as advance for three months — others said £60 for four — provided her with only a few days’ provisions, leaving us to ration his crew.

A wintry norther in these latitudes is not easily got rid of. According to the people, here, as in the ‘Akabah Gulf, it lasts three days, and dies after a quiet noon; whereas on the 13th, when we expected an escape, it rose angrily at one p.m. I was much cheered by the pleasant news of M. Bianchi, the local Deputato di Sanità, who assured us that a pernicieuse was raging at El–Muwaylah, and that it was certain death to pass one night in the fort. The only fire that emitted all this smoke was the fact that during the date-harvest of North–Western Arabia, July and August, agues are common; and that at all seasons the well water is not “honest,” and is supposed to breed trifling chills. In the Prairies of the Far West I heard of a man who rode some hundreds of miles to deliver himself of a lie. Nothing like solitude and the Desert for freshening the fancy. Another individual who was much exercised by our journey was Khwájeh Konstantin, a Syrian–Greek trader, son of the old agent of the convent, whose blue goggles and comparatively tight pantaloons denoted a certain varnish and veneer. It is his practice to visit El–Muwaylah once every six months; when he takes, in exchange for cheap tobacco, second-hand clothes, and poor cloth, the coral, the pearls fished for in April, the gold dust, the finds of coin, and whatever else will bring money. Such is the course and custom of these small monopolists, who, at “Raitha” and elsewhere, much dislike to see quiet things moved.

At length, after a weary day of far niente, when even le sommeil se faisait prier, we “hardened our hearts,” and at nine p.m., as the gale seemed to slumber, we stood southwards. The Mukhbir rolled painfully off Ras Mohammed, which obliged us with its own peculiar gusts; and the ‘Akabah Gulf, as usual, acted wind-sail. A long détour was necessary in order to spare the mules, which, however, are much less liable to injury, under such circumstances, than horses, having a knack of learning to use sea-legs.

The night was atrocious; so was the next morning; but about noon we were cheered by the sight of the glorious mountain-walls of well-remembered Midian, which stood out of the clear blue sky in passing grandeur of outline, in exceeding splendid dour of colouring, and in marvellous sharpness of detail. Once more the “power of the hills” was on us.

Three p.m. had struck before we found ourselves in broken water off the fort of El–Muwaylah, where our captain cast a single anchor, and where we had our first escape from drifting upon the razor-like edges of the coralline reefs. In fact, everything looked so menacing, with surging sea around and sable storm-clouds to westward, that I resolved upon revisiting our old haunt, the safe and dock-like Sharm Yáhárr. Here we entered without accident; and were presently greeted by the Sayyid ‘Abd el-Rahím, our former Káfilah-báshi, who had ridden from El–Muwaylah to receive us. The news was good: a truce of one month had been concluded between the Huwaytát and the Ma’ázah, probably for the better plundering of the pilgrims. This year the latter were many: the “Wakfah,” or standing upon Mount Ararat, fell upon a Friday; consequently it was a Hajj el-Akbar, or “Greater Pilgrimage,” very crowded and very dangerous, in more ways than one.

I had given a free passage to one Sulaymán Aftáhi, who declared himself to be of the Beni ‘Ukbah, when he was a Huwayti of the Jeráfín clan. After securing a free passage and provision gratis, when the ship anchored, he at once took French leave. On return I committed him to the tender mercies of the Governor, Sa’íd Bey. The soldiers, the quarry-men, and the mules were landed, and the happy end of the first stage brought with it a feeling of intense relief, like that of returning to Alexandria. Hitherto everything had gone wrong: the delays and difficulties at Cairo; at Suez, the death of poor Marius Isnard and the furious storm; the break-down of the engine; the fire in the wasteroom; and, lastly, the rough and threatening gale between the harbour and El–Muwaylah. What did the Wise King mean by “better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof”? I only hope that it may be applicable to the present case. In the presence of our working ground all evils were incontinently forgotten; and, after the unusual dankness of the Egyptian capital, and the blustering winds of the Gulf and the sea, the soft and delicate air of the Midian shore acted like a cordial. For the first time after leaving Alexandria, I felt justified in taper de l’oeil with the clearest of consciences.

The preliminary stage ended with disembarking at the Fort, El–Muwaylah, all our stores and properties, including sundry cases of cartridges and five hundred pounds of pebble-powder, which had been stored immediately under the main cabin and its eternal cigarettes and allumettes. The implements, as well as the provisions, were made over to the charge of an old Albanian, one Rajab Aghá, who at first acted as our magazine-man for a consideration of two napoleons per month, in advance if possible. This done, the Mukhbir returned into the dock Yáhárr, in order to patch up her kettle, which seemed to grow worse under every improvement. We accompanied her, after ordering a hundred camels to be collected; well knowing that as this was the Bairam, ‘Id, or “Greater Festival,” nothing whatever would be done during its three days’ duration.

The respite was not unwelcome to me; it seemed to offer an opportunity for recovering strength. At Cairo I had taken the advice of a learned friend (if not an “Apostle of Temperance,” at any rate sorely afflicted with the temperance idea), who, by threats of confirmed gout and lumbago, fatty degeneration of the heart and liver, ending in the possible rupture of some valve, had persuaded me that man should live upon a pint of claret per diem. How dangerous is the clever brain with a monomania in it! According to him, a glass of sherry before dinner was a poison, whereas half the world, especially the Eastern half, prefers its potations preprandially; a quarter of the liquor suffices, and both appetite and digestion are held to be improved by it. The result of “turning over a new leaf,” in the shape of a phial of thin “Gladstone,” was a lumbago which lasted me a long month, and which disappeared only after a liberal adhibition of “diffusible stimulants.”

It required no small faith in one’s good star to set out for a six weeks’ work in the Desert under such conditions. My consolation, however, was contained in the lines attributed to half a dozen who wrote good English:—

“He either fears his fate too much,
Or his deserts are small,
Who dares not put it to the touch,
To gain or lose it all.”

This time, however, Mind was tranquil, whatever Matter might suffer. As the novelist says, “Lighting upon a grain of gold or silver betokens that a mine of the precious metal must be in the neighbourhood.” It had been otherwise with my first Expedition: a forlorn hope, a miracle of moral audacity; the heaviest of responsibilities incurred upon the slightest of justifications, upon the pinch of sand which a tricky and greedy old man might readily have salted. It reminds me of a certain “Philip sober,” who in the morning fainted at the sight of the precipice which he had scaled when “Philip drunk.” I look back with amazement upon No. I.


The second Khedivial Expedition to Midian was composed of the following officers and men. The European staff numbered four, not including the commander, viz.:—

M. George Marie, of the État-Major, Egyptian army, an engineer converted into a geologist and mineralogist; he was under the orders of his Highness Prince Husayn Pasha.

Mr. J. Charles J. Clarke, telegraphic engineer, ranking as major in Egypt, commissariat officer.

M. Émile Lacaze, of Cairo, artist and photographer.

M. Jean Philipin, blacksmith.

Besides these, Mr. David Duguid — not related to “Hafed, Prince of Persia,”— chief engineer of the gunboat Mukhbir (Captain Mohammed Síráj), accompanied us part of the way on temporary leave, and kindly assisted me in observing meteorology and in making collections.

The Egyptian commissioned officers numbered six, viz.:—

Ahmed Kaptán Musallam, commander in the navy, and ranking as Sakulághási (major). He had been first officer in the Sinnár, and he was sent to make astronomical observations; but he proved to be a confirmed invalid.

Of the Arkán-Harb (Staff) were:—

Lieutenant Amir Rushdi, who had accompanied me before.

Lieutenant Yusuf Taufik.

Lieutenant Darwaysh Ukkáb, of the Piyédah or infantry. He was also a great sufferer on a small scale.

Sub–Lieutenant Mohammed Farahát, of the Muhandism (Engineers), in charge of the Laggámgiyyah or Haggárah (blasters and quarrymen). He ended by deserting his duty on arrival at Cairo.

The non-commissioned officers, all Egyptians, amounted to seven:—

Bulúk-amín (writer) Mohammed Sharkáwi (infantry).

Chawush (serjeant) ‘Atwah El–Ashírí (infantry).

Chawush (serjeant) Mabrúk Awadh (quarryman); deserted at Cairo.

Onbáshi (corporal) Higázi Ammár (Staff).

Onbáshi (corporal) Mohammed Sulaymán (infantry): also our barber, and a good man.

Onbáshi (corporal) Mahmu’d Abd el-Rahmán (infantry): I had to put him in irons.

Onbáshi (corporal) Ibráhím Hedíb.

There were three Nafar (privates) of the Staff:—

‘Ali ‘Brahim Ma’danji, generally known as Ali Marie, from the officer whom he served; a hard-working man, over-devoted to his master. I recommended him for promotion.

Ramazán Ramazán.

Hasan Mohammed. He proved useful, as he brought with him all the necessary tools for mending saddles.

The twenty-five privates of infantry were emancipated negroes, a few being from the Súdán; composed of every tribe, it was a curious mixture, good, bad, and indifferent. Some were slaves who had been given, in free gift, by their owners to the Mírí (Government), and men never part with a good “chattel,” except for a sufficient cause. As will be seen, many of the names are “fancy”:—

Sayyid Ahmed El–Tawíl.

Yúsuf Faragallah (Faraj–Allah).

Farag ‘Ali.

Sa’íd Hasan Básha’. His owner was a Fellah called Hasan Báshá— peasants often give this title as a name to a boy who is born under fortunate circumstances. Sa’íd was a fat, jolly fellow, a Sidi Bháí from the Mrímá, or mainland of Zanzibar, who had wholly forgotten his Kisawáhílí. Corporal Mahmúd was punished for keeping him eighteen hours on guard. He was one of the very few to whom I gave “bakhshísh” after returning to Cairo.

Sa’íd El–Sa’id.

Mirsal Ginaydi.

Mabrúk Rizk.

Abdullah Mohammed Zaghúl.

Sa’íd Katab.

Faragallah Sharaf el-Dín.

Farag Sálih.

Surúr Mustafá.

Salámat el-Nahhás; an excellent and intelligent man, who was attached to the service of M. Lacaze. He distinguished himself by picking up antiques, until his weakness, the Dá el-Faranj, found him out.

Farag Ahmed Bura’í.

Farag Mohammed Amín.

Mirgán Sulaymán.

‘Abd el-Maulá.


Mabrúk Hasan Osmán.

Khayr Ramazán, a large and sturdy negro, from Dár-Wadái, with long cuts down both sides of his face; a hard-working and intelligent soldier, who naturally took command of his fellows. I made him an acting corporal, and on return recommended him for promotion.

Fadl ‘Allah ‘Ali el-Kholi, a Shillúk, one of the worst tribes of the Upper Nile, whom it is forbidden to enlist. He began by refusing to obey an order, he pushed an officer out of his way, and he struck an Arab Shaykh. Consequently, he passed the greater part of the time in durance vile at the fort of El–Muwaylah.

Mirgán Yúsuf; flogged for insolence to his officer, January 19.

Abdullah Ibráhím.

Ibráhím Kattáb.

Mabrúk Mansúr Agwah.

The Boruji (bugler) Mersál Abú Dunyá, a “character” who retires for practice to lonely hills and vales. His progress is not equal to his zeal and ambition.

The thirty quarrymen were all Egyptians, and it would be hard to find a poorer lot; they never worked, save under compulsion, and they stole whatever they could. I examined their packs during the homeward cruise, and found that many of them had secreted Government gunpowder:—

Ahmed Ashiri.

Ahmed Badr.

Ahmed el-Wakíl.

Omar Sharkáwi.

5. Mustafá Husayn.

Ismaíl el-Wa’í.

‘Ali Zalat.

Ali ‘Abd el-Rahmán.

Mustafá Sálim.

10. ‘Alí Bedawi.

Hanná Bishá‘i.

Hamed Hanafi.

Hamed Wahlah.

Mustafá Sa’dáni (died of fever at El–Muwaylah).

15. Mahmu’d Gum’ah.,

Abú Zayd Hassá‘nah.

Ismaíl Dusúki.

Sukk el-Fakíh.

Isá el-Dimíkí.

20. ‘Ali Atwadh.

Mohammed Sulaymán.

Ibra’hi’m ‘Ali Mohammed.

‘Ali Isá.

Mohammed ‘Abd el-Záhir.

25. ‘Ali Wahish.

Abbási Mansúr (a tinman by trade, but without tools).

Gálút Ali.

Usmán Ámir.

Alewá Ahmed.

30. Mohammed Ajízah.

And lastly (31), the carpenter, ‘Ali Sulaymán; a “knowing dodger,” who brought with him a little stock-intrade of tobacco, cigarette-paper, and similar comforts.

There were five soldiers, or rather matchlock-men, engaged from the fort-garrison, El–Muwaylah:—

Husayn Bayrakdár; a man who has travelled, and has become too clever by half. He was equally remarkable as a liar and as a cook.

Bukháyt Ahmed, generally known as El–Ahmar from his red coat; a Dinká slave, some sixty years old, and looking forty-five. He was still a savage, never sleeping save in the open air.

Bukhayt Mohammed, popularly termed El–Aswad; a Foráwi (Dár-Forian) and a good man. He was called “The Shadow of the Bey.”

Ahmed Sálih; a stout fellow, and the worst of guides.

Sálim Yúsuf.

The head of the caravan was the Sayyid’ Abd el-Rahím, accountant at the Fort el-Muwaylah, of whom I have spoken before. He was subsequently recommended by me to his Highness for the post of Názir or commandant.

Haji Wali, my old Cairene friend, who lost no time in bolting.

There were also generally three Bedawi Shaykhs, who, by virtue of their office, received each one dollar (twenty piastres) per diem.

The servants and camp followers were:—

Anton Dimitriadis, the dragoman; a Bakkál or small shopkeeper at Zagázig, and a tenant of Haji Wali.

Giorgi (Jorgos) Sifenus, the cook, whose main disadvantage was his extreme and ultra-Greek uncleanliness.

Petro Giorgiadis, of Zante; a poor devil who has evidently been a waiter in some small Greek café which supplies a cup per hour.

These three men were a great mistake; but, as has been said, poor health at Cairo prevented my looking into details.

Yúsuf el-Fazi, Dumánji or quartermaster from the Mukhbir, acting servant to Captain Ahmed, and a thoroughly good man. He was also recommended for promotion.

Ahmed, the Saís or mule-groom; another pauvre diable, rascally withal, who was flogged for selling the mules’ barley to the Bedawin. He was assisted by the Corporal (and barber) Mohammed Sulaymán and by five quarrymen.

Husayn Ganínah; a one-eyed little Felláh, fourteen years old, looking ten, and knowing all that a man of fifty knows. He was body-servant to Lieutenant Yusuf.

As usual, the caravan was accompanied by a suttler from El–Muwaylah, one Hamad, who sold tobacco, coffee, clarified butter, and so forth. He was chaffed with the saying, Hamad fi’ bayt ak —“Thy house is a pauper.”

Finally, there were two dogs: Juno, a Clumber spaniel, young and inexperienced; Páikí, a pariah, also a pup.

Besides these two permanents, various “casuals,” the dog ‘Brahim, etc., attached themselves to our camp.

13 “Little health” at Cairo prevented my choosing the instruments; and the result was that at last I had to depend upon my pocket-set by Casella. Even this excellent maker’s maxima and minima failed to stand the camel-jolting. The barometer, lent by the Chief of Staff (Elliott Brothers, 24), contained amalgam, not mercury. The patent messrad, or odometer (Wittmann, Wien), with its works of soft brass instead of steel, was fit only to measure a drawing-room carpet. M. Ebner sold us, at the highest prices, absolutely useless maxima and minima, plus a baromètre aneroide, whose chain was unhooked when it left the box. M. Sussmann, of the Muski, supplied, for fifty francs, a good and useful microscope magnifying seventy-five times. The watches from M. Meyer (“Dent and Co.!”) were cheap and nasty Swiss articles; but they were also subjected to terrible treatment:— I once saw the wearers opening them with table-knives. Fortunately M. Lacaze, the artist, had a good practical knowledge of instruments; and this did us many a good turn.

14 For Arabian travel I should advise aconite, instead of Dover’s powder; Cockle’s pills, in lieu of blue mass; Warburg’s Drops, in addition to quinine; pyretic saline and Karlsbad, besides Epsom salts; and chloral, together with chlorodyne. “Pain Killer” is useful amongst wild people, and Oxley’s ginger, with the simple root, is equally prized. A little borax serves for eye-water and alum for sore mouth. I need not mention special medicines like the liqueur Laville, and the invaluable Waldöl (oil of the maritime pine), which each traveller must choose for himself.

15 It is Lane’s “Kiyakh, vulgó Kiyák,” and Michell’s “Kyhak, the ancient Khoiak,” or fourth month. The Copts begin their solar year on our September 10–11; and date from the 2nd of Diocletian, or the Era of the “Martyrs” (A.D. 284). It is the old Sothic, or annus quadratus, which became the Alexandrine under the Ptolemies; and which Sosigenes, the Egyptian, converted into the Julian, by assuming the Urbs condita as a point de départ, and by transferring New Year’s Day from the equinox to the solstice.

Thus Kayhák I, 1594, would correspond with December 9, A.D. 1877, and with Zúl-Hijjah 4, A.H. 1294. On the evening of Kayhák 14 (December 22nd) winter is supposed to set in. The fifth month, Tubá— Lane’s “Toobeh,” and Michell’s “Toubeh, the ancient Tobi”— is the coldest of the year at Suez, on the isthmus and in the adjacent parts of Arabia; rigorous weather generally lasts from January 20th to February 20th. In Amshír, about early March, torrents of rain are expected to fall for a few hours. The people say of it, in their rhyming way, Amshír, Za’bíb el-kathir —“Amshír hath many a blast;” and

Yakul li’l-Zará ‘Sir!
Wa yalhak bi’l-tawi’l el-kasi’r.”’

“Amshír saith to the plants, ‘Go (forth), and the little shall reach the big.”’ It is divided into three ‘Asharát or tens — 1. ‘Asharat el-‘Ajúz (“of the old man”), from the cold and killing wind El–Husúm; 2. ‘Asharat el-‘Anzah (“of the she-goat”), from the blasts and gales; and 3. ‘Asharat el-Rá’í’ (“of the shepherd”), from its change to genial warmth. Concerning Barmahát (vulgó Barambát), of old Phamenoth (seventh month), the popular jingle is, Ruh el-Ghayt wa hát —“Go to the field and bring (what it yields);” this being the month of flowers, when the world is green. Barmúdah (Pharmuthi)! dukh bi’l-‘amúdah (“April! pound with the pestle!”) alludes to the ripening of the spring crops; and so forth almost ad infinitum. For more information see the “Egyptian Calendar,” etc. (Alexandria: Mourès, 1878), a valuable compilation by our friend Mr. Roland L. N. Michell, who will, let us hope, prefix his name to a future edition, enlarged and enriched with more copious quotations from the weather-rhymes and the folk-lore of Egypt.

16 This is a most interesting feature. According to Forskâl (Descriptiones xxix.), “Suénsia litora, a recedente mari serius orta, nesciunt corallia;” and he makes the submaritime “Cryptogama regio animalis” begin at Tor (Raitha) and extend to (Gonfoda). Near Suez is the Newport Shoal, which could be sailed over with impunity twenty years ago, and which is now dangerous: it resembles, in fact, the other reef at the entrance of the Gulf, where tile soundings have changed, in late years, from 7–7 1/2 fathoms to 3–3 1/2. Geologists differ as to the cause — elevation or accretion by current-borne drift.

17 In Chap. XIV, we will return to this subject.

Chapter II.

The Start — from El-muwaylah to the “White Mountain” and ‘Aynúah.

I landed at El–Muwaylah, described in my last volume,18 on the auspicious Wednesday, December 19, 1877, under a salute from the gunboat Mukhbir, which the fort answered with a rattle and a patter of musketry. All the notables received us, in line drawn up on the shore, close to our camp. To the left stood the civilians in tulip-coloured garb; next were the garrison, a dozen Básh-Buzuks en bourgeois, and mostly armed with matchlocks; then came out quarrymen in uniform, but without weapons; and, lastly, the escort (twenty-five men) held the place of honour on the right. The latter gave me a loud “Hip! hip! hurrah!” as I passed. The tents, a total of twenty, including two four-polers for our mess and for the stores, with several large canvas sheds — páls, the Anglo–Indian calls them — gleamed white against the dark-green fronds of the date-grove; and the magnificent background of the scene was the “Dibbagh” block of the Tiha’mah, or lowland mountains.

The usual “palaver” at once took place; during which everything was “sweet as honey.” After this pleasant prelude came the normal difficulties and disagreeables — it had been reported that I was the happy possessor of £22,000 mostly to be spent at El–MuwayIah. The unsettled Arabs plunder and slay; the settled Arabs slander and cheat.

A whole day was spent in inspecting the soldiers and mules; in despatching a dromedary-post to Suez with news of our unexpectedly safe arrival, and in conciliating the claims of rival Bedawin. His Highness the Viceroy had honoured with an order to serve us Hasan ibn Salim, Shaykh of the Beni ‘Ukbah, a small tribe which will be noticed in a future page. Last spring these men had carried part of our caravan to ‘Aynúnah; and they having no important blood-feuds, I had preferred to employ them. But ‘Abd el-Nabi, of the Tagayát-Huwaytát clan, had been spoilt by over-kindness during my reconnaissance of 1877; besides, I had given him a bowie-knife without taking a penny in exchange. In my first volume he appears as a noble savage, with a mixture of the gentleman; here he becomes a mere Fellah–Bedawi.

The claimants met with the usual ceremony; right hands placed on the opposite left breasts — this is not done when there is bad blood — foreheads touching, and the word of peace, “Salám,” ceremoniously ejaculated by both mouths. Then came the screaming voices, the high words, and the gestures, which looked as if the Kurbáj (“whip”) were being administered. The Huwayti stubbornly refused to march with the other tribe, whom, moreover, he grossly insulted: he professed perfect readiness to carry me and mine gratis, the while driving the hardest bargain; he spoke of “our land,” when the country belongs to the Khediv; he openly denied his allegiance; he was convicted of saying, “If these Christians find gold, there will be much trouble (fitneh) to us Moslems;” and at a subsequent time he went so far as to abuse an officer. I had “Shaykh’d” him (Shayyakht-uh), that is, promoted him in rank, said the Sayyid ‘Abd el-Rahím; and the honour had completely changed his manners. “Nasaggharhu” (We will “small” him), was my reply. The only remedy, in fact, was to undo what had been done; to cut down, as Easterns say, the tree which I had planted. So he was solemnly and conspicuously disrated; the fee, one dollar per diem, allotted as travelling and escort-allowance to the chiefs, was publicly taken from him, and he at once subsided into an ignoble Walad (“lad”), under the lead of his uncle, Shaykh ‘Aláyan ibn Rabí. The latter is a man of substance, who can collect at least two thousand camels. Though much given to sulking, on the whole, he behaved so well that, the Expedition ended, I recommended him to his Highness the Viceroy for appointment to the chieftainship of his tribe, and the usual yearly subsidy. With him was associated his cousin, Shaykh Furayj, an excellent man, of whom I shall have much to say; and thus we had to fee three Bedawi chiefs, including Hasan. The latter was a notable intriguer and mischief-maker, ever breeding bad blood; and his termper was rather violent than sullen. When insulted by a soldier, he would rush off for his gun, ostentatiously light the match, walk about for an hour or two threatening to “shyute,” and then apparently forget the whole matter.

All wanted to let their camels by the day, whereas the custom of Arabia is to bargain for the march. Thus, the pilgrims pay one dollar per stage of twelve hours; and the post-dromedary demands the same sum, besides subsistence-money and “bakhshi’sh.” But our long and frequent halts rendered this proceeding unfair to the Bedawin. I began by offering seven piastres tariff, and ended by agreeing to pay five per diem while in camp, and ten when on the road.19 Of course, it was too much; but our supply of money was ample, and the Viceroy had desired me to be liberal. In the Nile valley, where the price of a camel is some £20, the average daily hire would be one dollar: on the other hand, the animal carries, during short marches, 700 lbs. The American officers in Upper Egypt reduced to 300 lbs. the 500 lbs. heaped on by the Súdáni merchants. In India we consider 400 lbs. a fair load; and the Midianite objects to anything beyond 200 lbs.

I have no intention of troubling the reader with a detailed account of our three first stages from El–Muwaylah to the Jebel el-Abyaz, or White Mountain.20 On December 21st, leaving camp with the most disorderly of caravans — 106 camels instead of 80, dromedaries not included — we marched to the mouth of the Wady Tiryam, where we arrived before our luggage and provisions, lacking even “Adam’s ale.” The Shaykhs took all the water which could be found in the palm-boothies near the shore, and drank coffee behind a bush. This sufficed to give me the measure of these “wall-jumpers.”

Early next morning I set the quarrymen to work, with pick and basket, at the north-western angle of the old fort. The latter shows above ground only the normal skeleton-tracery of coralline rock, crowning the gentle sand-swell, which defines the lip and jaw of the Wady; and defending the townlet built on the northern slope and plain. The dimensions of the work are fifty-five mètres each way. The curtains, except the western, where stood the Báb el-Bahr (“Sea gate”), were supported by one central as well as by angular bastions; the northern face had a cant of 32 degrees east (mag.); and the northwestern tower was distant from the sea seventy-two me’tres, whereas the south-western numbered only sixty. The spade showed a substratum of thick old wall, untrimmed granite, and other hard materials. Further down were various shells, especially bénitiers ( Tridacna gigantea) the harp (here called “Sirinbáz”), and the pearl-oyster; sheep-bones and palm charcoal; pottery admirably “cooked,” as the Bedawin remarked; and glass of surprising thinness, iridized by damp to rainbow hues. This, possibly the remains of lachrymatories, was very different from the modern bottle-green, which resembles the old Roman. Lastly, appeared a ring-bezel of lapis lazuli; unfortunately the “royal gem,” of Epiphanus was without inscription.

Whilst we were digging, the two staff-officers rode to the date-groves of Wady Tiryam, and made a plan of the ancient defences — the results of the first Khedivial Expedition had either not been deposited at, or had been lost in, the Staff bureau, Cairo. They found that the late torrents had filled up the sand pits acting as wells; and the people assured them that the Fiumara had ceased to show perennial water only about five or six years ago.

The second march was disorderly as the first: it reminded me of driving a train of unbroken mules over the Prairies; the men were as wild and unmanageable as their beasts. It was every one’s object to get the maximum of money for the minimum of work. The escort took especial care to see that all their belongings were loaded before ours were touched. Each load was felt, and each box was hand-weighed before being accepted: the heaviest, rejected by the rich, were invariably left to the poorest and the lowest clansmen with the weakest and leanest of animals. All at first especially objected to the excellent boxes — a great comfort — made for the Expedition21 at the Citadel, Cairo; but they ended with bestowing their hatred upon the planks, the tables, and the long tent-poles. As a rule, after the fellows had protested that their camels were weighted down to the earth, we passed them on the march comfortably riding — for “the ‘Orbán can’t walk.” And no wonder. At the halting-place they unbag a little barley and wheat-meal, make dough, thrust it into the fire, “break bread,” and wash it down with a few drops of dirty water. This copious refection ends in a thimbleful of thick, black coffee and a pipe. At home they have milk and Ghí (clarified butter) in plenty during the season, game at times, and, on extraordinary occasions, a goat or a sheep, which, however, are usually kept for buying corn in Egypt. But it is a “caution” to see them feed alle spalle altrui.

Nothing shabbier than the pack-saddles; nothing more rotten than the ropes. As these “Desert ships” must weigh about half the sturdy animals of Syria and the Egyptian Delta, future expeditions will, perhaps, do well to march their carriage round by El-‘Akabah. The people declare that the experiment has been tried, but that the civilized animal sickens and dies in these barrens; they forget, however, the two pilgrim-caravans.

At this season the beasts are half-starved. Their “kitchen” is a meagre ration of bruised beans, and their daily bread consists of the dry leaves of thorn trees, beaten down by the Makhbat, a flail-like staff, and caught in a large circle of matting (El–Khasaf). In Sinai the vegetation fares even worse: the branches are rudely lopped off to feed the flocks; only “holy trees” escape this mutilation. With the greatest difficulty we prevented the Arabs tethering their property all night close to our tents: either the brutes were cold; or they wanted to browse or to meet a friend: every movement was punished with a wringing of the halter, and the result may be imagined.

We slept that night at Wady Sharmá. Of this ruined town a plan was made for “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” by Lieutenant Amir, who alone is answerable for its correctness. We afterwards found layers of ashes, slag, and signs of metal-working to the north-east of the enceinte, where the furnace probably stood. The outline measures 1906 metres, not “several kilometres;” and desultory digging yielded nothing but charcoal, cinders, and broken pottery. It was not before nine a.m. on the next day that I could mount my old white, stumbling, starting mule; the delay being caused by M. Marie’s small discovery, which will afterwards be noticed. We crossed both branches of the Sharmá water; and, ascending the long sand-slope of the right bank, we again passed the Bedawi cemetery. I sent Lieutenants Amir and Yusuf to prospect certain stone-heaps which lay seawards of the graves; and they found a little heptangular demi-lune, concave to the north; the curtains varying from a minimum length of ten to a maximum of eighty me’tres, and the thickness averaging two metres, seventy-five centimetres. It was possibly intended, like those above Wady Tiryam, to defend the western approach; and, superficially viewed, it looks like a line of stones heaped up over the dead, with that fine bird’s-eye view of the valley which the Bedawi loves for his last sleeping-place.

Thence we passed through the dry Báb (“sea gap”), cut by a torrent in the regular line of the coralline cliff, the opening of the Wady Melláh, off which lay our Sambúk. Marching up the Wady Maka’dah, our experienced eyes detected many small outcrops of quartz, formerly unobserved, in the sole and on the banks. The granite hills, here as throughout Midian, were veined and dyked with two different classes of plutonic rock. The red and pink are felsites or fine-grained porphyries; the black and bottle-green are the coarse-grained varieties, easily disintegrating, and forming hollows [Illustration with caption: Fortification on the cliff commanding the right bank of Wady Sharma’.] in the harder granite. The ride was made charming by the frontage of picturesque Jebel ‘Urnub, with its perpendicular Pinnacles upon rock-sheets dropping clear a thousand feet; its jutting bluffs; its three huge flying Buttresses, that seemed to support the mighty wall-crest; and its many spits and “organs,” some capped with finials that assume the aspect of logan-stones. There was no want of animal life, and the yellow locusts were abroad; one had been seized by a little lizard which showed all the violent muscular action of the crocodile. There were small long-eared hares, suggesting the leporide; sign of gazelles appeared; and the Bedawin spoke of wolves and hyenas, foxes and jackals.

We camped upon the old ground to the southwest of the Jebel el-Abyaz; and at the halt our troubles forthwith began. The water, represented to be near, is nowhere nearer than a two hours’ march for camels; and it is mostly derived from rain-puddles in the great range of mountains which subtends maritime Midian. But this was our own discovery. The half-Fellah Bedawin, like the shepherds, their predecessors, in the days of Abimelech and Jethro, are ever chary of their treasure; the only object being extra camel-hire. After eating your salt, a rite whose significance, by-the-by, is wholly ignored throughout Midian and its neighbourhood, they will administer under your eyes a silencing nudge to an over-communicative friend. ‘The very children that drive the sheep and goats instinctively deny all knowledge of the Themáil (“pits”) and holes acting as wells.

At the head of the Wady el-Maka’dah we halted six days (December 24 — 30); this delay gave us time to correct the misapprehensions of our flying visit. The height of the Jebel el-Abyaz, whose colour makes it conspicuous even from the offing when sailing along the coast, was found to be 350 (not 600) feet above the plain. The Grand Filon, which a mauvais plaisant of a reviewer called the “Grand Filou,” forms a “nick” near the hill-top, but does not bifurcate in the interior. The fork is of heavy greenish porphyritic trap, also probably titaniferous iron, with a trace of silver,22 where it meets the quartz and the granite. Standing upon the “old man” with which we had marked the top, I counted five several dykes or outcrops to the east (inland), and one to the west, cutting the prism from north to south; the superficial matter of these injections showed concentric circles like ropy lava. The shape of the block is a saddleback, and the lay is west-east, curving round to the south. The formation is of the coarse grey granite general throughout the Province, and it is dyked and sliced by quartz veins of the amorphous type, crystals being everywhere rare in Midian (?) The filons and filets, varying in thickness from eight metres to a few lines, are so numerous that the whole surface appears to be quartz tarnished by atmospheric corrosion to a dull, pale-grey yellow; while the fracture, sharp and cutting as glass or obsidian, is dazzling and milk-white, except where spotted with pyrites — copper or iron. The neptunian quartz, again, has everywhere been cut by plutonic injections of porphyritic trap, veins averaging perhaps two metres, with a north-south strike, and a dip of 75 degrees (mag.) west. If the capping were removed, the sub-surface would, doubtless, bear the semblance of a honeycomb.

The Jebel el-Abyaz is apparently the centre of the quartzose outcrop in North Midian (Madyan Proper). We judged that it had been a little worked by the ancients, from the rents in the reef that outcrops, like a castle-wall, on the northern and eastern flanks. There are still traces of roads or paths; while heaps, strews, and scatters of stone, handbroken and not showing the natural fracture, whiten like snow the lower slopes of the western hill base. They contrast curiously with the hard felspathic stones and the lithographic calcaires bearing the moss-like impress of metallic dendrites; these occur in many parts near the seaboard, and we found them in Southern as well as in Northern Midian. The conspicuous hill is one of four mamelons thus disposed in bird’s-eye view; the dotted line shows the supposed direction of the lode in the Jibál el-Bayzá, the collective name.

On the plain to the north of the Jebel el-Abyaz also, I found curdles of porphyritic trap, and parallel trap-dykes, cutting the courses of large-grained grey granite: as many as three outcrops of the former appeared within fourteen yards. This convinced me that the whole of the solid square, thirty kilometres (six by five), where the quartz emerges, is underlaid by veins and veinlets of the same rock. Moreover, I then suspected, and afterwards ascertained, that the quartz of the Jibál el-Bayzá, as the Bedawin call this section, is not a local peculiarity. It everywhere bursts, not only the plain between the sea and the coast-range, but the two parallels of mountain which confine it on the east. In fact, throughout our northern march the Arabs, understanding that its object was “Marú,” the generic name for quartz,23 brought us loads of specimens from every direction. Nothing is easier than to work the purely superficial part. A few barrels of gunpowder and half a dozen English miners, with pick and crowbar, suffice. Even our dawdling, feckless quarrymen easily broke and “spelled” for camel loading some six tons in one day.

Our short se’nnight was not wasted; yet I had an uncomfortable feeling that the complication of the country called for an exploration of months and not hours. Every day some novelty appeared. The watercourses of the Gháts or coast-range were streaked with a heavy, metallic, quartzose black sand which M. Marie vainly attempted to analyze. We afterwards found it in almost every Wady, and running north as far as El-‘Akabah; whilst, with few exceptions, all our washings of red earth, chloritic sand, and bruised stone, yielded it and it only. It is apparently the produce of granite and syenite, and it abounds in African Egypt. I was in hopes that tungsten and titaniferous iron would make it valuable for cutlery as the black sand of New Zealand. Experiments in the Citadel, Cairo, produced nothing save magnetic iron with a trace of lead. But according to Colonel Ross, the learned author of “Pyrology, or Fire Chemistry,”24 it is iserine or magnetic ilmenite, titaniferous iron-sand, containing eighty-eight per cent. of iron (oxides and sesquioxides), with eleven per cent. of titanic acid.

The Arabs brought in fine specimens of hematite and of copper ore from Wady Gharr or Ghurr, six miles to the south of camp. Here were found two water-pits in a well-defined valley; the nearer some ten miles south-west of the Jebel el-Abyaz, the other about two miles further to the north-west; making a total of twelve. About the latter there was, however, no level ground for tents. A mile and a half walking almost due north led to a veinlet of copper 30 metres long by 0.30 thick, with an east-west strike, and a dip of 45 degrees south. This metal was also found in the hills to the south. Crystalline pyroxene and crystallized sulphates of lime apparently abound, while the same is the case with carbonate of manganese, and other forms of the metal so common in Western Sinai. Briefly, our engineer came to the conclusion that we were in the very heart of a mining region.

We made a general reconnaisance (December 27th) of a place whence specimens of pavonine quartz had come to hand. Following the Wady ‘Ifriyá round the north and east of the White Mountain, we fell into the Wady Simákh (of “Wild Sumach”), that drains the great gap between the Pinnacles and the Buttresses of the ‘Urnub–Tihámah section. After riding some two miles, we found to the south-east fragments of dark, iridescent, and metallic quartz: they emerge from the plain like walls, bearing north-south, with 36 degrees of westing and a westward dip of 15 degrees to 20 degrees — exactly the conditions which Australia seeks, and which produced the huge “Welcome Nugget” of Ballarat. They crop out of the normal trap-dyked grey granite, and select specimens show the fine panaché lustre of copper. M. Marie afterwards took from one of the geodes a pinch of powder weighing about half a gramme, and cupelled a bright dust-shot bead weighing not less than two centigrammes. Without further examination he determined it to be argentiferous, when it was possibly iron or antimony. On the other hand, the silver discovered in the Grand Filon by so careful and conscientious an observer as Gastinel Bey, and the fact that we are here on the same line of outcrop, and at a horizon three hundred feet lower, are reassuring.

This vein, which may be of great length and puissance, I took the liberty of calling the “Filon Husayn,” from the prince who had so greatly favoured the Expedition. Here we had hit upon the Negros,25 or coloured quartzose formations of Mexico, in which silver appears as a sulphure; and we may expect to find the Colorado, or argillaceous, that produces the noble metal in the forms of chlorure, bromure, and iodure. The former appears everywhere in Midian, but our specimens are all superficial, taken à ciel ouvert. To ascertain the real value and the extent of the deposits required exposure of the veins at a horizon far lower than our means and appliances allowed us to reach. If the rock prove argentiferous I should hope to strike virgin silver in the capillary or aborescent shape below. Above it, as on the summit of the Jebel el-Abyaz, and generally in the “Marú” hills and hillocks of North Midian, the dull white quartz is comparatively barren; showing specks of copper; crystals of pyrites, the “crow-gold” of the old English miner, and dark dots of various metals which still await analysis.

Thus, I would divide the metalliferous quartzes of this North–Midianite region into two chief kinds: those stained green and light blue, whose chief metallic element is copper, with its derivatives; and the iridescent Negro, which may shelter the Colorado. In South Midian the varieties of quartz are incomparably more numerous, and almost every march shows a new colour or constitution.

About the Jebel el-Abyaz, as in many mining countries, water is a serious difficulty. The principal deposit lies some three miles east of the camping ground in a Nakb or gorge, El–Asaybah, offsetting from the great Fiumara, “El–Simákh;” and apparently it is only a rain-pool. Throughout Midian, I may say, men still fetch water out of the rock. M. Philipin, whilst pottering about this place, saw two Beden (ibex) with their young, which suggests a permanent supply of drink.26

However that may be, Norton’s Abyssinian pumps, for which I had vainly applied at Cairo, would doubtless discover the prime necessary in the Wadys, many of the latter being still damp and muddy. Moreover, the crible continue à grilles filtrantes, the invention of MM. Huet and Geyler, introduced, we are told, into the mechanical treatment of metals, a principle which greatly economizes fluid. Founded upon the fact that sands of nearly the same size, but of different densities, when mixed in liquid and subjected to rapid vertical oscillation, range themselves by order of weight, the heavier sinking and not allowing passage to lighter matter, the new sieve offers the advantages of a single and simple instrument, with increased facility for treating poor “dirt.” Finally, as I shall show, the country is prepared by nature to receive a tramway; and the distance to the sea does not exceed fourteen miles, liberally computed.27

Either the rain-water affected the health of the party, or it suffered from the excessive dryness and variations of the atmosphere, eight to nine hundred feet above sea-level (aner. 29.10), ranging in the tents between 92 degrees by day and 45 degrees at night, a piercing, killing temperature in the Desert. Moreover, the cold weather is mostly the unwholesome season in hot lands, and vice versâ: hence the Arab proverb, Harárat el-Jebel, wa lá Bard-há (“The heat of the hills and not their cold”). Old Haji Wali lost his appetite, complained of indigestion, and clamoured to return home; Ahmed Kaptán suffered from Sulb (“lumbago”) and bad headache; whilst Lieutenant Yusuf was attacked by an ague and fever, which raised the mouth thermometer to 102 degrees — 103 degrees, calling loudly for aconite. These ailments affected the party more or less the whole way, but it was not pleasant to see them begin so soon. When our work of collecting specimens — three tons from the Jebel el-Abyaz, and three from the Filon Husayn — was finished, I resolved upon returning to the coast and treating our loads at the Sharmá water. We reached the valley mouth on December 30th, and we greatly enjoyed the change from the harshness of the inland to the mildness of the seaboard air.

We stayed at Sharmá, much disliking its remarkably monotonous aspect, for another week, till January 7, 1878. Yule, “the wheel,” despite the glorious tree-logs and roaring fires, had been a failure at the White Mountain. The Dragoman had killed our last turkey, and had forgotten to bring the plum-pudding from El–Muwaylah: there was champagne, but that is not the stuff wherewithal to wash down tough mutton. New Year’s Day, on the other hand, had all the honours. Its birth was greeted with a flow of whisky-punch, wherein wine had taken the place of water; and we drank the health of his Highness, the Founder of the Expedition, in a bottle of dry Mumm. The evening ended with music and dancing, by way of “praying the Old Year out and the New Year in.” Mersál, the Boruji, performed a wild solo on his bugle; and another negro, Ahmed el-Shinnáwi, played with the Nái or reed-pipe one of those monotonous and charming minor-key airs — I call them so for want of a word to express them — which extend from Midian to Trafalgar, and which find their ultimate expression in the lovely Iberian Zarzuela.28 The boy Husayn Genínah, a small cyclops in a brown felt calotte and a huge military overcoat cut short, caused roars of laughter by his ultra-Gaditanian style of dancing. I have also reason to suspect that a jig and a breakdown tested the solidity of the plank table, while a Jew’s harp represented Europe. In fact, throughout the journey, reminiscences of Mabille and the Music Halls contrasted strongly with the memories of majestic and mysterious Midian. And, to make the shock more violent, some friend, malè salsus, sent me copies of the cosmopolitan Spectator and the courteous Mayfair, which at once became waste paper for Bedawi cartridges.

Our Rosh há Shanah (“New Year’s Day”) was further distinguished by the discovery of a vein and outcrop of metalliferous quartz, about half an hour’s walk, and bearing nearly east (80 degrees mag.) from camp. We followed the Wady Sharmá, and found above its “gate” the masonry-foundation of a square work; near it lay the graves of the Wild Men, one with the normal awning of palm-fronds honoris causâ. There were signs of stone-quarrying, and at one place a road had been cut in the rock. Leaving on the north the left side of the watercourse, with its rushes (Scirpus), and huge-headed reeds (Arundo donax), its dates and Daums — the two latter often scorched and killed by the careless Bedawi — we struck into a parallel formation, the Wady el Wuday, bone-dry and much trodden by camels. Arrived at the spot, we found that the confused masses of hill subtending the regular cliff-line of the old coast, are composed of grey granite, seamed with snowy quartz, and cut by the usual bands of bottle-coloured porphyritic trap, which here and there becomes red. Some of the heights are of greenish-yellow chloritic felspar, well adapted for brick-making. The surface of the land is scattered with fragments of white silex and fine red jasper, banded with black oligistic iron: this rock, close, hard, and fine enough to bear cutting, appears everywhere in scatters and amongst the conglomerates. Only one fossil was picked up, a mould so broken as to be quite useless.

We also followed out M. Marie’s find, to which he had been guided by a patch of red matter, conspicuous on the road from Tiryam to Sharmá. For forty minutes we skirted the seaward face of the old cliff, a line broken by many deep water-gashes and buttressed by Goz, or high heaps of loose white sand. We then turned eastwards or inland, ascended a Nakb (“gorge”), and saw, as before, the corallines and carbonates of lime altered, fused, scorified, and blackened by heated injections; the grey granite scored with quartz veins, running in all rhumbs; and the porphyritic trap forming crests that projected from the sands. The cupriferous stone struck east-west, with a dip to the south; the outcrops, visible without digging, measured fifteen to twenty metres long, by one to one and a half in breadth.

New Year’s Day also restored to us the pup “Páijí.” When quite a babe, it had walked up to me in the streets of Cairo, evidently claimed acquaintanceship, and straightway followed me into Shepheard’s, where; having a certain sneaking belief in metempsychosis, I provided it with bed and board. During our third march to the White Mountain, being given to violent yelps, which startled both mules and camels, the small thing had been left to walk, and had apparently made friends with an Arab goatherd. After nine days’ absence without leave, “Páijí” reappeared, with dirty rags tied round its bony back and wasted waist, showing an admirable skeleton, and making the most frantic demonstrations of joy. The loss of the poor little brute had affected all our spirits: we thought that the hyenas and the ravens had seen the last of it; and it received a warm welcome home.

M. Lacaze, unlike the rest, took a violent fancy for the Wady Sharmá: the water-scenery enchanted him. His sketches were almost confined to the palm-growth, and to the greenery so unexpected in arid Midian, where, according to the old and exploded opinion, Moses wrote the Book of Job. The idea of Arabia is certainly not associated with flowing rills, and waving trees, and rustling zephyrs. Every morning I used to awake surprised by the song of the Naiad, the little runnel whimpling down its bed of rushes, stone, and sand; and the response of the palms making music in the land-breeze.

Finally, on New Year’s Day, Lieutenant Amir, guided by Shaykh Furayj, and escorted by soldiers and miners, made a three days’ trip to the Wady ‘Urnub. There he surveyed a large isolated “Mará,” or quartz-hill, some twenty-two to twenty-five direct miles south-east of the main outcrop; thus giving a considerable extent to the northern mining-focus. This feature is described as being four or five times larger than the Jebel el-Abyaz (proper); and the specimens of quartz and grey granite proved it to be of the same formation. It showed a broken outline, with four great steps or dykes, which had apparently been worked. In the basal valleys, and spread over the land generally, was found a heavy yellow sand, calcareous and full of silex: the guide called it Awwal Hismá (the “Hismá frontier”).

Our travellers returned by a parallel line, southerly and more direct. In the Wady ‘Urnub, the Ma’ázah of the Salímát clan received them with apparent kindness, inwardly grumbling the while at their land being “spied out;” and they especially welcomed Furayj, who, being a brave soldier, is also noted as a peacemaker. All the men were armed, and wore the same dress as the Huwaytát; like these, they also breed camels and asses — that is, they are not cow-Arabs. Certain travellers on the Upper Nile have distributed the Bedawin into these two groups; add horse-Arabs and ass-Arabs, and you have all the divisions of the race as connected with the so-called “lower animals.” About three hours (= eleven miles) from Sharmá camp, some pyramids of sand were pointed out in the Wady Rátiyah: the Bedawin call one of them the Goz et-Hannán (“Moaning Sand-heap”). They declare that when the Hajj-caravan passes, or rather used to pass, by that way, before the early sixteenth century, when Sultán Selim laid out his maritime high-road, a Naubah (“orchestra”) was wont to sound within its bowels. This tale, which, by-the-by, is told of two other places in Midian, may have been suggested by the Jebel el-Nákús (“Bell Mountain”) in Sinai-land; but as the Arabs perform visitation and sacrifice to the “Moaning-heap,” the superstition probably dates from ancient days. Ruins are also reported to exist in the Jebel Fa’s, the southern boundary of the ‘Urnub valley; and, further south, in the Jebel el-Harb, I was told by some one whose name has escaped me, of a dolmen mounted upon three supports. Lieutenant Amir also brought copper ore from the Wady ‘Urnub, and from the Ras Wady el-Mukhbir specimens of a metal which the Arabs use as a kohl or collyrium. It proved, however, iron, not antimony; and the same mistake has been made in the Sinaitic Peninsula.

At Wady Sharmá we rigged up, under the superintendence of M. Philipin, a trough and a cradle for washing the black sands, the pounded quartz of the Jebel el-Abyaz, and the red sands; these latter had shown a trace of silver (1/10000) to the first Expedition. We mixed it with mercury and amalgamed it in goatskins; the men moved them to and fro; but, of course, the water evaporated, and the mass speedily became dry. The upper or superficial white yielded only, as far as our engineer could judge, a little copper and bright knobs of pyrites. The Negros, or iridized formations, of the “Filon Husayn” on a lower horizon, gave the dubious result already alluded to. All the experiments were conducted in the rudest way. Of course, a quantity of metal may have escaped notice; and a fair proportion of the powdered stone was reserved for scientific treatment in Europe.

During our first trip we had found, upon the right jaw of the Wady Sharmá, a ruined village of workmen, probably slaves, whose bothans measured some twelve feet by eight. They differ from the Nawámis, or “mosquito-huts,” as the word is generally translated, only in shape — the latter are circular, with a diameter of ten feet — and they perfectly resemble the small stone hovels in the Wady Mukattab, which Professor Palmer (“Desert of the Exodus,” p. 202) supposes to have been occupied by the captive miners and their military guardians. This time we ascended the coralline ridge which forms the left jamb. At its foot a rounded and half degraded dorsum of stiff gravel, the nucleus of its former self, showed a segment of foundation-wall, and the state of the stone suggested the action of fire. Possibly here had been a furnace. The summit also bears signs of human occupation. The southern part of the buttress-crest still supports a double concentric circle with a maximum diameter of about fifteen feet; the outside is of earth, apparently thrown up for a rampart behind a moat, and the inside is of rough stones. Going south along the dorsum, we found remains of oval foundations; a trench apparently cut in the rock, pottery often an inch and more thick, and broken handmills made of the New Red Sandstone of the Hismá. Finally, at the northernmost point, where the cliff-edge falls abruptly, with a natural arch, towards the swamp, about one kilometre broad at the Báb, we came upon another circle of rough stones. We were doubtful whether these rude remains were habitations or old graves; nor was the difficulty solved by digging into four of them: the pick at once came upon the ground-rock. Hitherto these ruins have proved remarkably sterile; the only products were potsherds, fragments of hand-mills, and a fine lump of white marble (Rukhám), supposed to come from the Jebel el-Lauz.

Amongst our followers was a “Kázi of the Arabs,” one Jabr bin ‘Abd el-Nabi, who is a manner of judge in civil, but not in criminal matters. Before the suit begins the plaintiff, or his surety, deposits a certain sum in coin, corn, or other valuables, and lays his damages at so much. The defendant, if inclined to contest the claim, pays into court the disputed amount, and the question is settled after the traditional and immemorial customs of the tribe. This man, covetous as any other disciple of Justinian, was exceedingly anxious to obtain the honorarium of a Shaykh, and he worked hard to deserve it. Shortly before our departure from Sharmá, he brought in some scoriae and slag, broken and streaked with copper — in fact, ekvolades. They are thinly scattered over the seaward slope of the left jaw, where the stone nowhere shows a trace of the mineral in situ. As, however, the Expedition had found native copper in three places, more or less near the Jebel el-Abyaz, it was decided that the ore had been brought from the interior.

We were again much puzzled concerning the form of industry which gave rise to such a large establishment as Sharmá. Agriculture was suggested and rejected; and we finally resolved that it was a branch-town that supplied ore to the great smelting-place and workshop of the coast, ‘Aynúnah, and possibly carbonate of lime to serve for flux.

The distance along the winding Wady, between the settlement and the sea westward, where the watercourse ends in sand-heaps, is seven to eight miles, and the coast shows no sign of harbour or of houses. About three miles, however, to the northwest is the admirable Bay of ‘Aynu’nah, unknown to the charts. Defended on both sides by sandspits, and open only between the west and the north-west, where reefs and shoals allow but a narrow passage, its breadth across the mouth from east to west measures at least five thousand metres, and the length inland, useful for refuge, is at least three thousand. At the bottom of this noble Límán, the Kolpos so scandalously abused by the ancients, are three sandy buttresses metalled with water rolled stones, and showing traces of graves. Possibly here may have been the site of an ancient settlement. The Arabs call the southern anchorage, marked by a post and a pit of brackish water, El–Musaybah or Musaybat Sharmá. Its only present use seems to be embarking bundles of rushes for mat-making in Egypt. The north-eastern end of the little gulf is the Gád (Jád), or Mersá of El–Khuraybah, before described as the port of ‘Aynu’nah.

At the Musaybah I stationed our tender, the Sambúk El–Musahhil, which carried our heavy goods, specimens by the ton; rations and stores; forge, planks, and crowbars. The sailors lost no time in showing their rapacity. Every day they dunned us for tobacco; and when we made a counter-demand for the excellent fish which was caught in shoals, they simply asked, “What will you pay for it?” I imprudently left my keg of specimen-spirits on board this ignoble craft, and the consequence was that it speedily became bone-dry. The Musaybah bight is a direct continuation of the Wady el-Melláh, which, joining that of El–Maka’dah, runs straight up to the Jebel el-Abyaz and to the Filon Husayn. These metalliferous quartzes cannot be further from the coast than a maximum distance of fourteen miles, and the broad, smooth watercourse, with its easy gradients, points it out as the site of the future tramway. I should prefer a simpler form of the “Pioneer Steam Caravan or Saddleback–Railway System,” patented by Mr John L. Haddan, C.E., formerly of Damascus.29 He recommends iron as the best material for the construction; and the cost, delivered at Alexandria, would not exceed £1200, instead of £3000 to £20,000 per kilometre, including the rolling stock. As the distance from the port is nothing, £300 per kilometre would be amply sufficient for “fixing up;” but I should reduce the price to £500 for the transport of some 50 tons per diem. By proper management of the rails or the main rail, it would be easy for trained camels to draw the train up the Wady; and the natural slope towards the sea would give work only to the brake where derailments are not possible.

At Sharmá we saw the crescent, when the Englishmen turned their money in their pockets, and the Egyptian offficers muttered a blessing upon the coming moon. Every day we waxed more weary of the place; possibly the memories of the first visit were not pleasant. Many in camp still suffered; and an old Bedawi, uncle to Shaykh ‘Alayan, died and was buried at ‘Aynúnah. The number of servants also made us uncomfortable. The head Dragoman, whose memory was confined to his carnet, forgot everything; and, had we trusted to him, half the supplies would have returned to Suez, probably for the benefit of his own shop at Zagázig. I soon found his true use, and always left him behind as magazine-man, storekeeper, and guardian of reserve provisions. He was also a dangerous, mischief-making fellow; and such men always find willing ears that ought to know better. Petros, the Zante man, was the model of a tipotenios (an “anybody”), who seemed to have been born limp, without bones or brains. He was sent back as soon as possible to Cairo. The worst point of these worthies was, that they prevented, for their own reasons, the natives working for us; while they preferred eternal chatter and squabbles to working themselves. So the Greek element was reduced to George the cook, a short, squat, unwashed fellow, who looked like a fair-Hercules out of luck; who worked like three, and who loudly clamoured for a revolver and a bowie-knife. His main fault, professionally speaking, was that he literally drenched us with oil till the store happily ran out. His complexion was that of an animated ripe olive, evidently the result of his own cookery. His surprise when I imperatively ordered plain boiled rice, instead of a mess dripping with grease; and when told to boil the fish in sea water and to serve up the bouillon, was high comedy. Doubtless he has often, since his return, astounded his “Hellenion” by describing our Frankish freaks and mad eccentricities.

The stationary camp also retained Lieutenant Yusuf and MM. Duguid and Philipin, with thirteen soldiers and sixteen miners. The six camels were placed under Gabr, Kázi el-‘Orbán; and all the stay-behinds were charged with washing the several earths, with scouring the country for specimens, and with transporting sundry tons of the black sand before mentioned. Old Haji Wali, probably frightened by the Arabs, and maddened by the idea that, during his absence in the thick of the cotton season, the Fellahs of Zagázig would neglect to pay their various debts, began to “malinger” with such intensity of purpose, that I feared lest he would kill himself to spite us. The venerable Shylock, who ever pleaded poverty, had made some £300 by lending a napoleon, say, on January 1st, which became a sovereign on February 1st; not to speak of the presents and “benevolences” which the debtor would be compelled to offer his creditor. So he departed for El–Muwaylah, whence some correspondent had warned him that a pilgrim boat was about to start; declaring that he was dying, and trotting his mule as hard as it would go, the moment a safe corner was turned. He stayed two days on board the gunboat, and straightway returned to Egypt and the cotton season:— we had the supreme satisfaction, however, to hear that he had gone through the long quarantine at Tor. Yet after our return he reproached me, with inimitable coolness and effrontery, for not having behaved well to him.

On the morning of January 7th, a walk of two hours and twenty minutes (= seven miles) northwards, and mostly along the shore of the noble “Musaybat Sharmá,” transferred us to well-remembered ‘Aynúnah. The sea in places washed over slabs of the fine old conglomerates which, in this country, line the banks and soles of all the greater Wadys: these are the Cascalho of the Brazil, a rock which is treated by rejecting the pebbles and by pounding the silicious paste. The air was softer and less exciting than that of Sharmá; and, although the vegetation was of the crapaud mort d’amour hue — here a sickly green, there a duller brown than April had showed — the scene was more picturesque, the “Gate” was taller and narrower, and the recollection of a happy first visit made me return to it with pleasure. Birds were more abundant: long-shanked water-fowl with hazel eyes; red-legged rail; the brown swallow of Egypt; green-blue fly-catchers; and a black muscivor, with a snowy-white rump, of which I failed to secure a specimen. We also saw the tern-coloured plover, known in Egypt as Domenicain and red kingfishers. The game species were fine large green mallard; dark pintail; quail, and red-beaked brown partridge with the soft black eye.

New formations began to develop themselves, and the sickly hues of the serpentines and the chlorites, so rich in the New World, appeared more charming than brow of milk or cheek of rose.30 There were few changes. A half-peasant Bedawi had planted a strip of barley near the camping place; the late floods had shifted the course of the waters; more date-trees had been wilfully burned; a big block of quartz, brother to that which we had broken, had been carried off; and where several of the old furnaces formerly stood, deep holes, dug by the “money-hunter,” now yawned. I again examined the two large fragments of the broken barrage, and found that they were of uncut stone, compacted with fine cement, which contained palm-charcoal.

At ‘Aynúnah we gave only one day to work. While M. Lacaze sketched the views, we blasted with gunpowder more than half charcoal the Ma’dan el-Fayrúz (“turquoise mine”), as the Arabs called it, on the right side of the Wady. The colour and texture were so unlike the true lapis Pharanitis that we began to suspect, and presently we ascertained from the few remaining fragments, it had been worked for copper — the carbonates and the silicates which characterize Cyprus. Presently good specimens of the latter were brought to us from the Jebel el-Fará by a Bedawi pauper, ‘Ayd of the Tagaygát-Huwaytát tribe. These half-naked shepherds and goatherds, who know every stone in the land, are its best guides; not the Shaykhs, who, as a rule, see little or nothing outside their tents. From our camp the direction, as reported by Ahmed Kaptán, was 102 degrees (mag.), and the distance three miles. I afterwards sent Lieutenant Yusuf from El–Muwaylah to make a detailed plan.31

We also dug in an old pit amongst the Christian graves to the south-east of the camp, and below the left jamb of the “Gate.” Here also the Bedawin had been at work; and, when unable to work deep enough, they told us wonderful tales of an alabaster slab, which doubtless concealed vast treasures. In Arabia, as in Africa, one must look out for what there is not, as well as for what there is. After spending a morning in sinking a twelve-feet shaft, we came upon a shapeless coralline-boulder, which in old times had slipped from the sea-face of the cliff to the left of the valley. I ascended this height, and saw some stones disposed by the hand of man; but there were no signs of a large slave-miner settlement like that on the other side of the Báb.

In the afternoon Mr. Clarke led a party of quarrymen across the graveyards to El–Khuraybah, the seaport of ‘Aynúnah, and applied them to excavating the floor of a cistern and the foundations of several houses; a little pottery was the only result. It was a slow walk of forty minutes; and thus the total length of the aqueducts would be three miles, not “between four and five kilometres.” I had much trouble and went to some expense in sending camels to fetch a “written stone” which, placed at the head of every newly buried corpse, is kept there till another requires it. It proved to be a broken marble pillar with a modern Arabic epitaph. In the Gád el-Khuraybah, the little inlet near the Gumruk (“custom-house”), as we called in waggery the shed of palm-fronds at the base of the eastern sandspit, lay five small Sambúks, which have not yet begun fishing for mother-of-pearl. Here we found sundry tents of the Tagaygát-Huwaytát, the half Fellahs that own and spoil the once goodly land; the dogs barked at us, but the men never thought of offering us hospitality. We had an admirable view of the Tihámah Mountains — Zahd, with its “nick;” the parrot-beak of Jebel el-Shátí; the three perpendicular Pinnacles and flying Buttresses of Jebel ‘Urnub; the isolated lump of Jebel Fás; the single cupola of Jebel Harb; the huge block of Dibbagh, with its tall truncated tower; the little Umm Jedayl, here looking like a pyramid; and the four mighty horns of Jebel Shárr.

I left ‘Aynúnah under the conviction that it has been the great Warshah (“workshop”) and embarking-place of the coast-section extending from El–Muwaylah to Makná; and that upon it depended both Wady Tiryam and Sharmá, with their respective establishments in the interior. Moreover, the condition of the slag convinced me that iron and the baser metals have been worked here in modern times, perhaps even in our own, but by whom I should not like to say.

18 “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” etc. (London: C. Kegan Paul & Co., 1878).

19 Assuming the sovereign at 97 piastres 40 parahs, this hire would be in round numbers one and two shillings; the shilling being exactly 4 piastres 24 parahs. See Chap. VII. for further details.

20 Besides a popular account of the stages in “The Gold Mines of Midian,” a geographical itinerary has been offered to the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society.

21 They were, perhaps, a trifle too long for small beasts: seventy-seven centimètres (better seventy); and too deep, sixty, instead of fifty-eight. The width (forty-six) was all right. The best were painted, and defended from wet by an upper plate of zinc; the angles and the bottoms were strengthened with iron bands in pairs; and they were closed with hasps. At each end was a small block, carrying a strong looped rope for slinging the load to the pack-saddle; of these, duplicates should be provided. In order to defend our delicate apparatus from excessive shaking, we divided the inside, by battens, into several compartments. The smaller cases of bottles and breakables should have been cut to fit into the larger, but this had been neglected at Cairo. Finally, not a single box gave way on the march: that was reserved for the Suez–Cairo Railway, and for landing at the London Docks.

22 MM. Gastinel (Bey) and Marie give it per cent.:—

Silver. . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . 100.0
Titaniferous iron. . . . . . . . . . 86.50
Silica . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . 10.10
Copper . . . . . . . . . . .  . . . . 3.40 (2 1/2 per cent.)

23 Hence, evidently, the derivation of the “Marwah” hill near Meccah, and the famous “Marwah” gold mine which we shall visit in South Midian. The Arabs here use Jebel el-Mará and Jebel el-Abyaz (plur. Jibál el-Bayzá) synonymously.

24 Spon: London, 1875. A book opening a new epoch, and duly neglected.

25 So said the engineer. He relied chiefly upon M. Amedée Burat, p. 229, “Géologic Appliquáe” (Paris: Garnier, 1870), who quotes the compte rendu of M. Guillemin, C.E. to the Exposition of 1867. The latter gentleman, who probably did not, like the former, place Mexico in South America, makes the metalliferous lands measure four-fifths of the total surface. I am much mistaken if the same is not the case with Midian.

26 In “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” p. 171, I erroneously asserted that the Beden does not extend to these mountains. The second Expedition could learn nothing about the stag with large branches vaguely spoken of by the Bedawin.

27 When “miles” are given, I mean the statute of 1760 yards as opposed to the geographical; the latter equals 1 minute (of a degree) = 1 Italian or Arab = 1/4 German = 1 1/4 Roman = 10 stadia.

28 Were I a wealthy man, nothing would delight me more than to introduce London to La Zarzuela, the Spanish and Portuguese opera bouffe. Sir Julius Benedict tells me that it has reached Paris.

29 See Le Pionnier, Chemin de Fer Abyssinien d’apré‘s les desseins de M. J. L. Haddan. Another valuable form is “The Economical” (Mr. Russell Shaw).

30 Chloritic slate is the matrix of gold in the Brazil and in Upper Styria.

31 Chap. IX.

Chapter III.

Breaking New Ground to Magháir Shu’ayb.

On January 9th we left ‘Aynúnah by the Hajj-road, and passed along the Quarry Hill visited during my first journey: the crest has old cuttings and new cuttings, the latter still worked for Bedawi headstones. The dwarf pillar with the mysterious cup is reflected by the Nubians, who hollow out the upper part of the stela to a depth of eight or ten inches without adding any ornament. Hence, perhaps, the Sawahíli custom of the inserted porcelain-plate.

After issuing from the stony and sandy gorge which forms the short cut, we regained the Hajj-road, and presently sighted a scene readily recognized. Fronting us, the northern horizon was formed by the azure wall of Tayyib Ism,32 the “Mountain of the Good Name,” backed by the far grander peaks of Jebel Mazhafah: the latter rises abruptly from the bluer Gulf of El–Akabah, and both trend to their culminating points inland or eastward. On our right followed the unpicturesque metalliferous heap of Jebel Zahd or ‘Aynúnah Mountain, whose Brèche de Roland seems to show from every angle; its chocolate-coloured heights contain, they say, furnaces and “Mashghal,” or ateliers, where the Marú (“quartz”) was worked for ore. In places it is backed by the pale azure peaks of Jebel el-Lauz. This “Mountain of Almonds” is said to take its name from the trees, probably bitter, which flourish there as within the convent-walls of St. Catherine, Sinai. They grow, I was told, high up in the clefts and valleys; and here, also, are furnaces both above and below. Of its white, sparkling, and crystallized marble, truly noble material, a tombstone was shown to me; and I afterwards secured a slab with a broken Arabic inscription, and a ball apparently used for rubbing down meal. The Lauz appears to be the highest mountain in Northern Midian-land; unfortunately, it is to be reached only viâ Sharaf, two long stations ahead, and I could not afford time for geographical research to the prejudice of mineralogical. Its nearer foot-hill is the Jebel Khulayf; and this feature contains, according to the Bedawin, seven wells or pits whose bottom cannot be seen. Between the “Almond Block” and its northern continuation, Jebel Munífah, we saw a gorge containing water, and sheltering at times a few tents of the ‘Amírát Arabs; in the same block we also heard of a Sarbút or rock said to be written over.

The regular cone of El–Maklá’ ends the prospect in the north-eastern direction. Looking westward, we see the ghastly bare and naked Secondary formation, the Rughám of the Bedawin, not to be confounded with Rukhám (“alabaster or saccharine marble”). We afterwards traced this main feature of the ‘Akabah Gulf as far south as the Wady Hamz. It is composed of the sulphates of lime — alabaster, gypsum, and the plaster with which the Tertiary basin of Paris supplies the world; and of the carbonates of lime — marble, chalk, kalkspar, shells, and eggs. The broken crests of the Jibál el-Hamrá, the red hills backing Makná,33 and the jagged black peaks of their eastern parallel, the Kalb el-Nakhlah, look like plutonic reefs or island-chains emerging from the Secondary sea. The latter, whose bleached and skeleton white is stained, here and there, by greenish-yellow sands, chlorite and serpentine, stands boldly out from the chaos of purpling mountains composing Sinai, and ending southwards in the azure knobs of three-headed Tirán Island. The country, in fact, altogether changed: quartz had disappeared, and chlorite had taken its place.

We passed the night at El-‘Usaylah, a Ghadir (or “hollow”) without drainage, which the sinking of water cakes with mud and covers with an irregular circle of salsolaceous trees, a patch of dark metallic green. This “‘Usaylah” is eaten by camels, but rejected by mules. Here our post reached us from Suez on the seventh day, having started on the 2nd inst. A dollar was offered to the Bedawi, who eyed the coin indignantly, declaring that it ought to be a ginni (guinea). I had also given him some tobacco, and repented, as usual, my generosity.

Next day we finished the last and larger part of the second pilgrim-stage from El–Muwaylah. Our Arabs had been “dodging;” and, much disappointed about converting a two days’ into a three days’ march, they punished us by feeding their camels on the road, and by not joining us till the evening. As before, there was no game till we approached the springs; yet tufts and scatters of tamarisks, Samur (Inga unguis) and Arák (Salvadora), looked capable of sheltering it. And now, beyond the level and monotonous Desert, we began to see our destination; — palms and tufty trees at the mouth of a masked Wady. This watercourse runs between a background of reddish-brown rock, the foot-hills and sub-ranges of the grand block, “El-Zánah,” to the north; and a foreground of pale-yellow, stark-naked gypsum, apparently tongue-shaped. Above the latter tower two sister-quoins of ruddy material, the Shigdawayn, to which a tale hangs.

Presently we fell into and ascended the great Wady ‘Afár, which begins in the Hismá, or Red Region, east of the double coast-range. After receiving a network of Secondary valleys that enable it to flow a torrent, as in France, every ten to twelve years, it falls into the Mínat el-‘Ayánát, a little port for native craft, which will presently be visited. We left this Wady at a bend, some two hundred metres wide, called the “Broad of the Jujube,” from one of the splendid secular trees that characterize North Midian. Near the camping-ground we shall find another veteran Zizyphus, whose three huge stems, springing from a single base, argue a green old age. Here both banks of the Fiumara are lined with courses of rough stone, mostly rounded and rolled boulders, evidently the ruins of the water-conduits which served to feed the rich growth of the lower ‘Afa’l. The vegetation of the gorge-mouth developed itself to dates and Daums, tamarisks and salsolaceæ, out of which scuttled a troop of startled gazelles. We turned the right-hand jamb of the “Gate,” and found ourselves at the water and camping-ground of Magháir Shu’ayb.

The general appearance of the station-basin is novel, characteristic, and not without its charms, especially when the sunset paints the plain with the red, red gold, and washes every barren peak with the tenderest, loveliest rosy pink. Under an intensely clear sapphire-coloured sky rises a distant rim of broken and chocolate-coloured trap-hills, set off by pale hillocks and white flats of gypsum, here and there crystallized by contact with the plutonics. The formation mostly stands up either in stiff cones or in long spines and ridges, whose perpendicular wall-like crests are impossible to climb. The snowy cliffs rest upon shoulders disposed at the “angle of rest,” and the prevailing dull drab-yellow of the base is mottled only where accidental fracture or fall exposes the glittering salt-like interior. The gashes in the flank made by wind and rain disclose the core — grey granite or sandstone coloured by manganese. The greater part of the old city was built of this alabaster-like34 material. When new, it must have been a scene in fairy-land; Time has now degraded it to the appearance and the consistence of crumbling salt. The quoin-shaped hills of the foreground, all uptilted and cliffing to the north, show the curious mauve and red tints of the many-coloured clays called in the Brazil Tauá. Even the palms are peculiar. Their tall, upright crests of lively green fronds, their dead-brown hangings, and their trunks charred black by the careless Bedawi, form a quaint contrast with the genteel, nattily dressed, and cockneyfied brooms of Egypt and the Hejaz. And that grandeur may not be wanting to the view, on the east rise the peak and pinnacles of the Almond Mountain (Jebel el-Lauz), whilst northwards the Jebel el-Za’nah, a huge dome, forms the horizon.

This place, evidently the capital of Madyan Proper, is the [Greek word] which Ptolemy (vi. 7) places amongst his “Mesogeian towns” in north lat. 28 degrees 15 minutes;35 and it deserves more than the two pages of description which Ruppell bestowed upon it.36 We will notice its natural features before proceeding to the remains of man. Here the Wady ‘Afár takes the name of “El–Badá.” Sweeping from west to east, it is deflected to a north-south line, roughly speaking, by the gate of the Shigdawayn, twin-hills standing nearly east and west of one another. Now become a broad, well-defined, tree-dotted bed, with stiff silt banks, here and there twenty to twenty-five feet high, it runs on a meridian for about a mile, including the palm-orchard and the camping-ground. It then turns the west end of the Jebel el-Safrá, a mass of gypsum on the left bank, and it bends to the east of south, having thus formed a figure of Z. After escaping from the imprisoning hills, the Fiumara bed, now about three-quarters of a mile broad, is bisected longitudinally by a long and broken lump of chloritic or serpentine sandstone; and rises in steps towards the right bank, upon which the pilgrims camp. Reaching the plain, the Wady flares out wildly, containing a number of riverine islands, temporary, but sometimes of considerable size. It retains sufficient moisture to support a clump of palms — that which we saw from afar; — it bends to the south-east, and, lastly, it trends seaward.

The “Water of Bada’” springs from the base of the hill El–Safrá, oozing out in trickling veins bedded in soft dark mud. It can be greatly increased by opening the fountains, and economized by a roofing of mat: we tried this plan, which only surprised the unready Arab. After swinging to the left bank and running for a few yards, it sinks in the sand; yet on both sides there are signs of labour, showing that, even of late years, the valley has seen better days. Long leats and watercourses have been cut in the clay, and are still lined with the white-flowered “Rijlah,” whose nutritive green leaf is eaten, raw or boiled, by the Fellahs of Egypt: the wild growth, however, is mostly bitter. On both sides are little square plots fenced against sheep and goats by a rude abattis of stripped and dead boughs, Jujube and acacia. Young dates have been planted in pits; some are burnt and others are torn; for the Bedawi, mischievous and destructive as the Cynocephalus, will neither work nor allow others to work. The ‘Ushash or frond-and-reed huts, much like huge birds’-nests, are scattered about in small groups everywhere except near the water. Wherever a collection of bones shows a hyena’s lair, the hunters have built a screen of dry stone.

In fact, Magháir Shu’ayb was spoken of as an Arab “Happy Valley.” But its owners, the Masá’íd, a spiritless tribe numbering about seventy tents, are protégés of the Tagaygát. This Huwayti clan is on bad terms with Khizr and ‘Brahim bin Makbúl; and the brother Shaykhs of the ‘Imrán, recognized by the Egyptian Government, claim the land where they have only the right of transit. Bedawi clans and sub-tribes always combine against stranger families; but when there is no foreign “war,” they amuse themselves with pilling and plundering, sabring and shooting one another. I believe that the palms were roasted to death by the ‘Imrán, although the Shaykhs assured me that the damage was done this year, by a careless Mas’údi when cooking his food. The tribe appears to be Egypto–Arab, like the Huwayta’t and the Ma’ázah, having congeners at Ghazzah (Gaze) and at Ras el-Wady, near Egyptian Tell el-Kebir. Consequently Rüppell is in error when he suspects that die Musaiti are ein Judenstamm. The unfortunates fled towards the sea and left the valley desolate about seven months ago. Their Shaykh is dead, and a certain Agíl bin Muhaysin, a greedy, foolish kind of fellow, mentioned during my First Journey, aspires to the dignity and the profit of chieftainship. He worried me till I named a dog after him, and then he disappeared.

The ruins, of large extent for North Midian, and equal to those of all the towns we have seen put together, begin with the palm-orchard on the left bank. The Jebel el-Safrá shows the foundations of what may have been the arx. It is a double quoin, the taller to the south, the lower to the north, and both bluff in the latter direction. The dip is about 45 degrees; the upper parts of the dorsa are scatters of white on brown-yellow stone; and below it, where the surface has given way, appear mauve-coloured strata, as if stained by manganese. Viewed in profile from the west, the site of El–Muttali’37, as the Arabs call the hauteville, becomes a tall, uptilted wedge; continued northwards by the smaller feature, and backed by a long sky-line, a high ridge of plaster, pale coloured with glittering points.

This isolated “Yellow Hill,” a “horse” in Icelandic parlance, rising about two hundred feet above the valley-sole, is separated by a deep, narrow gorge from the adjacent eastern range. The slopes, now water-torn and jagged, may formerly have declined in regular lines, and evidently all were built over to the crest like those of Syrian Safet. The foundations of walls and rock-cut steps are still found even on the far side of the eastern feature. The knifeback is covered with the foundations of what appears to be a fortified Laura or Palace; a straight street running north-south, with 5 degrees west (mag.). It serves as base for walls one metre and a half thick, opening upon it like rooms: of these we counted twenty on either side. At the northern end of the “horse,” which, like the southern, has been weathered to a mere spur, is a work composed of two semicircles fronting to the north and east. A bastion of well-built wall in three straight lines overhangs the perpendicular face of the eastern gorge: in two places there are signs of a similar defence to the south, but time and weather have eaten most of it away. The ground sounds hollow, and the feet sink in the crumbling heaps: evidently the whole building was of Rughám (gypsum); and in the process of decay it has become white as blocks of ice, here and there powdered with snow.

On the narrow, flat ledge, between the western base of this Safrá and the eastern side of the Bada’ valley, lie masses of ruin now become mere rubbish; bits of wall built with cut stone, and water-conduits of fine mortar containing, like that of the Pyramids, powdered brick and sometimes pebbles. We carried off a lump of sandstone bearing unintelligible marks, possibly intended for a man and a beast. We called it “St. George and the Dragon,” but the former is afoot — possibly the Bedawin stole his steed. There was a frustum or column-drum of fine white marble, hollowed to act as a mortar; like the Moslem headstone of the same material, it is attributed to the Jebel el-Lauz, where ancient quarries are talked of. There were also Makrákah (“rub-stones”) of close-grained red syenite, and fragments of the basalt handmills used for quartz-grinding. Part of a mortar was found, made of exceedingly light and porous lava.

South-east of the hauteville falls in the now rugged ravine, Khashm el-Muttalí, “Snout of the high” (town). It leads to the apex of the coralline formations, scattered over with fragments of gypsum, here amorphous, there crystalline or talc-like, and all dazzling white as powdered sugar. Signs of tent foundations and of buildings appear in impossible places; and the heights bear two Burj or “watchtowers,” one visible afar, and dominating from its mamelon the whole land. The return to the main valley descends by another narrow gorge further to the south-east, called Sha’b el-Darak, or “Strait of the Shield:” the tall, perpendicular, and overhanging walls, apparently threatening to fall, would act testudo to an Indian file of warriors. High up the right bank of this gut we saw a tree-trunk propped against a rock by way of a ladder for the treasure-seeker. The Sha’b-sole is flat, with occasional steps and overfalls of rock, polished like mirrors by the rain-torrents; the mouth shows remains of a masonry-dam some fourteen feet thick by twenty-one long; and immediately below it are the bases of buildings and watercourses.

Walking down the left bank of the great Wady, and between these secondary gorges that drain the “Yellow Hill,” we came upon a dwarf mound of dark earth and rubbish. This is the Siyághah (“mint and smiths’ quarter”), a place always to be sought, as Ba’lbak and Palmyra taught me. Remains of tall furnaces, now level with the ground, were scattered about; and Mr. Clarke, long trained to find antiques, brought back the first coins picked up in ancient Midian. The total gathered, here and in other parts of Magháir Shu’ayb, was 258, of which some two hundred were carried home untouched; the rest, treated with chloritic and other acids, came out well. One was a silver oval which may or may not have been a token. Eleven were thick discs, differing from the normal type; unfortunately the legends are illegible. The rest, inform bits of green stuff, copper and bronze, were glued together by decay, and apparently eaten out of all semblance of money until the verdigris of ages is removed.

All are cast like the Roman “as”, before B.C. 217, and some show the tail. The distinguishing feature is the human eye; not the outa of Horus,38 so well known to those who know the Pyramids, but the last trace of Athene’s profile. Two are Roman: a Nerva with S.C. on the reverse; and a Claudius Augustus, bearing by way of countermark a depressed oblong, of 20/100 by 14/100 (of inch), with a raised figure, erect, draped, and holding a sceptre or thyrsus. There is also a Constantius struck at Antioch. The gem of the little collection was a copper coin, thinly encrusted with silver, proving that even in those days the Midianites produced “smashers”: similarly, the Egyptian miners “did” the Pharaoh by inserting lead into hollowed gold. The obverse shows the owl in low relief, an animal rude as any counterfeit presentment of the [Greek words] ever found in Troy. It has the normal olive-branch, but without the terminating crescent (which, however, is not invariably present) on the proper right, whilst the left shows a poor imitation of the legend [Greek word] (NH). The silvering of the reverse has been so corroded that no signs of the goddess’s galeated head are visible. My friend, Mr. W. E. Hayns, of the Numismatic Society, came to the conclusion that it is a barbaric Midianitish imitation of the Greek tetradrachm, which in those days had universal currency, like the shilling and the franc. The curious bits of metal, which also bear the owl, may add to our knowledge of the Nabathaean coins, first described, I believe, by the learned Duc de Luynes.39

Another interesting “find” was a flat-bottomed, thick-walled clay crucible of small size (2 10/16 inches high by 2 4/16 inches across the mouth), exactly resembling the article picked up at Hamámát. The latter, however, contains a remnant of litharge, possibly showing that the old Egyptians worked the silver, which may have been supplied by the Colorado quartz.

I would here crave leave to make a short excursus to the ancient Ophirs of Egypt Proper, where, we are told by an inscription in the treasury of Ramses the Great (fourteen centuries before Christ), the gold and silver mines yielded per annum a total of 32,000,000 minæ = £90,000,000. Dr. H. Brugsch–Bey first drew attention to Hamámát, where, as he had learned from Diodorus (i. 49 — iii 12) and from the papyri, the precious metals had been extensively worked. The “Wells of Hama’ma’t” lie between Keneh on the Nile and Kusayr (Cosseir) on the Red Sea; and the land is held by the Abábdah Arabs, who have taken charge, from time immemorial, of the rich commercial caravans. The formation of the country much resembles that of Midian; and the metalliferous veins run from northeast to south-west. In Arabia, however, the filons are of unusual size; in Africa they are small, the terminating fibrils, as it were, of the Asiatic focus; while the Dark Continent lacks that wealth of iron which characterizes the opposite coast.

By the courtesy of Generals Stone and Purdy I was enabled, after return to Cairo in May, 1878, to inspect the collection. Admirably arranged in order of place, and poor as well disposed, it is, nevertheless, useful to students; and it was most interesting to us. The only novelty is asbestos produced in the schist: the raw material is now imported by the United States, and used for a variety of purposes. It is said to exist in Mount Sinai; we found none in Midian, where the schist formations are of great extent, probably because we did not look for it. The collection was made by Colonel Colston; and Mr. L. H. Mitchell, a mining engineer attached to the Egyptian Staff, spent several weeks spalling sundry tons of quartz. After finding a speck of gold, the work was considered to be done. General Stone, however, sensibly deprecated any attempt to exploit the minerals: the country lacks wood and water, and the expense of camel-transport from Hamámát to Kusayr, and thence in ships to Suez, would swallow up all the profits.

That Egypt was immensely rich in old days we know from several sources. Appian tells us that the treasury of Ptolemy Philadelphus contained 740,000 talents; and assuming with Ebers40 the Egyptian at half the Æginetan, we have the marvellous sum of £83,250,000. According to Diodorus (i. 62), the treasury of Rhampsinit, concerning which Herodotus (ii. 121, 122) heard a funny story from his interpreter, contained 4,000,000 talents, equal to at least £450,000,000. This rich king’s treasure-house has been found portrayed in the far-famed Temple of Medinat Habú: the mass of wealth, gold, silver, copper, and spices, is enormous; and, while the baser metals are in bars, the precious are stored in heaps, sacks, and vases.

The gold-mines of the old Coptos-plain, the modern Kobt, south of Keneh, are preserved to all time by the earliest known map. It has survived; whilst those of the Milesian Anaximander (B.C. 610–547), of Hekataeus (ob. B.C. 4 76), also from Miletus and called the “Father of Geography” (Ebers), and of Ptolemy the Pelusian are irretrievably lost. A papyrus in the Turin Museum contains a plan of the mineral region spoken of in two stelœ, those of Radesiyyah and Kuban, describing the supply of drinking-water introduced into the desert between Kuban and the Red Sea. Chabas41 has published a coloured facsimile of this map: the gold-containing mountains are tinted red, and the words “Tu en nub” (Mons aureus) are written over them in hieratics.

The only modern gold-workings of Egypt are in the Mudíriyyat (Nomos) of Famaka, the frontier town, better known as Fayzoghlú from its adjacent heights. The washings were visited lately (March, 1878) by my enterprising friend, Dr. P. Matteucci, and M. Gessi. In old days this local Cayenne had a very bad name; convicts were deported here with a frightful mortality. It is still a station for galley-slaves, and it has a considerable garrison, but we no longer hear of an abnormal fatality. The surface was much turned over by the compulsory miners, and European geologists and experts were sent to superintend them; at last the diggings did not pay and were abandoned. But the natives do by “rule of thumb,” despite their ignorance of mineralogy, without study of ground, and lacking co-ordination of labour, what the Government failed to do. They have not struck the chief vein’ if any exist; but, during the heavy rains of the Kharif (“autumn”) in the valley of the Túmát river, herds of slaves are sent yearly to wash gold, and they find sufficient to supply the only known coin — bars or ingots.

Beyond the Siyághah, the left bank is gashed by the ravines draining the south-eastern prolongation of the “Yellow Hill.” Water cuts through this rotten formation of rubbish like a knife into cheese; forming deep chasms, here narrow, there broad, with walls built up, as it were, of fragments, and ready to be levelled by the first rains. The lines of street and the outlines of tenements can be dimly traced, while revetments of rounded boulders show artificial watercourses and defences against the now dried-up stream. The breadth of this, the eastern settlement, varies with the extent of the ledge between the gypsum-hills and the sandy Wady; the length may be a kilometre. The best preserved traces of crowded building end with the south-eastern spur of the Jebel el-Safrá. Beyond them is a huge cemetery. The ancient graves are pits in the ground; a few still uncovered, the many yawning wide, and all of them ignoring orientation. Those of the moderns, on the contrary, front towards Meccah. The Bedawin of this country seem ever to prefer for their last homes the most ancient sites; they place the body in a pit, covered with a large slab or a heap of stones, but they never fill in the hollow, as is usual among Moslems, with earth. The arrangements suit equally well the hyena and the skull-collector; and thus I was able to make a fair collection of Bedawi crania.

At the south-eastern end of the outliers projected by the Jebel el-Safrá, where a gentle slope of red earth falls towards the valley-bank, is the only group of building of which any part is still standing. The site may be old, but the present ruins are distinctly mediæval, dating probably from the days of the Egyptian “Mameluke” Sultans. Beginning from below and to the south-west is a Hauz, or “cistern,” measuring twenty-six by nineteen and a half metres, with a depth of nine to ten feet. The material is cut sandstone, cemented outside with mortar containing the normal brick-crumbs and pebbles, and inside mixed with mud. At the north-eastern and south-western corners are retaining buttresses in two steps, exactly like those in the inland fort of El–Wijh; at the two other angles are flights of stairs, and the sole is a sheet of dried silt. To the south-east lies the remnant of a small circular furnace, and on the north-north-east a broken wall shows where stood the Bayt el-Saghir, or smaller reservoir. A narrow conduit of cut stone leads, with elaborate zigzags, towards two Sakiyah (“draw-wells”) hollowed in the gypsum. The Southern, an oval of five metres ten centimetres, is much dilapidated; and its crumbling throat is spanned by a worn-out arch of the surrounding Secondary rock. Close to the north-west is the other, revetted with cut stone, and measuring six metres in diameter. It is an elaborate affair; with a pointed arch and a regular keystone, circular Sadúd, or “walls for supporting the hauling-apparatus,” and minor reservoirs numbering three. On a detached hillock, a few paces to the north, stands the Fort which defended the establishment. The short walls of the parallelogram measure fifteen metres forty centimetres; and the long, eighteen metres sixty centimetres: the gate, choked by ruins, leads to a small hall, with a masked entrance opening to the right. There is a narrow room under the stone steps to the west, and two others occupy the eastern side. This Fort is to be restored for the better protection of pilgrims; and shortly after our departure an Egyptian engineer, Sulayman Effendi, came from Suez to inspect and report upon it.

According to local modern tradition this scatter of masonry was the original site of the settlement, called after the builder Bir el-Sa’idáni —“the Well of Sa’ídán.” For watering each caravan the proprietor demanded a camel by way of fee; at last a Maghribí, that is, a magician, refused to “part;” betook himself to the present camping ground, sank pits, and let loose the copious springs. The old wells then dried up, and the new sources gave to this section of the great Wady ‘Afál its actual name, Wady el-Badá—“of the innovation,” so hateful to the conservative savage. Hence Rüppell’s “Beden,” which would mean an ibex.

On the opposite or right bank of the broad and sandy bed, the traces of ancient buildings extend to a far greater distance, at least to two kilometres. They have been a continuous line of forts, cisterns, and tenements, still marked out by the bases of long thick walls; the material is mostly gypsum, leprous-white as the skin of Gehazi. But here, and indeed generally throughout Midian, the furious torrents, uncontrolled during long ages by the hand of man, have swept large gaps in the masses of homestead and public buildings. Again the ruins of this section are distributable into two kinds — the City of the Living, and the City of the Dead.

The former, of considerable extent, hugs the watercourse, and crowns all the natural spurs that buttress the bed. Beginning from the north lie two blocks of building considerable in extent: the southern, called by the Arabs El–Malká, is a broken parallelogram. Further down stream the bank is a vast strew of broken pottery; and one place, covered with glass fragments, was named by our soldiers El–Khammárah —“the tavern” or “the hotel.” As in ancient Etruria, so here, the people assemble after heavy rains to pick up what luck throws in the way. It is said that they often gather gold pieces, square as well as round, bearing by way of inscription “prayers” to the Apostle of Allah. Some of us, however, had a shrewd suspicion that the Tibr, or “pure gold-dust,” is still washed from the sands, and cast probably in rude moulds.

Behind, inland or westward of this southern town, lies the City of the Dead. Unlike the pitted graveyard to the north-east, the cemetery is wholly composed of catacombs, which the Bedawin call Magháir (“caves”) or Bíbán (“doors”). The sites are the sides and mouths of four little branch-valleys which cut through the hillocks representing the Wady-bank. The northernmost is known as Wady el-Khurayk, because it drains a height of that name: the others bear the generic term Wady el-Safrá, so called, like the hauteville hill, from the tawny-yellow colour of the rocks. The catacombs, fronting in all directions, because the makers were guided by convenience, not by ceremonial rule, are hollowed in the soft new sandstone underlying the snowy gypsum; and most of the façades show one or more horizontal lines of natural bead-work, rolled pebbles disposed parallelly by the natural action of water. In the most ruinous, the upper layer is a cornice of hard sandstone, stained yellow with iron and much creviced; the base, a soft conglomerate of the same material, is easily corroded; and the supernal part caves in upon the principle which is destroying Niagara. At each side of the doorways is a Mastabah (“stone bench”), also rock-hewn, and with triple steps. The door-jambs, which have hollowings for hinges and holes for bars, are much worn and often broken; they are rarely inclined inwards after the fashion of Egypt. A few have windows, or rather port-holes, flanking the single entrance. The peculiarities and the rare ornaments will be noticed when describing each receptacle; taken as a whole, they are evidently rude and barbarous forms of the artistic catacombs and tower-tombs that characterize Petra and Palmyra.

The “Magháir” may roughly be divided into four topical groups. These are — the northern outliers; the “Tombs of the Kings,” so called by ourselves because they distinguish themselves from all the others; the “buttressed caves” (two sets); and the southern outliers. The first mentioned begin with a ruin on the right jaw of the Khurayk gorge: it is dug in strata dipping, as usual, from north-west to south-east; it faces eastward, and the entrance declines to the south. All external appearance of a catacomb has disappeared; a rude porch, a frame of sticks and boughs, like the thatched eaves of a Bulgarian hut, stands outside, while inside signs of occupation appear in hearths and goat-dung, in smoky roof, and in rubbish-strewn floor. Over another ruin to the west are graffiti, of which copies from squeezes and photographs are here given: there are two loculi in the southern wall; and in the south-eastern corner is a pit, also sunk for a sarcophagus. A hill-side to the south of this cave shows another, dug in the Tauá or coloured sandstone, and apparently unfinished: part of it is sanded up, and its only yield, an Egyptian oil-jar of modern make, probably belonged to some pilgrim. Crossing the second dwarf gorge we find, on the right bank, a third large ruin of at least fourteen loculi; the hard upper reef, dipping at an angle of 30 degrees, and striking from north-west to southeast, fell in when the soft base was washed away by weather, and the anatomy of the graves is completely laid bare. Higher up the same Wady is a fourth Maghárah, also broken down: the stucco-coating still shows remnants of red paint; and the characters **— possibly Arab “Wasm,” or tribe-marks — are cut into an upright entrance-stone.

The precipitous left bank of the third gorge contains the three finest specimens, which deserve to be entitled the “Tombs of the Kings.” Of these, the two facing eastward are figured by Rüppell (p. 220) in the antiquated style of his day, with fanciful foreground and background.42 His sketch also places solid rock where the third and very dilapidated catacomb of this group, disposed at right angles, fronts southwards. Possibly the façades may once have been stuccoed and coloured; now they show the bare and pebble-banded sandstone.

The southernmost, which may be assumed as the type, has an upright door, flanked by a stone bench of three steps. Over the entrance is a defaced ornament which may have been the bust of a man: in Rüppell it is a kind of geometrical design. The frontage has two parallel horizontal lines, raised to represent cornices. Each bears a decoration resembling crenelles or Oriental ramparts broken into three steps; the lower set numbers eight, including the half ornaments at the corners, and the higher seven. The interior is a mixture of upright recesses, probably intended for the gods or demons; and of horizontal loculi, whose grooves show that they had lids. There is no symmetry in the niches, in the sarcophagi, or in the paths and passages threading the graves. The disposition will best be understood from the ground-plans drawn by the young Egyptian officers: their sketches of the façades are too careless and incorrect for use; but the want is supplied by the photographs of M. Lacaze.

Above these three “Tombs of the Kings” are many rock-cavities which may or may not have been sepulchral. Time has done his worst with them. We mounted the background of a quoin-shaped hill by a well-trodden path, leading to the remnants of a rude Burj (“watch-tower”), and to a semicircle of dry wall, garnished with a few sticks for hanging rags and tatters. The latter denotes the Musallat Shu’ayb, or praying-place of (prophet) Jethro; and here our Sayyid and our Shaykh took the opportunity of applying for temporal and eternal blessings. The height at the edge of the precipice which, cliffing to the north, showed a view of our camp and of Yubú and Shu’shú’ Islands, was in round numbers 450 feet (aner. 29.40 — 28.94). From this vantage-ground we could distinctly trace the line of the Wady Makná, beginning in a round basin at the western foot of the northern Shigd Mountain and its sub-range; while low rolling hills, along which we were to travel, separated it from the Wady Bada’-‘Afál to the south.

Two other important sets of catacombs, which I will call the “buttressed caves,” are pierced in the right flank of the same gorge, at the base of a little conical hill, quaintly capped with a finial of weathered rock. The material is the normal silicious gravel-grit, traversed and cloisonné by dykes of harder stone. Beginning at the south, we find a range of three, facing eastward and separated from one another by flying buttresses of natural rock. No. 1 has a window as well as a door. Next to it is a square with six open loculi ranged from north to south. No. 3 shows a peculiarity — two small pilasters of the rudest (Egyptian?) Doric, the only sign of ornamentation found inside the tombs; a small break in the south-western wall connects it with the northernmost loculus of No. 2. Furthest north are three bevel-holes, noting the beginning of a catacomb; and round the northern flank of the detached cone are six separate caves, all laid waste by the furious northern gales.

The second set is carved in the bluff eastern end of an adjoining reef that runs away from the Wady; it consists of four sepulchres with the normal buttresses. They somewhat resemble those of the Kings, but there are various differences. No. 2 from the south is flanked by pilasters with ram’s-horn capitals, barbarous forms of Ionic connected by three sets of triglyphs: the pavement is of slabs; there is an inner niche, and one of the corners has apparently been used as an oven. On a higher plane lies a sunken tomb, with a deep drop and foot-holes by way of ladder; outside it the rocky platform is hollowed, apparently for graves. The other three facades bear the crenelle ornaments; the two to the north show double lines of seven holes drilled deep into the plain surface above the door, as if a casing had been nailed on; while the northernmost yielded a fragmentary inscription on the southern wall. These are doubtless the “inscribed tablets on which the names of kings are engraved,” alluded to in the Jihan-numá of Haji Khahífah.43 Rounding the reef to the north, we found three catacombs in the worst condition: one of them showed holes drilled in the façade.

The southern outliers lie far down the Wady ‘Afál, facing east, and hewn in the left flank of a dwarf gulley which falls into the right bank not far from the site called by our men “the tavern.” The group numbers three, all cut in the normal sandstone, with the harder dykes which here stand up like ears. The principal item is the upper cave, small, square, and apparently still used by the Arabs: in the middle of the lintel is a lump looking like the mutilated capital of a column. The two lower caves show only traces.

There is a tradition that some years ago a Frank (Rüppell?), after removing his Arab guides, dug into the tombs, and found nothing but human hair. Several of the horizontal loculi contained the bones of men and beasts: I did not disturb them, as all appeared to be modern. The floors sounding hollow, gave my companions hopes of “finds;” but I had learned, after many a disappointment, how carefully the Bedawi ransack such places. We dug into four sepulchres, including the sunken catacomb and the (southern) inscribed tomb. Usually six inches of flooring led to the ground-rock; in the sarcophagi about eight inches of tamped earth was based upon nine feet of sand that ended at the bottom. The only results were mouldering bones, bits of marble and pottery, and dry seeds of the Kaff Maryam, the Rose of Jericho (Anastatica), which here feeds the partridges, and which in Egypt supplies children with medicine, and expectant mothers with a charm. As the plant is bibulous, opening to water and even to the breath, it is placed by the couch, and its movement shows what is to happen. The cave also yielded specimens of bats (Rhinopoma macrophyllum), with fat at the root of their spiky tails.

I have described at considerable length this ruined Madiáma, which is evidently the capital of Madyan Proper, ranking after Petra. In one point it is still what it was, a chief station upon the highway, then Nabatí, now Moslem, which led to the Ghor or Wady el-‘Arabah. But in all others how changed! “The traveller shall come; he that saw me in my beauty shall come: his eyes shall search the field; they shall not find me.”

32 Not Tayyibat Ism, as I wrongly wrote in “The Gold Mines of Midian,” misled by the Hydrographic Chart. None of the Bedawin could explain the origin of the flattering title.

33 “The Gold–Mines of Midian.” Chap. XII.

34 The so-called Oriental, stalactitic, or variegated alabaster of Upper Egypt was nowhere hit upon.

35 The Ptolemeian parallel is nearly right; the place must not be confounded with Modi’ana or Modouna (ibid.), a coast-settlement in north lat. 27 degrees 45’, between Onne and the Hippos Mons, Monte Cavallo.

36 I have no wish to criticize my able predecessor. His map, all things considered, is a marvel of accuracy; and the high praise of Wellsted (ii. 148) only does it justice.

37 The “Muttali” (high town) when small is termed a Burj, pyrgos, tower, Pergamus (?)

38 The Masháb or “camel-stick” of all Arabia is that carried by the Osiris (mummy), and its crook is originally the jackal-headed Anubis.

39 The collection has been submitted to Mr. R. Stanley Poole, who kindly offered them for inspection to the Numismatic Society of London (Nov. 21, 1878).

40 “Ægypten,” etc., p. 269, et seq.

41 “Les Inscriptions des Mines d’Or,” etc. Paris, 1862.

42 In Tafel viii. (p. 387), he has added some cursory notes on the Sepulcral–Monumente in dem Thale Beden.

43 Wellsted, vol. ii., appendix.

Chapter IV.

Notices of Precious Metals in Midian — the Papyri and the Mediæval Arab Geographers.

In my volume on “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” the popular Hebrew sources of information — the Old Testament and the Talmud — were ransacked for the benefit of the reader. It now remains to consult the Egyptian papyri and the pages of the mediæval Arab geographers: extracts from the latter were made for me, in my absence from England, by the well-known Arabist, the Rev. G. Percy Badger.44 I will begin with the beginning.

Dr. Heinrich Brugsch–Bey, whose “History of Egypt”45 is the latest and best gift to Egyptologists, kindly drew my attention to an interesting passage in his work, and was good enough to copy for me the source of his information, tile Harris Papyrus (No. 1) in the British Museum.

The first king of the twentieth Dynasty, born about B.C. 1200, and residing at Thebes, was Rameses III., whose title, Ramessu pa-Nuter (or Nuti), “Ramses the god,” became in the hands of the Greeks Rhampsinitos. This great prince, ascending the throne in evil days, applied himself at once to the internal and external economy of his realm; he restored the caste-divisions, and carried fire and sword into the lands of his enemies. He transported many captives to Egypt; fortified his eastern frontier; and built, in the Gulf of Suez, a fleet of large and small ships, in order to traffic with Pun and the “Holy Land,”46 and to open communication with the “Incense-country” and with the wealthy shores of the Indian Ocean.

“Not less important,” says our author (p. 594), “for Egypt, which required before all things the copper applied to every branch of her industry, was the sending of commissioners, by land (on donkey back!) and by sea, to explore and exploit the rich cupriferous deposits of ‘Atháka (in the neighbourhood of the ‘Akabah Gulf?). This metal, with the glance of gold, was there cast in brick-shape, and was transported by sea to the capital.

“The king also restored his attention to the treasures of the Sinaitic Peninsula, which had excited the concupiscence of the Egyptians since the days of King Senoferu47 (B.C. 3700). Loaded with rich presents for the sanctuary of the goddess Hathor, the protectress of Mafka-land, chosen employés were despatched on a royal commission to the peninsula, for the purpose of supplying the Pharaoh’s treasury with the highly prized blue-green copper-stones (Mafka, Turkisen?48).”

These lines were published by Dr. Brugsch–Bey before he had heard of my discoveries of metals and of a modern turquoise-digging in the Land of Midian. He had decided that “‘Atháka” lay to the east of Suez, chiefly from the insistence laid upon the shipping; sea-going craft would certainly not be required for a sail of three or four hours. Moreover, as I have elsewhere shown, Jebel ‘Atakáh, the “Mountain of Deliverance,” at the mouth of the Wady Musá, was referred to the Jews at some time after the Christian era, and probably during the fourth and fifth centuries, when pilgrimages to the apocryphal Mounts Sinai became the fashion.

During the summer of 1877, Dr. Brugsch–Bey was kind enough to copy and to translate the original document, upon which he founded his short account of the “‘Atháka” copper-mines. I offer it to the reader in full.

The order of the alphabet is that adopted by Dr. Brugsch–Bey. It relies for the first letter upon the authority of Plutarch, who asserts that the Egyptian abecedarium numbered the square of five (twenty-five); and that it opened with —[Greek] — which also expresses the god Thoth; — this is the case with —[hieroglyph]— the leaf of some water-plant. The sequence of the letters has been suggested by a number of minor considerations: we begin with the vowels, and proceed to the labial, the liquids, and so forth.49

The sense of the highly interesting inscription, in its English order, would be:—

“I have sent my commissioners to the land ‘Atháka; to the (those)50 great mines of copper (or coppers)51 which are in this place (‘Atháka); and their (i.e. the commissioners’) ships52 were loaded, carrying them (the metals); while other (commissioners were sent and) marched on their asses. No! one never (ter-tot) had heard, since the (days of the olden) kings, that these (copper) mines had been found.53 The loads (i.e. of the ships and the asses) carried copper; the loads were by myriads for their ships, which went thence (i.e. from the mines) to Egypt. (After) happily arriving, the loads were landed, according to royal order, under the Pavilion,54 in form of copper-bricks;55 they were numerous as frogs (in the marsh),56 and in quality they were gold (Nub) of the third degree.57 I made them admired (by) all the world as marvellous things.”

The following lines upon the subject of Midian are from the notes (p. 143) of Jacob Golius in “Alferganum” (small 4to. Amsterdam, 1669), a valuable translation with geographical explanations. Ahmad ibn Mohammed ibn Kathír el-Fargháni derived his “lakab” or cognomen from the province of Farghán (Khokand), to the north-east of the Oxus; he wrote a work upon astronomy, and he flourished about A.H. 184 (= A.D. 800).

“Ibidem ([Arabic] Madyan) Medjan sive Midjan, Antiqui nominis oppidum in Maris Rubri littore, sub 29 degrees grad. latitudine; ad ortum brumalem deflectens à montis Sinæ extremitate: ubi feré site Ptolemæi Modiana, haud dubié eadem cum Midjan. A Geographorum Orientalium quibusdam ad Ægyptum refertur; à plerisq; omnibus ad Higiazam: quod merito et recté factum. Nullus enim est, qui Arabibus non annumeret Madianitas; et Sinam, quæ Madjane borealior, montem Arabiæ facit D. Paulus Gal. iv. Midjan autem fuit Abrahami ex Kethura filius: unde tribus illa et ab hac urbs nomen habent. Quam quidem tribum coaluisse, sedibus ut puto et affinitate in unam cum Ismaëlitis, innuere videntur Geneseos verba. Nam conspirantibus in Josephi exitium fratribus dicuntur supervenisse Ismaëlitae; transivisse Midjanite; ipse v ditus ab Ismaëlitis. Ceterum urbem Midjan Arabes pro ea habent, quæ in Corano vocatur ([Arabic] Madínat Kúsh): Xaib58 enim illis idem est, qui Jethro dicitur Exod. iii. cujus filiam Sipporam Moses uxor duxit, cum ex Ægpto profugisset in terram Midjan; ubi Jethro princeps erat et Sacerdos. Autonomosia illa Arabibus familiaris. Ita Hanoch ([Arabic] Aknúkh) appelatus, Abraham (El–Khalíl), Rex Saul ([Arabic] Tálút), etc., licet eorundem propria etiam usurpentur nomina. Et in ipsis Sacris Libris non uno nomine hic Jethro designatur. Loci illius puteum59 Scriptores memorant fano circum extructo Arabibus sacrum, persuasis Mosem ibi Sipporam et sorores à pastorum injuriis vindicasse; prout Exod., cap. ii., res describitur. Sed primis Muhammedici regni bellis universa fere, quae rune extabat, urbs vastata fuit.”

El–Fargháni is followed by the Imám Abú ‘Abbás Ahmed bin Yáhyá bin Jábir, surnamed and popularly known as El–Balázurí, who flourished between A.H. 232 and 247 (= A.D. 846 to 861), and wrote the Futú‘h el-Buldán, or the “Conquests of Countries.” His words are (pp. 13–14, M. J. de Goeje’s edition; Lugduni Batavorum, 1866)—“It was related to me by Abú Abíd el-Kásim bin Sallám; who said he was told by Ishák bin Isa, from Malík ibn Anas and from Rabíat, who heard from a number of the learned, that the Apostle of Allah (upon whom be peace!) gave in feoff (Iktá‘at) to Bilál bin el-Háris el-Muzni, mines (Ma’ádin, i.e. of gold) in the district of Furú’ (variant, Kurú’). Moreover, it was related to me by Amrú el-Nákid, and by Ibn Saham el-Antáki (of Antioch), who both declared to have heard from El–Haytham bin Jamíl el-Antáki, through Hammád bin Salmah, that Abú Makín, through Abú Ikrimah Maulá Bilál bin el-Háris el-Muzni, had averred ‘The Apostle of Allah (upon whom be peace!) enfeoffed the said Bilál with (a bit of) ground containing a mountain and a (gold) mine; that the sons of Bilál sold part of the grant to one ‘Umar bin ‘Abd el-‘Azíz, when a (gold) mine or, according, to others, two (gold) mines were found in it; that they said to the buyer, Verily we sold to thee land for cultivation, and we did not sell thee (gold) mining-ground; that they brought the letter of the Apostle (upon whom be peace!) in a (bound) volume: that ‘Umar kissed it and rubbed it upon his eyes, and said, Of a truth let me see what hath come out of it (the mine) and what I have laid out upon it.’ Then he deducted from them the expenses of working and returned to them the surplus. . . . And I was told by Musa’b el-Zubayri, from Malik ibn Anas, that the Apostle of Allah (upon whom be peace!) gave in feoff to Bilál bin Háris mines in the district of Fara’ (sic). There is no difference of opinion among our learned men on this subject, nor do I know any of our companions who contradicts (the statement) that the (gold) mine paid one-fourth per ten (= 2 1/2 per cent.) royalty (to the Bayt el-Mál, or Public Treasury). Musa’b further relates, from El–Zahri, that the (gold) mine defrayed the Zakát or poor-rate: he also said that the proportion was one-fifth (= 2 per cent.); like that which the people of El–Irák (Mesopotamia) take to this day from the (gold) mines of El–Fara’ (sic), and of Nejrán, and of Zúl-Marwah, and of Wady El–Kura60 and others. Moreover, the fifth is also mentioned by Safáin el-Thauri, and by Abú Hanífah and Abú Yúsuf, as well as by the people of El-‘Irák.”

Follows on my list the celebrated Murúj el-Dahab, or “Meads of Gold,” by El–Mas’údi, who died in A.H. 346 (= A.D. 957), and whose book extends to A.H. 332 (= A.D. 943). Unable to find the translation of my friend Sprenger, I am compelled to quote from “Maçoudi. Les Prairies d’Or,” texte et traduction par C. Barbier de Meynard et Pavet de Courteille. Société Asiatique, Paris, 1864, vol. iii. pp. 301–305.

“Les théologians ne sont pas d’accord sur la question de savoir à quel peuple appartenait Choâïb (Shu’ayb), fils de Nawil, fils de Rawaïl, fils de Mour, fils d’Anka, fils de Madian, fils d’Abraham, l’ami de Dieu, quoiqu’il soit certain que sa langue était l’arabe. Les uns pensent qu’il appartenait aux races arabes éteintes, aux nations qui ont disparu, à quelque une de ces générations passées dont nous avons parlé. Suivant d’autres, il s’agirait ici des descendants d’el-Mahd, fils de Djandal, fils de Yâssob, fils de Madian, fils d’Abraham, dont Choâïb etait frére par la naissance. De cette race sortit un grand nombre de rods qui s’étaient dispersés dans des royaumes contigus les uns aux autres ou sépare’s. Parmi ces rods il faut distinguer ceux qui étaient nommés Aboudjed, Hawaz, Houti, Kalamoun, Çafas et Kourichat,61 tous, comme nous venons de le dire, fils d’el-Mahd, fils de Djandal. Les lettres de l’alphabet sont représentées précisément par les noms de ces rois, oú l’on retrouve les vingt-quatre lettres sur lesquelles roule l’Aboudjed.62 Il a e’te’ dit beaucoup d’autres choses à propos de ces lettres, comme nous l’avons fait remarquer dans cet ouvrage; mais il n’entre pas dans notre sujet de rapporter ici tous les systèmes contradictoires imaginés pour l’expliquer la signification des lettres.63 Aboudjed fut roi de la Mecque et de la partie du Hédjaz qui y confine. Hawaz et Houti régnérent conjointement dans le pays de Weddj (El–Wijh), qui est le territoire de Tayif, et la portion du Nedjd qui lui est contigue. Kalamoun exerçait la suzeraineté sur le royaume de Madian; il y a même des auteurs qui pensent que son autorité s’étendait conjointement sur tous les princes et les pays que nous venons de nommer. Le châtiment du jour de la nuée (Koran, xxvi. 189) eut lieu sous le re’gne de Kalamoun. Choâïb appelant ces impies à la pénitence, ils le traitèrent de menteur. Alors il les mena,ca du châtiment du jour de la nuée, à la suite de quoi une porte du feu du ciel fut ouverte sur eux. Choâïb se retire, avec ceux qui avaient cru, dans l’endroit connu sous le nom d’el Aïkah, qui est un fourré dans la direction de Madian. Cependant, lorsque lcs incrédules sentirent les effets de la vengeance céleste, et que, consumés par une chaleur terrible, ils comprirent enfin la vérité, ils se mirent à la recherche de Choâïb et de ceux qui avaient cru en lui. Ils les trouvérent abrités sous un nuage blanc, doucement rafraichi par le zéphire, et ne ressentant en rien les atteintes de la douleur. Ils les chassèrent de cet asile, s’imaginant qu’ils y trouveraient eux-mêmes un refuge contre le fléau qui les poursuivait. Mais Dieu changea cette nuée en un feu qui se précipita sur leurs têtes. Mountassir, fils d’el-Moundir el-Médéni, a parlé de ce peuple et a déploré son triste sort dans des vers où il dit:

“Les rois des enfants de Houti et de Çafas, qui vivaient dans l’opulence, et ceux de Hawaz, qui possédaient des palais et des appartements somptueux,

“Régnaient sur la contrée du Hédjaz, et leur beauté était semblable à celle des rayons du soleil ou à l’éclat de la rune;

“Ils habitaient l’emplacement de la maison sainte, ils adoucissaient les moeurs de leurs compatriotes et gouvernaient avec illustration et honneur. . . .

“Rien de plus curieux que l’histoire de ces rois, le ré‘cit de leurs guerres, de leurs actes, de la manière dont ils s’emparèrent de ces contrées et établirent leur domination, apres en avoir exterminé les premières possesseurs. Ceux-ci étaient des peuples dont nous avons parlé dans nos précédents ouvrages, en traitant ce sujet; nous appelons l’attention dans ce livre sur nous premiers écrits, et nous engageons le lecteur à les consulter.”

The next in order of seniority is the well-known Idrísí (A.H. 531 = A.D. 1136). Dr. Badger’s Arabic copy not being paged, he has forwarded to me extracts from the French translation by M. P. Amadée Jaubert (Paris, 1836), having first compared them with the original:—

Tome 1 p. 5: “De cette mer de la Chine dérive encore le golfe de Colzoum (Kulzum), qui commence à Bab el-Mandeb,64 au point ou se termine la mer des Indes. Il s’étend au nord, en inclinant un peu vers l’occident, en longeant les rivages occidentales de l’Iemen, le Téháma, l’Hédjaz, jusqu’au pays de Madian, d’Aila (El-‘Akabah), et de Faran; et se termine à la ville de Colzoum, dont il tire son nom.”

P. 142: “Les districts fortifiés, dependents de la Mecque, sont . . . Ceux qui sont sous la dépendance de Médine sont . . . Madyan.”

P. 328: “Pour aller de Misr (Cairo) à’ Yetrib (sic pro Yathrib), on passe par les lieux suivants, Aïlah (Aylah) Madian,” etc.

P. 333: “Sur les bords de la mer Colzoum est la ville de Madian (in orig. Madiyan) plus grande qui Tabouk (Tabúk), et le puits ou Moïse (sur qui soit le salut!) abreuva le troupeau de Jethro (E1Shu’ayb). On dit que ce puits est (maintenant) à sec [Note at foot: Je lis Mu’attilah comme porte le MS. B., et non Mu’azzamah,65 leçon donnee par le MS. A.]; et qu’on a élevé audessus une construction. L’eau nécéssaire aux habitants provient de sources. Le nom de Madiyan (sic) de’rive de celui de la tribu à laquelle Jethro appartenait. Cette ville offre trés peu de ressources et le commerce y est misérable.”

The following notice of Madyan is taken from the Kitáb el-Buldán (“Book of Countries”),66 by Ahmed ibn Abí Ya’kúb bin Wádhih, surnamed El–Ya’kúbí and El-Kátib (the writer); according to the Arabic colophon it was completed on the morning of Saturday, Shawwál 21, A.H. 607 (= A.D. 1210). The author gives (p. 129, T. G. J. Juynboll, Lugduni Batavorum, 1861) a description of the route from Misr (Egypt, here Cairo) to Meccah. The first ten stages are — 1. Jubb el-‘Umayrah; 2. El–Kerkirah (variant, Karkírah); 3. ‘Ajrúd, the well-known fort on the direct Suez–Cairo line; 4. Jisr el-Kulzum, where the Gulf was crossed; and, lastly, six Desert marches (Maráhil) to Aylah.67 The latter station is described as a fine city upon the shore of the Salt Sea, the meeting-place of the pilgrim-caravans from Syria,68 Egypt, and the Maghrib (West Africa). It has merchandise in plenty, and its people are a mixed race (Akhlát min el-Nás).69 Here also are sold the fine cloaks called Burdu habaratin, and also known as the Burd of the Apostle of Allah70 (upon whom be peace!). He resumes, “And from Aylah you march to Sharaf el-Baghl, and from the latter to Madyan, which is a large and populous city, with abundant springs and far-flowing streams of wholesome water; and gardens of flower-beds. Its inhabitants are a mixed race (Akhlát min el-Nás).71 The traveller making Meccah from Aylah takes the shore of the Salt Sea, to a place called ‘Aynúná (variant, ‘Uyún, plural of ‘Ayn, an eye of water, a fountain): here are buildings and palm clumps, and seeking-places (Matalib: see Lane for the authorities), in which men search for gold.” Dr. Badger draws my attention to the last sentence, which seems also to have been noticed by Sprenger (Alt. Geog. p. 32).72

The following is from the Kitáb Asár el-Bitad (“Book of the Geographical Traditions of Countries”), by the far-famed Zakariyyá bin Mohammed bin Mahmúd, surnamed El–Kazwíní, who died A.H. 653 = A.D. 1255:—“Madyan” (p. 173, edidit. F. Wustenfeld, Göttingen, 1848) “is a city of the tribe (Kaum) of Shu’ayb upon whom be peace!): it was founded by Madyan, son of Ibrahim, the Friend (of Allah), the grandfather of Shu’ayb. It exports the merchandise of Tabúk between El–Medinah and El–Shám (Damascus). In it is the well whence Musá (upon whom be peace!) watered the flocks of Shu’áyb, and it is said that the well is of great depth; and that over it is a building visited by (pious) men. This settlement Madyan is subject to the district of Tabaríyyah (Tiberias); and near it is the well, and at it a rock which Moses uprooted,73 and which remains there to the present day.”

The Imám Abú‘l-Abbás Ahmed ibn ‘Ali Takiyy el-Dín, better known as “El–Makrízi,” wrote his book El–Mawáiz w’el-I’tibár fi’ Zikr el-Khitat w’el-‘Asár (“The Admonition and Examples in Commemorating Habitations and Traditions”) in A.H. 825 (= A.D. 1421), during the latter part of the second Mamlúk dynasty; and he brings down the history to the reign of Kansu Ghori, whose fort we shall see at El-‘Akabah. He tells us (edition of Gottingen, 1848, Sahífah 48), “The loftiest mountain in Madyan is called Zubayr.74 . . . It is also related that amongst the settlements of the (Madyanite) tribe are the villages of Petræa ([Arabic]), namely, the Kúrat (circuit) of El–Tor, and Fárán (Pharan), and Ráyeh, and Kulzum, and Aylah (El-‘Akabah) with its surroundings; Madyan with its surroundings; and Awíd and Haurá (Leukè-Kóme) with their surroundings, and Badá75 and Shaghab.”76 He speaks of many ruined cities whose inhabitants had disappeared: forty, however, remained; some with, and others without, names. Between El–Hejaz and Egypt–Syria were sixteen cities, ten of them lying towards Palestine. The most important were El–Khalasah,77 with its idol-temple destroyed by Mohammed, and El–Sani’tah, whose stones had been removed to build Ghazzah (Gaza). The others were El–Mederah, El–Minyah, El-A’waj, El–Khuwayrak, El-Bírayn, El-Máayn, El–Sebá, and El–Mu’allak.78

The Marásid el-Ittílá ‘alá Asmá el-Amkanat w’el-Buká’ (“Observations of Information on the Names of Places and Countries”), which contains two dates in the body of the work, viz. A.H. 997 ( = A.D. 1589) and A.H. 1168 (A.D. = 1755), and which is probably compiled from El–Kazwíní, says sub voce Madyan, after giving the “movement” of the word: “It is a city of the tribe of Shu’ayb, opposite Tabúk, and upon the sea of El–Kulzum, six stages (Maráhil) separating the two. It is larger than Tabúk, and in it is the well whence Moses watered the flocks of Shu’ayb.” Finally, it repeats that Madyan is under the district of “Tabariyyá” or Tiberias79 (vol. iii. p. 64, edidit. T. G. J. Juynboll, Lugduni Batavorum, 1854, e duobus Codd. MSS.).

I conclude this unpopular chapter with some remarks by Dr. Badger concerning the apparent connection of Jethro and El–Medínah:80 “It struck me when studying ‘Madyan,’ which is the name of a place as well as of a man,81 that ‘Yáthrib,’ the ancient term of al-Madínah, might have served the same double purpose. At all events, it was singular to find a Yáthrib somewhere near Madyan, and that the word was not far removed from the [Hebrew] (Yithro), the name given in Hebrew to Moses’ Midianite father-inlaw. I also note that the Septuagint renders the Hebrew Yithro by [Greek] Peshito by [Arabic] (Yathrûn), which the new Arabic version of the Bible, published at Bairu’t (Syria), follows; making it [Arabic] (Yáthrûn). The name in Hebrew (Exod. iv. 18) is also written [Hebrew] (Yether).

“My theory is this. Firstly, there is no dependence to be placed on the Masoretic points, especially when affixed to names of places. Secondly, we have no certain knowledge of the language used by the Midianites in those ancient times. Their territory extended northwards towards Palestine, and from their very intimate relations with the Israelites, as friends and as enemies, both nations appear to have understood each other perfectly. May not their language, then, have been a dialect of the Aramean?82 If so, the [Hebrew] (Yithro) of the Bible might have been [Hebrew] (Yithrab, Yathrib, etc.). Instances of the apocopated [Hebrew] (b) are common in the Chaldean or Syro–Chaldaic at the present day; e.g. [Arabic] (Yáheb Alaha) is pronounced Yáu-Alaha; [Arabic] (Yashuá’-yaheb) becomes Yashuá-yau, etc., the final Beth [Arabic] (b) or the [Arabic] (heb) being converted into a [Arabic] (w). Hence why may not [Hebrew] (Yithro) have been originally [Hebrew] (Yithrab or Yathrib)? Of course, this is only a conjecture of mine.”

Mr. E. Stanley Poole (loc. cit.) says that the Arabs dispute whether the name “Medyen” be foreign or Arabic; and whether “Medyen” spoke Arabic. He considers the absurd enumeration of the alphabetical kings (El–Mas’údi, quoted above) to be curious, as possibly containing some vague reference to the language of Midian. When these kings are said contemporaneously to have ruled over Meccah, Western Nejd, Yemen, “Medyen,” Egypt, etc., it is extremely improbable that Midian ever penetrated into Yemen, notwithstanding the hints of Arab authors to the contrary. Yákút el-Hamawi (born A.H. 574 or 575 = A.D. 1178–79, and died A.H. 626 = A.D. 1228), in the Mu’jam el-Buldán (cited in the Journ. of the Deutsch. Morgen. Gesellschaft), declares that a South Arabic dialect is of Midian, and El–Mas’údi (apud Schultens, pp. 158–159) inserts a Midianite king among the rulers of Yemen. The latter, however, is more probable than the former; it may be an accidental and individual, not a material occurrence.

The following list of ruins, some cities, others towns, were all, with two exceptions (Nos. 2 and 18), visited or explored by the second Khedivial Expedition. The Mashghal, ateliers or subsidiary workshops, were in cases learned only by hearsay:—

1. Old ‘Akabah (Aylah) Mashghal, up Valley el-Yitm. 3.

2. El–Hakl (pronounced “Hagul”), the [Greek] of Ptolemy: it was seen from the sea, and notes were taken of its ruins and furnaces.

3. Nakhil Tayyib Ism, in mountain of the same name: its ruined dam (?) and buildings were surveyed by Lieutenant Amir.

4. Makná. Twice visited.

5. Magháir Shu’ayb. Two ateliers inspected, and one heard of on the Jebel el-Lauz: total, 3.

6. ‘Aynúnah. In Jebel Zahd (ruins and furnaces). 1.

7. Sharmá. An atelier on the Jebel Fás, and another on the Jebel Harb, both high up: total, 2.

8. Tiryam. An atelier in the Wady Urnub. 1.

9. Abu Hawáwít, near El–Muwaylah. Scoriæ found about the fort of El–Muwaylah and near Sharm Yáhárr. 2.

10. Zibayyib in Wady Surr. Atelier Sayl Umm Laban (Wady Sadr). 1.

11. Khulasah.83 Saw specimens of worked metal from Wady Kh’shabríyyah, and the upper Wady Surr; also ruins in the Sayl Abú Sha’r, south-west and seawards of the Shárr block.

12. Ma’ el-Badá, alias Diyár el-Nasárá, in the upper Wady Dámah.

13. Shuwák, the [Greek] of Ptolemy. Atelier in Jebel el-Sání. 1.

14. Shaghab, another large city mentioned by El–Makrízi.

15. Ruins of El–Khandakí. Broken quartz, and made road at El–Kutayyifah; two other ateliers in Wady Ruways to the west: total, 3.

16. Umm Amil. Near it an atelier still called El–Dayr, or the Convent. 1.

17. Ziba’, old town; Umm Jirmah to the north. 1.

18. Majirmah (pronounced M’jirmah), one day’s march south of Zibá. Large ruins, supposed to have been the classical Rhaunathos.

Thus, besides a total of eighteen ruins, more or less extensive, twenty ateliers were seen or heard of; making up a total of thirty-eight — not far removed from the forty traditional settlements of the mediæval Arab geographers.

In the plateau of New Red Sandstone called El–Hismá, ruins and inscriptions are said to be found at the Jebel Rawiyán, whose Wady is mentioned by Wallin (p. 308); at Ruáfá, between the two hills El–Rakhamatayn; and at sundry other places, which we were unable to visit. Beyond the Hisma’ I also collected notices of El–Karáyyá, large ruins first alluded to by Wallin (p. 316).84

During our exploration of the region below El–Muwaylah (my Southern Midian), and our cruise to El–Haura’, the following sites were either seen or reported:—

1. Ruins in the Wady Dukhán, south of the Wady el-Azlam: north of El–Wijh.

2. El–Nabaghah, in the Wady el-Marrah: north of El–Wijh.

3. Ruins, furnaces and quartz-strews, in the Fara’t Lebayyiz.

4. El–Wijh, the port of Strabo’s “Egra” (?).

5. Inland fort of El–Wijh; an old metal-working ground.

6. The great mine and ruins, Umm el-Karayya’t, everywhere surrounded by ateliers.

7. El–Kubbah, a small isolated ruin to the east of No. 6.

8. El–Khaur, a working-place to the west of No. 6.

9. The large works called Umm el-Hara’b, with two ruined ateliers near them.

10. Aba’l-Gezáz, a working-place in the watercourse of the same name, an upper branch of the Wady Salbah.

11. The fine plain of Bada’, with the Mashghal el-‘Arayfát heard of to the north.

12. Marwát, ruins on a ridge near Badá, and signs of a settlement in the valley. In the Wady Laylah, remains also spoken of.

13. Aba’l-Marú, probably the Zu’l-Marwah of Bilázurí; extensive remains of buildings; a huge reef of quartz, carefully worked, and smaller ruins further down the valley.

14. The classical temple or tomb on the left bank of the great Wady Hamz, dividing Southern Midian from El–Hejaz in the Turkish dominions.

15. Large remains, in two divisions, at El–Haurá.85

Concerning the ateliers, details will be found in the following pages. Many of them suggest a kind of compromise between the camps and settlements of the Stone Age, where, e.g. at Pressigny and Grimes’ Graves, the only remnant of man is a vast strew of worked silexes; and the wandering fraternity of Freemasons who hutted themselves near the work in hand. And I would here lay special stress upon my suspicion that the ancestors of the despised Hutaym may have been the Gypsy-caste that worked the metals in Midian.

For the date of the many ruins which stud the country, I will assume empirically that their destruction is coeval with that of the Christian Churches in Negeb, or the South Country,86 that adjoins Midian Proper on the north-west. It may date from either the invasion of Khusrau Anúshírawán, the conquering Sassanian King Chosroes (A.D. 531–579); or from the expedition, sent by the Caliph Omar and his successors, beginning in A.D. 651. But, as will appear in the course of these pages, there was a second destruction; and that evidently dates from the early sixteenth century, when Sultán Selim laid out his maritime road for the Hajj-caravan. Before that time the Egyptian caravans, as will be seen, marched inland, and often passed from Midian to El–Hijr.

44 All the useful matter has already been borrowed from Abulfeda. Dr. Badger tells me that he looked through his Jarídat el-‘Ajáib, wa Farídat el-Gharáib, by Siráj el-Din Umar ibn el-Wardí, A.H. 940 (= A.D. 1533 — 1534), where he expected to find, but did not find, notices of Madyan.

45 Geschichte Ægyptens unter den Pharaonen. Nach den Denkmählern bearbeitet, von Dr. Heinrich Brugsch–Bey. Erste deutsche Ausgabe. Leipzig: Hinrichs’sche Buchhandlung, 1877. Already the Première Partie had appeared in French, “Histoire d’Égypte, Introduction — Histoire des Dynasties i. — xvii.;” published by the same house with a second edition in 1875. An English translation of this most valuable compendium, whose German is of the hardest, is now being printed in London.

46 Pun, or Punt, the region on both sides of the Red Seamouth, including El–Yemen and Cape Guardafui, was made holy by the birth of Osiris, Isis, and Horus. Dr. Brugsch–Bey shows that one of the titles of the he-god was Bass, the cat or the leopard (whence our “Puss”); whilst his wife, Bast (the bissat or tabby-cat of modern Arabic), gave her name to Bubastis (Pi–Bast, the city of Bast). From the Osiric term (Bass) the learned Egyptologist would derive Bacchus and his priests, the Bacchoi and the Bacchantes, whose dress was the leopard’s skin. Could Osiris have belonged to the race whose degenerate descendants are the murderous Somal of modern days?

47 Vulg. Snefrou, “he who makes it good;” the ninth of the third Dynasty; the twenty-fourth successor of Mena (Menes) in the papyri, and the twenty-sixth according to Manetho the priest. He conquered the “Mafka-land,” as the Sinaitic Peninsula was then called; and Wady Maghárah still shows his statue, habited in warrior garb, with the proud inscription, “Vanquisher of Stranger Races.” This campaign lends some colour to my suspicion that Sináfir Island, at the mouth of the Gulf el-‘Akabah, may preserve his name.

48 The German Türkis, and the English and French Turquoise, are both evidently derived from Gemma Turcica, Western Turkistan being considered tile source of the finest stones.

49 The accompanying lithograph gives a list of the letters and the syllabic signs which occur in the inscription. {not included in this e-text}

50 The article “Ná” is emphatic, the with the sense of that or those.

51 “Khomet” signifies, 1. Copper, 2. Metal generally, as argent, etc.

52 “Mensh” is always applied to sea-going ships, as opposed to Bari, Uáu, Kerer, etc., riverine craft.

53 “Kemi” signifies, 1. Found, 2. Found out, discovered.

54 That is, the royal pavilion at Thebes.

55 The word “Deb” (brick) still survives in the Arabic Tob, and, perverted to the Iberian Adobe (Et-tob) it has travelled to Mexico.

56 “Hefennu,” as is shown by the ideograph to the right over the three perpendiculars denoting plurality, may be either a frog or a lakh (one hundred thousand).

57 The Egyptians divided gold into four qualities — 1, 2, 3, and two-thirds. But it is not known whether No. 1 was the best, and we can only guess that two-thirds alluded to some alloy.

58 The same as the Shu’ayb of my pages.

59 For a notice of “Moses’ Well,” now quite forgotten by the Arabs, see Chapter VI.

60 For an account of these diggings, see “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” Chap. IX.

61 This strange legend will be found copied into many subsequent authors.

62 El–Abjad, the oldest existing form of the Arabic alphabet; to judge from its being identical with the Hebrew. It is supposed to date from after the beginning of the Christian era, when the Himyaritic form fell into disuse, and it is now used in chronograms only.

63 L’auteur est doublement inexact en avanc, ant que l’Aboudjed se compose de vingt-quatre lettres seulement, d’abord parce que les six mots qu’il énumère ne renferment que vingt-deux lettres, et en second lieu, parce qu’il oublie de citer les deux derniers mots techniques, [Arabic] et [Arabic], lesquels complétent les vingt-huit lettres prises comme valeurs nume’riques (“Voyez l’Exposé des signes de numération chez les Orientaux,” par M. Pihan, p. 199 et suiv.). To this I may add that the French translators have sadly corrupted the words which should be Abjad, Hawwaz, Hutti, Kalaman, Sa’fas, and Karashat; whilst Sakhiz and Zuzigh are not found in the Hebrew and cognate dialects.

64 The “Gate of Lamentation,” vulgarly and most erroneously written, “Babelmandel.”

65 That is, “spoiled,” dry; instead of “honoured,” respected. The difference of the words is in the “pointing” of the third letter, and the change of m and l.

66 Not to be confounded with a cosmography of the same name by Ahmed ibn Yahyá el-Shá‘ir. Cf. Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, vol. xx. of 1850, p. 343.

67 This route, from Suez to El-‘Akabah, probably one of the oldest in this world, has been traversed perfunctorily by Burckhardt and by Beke. It still wants a detailed survey, and even hieroglyphic inscriptions may be expected. Beke’s map marks Hawáwit (“ruins”) near one of his nighting-places, but apparently the remains were not visited.

68 The Syrian Hajj no longer pass through El-‘Akabah to Makná, but inland or eastward of it. The reason is made evident in Chap. VII.

69 Thus the Khálú or Khárú of the old Egyptians, meaning a “mixed multitude,” were originally Phoenicians and domiciled from earliest ages about Lake Menzálah. So the “mixed multitude,” or mingled people, which followed Israel from Egypt would be a riff-raff of strangers. D’Herbelot says (sub voce Midian): “Quoyque les Madianites soient reputez pour Arabes, neanmoins ils ne sont pas du nombre des Tribus qui partageoient l’Arabie, et dont les Auteurs nous ont rendu un compte exact dans leur Histoire et dans leurs Genealogies; de sorte qu’il passe pour un peuple étranger qui s’est établi parmi eux.” Yet, as we have seen by the foregoing extracts, Madyan was reckoned within the territory of El–Medi’nah, i.e. the Hejaz.

Caussin de Perceval (“Essai sur l’Histoire des Arabs avant l’Islamisme”) regards the old Midianites as one of the “Races éteintes;” and he makes them (vol. i. p. 23) descendants of Céthura, Abraham’s second wife. In vol. ii. p. 232, he brings the Banu–Djodha’m (Juzám) from El–Yemen, and settles them in the country of the ancient Midianites. He adds: “La region sur laquelle ils étaient répandus avec leurs frères les Benou–Lakhm, et, je crois aussi, avec les families Codhaites, de Bali (Baliyy) et de Cayn, touchait par l’ouest à la Mer Rouge, par le nord au pays que les Romains appelaient troisième Palestine, par le sud aux déserts . . . par l’est, enfin, au territoire de Daumat–Djandal sur laquelle campaient les Benou–Kelb, tribu Codhaïte, alors Chrétienne, et alliée ou sujette des Romains.” In vol. iii. p. 159, he recounts from the Táríkh el-Khamísí, and the Sírat el-Rasúl, how Zayd made an expedition against the “Djodhám (Juzám) established at Madyan on the coast of the Red Sea.” The warrior captured a number of women and children who were exposed for sale, but the “Prophet,” hearing the wails of the mothers, ordered that the young ones should not be sold apart from the parents.

70 The “Burd,” or “Burdah,” was worn by Mohammed, as we know from a celebrated poem, for which see D’Herbelot, sub voce “Bordah.”

71 Michaud (“Hist. des Croisades,” ii. 27) says: “Une fois qu’il (Saladin) fût maitre de la capitale (Damascus); son armée victorieuse et l’or pur appelé Obreysum (Ubraysun ou Hubraysum) qu’il tirait de l’E’gypte, lui soumirent les autres cités de la Syrie.” The question is whether this gold was not from Midian: my friend Yacoub Artin Bey, who supplied me with the quotation, thinks that it was.

72 The most curious form, perhaps, which the ancient Midianitic tradition has assumed, was in the thirteenth century, when the Russians believed that the Tartars, “with their four-cornered faces,” were the ancient Midianites coming in the latter days to conquer the world. Lieutenant C. R. Conder, R.E. (“Tentwork in Palestine,” Bentley, 1878), has done his best to rival this style of ethnology by declaring that “the hosts of Midian” were, no doubt, the ancestors of the modern Bedawin.

73 Alluding to the legend that the shepherds, after watering their flocks, rolled a great stone over the mouth of the well, so that the contents might not be used by Jethro’s daughters. Musá waxed wroth, and, weak as he was with travel, gave the stone such a kick that it went flying full forty cubits from the spot. See “Desert of the Exodus,” Appendix, p. 539.

74 A name now unknown to the Bedawin of Madyan. The culminating peak is now supposed to be either the Shárr, the Jebel el-Lauz, or the Jebel Zánah.

75 The Badais of Ptolemy, which we shall presently visit.

76 A large ruin east of Zibá, also visited.

77 For a notice of El–Khalasah, also called El–Khulusah, El–Khulsah, or Zu’l-Khalasah, consult the art. “Midian,” Smith’s “Dict. of the Bible,” by E. S. Poole, vol. ii. p. 356. For the Khalasah of the Negeb, “where Venus was worshipped with all the licentious pomp of the Pagan ritual,” see Professor Palmer’s “Desert of the Exodus,” p. 385. The text, however, alludes to a ruin called El–Khulasah, one march from El–Muwaylah to the east (Chap. VIII.).

78 El–Mederah is possibly Hasíyat el-Madrá, which, like El-A’waj, El-Bírayn, and Ma’ín, is now included in Syria. El–Mu’allak may be Jebel Yalak — at least, so say the Bedawin.

79 In the last remark, also found in El–Kazwíní, the Madyan of El–Shu’ayb is referred to the district of Tiberias. Thus it would belong to Syria, whilst the majority of geographers refer it to the Hejaz, and a minority to El–Yemen.

80 Alluded to in a note to p. 331 of “The Gold Mines of Midian,” etc.

81 This means only according to Hebrew and Arabic tradition, neither of them being, in this case, of much value. As I remarked before (“The Gold–Mines of Midian,” p. 177), the hieroglyphic name of the land is Mádí, in the plural Mádí-án or Mádí-ná; on the other hand, we have no information concerning the origin and derivation of Mádí, except that it is not Egyptian.

82 None of the tribes or families now inhabiting Midian represent the ancient Midianites; and all speak the vulgar half-Fellah Arabic, without any difference of accent or vocabulary from their neighbours.

83 See the preceding notes on El–Makrízi.

84 The Ma’ázah spoke of Kanátir (arches, i.e. aqueducts) and Bibán (doors or catacombs).

85 I inquired in vain concerning the ruins near Sharm Burayttah, south of Yambú’ in the Harb country. Wellsted, who visited the site (11. xi.), conjectures them to be Niebuhr’s “El-Jár.” He makes that near the point “as large as Yembo, extending about a mile in length, and half that space in breadth, with a square fort in the vicinity, the remains of which have towers at the corners and gates.” Near the middle on either side, the tall walls are six feet thick, strong enough where artillery is unknown. At the landing-place are a quay paved with large hewn stones, and a jetty of solid masonry in ruins. The sailors dug and found only shapeless fragments of corroded copper and brass; coloured glass, as usual more opaque than the modern, and earthenware of the kind scattered about Egyptian ruins. About one mile from the fort were other remains, built of coral, now much blackened by exposure; and similar constructions on the further side of the Sharm could not be examined, as the Harb Bedawin were jealous and hostile.

86 The name is from Gen. xx. 1, and it signifies the country lying to the south of Palestine. See “The Negeb,” by the late Rev. E. Wilton (London, 1863), and vol. ii. “The Desert of the Exodus,” so often alluded to in these pages.

Chapter V.

Work At, and Excursions From, Magháir Shu’Ayb.

By the blessing of Nebi Shu’ayb and a glance from his eyrie, I at once suspected that the western Shigd was the “Mountain on a mountain” alluded to by Haji Wali;87 and, on January 12, 1878, I ascertained that such was the case. The old man had given me a hand-sketch of the most artless, showing a gorge between two rocks, a hill of two stages to the left or west, and a couple of Wadys draining it to the sea; one (Wady Makná) trending northwest, and the other (Wady ‘Afál) south-west. The word “Ishmah,” affixed to the northern part of the route, is evidently the Hismá plateau, and not, as I had supposed it to be, the Jebel Tayyib Ism.

Nor had we any difficulty in discovering Haji Wali’s tree, a solitary Mimosa to the right of the caravan-track, springing from the sands of the Shigdawayn gorge. The latter is formed by the sister-blocks before alluded to. The western Shigd, on the right of the Wady ‘Afál, is composed of carbonate of lime and sandstones dyed with manganese, the whole resting upon a core of grey granite; the formation is the same as the eastern feature, but the lines of the latter are gentler, and the culminating tower is wanting.

The western Shigd, indeed, is sufficiently peculiar. It is the southern apex of a short range, numbering some four heads: the eastern flank discharges the Wady Kizáz, which feeds the ‘Afál; and the western the Wady Makná. The summit of the broken and spiny cone is a huge perpendicular block, apparently inaccessible as a tower, and composed of the dull yellow ferruginous conglomerate called “El–Safrá:” the tint contrasts strongly with a long line of bright white Rugham (gypsum), bisecting the head of the Wady Makná. Below the apex is a thick stratum of manganese-stained rock: the upper line, with a dip of 15 deg. towards the main valley, looks much like a row of bulwarks which had slipped from the horizontal, while still bluff between the north-east and east. Indeed, the shape is so regular that M. Lacaze, at first sight, asked if it was une construction.

As soon as the washing-trough was brought up from Sharmá, we opened operations by digging a trench, at least twelve feet deep, in the re-entering angle of the bed close to the Mimosa tree. The sand, pink above and chloritic yellow below, ended in a thick bed of water-rolled pebbles, not in ground-rock; nor did it show the couch of excellent clay which usually underlies the surface, and which, I have said, is extracted through pits to make sun-dried brick, swish, and other building materials. We also secured some of the blood-red earth from the eastern tail of the northern “Shigh,” the manganese-stained Tauá and the gravelly sand washed out of the Cascalho-gravel, the latter very promising. The result of our careless working, however, was not successful; the normal ilmenite, black sand of magnetic iron, took the place of gold-dust. And this unlooked-for end again made us suspicious of my old friend’s proceedings: the first occasion was that of his notable “malingering.” Had he bought a pinch of “Tibr” (pure gold) from the Bedawin, and mixed it with the handful of surface stuff? Had the assayer at Alexandria played him a trick? Or had an exceptionally heavy torrent really washed down auriferous “tailings”? I willingly believe the latter to have been the case; and we shall presently see it is within the range of possibility. Traces of gold were found by Lieutenant–Colonel W. A. Ross, through his pyrological process, in the sandy clays brought from the mouth of Wady Makná.

Meanwhile, despite our magnificent offers, the Arabs managed to keep inviolate their secret — if they had one. An old man, now a rich merchant and householder at Suez, had repeatedly declared to Mr. A. G. K. Levick, that in his young days the Bedawin washed gold in Midian, till the industry fell into disrepute. During my last visit he was unfortunately absent upon a pilgrimage; after our return he asserted that he had sent for specimens of the sand, but that it paid too little even for transport. This ‘Abd el-Hámid el-Shámi, interviewed, after our return, by Mr. Clarke, declared more than once, and still declares, that many years ago he obtained from the Wady Zibá, behind the settlement, a certain quantity of reddish sand which appeared auriferous. He roasted and washed the contents of three small baskets called “Coffas”88 by Europeans; and this yielded a pinch of “what looked like pure gold.”

In camp our men spoke freely of Tibr stored in quills, carried behind the ear, and sold at Suez — not at Cairo for fear of consequences. Yet neither promises nor bribes would persuade the poorest to break through the rule of silence. The whole might have been a canard: on the other hand, there was also a valid reason for reticence; the open mouth would not long have led to a sound throat. So our many informants contented themselves with telling us frequent tales of gold ornaments picked up after rain; they showed us a ring made from a bit found on the Tabúk road, and they invariably assure us that we shall find wondrous things — about the next station.

At Magháir Shu’ayb we wasted a whole fortnight (January 11–24, 1878) in vain works; and I afterwards bitterly repented that the time had not been given to South Midian. Yet the delay was pleasant enough, after the month which is required to acquire, or to recover, the habit of tent-life. The halting-day was mostly spent as follows: At six a.m., and somewhat later on cold mornings, the Boruji sounds his réveillé— Kum, yá Habíbí, sáh el-Naum (“Rise, friend! sleep is done”), as the Egyptian officers interpret the call. A curious business he makes of it, when his fingers are half frozen; yet Bugler Mersál Abú Dunya is a man of ambition, who persistently, and despite the coarse laughter of Europeans, repairs for quiet practicing to the bush. We drink tea or coffee made by Engineer Ali Marie, or by Quartermaster Yusuf, not by Europeans; two camels supply us with sweet milk; butter we have brought; and nothing is wanted for complete comfort but bread.

We then separate to our work, after telling off the quarrymen to their several tasks. Inveterate idlers and ne’er-do-weels, their only object in life is not to labour; a dozen of them will pass a day in breaking ten pounds’ weight of stone. They pound in the style of the Eastern tobacconist, with a very short stroke and a very long stay. At last they burst the sieves in order to enjoy a quieter life. They will do nothing without superintendence; whilst the officer is absent they sit and chat, smoke, or lie down to rest; and they are never to be entrusted with a water-skin or a bottle of spirits. The fellows will station one of their number on the nearest hill, whilst their comrades enjoy a sounder sleep; they are the greatest of cowards, and yet none would thus have acted sentinel even in the presence of the enemy. These useful articles all expect a liberal “bakhshísh” when the journey is done, with the usual Asiatic feeling: they know that they deserve nothing, but my “dignity” obliges me to largess. On this occasion it did not.

Those told off to dig prefer to make a deep pit, because fewer can work together at it, rather than scrape off and sift the two feet of surface which yield “antíka’s.” They rob what they can: every scrap of metal stylus, manilla, or ring is carefully tested, scraped, broken or filed, in order to see whether it be gold. Punishment is plentifully administered, but in vain; we cannot even cure their unclean habits of washing in and polluting the fountain source. Three Europeans would easily do the work of these thirty poor devils.

Mr. Clarke is our camp-manager in general: he is also our jäger; he shoots the wild poultry, duck and partridge, sand-grouse, and “Bob White” the quail, for half our dinners; and the Arabs call him the “Angel of Death belonging to the Birds.” He failed to secure a noble eagle in the Wady ‘Afál, whose nest was built upon an inaccessible cliff: he described the bird as standing as high as our table, and with a width of six to seven feet from wing to wing. He also brought tidings of a large (horned?) owl, possibly the same species as the fine bird noted at Sinai. The Arabs call it classically Búmah, and vulgarly Umm Kuwayk (“Mother of Squeaking”): the Fellahin believe that it sucks out children’s eyes, and hence their name, “Massásah.” Here, as in the Sinaitic Peninsula, “the owl and the hyena are used as charms; and the burnt feathers of the former, and the boiled flesh of the latter (superior filth!), are considered as infallible specifics for numerous disorders.” In other parts of Arabia the hooting of the owl portends death; and the cry, Fát — fát, is interpreted, “He is gone, gone.”

The two Staff-officers make plans and sketches of the new places, or they protract their field-books, working very hard and very slowly. I have but little confidence in their route-surveys: sights are taken from mule-back, and distances are judged by the eye. True, the protractions come out well, but this is all the worse, suggesting the process commonly called “doctoring.” For the style of thing, however, “dead reckoning” did well enough.

M. Lacaze is the most ardent. Accompanied by his favourite orderly, Salámat el-Nahhás, an intelligent negro from Dár-For, he sets out after breakfast with a bit of bread, a flagon of water, a tent-umbrella, and his tools, which he loses with remarkable punctuality, to spend the whole day sketching, painting, and photographing. M. Philipin is our useful man: he superintends the washing-cradle; he wanders far and wide, gun in hand, bringing us specimens of everything that strikes the eye; and he is great at his forge: the Bedawin sit for hours, gazing attentively as he converts a file into a knife, and illustrating the reverence with which, in early days, men regarded Vulcan and Wayland Smith.

At eleven a.m. the bugle sounds Tijrí taakul! (“Run and feed”), a signal for déjeuner à la fourchette. It is a soup, a stew, and a Puláo (“pilaff”) of rice and meat, sheep or goat, the only provisions that poor Midian can afford, accompanied by onions and garlic, which are eaten like apples, washed down with bon ordinaire; followed by cheese when we have it, and ending with tea or coffee. George the cook proves himself an excellent man when deprived of oil and undemoralized by contact with his fellow Greeks. After feeding, the idlers, who have slumbered, or rather have remained in bed, between eight p.m. and six to seven a.m., generally manage a couple of hours’ siesta, loudly declaring that they have been wide awake. One of the party seems to live by the blessing of him who invented sleep, and he is always good for half of the twenty-four hours — how they must envy him whose unhappy brains can be stupefied only by poisonous chloral!

At two p.m., after drinking tea or coffee once more, we proceed to another four hours’ spell of work. As sunset and the cold hours draw near, all assemble about the fire, generally two or three huge palm trunks, whose blaze gladdens the soul of the lonely night-sentinel; and, assembling the Shaykhs of the Arabs, we gather from them information geographical, historical, and ethnological. The amount of invention, of pure fancy, of airy lying, is truly sensational; while at the same time they conceal from us everything they can; and, more especially, everything we most wish to know. Firstly, they do not want us to spy out the secrets of the land; and, secondly, they count upon fleecing us through another season. During the whole day, but notably at this hour, we have the normal distractions of the Arabian journey. One man brings, and expects “bakhshísh” for, a bit of broken metal or some ridiculous stone; another grumbles for meat; and a third wants tobacco, medicine, or something to be had for the asking. I am careful to pay liberally, as by so doing the country is well scoured.

Dinner, at seven p.m., is a copy of what was served before noon. It is followed by another sitting round the fire, which is built inside the mess tent when cold compels. At times the conversation lasts till midnight; and, when cognac or whisky is plentiful, I have heard it abut upon the Battle of Waterloo and the Immortality of the Soul. Piquet and écarté are reserved for life on board ship. Our only reading consists of newspapers, which come by camel post every three weeks; and a few “Tauchnitz,” often odd volumes. I marvel, as much as Hamlet ever did, to see the passionate influence of the storyteller upon those full-grown children, bearded men; to find them, in the midst of this wild new nature, so utterly absorbed by the fictitious weal and woe of some poor creature of the author’s brain, that they neglect even what they call their “meals;” allow their “teas” to cool, and strain their eyesight poring over page after page in the dim light of a rusty lantern. Thus also the Egyptian, after sitting in his café with all his ears and eyes opened their widest, whilst the story-teller drones out the old tale of Abú Zayd, will dispute till midnight, and walk home disputing about what, under such and such circumstances, they themselves would have done. To me the main use of “Tauchnitz” was to make Arabia appear the happier, by viewing, from the calm vantage-ground of the Desert, the meanness and the littlenesses of civilized life — in novels.

The marching-day is only the halting-day in movement. By seven a.m. in winter and four a.m. in spring, we have breakfasted and are ready to mount mule or dromedary; more generally, however, we set out, accompanied by the Sayyid and the Shaykhs, for a morning walk. The tents and, most important of all, the tent-table are left to follow under the charge of the Egyptian officers, who allow no dawdling. With us are the cook and the two body-servants, riding of course: they carry meat, drink, and tobacco in my big tin cylinder intended to collect plants; and they prefer to give us cold whilst we fight for hot breakfasts. After resting between ten a.m. and noon in some shady spot, generally under a thorn, we ride on to the camping-ground, which we reach between two and three p.m. This is the worst part of the day for man and beast, especially for the mules — hence the necessity of early rising.

The average work rarely exceeds six hours (= eighteen to twenty miles). Even this, if kept up day after day, is hard labour for our montures, venerable animals whose chests, galled by the breast-straps, show that they have not been broken to the saddle. Accustomed through life to ply in a state of semi-somnolence, between Cairo and the Citadel, they begin by proving how unintelligent want of education can make one of the most intelligent of beasts. They trip over every pebble, and are almost useless on rough and broken ground; they start and swerve at a man, a tree, a rock, a distant view or a glimpse of the sea; they will not leave one another, and they indulge their pet dislikes: this shies at a camel, that kicks at a dog. Presently Tamaddun, as the Arabs say, “urbanity,” or, more literally, being “citified,” asserts itself, as in the human cockney; and at last they become cleverer and more knowing than any country-bred. They climb up the ladders of stone with marvellous caution, and slip down the slopes of sand on their haunches; they round every rat-hole which would admit a hoof; and they know better than we do where water is. They are not always well treated; the “galloping griff” is amongst us, who enjoys “lambing” and “bucketing” even a half-donkey. Of course, the more sensible animal of the two is knocked up; whilst the rider assumes the airs of one versed in the haute école. The only difficulty, by no fault of the mules, was the matter of irons: shoeless they could travel only in sand; and, as has been said, the farrier was forgotten.

Amongst our recreant Shaykhs I must not include Furayj bin Rafí‘a el-Huwaytí, a man of whom any tribe might be proud, and a living proof that the Bedawi may still be a true gentleman. A short figure, meagre of course, as becomes the denizen of the Desert, but “hard as nails,” he has straight comely features, a clean dark skin, and a comparatively full beard, already, like his hair, waxing white, although he cannot be forty-five. A bullet in the back, and both hands distorted by sabre-cuts, attempts at assassination due to his own kin, do not prevent his using sword, gun, and pistol. He is the ‘Agíd of the tribe, the African “Captain of War;” as opposed to the civil authority, the Shayhk, and to the judicial, the Kázi. At first it is somewhat startling to hear him prescribe a slit weasand as a cure for lying; yet he seems to be known, loved, and respected by all around him, including his hereditary foes, the Ma’ázah. He is the only Bedawi in camp who prays. Naturally he is a genealogist, rich in local lore. He counteracts all the intrigues by which that rat-faced little rascal, Shaykh Hasan el-‘Ukbi, tries to breed mischief between friends. He is a walking map; it would be easy to draw up a rude plan of the country from his information. He does not know hours and miles, but he can tell to a nicety the comparative length of a march; and, when ignorant, he has the courage to say M’adri, “don’t know.” He never asked me for anything, nor told a lie, nor even hid a water-hole. Willing and ready to undertake the longest march, the hardest work, his word is Házir —“I’m here”— and he will even walk to mount a tired man. Seated upon his loud-voiced little Hijn,89 remarkable because it is of the noble Bishári strain, bred between the Nile and the Red Sea, he is ever the guide in chief. At last it ends with Nádi Shaykh Furayj! —“Call Shaykh Furayj”— when anything is to be done, to be explained, to be discovered. I would willingly have recommended him for the chieftainship of his tribe, but he is not wealthy; he wisely prefers to see the dignity in the hands of his cousin ‘Alayán, who, by-the-by, is helpless without him. He remained with us to the end: he seemed to take a pride in accompanying the expedition by sea to El–Haurá, and by land to the Wady Hamz, far beyond the limits of his tribe. When derided for mounting a pair of Government “bluchers,” tied over bare feet, with bits of glaring tassel-string from his camel-saddle, he quoted the proverb, “Whoso liveth with a people forty days becomes of them.” We parted after the most friendly adieu, or rather au revoir, and he was delighted with some small gifts of useful weapons:— I wonder whether Shaykh Furayj will prove “milk,” to use Sir Walter Scott’s phrase, “which can stand more than one skimming.”

In such wild travel, the traveller’s comfort depends mainly upon weather. Usually the air of Magháir Shu’ayb was keen, pure, and invigorating, with a distinct alternation of land-breeze by night, and of sea-breeze by day. Nothing could be more charming than the flushing of the mountains at sunrise and sunset, and the magnificence of the windy, wintry noon. The rocky spires, pinnacles, and domes, glowing with gorgeous golden light, and the lower ranges, shaded with hazy blue, umber-red, and luminous purple, fell into picture and formed prospects indescribably pure and pellucid. But the average of the aneroid (29.19) gave an altitude of eight hundred feet; and even in this submaritime region, the minimum temperature was 42 deg. F., ranging to a maximum of 85 deg F. in the shade. These are extremes which the soft Egyptian body, reared in the house or the hut, could hardly support.

Darwaysh Effendi followed suit after Yusuf Effendi; it was a study to see him swathed to the nose, bundled in the thickest clothes, with an umbrella opened against the sun, and with a soldier leading his staid old mule. Bukhayt Ahmar and several of the soldiers were laid up; Ahmed Kaptán was incapacitated for work by an old and inveterate hernia, the effect, he said, of riding his violent little beast; and a sound ague and fever, which continued three days, obliterated in my own case the last evils of Karlsbad. We had one night of rain (January 15), beginning gently at 2.30 a.m., and ending in a heavy downfall — unfortunately a pluviometer was one of the forgotten articles. Before the shower, earth was dry as a bone; shortly after it, sprouts of the greenest grass began to appear in the low places, and under the shadow of the perennial shrubs. The cold damp seemed to make even the snakes torpid: for the first time in my life I trod upon one — a clairvoyante having already warned me against serpents and scorpions. There were also bursts of heat, ending in the normal three grey days of raw piercing norther; and followed by a still warmer spell. Upon the Gulf of El-‘Akabah a violent gale was blowing. On the whole the winter climate of inland Midian is trying, and a speedy return to the seaboard air is at times advisable, while South Midian feels like Thebes after Cairo. The coast climate is simply perfect, save and except when El–Aylí, the storm-wind from ‘Akabat Aylah, is abroad. My meteorological journal was carefully kept, despite the imperfection of the instruments. Mr. Clarke registered the observations during my illness; Mr. Duguid and Násir Kaptán made simultaneous observations on board the ships; and Dr. Maclean kindly corrected the instrumental errors after our return to Cairo.90

I had proposed to march upon the Hismá, or sandy plateau to the east, which can be made from Magháir Shu’ayb without the mortification of a Nakb, or ladder of stone. Thereupon our Tagaygát-Huwaytát Shaykhs and camel-men began to express great fear of the ‘Imran–Huwaytát, refusing to enter their lands without express leave and the presence of a Ghafír (“surety”). Our caravan-leader, the gallant Sayyid, at once set off in search of ‘Brahim bin Makbúl, second chief of the ‘Imrán, and recognized by the Egyptian Government as the avocat, spokesman and diplomatist, the liar and intriguer of his tribe. This man was found near El–Hakl (Hagul), two long marches ahead: he came in readily enough, holding in hand my kerchief as a pledge of protection, and accompanied by three petty chiefs, Musallam, Sa’d, and Muhaysin, all with an eye to “bakhshísh.” In fact, every naked-footed “cousin,” a little above the average clansman, would call himself a Shaykh, and claim his Musháhirah, or monthly pay; not a cateran came near us but affected to hold himself dishonoured if not provided at once with the regular salary. ‘Brahim was wholly beardless, and our Egyptians quoted their proverb, Sabáh el-Kurúd, wa lá Sabán el-‘Ajrúd —“Better (see ill-omened) monkeys in the morning than the beardless man.” As the corruption of the best turns to the worst, so the Bedawi, a noble race in its own wilds, becomes thoroughly degraded by contact with civilization. I remember a certain chief of the Wuld Ali tribe, near Damascus, who was made a Freemason at Bayrút, and the result was that “brother” Mohammed became a model villain.

By way of payment for escort and conveyance to the Hismá, ‘Brahim expected a recognition of his claim upon the soil of Magháir Shu’ayb, which belongs to the wretched Masá‘id. He held the true Ishmaelitic tenet, that as Sayyidná (our Lord) Ádam had died intestate, so all men (Arabs) have a right to all things, provided the right can be established by might. Hence the saying of the Fellah, “Shun the Arab and the itch.” Thus encouraged by the Shaykhs, the “dodges” of the clansmen became as manifold as they were palpable. They wanted us to pay for camping-ground; they complained aloud when we cut a palm-frond for palms, or used a rotten fallen trunk for fuel. They made their sheep appear fat by drenching them with water. The people of the Fort el-Muwaylah, determined not to déroger, sent to us, for sale, the eggs laid by our own fowls. And so forth.

Presently ‘Brahim brought in his elder brother, Khizr bin Makbúl, about as ill-conditioned a “cuss” as himself. Very dark, with the left eye clean gone, this worthy appeared pretentiously dressed in the pink of Desert fashion — a scarlet cloak, sheepskin-lined, and bearing a huge patch of blue cloth between the shoulders; a crimson caftan, and red morocco boots with irons resembling ice-cramps at the heels. Like ‘Brahim, he uses his Bákúr, or crooked stick, to trace lines and dots upon the ground; similarly, the Yankee whittles to hide the trick that lurks in his eyes. Khizr tents in the Hismá, and his manners are wild and rough as his dwelling-place; possibly manly, brusque certainly, like the Desert Druzes of the Jebel Haurán. He paid his first visit when our Shaykhs were being operated upon by the photographer: I fancied that such a novelty would have attracted his attention for the moment. But no: his first question was, Aysh ‘Ujratí? —“What is the hire for my camels?” Finally, these men threw so many difficulties in our way, that I was compelled to defer our exploration of the eastern region to a later day.

After a week of washing for metals at Magháir Shu’ayb, it was time to move further afield. On January 17th, the Egyptian Staff-officers rode up the Wady ‘Afál, and beyond the two pyramidal rocks of white stone, which have fallen from the towered “Shigd,” they found on its right bank the ruins of a small atelier. It lies nearly opposite the mouth of the Wady Tafrígh, which is bounded north by a hill of the same name; and south by the lesser “Shigd.” Beyond it comes the Wady Nimir, the broad drain of the Jibál el-Nimir, “Hills of the Leopard,” feeding the ‘Afál: the upper valley is said to have water and palms. After a “leg” to the north-east (45 deg. mag.), they found the ‘Afál running from due north; and one hour (= three miles) led them to other ruins on the eastern side of the low hills that prolong to the north the greater “Shigd.” The names of both sites were unknown even to Shaykh Furayj. The foundations of uncut boulders showed a semicircle of buildings measuring 229 paces across the horseshoe. They counted eleven tenements — probably occupied by the slave-owners and superintendents — squares and oblongs, separated by intervals of from forty-five to ninety-seven or a hundred paces. On the north-north-east lay the chief furnace, a parallelogram of some twenty-three paces, built of stone and surrounded by scatters of broken white quartz and scoriæ. These two workshops seem to argue that the country was formerly much better watered than it is now. Moreover, it convinced me that the only rock regularly treated by the ancients, in this region, was the metallic Marú (quartz).

I had heard by mere chance of a “White Mountain,” at no great distance, in the mass of hills bounding to the north the Secondary formations of Magháir Shu’ayb. On January 21st, M. Marie and Lieutenant Amir were detached to inspect it. They were guided by the active Furayj and a Bedawi lad, Hamdán of the Amírát, who on receiving a “stone dollar” (i.e. silver) could not understand its use. Travelling in a general northern direction, the little party reached their destination in about three hours (= nine miles). They found some difficulty in threading a mile and a quarter of very ugly road, a Nakb, passing through rocks glittering with mica; a ladder of stony steps and overfalls, with angles and zigzags where camels can carry only half-loads. The European dismounted; the Egyptian, who was firm in the saddle, rode his mule the whole way. We afterwards, however, explored a comparatively good road, viâ the Wady Murákh, to the seaboard, which will spare the future metal-smelter much trouble and expense.

The quartz mountain is, like almost all the others, the expanded mushroom-like head of a huge filon or vein; and minor filets thread all the neighbouring heights. The latter are the foot-hills of the great Jebel Zánah, a towering, dark, and dome-shaped mass clearly visible from Magháir Shu’ayb. This remarkable block appeared to me the tallest we had hitherto seen; it is probably the “Tayyibat Ism, 6000,” of the Hydrographic Chart. The travellers ascended the Jebel el-Marú, trembling the while with cold; and from its summit, some fifteen hundred feet above sea-level, they had a grand view of the seaboard and the sea. They brought home specimens of the rock, and fondly fancied that they had struck gold: it was again that abominable “crow-gold” (pyrites), which has played the unwary traveller so many a foul practical joke.

During our stay at Magháir Shu’ayb the camp had been much excited by Bedawi reports of many marvels in the lands to the north and the north-east. The Arabs soon learned to think that everything was worth showing: they led M. Lacaze for long miles to a rock where bees were hiving. A half-naked ‘Umayri shepherd, one Suwayd bin Sa’íd, had told us of a Hajar masdúd (“closed stone”) about the size of a tent, with another of darker colour set in it; the Arabs had been unable to break it open, but they succeeded with a similar rock in the Hismá, finding inside only Tibn (“tribulated straw”) and charcoal. Another had seen a Kidr Dahab (“golden pot”), in the ‘Aligán section of the Wady el-Hakl (Hagul) where it leaves the Hismá; and a matchlock-man had brought down with his bullet a bit of precious metal from the upper part. This report prevails in many places: it may have come all the way from “Pharaoh’s Treasury” at Petra, or from the Sinaitic Wady Lejá. At the mouth of the latter is the Hajar el-Kidr (“Potrock”), which every passing Arab either stones or strikes with his staff, hoping that the mysterious utensil will burst and shed its golden shower. Moreover, a half-witted Ma’ázi, by name Masá’í, had tantalized us with a glorious account of the “House of ‘Antar” in the Hismá, and the cistern where that negro hero and poet used to water his horses. Near its massive walls rises a Hazbah (“steep and solitary hillock”) with Dims or layers of ashlar atop: he had actually broken off a bit of greenstone sticking in the masonry, and sold it to a man from Tor (Khwájeh Kostantin?) for a large sum — two napoleons, a new shirt, and a quantity of coffee. A similar story is found in the Bádiyat el-Tíh, the Desert north of the Sinaitic Peninsula. At the ruined cairns of Khara’bat Lussán (the ancient Lysa), an Arab saw a glimmer of light proceeding from a bit of curiously cut stone. “This he carried away with him and sold to a Christian at Jerusalem for three pounds.”91

Shaykh ‘Brahím had also heard of this marvel; but he called it the Haráb ‘Antar (“Ruin of ‘Antar”), and he placed it in the Wady el-Hakl, about an hour’s ride south of the Wady ‘Afál. Finally, a tablet in the Wady Hawwayi’, adorned with a dragon and other animals, was reported to me; and the memory of inscriptions mentioned in the Jihan-numá was still importunate. Evidently all these were mere fancies; or, at best, gross distortions of facts. The Bedawin repeat them in the forlorn hope of “bakhshísh,” and never expect action to be taken: next morning they will probably declare the whole to be an invention. Yet it is never safe to neglect the cry of “wolf”: our most remarkable discovery, the Temple at the Wady Hamz, was made when report promised least.

Accordingly, on January 24th, I despatched, with Shaykhs Khizr and ‘Brahím as guides, Mr. Clarke and the two Staff-lieutenants towards El–Rijm, the next station of the pilgrim-caravan. Riding up the Wady ‘Afál, they reached, after an hour and three-quarters, the ruins known as Igár Muás — a name of truly barbarous sound. The settlement had occupied both banks, but the principal mass was on the left: here two blocks, separated by a hillock, lay to north-east and south-west of each other. Apparently dwelling-places, they were composed of a masonry-cistern and of fourteen buildings, detached squares and oblongs, irregular both in orientation and in size; the largest measuring eighty by fifty metres, and the smallest five by four. The material was of water-rolled boulders, huge pebbles without mortar or cement. There were no signs of a furnace, nor were the usual fragments of glass and pottery strewed about. To the north and running up the north-north-eastern slope stood a line of wall two metres broad and three hundred long: it ended at the south-western extremity in five round towers razed to their foundations. It was suggested that this formed part of a street, laid out on the plan of the Jebel el-Safrá, the hauteville of Magháir Shu’ayb. On the right bank of the Wady appeared a heap of stones suggesting a Burj. Fine, hard, compact, and purple-blue slate was collected in the ruins; and the red conglomerates on either side of the watercourse suggested that Cascalho had been worked.

After riding their dromedaries some three hours, halts not included, the travellers were asked why they had not brought their tents. “Because we expect to return to camp this evening!” Then it leaked out that they had not reached half-way to the “closed stone,” while the dragon-tablet would take a whole day. Unprepared for a wintry night in the open, some twelve hundred feet above sea-level, they rode back at full speed, greatly to the disgust of the Arabs, who, at this hungry season, rarely push their lean beasts beyond three and a half to four miles an hour. Lieutenant Amir, who is invaluable in the field, would have pressed forward: not so the European.

I did not see Shaykhs Khizr or ‘Brahím for many a day; nor did we attempt any more reconnaissances to the north of Magháir Shu’ayb.

Not the least pleasant part of our evening’s work was collecting information concerning the origin of the tribes inhabiting modern Midian; and, as on such occasions a mixed multitude was always present, angry passions were often let rise. As my previous volume showed, the tribes in this Egyptian corner of North–Western Arabia number three — the Huwaytát, the Maknáwi, and the Beni ‘Ukbah; the two former of late date, and all more or less connected with the Nile Valley. Amongst them I do not include the Hutaym or Hitaym, a tribe of Pariahs who, like the Akhdám (“serviles”) of Maskat and Yemen, live scattered amongst, although never intermarrying with, their neighbours. As a rule the numbers of all these tribes are grossly exaggerated, the object being to impose upon the pilgrim-caravans, and to draw black-mail from the Government of Egypt. The Huwaytát, for instance, modestly declare that they can put 5000 matchlocks into the field: I do not believe that they have 500. The Ma’ázah speak of 2000, which may be reduced in the same proportion; whilst the Baliyy have introduced their 37,000 into European books of geography, when 370 would be nearer the mark. I anticipate no difficulty in persuading these Egypto–Arabs to do a fair day’s work for a fair and moderate wage. The Bedawin flocked to the Suez Canal, took an active part in the diggings, and left a good name there. They will be as useful to the mines; and thus shall Midian escape the mortification of the “red-flannel-shirted Jove,” while enjoying his golden shower.

I first took the opportunity of rectifying my notes on the origin of the Huwayta’t tribe.92 According to their own oral genealogists, the first forefather was a lad called ‘Alayán, who, travelling in company with certain Shurafá (“descendants of the Apostle”), and ergò held by his descendants to have been also a Sherif, fell sick on the way. At El-‘Akabah he was taken in charge by ‘Atíyyah, Shaykh of the then powerful Ma’ázah tribe, who owned the land upon which the fort stands. A “clerk,” able to read and to write, he served his adopted father by superintending the accounts of stores and provisions supplied to the Hajj. The Arabs, who before that time embezzled at discretion, called him El–Huwayti’ (“the Man of the Little Wall”) because his learning was a fence against their frauds He was sent for by his Egyptian friends; these, however, were satisfied by a false report of his death: he married his benefactor’s daughter; he became Shaykh after the demise of his father-inlaw; he drove the Ma’ázah from El-‘Akabah, and he left four sons, the progenitors and eponymi of the Midianite Huwaytát. Their names are ‘Alwán, ‘Imrán, Suway’id, and Sa’id; and the list of nineteen tribes, which I gave in “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” is confined to the descendants of the third brother.

The Huwaytát tribe is not only an intruder, it is also the aggressive element in the Midianite family of Bedawin; and, of late years, it has made great additions to its territory. If it advances at the present rate it will, after a few generations, either “eat up,” as Africans say, all the other races or, by a more peaceful process, assimilate them to its own body.

We also consulted Shaykh Hasan and his cousin Ahmed, alias Abú Khartúm, concerning the origin of his tribe, the Beni ‘Ukbah. According to our friend Furayj, the name means “Sons of the Heel” (‘Akab) because, in the early wars and conquests of El–Islám, they fought during the day by the Moslems’ side; and at night, when going over to the Nazarenes, they lost the “spoor” by wearing their sandals heel foremost, and by shoeing their horses the wrong way. All this they indignantly deny; and they are borne out by the written genealogies, who derive them from “Ukbah, the son of Maghrabah, son of Heram,” of the Kahtániyyah (Joctanite) Arabs, some of the noblest of Bedawi blood. They preserve the memory of their ancestor ‘Ukbah, and declare that they come from the south; that is, they are of Hejázi descent, consequently far more ancient than the Huwaytát. At first called “El–Musálimah,” they were lords of all the broad lands extending southward between Shámah (Syria) and the Wady Dámah below the port of Zibá; and this fine valley retains, under its Huwayti occupants, the title of ‘Ukbíyyah —‘Ukbah-land. Thus they still claim as Milk, or “unalienable property,” the Wadys Gharr, Sharmá, ‘Aynúnah, and others; whilst their right to the ground upon which Fort el-Muwaylah is built has never been questioned.

The first notable event in the history of the Beni ‘Ukbah was a quarrel that arose between them and their brother-tribe, the Beni ‘Amr. The ‘Ayn el-Tabbákhah,93 the fine water of Wady Madyan, now called Wady Makná, was discovered by a Hutaymi shepherd of the Beni ‘Ali clan, while tending his flocks; others say that the lucky man was a hunter following a gazelle. However that may be, the find was reported to the Shaykh of the Musálimah (Beni ‘Ukbah), who had married ‘Ayayfah, the sister of Ali ibn Nejdi, the Beni ‘Amr chief, whilst the latter had also taken his brother-inlaw’s sister to wife. The discoverer was promised a Jinu or Sabátah (“date-bunch”) from each palm-tree; and the rivals waxed hot upon the subject. The Musálimah declared that they would never yield their rights, a certain ancestor, ‘Asaylah, having first pitched tent upon the Rughámat Makná, or white “horse” of Makná. A furious quarrel ensued, and, as usual in Arabia as in Hibernia, both claimants prepared to fight it out.

To repeat the words of our oral genealogist, Furayj: “Now, when the wife of the Shaykh of the Musálimah had heard and understood what Satan was tempting her husband to do against her tribe, she rose up, and sent a secret message to her brother of the Beni ‘Amr, warning him that a certain person (Fulán) was about to lay violent hands on the beautiful valley of El–Madyan. Hearing this, the Beni ‘Amr mustered their young men, and mounted their horses and dromedaries, and rode forth with jingling arms; and at midnight they found their opponents asleep in El–Khabt,94 the beasts being tied up by the side of their lords. So they cut the cords of the camels, they gagged the hunter who guided the attack, they threatened him with death if he refused to obey, and they carried him away with them towards Makná.

“When the Musálimah awoke, they discovered the deceit, they secured their beasts, and they hastened after the enemy, following his track like Azrail. Both met at Makná, when a battle took place, and Allah inclined the balance towards the Beni ‘Amr. The Musálimah, therefore, became exiles, and took refuge in Egypt. And in the flow of days it so happened that the Shaykh of the Beni’ Amr awoke suddenly at midnight, and heard his wife, as she sat grinding at the quern, sing this quatrain:—

‘If the handmill (of Fate) grind down our tribe
We will bear it, O Thou (Allah) that aidest to bear!
But if the mill grind the foeman tribe,
We will pound and pound them as thin as flour.’

“Whereupon the Shaykh, in his wrath, seized a stone, and cast it at his wife, and knocked out one of her front teeth. She said nothing, but she took the tooth and wrapped it in a rag, and sent it with a message to her brother, the Shaykh of the Musálimah. Now, this chief was unable to revenge his sister single-handed, so he travelled to Syria, and threw himself at the feet of the great Shaykh of the Wuhaydi tribe, who was also a Sherif.

“The Wuhaydi despatched his host together with the warriors of the Musálimah, and both went forth to do battle with the Beni ‘Amr. The latter being camped in a valley near ‘Aynúnah, tethered their dogs and, some say, left behind their old people,95 and lit huge bonfires; whence the name of the place is Wady Umm Nírán (‘the Mother of Fires’) to this day. Before early dawn they had reached in flight the Wady ‘Arawwah of the Jibál el-Tihámah. In the morning the Musálimah and the Wuhaydi, finding that a trick had been practiced upon them, followed the foe, and beat him in the Wady ‘Arawwah, killing the Shaykh. And the chief of the Musálimah gave his widowed sister as wife to the Wuhaydi, and settled with his people in their old homes. The Beni ‘Amr fled to the Hismá, and exiled themselves to Kerak in Syria, where they still dwell, owning the plain called Ganán Shabíb. There is now peace between the Beni ‘Ukbah and their kinsmen the Beni ‘Amr.”

The second event in the history of the tribe, the “Tale of Abú Rísh,”96 shall also be told in the words of Furayj:—“After the course of time the Beni ‘Ukbah, aided by the Ma’ázah, made war against the Shurafá, who were great lords in those days, and plundered them and drove them from their lands. The victors were headed by one Salámah, a Huwayti who dwelt at El-‘Akabah, and who had become their guest. In those ages the daughters of the tribe were wont to ride before the host in their Hawádig (‘camel-litters’), singing the war-song to make the warriors brave. As Salámah was the chief Mubáriz (‘champion in single combat’), the girls begged him to wear, when fighting, a white ostrich feather in his chain-helmet, that they might note his deeds and chant in his name. Hence his title, Abú Rísh — the ‘Father of a Feather.’ The Sherifs, being beaten, made peace, taking the lands between Wady Dámah and El–Hejaz; whilst the Beni ‘Ukbah occupied Midian Proper (North Midian), between ‘Dámah’ and ‘Shámah’ (Syria).

“Abú Rísh, who was a friend to both victor and vanquished, settled among the Sherifs in the Sirr country south of Wady Dámah. He had received to wife, as a reward for his bravery, the daughter of the Shaykh of the Beni ‘Ukbah; and she bare him a son, ‘Id, whose tomb is in the Wady Ghál, between Zibá and El–Muwaylah. On the Yaum el-Subúh (‘seventh day after birth’), the mother of ‘Id followed the custom of the Arabs; and, after the usual banquet, presented the babe to the guests, including her father, who made over Wady ‘Aynúnah in free gift to his grandson. Now, ‘Id used to lead caravans to Cairo, for the purpose of buying provisions; and he was often plundered by the Ma’ázah, who had occupied by force the Wadys Sharmá, Tiryam, and Surr of El–Muwaylah.

“This ‘Id ibn Salámah left, by a Huwayti woman, a son ‘Alayán, surnamed Abú Takíkah (‘Father of a Scar’) from a sabre-cut in the forehead: he was the founder of the Tugaygát-Huwaytát clan, and his descendants still swear by his name. Once upon a time, when leading his caravan, he reached the Wady ‘Afál, and he learned that his enemies, the Ma’ázah, and the black slaves who garrisoned El–Muwaylah, were lurking in the Wady Marayr. So he placed his loads under a strong guard; and he hastened, with his kinsmen of the Huwaytát, to the Hismá, where the Ma’ázah had left their camels undefended: these he drove off, and rejoined his caravan rejoicing. The Ma’ázah, hearing of their disaster, hurried inland to find out the extent of the loss, abandoning the black slaves, who, nevertheless, were still determined to plunder the Káfilah. ‘Alayán was apprized of their project; and, reaching the Wady Umm Gehaylah, he left his caravan under a guard, and secretly posted fifty matchlock-men in El–Suwayrah, east of the hills of El–Muwaylah. He then (behold his cunning!) tethered between the two hosts, at a place called Zila’h, east of the tomb of Shaykh Abdullah,97 ten camel-colts without their dams. Roused by the bleating, the negro slaves followed the sound and fell into the ambush, and were all slain.

“‘Alayán returned to the Sirr country, when his tribe, the Huwaytát, said to him, ‘Hayya (up!) to battle with these Ma’ázah and Beni ‘Ukbah; either they uproot us or we uproot them!’ So he gathered the clan, and marched to a place called El–Bayzá,98 where he found the foe in front. On the next day the battle began, and it was fought out from Friday to Friday; a truce was then made, and it was covenanted to last between evening and morning. But at midnight the enemy arose, left his tents pitched, and fled to the Hismá. ‘Alayán followed the fugitives, came up with them in the Wady Sadr, and broke them to pieces. Upon this they took refuge in Egypt and Syria.

“After a time the Beni ‘Ukbah returned, and obtained pardon from ‘Alaya’n the Huwayti, who imposed upon them six conditions. Firstly, having lost all right to the land, they thus became ‘brothers’ (i.e. serviles). Secondly, they agreed to give up the privilege of escorting the Hajj-caravan. Thirdly, if a Huwayti were proved to have plundered a pilgrim, his tribe should make good the loss; but if the thief escaped detection, the Beni ‘Ukbah should pay the value of the stolen property in coin or in kind. Fourthly, they were bound not to receive as guests any tribe (enumerating a score or so) at enmity with the Huwaytát. Fifthly, if a Shaykh of Huwaytát fancied a dromedary belonging to one of the Beni ‘Ukbah, the latter must sell it under cost price. And, sixthly, the Beni ‘Ukbah were not allowed to wear the ‘Abá or Arab cloak.”99

The Beni ‘Ukbah were again attacked and worsted, in the days of Sultan Selim, by their hereditary foe, the Ma’ázah. They complained at Cairo; and the Mamlúk Beys sent down an army which beat the enemy in the Wady Surr. They had many quarrels with their southern neighbours, the Baliyy: at last peace was made, and the land was divided, the Beni ‘Ukbah taking the tract between Wadys Da’mah and El–Muzayrib. Since that time the tribe has been much encroached upon by the Huwayta’t. It still claims, however, as has been said, all the lands between El–Muwaylah and Makná, where they have settlements, and the Jebel Harb, where they feed their camels. They number some twenty-five to thirty tents, boasting that they have hundreds; and, as will appear, their Shaykh, Hasan el-‘Ukbi, amuses himself by occasionally attacking and plundering the wretched Maknáwis, or people of Makná, a tribe weaker than his own.

87 “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” Chap. IX.

88 Kúfah [Arabic] or [Arabic] in Persian means a basket or a coffin.

89 Roaring when the rider mounts, halts, or dismounts, is considered a proof of snobbish blood among the Bisha’ri’n: for some months the camel-colt is generally muzzled on such occasions till it learns the sterling worth of silence.

For an admirable description, far too detailed to place before the general public, of the likeness and the difference between the dromedary of the Bishárín and the Númaní and Maskatí, the purest blood of the Arabs, see pp. 145 — 154, “L’ Etbaye, etc., Mines d Or,” by my old friend Linant de Bellefonds Bey, now Sulayman Pasha. Paris: Arthus Bertrand (no date).

90 The contents worked into shape by Mr. William J. Turner, of the Royal Geographical Society, appear in the Appendix.

91 “Desert of the Exodus,” p. 347.

92 “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” Chap. VI.

93 In “The Gold–Mines of Midian” (passim) this “Spring of the She–Cook” appeared as the “She–Cork!”

94 A region to the north-west of ‘Aynúnah, afterwards visited by Lieutenant Yusuf. See Chap. IX.

95 Such an act would disgrace an Arab tribe, and of course it is denied by the Beni ‘Ukbah. We visited this valley, which is one of the influents of the Wady ‘Aynúnah, during the first Expedition (“The Gold–Mines of Midian,” p. 165).

96 The modern Beni ‘Ukbah ignore the story of Abú Rísh, not wishing to confess their obligations to the Huwaytát.

97 The tomb on the hillock north of El–Muwaylah.

98 South-east of EI-Muwaylah.

99 These hard conditions were actually renewed some twenty-five years ago.

Chapter VI.

To Makná, and Our Work There — the Magáni or Maknáwis.

After a silly fortnight at old Madiáma, I resolved to march upon its seaport, Makná, the [Greek] of Ptolemy, which the people call also “Madyan.”100 We set out at seven a.m. (January 25th); and, after a walk of forty-five minutes, we were shown by Furayj a Ghadír, or shallow basin of clay, shining and bald as an old scalp from the chronic sinking of water. In the middle stood two low heaps of fine white cement, mixed with brick and gravel; while to the west we could trace the framework of a mortared Fiskíyyah (“cistern”), measuring five metres each way. The ruin lies a little south of west (241 deg. mag.) from the greater “Shigd;” and it is directly under the catacombed hill which bears the “Praying-place of Jethro.” A tank in these regions always presupposes a water-pit, and there are lingering traditions that this is the “Well of Moses,” so generally noticed by mediæval Arab geographers. It is the only one in the Wady Makná, not to mention a modern pit about an hour and a half further down the valley, sunk by the Bedawin some twenty feet deep: the walls of the latter are apparently falling in, and it is now bone-dry. But the veritable “Moses’ Well” seems to have been upon the coast; and, if such be the case, it is clean forgotten. True, Masá’íd, the mad old Ma’ázi, attempted to trace a well inside our camp by the seashore; but the Beni ‘Ukbah, to whom the land belongs, had never heard of it.

After marching about six miles, we entered a gorge called Umm el-Bíbán, “the Mother of Gates,” formed by the stony spurs of the Wady bank: the number of birds and trees, especially in the syenitic valleys, showed that water could not be far off. At 10.10 a.m. a halt was called at the half-way place, a bay or hollow in the left cliff, El–Humayrah —“the Little Red”— an overhanging wall of ruddy grit some eighty feet high, with strata varying in depth from a few lines to as many fathoms, all differing in colour, and all honeycombed, fretted, and sculptured by wind and rain. Above the red grit, weathered into a thousand queer shapes, stood strata of chloritic sand, a pale yellow-green, and capping it rose the usual dull-brown carbonate of lime. Large fossil oysters lay in numbers about the base, suggesting a prehistoric feast of the Titans. Amongst them is the monstrous Tridacna (gigantea), which sometimes attains a growth of a yard and a half; one of these is used as a bénitier at the church of Saint Sulpice, Paris. Amongst the layers were wavy bands of water-rolled crystals, jaspers, bloodstones, iron-revetted pebbles, and “almonds,” which, in the Brazil, accompany and betray the diamond.101 We had no time to make a serious search; but, when the metals shall be worked, it will, perhaps, be advisable to import a skilled prospecter from the Brazil or the Cape of Good Hope.

At noon we met the “heaven-sent, life-sustaining sea-breeze;” and now the broad and well-marked Wady Makná, with its rosy-pink sands, narrowed to a gut, flanked and choked on both sides, north and south, by rocks of the strangest tricolour, green-black, yellow-white, and rusty-red. The gloomy peak, which had long appeared capping the heights ahead, proved to be the culmination of a huge upthrust of porphyritic trap. Bottle-green when seen under certain angles, and dull dead sable at others, it was variegated by cliffs and slopes polished like dark mirrors, and by sooty sand-shunts disposed at the natural slope. Crumbling outside, the lower strata pass from the cellular to the compact, and are often metalliferous when in contact with the quartz: at these Salbandes the richest mineral deposits are always found. Set in and on the black flanks, and looking from afar like the gouts of a bloodstone, are horizontal beds, perpendicular spines, and detached blocks of felsitic porphyry and of rusty-red syenite, altered, broken, and burnt by plutonic heat. In places, where the trap has cut through the more modern formations, it has been degraded by time from a dyke to a ditch, the latter walled by the ruddy rocks, and sharply cut as a castle-moat. And already we could see, on the right of the Wady, those cones and crests of ghastly, glaring white gypsum, which we had called “the Hats.”

These gloomy cliffs, approaching the maritime plain, sweep away to the south, and melt into the “Red Hills” visited on our first excursion. They are known as the Jebel el-‘Abdayn —“of the Two Slaves:” this, perhaps, is the Doric pronunciation of the Bedawin for Abdín —“slaves.” Presently we sighted the familiar features of the seaboard, described in my first volume, especially the Rughámat el-Margas to the north; and westward the Gulf of ‘Akabah, looking cool and blue in the Arabian glare. After five hours and thirty minutes (= seventeen miles and a half) in the saddle we reached Makná.

I had thought of encamping near the “Praying-place of Moses,” a fine breezy site which storms would have made untenable. As at Sharmá, camels must turn off to the right over the banks when approaching the mouth of the Wady Madyan, whose bed is made impassable by rocks and palm-thicket. We then proposed to pitch the tents upon the valley sands within the “Gate,” but this was overruled by the Sayyid, who told grisly tales of fever and ague. Finally, we returned to our former ground, near the old conglomerates and the mass of new shells, which ledge the shore of the little harbour. Approaching it, we were delighted to see the gunboat Mukhbir steaming up, despite the contrary wind, from Sharm Yáhárr; she was towing the Sambúk, which brought from ‘Aynúnah Bay our heavy gear, rations, and tools. This was a stroke of good luck: already we were on half rations, and provant for men and mules threatened to run short.

Our week at Makná (January 25 — February 2) justified the pleasant impression left by the first visit, and enabled us to correct the inaccuracies of a flying survey.

This “Valley of Waters,” with its pink and yellow (chloritic) sands, is bounded on the right near the sea by a sandbank about one hundred feet high, a loose sheet thinly covering the dykes of syenite and the porphyritic trap which in places peep out. Possibly it contains, like the left flank, veins of quartz, lowered by corrosion, and concealed by the sand-drift spread by the prevalent western winds. The high-level abounds in detached springs, probably the drainage of the Rughámat Makná, the huge “horse” or buttress of gypsum bearing north-east from the harbour. The principal veins number three. The uppermost and sweetest is the Ayn el-Tabbákhah; in the middle height is El-Túyuri (Umm el-Tuyúr), with the dwarf cataract and its tinkling song; whilst the brackish ‘Ayn el-Fara’í occupies the valley sole. Besides these a streak of palms, perpendicular to the run of the Wady, shows a rain-basin, dry during the droughts, and, higher up, the outlying dates springing from the arid sands, are fed by thin veins which damp the rocky base. Hence, probably, Dr. Beke identified the place with the “Elim” of the Exodus: his artist’s sketch from the sea (p. 340) is, however, absolutely unrecognizable.

The high-level spring and the middle water rise in sandy basins; course down deeply furrowed beds of grit; and, after passing through a tangle of vegetation, a dense forest of palms, alive and dead, and open patches sown with grain, wilfully waste their treasures in the upper slope of the right bank. This abundance of water has developed a certain amount of industry; although the Bedawin tear to pieces the young male-dates, whose tender green growth, at the base of the fronds, supplies them with a “chaw.” A number of artificial runners has been trained to water dwarf barley-plots, whose fences of date-fronds defend them from sheep and goats; and further down the bank are the fruit trees which first attracted our attention.

The low-level water consists of two springs. The upper is the ‘Ayn el-‘Aryánah, springing from the sands under the date-trees which line the right and left sides: apparently it is the drainage of a gypsum “hat,” called El–Kulayb, “the Little Dog”— in their Doric the Bedawin pronounce the word Galáib. Further down the bed, and divided by a tract of dry sand, is the ‘Ayn el-Fara’i, which also rises from both banks, forms a single stream, sleeps in deep pellucid pools like fairy baths among the huge boulders of grey granite, and finally sinks before reaching the shore. When these waters shall again be regulated, as of old, they will prove amply sufficient for the vegetable and the mineral. Anton, the Greek, who everywhere saw the shop, was so charmed with the spot, that he at once laid out his establishment: here shall be the hotel; there the billiard and gambling room, and there the garden, the kiosk, the buvette — in fact, he projected a miner’s paradise.

On the crest of this right bank, above the vegetation, lies the traditional Musallat Musá (“Moses’ Oratory”), of which the foundations, or rather the base-stones, are in situ. The larger enceinte measures, without including two walls projecting from the north-east and north-west angles, an oblong of thirty-seven by twenty-five feet; and, as usual with Midianite ruins, it has been built of all manner of material. The inner sanctum opens to the west, the northern and southern basement-lines only remaining: the former is composed of eight blocks of gypsum resembling alabaster, five being larger than the others; and the southern of three. Upon these the Bedawin still deposit their simple ex-votos, oyster and other shells, potsherds, and coloured pebbles.102

The left or opposite bank, which wants water, is formed by the tall conglomerate-capped cliffs, which support the “Muttali’” or hauteville, and by the warty block called Jebel el-Fahísát. In “The Gold–Mines of Midian” (Chap. XII.) it is called El–Muzayndi, an error of my informants for El–Muzeúdi: the latter is the name of the small red hill north of our camp. I again visited the high town, which is about a hundred feet above the valley: presently it will disappear bodily, as its base is being corroded, like the Jebel el-Safrá of Magháir Shu’ayb. The walls still standing form a long room running north-south; and the two adjoining closets set off to the north-east and south-east. This sadly shrunken upper settlement covers the remnant of the rocky plateau to the east: there are also traces of building on the southern slopes. Ruined heaps of the usual material, gypsum, dot and line the short broad valley to the north, which rejoices in the neat and handy name, Wady Majrá Sayl Jebel el-Marú. Here, however, they are hardly to be distinguished from the chloritic spines and natural sandbanks that stud the bed. The only antiquities found in the “Muttali”’ were a stone cut into parallel bands, and the fragment of a basalt door with its pivot acting as hinge in the upper part: it reminded me of the Græco-Roman townlets in the Haurán, where the credulous discovered “giant Cities” and similar ineptitudes. Our search for Midianite money was in vain; Mr. Clarke, however, picked up, near the sea, a silver “Taymúr,” the Moghal, with a curiously twisted Kufic inscription. (A.H. 734).

The ‘Ushash or frond-huts of the Maknáwi and the Beni ‘Ukbah were still mostly empty. At this season, all along the seaboard of North–Western Arabia, the Bedawin are grazing their animals in the uplands, and they will not return coastwards till July and August supply the date-harvest. The village shows the inconséquence of doors and wooden keys to defend an interior made of Cadjan, or “dry date-fronds,” which, bound in bundles, make a good hedge, but at all times a bad wall. One of its peculiar features is what looks like a truncated and roofless oven; in this swish cylinder they pound without soaking the date-kernels that feed their camels, sheep, and goats. A few youths, however, who remained in this apology for a “deserted village,” assisted us in night-fishing with the lantern; and they brought from the adjoining reefs the most delicate of shell and scale fish. The best were the langoustes (Palinurus vulgaris), the clawless lobsters called crawfish (crayfish) in the United States, and the agosta or avagosta of the Adriatic: it was confounded by the Egyptian officers with “Abú Galambo,”103 the crab (Cancer pelagicus). The echinidae of various species, large-spined and small-spined, the latter white as well as dull-red, were preserved in spirits.104 Amongst the excellent fish, the Marján (a Sciœna) the Sultan el-Bahr, the Palamita (Scomber), the Makli (red mullets, Mugil cephalus), and the Búri, were monstrous animals, with big eyes and long beaks like woodcocks; some of these were garnished with rows of ridiculously big teeth. I failed to procure live specimens of small turtle, and yet the huts were full of carapaces, all broken and eight-ribbed. One species, the Sakar, supplies tortoise-shell sold at Suez for 150 piastres per Ratl or pound; the Bísa’h, another large kind without carapace, is used only for eating: both are caught off the reefs and islets. An eel-like water-snake (Marrína = Murœna Ophis) showed fight when attacked. The Arabs do not eat it, yet they will not refuse the Shaggah, or large black land-snake.

The enforced delay at Makná gave us the opportunity of making careful reconnaissances in its neighbourhood. During the last spring I had heard of a Jebel el-Kibí‘t (“sulphur-hill”) on the road to ‘Aynúnah, but no guide was then procurable. Shortly after our return, a Bedawi named Jázi brought in fine specimens of brimstone, pure crystals adhering to the Secondary calcaire, and possibly formed by decomposition of the sulphate of lime. If this be the case we may hope to find the mineral generally diffused throughout these immense formations; of course, in some places the yield will be richer and in others poorer. Further investigation introduced us, as will be seen, to two southern deposits, without including one heard of in Northern Sinai. All lie within a short distance of the sea, and all are virgin: the Bedawin import their sulphur from the “Barr el-‘Ajam,” the popular name for Egypt, properly meaning Persia or any non-Arab land. Thus, in one important article Midian rivals, if not excels, the riches of the opposite African shore, where for a single mine thirty millions of francs have been demanded by way of indemnity.

Betimes on January 26th, a caravan of four camels, for the two quarrymen and the guide, set off southwards, carrying sacks, tools, and other necessaries. They did not return till the morning of the third day; Jázi had lost the road, and the Bedawin rather repented of having been so ready to disclose their treasures. Of course, our men could not ascertain the extent of the deposits; but they brought back rich specimens which determined me to have the place surveyed. Unfortunately I had forgotten a sulphur-still; and the engineer vainly attempted to extract the ore by luting together two iron mortars, and by heating them to a red heat. The only result was the diffusion of the sulphur crystals in the surrounding gypsum. This discovery gave me abundant trouble; the second search-party was a failure; and it was not till February 18th that I could obtain a satisfactory plan of the northern Jebel el-Kibrít.

At Makná I was much puzzled by the presence of the porous basalt, which had yielded to the first Expedition a veinlet of “electron”— gold and silver mixed by the hand of Nature. The plutonic rock, absent from the Wady Makná, appears in scatters along the shore to the north. Our friend Furayj knew nothing nearer than El–Harrah, the volcanic tract bounding the Hismá on the east, and distant some five days’ march. This was going too far; querns of the same material, found in all the ruins, suggested a neighbouring outcrop. Moreover, during the last spring, I had heard of a mining site called Nakhil Tayyib Ism, the “Palm-orchard (of the Mountain) of the Good Name,” in the so-called range to the north of Makná.

Lieutenant Amir was despatched (January 27th) to seek for basalt, with a small dromedary-caravan, under the lead of Shaykh Furayj. After winding for about two hours along the shore, which is cut by the broad mouths of many a Wady; and whose corallines, grits, and limestones are weathered into the strangest shapes; he left to the right (east) the light-coloured Jebel Sukk. On the southern side of the Wady (Sukk) which drains it to the sea, a hill of the porous stone which the Arabs call “Hajar el-Harrah” appeared. The specimens brought home, si vera sunt exposita, if they be really taken from an outcrop, prove that volcanic centres, detached, sporadic, and unexpected, like those found further north, occur even along the shore. As will afterwards appear, another little “Harrah” was remarked by Burckhardt (“Syria,” p. 522), about one hour and a quarter north of Sinaitic Sherm. He says, “Here for the first and only time, I saw volcanic rocks,” and he considers that their extension towards Ras Abú(?) Mohammed may have given rise to the name [Greek].

Wellsted,105 who apparently had not read Burckhardt, makes the same remark. The many eruptive centres in the limestones of Syria and Palestine were discovered chiefly by my late friend, the loved and lamented Charles F. Tyrwhitt–Drake. It would be interesting to ascertain the relation which they bear to tile great lines of vulcanism in the far interior, the Haura’n and the Harrah, subtending the coast mountains. And Dr. Beke, another friend now no more, would have been delighted to know that his “True Mount Sinai” was not unconnected with a volcanic outbreak.

Beyond the Wady Sukk, a bad rough path leads along the base of the Tayyih Ism Mountain; then the cliffs fall sheer into the sea, explaining why caravans never travel that way. Yet there was a maritime road, for we know that Abú Sufyán, on his way from Syria to fight the battle of “Bedr” (A.H. 2), passed by a roundabout path for safety, along the shore of Midian. Thus compelled, the track bends inland, and enters a Nakb, a gash conspicuous from the Gulf, an immense cañon or couloir that looks as if ready to receive a dyke or vein. Curious to say, a precisely similar formation, prolonged to the south-west, cuts the cliffs south of Marsá Dahab in the Sinaitic Peninsula. The southern entrance to the gorge bears signs of human habitation: a parallelogram of stones, 120 paces by 91, has been partially buried by a land-slip (?); and there are remnants of a dam measuring about a hundred metres in length (?). About three hundred yards higher up, water appears in abundance, and palm clumps grow on both sides of it. Here, however, all trace of man is wanting; the winter torrents must be dangerous; and there is no grass for sheep. The crevasse now becomes very wild; the Pass narrows from fifty to ten paces, and, in one section, a loaded camel can hardly squeeze through; whilst the cliff-walls of red and grey granite (?) tower some two thousand feet above the thread of path.106 Water which, as usual, sinks in the sand, is abundant enough in three other places to supply a large caravan; and two date-clumps were passed. Hence, if all here told be true, the “Nakhil (palm-plantation) Tayyib Ism” reported to the first Expedition.

After covering sixteen miles in five hours, the caravan had not made more than half the distance to the Bir el-Máshi, where a small Marsá, or anchorage-ground, called El–Suwayhil (“the Little Shore”) nestles in the long sand-slope between the mountain Tayyib Ism and its huge northern neighbour, the Mazhafah block. From this “Well of the Walker,” a pass leads to the Wady Marsha’, where, according to certain Bedawin, are found extensive ruins and Bíbán (“doors”), or catacombs. The whole is, however, an invention; our Sayyid had ridden down the valley during his journey to El–Hakl.

On the next day another reconnaissance was made. I had been shown fine specimens of quartz from the Eastern highlands; moreover, a bottle of “bitter” or sulphur-water from the Wady Mab’úg, the “oblique” or “crooked” valley, mentioned in “The Gold–Mines of Midian,”107 had been brought to us with much ceremony. Those who tasted it, indeed, were divided as to whether it smacked more of brimstone or of ammonia. Accordingly, Mr. Clarke and Lieutenant Yusuf walked up the Wady Makná, and ascended the Mab’úg, where the mineral spring proved to be a shallow pool of rain-water, much frequented by animals, camels included. Search for the “Marú” was more successful: they found a network of veins in the sandstone grits (?) of the Jebel Umm Lasaf; and they thus established the fact that the “white stone” abounds to the east as well as to the south of Makná.

Meanwhile we were working hard at the Jebel el-Fahísát, the great discovery of the northern journey. I had been struck by the name of the watercourse to the north of the hauteville, Wady Majrá Sayl Jebel el-Marú—“the Nullah of the Divide of the Torrent (that pours) from the Mountain of Quartz.” Moreover, a Makna’wi lad, ‘Id bin Mohsin, had brought in fine specimens of the Negro or iridescent variety, offering to show the place. Lastly, other Bedawi had contributed fine specimens of Marú, with the grey copper standing out of it in veins. On the evening of January 27th we walked up the picturesque mouth of the Makná valley. After passing the conglomerate “Gate,” and the dwarf plantations on both sides above it, we reached in forty-five minutes the spot where the lower water, ‘Ayn el-Fara’í, tumbles over rocks of grit and granite. On the left bank, denoted by a luxuriant growth of rushes, is an influent called Sha’b el-Kázi, or “the Judge’s Pass.”108 Ascending it for a few paces, we struck up the broad and open Fiumara, which I shall call for shortness “Wady Majrá.” The main trunk of many branches, it is a smooth incline, perfectly practicable to camels; with banks and buttresses of green-yellow chloritic sands, and longitudinal spines outcropping from the under surface. It carries off the surplus water from the north-western slopes of that strange wavelike formation, the Jebel el-Fahísát, which bounds the right (southern) bank of the Wady Makná. Presently we sighted the Jebel el-Maru’, the strangest spectacle. The apex of the gloomy porphyritic trap is a long spine of the tenderest azure-white, filmy as the finials of Milan Cathedral, and apparently melting into thin air. Its crest seems abnormally tall and distant; and below it a huge grey vein, horizontal and wavy, cuts and pierces the peaklet of red rock; and is cut and pierced, in its turn, by two perpendicular dykes of porphyritic trap, one flanking the right and the left shoulders of the low cone. When standing upon the hauteville during my first visit, I had remarked this “white Lady” of a vein, without, however, attaching to it any importance.

After a quarter of an hour’s walk up the Wady Majrá, we came to the sandy base of the rocky Fahísát; and climbed up a torrent-ladder with drops and stiff gradients, which were presently levelled for the convenience of our quarrymen. A few minutes’ “swarming” placed us upon the narrow knife-like ridge of snowy quartz, so weathered that it breaks under the hand: this is the aerial head which from below appears so far. The summit, distant from our camp about one direct mile and a quarter, gives 355 degrees to the Gypsum-hill, Ras el-Tárah, on the shore; 358 degrees to the palm-clump nearest the sea, and due north (360 degrees, all magnetic) to the tents, which are well in sight. The altitude is about six hundred feet (aner. 29.40).

The view from this summit of the Fahísát is charming as it is extensive. Westward and broad stretching to the north-west lies the fair blue gulf that shows, on its far side, the broken mountains of the Sinaitic Peninsula. Northwards, at our feet, stretch the palm-groves of Makná, a torrent of verdure pouring towards the shore. A little to the left, sheltered from the boreal wind by the white gypseous ridge, Ras el-Târah (“the Head that surrounds”), and flanked at both ends by its triangular reefs, the Sharm Makná, the past and future port of the mines, supports the miniature gunboat no larger than a “cock,” and the Sambúk dwarfed to a buoy. Beyond the purpling harbour, along the glaring yellow shore, cut by broad Wady-mouths and dotted here and there with a date-clump, the corallines, grits, and sandstones are weathered to the quaintest forms, giant pins and mushrooms, columns and ruined castles. These maritime lowlands are bounded on the north by heights in three distinct planes: the nearest is the Jebel Sukk, low and white; farther rises Tayyib Ism, a chocolate-coloured mass studded with small peaks; while the horizon is closed by the grand blue wall, the Jebel el-Mazhafah. In places their precipices drop bluff to the sea; but the huge valley-mouths separating the two greater ridges, have vomited a quantity of sand, forming the tapering tongue and tip known as the “Little Shore.” Turning to the east and the south-east we have for horizon the Wady el-Kharaj (El–Akhraj?), backed by its immense right bank of yellow gypsum, which dwarfs even the Rughámat Makná, and over it we catch sight of the dark and gloomy Kalb el-Nakhlah, a ridge which, running parallel with and inland of the Fahísát, will be worked when the latter is exhausted.

We at once recognized the value of this discovery when, reaching the tents, we examined the quartz, and found it seamed and pitted with veins and geodes containing Colorado, earthy and crumbling metallic dust, chlorure, iodure, and bromure of silver, with various colours, red, ochre-yellow, and dark chocolate-brown. It stained the fingers, and was suspiciously light — n’importe. I must regret that here, as indeed throughout the exploration, all our specimens were taken from the surface: we had not time to dig even a couple of feet deep. The lad ‘Id almost fainted with joy and surprise when the silver dollars were dropped into his hand, one by one, with the reiteration of “Here’s another for you! and here’s another!” This lavishness served to stimulate cupidity, and every day the Bedawin brought in specimens from half a dozen different places. But the satisfaction was at its height when the crucible produced, after cupellation, a button of “silver” weighing some twenty grammes from the hundred grammes of what the grumbling Californian miners had called, in their wrath, “dashed black dust;”109 and when a second experiment yielded twenty-eight grammes (each fifteen grains and a half) and ten centigrammes from 111 grammes, or about a quarter of a pound avoirdupois. In the latter experiment also, the culot came away without the litharge, which almost always contains traces of silver and antimony. Hence we concluded that the proportions were 30:110 — a magnificent result, considering that 12–1/2:100 is held to be rich ore in the silver mines of the Pacific States.110 The engineer was radieux with pride and joy. The yellow tint of the “buttons” promised gold — two per cent.? Three per cent.? Immense wealth lay before us: a ton of silver is worth 250,000 francs. Meanwhile — and now I take blame to myself — no one thought of testing the find, even by a blow with the hammer.


I can afford to make merry on the absurd mistake, which at the time filled the camp with happiness. The Jebel el-Fahísát played us an ugly trick; yet it is, not the less, a glorious metalliferous block, and I am sure of its future.

The rest of our time at Makná was given to the study of this discovery. The great quartz-wall or vein runs nearly due north and south, with a dip of 5 degrees west; it has pierced the syenite, forming a sheet down one peak, spanning a second, and finally appearing in an apparently isolated knob, that bore from the apex 215 degrees (mag.) The upper part, like that of the Jebel el-Abyaz, is apparently sterile: at a lower horizon it becomes panaché; and at last almost all is iridescent — in fact, it is the Filon Husayn, still richer in veins and geodes. The filets and fibrils of dust are exposed to sight in the flanks, and near the base of the great quartz-vein: we should never have been able to remove the barren upper capping.

Every day’s work brought with it some novelty. The Jebel el-Mará, the centre or focus of the formation, was found to push out veins to the north, extending within a few yards of the Wady Makná‘s mouth. Here, however, the quartz imbedded in grey granite appears cupriferous, producing fine grey copper (?); and the same is the case to the east of the Fahísát block. Other green-tinged veins were found bearing 205 degrees (mag.) from our camp. There is also a quartz-hill whose valley-drain, about a mile and a third long, leads down to the sea, about two minutes’ walk south of the southern clump of “tabernacles” occupied by the Maknáwis. The dust is richest, as usual, at the walls where the vein is in immediate contact with the heat-altered granites, whose red variety, containing very little mica, becomes quasi-syenitic. Certain of the Expedition thought that the Fahísát showed signs of having been worked by the ancients: my eyes could see nothing of the kind. And here, as in other parts of our strange country, there is a medley, a confusion of different formations.

On February 2nd, the day before we left Makná, the Arabs brought in heavy masses of purple-black, metalliferous rock, scattered over the gorges and valleys south of the Jebel el-Fahísát; while others declared that they could point out a vein in situ. Our engineer declared it to be argentiferous galena, but it proved to be magnetic iron. His assays were of the rudest: he broke at least one crucible per day, lamenting the while that he had been supplied with English articles, instead of creusets de Bourgogne. And no wonder! He treated them by a strong blast in a furious coal-fire without previous warming. His muffle was a wreck, and such by degrees became the condition of all his apparatus. However, as we sought, so we found: hardly a Bedawi lad in camp but unpouched some form of metallic specimens. The Shaykhs declared that the wealth of “Kárún” must have been dug here; and I vainly told them that the place of punishment of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram is still shown by Christians in the Convent of Mount Sinai.112

On January 28th, after a ruddy and cloudy sunset, El–Ayli, the ‘Akabah wind, beginning at eleven p.m., gave us a taste of his quality. These northers are the Tyrants of the Gulf; which, comparatively unbroken by capes and headlands, allows them all their own way, carrying a strong swell, and at times huge waves, to meet the tide inflowing from the Red Sea. The storm began with a rush and a roar, as if it came from above. The gravel, striking the canvas, sounded like hail or heavy rain-drops; it then kicked down at one blow the two large tents: they had been carefully pitched above the reach of water, when wind only was to be guarded against. Fortunately most of our goods were packed, in expectation of embarking on the morrow; but the fall broke all the breakables that were not under cover, and carried newspapers and pamphlets, including — again, alas! — the Reseau Pentagonal of Elie de Beaumont, over the plain southwards till arrested by the heights of Jebel el-Fahísát. This Bora, as it would be called on the Adriatic, makes the air exceptionally cold and raw before dawn: it appears to abate between noon and sunset, and it is most violent at night: it either sensibly increases or lessens in turbulence with moonrise; and it usually lasts from three to seven days. We rigged up one of the native huts with the awning of a tent, till it looked very like a Gypsy dwelling, and in patience we possessed our souls, grumbling horridly like Britons.

Poor Captain Mohammed of the Mukhbir, who had already escaped one shipwreck, was in mortal terror: he at once got up steam, and kept his weary vigil all night. He was perfectly safe, as the northern reef, under which the Sambúk Musahhil rode easily as if in smooth water, and the headland, Ras el-Tárah, formed a complete defence against the Aylí, while the natural pier to the south would have protected him from its complement, the Azyab or “south-easter.” But it would have been very different had the storm veered to the west, and the terrible Gharbi set in. The port of Makná, which has been described in “The Gold–Mines of Midian,”113 can hardly be called safe; on the other hand, its floor has not been surveyed, and a single brise-lame seawards would convert it into a dock. I should propose a gallegiante, a floating breakwater, tree-trunks in bundles strongly bound together with iron cramps and bands, connected by stout rings and staples and made fast by anchors to the bottom. And, at any rate, on the Sinaitic shore opposite, at the distance of thirteen knots, there is, as will appear, an admirable harbour of refuge.

Next day the cloud-veil lifted; and the mountains of Sinai and Midian, which before had been hidden as if by a November fog in London, again stood out in sharp and steely blue. I proposed to board the gunboat. Afloat we should have been much more comfortable than ashore in the raw, high, and dusty-laden wind. The Egyptian officers, however, quoted the unnautical Fellah’s favourite saws, El-barro birr li-Ahlihi —“Earth is a blessing to those upon her”— Zirtat el-Jimál, wa lá tasbíh el-Samak —“The roar of the camels and not the prayer114 of the fish;” and the sailors’ saying, Kalb el-Barr, wa lá Sabá el-Bahr —“Better be a dog ashore than a lion afloat.” The public voice was decidedly against embarking; so two more days of gale were spent in adding to our collection of mineralogy. On the other hand, the Sayyid and the three Shaykhs were anxious for a speedy return to El–Muwaylah, where the Hajj-caravan was expected on Safar 10 (= February 11th), and where their presence would be officially required.

On the last day of January I boated off to the Mukhbir several tons of the specimens collected during the northern march; including the iron, the sulphur, and the fine white gypsum, crystalline and amorphous, which forms the Rughámat Makná Lieutenant Yusuf and M. Philipin were directed to remain in camp until they should have collected and placed upon the seashore, ready for embarkation on our return, one ton of white quartz, three tons (= one cubic metre) of the iridescent variety, and four boxes half full of the “silver” (iron) dust whose veins and pockets seam the Negro. They were also to wash in the cradle two tons of the pounded Cascalho (conglomerate gravel); one ton of the green-yellow chloritic or serpentine sand forming the under surface of the Wady Makná, reduced to four Girbahs or “water-sacks;” and five tons of the dark metal (not argentiferous galena). After that they were to visit the northern Sulphur-hill; estimate its contents, trace, if possible, its connection with adjoining formations; map the country and prospect for wood, water, and harbour. Lastly, they were ordered to march with the whole camp, including our mules, upon El–Muwaylah, and there to await my return.

The three normal days of El–Aylí had come and gone; still the Fortuna115 did not fall. The water, paved with dark slate, and domed with an awning of milky-white clouds, patched here and there with rags and shreds of black wintry mist that poured westward from the Suez Gulf, showed us how ugly the Birkat ‘Akabah can look. As in Iceland also, the higher rose the barometer, the higher rose the norther; the latter being a cold dry wind is, consequently, a heavy wind. And when the sky was comparatively clear and blue, the display of cirri was noticeable. In some places they formed filmy crosses and thready lozenges; in others the wrack fell into the shape of the letter Z; and from the western horizon the curl-clouds shot up thin rays, with a common centre hid behind the mountains of Sinai, affecting all the airs of the sun.

Before leaving Makná I must give an account of its peculiar tribe, concerning which “The Gold–Mines of Midian”116 contained sundry inaccuracies. These men are not the “pauper descendants of the wealthy Midianites; they cannot boast of ancient race or of noble blood; and their speech differs in nothing from that of the Arabs around them. There can be no greater mistake than to suppose that they represent in any way the ancient Nabathæans. In features, complexion, and dress they resemble the half-settled Bedawin around them; and, like these, they show a kind of connection with the Sinaitic tribes. The Magáni,117 to whom only the southern clump of huts at Makná belongs, call themselves Fawá‘idah, Zubáidah, and Ramázání, after families of the Juhayni stock; and the Fawá‘idah have, by descent, some title to the name. They are, however, considered to be Khaddamín (“serviles”), like the Hutaym race, by their neighbours, who give tile following account of their origin.

An Egyptian silk-seller, who accompanied the Hajj-caravan, happened to fall asleep at Kubázah, between the stations of ‘Aynúnah and Magháir Shu’ayb. His companions went their ways, and he, like a “bean-eater” as he was, fearing to follow them alone, made for Makná. Having married and settled there, and seeing in the fertility of the soil a prospective spec., he sent to his native country for Fellahín — cultivateurs and peasants — who were collected from every part of Pharoah-land and its neighbourhood. The new-comers were compelled to pay one-half of their harvest, by way of El–Akháwah (“the brother-tax”), in token of subjugation, to the Beni ‘Ukbah, the owners of the soil. They have gradually acquired Milk (“legal title”) to the ground. According to some, they first settled at Makná in the days of the Beni ‘Amr, whom they subsequently accompanied to the Hismá, when flying from the victorious Musálimah. After peace was patched up, they were compelled to make over one-fourth of the date-harvest as El–Akháwah to the ‘Imrán-Huwaytát and to the Ma’ázah; whilst the Tagaygát-Huwaytát claimed a Bursh, or “mat of fine reeds,” as a poll-tax from every head of man. Under these hard conditions they are left unmolested; and everything taken from them is restored by the Shaykhs who receive tribute. They have no chief, although one Sálim ibn Juwayfili claims the title.

Before 1866 the Magáni numbered about a hundred tents: the Wady Makná was then, they say, a garden; and its cultivators were remarkable for their goodness and hospitality to strangers. But in that year a feud with the Beni ‘Ukbah was excited, as often happens, by the belli teterrima causa; the women quarrelled with one another, saying,

“Thy husband is a slave to my husband,” and so forth. The little tribe, hoisting two flags of red and white calico with green palm-fronds for staves, dared the foe to attack it; after a loss of four killed and sundry wounded, all ran away manfully, leaving their goods at the mercy of the conqueror. Shaykh Hasan el-‘Ukbí was assisted by the Ma’ázah in looting the Magáni huts, and in carrying off the camels, while Shaykh Furayj vainly attempted conciliation. Shortly afterwards the Maknáwis went in a body to beg aid from Hammád el-Sofi, Shaykh of the Turábín tribe, which extends from Ghazzah (Gaza) westwards to Egypt. Marching with a host of armed followers, he took possession of the palm-huts belonging to the Beni ‘Ukbah, when the owners fled in turn, leaving behind their women and children. Furayj hastened from ‘Aynúnah to settle the quarrel; and at last the Sofi said to him, “Whilst I protect the Magáni, do thou protect the Beni ‘Ukbah.” Whereupon the latter returned from their mountain-refuge to El–Muwaylah. The Magáni at the present time are mostly camped about ‘Aynúnah; and only some fifteen head, old men, women, and boys, who did not take part in the fight, and who live by fishing, remain at Makná under the protection of the Beni ‘Ukbah. Hence the waters are waste and the fields are mostly unhoed.

Such is the normal condition of Arabia and the Arabs. What one does the other undoes; what this creates, that destroys. Professor Palmer tells us, “Another misconception is that all Arabs are habitual thieves and murderers.”118 Fear of the terrible vendetta, the blood feud and the blut-geld, amounting to about eight hundred dollars, prevents the Bedawin, here as elsewhere, slaying any but strangers. The traveller’s experience, however, was chiefly of the Towarah or Sinaitic Bedawin, a race which, bad as bad could be in the early quarter of the present century, has been thoroughly tamed and cowed by the “fear of Allah and the Consul.” And the curse pronounced by the Jews against their brother Ishmael, “his hand shall be against every man,” etc., must, as was known even in the days of Gibbon, be taken with many a grain of salt.

Yet the Bedawin of Midian have till late years been a turbulent “mixed multitude,” and are ready to become troublesome again. It is only by building forts and by holding the land militarily, that the civilized can hope to tame this vermin. I repeat, however, my conviction that the charming Makná Valley is fated to see happy years; and that the Wild Man who, when ruled by an iron hand, is ever ready to do a fair day’s work for a fair wage (especially victuals), will presently sit under the shadow of his own secular vines and fig-trees.

About midnight on February 2nd, the tempestuous northerly gale, which had now lasted four days and five nights, ceased almost suddenly: the signs of the approaching calm were the falling of the mercury, the increased warmth of the atmosphere, and the shifting of the wind towards the east. All hailed the change with joy. The travellers looked forward to ending their peregrinations, while the voyagers, myself included, hoped safely to steam round the Gulf el-‘Akabah, and to trace, as correctly as possible, the extent, the trend, and the puissance of the quartz-formations. At Cairo Mr. Consul Rogers told me he had found them in large quantities veining the red grits of Petra; and I thought it possible that the “white stone” may extend under the waters of ‘Akabah into the peninsula of Sinai.

100 For ample notices on this subject, see “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” Chap. XII. In p. 337, however, I made the mistake of supposing Makná to be the capital, instead of the port of the capital. The true position is north lat. 28 degrees 24’.

101 For historical notices of the diamond in North–Western Arabia, see “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” p. 168.

102 Dr. Beke’s artist made a plan of this rude affair (p. 349), and nothing can be worse. The Egyptian Staff-officers drew the ruin correctly; but the poor remains by no means deserve the honour of a wood-cut.

103. The word is corrupted from Jamb, “the side,” alluding to the animal’s gait; we did not find the true lobster (Homarus vulgaris), the astica of the Adriatic, whose northern waters produce such noble specimens.

104 The spirit-tins, prepared for me at Trieste, were as most things there are, very dear and very bad; after a short use they became full of holes. So the bowie-knives, expressly made to order at old Tergeste, proved to be of iron not of steel.

105 “Travels,” Vol. II. Chap. IV.

106 Confirmed by Dr. Beke, p. 533.

107 P. 351.

108 I am doubtful about this name, which the Bedawi apply to more than one place.

109 Strictly speaking, the dust of the Nevada country was oxide of silver.

110 M. Burat (“Géologie Appliqée,” i. 8) gives the following minima proportions in which metal may be worked on a grand scale, of course under the most favourable circumstances. The extremes are 0.25 (iron), and 0.00001 (gold); and antimony, bismuth, cobalt, and nickel are neglected, because the proportions vary so much.

Iron, 0.25
Zinc, 0.20
Lead, 0.02 (two per cent.)
Copper and mercury, 0.01
Tin, 0.005 (1/2 per cent.)
Silver, 0.0005 (1/2 per 1000)
Gold, 0.00001 (1/100,000)

This table is recommended to the many “profane” who do not believe a rock to be auriferous or argentiferous, unless they can see the gold and silver with the naked eye.

111 The button, when assayed by the official mining office at Trieste, was pronounced to be antimony! It was extracted from ruddle (red ochre) and limonite (brown ochre or hydrous oxide of iron): both are sesquioxides (Fe2O3) which become dark when heated and change to magnetic oxide (Fe3O4). M. Marie is probably the first who ever “ran down” iron oxide with lead. No wonder that Colonel Ross pronounced his culot a marvellous alloy.

112 Kárún was a pauper cousin of Musá, who had learned alchemy from Kulsum, the Lawgiver’s sister. The keys of his treasure loaded forty mules; and his palace had doors and roof of fine gold. As he waxed fat he kicked against his chief, who as usual became exceeding wroth, and prayed that the earth might swallow him.

113 Pp. 337 — 339.

114 “Tasbíh” literally means uttering Subhán Allah! —“Praise be to Allah!”

115 It is curious how this goddess has extended, through the Dalmatian “Fortunale” and the Slav “Fortunja” of the Bosnian peasants, to Turkey, Egypt, and even Arabia. Applied to a violent storm, perhaps it is a euphuism for the Latin word in the sense of good sign or omen; so in Propertius —“Nulla ne placatæ veniet fortuna procellæ.”

116 P. 341.

117 The singular is Maknáwi, pronounced Magnáwi.

118 Loc. cit. p. 79.

Chapter VII.

Cruise from Maknáto El-‘Akabah.

This “Red Sea in the Land of Edom” (1 Kings ix. 26) is still, as Wellsted entitles it, “a vast and solitary Gulf.” It bears a quaint resemblance to that eastern fork of the northern Adriatic, the Quarnero, whose name expresses its terrible storms; while the Suez branch shows the longer stretch of the Triestine bifurcation. Yamm Elath or Eloth, as the Hebrews called El-‘Akabah, has, by the upheaval of the land, lost more of its fair proportions than its western sister. It was at one time the embouchure of the Jordan, extending up the Wady el-‘Arabah to the Asphaltite Lake (Dead Sea), before the former became, so to speak, a hill and the latter a hole. This view dates from olden times. “Si suppone,” says Cornelius à Lapide,119 “che sia un sollevamento che accadde, mentre un abbassamento formava il Mar Morto; e che il Giordano si gettasse nel Golfo Elanitico (Yamm Ailath), ciò é nel Mar Rosso, prima della destruzione di Sodoma.” For the latter date we have only to read, “When a movement of depression sank the lower Jordan Valley, and its present reservoirs, the Tiberias Lake and the Dead Sea, to their actual level.” There is nothing marvellous nor unique in the feature, as it appears to those suffering from that strange malady, “Holy Land on the Brain.” The Oxus and the Caspian show an identical formation, only the sinking has been on a smaller scale.

Wellsted was unfortunate, both in his weather and in his craft. To encounter a “sea of breakers” and “northerly gales with a high and dangerous swell” in a wretched “bugalá” (i.e. Sambúk), and in that perfect tub, the Palinurus, was somewhat like tempting Providence — if such operation be possible. No wonder that “in this Gulf, in a course of only ninety miles, the nautical mishaps were numerous and varied.” The surveyor, however, neglected a matter of the highest interest and importance, namely, to ascertain whether there be any difference of level between the heads of the Suez and the ‘Akabah waters. The vicinity of continuous maritime chains, varying from six to nearly nine thousand feet, suggests an amount of attraction (theoretically) sufficient to cause a sensible difference of plane. It would be well worth while to run two lines of survey, one from El-‘Akabah to Suez, and the other down the eastern flank of the Sinaitic Peninsula.

The Mukhbir, like the Palinurus, promised a certain amount of excitement. Her boiler, I have said, was honeycombed; it was easy to thrust one’s fist through it. Mr. David Duguid, the engineer, who on one occasion worked thirty-six hours at a stretch, had applied for sixty new tubes, and he wanted one hundred and fifty: we began with two hundred and forty; we lost, when in the Gulf, from three to nine per diem, a total of seventy five; and the work of the engine-room and the ship’s carpenters consisted in plugging fractures with stays, plates, and wedges. Presently the steam-gauge (manomètre) gave way, making it impossible to register pressure; the combustion chamber showed a rent of eighteen inches long by one wide, the result of too rapid cooling; and, lastly, the donkey-engine struck work. Under these happy circumstances bursting was not to be expected; breaking down was, a regular collapse which would have left us like a log upon the stormy waves. A new boiler might have cost, perhaps, £900, and the want of one daily endangered a good ship which could not be replaced for £9000. I therefore determined upon a “Safer Khoriyyah,” that is, steaming by day and anchoring at night in some snug bay. It was also agreed, nem. con., to tow the Sambúk El–Musahhil, in order that, should accidents happen, it might in turn act tug to the steamer; or even, at a pinch, serve us as a lifeboat.

Nothing becomes Makná better than the view on leaving it. A varied and attractive picture this, with the turquoise-blue of the deep water, the purple and leek-green tints of the shoaly and sandy little port, and the tawny shore dotted by six distinct palm-tufts. They are outliers of the main line, yon flood of verdure, climbing up and streaming down from the high, dry, and barren banks of arenaceous drift, heaped up and filmed over by the wind, and, lastly, surging through its narrow “Gate,” with the clifflets of conglomerate forming the old coast. Add the bluff headland of the Ras el-Tárah to the north of the harbour, and behind it the Rughámat Makná, the greenish-yellow, flat-backed “horse” of Madyan, which, shimmering in the sunset with a pearly lustre, forms the best of landmarks. Finish to the south of the Wady with the quaint chopping outlines of the Jebel el-Fahísát, resembling from afar a huge alligator lying on the water; with the similar but lower forms to the north of the valley, both reflected in the Jibál el-Hamrá (the Red Hills), whose curtains of green-black trap are broken by sheets of dull dead-white plaster. Cap the whole with the mighty double quoin of gypseous Jebel el-Kharaj, buttressing the eastern flank of its valley, and with the low, dark metal-revetted hills of the Kalb el-Nakhlah, a copy of the Fahísát. Throw in the background, slowly rising as you recede from the shore, a curtain of plutonic peaks and buttresses, cones, quoins, cupolas, parrot-beaks; with every trick of shape, from the lumpy Zahd to the buttressed and pinnacled ‘Urnub; with every shade of mountain-tint between lapis-lazuli and plum-purple. Dome the whole with that marvellous transparent sky, the ocean of the air, that spreads loveliness over the rugged cheek of the Desert; and you have a picture which, though distinctly Arabian, you can hardly expect to see in Arabia.

From the offing, also, we note how the later formations, granite and syenite, seamed with a network, and often topped by cones, of porphyritic trap, have upthrust, pierced, and isolated the older Secondaries. We traced this huge deposit of sulphates and carbonates of lime from the southern Wady Hamz, through the islets at the mouth of the Birkat ‘Akabah, all along the shore of North Midian. Here it crosses diagonally the northern third of the ‘Akabah Gulf, and forms the north-eastern base of the Sinaitic Peninsula; whilst eastward it stretches inland as far as Magháir Shu’ayb. The general disposition suggests that before the upheaval of the Gháts, the Jibál el-Tihámah, this vast gypseous sheet was a plain and plateau covering the whole country, till a movement of depression, caused by the upheaval of the igneous mountains, sank in it the Gulf of ‘Akabah. At present the surface is here flat, there hilly like huge billows breaking mostly to the north, and reaching an altitude of twelve hundred feet above the surface. Hence the lines stretching north-south, the Fahísát, the Red Hills, and the Kalb el-Nakhlah, look like so many volcanic island-reefs floating in a sea of greenish-yellow Secondaries.

Like the old Irish post-horse, the difficulty and danger of our “kettle” consisted in starting it: two tubes at once burst, and a new hole yawned in the boiler; moreover, our anchor had been thrown out in a depth of seventy-three feet. Enfin! At nine a.m. (February 3rd) we stood straight for the Sinaitic shore, distant thirteen miles (direct geographical), and in three hours we made the Sharm, Marsá or Minat el-Dahab — the “Golden Anchorage, Cove, or Port.”120 Another hour was spent in steaming southwards to the Dock-harbour, wrongly so called in the charts; the pilots, and the many Sambúks that take refuge in it, know the place only as Mínát Ginái (Jinái). The northern baylet, preferred when southerly winds blow, is simply the embouchure of the Wady Dahab (“Fiumara of Gold”). The name is properly applied to the sub-maritime section of the valley draining the eastern flanks of the so-called Mount Sinai. This great watercourse breaks through the Gháts which, always fringing similar peninsulas, peak to the south. It reaches the Gulf at a shallow sag marked by a line of palms, the centre of three: they are fed by their several Nullahs, and are watered with the brackish produce of sundry wells. The statio malefida is defended to the north by a short sandspit and a submerged reef; and southwards by a projection of sandstone conglomerate. The latter, running from north-east to south-west, subtends this part of the coast, and serves to build up the land; after a few years the débris swept down by the watercourses will warp up the shallows, dividing shore from outlier. Such, in fact, seems to be the general origin of these sandspits; beginning as coralline reefs, they have been covered with conglomerates, and converted into terra firma by the rubbish shot out by the Wady-mouths.

The southern port, “Ginái,” is formed by a bend in the reef which sweeps round from east to south-west like a scorpion’s tail. The natural sea-wall, at once dangerous and safety-giving, protects, to the south and south-east, diabolitos of black rock visible only at high tide: inshore the sickle-shaped breakwater runs by east to south-west, becoming a “sandy hook,” and enclosing a basin whose depth ranges from seven to twelve fathoms. Its approach from the south is clean; and the western opening is protected by the tall screen of coast cliffs, the Jebel el-Ginái, whose deep-black porphyritic gorge seemingly prolongs that of Midianite Tayyib Ism. This is a section of the Jibál el-Samghi, the coast-range which extends as far north as the Wady Wati’r. The Dock-port, so useful when the terrible norther blows, has an admirable landmark, visible even from Sináfir Island, and conspicuous at the entrance of the Gulf. Where the sandy slopes of South–Eastern Sinai-land end, appears a large white blot, apparently supporting a block, built, like a bastion, upon a tall hill of porphyritic trap. We called this remnant of material harder than the rest, Burj el-Dahab —“the Tower Hill of Dahab.” I have been minute in describing the Golden Harbour: scant justice has been done to it by the Hydrographic Chart, and it will prove valuable when the Makna’ mines are opened. Ahmed Kaptán vainly attempted soundings — he was too ill to work. Wellsted’s identification of the site with Ezion-geber (ii. ix.), and the reef with the rock-ledge which wrecked Jehosaphat’s fleet, has one great objection — no ruins are known to exist near it.121

The formation of this part of Sinai, as far as we can see from the shore, reflects, in wilder forms and more abrupt lines, the opposite coast of Midian: there is, however, the important difference that the Secondaries and the quartz-veins, there so important, are here wanting. The skeletons of mountain and hill appear as if prolonged under water. The ruddy syenite is dyked and veined by the familiar network of green-black porphyritic trap; the filons are disposed in parallels striking north-south, with a little easting; the dip is westerly (about 35 degrees mag.), and the thickness extends to hundreds of feet, often forming a foundation for the upper cliff. The subaerial parts are the same warty and pimply growth which appears on the other side. Nothing could be more wearisome to the Alpine climber than such a country: he would scale the peaks and ridges for fifty feet, to descend thirty on the other side; and the frequent Wadys, ankle-deep in loose sand, generally end in steep stony couloirs. The watercourses, whose broad mouths are scattered with thin green, contain pebbles and rolled quartzes, including fine specimens of the crystallized variety.

We landed, after an hour’s row in the gig, at the central or main line of palms; and on the banks of Wady Dahab, here a full mile wide, we found the works of man, like those of Nature, a copy of Makná. The date trees and clumps are hedge-closed; two scatters of ‘Ushash (tabernacles) show round towers of rough stone, broken and patched with palm-frond; and, further north of the Golden Valley, a few old Arab graves have been weathered into mere heaps of large stones. These are the Kubur el-Nasárá (“Nazarene’s Graves”) of Burckhardt,122 a name apparently forgotten by the present generation. We vainly sought and asked after ruins: of old, however, “Dí‘zahab” might have served to disembark cargo which, by taking the land-route northwards, as the Christian pilgrims still do from El–Nuwaybi’, would avoid the dangerous headwaters of El-‘Akabah. Nor could we believe with Pococke123 that the place derived its name from the mica shining like gold; his theory is stultified by the fact that mica is by no means a prominent feature, even had the Ancients been so ignorant as to be deceived by it.

The people were by no means communicative. An elderly man, with a red turban and sword by side, hurried away from us when we addressed him, leaving his middle-aged wife to follow with a babe on shoulder and a boy in hand: she also refused to speak, waving her hand by way of reply to every question. At last a semi-civilized being, acquainted with the Convent of St. Catherine, Selím bin Husayn, of the Muzaynah tribe, satisfied our curiosity in view of tobacco, and offered a rudely stuffed ibex-head for a shilling. In the evening our fishermen visited the reef, which supplied admirable rock-cod, a bream (?) called Sultan el-Bahr, and Marján (a Sciæna); but they neglected the fine Sirinjah (“sponges”), which here grow two feet long. The night was dark and painfully still, showing nought but the youngest of moons, and the gloomiest silhouettes of spectral mountains.

We set out at seven a.m. on the next day, when an Azyab or south-easterly wind was promised by the damp air, the slaty sea, and the gloomy nimbi on the hill-tops. A small party landed after two hours’ steaming, in search of quartz, which proved to be chloritic sandstones and limestones. In the broad valley they found a few Muzayni families, with their camels, sheep, and goats. These unfortunates had no tents, sleeping under the trees; they were desperate beggars, and, although half-starved, they asked a napoleon for a kid, declaring that such was its price at the quarantine station of Tor. Here the errors of the Hydrographic Chart, which have been copied literally by the latest and best popular books such as Professor Palmer’s “Desert of the Exodus,” began to excite our astonishment. For instance, Ras Kusayr (“the Short One”) becomes Ras Arser — what a name for a headland! A good survey will presently become a sine quâ non. Unfortunately Ahmed Kaptán was suffering so much that I could not ask him to make solar observations; while the rest of us had other matters in hand. It was a great disappointment, where so much useful work remains to be done.

Hereabouts the sterile horrors of the hideous Sinaitic shore seem to reach their climax. The mountains become huge rubbish-heaps, without even colour to clothe their indecently nude forms; and each strives with its neighbour for the prize of repulsiveness. The valleys are mere dust-shunts that shoot out their rubbish, stones, gravel, and sand, in a solid flow, like discharges of lava. And, as Jebel Mazhafah, on the opposite coast, is the apex of the visible eastern Gháts, so beyond this point the Sinaitic sea-chain of mountains begins to decline into mere hills, while longer sand-points project seawards. Such is the near, the real aspect of what, viewed from Makná, appears a scene in fairy-land, decked and dight in heavenly hues of blue and purple and rosy light —

“Where the bald blear skull of the Desert
With golden mountains is crowned.”

The first sign of a change of formation appeared near the “Lower (southern) Nuwaybi’” (“the Little Spring”), which the chart calls “Wasit.” Here the shore shows blots of dead-white and mauve-red, in which our engineer at once detected quartz. Seeing it prolonged in straight horizontal lines, and the red overlying the white, I suspected kaolin and the normal Tauá (coloured clays): my conjecture was confirmed on the next day. Hereabouts, Wellsted (ii. 151) also remarked the colouring of the hills, which resemble those of “Sherm;” some of a deep-blue tinge, and others streaked with a brilliant red and violet. We then doubled a long sandspit running out to sea eastward, and forming, on the north, a deep bay well protected from the souther; whilst several lines of reef and shallow to the north defend it from the angry Bora. This anchorage is known to the pilots as “Wásit;” and it occupies the southern half of the bay, the northern half and its palm-groves being called the “Upper Nuwaybi’.” About “Wásit” the date-palms are scattered, and the large sand-drifts ever threaten to bury them alive. Behind it yawns the great gash, “Wady Watír,” which shows its grand lines even from the opposite side of the gulf: this is the route by which Christian pilgrims from Syria make the Sinai monastery, rounding on camels the northern end of El-‘Akabah. The main valley receives from the north the Wady el-‘Ayn, which can be reached in half a day. From the south, distant one whole march, comes the Wady el-Hazrah. This is doubtless the Hazeroth of the Exodus, meaning the fenced enclosures of a pastoral people; and a modern traveller figures and describes it as “the most beautiful and romantic landscape in the Desert.” At least, so said the lately shipped guide, Mabru’k ibn Sulayyim el-Muzayni.

After a run of six hours and thirty minutes (= thirty miles), we cast anchor off Wásit: there was nothing to see ashore, save some wretched Muzaynah, two males and three females, helpmates meet for them, living like savages on fish and shell-molluscs; drinking brackish water, and sleeping in the “bush,” rather than take the trouble to repair the huts. They have no sheep, but a few camels; and, by way of boats, they use catamarans composed of two palm-trunks: their home-made hooks resemble the schoolboy’s crooked pin. Yet these starvelings would not fetch specimens of the white stuff, distant, perhaps, two direct miles of cross-cut, seen near Nuwaybi’, and still visible. They also refused, without preliminary “bakhshísh,” to show or even to tell where certain ruins, concerning which they spoke or romanced, are found in their hills. And yet there are theologians who would raise Poverty, the most demoralizing of all conditions, to the rank of an “ecclesiastical virtue.”

At 6 30 a.m. on the next day, the Mukhbir stood eastwards to avoid the northern reef. Presently we passed the “Upper Nuwaybi’,” a creeklet to the north-west of Wásit, with a straggling line of palms fed by the huge Wady Muzayríj. From this point to the ‘Akabah head all the coast is clean of man. The Jibál el-Samghi now become the Sinaitic Jibál el-Shafah (“Lip Mountains”), the latter stretching northwards to the Hajj-road, and forming the western wall of the ‘Arabah valley, whose name they assume (Jibál el-‘Arabah). The scene abruptly shifts. A mottle of clouds sheds moving shadows over the hill-crests, and relieves them from the appalling monotony of yesterday. Brilliant rainbow hues, red, green, mauve, purple, yellow and white clays, gleam in the lowlands, and form dwarf bluffs; while inland, peering above the granites, the syenites, and the porphyries of the coast, pale quoins and naked cones again show the familiar Secondary formation of Midianitish Makná. We were not surprised to hear that sulphur had been found in the gypsum of these eastern Gháts of Sinai, when a Jebel el-Kibí‘t, approached by the Wady Suwayr, was pointed out to us. The natural deduction is that the brimstone formation is, like the turquoise, the copper, and the manganese, a continuation of the beds that gave a name to Mafka-land; while the metalliferous strata round, in horseshoe-form, the head of El-‘Akabah, and run down the Arabian shore, till they become parallel with those subtending the seaboard of Africa.

The view of the eastern or Midianite coast was even more varied and suggestive. Far inland, and tinged light-blue by distance, rose the sharp, jagged, and sawlike crests of El–Sharaf, under which the Hajj-caravan wends its weary way, thus escaping the mountains which dip perpendicularly into the sea. Then come the broad and sandy slopes, here and there streaked with dark ridges, spanned by the Sultáni or Sultan’s high-road, and stretching from the Gulf to the inner heights. The latter are no longer a double parallel chain: they bend from south-south-east to north-north-west, and become the Jibál el-Shará’, anciently “Mount Seir;” in fact, the eastern retaining-wall of the great Wady ‘Arabah. Evidently they are primary, but a white and purple patch, visible from afar, suggested a Secondary remnant. Several of the peaks, especially the blue block El–Yitm, appeared to be of great height; we all remarked its towering stature and trifid headpiece, apparently upwards of five thousand feet high, before we had heard the tale attached to it. Abreast of us and on the shore, lie the large inlet and little islet El–Humayzah: the surveyors have abominably corrupted it to “Omeider.” North of it a palm grove, lining the mouth of a broad Wady which snakes high up among the sands and stones, denotes the Hajj-station, El–Hakl (Hagul), backed by tall arenaceous buttresses.

After six hours (= twenty-two knots and a half), we anchored in the deep channel, about three-quarters of a kilometre wide, that separates the Sinaitic mainland from the northern one of the only two islands known in the ‘Akabah Gulf, a scrap of rock crowned with picturesque grey ruins. The Jezírat Fara’ún of the maps, the Isle of Pharaoh, concerning whom traditions are still current, it is known to the ‘Akabites only as Jebel el-Kala’h or “Fort-hill:” hence El–Graa in Laborde, and Jezírat El-Q reieh in Arconati.124 Burckhardt alone mentions that the ruins are known as El–Dayr —“the Convent.” This human lair is encircled by barrier-reefs of coralline, broad to the south-west and large in scattered places: eastward they form a shallow wall-like ledge, beyond which blue water at once begins. The island-formation is that of the opposite coasts, Midian and Sinai, grey granite dyked with decaying porphyritic trap, and everywhere veined with white and various-coloured quartzes. The shape is a long oval of about three hundred and twenty by one hundred and fifty-two metres; a saddleback with two stony heads, the higher to the north, rising a hundred feet or so above sea-level. Pommel and cantle are connected by a low seat, a few yards of isthmus; and the three divisions, all strongly marked, bear buildings. The profile from east and west shows four groups: to the extreme north a tower, backed by the castle donjon, on the knob of granite here and there scarped; the works upon the thread of isthmus; and the walls and bastions crowning the southern knob, which, being lower, is even more elaborately cut to a perpendicular.

We landed upon the eastern side of the islet rock, where the trunk of a broken mole is covered in rear by a ruined work. Here, being most liable to attack, the fortifications are strongest; whereas on the west side only a single wall, now strewn on the ground, with square Burj at intervals, defends the little boat-harbour. The latter appears at present in the shape of a fish-pond, measuring sixty by forty metres; sunk below sea-level, fed by percolation, and exceedingly salt. To the east of this water, black cineraceous earth shows where the smith had been at work: we applied the quarrymen to sift it, without other results but bits of glass, copper, and iron nails.

The pier leads to a covered way, enabling the garrison safely to circulate round the base of the islet. Behind it a path, much broken and cumbered by débris of the walls, winds up the southern face of the northern hill, which supports the body of the place: it meets another track from the west, and a small work defends their junction. Below it, outside the walls, we found a well sunk about eight feet in the granite, and cemented with fine lime, the red plaster in places remaining. Above this pit a Mihráb, or prayer-niche, fronting Meccah-wards (more exactly 175 degrees mag.) shows the now ruinous mosque: the Bedawi declare that it was built by a “Pasha.” Higher again, upon a terreplein, are lines of tanks laid out with all that lavishness of labour which distinguishes similar works in Syria: it is, however, difficult to assign any date to these constructions. The cisterns were explored by Mr. Clarke and Lieutenant Amir, who dug into and planned them. They descended by ropes, although there are two flights of steps to the west and the south-west. The tanks are built up from the base with blocks one foot nine inches long: seven inches deep of rubbish were cleared away before reaching the floor, composed of black stones bedded in layers of cement above and below, and resting upon the ground-rock. The diggings yielded only big pieces of salt fallen from the walls, and a broken handmill of basalt. The sides are supported by pilasters of cut stone, and the crown by four pillars in a double row: the dividing arches, according to the plan, are not symmetrical. Hard by, measuring twelve metres by twelve, is the quarry whence the stone was taken; and near it stands the normal Egyptian pigeon-tower, with its nest-niches.

The donjon or body is defended by an enceinte, opening northwards upon a large yard, where, doubtless, the garrison mustered, and whence a flight of steps leads to the wicket. The inside of the works shows the roofless party-walls still standing; and the ground is scattered over with the remains of many different races: there are drums of columns and fragments of marble pillars, but no sign of an inscription. Even in the upper ramparts two epochs are distinctly traceable, the mediæval and the modern. The lower ashlar, mostly yellow grit, is cut and carefully cemented; the upper part is generally of rough dry stone, the plutonic formations of the islet heaped up with scanty care. The embrasures are framed with decaying palm-trunks; the loop-holes belong partly to the age of archery; and nothing can be ruder than the battlements placed close together, as if to be manned by bowmen, while in not a few places there are the remains of matting between the courses. At the highest part we found another carefully cemented Sehrij, or underground cistern, with two sharp-topped arches divided by a tall column, Saracenic certainly and not Doric:125 above it a circular aperture, arched round with the finest bricks, serves to lighten the superstructure. It communicates to the north with a Hammám, whose plan is easily traced by the double flues and earthenware tubes, well made and mortared together. Here we found inscribed on the plaster, “Arona Linant 22 Mars 1846.”

The southern knob of the islet supports similar but inferior constructions, still more ruinous withal: its quarry is on the lower slopes, and its granitic base has also been scarped seawards. Two stout walls, twelve feet thick below and six above, crossing the length of the rock from north to south, here meet in a Burj which shows signs of fine tiles on an upper floor; whilst a third wall forms a southern spine bisecting the tail of the “Jezírat.” The castle is much more dilapidated than when sketched by Ruppell, the first Frank who visited El-‘Akabah, in 1826. His illustration (p. 214) of Ruinen auf der Insel Emrag shows a single compact building in good preservation, the towers being round, when all are square; and it is garnished with the impossible foreground and background of his epoch; the former, enlivened with a Noah’s-Ark camel, being placed quite close, when it is distant some ten miles. In the German naturalist’s time, the now desolate island was occupied by die Emradi, a tribe which he suspected to be Jewish, and of which he told the queerest tales: I presume they are the ‘Imrám-Huwaytát of El–Hakl and the Hismá. Wellsted’s short description (II. ix) is still correct as in 1838.

The castle is evidently European, built during the days when the Crusaders held El-‘Akabah; but it probably rests upon Roman ruins; and the latter, perhaps, upon Egyptian remains of far older date. It protected one section of the oldest overland route, when the islet formed the key of the Gulf-head. It subsequently became an eyrie whence its robber knights and barons — including possibly “John, the Christian ruler of ‘Akabah” (A.D. 630), and, long after him, madcap Rainald de Chatillon (A.D. 1182)— could live comfortably and sally out to plunder merchants and pilgrims. The Saracenic buildings may date, as the popular superstition has it, from the reign of Saláh el-Dín (Saladin) who, in A.D. 1167, cleared his country of the Infidel invader by carrying ships on camel-back from Cairo. Later generations of thieves, pirates, and fishermen naturally made it their refuge and abode. I hardly anticipate for it great things in the immediate future, although it has been proposed for a coal-depôt.

After a day given to tube-tinkering with tompions, stays, plugs, plates, and wedges, to the distraction of the ship’s carpenter and blacksmith, steam was coaxed up; and, at 9.15 a.m. (February 7th), we ran northwards through the deep narrow channel, rounding the upper end of the Pharaohnic islet. Here the encircling wall is defended by two square Burj, to the north-east and to the northwest, flanking what is probably the main entrance. On the Sinaitic mainland to port, the broad mouth of the Wady el-Masri leads to the Nakb, the rocky Pass which, so much dreaded till repaired by Abba’s Pasha, is popularly said to be described in El-‘Akabah —“the Steep.” The Bedawin, however, declare that the locale is so called because the Gulf here “heels” (Ya’kkab el-Bahr), that is, comes to an end. At the head of the sea, the confused mass of the Sinaitic mountains range themselves in line to the west, fronting its sister wall, the grand block El–Shará’ (Seir); while in the middle lies the southern section of the “Ghor,” the noble and memorious Wady el-‘Akabah, supposed to have given a name to Arabia.126 The surface-water still rolls down it after rains; and the mirage veiling the valley-sole prolongs the Gulf-waters far to the north, their bed in the old geologic ages. The view was charming to us; for the first time since leaving Suez we saw the contrast of perpendicular and horizontal, of height and flat. Nothing could be more refreshing, more gladdening to the eye, after niente che montagne, as the poor Italian described the Morea, than the soft sweeps and the level lines of the hollow plain: it was enjoyable as a heavy shower after an Egyptian summer. On the next day also, the play of light and shade, and the hide and seek of sun-ray and water-cloud, gave the view a cachet of its own. I am sorry to see that scientific geologist, Mr. John Milne, F.G.S.,127 proposing to cut through the two to five hundred feet of elevation which separate the Gulf from the Dead Sea, some thirteen hundred feet below water level. Does he reflect that he simply proposes to obliterate the whole lower Jordan? to bury Tiberias and its lake about eight hundred feet under the waves? in fact, to overwhelm half the Holy Land in a brand-new nineteenth-century deluge, the Deluge of Milne?

All were delighted at having reached our northernmost point, without another visit from El–Ayli’. After one hour and thirty-five minutes (= seven miles) the Mukhbir anchored, in twelve fathoms of water, a couple of hundred yards off the fort and its dependent group of brown-grey mud buildings, half concealed by the luxuriant palms. The roads are safe enough: here the north wind has not yet gained impetus; the south-easter is bluffed off by a long point; and in only the strongest Gharbí (“westers”) ships must run for refuge under the cliffs of Sinai.

This is not the place to enter into the history of Elath, Ailat, Ailah, Ælana, ‘Akabah, or ‘Akabat–Aylah: Robinson (i. 250–254) and a host of others give ample and reliable details. Suffice it to say that the site is mentioned in the Wanderings (Deut. ii. 8), which must not be confounded with the Exodus. It is subsequently connected with the gold-fleet (I Kings ix. 26, etc.); and, conquered by Rezin, king of Syria (B.C. 740), it was permanently lost to the Jews (2 Kings xvi. 6). Under the Romans, this great station upon the “Overland” between the southernmost Nabathæan port, Leukè Kóme, and Petra, the western capital, was a Præsidium held by the Tenth Legion; and a highway connected it with Gaza (Ghazzah), measuring one hundred and twenty direct miles, when the Isthmus of Suez numbers only ninety-five. In Christian times it had a prince and a bishop; and, under Mohammed and the early Moslems, it preserved an importance which lasted till the days of the Crusaders. El–Makrízi describes its ruins, and here places the northern frontier of the Hejaz: in his day “Madyan” was thus a section of the Tihámat el-Hejaz, the maritime region of the Moslems’ Holy Land.

A group of camels had gathered on the shore; and inland lay a mob of pilgrims, the Hajj el-Magháribah, numbering some three thousand North–West Africans; an equally large division had already preceded them to Suez. Letters from Egypt assured us that cholera had broken out at Meccah and Jeddah, killing in both places ninety-eight per diem. Here the pilgrims swore by their Allah that all were, and ever had been, in perfect health; it is every man’s business to ignore the truth, to hide the sick, and to bury the dead out of sight. Hard swearing, however, did not prevent the Hajj undergoing a long quarantine before entering Suez. The English journals had reported another disaster: “Now that the Sultán’s power is collapsing, the most powerful Bedaween tribes are rising because their subsidies are withheld. For weeks the great pilgrim-traffic of autumn (? add the other three seasons) was arrested by them; and even between Medina and Mecca the road is unsafe.” Of this I could hear nothing.

We awaited, on board, the departure of the pauper and infected “Mogrebbins:” when the place was clear we fired a gun, and, after an answer of three, I received the visits of the fort officials. They were civility itself; they immensely admired our two “splendid buttons” of poor iron; and they privily remarked, with much penetration, that the colour was that of brass: they were, in truth, far wiser than we had been. With them came Mohammed ibn Jád (not Iját) el-‘Alawí (of the ‘Alawlyyin–Huwaytát), who styles himself “Shaykh of El-‘Akabah:” he is remarkable for frank countenance, pleasant manners, and exceeding greed. He was gorgeously arrayed in an overall (‘Abáyah) of red silk and gold thread (Gasab), covering a similar cloak of black wool: besides which, a long-sleeved Egyptian caftán, striped stuff of silk and wool, invested his cotton Kamís and Libás (“bag-breeches”). To his A’kál or “fillet” of white fleecy wool hung a talisman; his Khuff (“riding-boots”) were of red morocco, and his sword-scabbard was covered with the same material. The Arab ever loves scarlet, and all varieties of the sanguine hue are as dear to him as to the British soldier.

We held sundry long confabs with Shaykh Mohammed, who seemed to know the neighbourhood unusually well. He declared that there were ruins but no trees at ‘Ayn el-Ghadya’n, distant one day’s march up the Wady el-‘Arabah, and lying near the western wall. This is the place first identified by Robinson, who says nothing about the remains, with Ezion-geber, while Dean Stanley (“Sinai,” etc., p. 85) opines that we have no means of fixing the position of the “Giant’s shoulder-blade.”128 Josephus (“Antiq.,” viii. 6, 4) places it near Ælana; and the present distance from the sea, like that of Heroopolis (Shaykh el-Ajrúd?) from Suez, may show the rise of the Wady el-‘Arabah within historic times. The Shaykh assured us that “Marú” was to be found everywhere among the hills east of El-‘Akabah, and Mr. Milne (Beke, p. 405) brought from the very summit of the “true Mount Sinai” (Jebel el-Yitm) a “fine piece of quartz, the same kind of stone as the Brazilian pebbles of which they make the best spectacles.” We carried off a specimen of native copper from the Sinaitic Jebel and Wady Raddádí, some six hours to the north-west of the fort: it is found strewed upon the ground but not in veins (?). The stone looked so new that we concluded it to be the work of later generations; and the traces of smelting furnaces at old Elath confirmed the idea.

Shaykh Mohammed, who boasted that his tribe could mount five hundred horses — by which understand five — offered his safeguard to the Hismá, three easy marches, without pass or climax, up the Wady Yitm to the east, and behind the range El–Shará’. He made the region begin northwards at one day south of El–Ma’án, the fort lying to the east-south-east of Petra; and he confirmed the accounts of Mabrúk, the guide, who was never tired of expatiating upon its merits. The fountains flow in winter, in summer the wells are never dry; the people, especially the Huwaytát, are kind and hospitable; sheep are cheap as dirt. At Jebel Saur a Maghrabi magician raised a Kidr Dahab (“golden pot”); but, his incense failing at the critical moment, it sank before yielding its treasures.

Pointing north-eastwards to the majestic pile in the Shara” or Seir Mountains, the Jebel el-Yitm,129 a corruption of El–Yatim, the Shaykh told us a tale that greatly interested us. It appears, I have said, a remarkable formation from whose group of terminal domes and pinnacles the tomb of Aaron on Mount Hor is,130 they say, visible; and it is certainly the highest visible peak of the grand wall that forms the right bank of the Wady Yitm. Thus it is but one of a long range; and the Bedawin visit it, to make sacrifice, according to universal custom, at the tomb of a certain Shaykh Bákir. Here, some years ago, came an old man and a young man in a steamer (Erin) belonging to his Highness the Khediv: the former told the Arabs that in his books the height was called the Jebel el-Núr (“Mountain of Light”), a title which apparently he had first applied to the Jebel el-Lauz; and the latter climbed to the mountain-top. After that they went their way.

I quite agree with my lamented friend, Dr. Beke, that it is an enormous blunder to transfer Midian, the “East Country,” to the west of El-‘Arabah, and to place it south of the South Country (El–Negeb, Gen. xx. I). I own that it is ridiculous to make the Lawgiver lead his fugitives into a veritable cul-de-sac, then a centre of Egyptian conquest. Evidently we have still to find the “true Mount Sinai,” if at least it be not a myth, pure and simple. The profound Egyptologist, Dr. Heinrich Brugsch–Bey, observes that the vulgar official site lies to the south of and far from the line taken by the Beni Israil, and that the papyri show no route leading to it; whilst many have remarked that the Sinai of the Exodus is described as a single isolated mountain or hill, not as one projection from a range of heights.131 I would also suggest that the best proof of how empirical is the actual identification, will be found in the fact that the Jews — except only the Rev. Jos. Wolff (1821)— have never visited, nor made pilgrimages to, what ought to be one of their holiest of holy places. This crucial point has been utterly neglected by the officers of the Ordnance Survey of Sinai. It is evident that Jebel Serbal dates only from the early days of Koptic Christianity; that Jebel Musá, its Greek rival, rose after the visions of Helena in the fourth century; whilst the building of the convent by Justinian belongs to A.D. 527. Ras Sufsafah, its rival to the north, is an affair of yesterday, and may be called the invention of Robinson; and Jebel Katerina, to the south, is the property of Ruppell. Thus the oft-quoted legends of the Sinaitic Arabs are mere monkish traditions, adopted by Ishmaelitic ignorance. The great Lawgiver probably led his horde of fugitive slaves over the plains of El–Negeb and El–Tih, north of the so-called Sinaitic mountain-blocks, marching in small divisions like those of a modern Bedawi tribe; and we know from the latest surveys that the land, now alternately a fiery or frozen wilderness, was once well supplied with wood and water. The “true Mount Sinai” is probably some unimportant elevation in the Desert named by moderns after the Wanderings.

Dr. Beke, I am persuaded, is right in denying that Mount Sinai occupies the site at present assigned to it; but I cannot believe that he has found it in the Jebel el-Yitm, near El-‘Akabah. His “Mount Bárghir” is evidently a corruption of the “Wali” on the summit, Shaykh Bákir — a common Arab name. His “Mountain of Light” is a term wholly unknown to the Arabs, except so far as they would assign the term to any saintly place. The “sounds heard in the mountain like the firing of a cannon,” is a legend applied to two other neighbouring places. All the Bedawin still sacrifice at the tombs of their Santons: at the little white building which covers the reputed tomb of Aaron, sheep are slaughtered and boiled in a huge black cauldron. The “pile of large rounded boulders” bearing “cut Sinaitic inscriptions” (p. 423) are clearly Wusúm: these tribal-marks, which the highly imaginative M. de Saulcy calls “planetary signs,” are found throughout Midian. The name of the Wady is, I have said, not El–Ithem, but El–Yitm, a very different word. Lastly, the “Mountain Eretówa,” or “Ertówa” (p. 404), is probably a corruption of El–Taur (El–Hismá), the “inaccessible wall” of the plateau, which Dr. Beke calls Jebel Hismá. My old friend, with his usual candour and straightforwardness, honestly admitted that he had been “egregiously mistaken with respect to the volcanic character of (the true) ‘Mount Sinai.”’ But without the eruption, the “fire and smoke theory,” what becomes of his whole argument?132 Save for the death of my friend, I should have greatly enjoyed the comical side of his subject; the horror and disgust with which he, one of the greatest of geographical innovators, regards a younger rival theory, the exodist innovation of Dr. Heinrich Brugsch–Bey. The latter is the first who has rescued the “March of the Children of Israel” from the condition of mere guesswork described by the Rev. Mr. Holland.

Under the guidance of our new acquaintances, we rowed to the site of Elath, which evidently extended all round the Gulf-head from north-east to north-west. Linant and Laborde (“Voyage de l’Arabie Petrée,” etc., Paris, 1830) confine it to the western shore, near the mouth of the Wady el-‘Arabah, and make Ezion-geber to face it as suggested by the writings of the Hebrews. Disembarking at the northern palm-clump, we inspected El-Dár, the old halting-place of the pilgrim-caravan before New ‘Akabah was founded. The only ruins133 are large blocks under the clearest water, and off a beach of the softest sand, which would make the fortune of a bathing-place in Europe. Further eastward lies an enclosed date-orchard called El–Hammám: the two pits in it are said to be wells, but I suspect the treasure-seeker. Inland and to the north rise the mounds and tumuli, the sole remains of ancient Elath, once the port of Petra, which is distant only two dromedary marches. During rain-floods the site is an island: to the west flows the surface-water of the Wady el-‘Arabah, and eastward the drainage of the Wady Yitm has dug a well-defined bed. A line of larger heaps to the north shows where, according to the people, ran the city wall: finding it thickly strewed with scoriae, old and new, I decided that this was the Siyághah or “smiths’ quarter.” Between it and the sea the surface is scattered with glass, shards, and slag: I inquired in vain for “written stones,” and for the petroleum reported to exist in the neighbourhood.

Shaykh Mohammed declared that of old a chain stretched from the Pharaohnic island-castle to the Jebel el-Burayj or Kasr el-Bedawi on the Midianite shore: this chain is a lieu commun of Eastern legends. The “Bedawi’s Castle” is mentioned by Robinson and Burckhardt (“Syria,” p. 510), as lying one hour south of El-‘Akabah. Moreover, the Wady Yitm, whose upper bed shows two ruins, was closed, at the narrow above the mouth, by a fortified wall of stone and lime, thus cutting off all intercourse with the interior. The Bedawin declare it to be the work of King Hadíd (Iron), who thus kept out the Bení Hilál of El–Nejd. We were shown large earth-dams, thrown across the embouchure of the torrent to prevent the floods injuring the palm-groves of New ‘Akabah. These may date from ancient days, when the old city here extended its south-eastern suburb; as usual, they have become a cemetery, modern and Moslem; and on the summit of the largest the holy Shaykh el-Girmí (Jirmí) still names his ruined tomb.

Walking round the eastern bay, where the ubiquitous black sand striped the yellow shore, we observed that the tide here rises only one foot,134 whereas at Suez it may reach a metre and a half to seven feet. According to the chart, the springs attain four feet at “Omeider” (El–Humayzah), some nineteen direct knots to the south; and in the Sharm Yáhárr we found them about one metre. Presently we entered, by wooden doors with locks and keys, the carefully kept palm-groves, walled with pisé and dry stone. Wells were being sunk; and a depth of nine to ten feet gave tolerably sweet water. Striking the broad northern trail which leads to the Wady Yitm and to the upper El-‘Arabah, still a favourite camping-ground of the tribes,135 we reached the modern settlement, which has something of the aspect of a townlet, not composed, like El–Muwaylah, of a single house. The women fled at our approach, as we threaded the alleys formed by the mud tenements.

The fort136 is usually supposed to have been built by Sulta’n Selim I., in A.D. 1517, or three years before his death, after he had subdued the military aristocracy of the Mamlúks, who had ruled Egypt for three centuries. Much smaller than that of El–Muwaylah, it is the normal affair: an enceinte once striped red and white; curtains flanked by four Burj, all circular, except the new polygon to the north-west; and a huge, gloomy main-gateway fronting north, and flanked by two bastions. On the proper right side is a circle of stone bearing, without date, the name of “Sultán Selim Khan el-Fátih,” who first laid out the pilgrim-route along the Red Sea shore. Inside the dark cool porch a large inscription bears the name “El–Ashraf Kansúr (sic)137 El–Ghori,” the last but one of the Circassian Mamlúk kings of Egypt, who was defeated and slain by the Turkish conqueror near Aleppo in A.D. 1501. Above it stand two stone shields dated A.H. 992 (= A.D. 1583 — 1584). In the southern wall of the courtyard is the mosque, fronted by a large deep well dug, they say, during the building of the fort: it still supplies the whole Hajj-caravan with warmish sweet water. On the ground lies a good brass gun with Arabic inscription and numerals; and the towers, commanding the little kitchen-gardens outside the fort-wall, are armed with old iron carronades. The garrison, consisting of half a dozen gunners and a few Ba’sh-Buzuks, looks pale, bloodless, and unwholesome: the heats of summer are almost unsupportable; and ‘Akabah has the name of a “little hell.” Moreover, they eat, drink, smoke, sleep, chat, quarrel, and never take exercise: the officers complained sadly that I had made them walk perhaps a mile round the bay-head. And yet they have, within two days of sharp ride, that finest of sanitaria, the Hismá, which extends as far north and south as they please to go.

I at once made arrangements for a dromedary-post to Suez, and wrote officially to Prince Husayn Pasha, requesting that his Highness would exchange the Mukhbir for a steamer less likely to drown herself. Moreover, the delay at Magháir Shu’ayb had exhausted our resources; and the Expedition required a month’s additional rations for men and mules. The application was, it will appear, granted in the most gracious manner, with as little delay as possible; and my wife, who had reached Cairo, saw that the execution of the order was not put off till the end of March. Messrs. Voltéra Brothers were also requested to forward another instalment of necessaries and comforts; and they were as punctual and satisfactory as before. For this postal service, and by way of propitiatory present, Shaykh Mohammed received ten dollars, of which probably two were disbursed. We therefore parted fast friends, he giving me an especial invitation to his home in the Hismá, and I accepting it with the firm intention of visiting him as soon as possible.

Meanwhile Mr. Clarke and Ali Marie were busy with buying up such stores as El-‘Akabah contains; and the officers of the fort, who stayed with us to the last, were profuse in kind expressions and in little gifts which, as usual, cost us double their worth. In these lands one must expect to be “done” as surely as in Italy. What the process will be, no one knows till it discloses itself; but all experts feel that it is in preparation.


The following is a list of the stores with their prices. It must be borne in mind that the Hajj-caravan was passing at the time we visited El-‘Akabah.

A large sheep cost half a napoleon; the same was the price of a small sheep, with a kid.

Fowls (seventy-one bought), thirteen pence each; pigeons, sixpence a head.

Eggs (sixty), two for threepence.

Tobacco (8 lbs.), coarse and uncut, but welcome to the Bedawin, one shilling per pound.

Samn (“liquefied butter” for the kitchen) also one shilling per pound. This article is always dear in Arabia, but much cheaper than in Egypt.

Pomegranates (fifty), four shillings a hundred.

Onions (one kanta’r or cwt.), one sovereign.

Thin-skinned Syrian raisins, fivepence per pound.

Dried figs, twopence halfpenny per pound.

Matches (sixteen boxes), three halfpence per box.

A small quantity of grain may be bought. Lentils (Revalenta Arabica) are to be had in any quantity, and they make an admirable travelling soup. Unfortunately it is supposed to be a food for Fellahs, and the cook shirks it — the same is the case with junk, salt pork, and pease-pudding on board an English cruiser. Sour limes are not yet in season; they will be plentiful in April. A little garden stuff may be had for salads. The list of deficiencies is great; including bread and beef, potatoes, ‘Ráki, and all forms of “diffusable stimulants.”

Here, as at Cairo, the piastre is of two kinds, metallic (debased silver) and non-metallic. Government pays in the former, which is called Ságh (“coin”); and the same is the term throughout Egypt. The value fluctuates, but 97–1/2 may be assumed = one sovereign (English), and one hundred to the Egyptian “lira.” The second kind, used for small purchases, is not quite half the value of the former (205:100); in North–Western Arabia it is called Abyas (“white”), and Tarífá (“tariff”); the latter term in Cairo always signifying the Ságh or metallic. The dodges of the Shroffs, or “money-changers,” make housekeeping throughout Egypt a study of arithmetic. They cannot change the value of gold, but they “rush” the silver as they please; and thus the “dollar-sinko” (i.e. the five-franc piece), formerly fetching 19.10, has been reduced to 18.30. The Khurdah, or “copper-piastre,” was once worth a piastre; now this “coin of the realm” has been so debased, that it has gradually declined through 195 to 500 and even 650 for the sovereign. Moreover, not being a legal tender, it is almost useless in the market.

As regards the money to be carried by such expeditions, anything current in Egypt will do. The Bedawin prefer sovereigns when offered five-franc pieces, and vice versa. The Egyptian sovereign of 100 piastres (metallic) or 250 “current” must not be confounded with the Turkish = 87.30 (curr. 175.20 to 180). The napoleon averages 77.6 (curr. 160); the dollar varies according to its kind; the shilling is 3.35 (curr. 10), and the franc 3.35 (curr. 8). It is necessary to lay in a large quantity of small change by way of “bakhshísh,” such as ten and twenty parah bits (40 = 1 piastre).

119 The passage was brought to my notice by my excellent friend, Mr. James Pincherle of Trieste. In the “Atlante Storico e Geografico della Terra Santa, esposto in 14 Tavole e 14 Quadri storici della Palestina,” republished (without date) by Francesco Pagnoni of Milan, appears an annexed commentary by Cornelius à Lapide. The latter, Cornelius Van den Steen (Corneille de la Pierre), born near Liege, a learned Jesuit, profound theologian, and accomplished historian, was famous as a Hebraist and lecturer on Holy Writ. He died at Rome March 12, 1637; and a collected edition of his works in sixteen volumes, folio, appeared at Venice in 1711, and at Lyons in 1732. It is related of him that, being called to preach in the presence of the Pope, he began his sermon on his knees. The Holy Father commanded him to rise, and he obeyed; but his stature was so short that he appeared to be still kneeling. The order was reiterated; whereupon Zacchaeus, understanding its cause, said modestly, “Beatissime Pater, ipse fecit nos, et non ipsi nos.”

120 The name and other points connected with it have been noticed in “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” p. 338.

121 See “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” p. 338.

122 “Travels in Syria, etc.,” p. 524.

123 In “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” p. 338, this name became, by virtue of the author’s cacography, “Beoche.”

124 “Diario in Arabia Petrea” (1865) di Visconte Giammartino Arconati. Roma, 1872.

125 Wellsted, ii. 143.

126 “Ghor” is the whole depression including the Jordan and the Dead Sea, while El-‘Akabah is its southernmost section. In older maps this gulf is made to fork at the north — a topographical absurdity. I have also fallen into a notable blunder about the Jebel el-Shará’, in “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” note?, p. 175.

127 See Appendix, p. 537, “Geological Notes,” etc., in Dr. Beke’s “Sinai in Arabia.”

128 See “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” pp. 338, 339.

129 This Yitm, which Burckhardt first wrote El–Ithem, unfortunately gave Dr. Beke an opportunity of finding, in his “Wady el-Ithem,” the “Etham of the Exodus.” (See “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” pp. 359 — 361). The latter has been conclusively shown by Brugsch–Bey in his lecture, “La Sortie des Hébreux d’E’gypte” (Alexandrie: Mourès, 1874), p. 31, to be the great fort of Khatom, on the highway to Phoenicia. The roots Khatam, Asham, Tam, like the Arabic “Khatm” ([Arabic]) signify to seal up, close; and thus Khatom in Egyptian, as Atham, Etham in Hebrew, means a closed place, a fortress. Wallin calls the “Yitm,” which he never visited, “Wâdî Lithm, a cross valley opening through the chain at about eight hours (twenty-four miles) north of ‘Akaba’”— possibly Lithm is a misprint, but it is repeated in more than one page.

130 Dr. Beke, who afterwards changed his mind, would identify Hor, the burial-place of Aaron, with Horeb of the Rock (“Orig. Biblicae,” 195). He then adopted (“Sinai in Arabia,” p. 77) the opinion of St. Jerome (“De Situ,” etc., p. 191), “Mihi autem videtur quod duplice nomine mons nunc Sina, nunc Choreb vocatur.” Wellsted (ii. 103) also makes Horeb synonymous with “Wilderness of Sinai.” Professor Palmer (118) translates Horeb by “ground that has been drained and left dry:” he would include in it the whole Desert of Sinai, together with “the Mountain;” whilst he warns us that the monks call the whole southern portion of their mountain “Horeb.” Others confine “Horeb” to Jebel Musá, and even to its eastern shoulder.

131 For the Mount or Mountain see Exodus xix. 2, 12, 20, 23; also xxxii. 19; Deut. iv. II, and v. 23; Heb. xii. 18. Josephus (“Antiq.,” II. ii. I) speaks of it similarly as a “mountain,” and describes it with all the apparatus of fable; while his compatriot and contemporary, St. Paul (Epist. to the Galatians iv. 25), calls it only “Mount Sinai in Arabia,” i.e. east of Jordan.

132 See Athenaeum, February 8th and 15th, 1873.

133 They were heard of by Burckhardt (“Syria,” p. 510).

134 Beke (p. 446), on February 6th, estimated the rise of the tide at ‘Akabah head to be three to four feet. This is greatly in excess of actuality; but, then, he was finding out some rational way of drowning “Pharaoh and his host.”

135 Those living further north, the ‘Ammárín and the Liyásinah, are unmitigated scoundrels and dangerous ruffians: amongst the former Shaykh Sala’mah ibn ‘Awwád with his brother, and among the latter Ibrahím el-Hasanát, simply deserve hanging. In Edom, too, ‘Abd el-Rahmán el-‘Awar (“the One-eyed”), Shaykh of the Fellahín, is “wanted;” and the ‘Alawín-Huwaytát would be greatly improved were they to be placed under Egyptian, instead of Syrian, rule.

136 Dr. Beke’s artist (p. 374) has produced a work of imagination, especially in the foreground and background of his “Migdol or Castle of Akaba.”

137 Commonly written Kansúh (Kansooh) and corrupted by Europeans to Campson (like Sampson) Goree.

Chapter VIII.

Cruise from El-‘Akabah to El–Muwaylah — the Shipwreck Escaped–Résumé of the Northern Journey.

I resolved upon hastening back with all speed to El–Muwaylah, finishing, by the way, our work of quartz-prospecting on the ‘Akabah Gulf. Thus far it had been a success; we heard of “Marú” in all directions. But all had not gone equally well. We had already on two occasions been prevented by circumstances from visiting the mysterious Hismá, and we now determined to devote all our energies to its exploration.

Two heavy showers having fallen during the dark hours, on February 8th Aurora looked as if she had passed a very bad night indeed. The mist-rack trailed along the rock slopes, and rested upon the Wady-sands; the mountains veiled their heads in clouds, and —

“Above them lightnings to and fro ran coursing evermore,
Till, like a red, bewildered map, the skies were
scribbled o’er.”

Meanwhile, in the north-west and south-west we saw — rare thing in Arabia! — Iris holding two perfect bows at the same time, not to speak of “wind dogs.” Zephyrus, the wester, here a noted bad character, rose from his rocky couch strong and rough, beating down the mercury to 56 degrees F.: after an hour he made way for Eurus; and the latter was presently greeted by Boreas in one of his most boisterous and blustering moods.

We steamed off, with only a single stoppage for half an hour to cool the engine-bearings, at 7.30 a.m.; and, after one mile we passed, on the Arabian side, a ruin called Kasr el-Bint —“the Girl’s Palace.” Beyond it lies the Kasr el-Bedawi, alias El–Burayj (“of the Little Tower or Bastion”), the traditional holding-pier of the great chain. When Wellsted (ii. 146) says, “Here (i.e. at the Kasr el-Bedawi), I am told, there is a chain extending from the shore to a pier built in the sea”— he evidently misunderstood the Arabs. The eastern coast of El-‘Akabah begins with an abrupt mountain-wall, like that which subtends the whole of the Sinai shore, till it trends south of the Mí‘nat el-Dahab. After three miles the heights fall into a stony, sandy plain, which rises regularly as a “rake,” or stage-slope, to the Shará’ (Seir) range, which closes the horizon. After two hours and forty five minutes we passed into the fine, open, treacherous Bay of “Hagul” (El–Hakl), distant thirteen knots from El-‘Akabah Fort, to which it is the nearest caravan-station. On the north-east, and stretching eastward, are the high “horse,” or dorsum, and the big buttresses of the long, broad Wady, which comes winding from the south-east. They appear to be a body of sand; but, as usual on this coast, the superficial sheet, the skin, hardly covers the syenite and porphyritic trap that form the charpente. Between west and south, a long spit, high inland, and falling low till where its sandstone blufflet meets the sea, proves to be the base of a large and formidable reef, which extends in verdigris patches over the blue waters of the bay. It is not mentioned by Wellsted (ii. 149), who describes “Ha’gool on the Arabian shore,” as “a small boat-harbour much exposed to the northerly winds.” The embouchure of the Wady nourishes four distinct clumps of date-trees, well walled round; a few charred and burnt, the most of them green and luxuriant. These lines are broken by the channels which drain the surface water; and between the two western sections appear the ragged frond-huts. Not a soul was seen on shore.

The wind blew great guns outside the bay, and the inside proved anything but calm. As the water was fifty-eight fathoms deep near the coast, our captain found no moorings for his ship, except to the dangerous reef; and we kept drifting about in a way which would have distracted sensitive nerves. I had been told of ruins and tumuli at El–Hakl, which denote, according to most authorities, the Mesogeian town [Greek](Ancale): Ptolemy (vi. 7, 27) places this oppidum Mediterraneum between Mákna or Maína (Madyan), and Madiáma (Magháir Shu’ayb), the old capital.

Unwilling, however, to risk the safety of the gunboat, where nothing was to be expected beyond what we had seen at El-‘Akabah, I resolved, after waiting half an hour, not to land. The Sambúk received a cargo of quarrymen and sacks, in order to ship at Makná the “argentiferous galena” and other rocks left by Lieutenant Yusuf and M. Philipin upon the shore; and, that done, she was directed to rejoin us at Tírán Island. As long as the norther coursed high, she beat us hollow; in the afternoon, however, when the gale, as usual, abated, she fell off, perhaps purposely, not wishing to pass a night in the open. By sunset her white sail had clean disappeared, having slipped into some snug cove.

The Arabian shore is here of simpler construction than that of Sinai; consequently the chart has had a better chance. The Mukhbir resumed her way southwards in glorious weather, a fresh breath blowing from the north; and fleecy clouds variegating the sky, which was almost as blue as the waves After six miles and a half from El–Hakl and nearly twenty from El–Akabah, she ran to the west of El–Humayzah Island, the “Omasír” of Wellsted (ii. 149), between which and the mainland is a well sheltered berth. It is a great contrast with the “Hill of the Fort,” the Pharaohnic rock, this lump some eighty feet high, built of Secondary gypsum and yellow serpentine like the coast behind it. Gleaming deadly white, pale as a corpse in the gorgeous sunshine, and utterly bare, except for a single shrub, it is based upon a broad, dark-coloured barrier-reef. Local tradition here places the Kasr el-Bedawíyyah, “Palace of the Bedawi Woman (or Girl),” but we saw neither sign of building nor trace of population in the second island which the Gulf el-‘Akabah owns.

We then passed sundry uninteresting features, and night fell upon us off Jebel Tayyib Ism, where familiar scenes began to present themselves. The captain had already reduced speed from four and a half to three knots, his object being to reach the Bugház or “Gulf-mouth” after dawn. But as midnight drew near it became necessary to ride out the furious gale with the gunboat’s head turned northwards. M. Lacaze, a stout-hearted little man, worked half the night at the engine, assisting Mr. Duguid. About four a.m. (February 8th) a lull in the storm allowed her to resume her southerly course; but two hours afterwards, an attempt to make the Makná shore, placing her broadside on to the wind, created much confusion in the crockery and commotion among the men. Always a lively craft, she now showed a Vokes-like agility; for, as is ever the case, she had no ballast, and who would take the trouble to ship a few tons of sand? At such moments the engine was our sole stand-by: had it played one of its usual tricks, the Mukhbir, humanly speaking, was lost; that is, she would have been swamped and water-logged. As for setting sail, it was not till our narrow escape that I could get the canvas out of stowage in the hold.

As the morning wore on the Gulf became even rougher, with its deep and hollow waves; they seemed to come from below, as if bent upon hoisting us in the air. The surface-water shivered; and the upper spray was swept off by the north wind, which waxed colder and more biting as we steered sunwards. The Sinaitic side now showed its long slopes; and at 9.45 a.m. we passed the palms of the Nebíkí anchorage, some six miles from the “Gate.” On the shore of Midian, south of the dark Fahísát Mountains, four several buttresses of gypsum, decreasing in size as they followed one another eastwards, trended diagonally away from the sea. This part of the Arabian coast ends in a thin point: the maps call it “Ras Fartak;” and the pilots “Shaykh Hamí,”138 from a holy man’s tomb to which pious visitation is made. The other land-tongue, adjoining to the south, is known as the Umm Ruús, or “Mother of Heads.” I cannot find out whence Ruppell borrowed his “Omel Hassanie” (Umm el-Hassání?).

As we approached the ugly gape of the formidable Gulf, the waves increased in size, and coursed to all directions, as if distorted by the sunken reefs. The eastern jamb is formed by Tírán Island; the western by the sandy Ras Nasráni, whose glaring tawny slope is dotted with dark basaltic cones, detached and disposed like great ninepins. Beyond this cape the Sinaitic coast, as far as Ras Mohammed, the apex of the triangle, is fretted with little indentations; hence its name, El–Shurúm —“the Creeks.” Near one of these baylets, Wellsted chanced upon “volcanic rocks which are not found in any other part of the peninsula:” this sporadic outbreak gives credibility to the little “Harrah” reported to be found upon the bank of the Midianitish “Wady Sukk.” A hideous, horrid reef, dirty brown and muddy green, with white horses madly charging the black diabolitos, whose ugly heads form chevaux de frise, a stony tongue based upon Tírán Island, and apparently connected from the eastern coast behind, extends its tip to mid-channel. The clear way of the dreaded Bugház is easily found in the daytime: at night it would be almost impossible; and when Midian shall be “rehabilitated,” this reef will require a Pharos.

Adieu, small spitfire of a Gulf! The change from the inside to the outside of the Birkat el-Akabah was magical. We at once glided into summer seas, a mosaic of turquoise and amethyst, fanned by the softest of breezes, the thermometer showing on deck 63 deg F. Perhaps the natural joy at our lucky escape from “making a hole in the water” caused the beauties of the weather and the glories of the scenery to appear doubly charming. Our captain might have saved fifteen miles by taking the short cut north of Tírán Island, under whose shelter we required a day for boiler-tinkering. His pilot, however, would not risk it, and we were compelled, nothing loth and little knowing what we did, to round for a second time the western and southern shores.

The “Hill of Birds,” which some have identified with the classical Island of Isis,139 shows a triune profile, what the Brazilians call a Moela or “gizzard.” Of its three peaks the lowest is the eastern; and the central is the highest, reaching seven hundred, not a thousand, feet. Viewed from within the Gulf, it is a slope of sand which has been blown in sheets up the backing hills. The ground plan, as seen from a balloon, would represent a round head to the north, a thin neck, and a body rudely triangular, the whole measuring a maximum of five miles in length: the sandy northern circlet, connected by the narrowest of isthmuses, sweeping eastward, forms the noted port. The material is the normal Secondary formation, sulphates and carbonates of lime supporting modern corallines and conglomerates of shell. Horizontal lines of harder stone are disposed in huge steps or roads that number three to six on the flank of the western peak: the manganese-coloured strata which appeared at Magháir Shu’ayb, and in the rent bowels of the Rughámat Makná, are conspicuous from the south. The whole has been upheaved by syenite, which, again, has been cut by dykes of plutonic stone, trap and porphyry.

At two p.m. we anchored in a roadstead to the south-east of the island, open to every wind except the norther. I had sent Lieutenant Amir and sundry quarrymen ashore, to inspect what looked like a vein of sulphur. They delayed two hours, instead of a few minutes; the boiler was grumbling for rest, and, not wishing to leave them adrift in an open boat, I imprudently consented to await them in a roadstead where the coast was dangerous, instead of proceeding, as had been intended, to the fine land-locked port, nature-hollowed in the eastern side of the island. The old captain pitifully represented to me that his crew could not row; and this I found to be generally the case: ten miles with the oar would be considered a terrible corvée by the Egyptian man-o’-war’s man.

After blowing off steam, we at once went a-fishing. The only remarkable result was the discovery that this corner of the Red Sea is a breeding-ground for sharks: we had not seen one in the Gulf of El-‘Akabah, where last April they swarmed. Here, however, the school contained all sizes and every age, and they regarded us curiously with their cat’s eyes, large, dark, and yellow-striped down the middle. A small specimen, that had just cut its teeth, was handed over to the cook, despite his loudly expressed disgust. The meat was somewhat mealy and shortfibred; but we pronounced in committee the seadog to be thoroughly eatable when corrected by pepper, garlic, and Worcester sauce. The corallines near the shore were finely developed: each bunch, like a tropical tree, formed a small zoological museum; and they supplied a variety of animalculae, including a tiny shrimp. The evening saw a well-defined halo encircling the moon at a considerable distance; and Mr. Duguid quoted the Scotch saw —

“A far-awa’ bruch’s a near-awa’ blast.”

The blast was nearer than we expected; and, during the rest of the journey, the “bruch” rarely if ever deceived us. Yet the night was not much disturbed by the furious northerly gusts, showing that the storm which we had escaped was raging in the still-vexed ‘Akabah.

Next morning we landed to the south-west of Tírán’s easternmost peak, with a view of prospecting and adding to our collections. On the shore, about three hundred feet from the sea, is a bank of dead shells which are not found on the northern or sandy end of the island: near the water most of them are tenanted by paguri (“hermits”). We caught a number of crabs and small fish, and we carried off a single rock-oyster: as yet we had not found out that the Ustrída — the vulgar form of the Hellenic and classical “Istiridiyá”— abounds in these seas. After thirty minutes’ walk up the southern plane of the prism, composed of gypseous and coralline rocks, veins of white petrosilex resembling broken columels, streaks of magnetic black sand, and scatters of grit and harder stones, we reached the summit of the little ridge. It afforded a fine bird’s-eye view of the splendid middle port; of the false harbour; of the real shoal to its south-east, and of the basin which seems to form Sináfir Island.

We now bent to the south-west. Here the surface is much cut and broken by sandy Wadys, dotted with a few straggling plants: to our right was a Goz or inclined arenaceous bank, where the south wind had sifted the sand from the gravel, disposing the former in the hollows, and the latter on the crest of the ripples. Presently we reached a strange formation which, seen from the east, appears a huge vein, red and rusty, beginning close to the sea, and crossing the body of the island from south to north, while a black cone is so disposed that its southern front simulates a crater. A narrow gorge opens upon a semicircular hollow lined with ochraceous or ferruginous matter; in fact, part of the filon, which sends off fibrils in all directions. The confusion of formations was startling. The floor was here of white petrosilex, there of grey granite, variegated with squares and lozenges, drops and pineapples, red, green, neutral tinted, and disposed by oxides of iron and copper in natural designs that looked artificial. Scattered over the bed of the upper ravine beyond the hollow, were carbonates of lime, ruddy brown and chocolate-hued, here a pudding-stone, there porous like basalt: the calcareous sulphates were both amorphous and crystalline, the latter affected by contact with plutonic matter. The walls of the gash showed a medley of clay breccias, disposed in every imaginable way; and divided by horizontal veins of heat-altered quartz. A few paces further led to the head of the ravine, where a tumble of huge rocks, choking the bed, showed that the rain-torrents must at times be violent.

Meanwhile, Mr. Clarke and Lieutenant Amir had walked to the large central harbour, hoping there to hit upon sweet water and some stray Hutaym fishermen, who would show us what we wanted. They did not find even the vestige of a hut. The two exploring parties saw only three birds in the “Isle of Birds,” and not one of the venomous snakes mentioned at “Tehran” by Wellsted (II. ix.), and described as “measuring about thirty inches, of a slender form, with black and white spots.” We also utterly failed to discover the sulphur which was once abundant and the naphtha which, according to the same authority, was produced here in considerable quantities, and was used “by the Arab mariners to pay their boats.”

The evening was exceptionally fine and calm; and we expected on the morrow (February 11th) a quiet return to El–Muwaylah. Yet a manner of presentiment induced me to summon the engineer and his native assistants, and to promise the latter a liberal “bakhshísh,” if by hard work at the boiler all night, and by rigging up the ship’s pump instead of a donkey-engine, they could steam off at dawn.

Unexpectedly, about four a.m., a violent sandy and misty wester began to blow; and all fancied that we had set sail to the south. Quite the contrary! The engine was still under repair. The Mukhbir was being tossed and rolled by the inshore set, and the sequel is quickest told by an extract from my “Penny”:—

“Written in sight of Death. Wind roaring furiously for victims: waves worse. No chain can stand these sledge-hammer shocks. Chain parts,140 and best sheet-anchor with it. Bower and kedge anchors thrown out and drag. Fast stranding broadside on: sharp coralline reef to leeward, distant 150 yards. Sharks! Packed up necessaries. Sambúk has bolted, and quite right too! Engine starts some ten minutes before the bump. Engineer admirably cool; never left his post for a moment, even to look at the sea. Giorgi (cook) skinning a sheep: he has been wrecked four times, and don’t care. Deck-pump acting poorly. Off in very nick of time, 9.15 a.m. General joy, damped by broadside turned to huge billows. Lashed down boxes of specimens on deck, and wore round safely. Made for Sináfir, followed by waves threatening to poop us. Howling wind tears mist to shreds. Second danger worse than first. Run into green water: fangs of naked rock on both sides within biscuit-throw; stumps show when the waves yawn. Nice position for a band-box of old iron! With much difficulty slipped into blue water. Rounded south end of spit, and turned north into glorious Sináfir Bay. Safe anchorage in eight fathoms. Anchor down at 10:15 a.m., after one hour of cold sweat. Distance seven miles on chart, nine by course: Mukhbir never went so fast; blown like chaff before wind. Faces cleared up. All-round shaking of hands; ‘El–Hamdu li’lláhi,’ followed by a drink. Some wept for joy.”

The engine, or rather the engineer, had saved us: as the saying is, it was touch and go — the nearest thing I ever did see. Had the rotten old boiler struck work for five minutes when we were clearing out of Tírán, or steaming along Sináfir shore, nothing could have kept the ship afloat. Those who behaved best, a fireman, a boy who crept into the combustion-chamber to clear it, and helmsman who, having been at Liverpool, spoke a little English, were duly “bakhshísh’d.” The same reward was given by mistake to the boilermaker, Mohammed Sa’íd Haddád, who had malingered, instead of working, through the night. At Suez he had the impudence to ask me for a Shahádah (“testimony”) to his good character. On the whole the conduct of the crew was worthy of all praise.

In a decently equipped English steamer we should have laughed at this storm, and whistled for more wind; but the condition of the Mukhbir quite changed the case. The masts might have rolled out, or she might have sprung a leak at any moment. And supposing that we had escaped the crash upon the reef, the huge waves, and the schools of sharks, our situation would have been anything but pleasant. The Island of Tírán, as has been shown, is a grisly scrap of desert: it has no sweet water; and its three birds would not long have satisfied thirty hungry men. It is far from the mainland; the storm, which lasted through two days, was too violent for raft or boat to live, and at so early a season native craft are never seen on these seas. Briefly, a week might have elapsed before our friends at El–Muwaylah, who were startled by the wildness of the wind, could have learned our plight, or could have taken measures to relieve the castaways.

Sináfir Island, which we have to thank for giving us hospitality on two occasions, consists mainly of a bay. Viewed by the norma verticalis, it is shaped like an ugly duckling, with an oval (Wellsted says a circular) body of high ground disposed north-east to south-west; and with head and neck drooping westward so as to form a mighty pier or breakwater. The watery plain within is out of all proportion to the amount of terra firma. The body-profile shows straight-backed heaps of gypsum, some two hundred feet high, which become quoin-shaped about the middle of the isle: these hillocks are connected by low strips of sand growing the usual vegetation, especially the pink Statice pruinosa.

Presently our Sambúk, which had also lost chain and anchor before she could run out of the storm, appeared to the north-west of the bay; and a pilgrim-craft, bound for Suez, was our companion in good fortune. A party landed to examine Sináfir, which still shows signs of a junction with Tírán. In days when the Secondary formation was an unbroken street, the whole segment of a circle, extending from Sharm Yáhárr to northern Sinai, must have been dry land; these reefs and islands are now the only remnants. The islet itself seems lately to have been two: the neck and head are one, and the body is another; an evident sea-cliff marks the junction, and what appears like a Wady below it, is the upraised sea-bed of coralline. To the north-west, and outside this strip, lies the little port defended by a network of reefs, in which our Sambúk had first taken refuge. The bay-shore bears traces of more than one wreck; and in the graveyard used by the native sailor, an open awning of flotsam and jetsam looks from afar like a tumble-down log-hut. The number of reefs and shoals shown by stripes of vivid green water promised excellent fishing, and failed to keep its promise.

At length, after a third wasted day, we managed, despite a new hole in the old boiler, to steam out of hospitable Sináfir at 6:30 a.m. on the auspicious Wednesday, February 13. The appearance of the Mukhbir must have been originale enough: her canvas had been fished out of the hold, but in the place of a mainsail she had hoisted a topsail. We passed as close as possible to the islet-line of Secondary formation, beginning with Shu’shu’, the wedge bluff-faced to south: the Palinurus anchored here in a small bight on the north-east side, between two reefs, and narrowly escaped being wrecked by a northerly gale. At 10:45 a.m. we were alongside of Baráhkán, a double feature, lumpy and cliffy, connected by a low sandy isthmus: the eastern flank gives good shelter to native crafts. Lastly came Yubá’, the compound quoin, the loftiest of the group, upwards of 350 feet high, with its low-lying neighbour Wálih. These islets have classical names, as I have before mentioned,141 and appear once to have been inhabited: even at Yubú’, the least likely of all, we heard from several authorities of a deep rock-cut well, covered with a stone which the Arabs could not raise.

And now we were able to cast an intelligent glance in review of the scenes made familiar by our first or northern march. The surpassing purity of the transparent atmosphere, especially at this season, causes the land to look as near at twenty as at ten miles; and thus both distances, showing the horizon with the utmost distinctness, appear equally close to the ship. Beginning towards El-‘Akabah, the Jebel el-Zánah behind Magháir Shu’ayb, and its mighty neighbour, the Jebel el-Lauz, form the horizon of mountains which are not the least amongst the giants. Southwards appear the Jibál el-Tihámah, the noble forms of the seaboard, the parallel chains noting the eastern boundary of Madyan (Proper); while behind them the Jibál el-Shafah, reduced to blue heads and fragments of purple wall, are evidently disposed on a far more distant plane.

As regards the Jibál el-Tihámah, I have registered ad nauseam the names of the eight several blocks into which, between El–Zahd north and El–Shárr south, the curtain, rising from a sea-horizon, seems to divide itself. Every one consulted gave me a new or a different term; and apparently seamen and landsmen have their separate nomenclature. Thus, the pilots call the Fás, Harb and Dibbagh blocks, Jibál el-Musaybah, Tiryam, and Dámah, after the Wadys and main valleys that drain them. The Bedawin, again, will name the whole block after the part most interesting to them: thus the tower-like formation characterizing Jebel Dibbagh was often called “Jebel el-Jimm,” and even this, as will afterwards appear, was not quite exact.142

We fired a gun off El–Muwaylah, where our camp, ranged in long line, looked clean and natty. At five p.m. we were once more at home in our old quarters, the Sharm Yáhárr: the day’s work had numbered fifty direct geographical miles between Sina’fir and El–Muwaylah, with five more to our dock.


Our journey through Madyan Proper (North Midian) had lasted fifty-four days (December 19, 1877, to February 13, 1878). During nearly two months the Expedition had covered only 105 to 107 miles of ground: this, however, does not include the various by-trips made by the members, which would more than double the total; nor the cruise of two hundred miles round the Gulf of ‘Akabah, ending at El–Muwaylah. The total of camels employed varied from 106 to 61, and their hire, including “bakhshísh” and all minor charges, amounted, according to Mr. Clarke, to £316 14s. 3d.

This section of North Midian may be described as essentially a mining country, which, strange to say of a province so near Egypt, has been little worked by the Ancients. The first Khedivial Expedition brought back specimens of free gold found in basalt, apparently eruptive, and in corundophyllite, which the engineer called greenstone porphyry: silver appeared in the red sands, in the chloritic quartz, and in the titaniferous iron of the Jebel el-Abayz; the value being 265 to 300 francs per ton, with traces in the scoriæ. The second Expedition failed to find gold, but brought back argentiferous galena in copper-stained quartz, and possibly in the ochraceous red veins seaming the Secondary gypsum; with silicates and carbonates of copper: select specimens of the latter yielding the enormous proportion of forty per cent. In this northern region the great focus of metallic deposit appears to lie between north lat. 28° 40’ and 27° 50’; that is, from the Jebel Tayyib Ism, north of Makná, to the southern basin which contains the Jebel el-Abyaz or “White Mountain.” Its characteristics are the argentiferous and cupriferous ores, whereas in South Midian gold and silver were worked; and the parallelogram whose limits are assigned above, might be converted into a Northern Grant. Concerning the immense abundance of gypsum, and the sulphur which is suspected to be diffused throughout the Secondary formation, ample details have been given in the preceding pages.

The principal ruins of ancient settlements, and the ateliers, all of them showing vestiges of metal-working, numbered eight: these are, beginning from the south, Tiryam, Sharmá, ‘Aynúnah, the Jebel el-Abyaz, Magháir Shu’ayb, Makná’, Tayyib Ism, and El-‘Akabah. Magháir Shu’ayb, the Madiáma of Ptolemy, is evidently the ancient capital of the district. It was the only place which supplied Midianitish (Nabathæan) coins. Moreover, it yielded graffiti from the catacombs; fragments of bronze which it will be interesting to compare by assay with the metal of the European prehistoric age; and, finally, stone implements, worked as well as rude.

I will end with a few words concerning the future industry of North Midian.

For the success of these mines the greatest economy will be necessary. The poorest ore can be treated on the spot by crushing and washing, where no expenditure of fuel is required. The richer stone, that wants roasting and smelting, would be shipped, when worth the while, from North Midian to Suez: there coal is abundant, and the deserted premises of Dussaud–Bey, belonging to the Egyptian Government, would form an excellent site for a great usine centrale. Finally, the richest specimens — especially those containing, as many do, a medley of metals — would be treated with the least expenditure, and the greatest advantage, at Swansea or in other parts of England, where there are large establishments which make such work their specialty.

The following analyses of the specimens brought home by the first Khedivial Expedition, were made at the Citadel, Cairo, by the well-known chemist, Gastinel–Bey, in conjunction with M. George Marie, the engineer attached to the Expedition:—

Analyses (Mm. Gastinel-bey and George Marie of Cairo) of Rocks

Brought Home by the First Khedivial Expedition.

(All by Voie Sèche.)

Gold (assay on 100 grammes)—

1. In basalt (lava?).

2. In serpentine.
(None in white quartz.)

Silver —

1. In Filon Husayn, 1/1000 = 265 to 300 francs per ton (very

2. In red sands, 1/10,000 (= 20 francs per ton).

3. In scoriæ, traces.
(None in white quartz or in the black sands.)

Copper —

1. In ‘Aynúnah quartz, 4 1/2 per 100.

2. In Filon Husayn, 2 1/2 to 3.40 per cent.
Filon Husayn = Titaniferous iron, 86.50
Silica, 10.10
Copper, 3.40.

3. In chloritic slate, 1.40 per cent.
(Chloritic slate of Makná’ =
Silica, 90.50
Carbonate of lime, 5.60
Oxide of iron, 2.30
Copper, 1.40.)

Sulphur (Jebel el-Kibri’t of El–Muwaylah)—

4 per cent. above. 9 ditto below.

Lead everywhere.

Calamine (zinc) very rich.

138 Not Hámid, as some mispronounce the word.

139 “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” Chap. XII.

140 The chain did not part. The anchor was afterwards fished up by divers from El–Muwaylah, and its shank was found broken clean across like a carrot. Yet there was no sign of a flaw. Mr. Duguid calculated the transverse breaking strain of average anchor-iron (8 1/2 inches x 4 = 22 square inches), at 83 1/10 tons; and the tensile breaking strain at 484 tons, or 22 tons to the square inch; while the stud-length cable of 1 1/8 inch chain, 150 fathoms long, would carry, if proof, 24 tons. Captain Mohammed was persevering enough, after the divers had failed, to recover his chain when on his cruise homewards; and the Rais of the Sambúk was equally lucky.

141 “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” Ch. XII. p. 317.

142 See Chap. X.

Part II.

The March Through Central and Eastern Midian.

Chapter IX.

Work in and Around El–Muwaylah.

We arrived at El–Muwaylah too late to meet the Hajj-caravan, which, home returning, had passed hurriedly through the station on February 9th. This institution has sadly fallen off from its high estate of a quarter of a century ago. Then commanded by an Amir el-Hajj —“Lord of the Pilgrimage”— in the shape of two Pashas (generals), it is now under the direction of a single Bey (colonel). The “True Believers,” once numbering thousands, were reduced in 1877–78 to some eight hundred souls, of whom only eighty appeared at El–Muwaylah; and the peculiar modification of modern days is that the Mahmal is escorted only by paupers. Yet the actual number of the Hájis who stand upon Jebel ‘Arafát, instead of diminishing, has greatly increased. The majority prefer voyaging to travelling; the rich hire state-cabins on board well-appointed “Infidel” steamers, and the poor content themselves with “Faithful” Sambúks. Indeed, it would seem that all the present measures, quarantines of sixty days (!) and detention at wretched Tor, comfortless enough to make the healthiest lose health, are intended to discourage and deter “palmers” from proceeding by land. If this course be continued, a very few years will see the venerable institution represented by only the Mahmal and its guard. The late Sa’id Pasha of Egypt once consigned the memorial litter per steam-frigate to Jeddah: the innovation saved Ghafr (“blackmail”) to the Bedawin; but it was not approved of by the Moslem world.

The Hájis were so poor that they had nothing for barter or for sale. Happily, however, there was a farrier amongst them, and Lieutenant Yusuf took care that our mules were properly shod. M. Philipin had been a maréchal ferrant, but a kick or two had left him no stomach for the craft. Our two fellow-travellers, with the whole camp, had set out from Makná on February 6th, and marched up the great Wady el-Kharaj. Along the eastern flank of the Jebel el-Fahísát, the “Iron Mountain,” they found many outcrops of quartz, a rock which appears sporadically all the way to the northern soufrière. In two places it was green-stained, showing copper, while in another hydrated oxide and chromate of iron (hematite)143 abounded. After a stage of four hours and twenty minutes they left the caravan, struck off to the west, accompanied by Shaykh Furayj, and reached their destination. Here, however, they met with accidents: the mules bolted, followed by the Shaykh’s dromedary, and they were obliged to hurry off for fear of losing the caravan, now well ahead of them. Thus, when I had ordered Lieutenant Yusuf to make a detailed plan of the formation, he had spent exactly ten minutes on the spot, and he appeared not a little proud of his work.

This young officer was not a pleasant companion. He had doubtless received his orders, but he carried them out in a peculiarly disagreeable way, taking notes of all our proceedings under our eyes. Together with Lieutenant Amir, he began to make a collection of geology: both, being utterly innocent of all knowledge, imitated us in picking up specimens; mixed them together without notes or labels; and, on return to Cairo, duly presented them at the Citadel. This was all that was required. The papers were “written to” and reported as follows: “Closer examination has shown that the ‘turquoises’ brought to Cairo are merely malachite (!); and that the existence of any such quantity of gold as would pay for the working is, to say the least of it, very doubtful.”144

The whole camp, indeed, was seized with a mania for collecting: old Háji Wali again gathered bits of quartz, which he once more presented as gold-stone to his friends and acquaintances at Zagázig; and Anton, the dragoman, triumphantly bore away fragments bristling with mica-slate, whose glitter he fondly conceived to be silver.

Lieutenant Yusuf was presently despatched with three soldiers, three quarrymen, Jází, the Arab guide of a former visit, and eight camels, to bring back specimens of the copper silicate to the south of ‘Aynánah, and to make a regular survey of the northern solfatara. He set out early on February 18th, and after twenty-one hours of caravan-marching reached the Jebel el-Fara’. Here the outcrop is bounded north by the Wady el-Fara’, and south by the Wadys el-Maríkhah and Umm Nírán, the latter forming the general recipient of these Nullahs. The Jebel is about 120 feet high, of oval form, stretching 1750 metres from north-north-west to south-south-east. The rich silicate (not carbonate) of copper, which disdains a streak and affects the file, is found, as usual with this ore, only in one part of the valley to the south-west, some thirty-five feet above the sole: it is a pocket, a “circumscribed deposit,” as opposed to a “true vein” or a “vein-fissure.” The adjoining rocks contain carbonates of iron and copper, and the ore-mass is apparently carbonate of lime. This second visit generally confirmed the report of Ahmed Kaptán, except that there were no signs of working, as he had supposed. The travellers passed the whole of February 20th at the diggings, made a plan, and sent back two camel-loads (four sacks) of the gangue, in charge of a soldier, to the Fort of El–Muwaylah.

On the next day the little party made for the Wady ‘Aynúnah, and, striking to the left of the straight line, crossed the maritime country, here a mass of Wadys, including our old friend the ‘Afál. This highway to the northern Hismá falls, I have said, into the Mínat el-‘Ayánát, a portlet useful to Sambúks: its sickle-shaped natural breakwater, curving from west to south, resembles that of Sinaitic Marsá el-Ginái, and those which are so common in Western Iceland. On February 22nd, a very devious path, narrow and rocky, lasting for one hour, led them, about noon, to the northern Jebel el-Kibrít. The distance from El–Muwaylah is about sixty-six miles; and the country west of a line drawn from ‘Aynúnah to Makná was, before this march, utterly unknown to us, consequently to all the civilized world.

Lieutenant Yusuf’s two journals checking each other, his plan and his specimens enable me to describe the northern deposit with more or less accuracy. The Sulphur-hill is a long oval of four hundred metres (east-west), by a maximum of one hundred and eighty (north-south); but it extends branches in all directions: the mineral was also found in a rounded piton, a knob on the Wady Musayr, attached to the north-eastern side. The flattened dome is from fifty to sixty feet high, and the piton one hundred and forty. The metal underlying a dark crust, some twelve to fifteen centimetres thick, appears in regular crystals and amorphous fragments of pure brimstone pitting the chalky sulphate of lime: blasting was not required; the soft material yielded readily to the pick. This gypseous or Secondary formation was found to extend, not only over the adjacent hills, but everywhere along the road to Makná. The important point which now remains to be determined is, I repeat, whether sulphur-veins can be found diffused throughout these non-plutonic rocks.

Lieutenant Yusuf fixed his position by climbing the adjacent hills, whence Sina’fir bore 190°, and Shu’shu’ 150° (both magnetic); while greater elevations to the west shut out the view of lofty Ti’ra’n, and even of the Sinaitic range. The nearest water in the Wady el-Nakhil to the north-east was reported to be a two hours’ march with loaded camels (= five miles) Several little ports, quite unknown to the Hydrographic Chart, were visited. These are, beginning from the north, the Mínat Hamdán, lying between Makná and Dabbah; a refuge for Sambúks defended, like that of old “Madyan,” by rising ground to the north. About three miles and a quarter further south is the Sharm Dabbah, the “Sherm Dhaba, good anchorage” of the Chart: this mass of reefs and shoals may have been one of the “excellent harbours” mentioned by Procopius. It receives the Wady Sha’b el-Gánn (Jánn), “the Watercourse of the Demons’ (Ja’nn) Ravine,” flowing from a haunted hill of red stone, near which no Arab dares to sleep. From that point the travellers struck nine miles and a half to south-east of Ghubbat Suwayhil: this roadstead, used only by native craft, lies eastward of the long point forming the Arabian staple of the Gulf el-‘Akabah’s gate, where the coast-line of Midian bends at a right angle towards the rising sun. Adjoining it to the east, and separated by a long thin spit, is the Ghubbat el-Wagab (Wajb), the mouth of the watercourse similarly named: it is also known to the Katírah or “smaller vessel,” and about a mile up its bed, which comes from the north-east, there is a well. According to Jázi, the guide, this Ghubbah (“gulf”), distant only four to five hours of slow marching from the Sulphur-hill, will be the properest place for shipping produce. In another eastern feature, the Wady Giyál (Jiyál), distant some eleven miles and a half from ‘Aynúnah and ending in a kind of sink, there is a fine growth of palms, about a quarter of a mile long, and a supply of “wild” (brackish) water in wells and rain-pools. These uninteresting details will become valuable when the sulphur-mines of North Midian are ripe for working.

From the Ghubbat el-Wagab, the path, easy travelling over flat ground, strikes to the north-east; and, fourteen miles and a half beyond, joins the ‘Aynúnah highway. On February 26th, at the end of nine days’ work, Lieutenant Yusuf returned to El–Muwaylah with two sacks of sulphur-bearing chalk which justified his previous report. As will appear, the Expedition was still travelling through the interior: after a halt for rest at head-quarters, he rejoined us on our northward route from Zibá, and I again found useful occupation for his energies.

Upon our happy return “home,” i.e. Sharm Yáhárr, preparations for a march upon the Hismá were at once begun. My heart was firmly fixed upon this project, hoping to find an “unworked California” to the east of the Harrah volcanoes; but the Shaykhs and camel-men, who did not like the prospect of a rough reception by the Ma’ázah bandits, threw sundry small stumbling-blocks in our path. It was evidently useless to notice them so far from the spot; they would develop themselves only too well as we approached the tribal frontier. While these obstacles were being cleared away, we carefully examined the little dock that had so often given us shelter in the hour of need; and I set a small party to work at the central Jebel el-Kibri’t, which had been explored by the first Expedition.

Sharm Yáhárr is the usual distorted T, a long channel heading in a shorter cross-piece: it is formed by the confluence of four valleys, all composed of corallines and conglomerates of new sandstone. Those to the north and the north-west show distinct signs of upheaval; the two eastern features, known as the Wady el-Hárr (“the Hot Watercourse”), of which Yáhárr appears to be a corruption, bear marks of man’s hand. The dock is divided into an outer and inner “port” by a projecting northern point which is not sufficiently marked in the Chart (enlarged plan). At this place, where the tide rises a full metre, the crew of the Mukhbir had built a jetty of rough boulders, by way of passe-temps and to prevent wading. Native craft lie inside, opposite the ruins of a stone house: the existence of a former population is shown by the many graves on the upper plateau. In the northern Wady el-Hárr, also, we picked up specimens of obsidian, oligistic iron, and admirably treated modern (?) slags showing copper and iron; evidently some Gypsy-like atelier must once have worked upon the Wady Yáhárr. The obsidian also has apparently been subjected to the artificial fire; and a splinter of it contains a paillette of free copper.

What concerned us most, however, was the discovery of oysters, which, adhering to the reefs projected under water from the rocky northern cliff, formed a live conglomerate; and from the present time forwards we found the succulent molluscs in almost every bay. Those to the south, where the shallows overlie sand and mud, are not so good. At this season the Ustrída is flat, fleshy, and full sized; the shell has a purple border, and the hinge muscle of the savage, far stronger than that of the civilized animal, together with its exceeding irregularity of shape, giving no purchase to the knife, makes oyster-opening a sore trouble. We tried fire, but the thick-skinned things resisted it for a long time; and, when they did gape, the liquor had disappeared, thereby spoiling the flavour. The “beard” was neither black, like that of the Irish, nor colourless, as in the English oyster. The Bedawin, who ignore the delicacy, could not answer any questions about the “spatting season”— probably it is earlier than ours, which extends through June; whether also a close time is required, as in England to August 4th, we could not guess. The young probably find a natural “culch” in the many shells, cockle and others, that strew the rock, sand, and clay.

Knowing that my gallant friend, Admiral McKillop (Pasha) of Alexandria, takes great interest in “ostreoculture,” I sent him from Suez a barrel of the best Midianites The water had escaped by the carelessness of the magazine-man: enough, however, remained alive to be thrown into the harbour Eunostos, where they will, I hope, become the parents of a fine large progeny of “natives.” Similarly we had laid in a store of forty-two langoustes (crayfish) for presentation at Court, and to gladden the hearts of Cairéne friends: our Greeks placed the tubs in the sun and so close to the funnel, that, after about three hours, all the fine collection perished ignobly.

We will now proceed to the central Jebel el-Kibri’t; a superficial examination of which by the first Expedition145 proved that the upper rock yielded four, and the lower nine, per cent. of tolerably pure brimstone. The shortest cut from the dock-harbour lies up the southern Wady Ha’rr, with its strangely weathered sandstone rocks, soft modern grits that look worm-eaten. Amongst them is a ledge-like block with undermined base projecting from the left bank: both the upper and the lower parts are scattered over with Wasm, or Arab tribal marks. On our return from El–Wijh we found this sandstone tongue broken in two: the massive root remained in situ, but the terminal half had fallen on the ground. This was probably the work of an earthquake which we felt at Sharm Dumayghah on March 22nd.146 The track then strikes the modern Hajj-road, which runs west of and close to the Sulphur-hill; the line is a succession of watercourses,147 and in Wady Khirgah we found blocks of the hydrous silicate, corundophyllite which may be Serpentine: it is composed of a multitude of elements, especially pyrites. After an hour and a quarter’s sharp walking, we hit the broad Wady el-Kibrít, which rounds its Jebel to the south-east, and which feeds the Wady el-Jibbah, itself a feeder of the Sharm Jibbah. The latter, which gave us shelter in the corvette Sinnár (Captain Ali Bey), is a long blue line of water bounding the western base of the Sulphur-hill.

This central Tuwayyil el-Kibrít is an isolated knob, rising abruptly from Wady-ground; measuring some 240 feet in height, and about 880 metres in diameter, not including its tail of four vertebræ which sets off from north-west to south-east. Viewed from the north it is, as the Egyptian officers remarked, a regular Haram (“pyramid”), with a kidney-formed capping of precipitous rock. Drinkable water, like that of the Wady el-Ghál, is said to be found in the Wady el-Kibrít to the north-east; and the country is everywhere tolerably wooded. The Bedawin brought us small specimens of rock-crystal and fragments of Negro-quartz, apparently rich in metal, from a neighbouring “Maru.” They placed it amongst the hill-masses to the east and south; and we afterwards found it for ourselves.148

Our middle Sulphur-hill differs essentially from the other two deposits, the northern near Makná, and the southern near El–Wijh, in being plutonic and not sedimentary. One would almost say that it smokes, and the heat-altered condition of the granite, the greenstone, and other rocks, looking as if fresh from a fire, suggests that it may be one of the igneous veins, thrown westward by the great volcanic region, El–Harrah. In parts it is a conglomerate, where a quantity of quartz takes the place of chalk and gypsum. Other deposits are iron-stained and have the appearance of the decomposed iron pyrites which abounds in this neighbourhood. Usually the yield is the normal brimstone-yellow, yet some of the beds are deep red, as if coloured by ochre or oxide of iron: this variety is very common in the solfataras of Iceland; and I have heard of it in the Jebel Mokattam, near Cairo. The colour is probably due to molecular changes, and possibly shows greater age than the yellow.

M. Philipin was directed to take charge of Sergeant Mabrúk, the nine quarrymen, and the Bedawi owners of two camels to carry his boring-irons, forge, and water from El–Muwaylah. I advised him to dig at least forty feet down all round the pyramid, wherever surface-indications attracted notice: old experience had taught me that such depth is necessary before one can expect to find brimstone beds like those of Sicily. The borings brought up sulphur from fourteen metres; beyond these, six were pierced, but they yielded nothing. In and around the pyramid M. Philipin sank five pits; the northernmost shaft, half-way up the hill, gave crystals of the purest sulphur.

If the depth of the deposit be not great, the surface extent is. The pyramid evidently forms the apex of a large vein which strikes north-south. The field consists of this cone with its dependencies, especially the yellow cliffs to the north and the south, facing, in the latter direction, a large plain cut by the Wady el-Kibrít. Moreover, a vein of the red variety, about three kilometres long by twenty-five to thirty metres broad, lies to the south-east near a gypsum hill: the latter also yields the crystallized salt which so often accompanies sulphur, and heaps of gigantic half-fossilized oyster-shells are strewed about it.

M. Philipin here remained sixteen days (February 18 — March 5), during our absence in the East Country; on return we found our good blacksmith much changed for the worse. Whilst in hard work he had been half-starved, the Jeráfín Bedawin of the neighbourhood having disappeared with their flocks; he had been terribly worried by the cameleers, and he had been at perpetual feud with the miserable quarrymen. I never saw a man less fitted to deal with (two-legged) “natives.” The latter instinctively divined that he would rather work himself than force others to work; and they acted accordingly.

The Expedition was thus divided into four, three working parties and one of idlers. Anton and Petros were left behind to do nothing as magazine-men.

Lieutenant Darwaysh (the linesman) who was too weak to ride, and Sub–Lieutenant Mohammed (the miner) who was too old to travel, had charge of the sick; both found the far niente equally sweet. On February 17th I again bade adieu to the gunboat Mukhbir, and marched with the largest party upon our camp at El–Muwaylah, distant about six miles (=one hour and forty-five minutes). The path from Sharm Yáhárr crosses the hard sands of the maritime plain, metalled with the natural macadam of the Desert. The stone is mostly dark silex, the “hen’s liver” of the Brazil, and its surface is kept finely polished, and free from “patina,” by the friction of the dust-laden winds. The line is deeply gashed by short, broad gullies: the Hajj-road, running further east, heads these ugly Nullahs. The third and largest channel is Wady Surr, the great valley of El–Muwaylah, which may be regarded as the southern frontier of “Madyan” (Proper): we shall trace it to its head in the Hismá.

I had left the camp-pitching at El–Muwaylah to the Egyptian officers, who naturally chose the site nearest the two northern wells; a wave of ground hot by day, cold at night, windy and dusty at all times; moreover, the water was near enough to be horribly fouled. No wonder that in such a place many of the men fell ill, and that one subsequently died — our only loss during the four months’ march.

On February 18th we proceeded, under the misguidance of a Básh-Buzúk of the fort, Ahmed Sálih el-Mal’ún, to inspect a neighbouring ruin called Abá Hawáwít —“the Father of (Dwelling-) Walls.” Wallin (p. 30) declares that, “finding no mention made of Muweilih in Arab manuscripts, nor traces or traditions among the existing generation in the land, pointing to a high antiquity,” he is inclined to consider it a town of modern origin, in fact the growth of the Egyptian pilgrimage. His error is excusable. He was a passing traveller; and I well remember that for a whole year the true name of a hill immediately behind our house at Damascus remained unknown to me: we had called it after our own fashion, and the term had at once been adopted by all our over-polite native friends. Indeed, this is one of the serious difficulties to be encountered, throughout the East, by the scrupulous traveller whose greatest fear is that of misleading others. The Expedition had paid four several visits to El–Muwaylah, and had never heard a word about ruins, when I happened to read out before the Shaykhs assembled at Magháir Shu’ayb a passage from El–Makrízi treating of the destroyed cities of Madyan. They at once mentioned half a dozen names lying within short distances of the “little salt.” Amongst them was Abú Hawáwít, literally meaning “tenement walls,” but here applied, in the short form Hawáwít, to ruins in general.

Had “Wali Háji,” as Wallin was called by the Bedawin, looked only ten feet beyond the north-eastern tower of the fort, near the ruins of a modern Mastabah (“masonry bench”), he would have found long-forgotten vestiges of ovens and slags containing copper and iron. The same will prove to be the case about the inland defence of El–Wijh; in fact, all these works seem for obvious reasons to have been built upon sites that have been utilized long before their modern day. El–Muwaylah was probably a more important place than it is at present, when the reef-harbour, which now admits native craft only by a gap to the south-west, had not been choked by shoals. The sandy soil wants only water to produce a luxuriant perennial growth, and every garden can have its well. But more life is wanting; a man heaps up a thorn-hedge, or builds a swish-wall of the brick-clay underlying the Wady, and he forgets only to lay out the field within. Local history does not, it is true, extend beyond two hundred years or so, the probable date of Shaykh Abdullah’s venerated sepulchre, a truncated parallelogram of cut coralline on the Wady Sughayyir to the north of the settlement. Yet this “little salt” is too remarkable a site to have remained unoccupied. Possibly it is the “[Greek],” the Horse Village (and fort?), which Ptolemy (vi. II) places in north lat. 26° 40’ (true 27° 40’), whilst his “[Greek]” would be the glorious Shárr, correctly consigned to north lat. 27° 20’. This argues an error of nearly sixty miles by the geographer or his copyists. But Chapter XII. will attempt to show that the latitude of [Greek], the modern Shuwák, is also one degree too low. So on the East African coast Ptolemy places his Aromata Promontorium, which can only be “Guardafui,” between north lat. 5° and 7°, whereas it lies in north lat. 11° 41’ 4”.

The Awwal Hawáwít, or first ruins, begin on the right bank of the Surr after one mile and three quarters from camp; and bear north-east (55° mag.) from the minaret of El–Muwaylah Fort. The position is a sandy basin, containing old Bedawi graves, bounded by a low ridge forming a boulder-clad buttress to the Wady, while the circuit of the two may be a mile and a half. A crumbling modern tower, crowning the right bank, and two Mahrákah (“rub-stones”) were the principal remains. The situation must have been well chosen in the days when the heights were wooded, and the Wady was a river. We afterwards mapped the body of the place, lying about three miles from the fort, showing the Yubú’ bank to north-west (298° mag.); and nearly due west (260° mag.) El–Muwaylah’s only house, the Sayyid’s. The site is a holm or island in the Wady Surr, which here runs east-west, and splits: the main line is the southern, and a small branch, a mere gully, occupies the northern bed-side.

The chief ruin is an oblong of twenty metres by sixteen, the short ends facing 195° (mag.); the whole built of huge pebbles. The interior is composed of one large room to the north, with sundry smaller divisions to the south, east, and west. Defence was secured by a wall, distant 142 metres, thrown across the whole eastern part of the islet: outside it are three large pits, evidently the site of cisterns. The people also told us of a well, the Bir el-Ashgham, which has long been mysteriously hidden. Immense labour has also been expended in revetting the northern and southern banks, both of the islet and the smaller branch-bed, for many hundreds of yards with round and water-rolled boulders, even on a larger scale than at Magháir Shu’ayb. What all this work meant we were unable to divine. Perhaps it belonged to the days when the seaboard of Midian was agricultural; and it was intended as a protection against the two torrents, the Wadys el-Zila’ and Abú Zabah, which here fall into the northern bank.

The 18th of February also made itself memorable to the second Expedition. M. Marie was strolling near the old furnaces to the north-east of the fort where, in 1877, he had picked up an auriferous specimen, unfortunately lost before it reached Cairo. Here he again found a fragment of serpentine, broken and water-rolled into the semblance of half a globe; it showed crust and stains of iron, filets of white quartz, and a curve (~) of bright yellow dots, disposed like the chainlet of an aneroid. Thereupon, we gravely debated whether these were the remains of a vein, or had been brought to the surface by the rubbing and polishing of the stone in water.

I could not but remark that the interior, which appeared pyritiferous, did not show the slightest trace of precious metal. Still the discovery gave fresh courage to all our people. The trophy was shown to every Bedawi, far and near, with the promise of a large reward (fifty dollars) to the lucky wight who could lead us to the rock in situ. The general voice declared that the “gold-stone” was the produce of Jebel Malayh (Malíh): we afterwards ascertained by marching up the Wady Surr that it was not. In fact, the whole neighbourhood was thoroughly well scoured; but the results were nil. In due course of time the tarnishing and the disappearance of the metal reduced my scepticism to a certainty: the “gold dots” were the trace of some pilgrim or soldier’s copper-nailed boot. It was the first time that this ludicrous mistake arose, but not the last — our native friends were ever falling into the same trap.

Amongst the minor industries of the Fort el-Muwaylah must be reckoned selling gazelles. The Bedawin bring them in, and so succeed in taming the timid things that they will follow their owner like dogs, and amuse themselves with hopping upon his shoulders. When thus trained, “Ariel” is supposed to be worth half a napoleon. The wild ones may be bought at almost every fort, as Zibá or El–Wijh.

143 Lieutenant–Colonel Bolton kindly compared the specimens with those in his cabinet. The first, which was accompanied by quartz, resembled the produce of Orenburg. A Peruvian mine-proprietor had pronounced it to be “Rosicler” silver. The magnetic sand bore a tantalizing resemblance to the highly auriferous black sand of Ekaterinburg.

144 Correspondence of the Sheffield Telegraph (May 18), copied into the Globe of May 25, etc., etc., etc.

145 “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” Chap. XI. It was then visited from its creek, Sharm Jibbah.

146 Chap. XIV.

147 A water-rolled fragment of this rock is called Korundogeschieb by Dr. L. Karl Moser, Professor of Natural History at the Gymnasium of Trieste, who kindly examined my little private collection of “show things.”

148 Chap. XII.

Chapter X.

Through East Midian to the Hismá.

The Land of Midian is by no means one of the late Prince Metternich’s “geographical expressions.” The present tenants of the soil give a precise and practical definition of its limits. Their Arz Madyan extends from El-‘Akabah north (north lat. 29° 28’) to El–Muwaylah with its Wady, El–Surr (north lat. 27° 40’). It has thus a total latitudinal length of 108 direct geographical miles.149 South of this line, the seaboard of North–Western Arabia, as far as El–Hejaz, has no generic name. The Bedawin are contented with such vague terms, derived from some striking feature, as “the Lands of Zibá,” “of Wady Salmá,” “of Wady Dámah,” “of El–Wijh,” to denote the tract lying between the parallels of El–Muwaylah and of Wady Hamz ([Arabic]) in north lat. 25° 55’ 15. Thus the north-south length of the southern moiety would be 105 direct geographical miles, or a little less than the northern; and the grand total would be 213 miles.

The breadth of this Egyptian province is determined by the distance from the sea to the maritime mountains. In Madyan Proper, or North Midian, the extremes would be twenty-four and thirty-five miles. For the southern half these figures may be doubled. Here, again, the Bedawin are definitive as regards limits. All the Tihámah or “lowlands” and their ranges belong to Egypt; east of it the Daulat Shám, or Government of Syria, claims possession.

I have taken the liberty of calling the whole tract Midian; the section above El–Muwaylah (Madyan Proper) I would term “North Midian,” and that below it “South Midian.” In the days of the ancient Midianites the frontiers were so elastic that, at times, but never for a continuity, they embraced Sinai, and were pushed forward even into Central Palestine. Moreover, I would prolong the limits eastward as far as the Damascus–Medínah road. This would be politically and ethnologically correct. With the exception of the Ma’ázah country, the whole belongs to Egypt; and all the tribes, formerly Nabathæan, are now more or less Egypto–Arab, never questioning the rights of his Highness the Viceroy, who garrisons the seaboard forts. Of the other points, historical and geographical, I am not so sure. My learned friend, Aloys Sprenger, remarks: “Let me observe that your extending the name ‘Midian’ over the whole country, as far south as the dominions of the Porte, appears to me an innovation by which the identity of the race along the shore of the Gulf of ‘Akabah, coast down to Wajh and Hawrá, is prejudged. Would it not be better to leave Midian where it always has been, and to consider Badá150 the centre of Thamûditis, as it was at the time of Pliny and Ptolemy, and as it continued to be until the Balee (Baliyy), and other Qodhâ’ (Kudá’) tribes, came from Southern Arabia, and exterminated the Thamûdites?” This is, doubtless, a valid objection: its only weak point is that it goes too far back. We cannot be Conservatives in geography and ethnology; nor can we attach much importance, in the nineteenth century, to a race, the Beni Tamúd, which had wholly disappeared before the seventh. On the whole, it still appears to me that by adopting my innovation we gain more than we lose; but the question must be left for others to decide.

In our days, two great Sultánis or “highways” bound Madyan the Less and Midian the Greater. The western, followed by the Hajj el-Misri (Egyptian caravan), dates from the age of Sultán Selim Khán the Conqueror; who, before making over the province to the later Mamlúk Beys, levelled rocks, cut through ridges, dug wells, laid out the track, and defended the line by forts. Before that time the road ran, for convenience of water, to the east or inland: it was, in fact, the old Nabathaean highway which, according to Strabo, connected Leukè Kóme with the western capital, Petra. Further east, and far beyond the double chain of maritime mountains, is the highway followed by the Hajj el-Shámi (Syrian or Damascus caravan), which sets out from Constantinople, musters at Damascus, and represents the Sultan. On both these main lines water is procurable at almost every station; and to them military expeditions are perforce limited. The parallelogram between the two, varying in breadth, according to Wallin, from 90 to 120 miles (direct and geographical), is irregularly supplied in places with springs, wells, and rain-pits, which can always be filled up or salted by the Bedawin.

The main body of the Expedition, Mr. Clarke, MM. Marie and Lacaze, Ahmed Kaptán, and Lieutenant Amir, set out from El–Muwaylah at 6.30 a.m. (February 19th), escorted by the Sayyid and the three salaried Shaykhs, including our friend Furayj. The Remingtons numbered ten, and there were also ten picks, of whom five waited upon the mules; of the sixty-one camels six were dromedaries, and as the road grew lighter our beasts of burden increased, somehow or other, to sixty-four. The caravan now loads in twenty minutes instead of five hours; and when politiké, or fear of danger, does not delay us, we start in a quarter of an hour after the last bugle-sound. This operation is under charge of Lieutenant Amir, who does his best to introduce Dar–Forian discipline: the camels being first charged with the Finátís (“metal water-barrels”), then with the boxes, and lastly with the tents.

After passing the ruins of Abú Hawáwit, we began at 9:15 a.m. to exchange the broad Wady Surr of the flat seaboard, with its tall banks of stiff drab clay, for a gorge walled with old conglomerates, and threading the ruddy and dark-green foot-hills of the main Ghát. As in the Wady el-Maka’dah and other “winter-brooks,” the red porphyritic trap, heat-altered argil, easily distinguished by its fracture from the syenites of the same hue, appeared to be iron-clad, coated with a thin crust of shiny black or brown peroxide (?). This peculiarity was noticed by Tuckey in the Congo, by Humboldt in the Orinoco, and by myself in the São Francisco river; I also saw it upon the sandstones of the wild mountains east of Jerusalem, where, as here, air and not water must affect the oxide of iron. In both cases, however, the cause would be the same, and the polish would be a burnishing of Nature on a grand scale.

After six very slow miles we halted, for rest and refection, at a thread of water in the section of the Surr which receives the Wady el-Najil. The sides were crowded with sheep and goats, the latter, as in the Syrian lowlands, almost invariably black; and the adjoining rocks had peculiar attractions for hares, hawks, and partridge. In these upland regions water is almost everywhere, and generally it is drinkable; hence the Bedawin naturally prefer them to the coast. An umbrella-shaped thorn-tree, actually growing on a hill-top, and defined by the sky-line, excited our wonder and admiration; for here, as in Pontus —

“Rara, nec hæc felix, in apertis eminet arvis
Arbor, et in terra est altera forma maris.”

Indeed, throughout our journey this spectacle always retained its charms, aiding Fancy to restore the barrens to what they had been in the prosperous days of yore.

The Wady Surr now began to widen out, and to become more riant, whilst porphyry was almost the only visible rock. After a total of ten “dawdling” miles, marching almost due east, we found our tents pitched in a broad and quasi-circular basin, called El–Safh (“the level ground of”) Jebel Malíh (“Mount Pleasant”?), which the broad-speaking Bedawin lengthen to Malayh. Our camel-men had halted exactly between two waters, and equally distant from both, so as to force upon us the hire of extra animals. We did not grumble, however, as we were anxious to inspect the Afrán (“furnaces”) said to be found upon the upper heights of the Shárr — of these apocryphal features more hereafter. Fresh difficulties! The Jeráfín-Huwaytát tribe, that owns the country south of the Surr, could not be reached under a whole day of dromedary-riding: in reality they were camped a few furlongs off, but anything to gain £8 per diem for doing nothing! Two Bedawi shepherd-lads promised to act guides next morning, and duly failed to appear, or, more probably, were forbidden to appear. They had also romanced about ruins, fountains, palms, and rushes in the Wady el-Kusayb, the south-eastern influent. At night Ahmed el-‘Ukbi, surnamed Abú Khartúm, arrived in camp: he had travelled more than once to Tabúk, carrying grain, and though he had failed as a merchant, he retained his reputation as a guide. As regards the furnaces, he also, like Furayj, could speak only from hearsay. Opinions were divided in camp: I saw clearly that a stand was being made to delay us for four or five days; and, despite grumbling, I resolved upon deferring the visit till our return from the interior.

The first march had led us eastward, instead of north-eastward, in order to inspect the Wady Surr. From the seaboard, this line, which drains the northern flank of the Shárr Mountains, appears the directest road into the interior. We shall presently see, however, why the devious northern way of the Wady Sadr has become the main commercial route connecting El–Muwaylah with Tabúk.151 During the evening we walked up the Wady Surr, finding, in its precipitous walls, immense veins of serpentine and porphyritic greenstone, but not a speck of gold. The upper part of the Fiumara also showed abundant scatters of water-rolled stones, serpentines, and hard felspars, whose dove-coloured surface was streaked with fibrils and at times with regular veins of silvery lustre, as if brought out by friction of the surface. I offered a considerable sum to a Jeráfín Bedawi if he would show the rock in situ; he was evidently ignorant of it, but, like others, he referred us to Jebel Malíh.

The whole of the next day (February 20th) was spent in northing. Leaving the noisy braying caravan to march straight on its destination, we set out (6.15 a.m.) up the Wady Guwaymarah, guided by Hasan el-‘Ukbí, who declared that he well knew the sites of the ruined settlements El–Khulasah and El–Zibayyib. After walking half an hour we turned eastward into a feeder of the Surr, the Wady el-Khulasah, whose aspect charmed me: this drain of the inner Jedayl block was the replica of a Fiumara in Somali-land, a broad tree-dotted flat of golden sand, bordered on either side by an emerald avenue of dense Mimosas, forming line under the green-stone hills to the right, and the red-stone heights to the left. The interior, we again remarked, is evidently more rained upon, and therefore less sterile and desolate, than the coast and the sub-maritime regions; and here one can well imagine large towns being built. At last, after walking about an hour and a half (= four miles and a half) towards the Shárr, with our backs turned upon our goal, the rat-faced little intriguer, Hasan, declared that he knew nothing about El–Khulasah, but that Zibayyib lay there! pointing to a bright-red cliffy peak, “Abá‘l-bárid,” on the left bank of the Wady, and to others whose heads were blue enough and low enough to argue considerable distance. He had intended his cousin Gabr to be the real guide, and to take to himself all the credit; but I had sent off the parlous “judge” in another direction.

Mr. Clarke, whose cantering mule had no objection to leave its fellows, rode off with the recreant Hasan, whilst we awaited his return under a tree.

Instead of hugging Abá‘l-bárid, behind which a watercourse would have taken him straight to his destination, he struck away from the Wady el-Khulasah. Then crossing on foot, and hauling his animal over, a rough divide, he fell, after six miles instead of two, into the upper course of the Wady Surr, which he reported to be choked with stones, and refusing passage to loaded camels — as will afterwards appear, the reverse is the case. The ruins of El–Zibayyib lie at a junction of three, or rather four, watercourses. The eastern is the Surr, here about five hundred yards broad, forming a bulge in the bed, and then bending abruptly to the south; a short line from the south-west, the Wady Zibayyib, drains the Aba’‘l-bárid peak; and the northernmost is the Wady el-Safrá,152 upon which the old place stands à cheval. The western part is the larger and the more ruinous. The thin line, three hundred yards long by thirty broad, never shows more than two tenements deep, owing to the hill that rises behind it: here the only furnace was found. The eastern block measures one hundred yards by forty; both are razed to their basements, resembling the miners’ settlement on the Sharmá cliff. They attract attention only by their material, red boulders being used instead of the green porphyries of the hills; and the now desolate spot shows no signs of water or of palm-groves.

Mr. Clarke rejoined us after a couple of hours, having lost the dog ‘Brahim: under a sudden change of diet it had become too confident of its strength, and thus it is that dogs and men come to grief. We retraced our steps down the Wady el-Khulasah, whose Jebel is the crupper of the little block Umm Jedayl. The lower valley shows a few broken walls, old Arab graves, and other signs of ancient habitation; but I am convinced that we missed the ruins which lay somewhere in the neighbourhood. One Sulaymán, a Bedawi of the Selálimah-Huwaytát tribe, who had been rascalized by residence at El–Muwaylah, was hunted up by the energetic Sayyid; hoping, as usual, that no action would be taken upon mere words, he declared that El–Khulasah stood on the top of a trap-lump. We halted to inspect it, and Lieutenant Amir rode the Shaytánah, his vicious little she-mule, up and down steeps fit only for a goat. Again all was in vain.

We then travelled over granite gravel along the western foot-hills of Umm Jedayl, in which a human figure or statue had been reported to me: now, however, it became a Sarbút, or “upright stone.” Along the flanks of the chief outlier, the Jebel el-Ramzah, distinguished by its red crest and veins, the slope was one strew of quartz, whole and broken; like that which we had seen to the north, and which we were to see on our southern journey. Despising the “rotten water” offered in two places by the Umm Jedayl, we pitched camp on the fine gravel of the Sayl Wady el-Jimm. Here I heard for the first time, after sighting it for many weeks, that the latter is the name, not of a mountain,153 but of a Sha’b or “gully” in the Jebel Dibbagh where waters “meet.” The Wady Kh’shabriyyah, separating the Umm Jedayl from its northern neighbour, the Dibbagh, looks like a highway; but all declare that it is closed to camels by Wa’r, or “stony ground.” Of its ruins more when we travel to the Shárr. This day’s march of four hours (= ten miles and a half) had been a series of zigzags — north, north-east, west, and again north.

After a cool, pleasant night we set out at 6.30 a.m. (February 21st), across the broad Sayl, towards a bay in the mountains bearing north-north-west, the mouth of the Wady Zennárah. Entering the block, we made two short cuts to save great bends in the bed. The first was the Sha’b el-Liwéwi’, the Weiwî of Wallin (p. 304)— wild riding enough; the path often winding almost due east, when the general direction was north-north-east. We saw, for the first time, pure greenish-yellow chlorite outcropping from the granite. The animals were apparently hibernating, and plants were rare; we remarked chiefly the sorrel and the blue thistle, or rather wild artichoke, the Shauk el-Jemel, a thorn loved by camels (Blepharis edulis), which recalled to mind the highlands of Syria. The second short-cut, the Wady el-Ga’agah, alias Sawáwín, was the worse of the two: the deep drops and narrow gutters in the quartz-veined granite induced even the Shaykhs to dismount before attacking the descents. This is rarely done when ascending, for their beasts climb like Iceland ponies. One of M. Lacaze’s most effective croquis is that showing monture and man disappearing in the black depths of a crevice. Some of the hill-crests were weathered with forms resembling the artificial. At the mid-day halting-ground we saw a stone-mother nursing a rock-child, which might still be utilized in lands where “thaumaturgy” is not yet obsolete.

Our course thence lay eastward up the easy bed of the Fiumara, an eastern section of an old friend, the Wady Tiryam; it now takes the well-known name “Wady Sadr,” and we shall follow it to its head in the Hismá. The scene is rocky enough for Scotland or Scandinavia, with its huge walls bristling in broken rocks and blocks, its blue slides, and its polished sheets of dry watercourse which, from afar, flash in the sun like living cataracts. On the northern or right bank rises the mighty Harb, whose dome, single when seen from the west, here becomes a Tridactylon, splitting into three several heads. Facing it, the northernmost end of the Dibbagh range forms a truncated tower, conspicuous far out at sea: having no name, it was called by us Burj Jebel Dibbagh. A little further to the east it will prove to be the monstrous pommel of a dwarf saddleback, everywhere a favourite shape with the granite outcrop.

MM. Clarke and Lacaze, who had never before seen anything higher that the hillocks of the Isle of Wight or the Buttes de Montmartre were hot upon ascending the almost perpendicular sides of the Burj, relying upon the parallel and horizontal fissures in the face, which were at least ten to twenty feet apart. These dark marks, probably stained by oxide of iron, reminded me of those which wrinkle the granitic peaks about Rio de Janeiro, and which have been mistaken for “hieroglyphs.”

The valley-sole is parti-coloured; the sands of the deeper line to the right are tinctured a pale and sickly green by the degradation of the porphyritic traps, here towering in the largest masses yet seen; while the gravel of the left bank is warm, and lively with red grit and syenitic granite. Looking down the long and gently waving line, we feel still connected with the civilized world by the blue and purple screen of Sinai forming the splendid back-ground. Everything around us appears deserted; the Ma’ázah are up country, and the Beni ‘Ukbah have temporarily quitted these grazing-grounds for the Surr of El–Muwaylah. We camped for the night, after a total march of eleven miles, at the Sayl el-Nagwah, a short Nullah at the foot of a granite block similarly named; and a gap supplied us with tolerable rain-water.

On the next day (February 22nd) we left the “Nagwah” at seven instead of six a.m., and passed to the right a granitic outcrop in the Wady bed, a reduced edition of the Burj. After an hour’s slow walking we were led by a Bedawi lad, Hasan bin Husayn, to a rock-spur projected northwards from the left side and separating two adjacent Sayls or “torrent-beds,” mere bays in the bank of mountains. A cut road runs to the top of the granite tongue, which faces the westernmost or down-stream outbreaks of the huge porphyritic masses on the other side of the Wady Sadr. The ridge itself is strewed with spalled stone, quartz broken from the veins that seam the granite, and with slag as usual admirably worked. Not a trace of human habitation appears, nor is there any tradition of a settlement having existed here; consequently we concluded that this was another atelier of wandering workmen. Below the rock-tongue we found for the first time oxydulated iron and copper, either free or engaged in trap and basaltic dykes: the former metal, also attached in layers to dark-red vermeilled jasper, here appears streaked with white quartz.

Resuming our ride, we dismounted, after four miles, at the half-way Mahattah (“halting-place”): it is a rond-point in the Wady Sadr, marked from afar by a tall blue pyramid, the Jebel el-Ga’lah (Jálah). We spent some time examining this interesting bulge. Here the Jibál el-Tihámah end, and the eastern parallel range, the Jibál el-Shafah, begins. The former belong to the Huwaytát and to Egypt; the latter, partly to the Ma’ázah and to Syria. The geographical frontier is well marked by two large watercourses disposed upon a meridian, and both feeding the main drain, the Sadr–Tiryam. To the north the Wady Sawádah divides the granitic Harb from the porphyritic Jebel Sawádah; while the southern Wady Aylán separates the Dibbagh from the Jebel Aylán, a tall form distinctly visible from the Upper Shárr. The rest of our eastward march will now be through the Shafah massif. It resembles on a lower scale the Tihámah Gháts; but it wholly wants their variety, their beauty, and their grandeur. The granites which before pierced the porphyritic traps in all directions, now appear only at intervals; and this, I am told, is the case throughout the northern, as we found it to be in the southern, prolongation of the “Lip”-range. At the same time there is no distinct geographical separation between the two parallels; and both appear, not as if parted by neutral ground, but rather as topographical continuations of each other.

While breaking our fast and resting the mules, a few shots ringing ahead caused general excitement: we were now on the edge of the enemy’s country. Presently three of the Ma’ázah came in and explained, with their barking voices, that their people had been practicing at the Níshán (“target”); which meant “We have powder in abundance.” One of them, at once dubbed El–Nasnás (“the Satyr”) from his exceeding monstrous ugliness — a baboon’s muzzle with a scatter of beard — kindly volunteered to guide us, with the intention of losing the way. The dialogue that took place was something as follows:—

What are your names?

A. Na’akal wa nashrab! Our names are “We eat and We drink!”

Where do we find water today?

Furayj ejaculates, “The water of the Rikáb!”

A. No, by Allah! The Arabs will never allow you to drink! You should be killed for carrying off in Dumús (“skins”) the sand of the Wady Jahd (alluding to Lieutenant Amir’s trip).

We did not pay much heed to these evil signs. Ahmed el-‘Ukbí had been sent forward to obtain a free pass from the chiefs, and we hardly expected that the outlying thieves would be daring enough to attack us.

Resuming our way, in a cold wind and a warm sun, up the upper Wady Sadr, we threaded the various bends to the south and south-east, with a general south-south-eastern direction. The normal dark-green traps and burnished red porphyries and grits were sparsely clad with the Shauhat and the Yasár trees, resembling the Salvadora and the Tamarix. The country began to show a few donkeys and large flocks of sheep and goats; the muttons have a fine “tog,” and sell for three dollars and a half. The women in charge, whose complexions appeared notably lighter than those of the seaboard, barked like the men. They were much puzzled by a curious bleating which came from the mules; and hurriedly counted their kids, suspecting that one had been purloined, whilst they had some trouble to prevent the whole flock following us. All roared with laughter when they found that Mr. Clarke was the performer.

We crossed two short cuts over long bends in the Wady; and at the second found a pot-hole of rain-water by no means fragrant, except to nostrils that love impure ammonia. It has a grand name, Muwah (for Miyáh) el-Rikáb (“the Waters of the Caravan”); and we made free with it, despite the morning’s threats. We again camped in the valley at an altitude of 2200 feet (aner. 27.80); and, though the thermometer showed 66° F. at five p.m., fires inside and outside the mess-tent were required. A wester or sea-breeze, deflected by the ravines to a norther, was blowing; and in these regions, as in the sub-frigid zones of Europe, wind makes all the difference of temperature. During the evening we were visited by the Ma’ázah Bedawin of a neighbouring encampment: they began to notice stolen camels and to wrangle over past times — another bad sign.

Setting out on a splendidly lucent morning (6:45 a.m., February 23rd), when the towering heads of Harb and Dibbagh looked only a few furlongs distant, we committed the imprudence of preceding, as usual, the escort. Our men had become so timid, starting at the sight of every wretched Bedawi, that they made one long for a “rash act.” After walking about a mile and a half, we passed some black tents on the left bank, where the Sadr enters a narrow rocky gorge; and suddenly about a dozen varlets were seen scampering over the walls, manning the Pass, and with lighted matches threatening to fire. Then loud rang the war-song —

“Hill el-Zawáib, hilla-há;
W’abdi Nuhúdak kulla-há!”

“Loose thy top-locks with a loosing (like a lion’s mane);
And advance thy breast, all of it (opponite pectora without

Other varieties of the slogan are:—

“O man of small mouth (un misérable)!
If we fail, who shall win?”

And —

“By thy eyes (I swear), O she-camel, if we go (to the
attack) and gird (the sword),
We will make it a day of sorrow to them, and avert from
ourselves every ill.”

We dismounted, looked to our weapons, and began to parley. The ragged ruffians, some of them mere boys, and these always the readiest to blow the matches of guns longer than themselves, began with high pretensions. They declared that they would be satisfied with nothing less than plundering us; they flouted Shaykh Furayj, and they insulted the Sayyid, threatening to take away his sword.

Presently the escort and the Arab camel-men were seen coming up at the double. The Ma’ázah at once became abject; kissed our heads and declared “there was some mistake.” I had already remarked, whilst the matchlock-men were swarming up the Wady-sides, that the women and children remained in camp, and the sheep and goats were not driven off. This convinced me that nothing serious had been intended: probably the demonstration was ordered from head-quarters in order to strike us with a wholesome awe.

The fellows gently reproached us with travelling through their country without engaging (and paying) Ghafír —“guides and protectors.” So far, as owners of the soil, they were “in their right;” and manning a pass is here the popular way of levying transit dues. On this occasion the number of our Remingtons sufficed to punish their insolence by putting the men to flight, and by carrying off their camels and flocks; but such a step would have stopped the journey, and what would not the “Aborigines Protection Society” have said and done? I therefore hired one of the varlets, and both parties went their ways rejoicing that the peace had not been broken.

The valley, winding through the red and green hills, was dull and warm till the cool morning easter, which usually set about eight a.m., began to blow. The effect of increasing altitude showed itself in the vegetation. We now saw for the first time the Kidád (Astragalus), with horrid thorns and a flower resembling from afar the gooseberry: it is common on the Hismá and in the South Country. The Kahlá (Echium), a bugloss, a borage-like plant, with viscous leaves and flowers of two colours — the young light-pink and the old dark-blue — everywhere beautified the sands, and reminded me of the Istrian hills, where it is plentiful as in the Nile Valley. The Jarad-thorn was not in bloom; and the same was the case with the hyacinth (Dipcadi erythraeum), so abundant in the Hisma’, which some of us mistook for a “wild onion.” The Zayti (Lavandula) had just donned its pretty azure bloom. There were Reseda, wild indigo, Tribulus (terrestris), the blue Aristida, the pale Stipa, and the Bromus grass, red and yellow. The Ratam (spartium), with delicate white and pink blossoms, was a reminiscence of Tenerife and its glorious crater; whilst a little higher up, the amene Cytisus, flowering with gold, carried our thoughts back to the far past.

Presently the great Fiumara opened upon a large basin denoting the Ras (“head”) Wady Sadr: native travellers consider this their second stage from El–Muwaylah. In front the Jibál Sadr extended far to the right and left, a slight depression showing the Khuraytah, or “Pass,” which we were to ascend on the morrow. Buttressing the left bank of the broad watercourse was the dwarf hill of which we had been told so many tales. By day its red sands gleam and glisten like burnished copper; during the night fire flashes from the summit: in truth, its sole peculiarity is that of being yellow amongst the gloomy heights around it; whilst the Wady el-Safrá, higher up to the left, discharges from its Jebel a torrent of quartz and syenite, gravel and sand. Abú Khartám, the author of the romance, was among the party: he only smiled when complimented upon the power of his imagination.

This was a day of excitement: even the mules kept their ears pricked up. After a short nine miles we had camped below the Jebel Kibár, and we had remounted our animals to ascend a neighbouring hill commanding a bird’s-eye view of the Hismá plain. There was evidently much excitement amongst the Bedawi shepherds around us; and presently Ahmed el-‘Ukbí, our messenger, appeared in sight, officially heading the five chiefs of the Ma’ázah, who were followed by a tail of some thirty clansmen. Only two rode horses, wretched garrons stolen from the Ruwalá, the great branch of the Anezah, which holds the eastern regions; the rest rode fine sturdy and long-coated camels, which looked Syrian rather than Midianite.154 We returned hurriedly to make arrangements for the reception: our Shaykhs could not, without derogating, go forth to meet the strangers; but the latter were saluted with due ceremony by the bugler and the escort, drawn up in line before the mess-tent.

After the usual half-hour’s delay, the “palaver,” to speak Africanicè, “came up,” and M. Lacaze had a good opportunity of privily sketching the scene. The Shaykh, Mohammed bin ‘Atíyyah, who boasts (falsely) that he commands more than half the two thousand males composing the tribe, is a tall, sinewy man of about fifty, straight-featured, full-bearded, and gruff-voiced: his official style of speaking from the throat, a kind of vaccine low, imitated in camp for many a day, never failed to cause merriment. His costume rose to the height of Desert-fashion, described when pourtraying Shaykh Khizr the ‘Imráni; his manners were those of a gentleman below the Pass, and above it he became an unmitigated ruffian, who merited his soubriquet El–Kalb (“the Hound”). On one side sat his son Sálim, a large, beardless lad, who had begun work by presenting us with a sheep — Giorgi (cook) said it cost us £40. On the other was his eldest brother and alter ego: the wrinkled Sagr (Sakr) has been a resident at Cairo, and still boasts that he received the “tribute” of a horse from the Viceroy, whom he affects to treat as an equal or rather an inferior. The others were old Sagr’s ill-visaged son Ali, and, lastly, a cunning-eyed villain, ‘Abayd bin Sálim, the rightful heir to the chieftainship, which, however, he had been unable to keep. All the Shaykhs were dressed in brand-new garments and glaring glossy Kúfíyahs (“head-kerchiefs”); they trade chiefly with Mezáríb in the Haurán; and, during the annual passage to and fro of the Damascus caravan, they await it at Tabúk, and threaten to cut off the road unless liberally propitiated with presents of raiment and rations. The Murátibah (honorarium) contributed by El–Shám would be about one hundred dollars in ready money to the headman, diminishing with degree to one dollar per annum: this would not include “free gifts” by pilgrims. The Ma’ázah are under Syria, that is, under no rule at all; and they are supposed to be tributary to, when in reality they demand tribute from, the Porte. In fact, nothing can be more pronounced than the contrast of the Bedawin who are subject to Egypt, and those supposed to be governed by the wretched Ottoman.

During the palaver all outside was sweet as honey, to use the Arab phrase, and bitter as gall inside. The Ma’ázah, many of whom now saw Europeans for the first time, eyed the barnetá (hat) curiously, with a certain facial movement which meant, “This is the first time we have let Christian dogs into our land!” They were minute in observing the escort, and not a little astonished to find that all were negroes — in the old day Egyptian soldiers, under the great Mohammed Ali Pasha and his stepson, Ibrahim Pasha, had made themselves a terror to the Wild Man. “What had now become of them?” was the mental question. When asked whence they had procured the two horses, they answered curtly, Min Rabbiná—“From our Lord,” thus signifying stolen goods; and, like mediaeval knights, they took a pride in avowing that not one of their number could read or write. Finally a tent was assigned to them; food was ordered, and they promised us escort to their dens on the morrow.

During the raw and gusty night the mercury sank to 38° F., the aneroid (26.91) showing about three thousand feet above sea-level; and blazing fires kept up within and without the tents, hardly sufficed for comfort. On the morning of February 24th

“Over the wold the wind blew cold;”

and the Egyptian officers all donned their gloves. The early hours were spent in a last struggle with our Shaykhs, who now felt themselves and their camels hopelessly entering the lion’s lair. The sole available pretext for delay was that their animals could never carry the boxes and tents up the Pass; but, though very ugly reports prevailed concerning the reception of Ahmed el-‘Ukbí, and the observations that had been made last night, not a word was suffered to reach my ears until our retreat had been resolved upon. Such concealment would have been inexcusable in a European; in the East it is the rule.

At 7.15 a.m. we struck the camp at Jebel Kibár, and moved due eastward towards the Pass. This north-eastern Khuraytah (Col) is termed the Khuraytat el-Hismá or el-Jils, after a hillock on the plateau-summit, to distinguish it from the similar feature to the south-west: the latter is known as the Khuraytat el-Zibá; or el-T h m, the local pronunciation of Tihámah. About two miles of rough and broken ground lead to the foot of the ladder. The zigzags then follow the line of a mountain torrent, the natural Pass, crossing its bed from left to right and from right again to left: the path is the rudest of corniches, worn by the feet of man and beast; and showing some ugly abrupt turns. The absolute height of the ascent is about 450 feet (aner. 26.70 — 26.25) and the length half a mile. The ground, composed mostly of irregular rock-steps, has little difficulty for horses and mules; but camels laden with boards (the mess-table) and long tent-poles must have had a queer time — I should almost expect after this to see an oyster walking up stairs. Of course, they took their leisure, feeling each stone before they trusted it, but they all arrived without the shadow of an accident; and the same was the case during the two subsequent descents.

We halted on the Sath el-Nakb (“the Passtop”) to expect the caravan, and to prospect the surrounding novelties. Heaps and piles of dark trap dotted the summit like old graves; many of the stones were inscribed with tribal marks, and not a few were capped with snowy lumps of quartz detached from their veins in the porphyry. This custom, which appears universal throughout Midian, has many interpretations. According to some it denotes the terminus of a successful raid; others make it show where a dispute was settled without bloodshed; whilst as a rule it is an expression of gratitude: the Bedawi erects it in honour of the man who protected or who did a service to him, saying at the same time, Abyaz ‘alayk yá Fula’n —“White (or happy) be it to thee!” naming the person. Amongst these votive stones we picked up copper-stained quartz like that of ‘Aynúnah, fine specimens of iron, and the dove-coloured serpentine, with silvery threads, so plentiful in the Wady Surr. The Wasm in most cases showed some form of a cross, which is held to be a potent charm by the Sinaitic Bedawin; and on two detached water-rolled pebbles were distinctly inscribed lH and Vl, which looked exceedingly like Europe. Apparently the custom is dying out: the modern Midianites have forgotten the art and mystery of tribal signs (Wusúm). In many places the people cannot distinguish between inscriptions and “Bill Snooks his mark,” and they can interpret very few of the latter.

Looking westward through the inverted arch formed by the two hill-staples of the Khuraytah, and down the long valley which had given us passage, the eye distinguishes a dozen distances whose several planes are marked by all the shades of colour that the most varied vegetation can show. There are black-browns, chocolate-browns, and light umber-browns; bright-reds and dull-reds; grass-greens and cypress-greens; neutral tints and French greys contrasting with the rosy pinks, the azures, the purples, and the golden yellows with which distance paints the horizon. From a few feet above the Col-floor appear the eastern faces of the giants of the coast-range; and our altitude, some 3800 feet, gave us to a certain extent a measure of their grand proportions.

We now stand upon the westernmost edge of the great central Arabian plateau, known as El–Nejd (“the Highlands”), opposed to El–Tihámah, the lowland regions. In Africa we should call it the “true” subtending the “false” coast; delightful Dahome compared with leprous Lagos. This upland, running parallel with the “Lip”-range and with the maritime Gháts, is the far-famed Hismá. It probably represents a remnant of the old terrace which, like the Secondary gypseous formation, has been torn to pieces by the volcanic region to the east, and by the plutonic upheavals to the west. The length may be 170 miles; the northern limit is either close to or a little south of Fort Ma’án; and we shall see its southern terminus sharply defined on a parallel with the central Shárr, not including “El–Jaww.”155 An inaccessible fortress to the south, it is approached on the south-west by difficult passes, easily defended against man and beast. Further north, however, the Wadys ‘Afál near El–Sharaf, El–Hakl (Hagul), and El–Yitm at El-‘Akabah, are easy lines without Wa’r (“stony ground”) or Nakb (“ravines”).

The Hismá material is a loose modern sandstone, showing every hue between blood-red, rose pink, and dead, dull white: again and again fragments had been pointed out to us near the coast, in ruined buildings and in the remains of handmills and rub-stones. Possibly the true coal-measures may underlie it, especially if the rocks east of Petra be, as some travellers state, a region of the Old, not the New Red. According to my informants, the Hismá has no hills of quartz, a rock which appears everywhere except here; nor should I expect the region to be metalliferous.

We ascended the Jebel el-Khuraytah, a trap hillock some 120 feet high, the southern jamb of the Khuraytah gate: the summit, where stands a ruined Burj measuring fourteen metres in diameter, gives a striking and suggestive view. After hard dry living on grisly mountain and unlovely Wady, this fine open plain, slightly concave in the centre, was a delightful change of diet to the eye — the first enjoyable sensation of the kind, since we had gazed lovingly upon the broad bosom of the Wady el-‘Arabah. The general appearance is that of Eastern Syria, especially the Haurán: at the present season all is a sheet of pinkish red, which in later March will turn to lively green. On this parallel the diameter does not exceed a day’s march, but we see it broadening to the north. Looking in that direction over the gloomy-metalled porphyritic slopes upon which we stand, the glance extends to a manner of sea-horizon; while the several planes below it are dotted with hills and hill-ranges, white, red, and black, all dwarfed by distance to the size of thimbles and pincushions. The guides especially pointed out the ridge El–Mukaykam, a red block upon red sands, and a far-famed rendezvous for raid and razzia. Nearer, the dark lumps of El–Khayráni rise from a similar surface; nearer still lie the two white dots, El–Rakhamatayn; and nearest is the ruddy ridge Jebel and Jils el-Rawiyán, containing, they say, ruins and inscriptions of which Wallin did not even hear.

The eastern versant of the Hismá is marked by long chaplets of tree and shrub, disposed along the selvage of the watercourses; and the latter are pitted with wells sunk after the fashion of the Bedawin. In this rhumb the horizon is bounded by El–Harrah, the volcanic region whose black porous lavas and honey-combed basalts, often charged with white zeolite, are still brought down even to the coast to serve as mortars and handmills. The profile is a long straight and regular line, as if formed under water, capped here and there by a tiny head like the Syrian Kulayb Haurán: its peculiar dorsum makes it distinguishable from afar, and we could easily trace it from the upper heights of the Shárr. It is evidently a section of the mighty plutonic outburst which has done so much to change the aspect of the parallel Midian seaboard. Wallin’s account of it (p. 307) is confined to the place where he crossed the lava-flood; and he rendered El–Harrah, which in Arabic always applies to a burnt region, by “red-coloured sandstone.”

The Bedawin far more reasonably declare that this Harrah is not a mere patch as it appears in Wallin’s map, a narrow oblong not exceeding sixty miles (north lat. 27°— 28°), disposed diagonally from north-west to south-east. According to them, it is a region at least as large as the Hismá; and it extends southwards not only to the parallel of El–Medínah, but to the neighbourhood of Yambú’. The upper region has two great divisions: the Harrat–Hismá or the Harrah par excellence, which belongs to the Ma’ázah, and which extends southwards through El–Sulaysilah as far as the Jaww. The latter region, a tract of yellow sand, dotted with ruddy hills, apparently a prolongation of the Hismá, separates it from the Harrat el-‘Awayraz, in which the Jebel el-Muharrak lies.156 This line of volcanism is continued south by the Harrat el-Mushrif (P.N. of a man); by the Harrat Sutúh Jaydá; and, finally, by the Harrat el-Buhayri. the latter shows close behind the shore at El–Haurá, in nearly the same latitude as El–Medínah, where we shall presently sight it. There is great interest and a general importance in this large coast-subtending eruptive range, whose eastern counterslope demands long and careful study.

Sweeping the glance round to south, we see the southern of the two Jilsayn, tall mounds of horizontal strata, with ironstone in harder lines and finial blocks. This is the Jils el-Dáim, so distinguished from the northern Jils el-Rawiyán. The lower edge of the Hismá swells up in red and quoin-like masses, the Jibál el-Záwiyah, and then falls suddenly, with a succession of great breaks, into the sub-maritime levels. During our next ten days’ travel we shall be almost in continuous sight of its southern ramparts and buttresses. Far over the precipices lie the low yellow sands of the Rahabah, alias the Wady Dámah; and behind it rises the sky-blue mountain block, which takes a name from the ruins of Shaghab and Shuwák.

We breakfasted upon the Khuraytah crest; and Mr. Clarke set out to shoot the fine red-legged “Greek” partridges (caccabis) that haunt the hilltops, whilst the rest of us marched with the caravan to the nearest camping-ground. About a mile from the Col, and lying to the west of the Jils el-Rawiyán, it is supplied with excellent drinking-water by the Miyáh el-Jedayd, lying nine hundred to a thousand metres to the south-east. On the other hand, fuel, here a necessary of life, was wanting; nor could the camels find forage. Thus we were camped upon the western edge of the Hismá. The Ma’ázah Shaykhs, who vainly urged us forwards, showed a suspicious disappointment at our not reaching their quarters on the far side, where, they said, a camel was awaiting to be slaughtered for our reception.

Meanwhile, we were enjoying the reverse of hospitality. The Bedawin evidently now held that all which was ours had become theirs. Their excessive greed made them imprudent. Not satisfied with “eating us up,” with a coffee-pot ever on the fire, with demanding endless tobacco, and with making their two garrons devour more barley than our eight mules, they began to debate, aloud as usual, how much ready money they should demand. This was at last settled at four hundred dollars; and the talk was reported to me by the Básh-Buzúk Husayn, whom they had compelled to cook for them. At the same time unpleasant discussions were beginning: “This man stole my camel!” “That man killed my father,” already took the form of threats; in fact, I almost repented having brought the Huwaytát and their camels into the trap. Still they all respected Furayj, as might be seen by their rising and making room for him whenever he approached the fire.

At last an evil rumour arose that the Ma’ázah had determined to supply us with transport, and had sent messengers in all directions to collect the animals. This step looked uncommonly like a gathering of war-men. I was sorely disappointed, for more reasons than one. The state of affairs rendered a distant march to the east highly unadvisable. The principal object of this journey had been to investigate the inland depth of the metalliferous deposits; in fact, their extent from west to east. Their north-south length would be easily ascertained, but the width would still remain unknown. The “Land of Midian,” through which we have been travelling, has evidently been worked, and in places well worked; thus the only chance of finding a virgin California would be in the unknown tracts lying to the east of the “Harrahs.” Too bad to be thwarted in such a project by the exorbitant demands of a handful of thieves!

The disappointment was aggravated by other considerations. From all that I had heard, the Hismá is a region full of archæological interest. Already we were almost in sight of the ruins of Ruáfá, lying to the north between the two white dots El–Rakhamatayn. Further eastward, and north of the pilgrim-station Zát-Hajj, are the remains of Karáyyá, still unvisited by Europeans. Finally, I had been shown, when too late to inspect the place, a fragment of a Nabathæan inscription, finely cut in soft white sandstone:157 it had been barbarously broken, and two other pieces were en route. The stone is said to be ten feet long (?), all covered with “writings,” from which annalistic information might be expected: it lies, or is said to lie, about two hours’ ride north of our camp, and beyond the Jils el-Rawiyán famed for Hawáwít. At first I thought of having it cut to portable size; but second thoughts determined me to leave it for another visit or for some more fortunate visitor. Lastly, we were informed, a few weeks afterwards, that the Ma’ázah Shaykhs had carried it off to their tents — I fear piecemeal.

It was not pleasant to beat a retreat; but, under the circumstances, what else could be done? No one was to be relied upon but the Europeans, and not all even of them. The black escort, emancipated slaves, would have run away at the first shot; except only Acting–Corporal Khayr. And when I told the officers assembled at mess that we should march back early next morning, the general joy showed how little they relished the prospect of an advance. Then came out in mass the details — many doubtless apocryphal — which should have been reported to me, and which had carefully been kept secret. The Ma’ázah, when our messenger first notified our visit, had declared that they would have no Nazarenes in their mountains; that they did not care a fico for Egypt. Why had not “Effendíná” written to them? they were his equals, not his subjects! It was then debated whether they should not raise a force of dromedary-men to fall upon us. Some of them proposed to summon to their aid the rival chief, Ibn Hermás; but the majority thought it would be better to reserve for themselves the hundred dollars per diem, of which they proposed to fleece us.

Of course, everything around us was intrigue; the Máyat taht el-Tibn (“water under the straw”) of the Arab saying. Furayj, it is true, looked serene, and privately offered me to fight the affair out; but he was alone in the idea. The Sayyid was tranquil, as usual; Hasan the ‘Ukbi wore an unpleasant appearance of satisfaction, as if he had been offered a share in the plunder of the Huwaytát; and ‘Alayán, a brave man on his own ground, could hardly conceal his dejection. I might, it is evident, have seized Shaykh Mohammed, placed a pistol to his ear, and carried him off a prisoner; but such grands moyens must be reserved for great occasions. The worst symptoms in camp were that the Ma’ázah at once knew the whole of my project; while the Egyptian officers were ever going to their tents, and one stayed talking with them till near midnight.

February 25th was a day of humiliation. I aroused the camp at 4.30 a.m., and at once gave orders to strike the tents and load. The command was obeyed in double quick time; but not before Shaykh Mohammed had visited us to propose a march to his home in the east. He was not comfortable; probably his reinforcements had still to arrive: his face was calm, as the Eastern’s generally is; but his feet trembled, and his toes twitched. I drily told him of our changed plans, and he left us in high dudgeon. The tragi-comedy which followed may be divided into six acts:—

1. The Ma’ázah mount their horses and camels: I walk up to them, and expostulate about so abrupt a departure without even drinking a friendly cup of coffee.

2. They dismount, and squat in council round the fire, sending on three dromedary-riders to crown a hill commanding the pass. The “burning question” is now whether armed clansmen are or are not lurking behind the heights.

3. Shaykh Mohammed comes forward, and demands blackmail to the extent of two hundred dollars. I offer one hundred dollars.

4. Our hosts break off the debate in a towering rage; refuse coffee, and declare that the caravan of “Effendíná” (the Viceroy) shall not be loaded. Mohammed’s feet twitch more violently as the camels are made to kneel.

5. The caravan shows too much emotion. I pay the two hundred dollars into the chief’s hands. He at once demands his Sharaf (“honour”) in the shape of a Kiswah, or handsome dress, and, that failing, an additional twenty-five dollars for each of the five headmen. I promise that a robe shall be sent from El–Muwaylah.158

6. The caravan sets out for the Pass, when the three dromedary-riders open with the war-cry: it is stopped with much apparatus by the Shaykhs, who affect to look upon it as dangerous.

We now marched without delay upon the Col, which was reached at 8:15 a.m.; Mohammed bin ‘Atíyyah having meanwhile disappeared. We descended the Khuraytat el-Jils in twenty-six minutes, and dismissed the remainder of our Ma’ázah escort at the foot. I vainly offered them safeguard to El–Muwaylah, which they have not visited for the last dozen years; all refused absolutely to pass their own frontiers.

Au revoir Mohammed ibn ‘Atíyyah and company!

Having broken our fast and sent forward the caravan, we at once began to descend the southern Pass, the Khuraytat el-Zibá. Here the watershed of the Wady Surr heads; and merchants object to travel by its shorter line, because their camels must ascend two ladders of rocks, instead of one at the top of the Wady Sadr. The Col was much longer and but little less troublesome than its northern neighbour; the formation was the same, and forty-five minutes placed us in a gully, that presently widened to a big valley, the Wady Dahal or El–Khuraytah. We reached it at 12:30 p.m., and laid down the distance from the summit of the northern Col at about five miles and a quarter. The air felt tepid, the sun waxed hot; drinking-water was found on the left of the bed, and a hole in the sole represented a spring, which the people say is perennial: we were dismounting to quench our thirst at the latter, when Juno plunged into it, and stood quietly eyeing us with an air of intense satisfaction.

We spent that night at a place lower down the Wady Dahal, known as the Jayb el-Khuraytah (“Collar of the Col”). The term “Jayb” is locally applied to two places only; the other being the Jayb el-Sa’lúwwah, which we shall presently visit. A larger feature than a Wady, it reminds us of a Norfolk “broad,” but it is of course waterless. Guards were placed around the camp; and a wholesome dread of the Ma’ázah kept them wide awake. The only evil which resulted was that none dared to lead our mules to water; and the poor animals were hardly rideable on the next day.

Of the Hismá in its present state, we may say as of Ushant, Qui voit Ouessant, voit la mort. Nothing can be done towards working the mines of Midian until this den of thieves is cleared out. It is an asylum for every murderer and bandit who can make his way there — a centre of turbulence which spreads trouble all around it. Under the sham rule of miserable Shám (Syria), with its Turkish Wális, men like the late Ráshid Pasha, matters can only wax worse. Subject to Egypt, the people will learn discipline and cease to torment the land.

Happily for their neighbours there will be no difficulty in reducing the Ma’ázah. They are surrounded by enemies, and they have lately been obliged to pay “brother-tax” to the Ruwalá as a defence against being plundered: the tribute consists of one piece of hair-cloth about twenty cubits long. On the north, as far as El–Ma’án, they meet the hostile Beni Sakr (Jawázi), under the Shaykh Mohammed ibn Jázi; southwards the Baliyy, commanded by Shaykh ‘Afnán, are on terms of “blood” with them; eastward stand the ‘Anezah and the warlike Sharárát-Hutaym, who ever covet their two thousand camels: westward lie in wait their hereditary foes, the Huwaytát. Shaykh Furayj, the tactician, has long ago proposed a general onslaught of his tribesmen by a simultaneous movement up the Wadys Surr, Sadr, Urnub, and ‘Afál: they seemed to have some inkling of his intentions, as they hastened to conclude with him a five months’ ‘Altwah or “truce.” Finally, a small disciplined force, marching down the Damascus–Medínah pilgrimage-road to the east, and co-operating with the Huwayta’t on the west would place this vermin between two fires.

The tale of my disappointment may conclude with an ethnological notice of those who caused it.

The Ma’ázah is a Syro–Egypto-Bedawi clan, originally Arab, or rather Syrian, but migratory, as are all Arabs. It now extends high up the valley of the Nile, and it is still found in the Wady Musá (of Suez) and on the Za’faránah block. Even in Egypt it is turbulent and dangerous: the men are professional robbers; and their treachery is uncontrolled by the Bedawi law of honour — they will eat bread and salt with the traveller whom they intend to murder. For many years it was unsafe to visit the camps within sight of Suez, until a compulsory residence at head-quarters taught the Shaykhs manners. The habitat in Arabia stretches from the Wady Musá of Petra, where they are kinsmen of the Tiyáhah, the Bedawin of the Tíh-desert; and through Ma’án as far as the Birkat el-Mu’azzamah, south of Tabúk. Finally, they occupy the greater part of the Hismá and the northern Harrah.

According to Mohammed el-Kalb, these bandits own the bluest of blue blood. Their forefather was one Wáíl, who left by his descendants two great tribes. The first and the eldest took a name from their Ma’áz (“he-goats”); while the junior called themselves after the Annáz (“she-goats”): from the latter sprung the great Anezah family, which occupies the largest and the choicest provinces of the Arabian peninsula. Meanwhile genealogists ignore the Ma’ázah.

Wallin would divide the tribe into two, the Ma’ázah and the “Beni ‘Atiyá:” of the latter in Midian I could hear nothing except that they represent the kinsmen of the Shaykh’s family. We find “Benoo Ateeyah” in maps like that of Crichton’s (1834), where the Ma’ázah are laid down further south; and northwards the Beni ‘Atiyyah are a powerful clan who push their razzias as far as the frontiers of Moab. My informants declare that the numbers of fighting men in the Midianite division of the race may be two thousand (two hundred?), and that they are separated only by allegiance to two rival Shaykhs. The greater half, under Ibn Hermás, is distributed into five clans, of whom the first, ‘Orbán Khumaysah, contain two septs. Under Mohammed ibn ‘Atíyyah (El–Kalb) they number also five divisions. Amongst them are the Subút or Beni Sabt, “Sons of the Sabbath,” that is, Saturday; whom Wallin suspects to be of Jewish origin, relying, it would appear, principally upon their name. The ringing of the large bell suspended to the middle pole of the tents at sunset, “to hail the return of the camels and the mystic hour of descending night,” is an old custom still maintained, because it confers a Barakat (“blessing”) upon the flocks and herds. Certainly there is nothing of the Bedawi in this practice, and it is distinctly contrary to the tradition of El–Islam; yet many such survivals hold their ground amongst the highly conservative Wild Men, and they must be looked upon only as local and tribal peculiarities.

149 Let me at once protest against the assertions contained in an able review of “The Gold–Mines of Midian” (Pall Mall Gazette, June 7, 1878). The writer makes ancient Midian extend from the north of the Arabic Gulf (El-‘Akabah?) and Arabia Felix (which? of the classics or of the moderns?) to the plains of Moab”— exactly where it assuredly does not now extend.

150 Described in Chap. XV.

151 This place is noticed in “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” Chap. X.

152 I am not certain of this name, as several variants were given to me. For historical notices of the ruined town of Khulasah, see Chap. IV.

153 In “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” Chap. V., occur several differences of nomenclature, which may or may not be mistakes. They are corrected in my “Itineraries,” part ii. sect. 2.

154 To this breed belonged the beast which carried me on the first Expedition.

155 For a short notice of this region, hitherto unvisited by Europeans, see Chap. XVIII.

156 For a note on the “Burnt Mountain,” so well known at El–Wijh, see Chap. XVIII.

157 It was afterwards exhibited at the Hippodrome, Cairo, and was carefully photographed by M. Lacaze. Others said that it came from the east of our camp, near the Jils el-Dáim.

158 It was duly committed to the charge of our Sayyid.

Chapter XI.

The Unknown Lands South of the Hismá–Ruins of Shuwák and Shaghab.

We have now left the region explored by Europeans; and our line to the south and the south-east will lie over ground wholly new. In front of us the land is no longer Arz Madyan: we are entering South Midian, which will extend to El–Hejáz. As the march might last longer than had been expected, I ordered fresh supplies from El–Muwaylah to meet us in the interior viâ Zibá. A very small boy acted dromedary-man; and on the next day he reached the fort, distant some thirty-five and a half direct geographical miles eastward with a trifling of northing.

We left the Jayb el-Khuraytah on a delicious morning (6.15 a.m., February 26th), startling the gazelles and the hares from their breakfast graze.

The former showed in troops of six; and the latter were still breeding, as frequent captures of the long-eared young proved. The track lay down the Wady Dahal and other influents of the great Wady Sa’lúwwah, a main feeder of the Dámah. We made a considerable détour between south-south-east and south-east to avoid the rocks and stones discharged by the valleys of the Shafah range on our left. To the right rose the Jibál el-Tihámah, over whose nearer brown heights appeared the pale blue peaks of Jebel Shárr and its southern neighbour, Jebel Sa’lúwwah.

At nine a.m. we turned abruptly eastward up the Wady el-Sulaysalah, whose head falls sharply from the Shafah range. The surface is still Hismá ground, red sand with blocks of ruddy grit, washed down from the plateau on the left; and, according to Furayj, it forms the south-western limit of the Harrah. The valley is honeycombed into man-traps by rats and lizards, causing many a tumble, and notably developing the mulish instinct. We then crossed a rough and rocky divide, Arabicè a Majrá, or, as the Bedawin here pronounce it, a “Magráh,”159 which takes its name from the tormented Ruways ridge on the right. After a hot, unlively march of four hours (= eleven miles), on mules worn out by want of water, we dismounted at a queer isolated lump on the left of the track. This Jebel el-Murayt’bah (“of the Little Step”) is lumpy grey granite of the coarsest elements, whose false strata, tilted up till they have become quasi-vertical, and worn down to pillars and drums, crown the crest like gigantic columnar crystallizations. We shall see the same freak of nature far more grandly developed into the “Pins” of the Shárr. It has evidently upraised the trap, of which large and small blocks are here and there imbedded in it. The granite is cut in its turn by long horizontal dykes of the hardest quadrangular basalt, occasionally pudding’d with banded lumps of red jasper and oxydulated iron: from afar they look like water-lines, and in places they form walls, regular as if built. The rounded forms result from the granites flaking off in curved laminæ, like onion-coats. Want of homogeneity in the texture causes the granite to degrade into caves and holes: the huge blocks which have fallen from the upper heights often show unexpected hollows in the under and lower sides. Above the water we found an immense natural dolmen, under which apparently the Bedawin take shelter. After El–Murayt’bah the regular granitic sequence disappears, nor will it again be visible till we reach Shaghab (March 2nd).

About noon we remounted and rounded the south of the block, disturbing by vain shots two fine black eagles. I had reckoned upon the “Water of El–Murayt’bah,” in order to make an exceptional march after so many days of deadly slow going. But the cry arose that the rain-puddle was dry. We had not brought a sufficient supply with us, and twenty-two miles to and from the Wady Dahal was a long way for camels, to say nothing of their owners and the danger of prowling Ma’ázah. In front water lay still farther off, according to the guides, who, it will be seen, notably deceived us. So I ordered the camp to be pitched, after reconnoitering the locale of the water; and we all proceeded to work, with a detachment of soldiers and quarrymen. It was not a rain-puddle, but a spring rising slowly in the sand, which had filled up a fissure in the granite about four feet broad; of these crevices three were disposed parallel to one another, and at different heights. They wanted only clearing out; the produce was abundant, and though slightly flavoured with iron and sulphur, it was drinkable. The thirsty mules amused us not a little: they smelt water at once; hobbled as they were, all hopped like kangaroos over the plain, and with long ears well to the fore, they stood superintending the operation till it was their turn to be happy.

Our evening at the foot of El–Ruways was cheered, despite the flies, the earwigs, and the biting Ba’úzah beetle, which here first put in an appearance, by the weird and fascinating aspect of the southern Hismá-wall, standing opposite to us, and distant about a mile from the dull drab-coloured basin, El–Majrá. Based upon mighty massive foundations of brown and green trap, the undulating junction being perfectly defined by a horizontal white line, the capping of sandstone rises regular as if laid in courses, with a huge rampart falling perpendicular upon the natural slope of its glacis. This bounding curtain is called the Taur el-Shafah, the “inaccessible part of the Lip-range.” Further eastward the continuity of the coping has been broken and weathered into the most remarkable castellations: you pass mile after mile of cathedrals, domes, spires, minarets, and pinnacles; of fortresses, dungeons, bulwarks, walls, and towers; of platforms, buttresses, and flying buttresses. These Girágir (Jirájir), as the Bedawin call them, change shape at every new point of view, and the eye never wearies of their infinite variety. Nor are the tints less remarkable than the forms. When the light of day warms them with its gorgeous glaze, the buildings wear the brightest hues of red concrete, like a certain house near Prince’s Gate, set off by lambent lights of lively pink and balas-ruby, and by shades of deep transparent purple, while here and there a dwarf dome or a tumulus gleams sparkling white in the hot sun-ray. The even-glow is indescribably lovely, and all the lovelier because unlasting: the moment the red disc disappears, the glorious rosy smile fades away, leaving the pale grey ghosts of their former selves to gloom against the gloaming of the eastern sky. I could not persuade M. Lacaze to transfer this vividity of colour to canvas: he had the artist’s normal excuse, “Who would believe it?”

The next morning saw the Expedition afoot at six a.m., determined to make up for a half by the whole day’s work so long intended. The track struck eastward, and issued from the dull hollow, Majrá el-Ruways, by a made road about a mile and a half long, a cornice cut in the stony flanks of a hill whose head projected southwards into the broad Wady Hujayl (“the Little Partridge”). This line seems to drain inland; presently it bends round by the east and feeds the Wady Dámah. Rain must lately have fallen, for the earth is “purfled flowers,” pink, white, and yellow. The latter is the tint prevailing in Midian, often suggesting the careless European wheat-field, in which “shillock” or wild mustard rears its gamboge head above the green. Midian wants not only the charming oleander and the rugged terebinth, typical of the Desert; but also the “blood of Adonis,” the lovely anemone which lights up the Syrian landscape like the fisherman’s scarlet cap in a sea-piece. This stage introduced us to the Hargul (Harjal, Rhazya stricta), whose perfume filled the valley with the clean smell of the henna-bloom, the Eastern privet — Mr. Clarke said “wallflowers.” Our mules ate it greedily, whilst the country animals, they say, refuse it: the flowers, dried and pounded, cure by fumigation “pains in the bones.” Here also we saw for the first time the quaint distaff-shape of the purple red Masrúr (Cynomorium coccineum, Linn.), from which the Bedawi “cook bread.” It is eaten simply peeled and sun-dried, when it has a vegetable taste slightly astringent as if by tannin, something between a potato and a turnip; or its rudely pounded flour is made into balls with soured milk. This styptic, I am told by Mr. R. B. Sharpe, of the British Museum, was long supposed to be peculiar to Malta; hence its pre-Linnaean name (Fungus Melitensis).160 Now it is known to occur through the Mediterranean to India. Let me here warn future collectors of botany in Midian that throughout the land the vegetable kingdom follows the rule of the mineral: every march shows something new; and he who neglects to gather specimens, especially of the smaller flowers, in one valley, will perhaps find none of them in those adjoining.

A denser row of trees lower down the Wady Hujayl led to the water of Amdán (Mídán?), about an hour and a half from our last nighting-place; yesterday it had been reported six hours distant. High towering on our left (north) rose three huge buttresses of the Girágir. In front stood a marvellous background of domes and arches, cones and ninepins, all decayed Hismá, blurred and broken by the morning mist, which could hardly be called a fog; and forming a perspective of a dozen distances. Now they curve from north-east to south-west in a kind of scorpion’s tail, with detached vertebrae torn and wasted by the adjacent plutonic outcrops; and looking from the west they suggest blood-red islets rising above the great gloomy waves of trap and porphyry. This projection will remain in sight until we reach Shuwák; and in places we shall see it backed by the basalts and lavas of the straightlined Harrah.

Presently turning sharp to the right (south-east), we struck across a second divide, far more shallow than the first; and fell into the northern basin of the great Dámah valley, also known as El–Rahabah, “the Open;”— the Rehoboth (“spaces”) of the Hebrews. Like yesterday’s, the loose red sand is Hismá; and it is also scattered with Harrah lava. After a four hours’ ride we halted to enable the caravan to come up. Our Shaykhs were bent upon making twelve miles the average day’s work; and their “little game” was now to delay as much as possible. Here we again found flocks of sheep and goats tended by young girls, who ran away like ostriches, and by old women who did not: on the contrary, Sycorax enjoyed asking the news and wrangling over a kid. The camels throughout this country seem to be always under the charge of men or boys.

Here began our study of the great Wady Da’mah, whose fame as an Arabian Arcadia extends far and wide, and whose possession has caused many a bloody battle. We now see it at its best, in early spring morning, when

“The landscape smiles
Calm in the sun, and silent are the hills
And valleys, and the blue serene of air.”

This notable feature is a Haddúdah (“frontier divider”), which in ancient days separated the ‘Ukbíyyah (“Ukbah-land”) to the north from the Balawi’yyah (“Baliyy-land”) south. The latter still claim it as their northern limit; but the intrusive Egypto–Arabs have pushed their way far beyond this bourne. Its present Huwayti owners, the Sulaymiyyín, the Sulaymát, the Jeráfín, and other tribes, are a less turbulent race than the northerns because they are safe from the bandit Ma’ázah: they are more easily managed, and they do not meet a fair offer with the eternal Yaftah ‘Allah —“Allah opens.”161

The head of the Dámah, a great bay in the Hismá-wall to the east, is now in sight of us; and we shall pass its mouth, which debouches into the sea below Zibá. This tract is equally abundant in herds (camels), flocks, and vegetation: in places a thin forest gathers, and the tree-clumps now form a feature in the scenery. The sole, a broad expanse of loose red arenaceous matter, the washings of the plateau, is fearfully burrowed and honeycombed; it is also subject, like its sister the Sadr, to the frequent assault of “devils,” or sand-pillars. That it is plentifully supplied with water, we learn from the presence of birds. The cries of the caravane, the “knock-kneed” plover of Egypt, yellow-beaked and black-eyed, resounded in the more barren belts. A lovely little sun-bird (Nectarinia oseœ?), which the Frenchmen of course called colibri, with ravishing reflections of green and gold, flashed like a gem thrown from shrub to shrub: this oiseau mouche is found scattered throughout Midian; we saw it even about El–Muwaylah, but I had unfortunately twice forgotten dust-shot. The Egyptian Rakham (percnopter), yellow with black-tipped wings; a carrion-eater, now so rare, and the common brown kite, still so common near civilized Cairo, soared in the sky; while the larger vultures, perching upon the rock-ridges, suggested Bedawi sentinels. The ravens, here as elsewhere, are a plague: flights of them occupy favourite places, and they prey upon the young lambs, hares, and maimed birds.

We advanced another five miles, and crossed to the southern side of the actual torrent-bed, whose banks, strewed with a quantity of dead flood-wood entangling the trees, and whose flaky clays, cracked to the shape of slabs and often curling into tubes of natural pottery, show that at times the Hismá must discharge furious torrents. We camped close to the Dámah at the foot of the Jebel el-Balawi; the water, known as Máyat el-Jebayl (“of the Hillock”), lay ahead in a low rocky snout: it was represented as being distant a full hour, and the mules did not return from it till three had passed; but thirty minutes would have been nearer the truth. The Nile-drinkers turned up their fastidious noses at the supply, but Lieutenant Amir, who had graduated in the rough campaigning-school of the Súdán, pronounced it “regular.”

The nighting-place on the Dámah was as pretty and picturesque as the Majrá was tame and uncouth. While the west was amber clear, long stripes of purpling, crimson, flaming cloud, to the south and the east, set off the castled crags disposed in a semicircle round the Wady-head; and the “buildings” appeared art-like enough to be haunted ground, the domain of the Fata Morgana, a glimpse of the City of Brass built by Shaddaá, son of ‘Ad. When the stars began to glitter sharp and clear, our men fell to singing and dancing; and the boy Husayn Ganinah again distinguished himself by his superior ribaldry. Our work was more respectable and prosaic, firing a mule with a swollen back.

Within a mile or so of us stood some Bedawi tents, which we had passed on the march: they were deserted by the men, here Sulaymát, who drive their camels to the wilds sometimes for a week at a time. An old wife who brought us a goat for sale, and who begged that Husayn, the Básh-Buzúk, might pass the night with her, in order to shoot an especially objectionable wolf, had a long tale to tell of neighbouring ruins. She also reported that near the same place there is a well with steps, into which the Arabs had descended some seven fathoms; presently they found houses occupying the galleries at the bottom, and fled in terror.

Lieutenant Amir was sent to sketch and survey the site next morning; and he was lucky enough to be guided by one Sa’id bin Zayfullah, the Sulaymi, whose prime dated from the palmy days of the great Mohammed Ali Pasha. He acknowledged as his friends the grandfather, and even the father, of our guide Furayj; but the latter he ignored, looking upon him as a mere Walad (“lad”). Moreover, he remembered the birth of Shaykh Mohammed ‘Afnán, chief of the Baliyy, which took place when he himself had already become a hunter of the gazelle.162 According to him, the remains are still known as the Dár (“house”) or Diyár (“houses”) El–Nasárá—“of the Nazarenes,” that is, of the Nabathaeans. The former term is retained here, as in Sinai, by popular tradition; and the latter is clean forgotten throughout Midian.163

Riding down the Wady Dámah to the southwest, Lieutenant Amir came upon a spring in a stone-revetted well near the left bank: this Ayn el-Bada’ is not to be confounded with the Badí’ water, or with the Badá plain, both of which we shall presently visit. A strew of broken quartz around it showed the atelier, and specimens of scattered fragments, glass and pottery, were gathered. The settlement-ruins, which the guide called El–Kantarah, lie further down upon a southern influent of the main line: they are divided into two blocks, one longer than the other. Lieutenant Amir made a careful plan of the remains, and then pushed forward to Shuwák by the direct track, westward of that taken by the caravan. He arrived in camp, none the worse for a well-developed “cropper;” his dromedary had put its foot in a hole, and had fallen with a suddenness generally unknown to the cameline race.

By way of geographical exercitation, we had all drawn our several plans, showing, after Arab statement, the lay of Shaghab and Shuwák, the two ruins which we were about to visit. Nothing could be more ridiculous when the sketch-maps came to be compared. This was owing to the route following the three sides of a long parallelogram; whilst the fourth is based upon the Wady Dámah, causing considerable complication. And, the excursus ended, all were convinced that we had made much southing, when our furthest point was not more than five miles south of Zibá (north lat. 27° 20’).

We quitted the great valley at six a.m. (February 28th), and struck up the Wady Shuwák, an influent that runs northwards to the Dámah’s left bank. On the stony ground above the right side of this Fiumara lay six circles of stones, disposed in a line from north-east to south-west: they may have been ruins of Hufrah (“water-pits”). As we rose the Nullah surface was pied with white flowers, the early growth which here takes the place of primroses. I had some difficulty in persuading our good friend Furayj, who had not seen the country for fifteen years, to engage as guide one of the many Bedawin camel-herds: his course seemed to serpentine like that of an animal grazing — he said it was intended to show the least stony road — and, when he pointed with the wave of the maimed right hand, he described an arc of some 90°. The Sulaymi lad caught the nearest camel, climbed its sides as you would a tree, and, when the animal set off at a lumbering gallop, pressed the soles of his feet to the ribs, with exactly the action of a Simiad; clinging the while, like grim Death, to the hairy hump.

After some six miles we attempted a short cut, a gorge that debouched on the left bank of the Shuwák valley. It showed at once a complete change of formation: the sides were painted with clays of variegated colours, crystallized lime and porphyritic conglomerates, tinted mauve-purple as if by manganese. Further on, the path, striking over broken divides and long tracts of stony ground, became rough riding: it was bordered by the usual monotonous, melancholy hills of reddish and greenish trap, whose slaty and schist-like edges in places stood upright. On the summit of the last Col appeared the ruins of an outwork, a large square and a central heap of boulder-stones. Straight in front rose the block that backs our destination, the Jebel el-Sáni’, or “Mountain of the Maker,” the artificer par excellence, that is, the blacksmith: it is so called from a legendary shoer of horses and mules, who lived there possibly in the days before Sultán Selim. It is remarkable for its twin peaks, sharp-topped blocks, the higher to the east, and called by the Bedawin Naghar and Nughayr. The guides spoke of a furnace near the summit of these remarkable cones; excellent landmarks which we shall keep in sight during several marches. At length, after ten miles of slow work, we saw before us, stretched as upon a map, the broad valley with its pink sands; the Daum-trees, the huge ‘Ushr or “Apple of Sodom,” the fan-palm bush, and the large old Jujubes — here an invariable sign of former civilization — which informed us that there lay fair Shuwák.

The dull gorge introduced us to what was then a novelty in Midian; but we afterwards found it upon the cold heights of the Shárr, where it supplied us with many a dainty dish. This was the Shinnár164 (caccabis), a partridge as large as a pheasant, and flavoured exactly like the emigrant from Phasis.

The coat, the clock! clock! and the nimble running over the rocks, ever the favourite haunt, denote the “perdix.” The head is black, as in the C. melanocephala of Abyssinia, and the legs and feet are red like the smaller “Greek” caccabis that inhabits the Hismá; the male birds have no spurs, and they are but little larger than their mates. There seems to be no difficulty in keeping them; we bought a hen and chicks caged at El–Wijh, but whether they lived or not I neglected to note. Here, too, we learned the reason why the falcons and the hawks (Falco milvus, F. gentilis, etc.) are so fierce and so well-fed. The tyrant of the air raises the partridge or the quail by feinting a swoop, and, as it hurries away screaming aloud, follows it leisurely at a certain distance. Finally, when the quarry reaches the place intended — at least, the design so appears — the falcon stoops and ends the chase. The other birds were ring-doves, turtles, and the little “butcher” impaling, gaily as a “gallant Turk,” its live victim upon a long thorn.

Shuwák, which lies in about north lat. 27° 15’, can be no other than the [Greek] placed by Ptolemy (vi. 7) in north lat. 26° 15’; and, if so, we must add one degree to his latitudes, which are sixty miles too low.165 According to Sprenger (“Alt. Geog.,” p. 25), [Greek] and [Greek] do not fit into any of the Alexandrian’s routes; and were connected only with their ports Rhaunathos (M’jirmah?) and Phoenicon Vicus (Zibá?). But both these cities were large and important centres, both of agriculture and of mining industry, forming crucial stations on the great Nabathæan highway, the overland between Leukè Kóme and Petra. The line was kept up by the Moslems until Sultán Selim’s superseded it; and hence the modern look of the remains which at first astonished us so much. The tradition of the Hajj-passage is distinctly preserved by the Bedawin; and I have little doubt that metal has been worked here as lately, perhaps, as the end of the last century. But by whom, again, deponent ventures not to say, even to guess.

The site of Shuwák is a long island in the broad sandy Wady of the same name, which, as has been remarked, feeds the Dámah. Its thalweg has shifted again and again: the main line now hugs the southern or left bank, under the slopes and folds of the Jebel el-Sáni’; whilst a smaller branch, on the northern side, is subtended by the stony divide last crossed. At the city the lay of the valley is from north-east to south-west, and the altitude is about seventeen hundred feet (aner. 28.28). The head still shows the castellations of the Hismá. Looking down-stream, beyond the tree-dotted bed and the low dark hills that divide this basin from the adjoining Wady to the south, we see the tall grey tops of the Jebel Zigláb (Zijláb) and of the Shahbá-Gámirah — the “ashen-coloured (Peak) of Gámirah”— the latter being the name of a valley. Both look white by the side of the dark red and green rocks; and we shall presently find that they mark the granite region lying south and seaward of the great trap formations. We were not sorry to see it again — our eyes were weary of the gloomy plutonic curtains on either side.

At Shuwák we allowed the camels a day of rest, whilst we planned and sketched, dug into, and described the ruins. A difficulty about drinking-water somewhat delayed us. The modern wells, like those of the Haurán, are rudely revetted pits in a bald and shiny bit of clay-plain below the principal block of ruins: only one in the dozen holds water, and that has been made Wahsh (“foul”) by the torrent sweeping into it heaps of the refuse and manure strewed around. The lower folds of the Sáni’ block also supply rain-pools; but here, again, the Arabs and their camels had left their marks. The only drinkable water lies a very long mile down the southern (left) bank, above the old aqueduct, in a deep and narrow gorge of trap. The perennial spring, still trickling down the rocks, was dammed across, as remnants of cement show us, in more places than one. There are also signs of cut basins, which the barrages above and below once divided into a series of tanks. Up the rough steps of the bed the camel-men drove their beasts; and the name of a Gujráti maker, printed upon a sack of Anglo–Indian canvas, had a curious effect among such Bedawi surroundings.

At last we sank a pit some five feet deep in a re-entering angle of the northern or smaller branch; we lined it with stone down-stream, where the flow made the loose sand fall in, and we obtained an ample and excellent supply. Doubtless it was spoiled, as soon as our backs were turned, by the half-Fellah Jeráfín-Huwaytát, to whom the place belongs. The sea-breeze during the day was high and dust-laden, but we passed a cool delicious night upon the clean sweet sand, which does not stick or cling. At this altitude there is no fear of bugs and fleas — the only dread is Signor “Pediculus.”

We will begin, with our surveyors, at the valley head, and note the ruins as we stroll down. This section, Shuwák proper, is nearly a mile and a half long, and could hardly have lodged less than twenty thousand souls. But that extent by no means represents the whole; our next march will prolong it along the valley for a total of at least four miles. The material is various — boulders of granite and syenite; squares of trap and porphyry; the red sandstones of the Hismá; the basalts of the Harrah; and the rock found in situ, a brown and crumbling grit, modern, and still in process of agglutination. The heaps and piles which denote buildings are divided by mounds and tumuli of loose friable soil, white with salt — miniatures of Babylon, Nineveh, and Troy. On either flanks of the river-holm the periodical torrents have done their worst, cutting up the once regular bank into a succession of clay buttresses. On the right side we find a large fort, half sliced away, but still showing the concrete flooring of a tower. About the centre of the length are the remnants of a round Burj; blocks of buildings, all levelled to the foundations, lie to the north-west, and on the west appear signs of a square. Perhaps the most interesting discovery is that of catacombs, proving a civilization analogous to Magháir Shu’ayb, but ruder, because more distant from the centre. The “caves” are hollowed in a long reef of loose breccia, which, fronting eastward, forms the right bank of the smaller branch. They are now almost obliterated by being turned into sheep-folds; the roofs have fallen in, and only one preserves the traces of two loculi.

The arrangements touching fuel and water in this great metal-working establishment are on a large scale. The biggest of the Afrán (“furnaces”) lies to the north-west, near the right bank of the valley: all are of the ordinary type, originally some five or six feet high, to judge from the bases. They are built of fire-brick, and of the Hismá stone, which faces itself into a natural latex. We dug deep into several of them; but so careful had been the workmen, or perhaps those who afterwards ransacked these places, that not the smallest tear of metal remained: we found only ashes, pottery, and scoriae, as usual black and green, the latter worked sub-aerially; many of them had projections like stalactite. Round the furnaces are strewed carbonate of lime, stained black with iron, like that of Sharmá; and a quantity of the chlorite-enamelled serpentine still used in the Brazil as a flux.

Quartz was absent, and we were at a loss to divine what stone had been worked. At last we observed near the catacombs sundry heaps of pinkish earth, evidently washed out; and our researches in the South Country afterwards suggested that this may have been the remains of the micaceous schist, whose containing quartz was so extensively worked at Umm el-Haráb. Moreover, a short study of Shaghab threw more light on the matter.

Water also had been stored up with prodigious labour. We could easily trace the lines of half a dozen aqueducts, mostly channelled with rough cement, overlying a fine concrete; some of them had grooved stones to divert the stream by means of lashers. The Fiskíyyah or “tanks,” as carefully built, were of all sizes; and the wells, which appeared to be mediaeval, were lined with stones cut in segments of circles: we shall see the same curve in Sultán Selim’s work near Zibá. The greatest feat is an aqueduct which, sanded over in the upper part, subtends the left side of the valley. It is carefully but rudely built, and where it crosses a gully, the “horizontal arch” is formed of projecting stone tiers, without a sign of key. This magnum opus must date from the days when the southern part of the Wady was nearly what it is now.

About a mile and a quarter below our camp, the Wady, which broadens to a mile, shows on the left bank a wall measuring a thousand metres long, apparently ending in a tank of 110 feet each way. Around it are ruined parallelograms of every size, which in ancient times may have been workshops connected with the buildings in the island higher up. The torrents have now washed away the continuation, if ever there was any; and, though the lower remnants are comparatively safe upon their high ledge, the holm is evidently fated to disappear.

I did not learn till too late that a single day’s march southwards from the Wady Shuwák, along the old main line of traffic, leads to the Wady Nejd, upon whose upper course is the plain of Badá; and which, after assuming four different names, falls, as will be seen, into the sea about thirty-five miles north of El–Wijh.

We left Shuwák considerably posed, puzzled, and perplexed by what it had shown us. A little pottery had been picked up, but our diggings had not produced a coin or even a bit of glass. The evidences of immense labour are the more astonishing when compared with the utter absence of what we call civilization. The Greek and Latin inscriptions of the Hauranic cities declare their origin: these, absolutely unalphabetic, refuse a single hint concerning the mysterious race which here lived and worked, and worked so nobly. And, finally, who were the Moslems that succeeded them in a later day, when the Hajj-caravan, some three centuries and a half ago, ceased to march by this road? How is it that the annalists say nothing of them? that not a vestige of tradition remains concerning any race but the Nazarenes?

From Shuwák to the Wady Dámah there are two roads, a direct and an indirect; the latter passing by the ruins of Shaghab. The caravan begged hard to take the former, but was summarily refused. At six a.m. we rode down the Shuwák valley, again noting its huge constructions, and then striking away from it to the left, we passed over a short divide of brown hill, where the narrow Pass was marked only by Bedawi graves. The morning showed a peculiar rainbow, if a bow may be called so when no rain appeared; a perpendicular stripe, brilliant enough, and lasting at least twenty minutes. The cloud behind it had no skirt, no droop in fact, no sign of dissolution; and what made it the stranger was that this “bull’s-eye” lay north of, and not opposite to, but quite near, the rising sun. We shall note another of these exceptional rainbows at El–Badá.166

After marching some seven miles to the south with westing, we saw inform heaps to the left: half an hour afterwards, boulder-encircled pits of a brighter green on the right, the Themáil el-Má (“artificial cisterns”) of the Arabs, announced that we were reaching Shaghab. The caravan punished us by wasting five hours on the way, in order to force a halt; and by camping at the wrong place, when I objected to the delay. It brought with it, however, a fine young Beden (ibex), killed by one of the Bedawin; and we determined to stuff, to bury, and to bake it, Arab fashion, under the superintendence of the Básh-Buzúk Husayn. Unfortunately it was served to us on the next day cold, whereas it should have been eaten at once, piping hot. The meat was dark, with a beefy rather than a gamey flavour, palatable, but by no means remarkable. There were loud regrets that a cuisse de chevreuil had not been marinée; in fact, an infect odour of the Quartier Latin everywhere followed us; and when a guide told us the pattern lie, that we should not reach Umm ‘Amir before the fourth day, the poor “Frogs” croaked, and croaked audibly as dismally. Their last bottle of ordinaire was finished; Gabr, the Kázi, had come into camp, bearing a long official Arabic document from Lieutenant Yusuf, but not a single Journal de Genève; there was no news of a steamer being sent with rations and forage from Suez: briefly, c’était embetant — to use the milder of the two favourite synonyms.

The ruins of Shaghab are built upon a more complicated site than those of Shuwák. The position is charming. The Wady Shaghab, flowing to the south, here spreads out in a broad bulge or basin open to the west. Down-stream we see a “gate” formed by the meeting of two rocky tongue-tips, both showing large works. Beyond these narrows the valley bends to the south-west and feeds the Wady Aznab, which falls into the sea south of the Dámah. The mass of the ruined city lies upon the left bank, where a high and artificial-looking remblai of earth masks an eastern influent, the Wady el-Aslah (Athlah), or “of the Kali-plant.” It drains the mountain of the same name, and the Jebel Zigláb (Zijláb), the cones of pale granite visible from Shuwák; and upon its broad mouth the old settlement stood à cheval. A little north of west rises profiled the great Shárr, no longer a ridge with a coping of four horns, but a tall and portly block, from whose summit spring heads and peaks of airy blue-pink. Slightly east of north the twins Naghar and Nughayr, combining to form the “Mountain of the Maker” (Jebel el-Sáni’), tower in the shape of a huge pyramid. Lastly, a regular ascent, the Majrá el-Wághir, fronts the city, sloping up to the west-north-west, and discloses a view of the Jibál el-Tihámah: this broad incline was, some three centuries ago, the route of the Hajj-caravan.

We walked down the Shaghab valley-bed, whose sides, like those of the Dámah, are chevaux de frise of dead wood. The characteristic rock is a conglomerate of large and small stones, compacted by hard silicious paste, and stained mauve-purple apparently by manganese: we had seen it on the way to Shuwák; and the next day’s march will pave the uplands with it. The wells in the sole are distinctly Arab, triangular mouths formed and kept open by laying down tree-trunks, upon which the drawer of water safely stands. On the right bank up-stream no ruins are perceptible; those on the left are considerable, but not a quarter the size of Shuwák. Here again appear the usual succession of great squares: the largest to the east measures 500 metres along the sides; and there are three others, one of 400 metres by 192. They are subtended by one of many aqueducts, whose walls, two feet thick, showed no signs of brick: it is remarkable for being run underground to pierce a hillock; in fact, the system is rather Greek or subterranean, than Roman or subaerial. Further down are the remains apparently of a fort: heaps of land-shells lie about it; they are very rare in this region, and during our four months’ march we secured only two species.167

Still descending, we found the ancient or mediaeval wells, numbering about a dozen, and in no wise differing from those of Shuwák. At the gorge, where the Wady escapes from view, Lieutenant Amir planned buildings on the lower right bank, and on the left he found a wall about half a mile long, with the remains of a furnace and quartz scattered about it. This stone had reappeared in large quantities, the moment we crossed the divide; the pale grey of the Jebel Zigláb and its neighbours was evidently owing to its presence; and from this point it will be found extending southwards and seawards as far as El–Hejaz. He brought with him a hard white stone much resembling trachyte, and fragments of fine green jasper.

A cursory inspection of Shaghab removed some of the difficulties which had perplexed us at Shuwák and elsewhere. In the North Country signs of metal-working, which was mostly confined to the Wadys, have been generally obliterated; washed away or sanded over. Here the industry revealed itself without mistake. The furnaces were few, but around each one lay heaps of Negro and copper-green quartz, freshly fractured; while broken handmills of basalt and lava, differing from the rubstones and mortars of a softer substance, told their own tale.

At Shaghab, then, the metalliferous “Marú” brought from the adjacent granitic mountains was crushed, and then transported for roasting and washing to Shuwák, where water, the prime necessary in these lands, must have been more abundant. Possibly in early days the two settlements formed one, the single [Greek] of Ptolemy; and the south end would have been the headquarters of the wealthy. Hence the Bedawin always give it precedence — Shaghab wa Shuwák; moreover, we remarked a better style of building in the former; and we picked up glass as well as pottery.

As a turkey buzzard (vulture) is the fittest emblem for murderous Dahome, so I should propose for Midian, now spoiled and wasted by the Wild Man, a broken handmill of basalt upon a pile of spalled Negro quartz.

159 The word is explained in my “Itineraries,” part ii. sect. 3.

160 See Appendix IV. “Botanical Notes.”

161 “Opens,” i.e. the door for a higher price: it is the usual formula of refusing to sell.

162 Chap. XVI.

163 The Saturday Review, in a courteous notice of my first volume (May 25, 1878), has the following remarks:—“The Arabs talk of some (?) Nazarenes, and a ‘King of the Franks,’ having built the stone huts and the tombs in a neighbouring cemetery (‘Aynúnah). But there can be no local tradition worth repeating in this instance.” Here we differ completely; and those will agree with me who know how immutable and, in certain cases, imperishable Arab tradition is. The reviewer, true, speaks of North Midian, where all the tribes, except the Beni ‘Ukbah, are new. Yet legend can survive the destruction and disappearance of a race: witness the folk-traditions of the North–Eastern Italians and the adjacent Slavs. Here, however, in South Midian we have an ancient race, the Baliyy. And what strengthens the Christian legend is that it is known to man, woman, and child throughout the length and breadth of the land.

164 In Sinai “Shinnár” is also applied to a partridge, but I am unable to distinguish the species — caccabis, Desert partridge, (Ammoperdix heyi, the Arab Hajl), or the black partridge (Francolinus vulgaris).

165 Chap. IX. has already noticed Ptolemy’s short measure.

166 Chap. XVII.

167 Helix desertorum (Forsk.) and Helix (sp. incert.)

Chapter XII.

From Shaghab to Zibá— ruins of El–Khandakí’ and Umm Ámil — the Turquoise Mine–Return to El–Muwaylah.

Leaving Lieutenant Amir to map the principal ruins, we followed the caravan up the Majrá el-Wághir, the long divide rising to the west-north-west. The thin forest reminded me of the wooded slopes of the Anti–Libanus about El–Kunaytarah: there, however, terebinths and holm-oaks take the place of these unlovely and uncomfortable thorn-trees. They are cruelly beaten — an operation called El–Ramá— by the Bedawi camel-man, part of whose travelling kit, and the most important part too, here as in Sinai, is the flail (Murmár or Makhbat) and the mat to receive the leaves: perhaps Acacias and Mimosas are not so much bettered by “bashing” as the woman, the whelp, and the walnut-tree of the good old English proverb. After three miles we passed, on the left, ruins of long walls and Arab Wasm, with white memorial stones perched on black. In front rose the tall Jebel Tulayh, buttressing the right or northern bank of the Dámah; and behind it, stained faint-blue by distance, floated in the flickering mirage the familiar forms of the Tihámah range, a ridge now broken into half a dozen blocks. I had ordered the caravan to march upon the Tuwayl el-Súk; but, after one hour and fifteen minutes, we found the tents pitched some three miles short of it, on a bleak and ugly wave of the Wághir. The Shaykhs swore, by all holy things, that this was the veritable Tuwayl; and a Bedawi, who declared that he knew where water lay in the neighbourhood, refused to show it sans the preliminary “bakhshísh.” Mashallah! It is a noble race.

Early next morning (six a.m., March 3rd) we followed the right bank of the Wady el-Khandakí, which runs north with westing. Beyond it lay the foot-hills of gloomy trap leading to the Jebel el-Raydán, a typical granitic form, a short demi-pique saddleback with inwards-sloping pommel like the Pao d’Assucar of picturesque Rio de Janeiro. Here as elsewhere, the granites run parallel with and seaward of the traps. The Tuwayl el-Súk is nothing but an open and windy flat, where the Hajj-caravan used to camp an adjoining ridge, the Hamrá el-Tuwayl, shows spalled quartz, Wasm and memorial stones. The principal formation here is the mauve-purple conglomerate before described.

After riding nine miles we came unexpectedly upon a large and curious ruin, backed by the broad Wady Dámah gleaming white in the sun. The first feature noticed was a pair of parallel walls, or rather their foundations, thirty-five feet apart, and nearly a kilometre in length: it looked like a vast hangar. To the left lie three tracings of squares; the central is a work of earth and stone, not unlike a rude battery; and, a few paces further north, a similar fort has a cistern attached to its western curtain. Heaps of rounded boulders, and the crumbling white-edged mounds which, in these regions, always denote old habitations, run down the right bank of the Wady el-Khandakí to its junction with the Dámah. For want of a better name I called this old settlement Kharábát (the “Ruins of”) el-Khandakí, and greatly regretted that we had not time enough to march down the whole line of the Dámah.

Half an hour more placed us at the great Wady, whose general direction is here west with a little southing, and which still merits its fame as an Arabian Arcadia. The banks were thickly bordered with secular tamarisks (T. orientalis), those hardy warriors with the Hebrew–Arabic name Asl (Athl), that battle against wind and weather, as successfully at Dovercourt (Essex) as at Haydarábád (Sind).

The tint was the normal grey-green, not unlike that of the traps in arrière plan. The clumps sheltered goats, sheep, and camels; and our mules now revel every day on green meat, growing fatter and fatter upon the Aristida grass, the Panicum, the Hordeum murinum, and the Bromus of many varieties. Fronting us rose the twin granitic peaks of Jebel Mutadán, one with a stepped side like an unfinished pyramid. They are separated from the Dámah by a rough and stony divide; and ruins with furnaces are reported to be found in their valley-drain, which feeds the great Wady ‘Amúd.

We halted, after some sixteen to seventeen miles, at the water El–Ziyayb, slightly brackish but relished by our animals; and resumed our way in the cool sea-breeze at one p.m., passing the Jebel Tulayh on the north bank. The track then left the Dámah and turned up a short broad bed to the north-west. On the right rose a block of syenite, ruddy with orthose, all rounded lumps and twisted finials; it discharged a quantity of black sand that streaked the gravel plain. At four p.m. we camped on a broad divide, El–Kutayyifah, where an adjacent Sha’b, or “fold,” supplied fresh rain-water. The march had teen long (seven hours = twenty-two miles); and Shaykhs and camel-men looked, the Sayyid said, as if they had “smelt Jehannum.”

This divide, also called the Jayb el Sa’lúwwah, with granites to the east, and traps mixed with granites on the west, shows signs of labour. Hard by, to the south-west, some exceptionally industrious Bedawi, of the Jeráfín-Huwaytát, had laid out a small field with barley. In the evening we walked westward to the hills that bound the slope; and came upon a rock-cut road leading to an atalier, where “Marú” has been spalled from the stone in situ. Some specimens had a light-bluish tinge, as if stained by cobalt, a metal found in several slags; and there were veins of crystalline amethyst-quartz, coloured, said the engineer by chlorure of silver (?). The filons and filets cut the granite in all directions; and the fiery action of frequent trap-dykes had torn the ground-rock to tatters. The western side of El–Kutayyifah also showed modern ruins.

The guides reported, as usual when too late, that to the west-south-west lies a Nakb, called Abú‘l Marwah (“Father of the Quartz-place”), whose waters flow viâ the Mutadán to the ‘Amúd valley. For some days I had cold shudders lest this Pass, thus left unvisited, might be the Zúl-Marwah, the classical “Móchoura,” one of the objects of our Expedition. The alarm proved, however, as will be seen, false. A Bedawi youth also volunteered a grand account of three “written stones;” a built well surrounded by broken quartz; and, a little off the road from El–Kutayyifah to Umm Ámil, the remains of El–Dayr (“the Convent”). As Leake well knew, the latter is “a name which is often indiscriminately applied by the Arabs to ancient ruins.” The lad said they were close by, but the Garíb (“near”) and the Gurayyib (“nearish”) of the Midianite much resemble the Egyptian Fellah’s Taht el-Wish, “Under the face”— we should say “nose”— or Taht el-Ka’b, “Under the heel.” They may mean a handful of miles. As he refused to guide us, we secured the services of an old shepherd, who, objecting to sleep in camp, caused abundant trouble and delay next morning.

From this divide two roads lead to the ruins of Umm Ámil: one makes a considerable detour up a branch-valley in order to avoid an ugly Pass on the direct line. I again refused the camel-men permission to proceed by the indirect route, well knowing that they would do their best to miss us. On March 4th, at six a.m., a long descent and a similar rise led us to a Col, which presently became a broad open plain, 2100 feet above sea-level (aner. 28.85). Tents were scattered about the valleys; the lads tended their goats, and we greatly admired one fellow who had fallen asleep in the hot ascending steams. Here the old guide halted us, and declared that on the top of the dark trap-block the left (south) was a Mashghal, or “work-place,” with a strew of quartz and nothing else. Thus ended the “built well.” Descending to a lower plane, bounded in front by low rolling hills, I sent Lieutenant Amir to examine the “Convent” and the “written stones.” He came up with us at the halt; having been led over a rough divide by an abominable path; and he had seen only a few ruined heaps and three Arab Wusúm. Moreover, he had not dared to show disappointment before the old shepherd, who would probably have bolted in fear, and left him to find his own way.

Meanwhile the caravan continued its course down the broad smooth Wady Ruways, on whose left side was a large atelier, with broken walls and spalled quartz of the Negro variety. Here we found, for the first time, the handmills made of the hardest grey granite, so beautifully worked further south; they explained the fine and carefully polished tube which had been brought to the first Expedition at Zibá.168 Several of these articles were all but whole, an exception in this land of “‘clasts.” We then struck over the stony divide to the left, towards a fine landmark — a Khitm, or “block,” shaped like a seal cut en cabochon: its name is the barbarous sounding Khurm el-Badaríyyah. During the ascent, which was easy, we passed a second strew and scatter of the white stone broken into small pieces. From the Col, reached at 9.45 a.m., a descent, vile for camels not for mules, presently landed us in the Wady Umm Ámil. The left bank of the hideous narrow gorge showed a line of wells or water-pits, made, said Furayj, by the Mutakaddimín (veteres) — the Ancients who were probably Mediævals. Crossing the torrent-gully we left on its right bank the ruins of large works, especially the upper parallelogram. After a thirteen miles’ ride we halted at 10.40 a.m. under a rock on the left side, opposite three couthless heaps of water-rolled stones surrounded by fine quartz. By far the poorest thing we had yet seen, this “town” had been grandiosely described to the first Expedition at Zibá. Many blessings were heaped upon the head of Ámil and his mother: the name, however, as the Sayyid suggested, is evidently a corruption of Mu’ámil —“the workman, the employee.”169 I would conjecture that here the slave-miners were stationed, Old Zibá being the master’s abode: our caravan entitled it El–Lomán —“the bagnio, the prison for galériens.” On the coast-town I procured some specimens of heavy red copper which had been dug out of a ruined furnace; the metal is admirable, and it retrieves to a certain extent the lost reputation of Umm Ámil.

At noon we resumed a hot ride down the ugly, rocky watercourse, both of whose banks showed long lines of ruins. Presently, crossing a divide marked by two stone-heaps, we fell into the broader but equally unpicturesque Wady Salmá. It is on about the same parallel as Ziba’ (north lat. 27° 20’); and more than the usual allowance for the error of low latitude must be admitted if we would identify it with the Mediterranean [Greek] of Ptolemy (vi. 7), [Greek], in north lat. 260°, or fifteen miles south of Sóaka.

Wady Salmá is the smallest and the northernmost of the three basins which we have just visited; the central being the Dámah, and the southern Wady Shaghab–Aslah-Aznab. Steaming southwards we shall note the mouths of all these watercourses. We presently passed on the right bank the debouchure of the Wady Ruways, and left there a guard to direct the caravan, in case it should disobey orders, and march up to Umm Ámil. Here the valley gave forage to a herd of milch-camels, apparently unguarded; each had her foal, some newborn, others dating from January or February. After one hour and forty-five minutes (= six miles) we camped on the fine sands that floor the dull line hemmed in by tall masses of red and green trap. The adjacent scatter of Arab wells in the bed is known as the Má el-Badí‘ah. I carefully inquired concerning ruins in the neighbourhood; and we climbed the torrent-sides to command a (very limited) bird’s-eye view of the hills. According to the guides, there are no remains of the “old ones” nearer than Umm Ámil

Setting out early next morning (5.45 a.m., March 5th), after half an hour down the Wady Salmá, we saw its lower course becoming a mere gorge, constricted by two opposite rocks. On the left bank, above this narrow, lies a group of Arab graves, which may have been built upon older foundations. The right side here receives the Wady Haraymal (“Little Peganum-plant”), the Haráímil of the broad-speaking Bedawin. As we struck up its dull ascent, the southern form of the Shárr-giant suddenly broke upon us, all glorious in his morning robes of ethereal gauzy pink. The foreshortened view, from the south as well as the north, shows a compact prism-formed mass which has been compared with an iceberg. The main peak, Abú Shenázir, here No. 4 from the north, proudly bears a mural crown of granite towers, which it hides from El–Muwaylah; and the southern end, a mere vanishing ridge at this angle, but shown en face to the seaboard abreast of it, breaks into three distinctly marked bluffs and heads.170

A divide then led upwards and downwards to the Wady Abá Rikayy, remarkable only for warm pools, and crystal-clear runners, springing from the sole. The fringings of white show the presence of salt; the shallows are covered with the greenest mosses, and beetles chase one another over the depths where the waters sleep. The lower course takes the name of Wady Kifáfí, and discharges into the sea north of the Wady Salmá, with which it has erroneously been united, as in Niebuhr’s Selmá wa Kafâfa. According to the Kátib Chelebi, who, over two centuries ago, made the “Kabr Shaykh el-Kifáfí” the second pilgrim-station south of El–Muwaylah, a certain Bedawi chief, El–Kifáfí, was killed with a spear, and his tomb became a place of pious visitation. It is said still to exist between the Wadys Salmá and Kifáfí. A third divide to the north led along the eastern flank of the Jebel Abú Rísh, which exposes its head to the sea; and, reaching the Col, we had the pleasure of once more greeting the blue cove that forms the port of Zibá.

We then descended into the Wady Sidrah, whose left bank is formed by the Safrá Zibá—“the Yellow (hill) of Zibá.” This small outlying peak is clad in the gaudiest of colours, especially a vivid citron-yellow, set off by red and rusty surroundings, which are streaked with a dead chalky-white. The citizens declare that it is absolutely useless, because it does not supply sulphur. During our day’s halt at Zibá, M. Marie brought from it quartz of several kinds; the waxy, the heat-altered, and the blue, stained with carbonate of copper. Possibly this metal may be abundant at a lower horizon

The “Valley of the (one) Jujube-tree,” after narrowing to a stony gut, suddenly flares out into the Wady Zibá, the vulgar feature of these regions, provided with the normal “Gate” some three hundred yards broad. Beyond it, the flat surrounding the head of the cove is remarkably well grown with palms, clumps of the Daum, and scattered date-trees, of which one is walled round. Hence I am disposed to consider Zibá the [Greek], or Phoenicon Vicus, of Ptolemy: although he places it in north lat. 26° 20’, or between Sharm Dumayghah and El–Wijh, when it lies in north lat. 27° 20’. I have already protested against the derivation of the word — which is written “Dhoba” by Wallin, “Deba” by Niebuhr, and “Zibber” by the Hydrographic Chart — proposed by my learned friend Sprenger.171 His theory was probably suggested by El-Yákút (iii. 464), who, in the twelfth century, describes “Dhabba” as “a village on the coast, opposite to which is a settlement with flowing water, called Badá: the two are separated by seventy miles.” An older name for the station is Bir el-Sultáni — the “Well of the Sultán” (Selim?): we shall presently inspect these remains. Itineraries also give Kabr el-Tawáshi, “the Eunuch’s Tomb;” and this we still find near the palms at the head of the inner baylet. It is a square measuring six paces each way, mud and coralline showing traces of plaster outside. Like Wellsted (II. X.) we failed to discover any sign of the Birkat (“tank”) mentioned in a guide-book which Burckhardt quotes; nor had the citizens ever heard of a “reservoir.”

The camping-ground of the pilgrims lies between the “Gate” and the cove-head. Around the wells sat at squat a small gathering of the filthy “Moghrebin” (Allah yakharrib-hum!). About 260 of these rufffians were being carried gratis, by some charitable merchant, in a Sambúk that lay at the harbour-mouth. A party had lately slaughtered a camel, of course not their own property; and yet they wondered that the Bedawin shoot them. They showed their insolence by threatening with an axe the dog Juno, when she sportively sallied out to greet them; and were highly offended because, in view of cholera and smallpox, I stationed sentries to keep them at a distance. Had there been contagious disease among them, it would have spread in no time. They haunted the wells, which were visited all day by women driving asses from the settlement; even the single old beggar of Zibá— unfailing sign of civilization — was here; and the black tents of the Arabs, who grazed their flocks at the cove-head, lay within easy shot of infection. On the evening of the next day, when the Sambúk made sail, the shouting and screaming, the brawling, cudgelling, and fighting, heard a mile off, reminded me of the foul company of Maghrabís on board the Golden Wire.

“Sultán Selim’s Well” has now grown to four, all large and masonry-lined. That to the south-east is dry; travellers are confined to the western, whose strong coping they have managed to tear down; whilst the northern shows hard old kerb-stones, deeply grooved and rope-channelled like that of Beersheba. We breakfasted at the head of the inner bay, whilst the Sayyid rode forward to meet his brother Mahmúd, who had kindly brought us the news from El–Muwaylah. Here we could see the townlet covering a low point projecting into the Sharm; a few large and some small tenements formed the body, whilst the head was the little Burj built, some fourteen years ago, upon the tall sea-bank to the north. It bore, by way of welcome, the Viceroy’s flag.

The camp was pitched upon the northern shore of the inner cove, behind the new town, and sheltered by the tall sea-cliff: here stood Old Zibá, whose stones, buried for ages under the sand, are now dug up to build its successor. I thought better of the settlement and of the port after visiting them a second time. We had looked forward to it even as to a petit Paris: so Damascus and the Syrian cities appear centres of civilization to Westerns coming from the East — not from the West. It is far superior, especially in the article water, to El–Muwaylah; it exports charcoal in large quantities, and it does a thriving business with the Bedawi. Here are signs of a pier, and a mosque is to be built. The fish is excellent and abundant; lobsters are caught by night near the reef, and oysters in the bay when the tide is out. We succeeded, at last, in having our batterie de cuisine properly tinned, and we replenished our stores.172 As at El-‘Akabah, “Hashísh” may be bought in any quantity, but no ‘Ráki — hence, perhaps, the paleness and pastiness of the local complexion — and yet our old acquaintance, Mohammed el-Musalmáni, is a Copt who finds it convenient to be a Moslem. He aided us in collecting curiosities, especially a chalcedony (agate) intended for a talisman and roughly inscribed in Kufic characters, archaic and pointed like Bengali, with the Koranic chapter (xcii.) that testifies the Unity, “Kul, Huw’ Allah,” etc. As regards the port, Wellsted (Il. X.) is too severe upon it: “At Sherm Dhobá the anchorage is small and inconvenient, and could only be made available for boats or small vessels.” Dredging the sand-bar and cutting a passage in the soft coralline reef will give excellent shelter and, some say, a depth of seventeen fathoms.

Our first care was to walk straight into the sea, travelling clothes and all. I then received the notables, including Mohammed Selámah of El–Wijh, and at once began to inquire about the Jebel el-Fayrúz. The chief trader pleaded ignorance: he was a stranger, a new-comer; he had never been out of the settlement. The others opposed to me hard and unmitigated Iying: they knew nothing about turquoises; there were no such stones; the mines were exhausted.

And yet I knew that this coast is visited for turquoises by Europeans; and that the gem has been, and still is, sold at Suez and Cairo. Mr. Clarke had many uncut specimens at Zagázig, embedded in a dark gangue, which he called “porphyry,” as opposed to the limestone which bears the silicate of copper. Upon our first Expedition, we had noticed a splendid specimen, set in a Bedawi matchlock; and the people of El-‘Akabah praised highly the produce of the Jebel el-Ghál. Lastly, I happened to have heard that an Arab lately brought to Zibá a turquoise which sold there for £3. Evidently the mine, like the gold-sands before alluded to, would be carefully hidden from us. This reticence explained how, on our first visit, the two Staff-officers sent to prospect the diggings had been misdirected to a block lying north of the townlet, the “Red Hills,” alias the Jebel el-Shegayg.

Shortly after I left Egypt an Italian, Sig. F— returned to Suez from El–Muwaylah, with some fine pearls worth each from £20 to £30, and turquoises which appeared equally good. He was then bound for Italy, but he intended returning to Midian in a month or two. These are the men who teach the ready natives the very latest “dodges;” such as stimulating the peculiar properties of the pearl-oyster by inserting grains of sand.

I also collected notes concerning the ruins of M’jirmah, of which we had heard so many tales. The site, they said, is a branch of the Wady Azlam, the first of the three marches between Zibá and El–Wijh, and seven and a half hours’ sail along the coast. This watercourse shows, above the modern Hajj-station, the ruins of a fort built by Sultán Selim: Wellsted (II. X.) also mentions a castle lying three miles inland. From the head of the Sharm Dumayghah, seventy to seventy-two knots south of El–Muwaylah, Shaykh Furayj pointed out to us the pale-blue peaks of the Jebel Zafar:173 in the upper part of its Wady, the ‘Amúd Zafar, a southern branch valley of the Azlam, lies the ruin. He made it six hours’ march from the seaboard. It was an ancient gold-mine (?), whose house-foundations and a “well with steps” still remain. “M’jirmah,” which must not be confounded with the “Umm Jirmah,” an atelier that we shall visit tomorrow, has been identified with the [Greek] (Rhaunathi Pagus) of Ptolemy (north lat. 25° 40’). We will return to this subject when steaming down coast.

Our day of rest ended, at seven p.m., with a heavy storm of wind and rain from the north: the sun had been unusually hot for some days, and the sky looked ugly in the evening. As usual, all assured us that the clouds contained wind, not rain. Despite which, when the mess-tent had been nearly blown down, owing to our men being unwilling to leave their warm retreats, a heavy drenching downfall set in, and continued till eleven p.m. After a short lull, wind and rain again raged at midnight; and then the gale gradually blew itself out. The next two mornings were delightfully brisk and bracing; and deep puddles dotted the rocks.

On March 7th the caravan marched straight northwards, by the Hajj-road, along the shore to its camping-ground, an affair of two hours, while M. Marie and I set off for the turquoise mine. Furayj, who had never passed that way, engaged as guide one Sulaym el-Makrafi; and this old dromedary-rider’s son had been sent on to bring into camp all the Fayruz he could find. Crossing at six a.m. the broad pilgrim-track, we struck eastward at a place where the Secondary gypsum subtends the old coralline cliff. After three-quarters of an hour, we traversed the Wady Zahakán, the southernmost Pass over the Shárr (proper); and presently we ascended a branch that falls into the right bank. As we advanced, it became a rock-walled, stonesoled tunnel; winding, contracting and widening, rising and flattening, and generally interesting, compared with the dull flat breadth of such features as the Wady Salmá. The overfalls of rock and the unfriendly thorn-trees, selfishly taking up all the room, necessitate frequent zigzags up and down the rocky, precipitous banks. After a number of divides we entered the Wady Háskshah, which was wider and good for riding; and at 8.30 a.m. we passed into the Wady Umm Jirmah.

In this broad basin we found none of the ruins so often reported; but immense quantities of broken quartz showed the Mashghal or atelier. The material was distinguished, from all the outcrops hitherto observed, by its pretty pink, stained with oxide of iron: it appeared in large ramifications mostly striking east-west, and in little pitons dotting the valley sole and sides. A subsequent visit to Wady Umm Jirmah found many furnaces surrounded by well-worked scoriae; of these, specimens were secured.

After another half-hour, we dismounted at the watershed of the Wady el-Ghál, where the old guide lost no time in losing his head. The Jebel el-Ghál, whose folds fall into its watercourse, is a detached block, rising nearly due south of the “Sharp Peak,” as the Chart calls Abú Kusayb, the northernmost horn of the Shárr; while the Ghál cove, breaking the sea-cliff, bears 270° (mag.) from the summit. The hill, which may measure 250 feet above sea-level (aner. 29.75), is composed of porphyritic trap and of the hardest felspars, veined with chocolate-coloured quartz, the true gangue. While we examined the formation, Furayj and old Sulaym, who became more and more “moony,” ransacked the block in all directions, and notably failed to find a trace of mining. Evidently Athor, the genius of the “Turquoise Mountain,” was not to be conquered by a coup de main; so I determined to tire her out.

After building a stone-man on the finial of the Jebel el-Ghál, and a short rest in the north-western Wady, we remounted and struck seawards. Some ugly divides led us, after half an hour, to a broad Fiumara, well grown with palm-bush, the veritable Wady el-Ghál. From this point a total of four miles, and a grand total of fourteen, led us to the camp: it had been pitched at the Mahattat el-Gha’l, on the north bank, where the “winter-torrent,” falling into the cove, has broken through the sea cliff.

Here the best of news was in store for us. Lieutenant Yusuf, who had this morning rejoined the Expedition, brought our mails from the Sambúk, which I had ordered by letter at El-‘Akabah; and reported that his Highness’s frigate Sinnár, an old friend, would relieve the lively Mukhbir in taking us to our last journey southwards. Rations for men and mules, and supplies for ourselves, all were coming. We felt truly grateful to the Viceroy and the Prince Minister for the gracious interest they had taken in the Expedition; and we looked forward with excitement to the proper finish of our labours. Without the third march, the exploration of Midian would have been Abtar, as the Arabs say, “tail-less;” that is, lame and impotent in point of conclusion.

But I would not be beaten by the enemy upon the subject of the lapis Pharanitis mine. During the course of the day, a Jeráfín Bedawi, Selím ibn Musallim, brought in scoriae of copper and iron; and on the morrow I sent him as guide to Lieutenant Yusuf, with an escort of two soldiers and eight quarrymen on seven camels. After three days’ absence (March 8 — 10) the officer rejoined us and reported as follows:—

Leaving the Mahattat el-Ghál, he rode up its watercourse, and then turned southwards into the long Wady Umm Jirmah. After seven miles and a half (= direct five and three-quarters), he came upon the Jebel el-Fayrúz. It is a rounded eminence of no great height, showing many signs of work, especially three or four cuttings some twenty metres deep. A hillock to the north-west supplied the scoriæ before mentioned. Lieutenant Yusuf blasted the chocolate-coloured quartzose rock in four places, filled as many sacks, and struck the pilgrim-road in the Wady el-Mu’arrash, leaving its red block, the Hamrá el-Mu’arrash, to the left. His specimens were very satisfactory; except to the learned geologists of the Citadel, Cairo, who pronounced them to be carbonate of copper! Dr. L. Karl Moser, of Trieste, examined them and found crystals of turquoise, or rather “johnite,” as Dana has it, embedded in or spread upon the quartz. One specimen, moreover, contained silver. So much for the Zibá or southern turquoise-diggings.

Our journey ended on March 8th with a dull ride along the Hajj-road northwards. Passing the creek Abú Sharír, which, like many upon this coast, is rendered futile by a wall of coral reef, we threaded a long flat, and after two hours (= seven miles) we entered a valley where the Secondary formation again showed its débris. Here is the Mahattat el-Husan (“the Stallion’s Leap”), a large boulder lying to the left of the track, and pitted with holes which a little imagination may convert into hoof-prints. The name of the noble animal was El–Mashhúr; that of its owner is, characteristically enough, forgotten by the Arabs: it lived in the Days of Ignorance; others add, more vaguely still, when the Beni ‘Ukbah, the lords of the land, were warring with the Baliyy. The gorge was then a mere cutting, blocked up by this rock. El–Mashhúr “negotiated” it, alighting upon the surface like a Galway hunter taking a stone wall; and carried to Wady Tiryam its rider, whose throat was incontinently cut by the foeman in pursuit. The legend is known to all, and the Bedawin still scrape away the sands which threaten to bury the boulder: it has its value, showing that in regions where the horse is now unknown, where, in fact, nothing but a donkey can live, noble blood was once bred. The same remark is made by Professor Palmer (“The Desert of the Exodus,” p. 42) concerning the Mangaz Hisán Abú Zená (“Leap of the Stallion of the Father of Adultery”), two heaps of stone near the Sinaitic Wady Gharandal. There, however, the animal is cursed, while here it is blessed: perhaps, also, the Midianite tradition may descend from a source which, still older, named the [Greek]. Is this too far-fetched? And yet, peradventure, it may be true.

We then fell into the Wady Jibbah; passed the Jebel el-Kibrít, examined M. Philipin’s work, and, led over a very vile and very long “short cut,” found ourselves once more on board the Mukhbir.

Note on the Supplies Procurable at Zibá.

The chief stores are:—

Rice (good Yemani), per Kis, or bag of five and a half Kaylah (each twenty-one Ratl = eighteen pounds), four to six dollars.

Durrah (Sorghum), per Ardebb (each = twelve Kaylah), seven and a half to eight dollars.

Dukhn (millet), not common, per Ardebb, eight dollars.

Wheat, always procurable, per Ardebb, ten to twelve dollars.

Barley, always procurable, per Ardebb, five to six dollars.

‘Adas (lentils, Revalenta Arabica), per Ardebb, ten to twelve

Samn (liquified butter), per Ratl, seven and a half to eight dollars.

Coffee (green), per pound, eighteen-pence.

‘Ajwah (pressed dates), 100 to 110 piastres per Kantar (= 100 Ratl).

Eggs, thirty-five to the shilling.

It is generally possible to buy small quantities of Hummus (lupins or chick-peas), Kharru’b (carob-pods), “hot” and coarse tobacco for the Arabs, and cigarette-paper, matches, etc.

168 See “The Gold Mines of Midian,’’ Chap. II.

169 So in Moab the ruins of “Méron” or Mérou of the Greeks has degenerated into Umm Rasás, “the Mother of Lead.”

170 Their names will be given in Chap. XIII.

171 A. G., p. 24. See “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” Chap. XI. Sprenger spells the word either with a Zád or a Zá: I have discussed the question in my “Itineraries,” part ii. sect. 4.

172 See the end of this Chapter for a list.

173 See Chap. XIV.

Chapter XIII.

A Week Around and upon the Shárr Mountain–Résumé of the March Through Eastern or Central Midian.

For months the Jebel Shárr, the grand block which backs El–Muwaylah, had haunted us, starting up unexpectedly in all directions, with its towering heads, that shifted shape and colour from every angle, and with each successive change of weather. We could hardly leave unexplored the classical “Hippos Mons,” the Moslem’s El–Ishárah (“the Landmark”), and the Bullock’s Horns of the prosaic British tar.174 The few vacant days before the arrival of the Sinnár offered an excellent opportunity for studying the Alpine ranges of maritime Midian. Their stony heights, they said, contain wells and water in abundance, with palms, remains of furnaces, and other attractions. Every gun was brought into requisition, by tales of leopard and ibex, the latter attaining the size of bullocks (!) and occasionally finding their way to the fort:— it was curious to hear our friends, who, as usual, were great upon “le shport,” gravely debating whether it would be safe to fire upon le léopard. I was anxious to collect specimens of botany and natural history from an altitude hitherto unreached by any traveller in Western Arabia; and, lastly, there was geography as well as mineralogy to be done.

The Hydrographic Chart gives the Mountain a maximum of nine thousand175 feet, evidently a clerical error often repeated — really those Admiralty gentleman are too incurious: Wellsted, who surveyed it, remarks (II. X.), “The height of the most elevated peak was found to be 6500 feet, and it obtained from us the appellation of ‘Mowilabh High Peak”’— when there are native names for every head. We had been convinced that the lesser is the true measure, by our view from the Hismá plateau, 3800 feet above sea-level. Again, the form, the size, and the inclination of the noble massif are wrongly laid down by the hydrographers. It is a compact block, everywhere rising abruptly from low and sandy watercourses, and completely detached from its neighbours by broad Wadys — the Surr to the north and east, while southwards run the Kuwayd and the Zahakán. The huge long-oval prism measures nineteen and a half by five miles (= ninety-seven and a half square miles of area); and its lay is 320° (mag.), thus deflected 40° westward of the magnetic north. The general appearance, seen in profile from the west, is a Pentedactylon, a central apex, with two others on each side, tossed, as it were, to the north and south, and turning, like chiens de faïence, their backs upon one another.

Moreover, the Chart assigns to its “Mount Mowilah” only two great culminations —“Sharp Peak, 6330 feet,” to the north; and south of it, “High Peak, 9000.” The surveyors doubtless found difficulty in obtaining the Bedawi names for the several features, which are unknown to the citizens of the coast; but they might easily have consulted the only authorities, the Jeráfín-Huwaytát, who graze their flocks and herds on and around the mountain. As usual in Arabia, the four several main “horns” are called after the Fiumaras that drain them. The northernmost is the Abú Gusayb (Kusayb) or Ras el-Gusayb (the “Little Reed”), a unity composed of a single block and of three knobs in a knot; the tallest of the latter, especially when viewed from the south, resembles an erect and reflexed thumb — hence our “Sharp Peak.” Follows Umm el-Furút (the “Mother of Plenty”), a mural crest, a quoin-shaped wall, cliffing to the south: the face, perpendicular where it looks seawards, bears a succession of scars, upright gashes, the work of wind and weather; and the body which supports it is a slope disposed at the natural angle. An innominatus, in the shape of a similar quoin, is separated by a deep Col, apparently a torrent-bed, from a huge Beco de Papagaio — the “Parrot’s Bill” so common in the Brazil. This is the Abú Shenázir or Shaykhánib (the “Father of Columns”); and, as if two names did not suffice, it has a third, Ras el-Huwayz (“of the Little Cistern”). It is our “High Peak,” the most remarkable feature of the sea-façade, even when it conceals the pair of towering pillars that show conspicuously to the north and south. From the beak-shaped apex the range begins to decline and fall; there is little to notice in the fourth horn, whose unimportant items, the Ras Lahyánah, the Jebel Maí‘h, and the Umm Gisr (Jisr), end the wall. Each has its huge white Wady, striping the country in alternation with dark-brown divides, and trending coastwards in the usual network.

The material of the four crests is the normal grey granite, enormous lumps and masses rounded by degradation; all chasms and naked columns, with here and there a sheet burnished by ancient cataracts, and a slide trickling with water, unseen in the shade and flashing in the sun like a sheet of crystal. The granite, however, is a mere mask or excrescence, being everywhere based upon and backed by the green and red plutonic traps which have enveloped it. And the prism has no easy inland slopes, as a first glance suggests; instead of being the sea-wall of a great plateau, it falls abruptly to the east as well as to the west. The country behind it shows a perspective of high and low hills, lines of dark rock divided from one another by Wadys of the usual exaggerated size. Of these minor heights only one, the Jebel el-Sahhárah looks down upon the sea, rising between the Dibbagh–Kh’shabríyyah block to the north, and the Shárr to the south. Beyond the broken eastern ground, the ruddy Hismá and the gloomy Harrah form the fitting horizon.

After this much for geography, we may view the monarch of Midianite mountains in the beauty and the majesty of his picturesque form. Seen from El–Muwaylah, he is equally magnificent in the flush of morning, in the still of noon, and in the evening glow. As the rays, which suggested the obelisk, are shooting over the southern crests, leaving the basement blue with a tint between the amethyst and the lapis lazuli, its northern third lies wrapped in a cloak of cold azure grey, and its central length already dons a half-light of warmer hue. Meanwhile, the side next the sun is flooded with an aerial aureole of subtle mist, a drift of liquid gold, a gush of living light, rippling from the unrisen orb, decreasing in warmth and brilliancy, paling and fading and waxing faint with infinite gradations proportioned to the increase of distance. Again, after the clear brooding sheen of day has set off the “stark strength and grandeur of rock-form contrasted with the brilliancy and sprightliness of sea,” the sinking sun paints the scene with the most gorgeous of blazonings. The colours of the pale rock-skeleton are so faint that there is nothing to interfere with the perfect development of atmospheric effects: it is a white sheet spread to catch the grand illumination, lambent lights of saffron and peach-blossom and shades of purple and hyacinth. As indescribably lovely is the after-glow, the zodiacal light which may have originated the pyramid; the lively pink reflection from the upper atmosphere; the vast variety of tints with which the greens and the reds, the purples and the fiery crimsons of the western sky tincture the receptive surface of the neutral-hued granites; and the chameleon-shiftings of the dying day, as it sinks into the arms of night. Nor less admirable are the feats of the fairy Refraction. The mighty curtain seems to rise and fall as if by magic: it imitates, as it were, the framework of man. In early morning the dancing of the air adds many a hundred cubits to its apparent stature: it is now a giant, when at midnight, after the equipoise of atmospheric currents, it becomes a dwarf replica of its former self.

I had neglected to order overnight the camels from El–Muwaylah, a penny-wise proceeding which delayed our departure. It was nearly nine a.m. (March 13th) before we left the Mukhbir, whose unhappies still sighed and yearned for the civilization and dissipation of Suez; landed at the head of the Sharm Yáhárr, and marched up the Wady Hárr. We were guided by two Jeráfín, Sulayman ibn Musallim and Farj ibn ‘Awayz; the former a model hill-man, a sturdy, thick-legged, huge-calved, gruff-voiced, full-bearded fellow, hot-tempered, good-humoured, and renowned as an ibex-hunter. His gun, marked “Lazari Coitinaz,” was a long-barrelled Spanish musket, degraded to a matchlock: it had often changed hands, probably by theft, and the present owner declared that he had bought it for seventy dollars — nearly £15! Yet its only luxury was the bottom of a breechloader brass cartridge, inlaid and flanked by the sharp incisors of the little Wabar, or mountain coney. These Bedawin make gunpowder for themselves; they find saltpetre in every cavern, and they buy from Egypt the sulphur which is found in their own hills.

After a few minutes we left the Hárr, which drains the tallest of the inland hillock-ranges, and the red block “Hamrá el-Maysarah;” and we struck south-east into the Wady Sanawíyyah. It is a vulgar valley with a novelty, the Tamrat Faraj. This cairn of brick-coloured boulders buttressing the right bank has, or is said to have, the Memnonic property of emitting sounds — Yarinn is the Bedawi word. The boomings and bellowings are said to be loudest at sunrise and sunset. The “hideous hum” of such subterraneous thunderings is alluded to by all travellers in the Dalmatian Island of Melada, and in the Narenta Valley. The marvel has been accounted for by the escape of imprisoned air unequally expanded, but “a veil of mystery hangs over the whole.”176 The valley-sides of dark trap were striped with white veins of heat-altered argil; the sole with black magnetic sand; and patches of the bed were buttercup-yellow with the Handán (dandelion), the Cytisus, and the Zaram (Panicum turgidum) loved by camels. Their jaundiced hue contrasted vividly with the red and mauve blossoms of the boragine El–Kahlá, the blue flowerets of the Lavandula (El–Zayti), and the delicate green of the useless177 asphodel (El–Borag), which now gave a faint and shadowy aspect of verdure to the slopes. Although the rise was inconsiderable, the importance of the vegetation palpably decreased as we advanced inland.

After four miles we reached the Wady-head, and wasted a couple of hours awaiting the camels that carried our supplies. The path then struck over a stony divide, with the Hamrá to the left or north, and on the other side the Hamrá el-Mu’arrash, made familiar to us by our last march. The latter ends in an isolated peak, the Jebel Gharghúr, which, on our return, was mistaken for the sulphur-hill of Jibbah. Presently we renewed acquaintance with the Wady el-Bayzá, whose lower course we had crossed south of Sharm Yáhárr: here it is a long and broad, white and tree-dotted expanse, glaring withal, and subtending all this section of the Shárr’s sea-facing base. We reached, after a total of eight miles, the Jibál el-Kawáim, or “the Perpendiculars,” one of the features which the Bedawin picturesquely call the Aulád el-Shárr (“Sons of the Sha’rr”). The three heads, projected westwards from the Umm Furút peak and then trending northwards, form a lateral valley, a bay known as Wady el-Káimah. It is a picturesque feature with its dark sands and red grit, while the profile of No. 3 head, the Káimat Abú Rákí, shows a snub-nosed face in a judicial wig, the trees forming an apology for a beard. I thought of “Buzfuz Bovill.”

We camped early, as the Safh el-Shárr (the “Plain of the Shárr”) and the lateral valley were found strewed with quartzes, white, pink, and deep slate-blue. The guides had accidentally mentioned a “Jebel el-Marú,” and I determined to visit it next morning. The night was warm and still. The radiation of heat from the huge rock-range explained the absence of cold, so remarkable during all this excursion — hence the African traveller ever avoids camping near bare stones. Dew, however, wetted our boxes like thin rain: the meteor, remarked for the first time on March 13th, will last, they say, three months, and will greatly forward vegetation. It seems to be uncertain, or rather to be influenced by conditions which we had no opportunity of studying: at times it would be exceptionally heavy, and in other places it was entirely absent. Before evening new contract-boots, bought from the Mukhbir, were distributed to the soldiers and all the quarrymen, who limped painfully on their poor bare feet:— next day all wore their well-hidden old boots.

Early on March 14th we ascended the Wady el-Káimah, which showed a singular spectacle, and read us another lecture upon the diversity of formation which distinguishes this region. An abrupt turn then led over rough ground, the lower folds of the Umm Furút, where a great granite gorge, the Nakb Abú Shár, ran up to a depression in the dorsum, an apparently practicable Col. Suddenly the rocks assumed the quaintest hues and forms. The quartz, slaty-blue and black, was here spotted and streaked with a dull, dead white, as though stained by the droppings of myriad birds: there it lay veined and marbled with the most vivid of rainbow colours — reds and purples, greens and yellows, set off by the pale chalky white. Evident signs of work were remarked in a made road running up to the Jebel el-Marú (proper), whose strike is 38° (mag.), and whose dip is westward. It is an arête, a cock’s-comb of snowy quartz some sixty feet high by forty-five broad at the base; crowning a granitic fold that descends abruptly, with a deep fall on either side, from the “Mother of Plenty.” This strangely isolated wall, left standing by the denudation that swept away the containing stone, had been broken by perpendicular rifts into four distinct sections; the colour became whiter as it neared the coping, and each rock was crowned with a capping that sparkled like silver in the sudden glance of the “cloud-compelling” sun. The sight delighted us; and M. Lacaze here made one of his most effective croquis, showing the explorers reduced to the size of ants. As yet we had seen nothing of the kind; nor shall we see a similar vein till we reach Abú‘l-Marwah, near our farthest southern point. I expected a corresponding formation upon the opposite eastern versant: we found only a huge crest, a spine of black plutonic rock, intensely ugly and repulsive. As we rode back down the “Valley of the Perpendiculars,” the aspect of the Jebel el-Marú was épâtant — to use another favourite camp-word. Standing sharply out from its vague and gloomy background made gloomier by the morning mists, the Col, whose steep rain-cut slopes and sole were scattered with dark trees and darker rocks, this glittering wall became the shell of an enchanted castle in Gustave Doré.

Returning to our old camping-ground after a ride of three hours and thirty minutes (= nine miles), we crossed two short divides, and descended the Wady el-Kusayb, which gives a name to “Sharp Peak.” Here a few formless stone-heaps and straggling bushes represented the ruins, the gardens of palms, and the bullrushes of the Bedawi shepherd lads.178 Our tents had been pitched in the rond-point of the Wady Surr, which before had given us hospitality (February 19th), on a Safh or high bouldery ledge of the left bank, where it receives the broad Kusayb watercourse. The day had been sultry; the sun was a “rain sun,” while the clouds massed thick to the south-west; and at night the lamps of heaven shone with a reddish, lurid light. The tent-pegs were weighted with camel-boxes against the storm; nevertheless, our mess-tent was levelled in a moment by the howling north-easter — warm withal — which, setting in about midnight, made all things uncomfortable enough.

Whilst the caravan was ordered to march straight up the noble Wady Surr, we set off next morning at six a.m. up the Wady Malíh, the north-eastern branch of the bulge in the bed. A few Arab tents were scattered about the bushes above the mouth; and among the yelping curs was a smoky-faced tyke which might have been Eskimo-bred:— hereabouts poor ‘Brahim had been lost, and was not fated to be found. A cross-country climb led to the Jebel Malíh, whose fame for metallic wealth gave us the smallest expectations — hitherto all our discoveries came by surprise. A careful examination showed nothing at all; but a few days afterwards glorious specimens of cast copper were brought in, the Bedawi declaring that he had found them amongst the adjoining hills. In the re-entering angles of the subjacent Wady the thrust of a stick is everywhere followed by the reappearance of stored-up rain, and the sole shows a large puddle of brackish and polluted water. Perhaps the Malayh of the Bedawin may mean “the salt” (Málih), not “the pleasant” (Malíh). Malíh, or Mallih, is also the name of a plant, the Reaumuria vernice of Forskâl.

Resuming our ride up the torrent-bed, and crossing to the Wady Daumah (of the “Single Daum-palm”), we dragged our mules down a ladder of rock and boulder, the left bank of the upper Surr. The great valley now defines, sharply as a knife-cut, the northernmost outlines of the Shárr, whose apex, El–Kusayb, towered above our heads. Thorn-trees are abundant; fan-palm bush grows in patches; and we came upon what looked like a flowing stream ruffled by the morning breeze: the guides declared that it is a rain-pool, dry as a bone in summer. Presently the rocky bed made a sharp turn; and its “Gate,” opened upon another widening, the meeting place of four Wadys, the northern being the Wady Zibayyib that drains ruddy Abá‘l-bárid.

After a short halt to examine the rude ruins reported by Mr. Clarke,179 we resumed the ascent of the Surr, whose left bank still defines the eastern edge of the Shárr. The latter presently puts forth the jagged spine of black and repulsive plutonic rock, which notes the Sha’b Makhúl, the corresponding versant of the Nakb Abú Sha’r. The Bedawin, who, as usual, luxuriate in nomenclature, distinguish between the eastern and western faces of the same block, and between the Wadys of the scarp and the counter-scarp. For instance, the eastern front of the Ras el-Kusayb is called Abú Kurayg (Kurayj). This is natural, as the formations, often of a different material, show completely different features.

A little further on, the continuity of the right bank is broken by the Wady el-Hámah. It receives the Wady Kh’shabríyyah, which, bifurcating in the upper bed, drains the Dibbagh and the Umm Jedayl blocks; and in the fork lie, we were told, the ruins of El–Fara’, some five hours’ march from this section of the Surr. At the confluence of El-Hámah we found the camels grazing and the tents pitched without orders: the two Shaykhs were determined to waste another day, so they were directed to reload while we breakfasted. Everything was in favour of a long march; the dusty, gusty north-easter had blown itself out in favour of a pleasant southerly wind, a sea breeze deflected from the west.

After marching three miles we camped at the foot of the ridge to be ascended next morning: the place is called Safhat el-Mu’ayrah from a slaty schistose hill on the eastern bank. The guides declared that the only practicable line to the summit was from this place; and that the Sha’bs (Cols) generally cannot be climbed even by the Arabs — I have reason to believe the reverse. Musallim, an old Bedawi, brought, amongst other specimens from the adjacent atelier, the Mashghal el-Mu’ayrah, a bright bead about the size of No. 5 shot: in the evening dusk it was taken for gold, and it already aroused debates concerning the proper direction of the promised reward, fifty dollars. The morning light showed fine copper. Here free metal was distinctly traceable in the scoriæ, and it was the first time that we had seen slag so carelessly worked. Not a little merriment was caused by the ostentatious display of “gold-stones,” marked by M. Philipin’s copper-nailed boots. Sulaymán, the Bedawi, had killed a Wabar, whose sadly mutilated form appeared to be that of the Syrian hill coney: these men split the bullet into four; “pot” at the shortest distance, and, of course, blow to pieces any small game they may happen to hit.

Early on March 16th we attacked the Shárr in a general direction from north to south, where the ascent looked easy enough. On the left bank a porphyritic block, up whose side a mule can be ridden, is disposed in a slope of the palest and most languid of greens, broken by piles of black rock so regular as to appear artificial. This step leads to a horizontal crest, a broken wall forming its summit: it is evidently an outlier; and experience asked, What will be behind it? The more distant plane showed only the heads of the Shenázir or “Pins,” the two quaint columns which are visible as far as the Shárr itself. This lower block is bounded, north and south, by gorges; fissures that date from the birth of the mountain, deepened by age and raging torrents: apparently they offered no passage. In the former direction yawns the Rushúh Abú Tinázib, so called from its growth — the Tanzub-tree180 (Sodada decidua); and in the latter the Sháb Umm Khárgah (Khárjah). I should have preferred a likely looking Nakb, south of this southern gorge, but the Bedawin, and especially Abú Khartúm, who had fed his camels and sheep upon the mountain, overruled me.

The ascent of the outlier occupied three very slow hours, spent mostly in prospecting and collecting. At nine a.m. we stood 3200 feet above sea-level (aner. 26.79), high enough to make our tents look like bits of white macadam. What most struck us was the increased importance of the vegetation, both in quantity and quality; the result, doubtless, of more abundant dew and rain, as well as of shade from each passing mist-cloud. The view formed a startling contrast of fertility and barrenness. At every hundred yards the growths of the plain became more luxuriant in the rich humus filling the fissures, and, contrary to the general rule, the plants, especially the sorrel (Rumex) and the dandelion (Taraxacum), instead of dwindling, gained in stature. The strong-smelling Ferula looked like a bush, and the Sarh grew into a tree: the Ar’ar,181 a homely hawthorn (hawthorn-leaved Rhus), whose appearance was a surprise, equalled the Cratœgus of Syria; and the upper heights must have been a forest of fine junipers (Habíbah = Juniperus Phœnicea), with trunks thick as a man’s body. The guides spoke of wild figs, but we failed to find them. Our chasseurs, who had their guns, eagerly conned over the traces of ibex and hyenas, and the earths, as well as the large round footprints, of un léopard; but none of the larger animals were seen. The Bedawi matchlock has made them wary; chance might give a shot the first day: on the other hand, skill might be baffled for a month or two — I passed six weeks upon the Anti–Libanus before seeing a bear. The noble Shinnár-partridge again appeared; an eagle’s feather lay on the ground; two white papillons and one yellow butterfly reminded me of the Camarones Mountain; the wild bee and the ladybird-like Ba’úzah stuck to us as though they loved us; and we were pestered by the attentions of the common fly. The Egyptian symbol for “Paul Pry” is supposed to denote an abundance of organic matter: it musters strong throughout Midian, even in the dreariest wastes; and it accompanies us everywhere, whole swarms riding upon our backs.

The only semblance of climbing was over the crest of brown, burnished, and quartzless traps. Even there the hands were hardly required, although our poor feet regretted the want of Spartelles.182 Here the track debouched upon an inverted arch, with a hill, or rather a tall and knobby outcrop of rock, on either flank of the keystone. The inland or eastward view was a map of the region over which we had travelled; a panorama of little chains mostly running parallel with the great range, and separated from it by Wadys, lateral, oblique, and perpendicular. Of these torrent-beds some were yellow, others pink, and others faint sickly green with decomposed trap; whilst all bore a fair growth of thorn-trees — Acacias and Mimosas. High over and beyond the monarch of the Shafah Mountains, Jebel Sahhárah, whose blue poll shows far out at sea, ran the red levels of the Hismá, backed at a greater elevation by the black-blue Harrah. The whole Tihámah range, now so familiar to us, assumed a novel expression. The staple material proved to be blocks and crests of granite, protruding from the younger plutonics, which enfolded and enveloped their bases and backs. The one exception was the dwarf Umm Jedayl, a heap composed only of grey granite. The Jebel Kh’shabríyyah in the Dibbagh block attracted every eye; the head was supported by a neck swathed as with an old-fashioned cravat.

The summit of the outlier is tolerably level, and here the shepherds had built small hollow piles of dry stone, in which their newly yeaned lambs are sheltered from the rude blasts. The view westwards, or towards the sea, which is not seen, almost justifies by its peculiarity the wild traditions of built wells, of a “moaning mountain,” and of furnaces upon the loftiest slopes: it is notable that the higher we went, the less we heard of these features, which at last vanished into thin air. Our platform is, as I suspected, cut off from the higher plane by a dividing gorge; but the depth is only three hundred feet, and to the south it is bridged by a connecting ridge. Beyond it rises the great mask of granite forming the apex, a bonier skeleton than any before seen. Down the northern sheet-rocks trickled a thin stream that caught the sun’s eye; thus the ravine is well supplied with water in two places. South of it rises a tempting Col, with a slope apparently easy, separating a dull mass of granite on the right from the peculiar formation to the left. The latter is a dome of smooth, polished, and slippery grey granite, evidently unpleasant climbing; and from its landward slope rise abrupt, as if hand-built, two isolated gigantic “Pins,” which can hardly measure less than four hundred feet in stature. They are the remains of a sharp granitic comb whose apex was once the “Parrot’s Beak.” The mass, formerly mammilated, has been broken and denticulated by the destruction of softer strata. Already the lower crest, bounding the Sha’b Umm Khárgah, shows perpendicular fissures which, when these huge columns shall be gnawed away by the tooth of Time, will form a new range of pillars for the benefit of those ascending the Shárr, let us say in about A.D. 10,000. Such are the “Pins” which name the mountain; and which, concealed from the coast, make so curious a show to the north, south, and east of this petrified glacier.

After breaking their fast, M.M. Clarke, Lacaze, and Philipin volunteered to climb the tempting Col. None of them had ever ascended a mountain, and they duly despised the obstacles offered by big rocks distance-dwarfed to paving-stones; and of sharp angles, especially the upper, perspective-blunted to easy slopes. However, all three did exceeding well: for such a “forlorn hope” young recruits are better than old soldiers. They set out at eleven a.m., and lost no time in falling asunder; whilst the quarrymen, who accompanied them with the water-skins, shirked work as usual, lagged behind, sat and slept in some snug hollow, and returned, when dead-tired of slumber, declaring that they had missed the “Effendis.”

M. Philipin took singly the sloping side of the connecting ridge; and, turning to the right, made straight for the “Pins,” below which was spread a fleck of lean and languid green. The ascent was comparatively mild, except where it became a sheet of smooth and slippery granite; but when he reached a clump of large junipers, his course was arrested by a bergschrund, which divides this block — evidently a second outlier — from the apex of the Shárr, the “Dome” and the “Parrot’s Beak.” It was vain to attempt a passage of the deep gash, with perpendicular upper walls, and lower slopes overgrown with vegetation; nor could he advance to the right and rejoin his companions, who were parted from him by the precipices on the near side of the Col. Consequently, he beat a retreat, and returned to us at 2.30 p.m., after three hours and thirty minutes of exceedingly thirsty work: the air felt brisk and cool, but the sun shone pitilessly, unveiled by the smallest scrap of mist. He brought with him an ibex-horn still stained with blood, and a branch of juniper, straight enough to make an excellent walking-stick.

The other two struck across the valley, and at once breasted the couloir leading to the Col, where we had them well in sight. They found the ascent much “harder on the collar” than they expected: fortunately the sole of the huge gutter yielded a trickle of water. The upper part was, to their naive surprise, mere climbing on all fours; and they reached the summit, visible from our halting-place, in two hours. Here they also were summarily stopped by perpendicular rocks on either side, and by the deep gorge or crevasse, shedding seawards and landwards, upon whose further side rose the “Parrot’s Beak.” The time employed would give about two thousand feet, not including the ascent from the valley (three hundred feet); and thus their highest point could hardly be less than 5200 feet. Allowing another thousand for the apex, which they could not reach,183 the altitude of the Shárr would be between 6000 and 6500 feet.

The shadows were beginning to lengthen before the two reappeared, and the delay caused no small apprehension; the Sayyid showed a kindly agitation that was quite foreign to his calm and collected demeanour, when threatened by personal danger. To be benighted amongst these cruel mountains must be no joke; nor would it have been possible to send up a tent or even mouth-munition. However, before the sun had reached the west, they came back triumphant with the spoils of war. One was a snake (Echis colorata, Günther), found basking upon the stones near the trickle of water. It hissed at them, and, when dying, it changed colour, they declared, like a chameleon — that night saw it safely in the spirit-tin. They were loaded with juniper boughs, and fortunately they had not forgotten the berries; the latter establish the identity of the tree with the common Asiatic species. M. Lacaze brought back several Alpine plants, a small Helix which he had found near the summit, and copious scrawls for future croquis — his studies of the “Pins” and the “Dome” were greatly admired at Cairo.

Ere the glooms of night had set in, we found ourselves once more at the tents. Only one man suffered from the ascent, and his sunstroke was treated in Egyptian fashion. Instead of bleeding like that terrible, murderous Italian school of Sangrados, the Fellahs tie a string tightly round the head; and after sunset — which is considered de rigueur — they fill the ears with strong brine. According to them the band causes a bunch of veins to swell in the forehead, and, when pressed hard, it bursts like a pistol-shot. The cure is evidently effected by the cold salt-and-water. The evening ended happily with the receipt of a mail, and with the good news that the Sinnár corvette had been sent to take the place of El–Mukhbir, the unfortunate. Once more we felt truly grateful to the Viceroy and the Prince who so promptly and so considerately had supplied all our wants, and whose kindness would convert our southern cruise into a holiday gîte, without the imminent deadly risk of a burst boiler.

We set out in high spirits on the next morning (6.15 a.m., March 17th), riding, still southwards, up the Surr: the stony, broken surface now showed that we were fast approaching its source. Beyond the Umm Khárgah gorge on the western bank, rose a tall head, the Ras el-Rukabíyyah; and beyond it was a ravine, in which palms and water are said to be found. The opposite side raised its monotonous curtain of green and red traps, whose several projections bore the names of Jebel el-Wu’ayrah — the hill behind our camping-ground — Jebel el-Maín, and Jebel Sháhitah. A little beyond the latter debouched the Darb el-Kufl (“Road of Caravans”), alias Darb el-Ashárif (“Road of the Sherifs”), a winding gap, the old line of the Egyptian pilgrims, by which the Sulaymáyyán Bedawin still wend their way to Suez. The second name, perhaps, conserves the tradition of long-past wars waged between the Descendants of the Apostle and the Beni ‘Ukbah.184 The broad mouth was dotted with old graves, with quartz-capped memorial-cairns, and, here and there, with a block bearing some tribal mark. The Wady-sole grew a “stinkhorn” held to be poisonous, and called, from its fetor, “Faswat el-‘Agúz” (Cynophallus impudicus): one specimen was found on the tip of an ibex-horn, and the other had been impaled with a stick. After two hours and thirty minutes (= seven miles) we sighted the head of the Wady Surr proper, whose influents drain the southern Khurayatah or Hismá Pass. Here the amount of green surface, and the number of birds, especially the blue-rock and the insect-impaling “butcher,” whose nests were in the thin forest of thorn-trees, argue that water is not far off. The Ras Wady Surr is a charming halting-place.

Our Arabs worked hard to gain another day. The only tolerable Pass rounding the southern Shárr was, they declared, the Wady Aújar, an influent of the Wady Zahakán, near Zibá. The Col el-Kuwayd, now within a few yards of us, is so terrible that the unfortunate camels would require, before they could attempt it, at least twenty-four hours of preparatory rest and rich feeding; and so forth. However, we pushed them on with flouts and jeers, and we ourselves followed at eleven a.m.

The Pass proved to be one of the easiest. It began with a gradual rise up a short broad Wady, separating the southernmost counterforts of the Shárr from the north end of the Jebel el-Ghuráb. This “Raven Mountain” is a line of similar but lower formation, which virtually prolongs the great “Landmark,” down coast. The bottom was dotted with lumps of pure “Marú,” washed from the upper levels. We reached the summit in forty minutes, and the seaward slope beyond it was a large outcrop of quartz in situ, that assumed the strangest appearance — a dull, dead chalky-white, looking as if heat-altered or mixed with clay. The rock-ladder leading to the lower Wady Kuwayd, which has an upper branch of the same name, offered no difficulty to man or beast; and the aneroid showed its height to be some 470 feet (28.13 — 28.50). The caravan, having preceded us, revenged itself by camping at the nearest pool, distant nineteen and a half direct geographical miles from our destination.

This day was the first of the Khamsín or, as M. Loufti (?), a Coptic student, writes it, “Khamasín,” from Khama (“warm”) and Sina (“air”).185 The Midianites call it El–Daufún, the hot blasts, and expect it to blow at intervals for a couple of months. This scirocco has been modified in Egypt, at least during the spring, apparently by the planting of trees. About a quarter-century ago, its regular course was three days: on the first it set in; the second was its worst; and men knew that it would exhaust itself on the third. Now it often lasts only a single day, and even that short period has breaks.

The site of the camp made sleep well-nigh impossible — a bad preparation for the only long ride of this excursion. Setting off at dark (4.20 a.m., March 18th), we finished the monotonous Wady Kuwayd, which mouths upon the rolling ground falling coastwards. The track then struck to the north-west, across and sometimes down the network of Wadys that subtends the south-western Shárr — their names have already been mentioned. As we sighted the cool green-blue sea, its horizon-line appeared prodigiously uplifted, as if the Fountains of the great Deep were ready for another Deluge. I remembered the inevitable expressions of surprise with which, young Alpinists and ballooners, expecting the rim of the visible circle to fall away, see it rising around them in saucer-shape. The cause is simply that which breaks the stick in water, and which elevates the Sha’rr every morning — Refraction.

After a march of seven hours (= twenty-two miles), we debouched, viâ the Wady Hárr, upon our old Sharm, the latter showing, for the first time since its creation, two war-steamers, with their “tender,” a large Sambúk. The boats did not long keep us waiting; and we were delighted to tread once more the quarter-deck of the corvette Sinnár. Captain Ali Bey Shukri’s place had been taken by Captain Hasan–Bey, an Osmanli of Cavala who, having been forty-eight years in the service, sighed for his pension. He did, however, everything in his power to make us feel “at home;” and the evening ended with a fantasia of a more pronounced character than anything that I had yet seen.186

Résumé of the March Through Eastern or Central Midian.

Our journey through Eastern or Central Midian lasted eighteen days (February 19 — March 8), with an excursion of six (March 13 — 18) to its apex, the mighty Shárr, which I would add to our exploration of Central Midian. Despite enforced slow marches at the beginning of the first section, we visited in round numbers, according to my itinerary, 197 miles: Lieutenant Amir’s map gives a linear length of 222 miles, not including the offsets. The second part covered fifty-five miles, besides the ascent of the mountain to a height of about five thousand feet: the mapper also increased this figure to 59 2/3. Thus the route-line shows a grand total of 252 to 281 2/3 in direct statute miles. The number of camels engaged from Shaykhs ‘Alayán and Hasan was sixty-one; and the hire, according to Mr. Clarke, represented £147 6s. 6d., not including the £40 of which we were plundered by the bandit Ma’ázah. The ascent of the Shárr also cost £40, making a grand total of £187 6s. 6d.

The march to the Hismá gave us a fair idea of the three main formations of Madyan, which lie parallel and east of one another:— 1. The sandy and stony maritime region, the foot-hills of the Gháts, granites and traps with large veins and outcrops of quartz; and Wadys lined with thick beds of conglomerate. 2. The Jibál el-Tihámah, the majestic range that bounds the seaboard inland, with its broad valleys and narrow gorges forming the only roads. 3. The Jibál el-Shafah, or interior ridge, the “lip” of North–Western Arabia; in fact, the boundary-wall of the Nejd plateau.

The main object of this travel was to ascertain the depth from west to east of the quartz-formations, which had been worked by the Ancients. I had also hoped to find a virgin region lying beyond El–Harrah, the volcanic tract subtending the east of the Hismá, or plateau of New Red Sandstone. We ascertained, by inquiry, that the former has an extent wholly unsuspected by Dr. Wallin and by the first Expedition; and that a careful examination of it is highly desirable. But we were stopped upon the very threshold of the Hismá by the Ma’ázah, a tribe of brigands which must be subjected to discipline before the province of Madyan can be restored to its former status.

This northern portion had been visited by Dr. Wallin; the other two-thirds of the march lay, I believe, over untrodden ground. We brought back details concerning the three great parallel Wadys; the Salmá, the Dámah, that “Arabian Arcadia,” and the ‘Aslah–Aznab. We dug into, and made drawings and plans of, the two principal ruined cities, Shuwák and Shaghab, which probably combined to form the classical [Greek]; and of the two less important sites, El–Khandaki and Umm Ámil.

The roads of this region, and indeed of all Midian, are those of Iceland without her bogs and snows: for riding considerations we may divide them into four kinds:—

1. Wady — the Fiumara or Nullah; called by travellers “winter-brook” and “dry river-bed.” It is a channel without water, formed, probably, by secular cooling and contraction of the earth’s surface, like the fissures which became true streams in the tropics, and in the higher temperate zones. Its geological age would be the same as the depressions occupied by the ocean and the “massive” eruptions forming the mountain-skeleton of the globe. Both the climate and the vegetation of Midian must have changed immensely if these huge features, many of them five miles broad, were ever full of water. In modern days, after the heaviest rains, a thin thread meanders down a wilderness of bed.

The Wady-formation shows great regularity. Near the mouth its loose sands are comfortable to camels and distressing to man and mule. The gravel of the higher section is good riding; the upper part is often made impassable by large stones and overfalls of rock; and the head is a mere couloir. Flaked clay or mud show the thalweg; and the honeycombed ground, always above the line of highest water, the homes of the ant, beetle, jerboa, lizard, and (Girdi) rat, will throw even the cautious camel.

2. Ghadír — the basin where rain-water sinks. It is mostly a shining bald flat of hard yellow clay, as admirable in dry as it is detestable in wet weather.

3. Majrá— here pronounced “Maghráh”187 — the divide; literally, the place of flowing. It is the best ground of all, especially where the yellow or brown sands are overlaid by hard gravel, or by a natural metalling of trap and other stones.

4. Wa’r — the broken stony surface, over which camels either cannot travel, or travel with difficulty: it is the horror of the Bedawi; and, when he uses the word, it usually means that it causes man to dismount. It may be of two kinds; either the Majrá proper (“divide”) or the Nakb (“pass”), and the latter may safely be left to the reader’s imagination.

The partial ascent of the mighty Shárr gave an admirable study of the mode in which the granites have been enfolded and enveloped by the later eruptions of trap. Nor less curious, also, was it to remark how, upon this Arabian Alp, vegetation became more important; increasing, contrary to the general rule, not only in quantity but in size, and changing from the date and the Daum to the strong smelling Ferula, the homely hawthorn, and the tall and balmy juniper-tree. There is game, ibex and leopard, in these mountains; but the traveller, unless a man of leisure, must not expect to shoot or even to sight it.

174 “Irwin’s Voyage,” 1777.

175 This was probably a misprint originally, but it has been repeated in subsequent editions. Hence it imposed upon even such careful workmen as the late Lieutenant Henry Raper, “The Practice of Navigation,” etc., p. 527, 6th edition.

176 See an excellent description of the phenomenon in that honest and courageous work, “Through Bosnia and the Herzegovina on Foot,” by Arthur J. Evans, B.A., F.S.A. London: Longmans, 1877.

177 There is, however, nothing to prevent its being eaten.

178 See Chap. X.

179 Chap. X.

180 Not to be confounded with the luguminous “Tanúb” mentioned by Forskâl (“Flora,” etc., p. 197).

181 The word classically means the cypress or the juniper-tree: in Jeremiah, where it occurs twice (xvii. 6 and xlviii. 6), the Authorized Version renders it by “heath.” It is now generally translated “savin” (Juniperus sabina), a shrub whose purple berries have a strong turpentine flavour. When shall we have a reasonable version of Hebrew Holy Writ, which will retain the original names of words either untranslatable or to be translated only by guess-work?

182 In Cairo generally called Espadrilles, and sold for 1.25 francs. Nothing punishes the feet at these altitudes so much as leather, black leather.

183 The explorers laid this down at a few hundred feet. But they judged from the eye; and probably they did not sight the true culmination. Unfortunately, and by my fault, they were not provided with an aneroid.

184 See Chap. V.

185 For the usual interpretations see Chapter I. The Egyptians, like other nations, often apply their own names, which have a meaning, to the older terms which have become unintelligible. Thus, near Cairo, the old goddess, Athor el-Núbí (“of the Gold”), became Asr el-Nabi (“the Footprint of the Apostle”).

186 “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” Chap. XI.

187 See Chap. XI.

Chapter XIV.

Down South — to El–Wijh–Notes on the Quarantine — the Hutaym Tribe.

There remained work to do before we could leave El–Muwaylah. The two Shaykhs, ‘Alayán and Hasan el-‘Ukbi, were to be paid off end dismissed with due ceremony; provisions were to be brought from the fort to the cove; useless implements to be placed in store; mules to be embarked — no joke without a pier! — and last, but not least, the ballastless Mukhbir was to be despatched with a mail for Suez. The whole Expedition, except only the sick left at the fort, was now bound southwards. The Sayyid and our friend Furayj accepted formal invitations to accompany us: Bukhayt, my “shadow,” with Husayn, chef and romancer-general, were shipped as their henchmen; and a score of soldiers and quarrymen represented the escort and the working-hands. Briefly, the Sinnár, though fretting her vitals out at the delay, was detained two days (March 19 — 20) in the Sharm Yáhárr. Amongst other things that consoled us for quitting the snug dock, was the total absence of fish. At this season the shoals leave the coast, and gather round their wonted spawning-grounds, the deep waters near the Sha’b (“reefs”), where they find luxuriant growths of seaweed, and where no ships disturb them.

Bidding a temporary adieu to our old fellow voyagers on board the Mukhbir, including the excellent engineer, Mr. David Duguid, we steamed out of the quiet cove, at a somewhat late hour (6.30 a.m.) on March 21st; and, dashing into the dark and slaty sea, stood to the south-east. For two days the equinoctial weather had been detestable, dark, cloudy, and so damp that the dry and the wet bulbs showed a difference of only 4°— 5°. This morning, too, the fire of colour had suddenly gone out; and the heavens were hung with a gloomy curtain. The great Shárr, looming unusually large and tall in the Scandinavian mountain-scene, grey of shadow and glancing with sun-gleams that rent the thick veils of mist-cloud, assumed a manner of Ossianic grandeur. After three hours and a half we were abreast of Zibá, around whose dumpy tower all the population had congregated. Thence the regular coralline bank, whose beach is the Bab, runs some distance down coast, allowing passage to our ugly old friend, Wady Salmá. The next important mouth is the Wady ‘Amúd, showing two Sambúks at anchor, and a long line of vegetation like the palm-strips of the ‘Akabah Gulf: this valley, I have said, receives the Mutadán, into which the Abú Marwah gorge discharges.188

It would appear that this “‘Amúd” represents the “Wady el-‘Aúníd,” a name utterly unknown to the modern Arabs, citizens and Bedawin, at least as far south as El–Haurá. Yet it is famed amongst mediaeval geographers for its fine haven with potable water; and for its flourishing city, where honey was especially abundant. El–Idrísí settles the question of its site by placing it on the coast opposite the island El–Na’mán (Nu’mán), but can El–Idrísí be trusted? Sprenger (p. 24), induced, it would appear, by similarity of sound, and justly observing that in Arabic the letters Ayn and Ghayn are often interchanged, would here place the [Greek] (Rhaunathi Vicus) of Ptolemy (north lat. 25 degrees 40’). According to my friend, also, the Ras Abú Masárib, the long thin point north of which the Wady Dámah, half-way to the Wady Azlam, falls in, represents the [Greek] (Chersónesi Extrema) on the same parallel. I cannot help suspecting that both lie further south — in fact, somewhere about El–Haurá.189

Here the maritime heights, known as the Jibál (“Mountains” of the) Tihámat-Balawiyyah (of “the Baliyy tribe”), recede from the sea, and become mere hills and hillocks; yet the continuity of the chain is never completely broken. At noon we slipped into the channel, about a mile and a half broad, which separates the mainland from the Jebel (“Mount”) Nu’mán, as the island is called: so the Arabs speak of Jebel (never Jezírat) Hassáni.190 The surface of the water was like oil after the cross seas on all sides, the tail of an old gale which the Arab pilots call Bahr madfún (“buried sea”), corresponding with the Italian mar vecchio. On our return northwards we landed upon Nu’mán, whose name derives from the red-flowered Euphorbia retusa; bathed, despite the school of sharks occupying the waters around; collected botany, and examined the ground carefully. Like the Dalmatian Archipelago, it once formed part of the mainland, probably separated by the process that raised the maritime range. The rolling sandy plateau and the dwarf Wadys are strewed with trap and quartz, neither of which could have been generated by the new sandstones and the yellow corallines. It has two fine bays, facing the shore and admirably defended from all winds; the southern not a little resembles Sináfir-cove.

The “top,” or dwarf plateau, commands a fine view of the coast scenery; the “Pins” of the Shárr; the Mutadán Mountain, twin ridges of grey white granite, and, further south, the darker forms of Raydán and Zigláb. Here, during springtide, the Huwaytát transport their flocks in the light craft called Katirah, and feed them till the pasture is browsed down. We made extensive inquiries, but could hear of no ruins. Yet the islet, some three to four miles long by one broad, forming a natural breakwater to the coast, is important enough to bear, according to Sprenger, a classical name, the [Greek] (Timagenis Insula) of Ptolemy. If this be the case, either the Pelusian or his manuscripts are greatly in error. He places the bank in north lat. 25° 45’, whilst its centre would be in north lat. 27° 5’; and the sixty miles of distance from the coast, evidently the blunder of a copyist, must be reduced to a maximum of three.

Passing another old friend, the Aslah–Aznab, down whose head we had ridden to Shaghab, about two p.m. we steamed along the mouth of the Wady Azlam, the Ezlam of Wellsted,191 which he unduly makes the southern frontier of the Huwaytát, and the northern of the Baliyy tribes. Beyond it is the gape of the once populous Wady Dukhán — of “the (furnace?) Smoke”— faced by a large splay of tree-grown sand. Ruins are reported in its upper bed. Beyond Marsá Zubaydah (not Zebaider), the sea is bordered by the red-yellow coast-range; and the fretted sky line of peaks and cones, “horses” and “hogs’-backs,” is cut by deep valleys and drained by dark “gates.” The background presents a long, regular curtain of black hill, whose white sheets and veins may be granite and quartz. We were then shown the Mínat el-Marrah, one of the many Wady-mouths grown with vegetation; and here the ruins El–Nabagah (Nabakah) are spoken of. At four p.m. we doubled the Ras Labayyiz (not Lebayhad), a long flat tongue projecting from the coast range, and defending its valley to the south. In the Fara’t or upper part, some five hours’ march from the mouth, lie important remains of the Mutakkadimín (“ancients”). The report was confirmed by an old Arab Básh-Buzúk at El–Wijh; he declared that in his youth he had seen a tall furnace, and a quantity of scoriæ from which copper could be extracted, lying northwards at a distance of eighteen hours’ march and five by sea.

The next important feature is the Wady Salbah, the Telbah of the Chart, up whose inland continuation, the Wady el-Nejd, we shall travel. Here the coast-range again veers off eastward; and the regular line is cut up into an outbreak of dwarf cones, mere thimbles. Above the gloomy range that bounds it southwards, appear the granitic peaks and “Pins” of Jebel Libn, gleaming white and pale in the livid half-light of a cloudy sunset. After twelve hours’ steaming over seventy to seventy-two knots of reefy sea, we ran carefully into the Sharm Dumayghah.192 This lake-like, land-locked cove is by far the best of the many good dock-harbours which break the Midian coast. Its snug retreat gave hospitality to half a dozen Juhayni Sambúks, fishers and divers for mother-of-pearl, riding beyond sight of the outer world, and utterly safe from the lighthouse dues of El–Wijh.

I resolved to pass a day at these old quarters of a certain Háji ‘Abdullah. The hydrographers have given enlarged plans of Yáhárr and Jibbah, ports close to each other; while they have ignored the far more deserving Sharm Dumayghah. Distant only thirty miles of coasting navigation, a line almost clear of reefs and shoals, it is the natural harbour for the pilgrim-ships, which ever run the danger of being wrecked at El–Wijh; and it deserves more notice than we have hitherto vouchsafed to it. The weather also greatly improved on the next day (March 22nd): the cloud-canopy, the excessive moisture, and the still sultriness which had afflicted us since March 19th, were in process of being swept away by the strong, cool, bright norther.

The survey of the Egyptian officers shows an oval extending from north-west to south-east, with four baylets or bulges in the northern shore. The length is upwards of a knot, and the breadth twelve hundred yards. It may be described as the embouchure of the Wady Dumayghah, which falls into its head, and which, doubtless, in olden times, when the land was wooded, used to roll a large and turbulent stream. As is often seen on this coast, the entrance is defended by a natural breakwater which appears like a dot upon the Chart. Capped with brown crust, falling bluff inland, and sloping towards the main, where the usual stone-heaps act as sea-marks, this bank of yellowish-white coralline, measuring 310 metres by half that width, may be the remains of the bed in which the torrents carved out the port. The northern inlet is a mere ford of green water: my “Pilgrimage” made the mistake of placing a fair-way passage on either side of the islet. The southern channel, twenty-five fathoms deep and three hundred metres broad, is garnished on both flanks with a hundred metres of dangerous shallow, easily distinguished by green blazoned upon blue. The bay is shoal to the south-east; the best anchorage for ships lies to the north-west, almost touching land. A reef or rock is reported to be in the middle ground, where we lay with ten fathoms under us: it was seen, they say, at night, by the aid of lanterns; but next morning Lieutenants Amir and Yusuf were unable to find it. Native craft usually make fast in three fathoms to a lumpy natural mole of modern sandstone, north of the entrance: a little trimming would convert it into a first-rate pier.

At this place we landed to prospect the country, and to gather information from the Sambúk crews before they had time to hoist sail and be off. The owners of the land are not Juhaynah, the “Wild Men” with whom the Rais of the Golden Wire had threatened us in 1853. The country belongs to the Baliyy; now an inoffensive tribe well subject to Egypt, mixed with a few Kura’án-Huwaytát and Karáizah-Hutaym. The fishermen complained that no fish was to be caught, and the strong tides, setting upon the stony flank of the mole, had broken most of the shells, not including, however, the oysters. The usual eight-ribbed turtle appeared to be common. On the sands to the north, M. Lacaze picked up a large old and bleached skull, which went into my collection; we failed to find any neighbouring burial-ground. Striking inland, however, towards the dotted square, marked “Fort (ruin)” in the Chart, we came upon an ancient cemetery to the north of the bay, and concluded that these graves had been mistaken for remains of building.

We then bent eastward towards the Jibál el-Salbah, and examined the two dwarf valleys which, threading the heights, feed the Wady Dumayghah. That to the south showed us a perfectly familiar formation; conglomerates of water-rolled pebbles in the lower levels, and hills of the normal dark porphyries, with large quartz-seams of many colours trending in every direction. The mouth of the northern gorge was blocked by a vein of finely crystallized carbonate of lime, containing geodes and bunches. The taste is astringent, probably from the alumina; and it is based upon outcrops of a sandy calcaire apparently fit for hydraulic cement. The only novelty in the vegetation was the Fashak-tree, a creeper like a gigantic constrictor, with sweet yellow wood somewhat resembling liquorice.

Signs of Arab everywhere appeared, but there were no tents. Consequently we were unable to ascertain the extent of the water-supply — an important matter if this is to become the port of El–Wijh. The Sambúks might bring it, but the people on shore would be dependent upon what they can find. The Hajj-road, running some miles inland, is doubtless supplied with it. Even, however, were the necessary wanting, the pilgrim-ships, whilst taking refuge here, could easily transport it from the south. Shaykh Furayj; pointed out to us the far northern blue peaks of the ‘Amúd Zafar, in whose branch-Wady lie the ruins of M’jirmah. The day ended with a sudden trembling of the ship, as if straining at anchor; but the crew was again performing fantasia, and the earthquake or sea-quake rolled unheededly away. Apparently the direction was from north to south: I noted the hour, 9.10 p.m., and the duration, twenty seconds. According to the Arabs the Zilzilah is not uncommon in Midian, especially about the vernal equinox: on this occasion it ended the spell of damp and muggy weather which began on March 19th, and which may have been connected with it.

The survey soundings were not finished till nearly eight a.m. (March 23rd), when the old corvette swung round on her heel; and, with the black hills of Salbah to port, resumed her rolling, rollicking way southwards. Her only ballast consisted of some six hundred conical shot, or twelve tons for a ship of eight hundred. After one hour of steaming (= seven miles) we passed the green mouth of the Wady ‘Antar, in whose Istabl (“stable”), or upper valley-course, the pilgrimage-caravan camps. It drains a small inland feature to the north-east, the true “Jebel ‘Antar,” which the Hydrographic Chart has confounded with the great block, applying, moreover, the term Istabl to the height instead of the hollow. This Jebel Libn, along which we are now steaming, is a counterpart on a small scale, a little brother, of the Shárr, measuring 3733 instead of 6000 to 6500 feet. We first see from the north a solid block capped with a mural crown of three peaks. When abreast of us the range becomes a tall, fissured, and perpendicular wall: this apical comb, bluff to the west, reposes upon a base sloping, at the angle of rest, to the environing sandy Wady. To complete the resemblance, even the queer “Pins” are not wanting; and I should expect to find in it all the accidents of the giant of El–Muwaylah.

The complexion of the Libn, which the people pronounce “Libin,” suggests grey granite profusely intersected with white quartz: hence, probably, the name, identical with Lebanon and Libanus —“the Milk Mountain.” The title covers a multitude of peaks: the Bedawin have, doubtless, their own terms for every head and every hollow. The citizens comprehensively divide the block into two, El-Áli (“the Upper”) being its southern, and El–Asfal (“the Lower”) its northern, section. It is said to abound in water; and a Nakhil (“date-grove”) is described as growing near the summit. The Hutaym, who own most of it, claim the lover and hero-poet, ‘Antar, as one of their despised tribe — hence, probably, his connection with the adjoining mountain and “the stable.”

“Jebel Libin” is the great feature of the Tihámat-Balawíyyah; for many days it will appear to follow us, and this is the proper place for assigning its rank and status to it. About El-‘Akabah, the northern head of the Gháts or coast-range, we have prospected the single chain of Jebel Shará’; the “Sa’ar of the tribes of the Shasu” (Bedawin)193 in the papyri, and the Hebrew Mount Seir, the “rough” or “rugged.” Further south we have noted how this tall eastern bulwark of the great Wady el-‘Arabah bifurcates; forming the Shafah chain to the east, and westward of it, in Madyan Proper, the Jibál el-Tihámah, of which the Shárr is perhaps the culmination. We have noted the accidents of the latter as far as Dumayghah Cove, and now we descry in the offing the misty forms — how small they look! — of the Jebel el-Ward; the Jibál el-Safhah; the two blocks, south of the Wady Hamz, known as the Jibál el-Rál; and their neighbours still included in the Tihámat-Balawíyyah. Lastly, we shall sight, behind El–Haurá, the Abú Ghurayr and a number of blocks which, like the former, are laid down, but are not named, in the Chart.

Beyond El–Haurá the chain stretches southwards its mighty links with smaller connections. The first is the bold range Jebel Radwah, the “Yambo Hills” of the British sailor, some six thousand feet high and lying twenty-five miles behind the new port.194 Passing it to left on the route to El–Medínah, I heard the fables which imposed upon Abyssinian Bruce: “All sorts of Arabian fruits grew to perfection on the summit of these hills; it is the paradise of the people of Yenbo, those of any substance having country-houses there.” This was hardly probable in Bruce’s day, and now it is impossible. The mountain is held by the Beni Harb, a most turbulent tribe, for which see my “Pilgrimage.”195 Their head Shaykh, Sa’d the Robber, who still flourished in 1853, is dead; but he has been succeeded by one of his sons, Shaykh Hudayfah, who is described with simple force as being a “dog more biting than his sire.” Between these ill-famed haunts of the Beni Harb and Jeddah rises the Jebel Subh, “a mountain remarkable for its magnitude” (4500 feet), inhabited by the Beni Subh, a fighting clan of the “Sons of Battle.”

The largest links of these West–Arabian Gháts are of white-grey granite, veined and striped with quartz; and they are subtended inland by the porphyritic traps of the Jibál el-Shafah, which we shall trace to the parallel of El–Hamz, the end of Egypt. I cannot, however, agree with Wellsted (II. xii.) that the ridges increase in height as they recede from the sea; nor that the veins of quartz run horizontally through the “dark granite.” The greater altitudes (three to six thousand feet) are visible from an offing of forty to seventy miles; and they are connected by minor heights: some of these, however, are considerable, and here and there they break into detached pyramids. All are maritime, now walling the shore, like the Tayyib Ism; then sheering away from it, where a broad “false coast” has been built by Time.

These western Gháts, then, run down, either in single or in double line, the whole length of occidental Arabia; and, meeting a similar and equally important eastern line, they form a mighty nucleus, the mountains of El–Yemen. After carefully inspecting, and making close inquiries concerning, a section of some five hundred miles, I cannot but think that the mines of precious ores, mentioned by the mediæval Arabian geographers,196 lay and lie in offsets from the flanks either of the maritime or the inland chain; that is, either in the Tihámah, the coast lowlands, or in the El–Nejd, the highland plateau of the interior.

What complicates the apparently simple ground is the long line of volcanic action which, forming the eastern frontier of the plutonic granites and of the modern grits, may put forth veins even to the shores of the ‘Akabah Gulf and the Red Sea.197 The length, known to me by inquiry, would be about three degrees between north lat. 28° and 25°, the latter being the parallel of El–Medínah; others make them extend to near Yambú’, in north lat. 24° 5’. They may stretch far to the north, and connect, as has been suggested, with the Syrian centres of eruption, discovered by the Palestine Exploration. I have already explained198 how and why we were unable to visit “the Harrah” lying east of the Hismá; but we repeatedly saw its outlines, and determined that the lay is from north-west to south-east. Further south, as will be noticed at El–Haurá, the vertebrae curve seawards or to the south-west; and seem to mingle with the main range, the mountains of the Tihámat-Jahaníyyah (“of the Juhaynah”). Thus the formation assumes an importance which has never yet been attributed to it; and the five several “Harrahs,” reported to me by the Bedawin, must be studied in connection with the mineralogical deposits of the chains in contact with them. It must not be forgotten that a fragment of porous basalt, picked up by the first Expedition near Makná, yielded a small button of gold.199

Dreadfully rolled the Sinnár, as she ran close inshore before the long heavy swell from the north-west, and the old saying, Bon rouleur, bon marcheur, is cold consolation to an active man made to idle malgré lui. This section of the coast, unlike that to the north, is remarkably free from reefs. A little relief was felt while sheltered by the short tract of channel between the mainland and the shoals. But the nuisance returned in force as, doubling the Ras Muraybit (not Marabat), we sighted the two towers of El–Wijh, both beflagged, the round Burj of the fort, and the cubical white-washed lighthouse crowning its rocky point. And we were quiet once more when the Sinnár, having covered the thirty miles in four hours and thirty minutes, cast anchor in the usual place, south-east of the northern jaw. The main objection to our berth is that the prevailing north wind drives in a rolling sea from the open west. The log showed a total of 102 miles between the Sharms Yáhárr and El–Wijh, or 107 from the latter to El–Muwaylah.

“El–Wijh,” meaning the face, a word which the Egyptian Fellah perverts to “Wish,” lies in north lat. 26° 14’. It is the northernmost of the townlets on the West Arabian shore, which gain importance as you go south; e.g., Yambá’, Jeddah, Mocha, and Aden. It was not wholly uncivilized during my first visit, a quarter of a century ago, when I succeeded in buying opium for feeble patients. Distant six stations from Yambá’, and ten from El–Medínah, it has been greatly altered and improved. The pilgrim-caravan, which here did penance of quarantine till the last two years, has given it a masonry pier for landing the unfortunates to encamp upon the southern or uninhabited side of the cove. A tall and well-built lighthouse, now five years old, boasts of a good French lantern, wanting only soap and decent oil. Finally, guardhouses and bakehouses, already falling to ruins like the mole, and an establishment for condensing water, still kept in working order, are the principal and costly novelties of the southern shore.

The site of El–Wijh is evidently old, although the ruins have been buried under modern buildings. Sprenger (p. 21) holds the townlet to be the port of “Egra, a village” (El–Hajar, or “the town, the townlet”?) “in the territory of Obodas,” whence, according to Strabo (xvi. c. 4, § 24), Ælius Gallus embarked his baffled troops for Myus Hormus.200 Formerly he believed El-Aúníd to be Strabo’s “Egra,” the haven for the north; as El–Haurá was for the south, and El–Wijh for the central regions. Pliny (vi. 32) also mentions the “Tamudæi, with their towns of Domata and Hegra, and the town of Badanatha.” It is generally remarked that “Egra” does not appear in Ptolemy’s lists; yet one of the best texts (Nobbe, Lipsia, 1843) reads [Greek] instead of the “Negran” which Pirckheymerus (Lugduni, MDXXXV.) and others placed in north lat. 26°.

My learned friend writes to me —“El–Wijh, on the coast of Arabia, is opposite to Qoçayr (El–Kusayr), where Ælius Gallus landed his troops. We know that ‘Egra’ is the name of a town in the interior, and it was the constant habit to call the port after the capital of the country, e.g., Arabia Emporium = Aden. We have now only to inquire whether El–Wijh had claims to be considered the seaport of El–Hijr.” This difficulty is easily settled. El–Wijh is still the main, indeed the only, harbour in South Midian; and, during our stay there, a large caravan brought goods, as will be seen, from the upper Wady Hamz.

Under the influence of the quarantine, El–Wijh, the town on the northern bank of its cove, has blossomed into a hauteville, dating from the last dozen years. The ancient basseville, probably the site of many former settlements, is now used chiefly for shops and stores. Another and a more pretentious mosque has supplanted the little old Záwiyah (“chapel”) with its barbarous minaret, whose finial, a series of inverted crescents, might be taken for a cross; while a Jámi’ or “cathedral,” begun in the upper town, has stopped short through want of funds. Some of the best houses now extend towards the northern point. As usual in Arab settlements, they are long, tall claret-cases of coral-rag and burnt lime; flat-roofed, whitewashed in front, and provided with wooden doors and shutters. Lastly, on the slope still appears the smoky coffee-shed that witnessed the memorable encounter between its surly proprietor and “Saad the Devil.”201

Stony ramps, stiff as those of Gibraltar, connect the low with the high town, the cool breezy new settlement upon the crest of the northern cliff, whose noble view of the Jebel Libn and the palm-scattered Wady el-Wijh were formerly monopolized by the fort and its round tower. This work, only sixty-five years old, now stands so perilously near the undermined edge of the rock-cornice, that some day it will come down with a run. It is used by the garrison, and serves as a jail; but lately a Bedawi prisoner, like a certain Mamlúk Bey, jumped down the precipitous cove-face and effected his escape. Behind it are the “Doctors’ Quarters,” empty and desolate, because the sanitary officers have been removed. They are sheds of white-washed boarding, brought from the Crimea, like those of the Suez Canal; and comfortably distributed into Harem, kitchens, offices, and other necessaries.

The inhabitants of El–Wijh may number twelve hundred, without including chance travellers and the few wretched Bedawin, Hutaym and others, who pitch their black tents, like those of Alexandrian “Ramleh,” about and beyond the town. The people live well; and the merchants are large and portly men, who evidently thrive upon meat and rice. Flesh is retailed in the bazar, and mutton is cheap, especially when the Bedawin are near; a fine large sheep being dear at ten shillings. Water is exceptionally abundant, even without the condenser’s aid. The poorer classes and animals are watered at the pits and the two regular wells near the valley’s mouth, half an hour’s trudge from the town. The wealthy are supplied by the inland fort, which we shall presently visit: the distance going and coming would be about four slow hours, and the skinful costs five Khurdah, or copper piastres = three halfpence. The inner gardens grow a small quantity of green meat: water-melons are brought from Yambá(?): opium and Hashísh abound, but no spirits are for sale since the one Greek Bakkál, or petty shopkeeper, “made tracks.” He borrowed from a certain Surúr Selámah, negro merchant and head miser, 150 napoleons, in order to buy on commission certain bales of cotton shipwrecked up coast; he left in pledge the keys of his miserable store, which, by-the-by, la loi refuses to open; he was never seen again, and poor rich Surur is in the depths of despair.

One of the small industries of El–Wijh is the pearl trade. Mr. Clarke bought for £4 (twenty dollars) a specimen of good round form but rather yellow colour; and presently refused £5 for it. Those of pear-shape easily fetch thirty-six to forty dollars. Turquoises set in sealing-wax are sold cheap by the returning Persian pilgrims: the Zib el-Bahr (“Sea-wolf”), an Egyptian cruiser, had carried off the best shortly before our arrival. The people speak of an ‘Akík (“carnelian”) which, rubbed down in vinegar, enters into the composition of a favourite philtre — we could not, however, find any for sale. On our return, an ‘Anezah caravan of some ninety camels, driven by a hundred or so of spearmen and matchlockmen, came in loaded with valuable Samn or clarified butter: the fact suggests that the time has come for establishing a Gumruk (“custom-house”) at El–Wijh. Another source of wealth will be El–Melláhah, “the salina,” along which we shall travel: every man who has a donkey may carry off what he pleases, and sell to pilgrims and Bedawin the kilogramme for four piastres copper (= one piastre currency = five farthings). This again should be taken in hand by Government; and regular “salterns,” like those of Triestine Capodistria, would greatly increase the quantity. Nothing can be better than the quality except rock-salt. There is another salina about one hour down the coast, formed by a reef, near the Ras el-Ma’llah.

The afternoon of arrival was spent in receiving visits. The Muháfiz or “civil governor,” Hasan Bey, calls himself a Circassian: he is a handsome old man, whose straight features suggest the Greek slave, and who served in the Syrian campaigns under Ibrahim Pasha. Forty years ago he left his home; he has been here six years, and yet he knows absolutely nothing of the interior. He ought to reside at the inland fort, but he prefers the harbour-town; and he had not the common-sense to ride out with us. He shows his zeal by inventing obstacles; for instance, he suggests that the Bedawin should leave, during our journey, hostages at the fort: this is wholly unnecessary, and means only piastres. The Yuzbáshi, or “military commandant,” Sid–Ahmed Effendi, has charge of the forty-five regulars, half a company, who garrison the post and outpost. The chief merchant, who afterwards volunteered to be our travelling companion, is Mohammed Shahádah, formerly Wakil (“agent”) of the fort, a charge now abolished by a pound-foolish policy: he is an honest and intelligent, a charitable and companionable man, who has travelled far and wide over the interior, and who knows the tribes by heart. I strongly recommended him to his Highness the Viceroy. His brothers, Bedawi and Ali Shahádah, are also open-handed to the poor; very unlike their brother-inlaw Surúr Selámah, formerly a slave to the father of Mohammed Selámah whom we had met at Zibá. The list of notables ends with the Sayyid Ibrahim El–Mara’í and with the sturdy Abd el-Hakk, pearl and general merchant. All recognized our friend the Sayyid, whom even the “gutter-boys” saluted by name; and, although the Arab manner is blunt and independent, all showed perfect civility. It is needless to say that our late work, and our future plans, were known to everybody at El–Wijh as well as to ourselves; and that the tariffs of pay and hire, established in the North Country, at once became the norm of the South.

Our favourite walk at old “Egra” was to the quarantine-ground and the lighthouse. The situation of the town is by no means satisfactory, and the heavy dews of April, wetting the streets, cause frequent fevers. En revanche, nothing can be more healthy or exhilarating than the air of the tall plateau to the south of the cove. The quarantine-ground, with its grand view of the mountains inland, ends seawards in the Pharos that commands an horizon of blue water. The latter, according to the charts, is one hundred and six feet above sea-level, and is theoretically visible for fourteen miles; practice would reduce this radius to ten, and the least haze to six and even five.

The lighthouse-charges are strongly objected to by the skippers of Arab fishing-boats, although very small in their case. Square-rigged vessels pay per ton twenty parahs (tariff): thus it costs a ship of five hundred tons £2 10s. (Turkish). The keeper. under Admiral M’Killop (Pasha), a young Greek named “Gurjí,” as “George” here sounds, is assisted by a Moslem lad, Mohammed Effendi of Alexandria. They serve for three years, and they look forward to the end of them. The former also superintends the condensing establishment: this office is a sinecure, except during the three months of pilgrim-passage. The machine can distil eighteen tons per diem; and there is another water-magazine, an old paddle-wheeler moored to the beach under the town. Behind the establishment lies the pilgrim-cemetery. frequented by hyenas that prowl around the lighthouse, threatening the canine guard. I found a new use for this vermin’s brain: it is administered by the fair ones at El–Wijh to jealous husbands, upon whom, they tell me, it acts as a sedative.

El–Wijh has been heard of in England as the prophylactic against the infected Hejaz. It is admirably suited for quarantine purposes, and it has been abolished, very unwisely, in favour of “Tor harbour.” The latter, inhabited by a ring of thievish Syro–Greek traders; backed by a wretched wilderness, alternately swampy and sandy, is comfortless to an extent calculated to make the healthiest lose health. Moreover, its climate, says Professor Palmer (p. 222), is very malarious: “owing to the low and marshy nature of the ground, there is a great deal of miasma even in the winter season.” Finally, and worst of all, it is near enough to Suez for infection to travel easily. A wealthy pilgrim has only to pay a few gold pieces, his escape to the mountains is winked at; and thence he travels or voyages comfortably to Suez and Cairo. Even without such irregularities, the transmission of contaminated clothing, or other articles, would suffice to spread cholera, typhus, and smallpox. Tor is, in fact, an excellent medium for focussing and for propagating contagious disease; and its vicinity to Egypt, and consequently to Europe, suggests that it should at once be abolished.

At first I lent ear to the popular statement at El–Wijh; namely, that the visiting doctors and the resident sanitary officers naturally prefer the shorter to the longer voyage, and the nearer station to that further from home. Moreover, inasmuch as, if inclined to be dishonest, they find more opportunities in the north, it was their interest to transfer the establishment to Tor. The local authorities, the people assured me, were induced to report that the single fort-well had run dry; that the condensers had proved a failure, and that the old steamer-magazine, into which they had poured brine, was leaky and inefficient. But what was my astonishment when, after return to Cairo, I was told that the change had been strongly advocated by the English Government?

The objections to El–Wijh are two, both equally invalid. The port is dangerous, especially when westerly winds are blowing: ships during the pilgrimage-season must bank their fires, ever ready to run out. True; but it has been shown that Sharm Dumayghah, the best of its kind, lies only thirty knots to the north. The second, want of water, or of good water, is even less cogent. We have seen that the seaboard wells supply the poorer classes and animals; and we shall presently see the Fort-wells, which, in their day, have watered caravans containing twenty to thirty thousand thirsty men and beasts. So far from the condensers being a failure, the tank still holds about twenty tons of distilled water, although it gives drink to some thirty mouths composing the establishment. Finally, the old steamer has done its duty well, and, like the proverbial Marine, is still ready to do its duty again.202

Thus the expense of laying out the quarantine-ground at El–Wijh has been pitifully wasted. That, however, is a very small matter; the neglect of choosing a proper position is serious, even ominous. Unlike Tor, nothing can be healthier or freer from fever than the pilgrims’ plateau. From El–Wijh, too, escape is hopeless: the richest would not give a piastre to levant; because, if a solitary traveller left the caravan, a Bedawi bullet would soon prevail on him to stop. This, then, should be the first long halt for the “compromised” travelling northwards. When contagious disease has completely disappeared, the second precautionary delay might be either at Tor or, better still, at the “Wells of Moses” (‘Uyun Músá), near the head of the Suez Gulf: here sanitary conditions are far more favourable; and here supplies, including medical comforts, would be cheaper as well as more abundant. Briefly, it is my conviction that, under present circumstances, “Tor” is a standing danger, not only to Egypt, but to universal Europe.

The coast about El–Wijh is famed for shells; the numerous reefs and shoals favouring the development of the molluscs. We were promised a heavy haul by the citizens, who, however, contented themselves with picking up the washed-out specimens found everywhere on the shore: unfortunately we had no time to superintend the work. A caseful was submitted to the British Museum, and a few proved interesting on account of their locality. The list printed at the end of this chapter was kindly supplied to me by Mr. Edgar A. Smith, superintendent of the Conchological Department.

I will conclude this chapter with a short notice the Hutaym or Hitaym, a people extremely interesting to me. They are known to travellers only as a low caste. Wellsted (II. xii.) tells us that the “Huteimi,” whom he would make the descendants of the Ichthyophagi described by Diodorus Siculus and other classics, are noticed by several Arabian authorities. “In one, the Kitab el-Mush Serif203 (Musharrif?), they are styled ‘Hooteïn,’ the descendants of ‘Hooter,’ a servant of Moses.” He also relates a legend that the Apostle of Allah pronounced them polluted, because they ate the flesh of dogs. Others declare that they opposed Mohammed when he was rebuilding the Ka’bah; and thereby drew upon themselves the curse that they should be held the “basest of the Arabs.” These tales serve to prove one fact, the antiquity of the race.

The Hutaym, meaning the “Broken” (tribe), hold, in Midian and Egypt, the position of Pariahs, like the Akhdám “serviles”, or Helots, of Maskat and El–Yemen. No clan of pure Arabs will intermarry with them; and when the Fellahs say, Tatahattim (=tatamaskin or tatazalli), they mean, “Thou cringest, thou makest thyself contemptible as a Hutaymi.” Moreover, they must pay the dishonouring Akháwat, or “brother-tax,” to all the Bedawin amongst whom they settle.

The Hutaym are scattered as they are numerous. They have extended, probably in ancient times, to Upper Egypt, and occupy parts of Nubia; about Sawákin they are an important clan. They number few in the Sinaitic Peninsula and in Midian, but they occupy the very heart of the Arabian Peninsula. Those settled on Jebel Libn, we have seen, claim as their kinsman the legendary ‘Antar, who was probably a negro of the noble Semitic stock. A few are camped about El–Wijh; and they become more important down coast. In the eastern regions bordering upon Midian, they form large and powerful bodies, such as the Nawámisah and the Sharárát, whose numbers and bravery secure for them the respect of their fighting equestrian neighbours, the Ruwalá-‘Anezah.

Like other Arabs, the Hutaym tribe is divided into a multitude of clans, septs, and families, each under its own Shaykh. All are Moslems, after the Desert pattern, a very rude and inchoate article. Wellsted knew them by their remarkably broad chins: the Bedawi recognize them by their look; by their peculiar accent, and by the use of certain peculiar words, as Harr! when donkey-driving. The men are unwashed and filthy; the women walk abroad unveiled, and never refuse themselves, I am told, to the higher blood.

The Arabs of Midian always compare the Hutaym with the Ghagar (Ghajar) or Gypsies of Egypt; and this is the point which gives the outcasts a passing interest. I have not yet had an opportunity of carefully studying the race; nor can I say whether it shows any traces of skill in metal-working. Meanwhile, we must inquire whether these Helots, now so dispersed, are not old immigrants of Indian descent, who have lost their Aryan language, like the Egyptian Ghajar. In that case they would represent the descendants of the wandering tribes who worked the most ancient ateliers. Perhaps they may prove to be congeners of the men of the Bronze Age, and of the earliest waves of Gypsy-immigration into Europe.


A list of the shells collected by the second Khedivial Expedition on the shore of Midian and the Gulf of ‘Akabah, by Edgar A. Smith, Esq., British Museum.

I. Gastropoda.

1. Conus textile, Linné.
2. Conus sumatrensis, Hwass.
3. Conus catus var., Hwass.
4. Conus larenatus, Hwass.
5. Conus hebræus, Linné.
6. Conus ividus(?), Hwass.
6a. Conus ceylanensis, Hwass.
7. Terebra maculata, Linné.
8. Terebra dimidiata, Linné.
9. Terebra consobrina, Deshayes.
10. Terebra (Impages) cærulescens, Lamarck.
11. Pleurotoma cingulifera, Lamarck.
11a. Murex tribulus, Linn.
12. Murex (Chicoreus) inflatus, Lamarck.
13. Cassidulus paradisiacus, Reeve.
14. Nassa coronata, Lamarck.
15. Nassa pulla, Linné.
16. Engina (Pusiostoma) mendicaria, Lamarck.
17. Cantharus (Tritonidea) sp. juv.
18. Purpura hippocastanum, Lamarck.
19. Sistrum arachnoides, Lamarck.
20. Sistrum fiscellum, Chemnitz.
21. Sistrum tuberculatum, Blainville.
22. Harpa solida, A. Adams.
23. Fasciolaria trapezium, Lamarck.
24. Turbinella cornigera, Lamarck.
25. Dolium (Malea) pomum, Linné.
26. Triton maculosus, Reeve.
27. Triton aquatilis, Reeve.
28. Triton (Persona) anus, Lamarck.
29. Natica (Polinices) mamilla, Linné.
30. Natica albula(?), Récluz.
31. Natica (Mamilla) melanostoma, Lamarck.
32. Solarium perspectivum, Linné.
33. Cypræa arabica, Linné.
34. Cypræa pantherina, Linné.
35. Cypræa camelopardalis, Perry.
36. Cypræa carneola, Linné.
37. Cypræa scurra, Chemnitz.
38. Cypræa erosa, Linné.
39. Cypræa tabescens(?), Solander.
40. Cypræa caurica, Linné.
41. Cypræa talpa, Linné.
41B. Cypraea lynx, Linné.
42. Cerithium tuberosum, Fabricius.
43. Turritella torulosa(?), Kiener.
44. Strombus tricornis, Lamarck.
45. Strombus gibberulus, Linné.
46. Strombus floridus, Lamarck.
47. Strombus fasciatus, Born.
48. Pterocera truncatum, Lamarck.
49. Planaxis breviculus, Deshayes.
50. Nerita marmorata, Reeve.
51. Nerita quadricolor, Gmelin.
52. Nerita rumphii Récluz.
53. Turbo petholatus, Linné.
54. Turbo chrysostoma var.(?), Linné.
55. Trochus (Pyramis) dentatus, Forskâl.
56. Trochus (Cardinalia) virgatus, Gmelin.
57. Trochus (Polydonta) sanguinolentus, Chemnitz.
58. Trochus (Clanculus) pharaonis, Linné.
59. Trochus (Monodonta) sp.
60. Patella variabilis(?), Krauss.
61. Chiton sp.
62. Bulla ampulla, Linné.

II. Conchifera

63. Dione florida, Lamarck.
64. Dione sp.
65. Tellina staurella, Lamarck.
66. Paphia glabrata, Gmelin.
67. Chama Ruppellii, Reeve.
68. Arca (Barbatia) sp.
68a. Arca (Senilia) sp.
69. Cardium leucostoma, Born.
70. Venericardia Cumingii, Deshayes.
71. Modiola auriculata, Krauss.
72. Pectunculus lividus, Reeve.
73. Pectunculus pectenoides, Deshayes.
74. Avicula margaritifera, Linné.
75. Tridacna gigas, Linné.

188 Chap. XII.

189 Chap XV.

190 Chap. XV.

191 Vol. ii. Chap. X. I have also quoted him in “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” Chap. VI.

192 My “Pilgrimage” (Vol. I. Chap. XI.) called it “Sherm Damghah”: it is the “Demerah” of Moresby and the “Demeg” of ‘Ali Bey el-‘Abbási (the unfortunate Spaniard Badia).

193 See “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” Chap. VII.

194 The old being the classical [Greek] (Iambia Vicus), in north lat. 24°. This is Yambú’ el-Nakhil, in Ptolemy’s time a seaport, now fifteen miles to the north-east (north lat. 24° 12’ 3”?) of the modern town. The latter lies in north lat. 24° 5’ 30” (Wellsted, ii. II), and, according to the Arabs, six hours’ march from the sea.

195 Vol. I. pp. 364, 365.

196 “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” Chap. IX.

197 Chap. VI. describes one of the sporadic (?) outcrops near Tayyib Ism; and Chap. IX notices the apparently volcanic sulphur-mount near El–Muwaylah.

198 See Chap. IX.

199 “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” Chap. XII.

200 See “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” Chap. VIII.

201 “Pilgrimage,” Vol. I. Chap. XI.

202 In “The Gold Mines of Midian” (Chap. IV.) I unconsciously re-echoed the voice of the vulgar about “the harbour being bad and the water worse” at El–Wijh.

203 This style of writing reminds me of the inch allah (Inshallah!) in the pages of a learned “war correspondent”— a race whose naive ignorance and whose rare self-sufficiency so completely perverted public opinion during the Russo–Turkish war of 1877–78.

Chapter XV.

The Southern Sulphur-hill — the Cruise to El–Haurá— Notes on the Baliyy Tribe and the Volcanic Centres of North — Western Arabia.

On the day of our arrival at El–Wijh I sent a hurried letter of invitation to Mohammed ‘Afnán, Shaykh of the Baliyy tribe; inviting him to visit the Expedition, and to bring with him seventy camels and dromedaries. His tents being pitched at a distance of three days’ long march in the interior, I determined not to waste a precious week at the end of the cold season; and the party was once more divided. Anton, the Greek, was left as storekeeper, with orders to pitch a camp, to collect as much munition de bouche as possible, and to prepare for this year’s last journey into the interior. MM. Marie and Philipin, with Lieutenant Yusuf, Cook Giorji, and Body-servant Ali Marie, were directed to march along the shore southwards. After inspecting a third Jebel el-Kibrít, they would bring back notices of the Wady Hamz, near whose banks I had heard vague reports of a Gasr (Kasr), “palace” or “castle,” built by one Gurayyim Sa’íd. Meanwhile, the rest of us would proceed in the Sinnár to El–Haurá, a roundabout cruise of a hundred miles to the south.

M. Philipin lost time in shoeing very imperfectly his four mules; and M. Marie, who could have set out with eight camels at any moment, delayed moving till March 26th. The party was composed of a single Básh-Buzúk from the fort, and two quarrymen: the Ras Káfilah was young Shaykh Sulaymán bin ‘Afnán — of whom more presently — while his brother-inlaw Hammád acted guide. At 6.40 a.m. they struck to the south-east of the town, and passed the two brackish pits or wells, Bir el-Isma’íl and El–Sannúsi, which supply the poor of the port. Thence crossing the broad Wady el-Wijh, they reached, after a mile’s ride, Wady Melláhah, or “the salina.” It is an oval, measuring some eighteen hundred yards from north to south: the banks are padded with brown slush frosted white; which, in places, “bogs” the donkeys and admits men to the knee. Beyond it lie dazzling blocks of pure crystallized salt; and the middle of the pond is open, tenanted by ducks and waterfowl, and visited by doves and partridges. At the lower or northern end, a short divide separates it from the sea; and the waves, during the high westerly gales, run far inland: it would be easy to open a regular communication between the harbour and its saltern. The head is formed by the large Wady Surrah, whose many feeders at times discharge heavy torrents. The walls of the valley-mouth are marked, somewhat like the Hárr, with caverned and corniced cliffs of white, canary-yellow, and light-pink sandstone.

They then left to the right the long point Ras el-Ma’llah, fronting Mardúnah Island. Here, as at El-‘Akabah and Makná, sweet water springs from the salt sands of the shore; a freak of drainage, a kind of “Irish bull” of Nature, so common upon the dangerous Somali seaboard. The tract leads to the south-east, never further from the shore than four or five miles, but separated by rolling ground which hides the main. For the same reason the travellers were unable to sight the immense development of granite-embedded quartz, which lurks amongst the hills to the inland or east, and which here subtends the whole coast-line. They imagined themselves to be in a purely Secondary formation of gypsum and conglomerates, cut by a succession of Wady-beds like the section between El–Muwaylah and ‘Aynúnah. Thus they crossed the mouths of the watercourses, whose heads we shall sight during the inland march, and whose mid-lengths we shall pass when marching back to El–Wijh.

These exceedingly broad beds are divided, as usual, by long lines of Nature-metalled ground. The first important feature is the Wady Surrah, which falls into the Wady el-Wijh a little above the harbour-pier: its proper and direct mouth, El-Gá‘h (Ká‘h), or “the Hall,” runs along-shore into the Melláhah. It drains the Hamíratayn, or “Two Reds;” the Hamírat Surrah in the Rughám or Secondary formation, and the granitic mass Hamírat el-Nabwah, where the plutonic outbreaks begin. Amongst the number of important formations are:— the Wady el-Miyáh, which has a large salt-well near the sea, and down whose upper bed we shall travel after leaving Umm el-Karáyát; the Wady el-Kurr, whose acquaintance we shall make in the eastern region; and the Wady el-‘Argah (‘Arjah). The latter is the most interesting. Near its head we shall find knots of ruins, and the quartz-reef Abá‘l-Marú; while lower down the bed, on the north-east side of a hill facing the valley, Lieutenant Yusuf came upon a rock scrawled over with religious formulæ, Tawakkaltu ‘al’ Allah (“I rely upon Allah”), and so forth, all in a comparatively modern Arabic character. The inscriptions lie to the left of the shore road, and to the right of the pilgrim-highway; thus showing that miners, not passing travellers, have here left their mark.

After riding five hours and forty minutes (= seventeen miles) the party reached the base of the third sulphur-hill discovered by the Expedition on the coast of Midian. Also known as the Tuwayyil el-Kibrít, the “Little-long (Ridge) of Brimstone,” it appears from afar a reddish pyramid rising about two miles inland of an inlet, which is said to be safe navigation. Thus far it resembles the Jibbah find: on the other hand, it is not plutonic, but chalky like those of Makná and Sinai, the crystals being similarly diffused throughout the matrix. In the adjoining hills and cliffs the Secondaries and the conglomerates take all shades of colour, marvellous to behold when the mirage raises to giant heights the white coast-banks patched with pink, red, mauve, and dark brown. Moreover, the quarries of mottled alabaster, which the Ancients worked for constructions, still show themselves.

The travellers slept at the base of the Tuwayyil. Next morning M. Philipin proceeded to collect specimens of the sulphur and of the chalcedony-agate strewed over the plain, and here seen for the first time. M. Marie and Lieutenant Yusuf rode on to the banks of the Wady Hamz; and, after three hours (= nine miles), they came upon the “Castle” and unexpectedly turned up trumps. I had carelessly written for them the name of a ruin which all, naturally enough, believed would prove to be one of the normal barbarous Hawáwít. They brought back specimens of civilized architecture; and these at once determined one of the objectives of our next journey. The party returned to El–Wijh on the next day, in the highest of spirits, after a successful trip of more than fifty miles.

Meanwhile I steamed southwards, accompanied by the rest of the party, including the Sayyid, Shaykh Furayj, and the ex-Wakíl, Mohammed Shahádah, who is trusted by the Bedawin, and who brought with him a guide of the Fawá‘idah-Juhaynah, one Rájih ibn ‘Ayid. This fellow was by no means a fair specimen of his race: the cynocephalous countenance, the cobweb beard, and the shifting, treacherous eyes were exceptional; the bellowing voice and the greed of gain were not. He had a free passage for himself, his child, and eight sacks of rice, with the promise of a napoleon by way of “bakhshísh;” yet he complained aloud that he had no meat to break his fast at dawn — an Arab of pure blood would rather have starved. He shirked answering questions concerning the number of his tribe. “Many, many!” was all the information we could get from him; and his Arabic wanted the pure pronunciation, and the choice vocabulary, that usually distinguish the Juhayni pilots. Arrived at his own shore, he refused to make arrangements for disembarking his rice; he ordered, with bawling accents and pointed stick, the sailors of the man-of-war to land it at the place chosen by himself; and he bit his finger when informed that a sound flogging was the normal result of such impudence.

We set out at 4.30 p.m. (March 24th); and steamed due west till we had rounded the northern head of El–Raykhah, a long low island which, lying west-south-west of El–Wijh, may act breakwater in that direction. Then we went south-west, and passed to port the white rocks of Mardu’nah Isle, which fronts the Ras el-Ma’llah, capping the ugly reefs and shoals that forbid tall ships to hug this section of the shore. It is described as a narrow ridge of coralline, broken into pointed masses two to three hundred feet high, whose cliffs and hollows form breeding-places for wild pigeons: the unusually rugged appearance is explained by the fact that here the “Jinns” amuse themselves with hurling rocks at one another. Before night we had sighted the Ras Kurkumah, so called from its “Curcuma” (turmeric) hue, the yellow point facing the islet-tomb of Shaykh Marbat.204 Upon this part of the shore, I was told, are extensive ruins as yet unvisited by Europeans, the dangerous Juhaynah being the obstacle. To the south-east towered tall and misty forms, the Gháts of the Tihámat-Jahaníyyah. Northernmost, and prolonging the Libn, that miniature Shárr, is the regular wall of the Jebel el-Ward; then come the peaks and pinnacles of the Jibál el-Safhah; and lastly, the twin blocks El-Rál, between which passes the Egyptian Hajj when returning from El–Medínah. Faint resemblances of these features sprawl, like huge caterpillars, over the Hydrographic Chart, but all sprawl unnamed.

By way of extra precaution we stood to the south instead of the south-east, thus lengthening to one hundred and twenty knots the normal hundred (dir. geog. sixty-eight) separating El–Wijh from the Jebel Hassáni. Moreover, we caught amidships a fine lumpy sea, that threatened to roll the masts out of the stout old corvette. As the Sinnár, which always reminded me of her Majesty’s steamship Zebra, is notably the steadiest ship in the Egyptian navy, the captain was asked about his ballast. He replied, “I have just taken command, but I don’t think there is any; the engine (El-‘iddah) is our Saburra”— evidently he had never seen the hold. This state of things, which, combined with open ports, foundered her Majesty’s sailing frigate Eurydice, appears the rule of the Egyptian war-navy. I commend the consideration to English sailors.

The steering also was detestable; and the man at the wheel could not see the waves — a sine quâ non to the mariner in these latitudes, who “broaches to” whenever he can. A general remark: The Egyptian sailor is first-rate in a Dahabiyyah (Nile-boat), which he may capsize once in a generation; and ditto in a Red Sea Sambúk, where he is also thoroughly at home. The same was the case with the Sultan of Maskat’s Arabo–English navy: the Arabs and Sídís (negroes) were excellent at working their Mtepe-craft; on frigates they were monkeys, poor copies of men. Our European vessels are beyond and above the West Asiatic and the African. He becomes at the best a kind of imitation Jack Tar. He will not, or rather he cannot, take the necessary trouble, concentrate his attention, fix his mind upon his “duties.” He says “Inshallah;” he relies upon Allah; and he prays five times a day, when he should be giving or receiving orders. The younger generation of officers, it is true, drinks wine, and does not indulge in orisons whilst it should be working; but its efficiency is impaired by the difficulties and delay in granting pensions. The many grey beards, however carefully dyed, suggest an equipage de vétérans.

The consequence of yawing and of running half-speed by night was that we reached Jebel Hassáni just before noon, instead of eight a.m., on the 25th. The island, whose profile slopes to the south-eastward, is a long yellow-white ridge, a lump of coralline four hundred feet high, bare and waterless in summer: yet it feeds the Bedawi flocks at certain seasons. It is buttressed and bluff to the south-west, whence the strongest winds blow; and it is prolonged by a flat spit to the south-east, and by a long tail of two vertebrae, a big and a little joint, trending north-west. Thus it gives safe shelter from the Wester to Arab barques;205 and still forms a landmark for those navigating between Jeddah, Kusayr, and Suez. Its parallel runs a few miles north of the Dædalus Light (north lat. 24° 55’ 30”) to the west; and it lies a little south of El–Haurá on the coast, and of El–Medínah, distant about one hundred and thirty direct miles in the interior. If Ptolemy’s latitudes are to be consulted, Jebel Hassáni would be the Timagenes Island in north lat. 25° 40’; and the corresponding Chersónesus Point is represented by the important and well-marked projection “Abú Madd,” which intercepts the view to the south.

After rounding the southern spit, we turned to north-east and by east, and passed, with a minimum of seven fathoms under keel, between Hassáni the Giant and the dwarf Umm Sahr, a flat sandbank hardly visible from the shore. This is the only good approach to the secure and spacious bay that bore the southernmost Nabathæan port-town: there are northern and north-western passages, but both require skilful pilots; and every other adit, though apparently open, is sealed by reefs and shoals. With the blue and regular-lined curtain of Abú el-Ghurayr in front, stretching down coast to Ras Abú Madd, we bent gradually round to the north-east and east. We then left to starboard the settlement El–Amlij, a long line of separate ‘Ushash, the usual Ichthyophagan huts, dull, dark-brown wigwams. They were apparently deserted; at least, only two women appeared upon the shore, but sundry Katírahs and canoes warned us that fishermen were about. We ran for safety a mile and three-quarters north of the exposed Ras el-Haurá; and at 1.30 p.m. (= twenty-one hours) we anchored, in nine fathoms, under the Kutá‘at el-Wazamah. The pea-green shallows, which defended us to the north and south, had lately given protection to the Khedivíyyah206 steamer El–Hidayyidah, compelled by an accident to creep along-shore like a Sambúk.

El–Haura’ is not found either in the charts, or in Ptolemy’s and Sprenger’s maps. It lies in north lat. 25° 6’, about the same parallel as El–Medínah; and in east long. (Gr.) 37° 13’ 30”.207 Wellsted (II. x.) heard of its ruins, but never saw it: at least, he says, “In the vicinity of El–Haurá, according to the Arabs, are some remains of buildings and columns, but our stay on the coast was too limited to permit our examining the spot.” He is, however, greatly in error when he adds, “Near this station the encampments of the Bili’ (Baliyy) tribe to the southward terminate, and those of the Joheïnah commence.” As has been seen, the frontier is nearly fifty miles further north. He notices (chap. ix.) the “White Village” to differ with Vincent, who would place it at El–Muwaylah; but he translates the word (ii. 461) “the bright-eyed girl,” instead of Albus (Vicus). He quotes, however, the other name, Dár el-‘ishrin (“Twentieth Station”), so called because the Cairo caravan formerly reached it in a score of days, now reduced to nineteen. He seems, finally, to have landed in order to inspect “a ruined town on the main,” and to have missed it.

According to Sprenger, the “White Village, or Castle,” was not a Thamudite, but a Nabathæan port. Here Æelius Gallius disembarked his troops from Egypt. Strabo (xvi. c. 4, § 24) shows that [Greek] was the starting-place of the caravans which, before the Nile route to Alexandria was opened, carried to Petra the merchandise of India and of Southern Arabia. Thence the imports were passed on to Phoenicia and Egypt:— these pages have shown why the journey would be preferred to the voyage northward. He is confirmed by the “Periplus,” which relates (chap. xix.) that “from the port, and the castellum of Leukè Kóme, a road leads to Petra, the capital of the Malicha (El–Malik), King of the Nabathæans: it also serves as an emporium to those who bring wares in smaller ships from Arabia (Mocha, Múza, and Aden). For the latter reason, a Perceptor or toll-taker, who levies twenty-five per cent. ad valorem, and a Hekatontarches (centurion), with a garrison, are there stationed.” As the Nabatæ were vassals of Rome, and the whole region had been ceded to the Romans (Byzantines) by a chief of the Beni Kudá’ tribe, this Yuzbáshi or “military commandant” was probably a Roman.

El–Haurá, like most of the ruined settlements upon this coast, shows two distinct “quarters;” a harbour-town and what may be called a country-town. The latter, whose site is by far the more picturesque and amene, lay upon a long tongue of land backing the slope of the sea-cliff, and attached to the low whitish hillocks and pitons rising down south. It is now a luxuriant orchard of emerald palms forming three large patches. Behind it swells a dorsum of golden-yellow sand; and the horizon is closed by ranges of hills and highlands, red and white, blue and black. Our eyes are somewhat startled by the amount of bright and vivid green: for some reason, unknown to us, the shore is far more riant than the northern section; and the land might be called quasi-agricultural. The whole coast seems to be broken with verdant valleys; from the Wady el-‘Ayn, with its numerous branches beautifying the north, to the Wady el-Daghaybaj in the south, supplying water between its two paps.

On the evening of our arrival, we landed in a shallow bay bearing north-north-east (30° mag.) from the roads where the corvette lay at anchor; and walked a few yards inland to the left bank of the Wady el-Samnah, the unimportant Fiumara draining low hills of the same name. The loose sand is everywhere strewed with bits of light porous lava, which comes from the Harrat el-Buhayr, a bluff quoin to the north-west. About El–Haurá, I have said, the volcanic formations, some sixty miles inland on the parallel of El–Muwaylah, approach the coast.

We were guided to the ruins by the shouts of sundry Arabs defending their harvest against a dangerous enemy, the birds — rattles and scarecrows were anything but scarce. Apparently the sand contains some fertilizing matter. A field of dry and stunted Dukhn (Holcus Dochna), or small millet, nearly covers the site of the old castle, whose outline, nearly buried under the drift of ages, we could still trace. There are two elevations, eastern and western; and a third lies to the north, on the right side of the Wady Samnah. Scatters of the usual fragments lay about, and the blocks of white coralline explained the old names — Whitton, Whitworth, Whitby. The Bedawin preserve the tradition that this was the most important part of the settlement, which extended southwards nearly four miles. The dwarf valley-mouth is still a roadstead, where two small craft were anchored; and here, doubtless, was the corner of the hive allotted to the community’s working-bees. An old fibster, Hámid el-Fá‘idi, declared that he would bring us from the adjacent hills a stone which, when heated, would pour forth metal like water — and never appeared again. It was curious to remark how completely the acute Furayj believed him, because both were Arabs and brother Bedawin.

Next morning we set out, shortly after the red and dewy sunrise, to visit the south end of Leukè Kóme. The party consisted of twenty marines under an officer, besides our escort of ten negro “Remingtons:” the land was open, and with these thirty I would willingly have met three hundred Bedawin. Our repulse from the Hismá had rankled in our memories, and we only wanted an opportunity of showing fight. After rowing a mile we landed, south-east of the anchorage (127° mag.), at a modern ruin, four blocks of the rudest masonry, built as a store by a Yambú’ merchant. Unfortunately he had leased the ground from the Fawá‘idah clan, when the Hámidah claim it: the result was a “faction fight”— and nothing done.

A few minutes’ walking, over unpleasantly deep sand, placed us upon the Hajj-road. It is paved, like the shore, with natural slabs and ledges of soft modern sandstone; and, being foot-worn, it makes a far better road than that which connects Alexandria with Ramleh. The broad highway, scattered with quartz and basalt, greenstone, and serpentine, crossed one of the many branches of the Wady el-‘Ayn: in the rich and saltish sand grew crops of Dukhn, and the Halfá-grass (Cynosures durus) of the Nile Valley, with tamarisk-thickets, and tufts of fan-palm. On its left bank a lamp-black vein of stark-naked basalt, capped by jagged blocks, ran down to the sea, and formed a conspicuous buttress. The guides spoke of a similar volcanic outcrop above Point Abú Madd to the south; and of a third close to Yambá’ harbour.

An hour of “stravaguing” walk showed us the first sign of the ruins: wall-bases built with fine cement, crowning the summit of a dwarf mound to the left of the road; well-worked scoriæ were also scattered over its slopes. We now entered the date orchards conspicuous from the sea: on both sides of us were fences of thorn, tamped earth, and dry stone; young trees had been planted, and, beyond the dates, large fields of Dukhn again gave an agricultural touch to the scene. Flocks of sheep and goats were being grazed all around us; and the owners made no difficulty, as they would have done further north, in selling us half a dozen.

We then entered the Wady Haurá, where the caravan camps. It is a cheery charming site for rich citizens, with its plain of rich vegetation everywhere, say the natives, undermined by water; its open sea-view to the west; its mound of clean yellow sand behind, extending to the rocky horizon; and its pure fresh breezes blowing from the Nejd with an indescribable sense of lightness and health and enjoyment. In fact, it has all the accessories of an “eligible position.” At the third or southern palm patch, we found the only public work which remains visible in the great Nabathaean port. It was formerly a Káríz, the underground-aqueduct so common in Persia; and it conducted towards the sea the drainage of the Jebel Turham, a round knob shown in the Chart, which bears south-east (121° mag.) from the conduit-head. The line has long ago been broken down by the Arabs; and the open waters still supply the Hajj-caravan. The ‘Ayn (“fountain”) may be seen issuing from a dark cavern of white coralline: the water then hides itself under several filled-up pits, which represent the old air-holes; and, after flowing below sundry natural arches, the remains of the conduit-ceiling, it emerges in a deep fissure of saltish stone. From this part of its banks we picked up fair specimens of saltpetre. The lower course abounds in water-beetles, and is choked with three kinds of aquatic weeds. After flowing a few yards it ends in a shallow pool, surrounded by palms and paved with mud, which attracts flights of snipes, sandpipers, and sandgrouse.

The turbulent “Dog’s Sons”208 were mostly in the upper lands; but a few wretched fellows, with swords, old spears, and ridiculous matchlocks, assembled and managed to get up a squabble about the right of leading strangers into “our country” (Bilád-ná). The doughty Rájih ibn ‘Ayid, who, mounted upon a mean dromedary, affected to be chief guide, seemed to treat their pretensions as a serious matter, when we laughed them to scorn. He and all the other experts gave us wholly discouraging details concerning a ruin represented to lie, some hours off, in the nearest of the southern Harrah. According to them, the Kasr el-Bint (“Maiden’s Palace”) was in the same condition as El–Haurá; showing only a single pillar, perhaps the “columns” to which Wellsted alludes. We could learn nothing concerning the young person whose vague name it bears; except that she preferred settling on the mainland, whereas her brother built a corresponding castle upon the islet Jebel Hassáni.209 He is locally called Warakat ibn Naufal, a venerated name in the Fatrah, or “interval,” between Jesus and Mohammed; he was the uncle of Khadijah the widow, and he is popularly supposed to have been a Christian. Here, as at other places, I inquired, at the suggestion of a friend, but of course in vain, about the human skeleton which Ibn Mujáwar, some six centuries ago, found embedded in a rock near the sea-shore.

Such is the present condition of the once famous emporium Leukè Kóme. We returned along the shore to embark; and, shortly after noon, the old corvette of Crimean date again swung round on her heel, and resumed her wanderings, this time northwards. The run of eighteen hours and fifteen minutes was semicircular, but the sea had subsided to a dead calm. The return to El–Wijh felt like being restored to civilization; we actually had a salad of radish leaves — delicious!

Our travel will now lie through the Baliyy country, and a few words concerning this ancient and noble tribe may here be given. Although they apparently retain no traditions of their origin, they are known to genealogists as a branch of the Beni Kudá’, who, some fifteen centuries ago, emigrated from Southern Arabia, and eventually exterminated the Thamudites. I have noted their northern and southern frontiers: to the north-east they are bounded by the vicious Ma’ázah and the Ruwalá-‘Anezahs, and to the south-east by the Alaydán-‘Anezahs, under Shaykh Mutlak. Like their northern nomadic neighbours, they have passed over to Egypt, and even the guide-books speak of the “Billi” in the valley of the Nile.

The Baliyy modestly rate their numbers at four thousand muskets, by which understand four hundred. Yet they divide themselves into a multitude of clans; our companion, the Wakíl Mohammed Shahádah, can enumerate them by the score; and I wrote down the twenty-three principal, which are common both to South Midian and to Egypt. The chief Shaykh, Mohammed ‘Afnán ibn Ammár, can reckon backwards seven generations, beginning from a certain Shaykh Sultán. About ten years ago he allowed the tribe to indulge in such dangerous amusements as “cutting the road” and plundering merchants. It is even asserted, privily, that they captured the fort of El–Wijh, by bribing the Turkish Topji (“head gunner”), to fire high — like the half-caste artilleryman who commanded the Talpúr cannoneers at Sir Charles Napier’s Battle of “Meeanee.” A regiment of eight hundred bayonets was sent from Egypt, and the Shaykh was secured by a Hílah, or “stratagem;” that is, he was promised safe conduct: he trusted himself like a fool, he was seized, clapped in irons, and sent to jail in the Citadel of Cairo. Here he remained some seven months in carcere duro, daily expecting death, when Fate suddenly turned in his favour; he was sent for by the authorities, pardoned for the past, cautioned for the future, and restored to his home with a Murátibah (“regular pension”) of eight hundred piastres per mensem, besides rations and raiment. The remedy was, like cutting off the nose of a wicked Hindú wife, sharp but effective. Shaykh ‘Afnan and his tribe are now models of courtesy to strangers; and the traveller must devoutly wish that every Shaykh in Arabia could be subjected to the same discipline.

The Baliyy are a good study of an Arab tribe in the rough. The Huwaytát, for example, know their way to Suez and to Cairo; they have seen civilization; they have learned, after a fashion, the outlandish ways of the Frank, the Fellah, and the Turk-fellow. The Baliyy have to be taught all these rudiments. Cunning, tricky, and “dodgy,” as is all the Wild–Man-race, they lie like the “childish-foolish,” deceiving nobody but themselves. An instance: Hours and miles are of course unknown to them, but they began with us by affecting an extreme ignorance of comparative distances; they could not, or rather they would not, adopt as a standard the two short hours’ march between the Port and the inland Fort of El–Wijh. When, however, the trick was pointed out to them, they at once threw it aside as useless. No pretext was too flimsy to shorten a march or to cause a halt — the northerners did the same, but with them we had a controlling power in the shape of Shaykh Furayj. And like the citizens, they hate our manner of travelling: they love to sit up and chat through half the night; and to rise before dawn is an abomination to them.

At first their manners, gentle and pliable, contrast pleasantly with the roughness of the half-breds, Huwaytát and Maknáwi, who have many of the demerits of the Fellah, without acquiring the merits of the Bedawi. As camel-men they were not difficult to deal with; nor did they wrangle about their hire. Presently they turned out to be “poor devils,” badly armed, and not trained to the use of matchlocks. Their want of energy in beating the bushes and providing forage for their camels, compared with that of the northerners, struck us strongly. On the other hand, they seem to preserve a flavour of ancient civilization, which it is not easy to describe; and they certainly have inherited the instincts and tastes of the old metal-workers: they are a race of born miners. That sharpest of tests, the experience of travel, at last suggested to us that the Baliyy is too old a breed; and that its blue blood wants a “racial baptism,” a large infusion of something newer and stronger.

Note on the “Harrahs” of Arabia.

The learned Dr. J. G. Wetzstein, in the appendix to his “Reisebericht,” etc.,210 records a conversation with A. von Humboldt and Carl Ritter (April, 1859), respecting the specimens which he had brought from the classical Trachonitis. Their appearance led the latter to question whether the latest eruptions of the Harrat Rájil, as it is called from an adjoining valley, may not have taken place within the historic period; and he referred to Psalm xviii. as seeming to note the occurrence, during David’s reign, of such a phenomenon in or near Palestine. Humboldt deemed it probable that the Koranic legend (chap. iv.) of the Abyssinian host under Abraha destroyed by a shower of stones baked in hell-fire, referred, not to small-pox as is generally supposed, but to an actual volcanic eruption in Arabia.

“With what interest would that great man have learnt,” writes Dr. Wetzstein, “that, as I was turning over the leaves of Yákút’s ‘Geographical Lexicon,’ only a few days ago, I found that the Arabians knew of the existence of twenty-eight different volcanic regions between Hauran and Bab el-Mandeb!” Later still, Dr. Otto Loth published an elaborate paper “On the Volcanic Regions (Harras) of Arabia, according to Yakut” (thirteenth century), in which these eruptive sites are nearly all identified and described.

“Among the numerous volcanoes thus found to exist within the Arabian Peninsula,” remarks Dr. Beke,211 “the only one recorded as having been in activity within the historic period is the Harrat-el-Nar (‘Fire Harra’), situate to the north-east of Medina, in the neighbourhood of Khaibur (Khaybar), in about 26°. 30’ north lat., and 40°. east long.; which, being traditionally said to have been in an active state six centuries before Mohammed, had actually an eruption in the time of the Prophet’s successor, Omar. To the north-west of this ‘Fire Harra’ lies that known as the ‘Harra of (the tribe of) Udhra’ (Azra): again, to the north of this is the ‘Harra of Tabuk,’ so called from the station of that name on the Hajj-road from Damascus to Mekka, the position of which is in about 28 deg. 15’ north lat. and 37 deg. east long.; and beyond this last, further to the north, and consequently between it and the northernmost Harra of the Râdjil, or Trachonitis, is the Harra Radjlâ. . . . Its designation, which means ‘rough,’ ‘pathless,’ seems to indicate its peculiarly rugged surface, and to lead to the inference that it is an immense field of lava.” He cites Irby and Mangles (“Travels in Egypt,” pp. 115, 116; reprinted by Murray, London, 1868), describing their route between Kerak and Petra, on the east side of the Ghor or Wady ‘Arabah. “We noticed three dark volcanic summits, very distinguishable from the land. The lava that had streamed from them forms a sort of island in the plain.”

Hence my late friend concluded that his “true Mount Sinai” was the focus and origin of this volcanic region; and that the latter was the “great and terrible wilderness” (Deut. i. 19) through which the children of Israel were led on their way to mysterious Kadesh–Barnea. Thus, too, he explained the “pillar of the cloud by day,” and the “pillow of fire by night” (Exod. xiii. 21).

204 Not Shaykh Hasan el-Marábit —“Pilgrimage,” Vol. I. Chap. XI.

205 “Pilgrimage,” Vol. I. Chap. XI., where it is erroneously called “Jebel Hasan;” others prefer Hasa’ni — equally wrong. Voyagers put in here to buy fish, which formerly was dried, salted, and sent to Egypt; and, during the Hajj season, the Juhaynah occupy a long straggling village of huts on the south side of the island.

206 There are now no less than three lines of steamers that connect the western coast of Arabia with the north. The first is the Egyptian Company, successively called Mejidíyyah, Azízíyyah, and Khedivíyyah, from its chief actionnaire: the packets, mostly three-masted screws, start from Suez to Jeddah every fortnight. Secondly, the Austro–Hungarian Lloyd which, with the subvention of £1400 per voyage, began in 1870 to ply monthly between Constantinople, Port Sa’íd, Suez, Jeddah, and Hodaydah: it has been suspended since the beginning of the Russo–Turkish war. Thirdly, the British India Steam Navigation Company sends every three weeks a ship from London viâ the Canal to Jeddah, Hodaydah, and Aden. A fourth is proposed; Bymen’s (Winan’s?) steamers are establishing a London–Basrah (Bassorah) line, in whose itinerary will be Jeddah.

207 The observation was taken on board the Sinnár, by the first lieutenant Násir Effendi Ahmed: of course I am not answerable for its correctness, although the latitude cannot be far out. Thus the difference of parallel between it and El–Wijh (north lat. 26° 14’) would be sixty-eight direct geographical miles.

208 Beni Kalb: so the Juhaynah were called in the Apostle’s day.

209 The site was probably near the Shaykh’s tomb, where there are wells which in winter supply water.

210 This is the volume which I have translated: see also Dr. Beke’s papers in the Athenæum (February 8 and 15, 1873).

211 See “Mount Sinai a Volcano” (Tinsleys). For a list of Yakut’s volcanoes, see Dr. Beke, “Sinai in Arabia,” Appendix, p. 535.

Chapter XVI.

Our Last March — the Inland Fort — Ruins of the Gold-mines at Umm El–Karáyát and Umm El–Haráb.

Again there were preliminaries to be settled before we could leave El–Wijh for the interior. Shaykh Mohammed ‘Afnán had been marrying his son; and the tale of camels came in slowly enough. On the day after our return from El–Haurá the venerable old man paid us a visit aboard Sinnár. He declares that he was a boy when the Wahhábi occupied Meccah and El–Medínah — that is, in 1803–4. Yet he has wives and young children. His principal want is a pair of new eyes; and the train of thought is, “I can’t see when older men than myself can.” The same idea makes the African ever attribute his sickness and death to sorcery: “Why should I lose life when all around me are alive?”— and this is the idea that lies at the bottom of all witch-persecution. Two pair of spectacles were duly despatched to him after our return to Cairo; and M. Lacaze there exhibited a capital sketch of the picturesque, white-bearded face, with the straight features and the nutcracker chin, deep buried in the folds of a huge red shawl.

The son, Sulaymán, has been espoused to a cousin older, they say, than himself; and he seems in no hurry to conclude the marriage. He would willingly accompany us to Egypt, but he is the father’s favourite, and the old man can do nothing without him. A youth of about eighteen, and even more handsome than his sire, he has the pretty look, the sloping shoulders, the soft snaky movements, and the quiet, subdued voice of a nice girl. During the first marches he dressed in the finery of the Bedawin — the brilliant head-kerchief, the parti-coloured sandals, and the loose cloak of expensive broadcloth. The “toggery” looked out of place as the toilettes of the Syrian ladies who called upon us in laces and blue satins amid the ruins of Ba’lbek. Although all the hired camels belonged, as is customary, to the tribe, not to the Shaykh, the latter was accompanied by the usual “Hieland tail;” by his two nephews, Hammád and Náji, the latter our head-guide, addicted to reading, writing, and lying; by his favourite and factotum, Abdullah, an African mulatto, Muwallid or “house-born;” and by his Wakíl (“agent”), a big black slave, Abdullah Mohammed, ready of tongue and readier of fist. Lastly, I must mention one ‘Audah ‘Adayni, a Huwayti bred in the Baliyy country, a traveller to Cairo, passing intelligent and surpassing unscrupulous. Confidential for a consideration, he told all the secrets of his employers, and it is my firm conviction that he was liberally paid for so doing by both parties of wiseacres.

The immediate objective of this, our last march, was the Badá plain, of which we first heard at Shaghab. I purposed subsequently to collect specimens of a traditional coal-mine, to which his Highness the Viceroy had attached the highest importance. Then we would march upon the Móchoura of the ancients, the mediaeval El–Marwah or Zú Marwah, the modern Marwát-cum-Abá‘l-Marú. Finally, we would return to El–Wijh, viâ the Wady Hamz, inspecting both it and the ruins first sighted by MM. Marie and Philipin.

On Friday, March 29th, I gave a breakfast, in the wooden barracks, to the officers of the Sinnár and the officials of the port. After which, some took their opium and went to sleep; while others, it being church-day, went to Mosque. We ran out of El–Wijh at 1.45 p.m., our convoy consisting of fifty-eight camels, forty-four of which were loaded; seven were dromedaries, and an equal number carried water. All had assured us that the rains of the two past years had been wanting: last winter they were scanty; this cold season they were nil. In truth, the land was suffering terribly from drought. Our afternoon was hot and unpleasant: about later March the Hawá el’-Uwwah, a violent sand-raising norther, sets in and lasts through a fortnight. It is succeeded, in early April, by the calms of El–Ni’ám (“the Blessings”), which, divided into the Greater and the Less, last forty days. After that the summer — Jehannum!

From the raised and metalled bank, upon which the Burj stands, we descended to the broad mouth of the Wijh valley, draining the low rolling blue-brown line of porphyritic hillocks on the east. To our right lay the sparkling, glittering white plain and pool, El–Melláhah, “the salina.” After an hour and a quarter of sandy and dusty ride, we passed through a “gate” formed by the Hamírat-Wijh, the red range which, backing the gape of the valley and apparently close behind the town, strikes the eye from the offing. Here the gypsum, ruddy and mauve, white and black, was underlaid by granite in rounded masses; and the Secondary formation is succeeded by the usual red and green traps. Though this part of our route lies in El–Tihámah, which, in fact, we shall not leave, we are again threading the Wady Sadr of the northern Shafah-range. A pleasant surprise was a fine vein of sugary quartz trending north-south: at that period we little suspected the sub-range to the south — perhaps also the northern — of being, in places, one mighty mass of “white stone.”

After covering six miles in an hour and three-quarters, exaggerated by the guides to three, we suddenly sighted the inland fort. Its approach is that of a large encamping-ground, and such, indeed, it is; the Egyptian pilgrim-caravan here halts on the fourth day from El–Muwaylah. The broken, untidy environs, strewed with bones and rubbish, show low mounds that mean ovens; stone rings, where tents are pitched; and the usual graves, amongst which a reverend man, Shaykh Sálih, rests in a manner of round tower. The site is, in one point at least, admirably well-chosen, a kind of carrefour where four valleys and as many roads meet; and thus it commands the mouths of all the gorges leading inland.

Riding up to the fort, we were welcomed by its commandant, Lieutenant Násir Ahmed, a peculiarly good specimen of his arm, the infantry. His garrison consists of thirteen regulars, whose clean uniforms show discipline, and whose hale and hearty complexions testify to the excellence of the water and the air. The men are paid annually by the treasurer of the Hajj-caravan. They are supposed to be relieved after seven years; but they have wives and families; and, like the British soldier in India half a century ago, they are content to pass their working lives in local service. The commandant showed us over his castle, which was in excellent order; and brewed coffee, which we drank in the cool porch of the single gate. He then led us about the neighbourhood, and ended with inviting the Sáyyid, Furayj, and the Wakíl Mohammed Shahádah to a copious feast.

The fort is the usual square, straight-curtained work of solid masonry, with a circular bastion at each angle, and a huge arched main-entrance in the western façade. It is, in fact, one of the buildings that belong to the solid, sturdy age of Sultán Selim, and of the Sinnán Pasha so well known about Damascus. An inscription, with an illegible date, bears the name of Ahmed ibn Taylún, the founder of the Taylunide dynasty, in A.D. 868 — 884: this is another proof that the Mamlúk Soldans were lords of the soil; and that, even in the ninth century, South Midian was a province, or a dependency, of Egypt. Moreover, we picked up, to the north-east of the work, old and well-treated scoriæ, suggesting a more ancient settlement. Perhaps it was the locale preferred by the proprietors of the slaves who worked the inner mines, hidden from view and from the sea-breeze by the hills.

The castle being perfectly commanded by the heights behind, the circular towers to the east have crests raised in that direction, giving them a spoon-shape, and a peculiar aptitude for arresting every cannon-ball coming from the west. The Bedawin, however, have no great guns; and apparently this shelter has been added since Wellsted’s day.212 To the curtains are attached the usual hovels, mat, palm-leaf, and walls of dry stone or mud, which here, as at Palmyra, inevitably suggest wasp-nests. The northern side is subtended by three large cisterns, all strengthened at the inner angles by the stepped buttresses first noticed when we were exploring Magháir Shu’ayb.

Up the valley and behind the fort, or to the north-east, lie the palm-plantations, the small kitchen-gardens, and the far-famed wells which, dug by Sultán Selim and repaired by Ibrahim Pasha in A.D. 1524 (?), supply the Hajj-caravan. The sandy bed, disposed east-west, is streaked, dotted, and barred with walls and outcrops of the hardest greenstone porphyry; and those which run north-south must arrest, like dykes, the flow of water underground. One of these reefs is laboriously scraped with Bedawi Wusúm, and with Moslem inscriptions comparatively modern. The material is heavy, but shows no quartz; whereas the smaller valleys which debouch upon the northern or right bank of the main line, display a curious conformation of the “white stone,” contorted like oyster shells, and embedded in the trap.

Of the six wells, revetted with masonry and resembling in all points those of Ziba, four, including El–Tawílah, the deepest, supply brackish water; and the same is the case with a fifth inside the fort, close to the chapel of his Holiness, Shaykh Abubakr. The water, however, appeared potable; and perhaps cleaning out and deepening might increase the quantity. The sweet element drunk by the richards of El–Wijh comes from the Bir el-Za’faráníyyah (“of Saffron”), and from its north-eastern neighbour, El-‘Ajwah (“the Date-paste”). The latter measures four or five fathoms; and the water appears under a boulder in situ that projects from the southern side. The reader will now agree with me that El–Wijh is not too drouthy for a quarantine-ground.

The plots of green meat lie about the water, sheltered from the burning sun by a luxuriant growth of date-trees. The Egyptian is the best man in the world for dabbling in mud; and here, by scraping away the surface-sand, he has come upon a clayey soil sufficiently fertile to satisfy his wants. The growth is confined to tobacco, potatoes, and cabbages, purslain (Portulaca, pourpier), radishes, the edible Hibiscus, and tomatoes, which are small and green. Lettuces do not thrive; cucumbers and water-melons have been tried here and up country; and — man wants little in Midian.

We set out early on the next day (5.30 a.m., March 30th) in disorderly style. The night had been cool and comfortable, dry and dewless; but the Shaykhs were torpid after the feast, and the escort and quarrymen had been demoralized by a week of sweet “do-nothing.” Striking up the Wady el-Wijh, which now becomes narrow and gorge-like, with old and new wells and water-pits dotting the sole, we were stopped, after half an hour’s walk, by a “written rock” on the right side of the bed. None of the guides seemed to know or, at any rate, to care for it; although I afterwards learnt that Admiral M’Killop (Pasha), during his last visit to El–Wijh, obtained a squeeze of the inscriptions. Wellsted (II. x.) erroneously calls this valley “Wádí el-Moyah,” the name of a feature further south — thus leading me to expect the find elsewhere. Moreover, he has copied the scrawls with a carelessness so prodigious, that we failed at first to recognize the original. He has hit upon the notable expedient of massing together in a single dwarf wood-cut (Vol. II. p. 189) what covers many square feet of stone; and I was fool enough to republish his copy.213

A tall, fissured rock, of the hardest porphyritic greenstone, high raised from the valley-sole, facing north-west, and reducible to two main blocks, is scattered over with these “inscriptions,” that spread in all directions. Most of them are Arab Wusum, others are rude drawings of men and beasts, amongst which are conspicuous the artless camel and the serpent; and there is a duello between two funny warriors armed with sword and shield. These efforts of art resemble, not a little, the “Totem” attempts of the “Red Indians” in North and South America. There are, however, two scrapings evidently alphabetic, and probably Nabathæan, which are offered to the specialists in epigraphy: six appear in Wellsted’s illustration, especially that with a long line above it, near the left and lower corner of the cut. M. Lacaze and I copied the most striking features in our carnets; he taking the right or southern side and leaving the other block to me. But the results did not satisfy us; and on April 10th I sent him with M. Philipin to make photographs. The latter, again, are hardly as satisfactory as they might be, because the inscriptions have not been considered the central points of interest. We shall pass during our present journey many of these Oriental “John Joneses” and “Bill Browns:” they will suggest the similar features of Sinaitic Wady Mukattib, which begot those monstrous growths, “The One Primaeval Language” and “The Voice of Israel from Mount Sinai.”214 From the “written rock” the caravan travelled westward up an easy watercourse, “El–Khaur,” distinguished as El–Shimálí (“the Northern”): it winds round by the north, and we shall descend it tomorrow. The mule-riders left the Wady el-Wijh, which extends some two hours eastward, and struck to the east-south-east. The bridle-path, running up the left bank of an ugly rocky torrent, the Wady Zurayb, presently reaches a plateau undulating in low rises. Burnt with heat, almost bare of trees, and utterly waterless, it is the model of a mining country: elevate it from five hundred to nine thousand feet, and it would be the living (or dead) likeness of a Peruvian cerro. The staple material, porphyritic trap, shows scatters of quartz and huge veins, mostly trending north-south: large trenches made, according to the guides, by the ancients, and small cairns or stone piles, modern work, were also pointed out to us.

Crossing the heads of sundry watercourses, we fell into the Wady Umm el-Karáyat:215 it begins, as is here the rule, with a gravelly bed, nice riding enough; it then breaks into ugly rocky drops and slides, especially at the hill shoulders, where thorn-trees and other obstacles often suggest that it is better to dismount; and, finally, when nearing the mouth, it becomes a matured copy of its upper self on an enlarged scale. Presently we turned to the left over a short divide, and stared with astonishment at the airy white heap, some two hundred feet high, which, capped and strewed with snowy boulders, seemed to float above our heads. The Wady-bed at our feet, lined along the left bank with immense blocks of similar quartz, showed the bases of black walls — ruins. “Behold Umm el-Karáyát!” exclaimed Nájí, the guide, pointing with a wave of the arm, his usual theatrical gesture, to the scene before us. We could hardly believe our eyes: he had just assured us that the march from the fort is four hours, and we had ridden it in two hours and fifteen minutes (= six miles and a quarter).

Dismounting at once, and ordering the camp to be pitched near the ruins, we climbed up the south-eastern face of the quartz-hill, whose appearance was a novelty to us. Instead of being a regular, round-headed cone, like the Jebel el-Abyaz for instance, the summit was distinctly crateriform. The greater part of the day was spent in examining it, and the following are the results. This Jebel el-Marú showed, for the first time during the whole journey, signs of systematic and civilized work. In many parts the hill has become a mere shell. We found on the near side a line of air-holes, cut in the quartz rock, disposed north-south of one another; and preserving a rim, sunk like that of a sarcophagus, to receive a cover. Possibly it was a precaution against the plunder which ruined Brazilian Gongo Soco. The Arabs have no fear of these places, as in Wellsted’s day, and Abdullah, the mulatto, readily descended into one about twelve feet below the surface. Messrs. Clarke and Marie explored the deepest by means of ropes, and declared that it measured sixty feet. They had to be ready with their bayonets, as sign of hyenas was common; and the beast, which slinks away in the open is apt, when brought to bay in caverns, to rush past the intruder, carrying off a jawful of calf or thigh.

This pit had two main galleries, both choked with rubbish, leading to the east and west; and the explorers could see light glimmering through the cracks and crevices of the roof — these doubtless gave passage to the wild carnivore. In other parts the surface, especially where the earth is red, was pitted with shallow basins; and a large depression showed the sinking of the hollowed crust. Negro quartz was evidently abundant; but we came to the conclusion that the rock mostly worked was, like that of Shuwák, a rosy, mauve-coloured schist, with a deep-red fracture, and brilliant colours before they are tarnished by atmospheric oxygen. It abounds in mica, which, silvery as fish-scales, overspreads it in patches; and the precious metal had probably been sought in the veinlets between the schist and its quartz-walling. In two pieces, specks, or rather paillettes, of gold were found lightly and loosely adhering to the “Marú;” so lightly, indeed, that they fell off when carelessly pocketed Veins of schist still remained, but in the galleries they had been followed out to the uttermost fibril.

Reaching the crateriform summit, we found that the head of the cone had either “caved in,” or had been carried off bodily to be worked. Here traces of fire, seen on the rock, suggested that it had been split by cold affusion. A view from the summit of this burrowed mound gave us at once the measure of the past work and a most encouraging prospect for the future. We determined that the Marwah or “quartz-hill” of Umm el-Karáyát was the focus and centre of the southern mining region, even as the northern culminates in the Jebel el-Abyaz. Further experience rejected the theory, and showed us half a dozen foci and centres in this true quartz-region. The main hill projects a small southern spur, also bearing traces of the miner. The block of green trap to the south-west has a capping and a vein-network of quartz: here also the surface is artificially pitted. Moreover, there are detached white-yellow pitons to the north-east, the east, and the south; whilst a promising hillock, bearing nearly due north, adjoins the great outcrop. All have rounded conical summits and smooth sides, proving that they are yet virgin; and here, perhaps, I should prefer to begin work.

At our feet, and in north lat. 26° 13’, lies the settlement, in a short gravelly reach disposed north-west to south-east; and the bed is enclosed by a rim of trap and quartz hills. The ruins lie upon a fork where two gorges, running to the east and the north-east, both fall into the broad Wady el-Khaur, and the latter feeds the great Wady el-Miyáh, the “Fiumara of the Waters,” of which more presently. The remains on the upper (eastern) branch-valley show where the rock was pulverized by the number of grinding implements, large and small, coarse and fine, all, save the most solid, broken to pieces by the mischievous Bedawi. Some are of the normal basalt, which may also have served for crushing grain; others are cut out of grey and ruddy granites: a few are the common Mahrákah or “rub-stones,” and the many are handmills, of which we shall see admirable specimens further on. One was an upper stone, with holes for the handle and for feeding the mill: these articles are rare. I also secured the split half of a ball, or rather an oblate spheroid, of serpentine with depressions, probably where held by finger and thumb; the same form is still used for grinding in the Istrian island of Veglia. This is one of the few rude stone implements that rewarded our careful search.

The north-eastern, which is the main Wady, has a sole uneven with low swells and falls. It was dry as summer dust: I had expected much in the way of botanical collection, but the plants were not in flower, and the trees, stripped of their leaves, looked “black as negroes out of holiday suits.” Here lie the principal ruins, forming a rude parallelogram from north-east to south-west. The ground plan shows the usual formless heaps of stones and pebbles, with the bases of squares and oblongs, regular and irregular, large and small. There were no signs of wells or aqueducts; and the few furnaces were betrayed only by ashen heaps, thin scatters of scoriæ, and bits of flux — dark carbonate of lime. Here and there mounds of the rosy micaceous schist, still unworked, looked as if it had been washed out by the showers of ages. The general appearance is that of an ergastulum like Umm Ámil: here perhaps the ore was crushed and smelted, when not rich enough to be sent down the Wady for water-working at the place where the inland fort now is.

The quarrymen, placed at the most likely spots, were ordered to spall rock for specimens: with their usual perversity, they picked up, when unwatched, broken bits of useless stuff; they spent the whole day dawdling over three camel-loads, and they protested against being obliged to carry the sacks to their tents. Meanwhile Nájí, who had told marvellous tales concerning a well in the neighbouring hills, which showed the foundations of houses in its bowels, was directed to guide Lieutenant Amir. He objected that the enormous distance would be trying to the stoutest mule, and yet he did not blush when it was reached after a mile’s ride to the southwest (240° mag.). It proved to be a long-mouthed pit, sunk in the trap hill-slope some four fathoms deep, but much filled up; and, so far from being built in, it had not even the usual wooden platform. Eastward of it, and at the head of the Wady Shuwaytanah, “the Devilling,” lay a square ruin like a small Mashghal of white quartz: here also were three stones scribbled with pious ejaculations, such as Yá Allah! and Bismillah, in a modern Kufic character.

Umm el-Karáyát, “the Mother of the Villages,” derives her title, according to the Baliyy, from the numerous offspring of minor settlements scattered around her. We shall pass several on the next day’s march, and I am justified in setting down the number at a dozen. The Wady el-Kibli, the southern valley, was visited by Lieutenants Amir and Yusuf on April 8th, when we were encamped below it at Abá‘l-Marú216. After riding about six miles to the north-north-west, down the Wady el-Mismáh and up the Wady el-‘Argah, they reached, on the left bank of the latter, the ruins known as Marú el-Khaur. The remains of the daughter are those of the “mother.” There are two large heaps of quartz to the north and to the south-east of the irregular triangle, whose blunted apex faces northwards: the south-eastern hill shows an irregular Fahr (“pit”) in the reef of white stone, leading to a number of little tunnels.

I lost all patience with Wellsted,217 whose blunders concerning the Umm el-Karáyát are really surprising, even for a sailor on camel-back. He reaches the ruins after ten miles from the fort, when they lie between twelve and thirteen from El–Wijh. He calls the porphyritic trap “dark granite.” He makes the grand quartz formation “limestone, of which the materials used for constructing the town (coralline!) appear to have been chiefly derived.” He descends the “caves” with ropes and lights; yet he does not perceive that they are mining shafts and tunnels, puits d’air, adits for the workmen, and pits by which the ore was “brought to grass.” And the Hydrographic Chart is as bad. It locates the inland fort six miles and three-quarters from the anchorage, but the mine is thrust eastwards ten miles and a quarter from the fort; the latter distance being, as has been seen, little more than the former. Moreover, the ruins are placed to the north, when they lie nearly on the same parallel of latitude as El–Wijh. Ahmed Kaptán fixed them, by solar observations, in north lat. 26° 13’, so that we made only one mile of southing. It ignores the porphyritic sub-range in which the “Mother of the Villages” lies: and it brings close to the east of it the tall peaks of the Tihámat-Balawíyyah’ which, from this point, rise like azure shadows on the horizon. Finally, it corrupts Umm el-Karáyát to Feyrabat. “Impossible, but true!”

The night at the ruins was dry and cool, even cold; disturbed only by the coughing of the men, the moaning of the camels, and the bleating of the sheep. We would willingly have spent here another day, but water and forage were absolutely wanting; and the guides assured us that even greater marvels, in the shape of ruins and quartz-reefs, lay ahead. We set out shortly after five a.m. (March 31st): the morning was pearly and rosy; but puffs of a warmer wind announced the Dufún (local Khamsin), which promised us three days of ugly working weather. Leaving Umm el-Karáyát by the upper or eastern valley-fork, we soon fell into and descended its absorbent, the broad (northern) Wady el-Khaur. Upon the right bank of the latter rose the lesser “Mountain of Quartz,” a cone white as snow, looking shadowy and ghostly in the petit jour, the dim light of morning. For the next two hours (= seven miles) we saw on both sides nothing but veins and outcrops of “Marú,” worked as well as unworked. All was bare and barren as the gypsum: the hardy ‘Aushaz (Lycium), allied to the tea-tree, is the only growth that takes root in humus-filled hollows of the stone.

Presently the quartz made way for long lines and broad patches of a yellow-white, heat-altered clay, often revetted with iron, and passably aping the nobler rock: from one reef I picked up what appeared to be trachyte, white like that of Shaghab. The hill-casing of the valley forms no regular line; the heaps of black, red, and rusty trap are here detached and pyramidal, there cliffing as if in presence of the sea. The vegetation improved as we advanced; the trees were no longer black and heat-blasted; and we recognized once more the dandelion, the thistle, the senna, the Aristida grass, and other familiar growths. Tents, shepherds, and large flocks of goats and kids showed that water was not distant; and, here in Baliyy-land, even the few young women seemed to have no fear of the white face.

After a slow, dull ride in the burning and sickly wind, we crossed the head of our former route, Wady Zurayb the Ugly, and presently entered the Wady el-Kubbah (“of the Cupola,”), where our immediate destination rose before us. It is a grisly black saddleback, banded with two perpendicular stripes of dark stone that shines like specular iron; and upon its tall northern end, the pommel, stands a small ruin, the oft spoken of “Dome.” Sketches of paths wind up the western flank; but upon this line, we were assured, no ruins are seen save a few pits. So we rounded the block by the north, following the broad Wady to the Máyat el-Kubbah, water-pits in the sand whose produce had not been libelled when described as salt, scanty, and stinking. The track then turned up a short, broad branch-Wady, running from south to north, and falling into the left bank of the “Dome Valley:” a few yards brought us to a halt at the ruins of El–Kubbah. We had pushed on sharply during the last half of the way, and our morning’s ride had lasted four hours (= thirteen miles).

The remains lie in the uneven quartzose basin at the head of the little lateral watercourse: they are built with good cement, and they evidently belong to the race that worked the “Mother of the Villages;” but there is nothing to distinguish them except the ruins of a large Sákiyah (“draw-well”), with its basin of weathered alabaster. We were perplexed by the shallow conical pits in the porphyritic trap, to the east and west of the “Dome Hill;” the ground is too porous for rain cisterns, and the depth is not sufficient for quarrying. The furnaces showed the normal slag; but the only “metals” lying around them were poor iron-clay, and a shining black porphyry, onyxed with the whitest quartz. There were, however, extensive scatters of Negro, which had evidently been brought there; and presently we found large heaps of rosy-coloured, washed-out schist.218 These explained the raison d’être of this dreary and dismal hole.

Meanwhile the juniors ascended the rocky “Kubbah” hill, which proved to be a small matter of 120 feet (aner. 29.34) above the valley-sole (aner. 29.46). The “Dome” was nothing but a truncated circle of wall, porphyry and cement, just large enough to hold a man; the cupola-roof, if there ever had been one, was clean gone; and adjoining it yawned a rock-cut pit some fifteen feet deep. I came to the conclusion that here might have been a look-out where, possibly, the “bale-fire” was also lit. The “ascensionists” brought back a very healthy thirst.

We rested till noon in the filmy shade of the thorn-trees. The caravan was at once sent forward to reach the only good water, lying, said the guides, many a mile beyond. We had made up our minds for a good long march; and I was not a little vexed when, after half an hour, we were led out of the Wady el-Kubbah, whose head, our proper line, lies to the north, into its eastern influent, the Wady el-Dasnah. Here, after an afternoon “spell” of forty-five minutes (= two miles and a half), and a total of four hours and forty-five minutes (= fifteen miles and a half), a day nearly half wasted, we found the tents pitched. The heat had strewed the Wady with soldiers and quarrymen; and the large pit in the bed, supplying “water sweet as the Nile,’, showed a swarm of struggling blacks, which the Egyptian officers compared with Aráfít or “demons;” we with large pismires. A sentinel was placed to prevent waste and pollution at the Máyat el-Dasnah, whose position is in north lat. 26° 23’.

April Fools’ day was another that deserved to be marked with a white stone. I aroused the camp at 3.30 a.m., in order that the camels might load with abundance of water: we were to reach the springs of Umm Gezáz, but a presentiment told me that we might want drink. At that hour the camp was a melancholy sight: the Europeans surly because they had discussed a bottle of cognac when they should have slept; the good Sayyid without his coffee, and perhaps without his prayers; Wakíl Mohammed sorrowfully attempting to gnaw tooth-breaking biscuit; and the Bedawin working and walking like somnambules. However, at 5.10 a.m. we struck north, over a low divide of trap hill, by a broad and evidently made road, and regained the Wady el-Kubbah: here it is a pleasant spectacle rich in trees, and vocal with the cooing of the turtle-dove. After an hour’s sharp riding we reached its head, a fair round plain some two miles across, and rimmed with hills of red, green, and black plutonics, the latter much resembling coal. It was a replica of the Sadr-basin below the Hismá, even to the Khuraytah or “Pass” at the northern end. Here, however, the Col is a mere bogus; that is, no raised plateau lies beyond it.

We crossed a shallow prism and a feeding-basin: an ugly little gorge then led to the important Wady Sirr. We are now in the hydrographic area of the Wady Nejd,219 which, numbering influents by the dozen, falls into the Salbah (Thalbah) of Sharm Dumaghah. The Sirr, though still far from its mouth, is at least three miles broad; and the guides speak of it as the Asl el-Balawíyyah, or “Old Home of the Baliyy.” The view from its bed is varied and extensive. Behind us lies the Tihámat-Balawíyyah, the equivalent of the Gháts of North Midian, from the Zahd to the Shárr. The items are the little Jebel ‘Antar, which, peeping over the Fiumara’s high left bank, is continued south by the lower Libn. The latter attaches to the higher Libn, whose triad of peaks, the central and highest built of three distinct castellations, flush and blush with a delicate pink-white cheek as it receives the hot caresses of the sun. We are now haunted by the Libn, which, like its big brother the Shárr, seems everywhere to accompany us.

Beyond the neutral ground, over which we are travelling, appear in front the pale-blue heights bordering the Wady Nejd to the north-west, and apparently connected with the Jebelayn el-Jayy in the far north (30° mag.). To the north-east the view is closed by the lumpy Jebel el-Kurr (the Qorh of Arabian geographers?); followed southwards by the peaked wall of the Jebel el-Ward, and by El–Safhah with its “Pins.” For the last eighteen miles we had seen no quartz, which, however, might have veined the underground-rock. The sole of the Sirr now appeared spread with snow, streaked and patched with thin white paint; the stones were mostly water-rolled, the discharge of valleys draining from afar. The ground was unpleasantly pitted and holed; the camels were weak with semi-starvation and the depressing south-wester; Lieutenant Amir put his dromedary to speed, resulting in a nose-flattening fall; and the Sayyid nearly followed suit.

This is our second day of Khamsin; yet on the northern slope of the great Fiumara we meet the cool land-wind. Either it or the sea-breeze generally sets in between seven and eight a.m., when the stony, sandy world has been thoroughly sunned. The short divide beyond the far bank of the Sirr is strewn with glittering mica-schist that takes the forms of tree-trunks and rotten wood; and with dark purple-blue fragments of clay-slate looking as if they had been worked. A counterslope of the same material, which makes excellent path-metal placed us in the Wady Rubayyigh (“the Little Rábigh” or “Green-grown Spring”), a short and proportionally very broad branch draining to the Sirr. Here large outcrops of quartz mingled with the clay slate. A few yards further it abutted upon a small gravelly basin with ruins and a huge white reef of “Mará,” which caused a precipitate dismounting. We had marched only four hours (= thirteen miles); but the loss of time has its compensations. Our Arabs, who consider this a fair day’s work, will now, in hopes of a halt, show us every strew of quartz and every fragment of wall. They congratulated us upon reaching a part of their country absolutely unvisited by Europeans.

The site of our discovery was the water-parting of the Wady Rubayyigh with the Wady Rábigh, both feeders of the Sirr; this to the north, that to the south. The ruins, known as Umm el-Haráb, “Mother of Desolation,” are the usual basement-lines: they lie in the utterly waterless basin, our camping-ground, stretching west of Mará Rubayyigh, the big white reef. This “Mother” bears nearly north of Umm el-Karáyát, in north lat. 26° 33’ 36” (Ahmed Kaptán): her altitude was made upwards of a thousand feet above sea-level (aner. 28.92)

At Umm el-Haráb we saw for the first time an open mine, scientifically worked by the men of old. They chose a pear-shaped quartz-reef; the upper dome exposed, the converging slopes set and hidden in green trap to the east and west, and the invisible stalk extending downwards, probably deep into Earth’s bowels. They began by sinking, as we see from certain rounded apertures, a line of shafts striking north-north-east (45°— 50° mag.) to south-south-west across the summit, which may measure one hundred and twenty yards. The intervening sections of the roof are now broken away; and a great yawning crevasse in the hill-top gives this saddleback of bare cream-coloured rock, spangled with white where recently fractured, the semblance of a “comb” or cresting reef.

We descended into this chasm, whose slope varies from a maximum of 45° to a minimum of 36° at the south. The depth apparently did not exceed thirty feet, making allowance for the filling up of centuries; but in places the hollow sound of the hammer suggested profounder pits and wells. I should greatly doubt that such shallow sinking as this could have worked out any beyond the upper part of the vein. Here it measures from six to eight feet in diameter, diminishing to four and a half and even three below. The sloping roof has been defended from collapse by large pillars of the rock, left standing as in the old Egyptian quarries; it shows the clumsy but efficient practice that preceded timbering. The material worked was evidently the pink-coloured and silver-scaled micaceous schist; but there was also a whitish quartz, rich in geodes and veinlets of dark-brown and black dust. The only inhabitants of the cave, bats and lizards (Gongylus ocellatus, L., etc.), did not prevent M. Lacaze making careful study of the excavation; the necessity of brown shadows, however, robs the scene of its charm, the delicate white which still shimmers under its transparent veil of shade. Similar features exist at El–Muwaylah and El–Aujah, in the wilderness of Kadesh: but those are latomiæ; these are gold mines.220

Another sign of superior labour is shown by the quartz-crushing implements. Here they are of three kinds: coarse and rough basaltic lava for the first and rudest work; red granite and syenitic granite for the next stage; and, lastly, an admirable handmill of the compactest grey granite, smooth as glass and hard as iron. Around the pin-hole are raised and depressed concentric circles intended for ornament; and the “dishing” towards the rim is regular as if turned by machinery. We have seen as yet nothing like this work; nor shall we see anything superior to it. All are nether millstones, so carefully smashed that one can hardly help suspecting the kind of superstitious feeling which suggested iconoclasm. The venerable Shaykh ‘Afnán showed a touching ignorance concerning the labours of the ancients; and, when lectured about the Nabat (Nabathæans), only exclaimed, “Allah, Allah!”

In the evening we ascended the porphyry hills to the north of the little camping-basin; and we found the heights striped by two large vertical bands of quartz. The eastern vein, like the Jebel el-Marú, has a north-east to south-west strike (45° mag.); the western runs east-west with a dip to south. From the summit we could see that the quartz-mountain, as usual an exaggerated vein, is hemmed in on both sides by outcrops and hills of trap, black, green, and yellow, which culminate eastward in the Jebel el-Guráb (Juráb). We had a fine bird’s-eye view of the Wady Rábigh, and of our next day’s march towards the Shafah Mountains: the former was white with quartz as if hail-strewn. Far beyond its right bank rose an Ash’hab, or “grey head,” which seemed to promise quartzose granite: it will prove an important feature. Before sleeping, I despatched to El–Wijh two boxes of micaceous schist and two bags of quartz, loads for a pair of camels.

212 Vol. II. p. 187.

213 “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” p. 213.

214 As regards these and similar graffiti see (Athenaeum, March 16, 1878) an excerpt from the last Comptes Rendues of the Acad. des Inscript. et B. Lettres, Paris. The celebrated M. Joseph Halévy attacked in their entirety (about 680) the rock-writings in the Safá desert, south-east of Damascus. The German savants, mostly attributing them to the Sabá tribes, who immigrated from Yemen about our first century, tried the Himyaritic syllabaries and failed. M. Halévy traces them to the Beni Tamúd (Thamudites), who served as mercenaries in the Roman army, and whose head-quarters we are now approaching. They contain, according to him, mostly proper names, with devotional formulae, similar to those of the Sinaitic inscriptions and the Kufic and later epigraphs which we discovered. For instance, “By A., son of B., in memory of his mother; he has accomplished his vow, may he be pardoned.” The language is held to be intermediate between Arabic and the northern Semitic branches. Names of the Deity (El and Loo or La’?) are found only in composition, as in Abd–El (“Abdallah, slave of El”); and the significant absence of the cross and religious symbols remarked in the Syrian inscriptions, denotes the era of heathenism, which lasted till the establishment of Christianity, about the end of the third century. “At that time,” M. Halévy says, “Christianity became the official religion of the Empire; doubt and scepticism penetrated amongst those Arabic tribes which were the allies of Rome, and amongst whom, for a certain time, a kind of vague Deism was prevalent until the day when they disappeared, having been absorbed by the great migrations which had taken place in those countries.”

215 Some call it so; others Umm Karáyát: I have preferred the former —“Mother of the Villages,” not “of Villages”— as being perhaps the more common.

216 See Chap. XIX.

217 Vol. II. Chap. X.

218 This rock, assayed in England, produced no precious metal. As has been said, gold was found in its containing walls of quartz.

219 This is the valley confounded by Wallin and those who followed him (e.g. Keith Johnston) with the Wady Hamz, some forty miles to the south.

220 See the illustration, “Desert of the Exodus,” p. 306.

Chapter XVII.

The March Continued to El–Badá–Description of the Plain Badais.

After the exciting scenes of the last three days, this stage was dull riding, and consequently, I fear, it will be dull reading as well as writing. We set off afoot betimes (5.10 a.m.) in the still warm morning that augured Khamsín: the third day was now telling heavily on man and beast. A walk of ten minutes led down the rough line of the little water-course draining the Marú Rubayyigh to the Wady Rábigh. At a re-entering angle of the junction, a shallow pit was sunk; the sand became moist and red, and presently it was underlaid by a rubble of porphyritic trap. Nothing more!

We then crossed the Wady Rábigh, another of the short broad valleys which distinguish this section of South Midian. The bed sides, especially the right, are heaps and mounds of snowy quartz, with glittering crowns of block and boulder: all prove to be veins in the grey granite, whose large coarse elements are decomposed by weather. The dark and rusty walls of the valley also discharge the white stone in shunts and shoots: here and there they might be mistaken for Goz (“sand-banks”) heaped up by the wind, except that these are clad in thin vegetation, whereas the “Maru’” is mostly mother-naked. We halted here for rest and to examine these features: despite the Khamsín, the Great Gaster became querulous; hunger was now the chief complaint, and even the bon ordinaire had lost much of its attraction. A harmless snake was killed and bottled; its silver robe was beautifully banded with a line, pink as the circles of the “cobra coral,” which ran along the whole length of the back. It proved to be a new species; and Dr. Gunther named it Zamenis elegantissimus.

Beyond the Rábigh, we ascended a lateral valley, whence a low divide led to the Wady el-Bahrah (“of the Basin”), another feeder of the Sirr. It was also snow-white, and on the right of the path lay black heaps, Hawáwít, “ruins” not worth the delay of a visit. Then began a short up-slope with a longer counterslope, on which we met a party of Huwaytát, camel-men and foot-men going to buy grain at El–Wigh. Another apparition was a spear-man bestriding a bare-backed colt; after reconnoitering us for some time, he yielded to the temptations of curiosity. It afterwards struck us that, mounted on our mules, preceded and followed by the Shaykhs riding their dromedaries, we must have looked mighty like a party of prisoners being marched inland. The horseman was followed by a rough-coated, bear-eared hound of the kind described by Wellsted221 as “resembling the English mastiff”— he did not know how common is the beast further north. The Kalb gasúr (jasur) or “bold dog,” also called Kalb el-hámi, or “the hot” (tempered), is found even amongst the Bedawin to the east of the Suez Canal; but there the half-bred is more common than the whole-blood. It is trained to tend the flocks; it never barks, nor bites its charges; and it is said to work as well as the shepherd-dog of Europe.

The Wady Mulaybij shows fine specimens of mica dorí in the quartz-vein streaking the slate: it deceived all the caravan, save those who tested it with their daggers. The bed, after forming a basin, narrows to a sandy gut, smooth and pleasant riding; and, after crossing several valley-heads, the path debouches upon the Wady Abál-Gezaz. This “Father of Glass,” though a day and a half’s march from the sea, is even broader than the great Sirr to which it is tributary. Its line, which reminded us of the Dámah, is well marked by unusually fine vegetation: and the basin bears large clumps of fan-palm, scattered Daum-trees, the giant asclepiad El-‘Ushr,222 thickets of tamarisk and scatters of the wild castor-plant, whose use is unknown to the Arabs. Water wells up abundantly from a dozen shallow pits, old and new, in the sand of the southern or left bank. Here the flow is apparently arrested by a tall buttress of coarse granite, red with orthose, and sliced by a trap-dyke striking north-south.

Our day’s work had been only four slow hours; but we were compelled to await the caravan, which did not arrive till after noon. It had passed round by the Wady Rábigh, into and up the “Father of Glass;” in fact, it had described an easy semicircle; while we had ridden in a series of zigzags, over rough and difficult short cuts. A delay was also necessary for our mappers to connect this march with their itinerary of the central region. Already the Wady Mulaybij had shown us the familiar peak and dorsum of Jebel Raydán; and we had “chaffed” Furayj about his sudden return home. From our camp in the Abá‘l-Gezáz, the Zigláb block of Shaghab bore nearly north (350° mag.); and the adjoining Jebel el-Aslah, also a blue cone on the horizon, rose about two degrees further north.

After the big mess-tent had been duly blown down, and the usual discipline had been administered for washing in the drinking-pool; we crossed to the left of the Wady by way of an evening stroll, and at once came upon an atelier of some importance. The guides seemed to ignore its existence, so we christened it Mashghal Alá‘l-Gezáz. On the slope of a trap-hill facing the Wady el-Ghami’s, the southern valley which we had last crossed, stood a square of masonry scattered round with fragments of pottery, glass, and basalt. Below it, on the “mesopotamian” plain, lay the foundations of houses still showing their cemented floors. The lowlands and highlands around the settlement looked white-patched with mounds, veins, and scatters of quartz. The evening was stillness itself, broken only by the cries of the Katás, which are now nesting, as they flocked to drink; and the night was cool — a promise, and a false promise, that the Khamsín had ended on its usual third day.

The next morning (April 3rd) showed us El–Bada’, the whole march lying up the Wady Abá‘l-Gezáz, which changes its name with every water. The early air was delightfully fresh and brisk, and the cattle stepped out as if walking were a pleasure: yet the Arabs declared that neither camels nor mules had found a full feed in the apparently luxuriant vegetation of the Fiumara-bed. The tract began badly over loose sandy soil, so honeycombed that neither man nor beast could tread safely: the Girdi (Jirdi), or “field rat,” is evidently nocturnal like the jerboa, during the whole journey we never saw a specimen of either. A yellow wolf was descried skulking among the bushes, and a fine large hare was shot; porcupine-quills were common, and we picked up the mummy of a little hedgehog. The birds were swift-winged hawks and owls, pigeons and ring-doves; crows again became common, and the water-wagtail was tame as the Brazilian thrush, João de Barros: it hopped about within a few feet of us, quite ignoring the presence of Frenchmen armed with murderous guns. I cannot discern the origin of the pseudo-Oriental legend which declares that the “crow of the wilderness” (raven) taught Cain to bury his brother by slaying a brother crow, and scraping a grave for it with beak and claw. The murderous bird then perched upon a palm-tree, whose branches, before erect, have ever drooped, and croaked the truth into Adam’s ear: hence it has ever been of evil augury to mankind. The hoopoe, which the French absurdly call coq de montagne, also trotted by the path-side without timidity; and the butcher-bird impudently reviewed the caravan from its vantage-ground, a commanding tree. The large swift shot screaming overhead; and the cries of the troops of Merops, with silver-lined wings, resembled those of the sand-grouse.

After some five miles the “Father of Glass” changed his name to Abú Daumah (of the “one Theban Palm”). Porphyritic trap lay on both sides of us. To the right rose the Jebel ‘Ukbal, whose grey form (El–Ash’hab) we had seen from the heights above Umm el-Haráb: the whole range of four heads, forming the south-western rim of the Badá saucer, is known as El-‘Akábil. Below these blocks the Wady-sides were cut into buttresses of yellow clay, powdered white with Sabkh, or “impure salt.” Charred circlets in the sand showed where alkali had been burned: the ashes, packed in skins, are shipped at El–Wijh for Syria, where they serve to make soap. The Bedawin call it Aslah (Athlah); the Egyptians Ghassálah (“the washer”), because, when rubbed in the hands, its succulent shoots clean the skin. Camels eat it, whereas mules refuse it, unless half-starved. This plant apparently did not extend all up the Wady. The water, where there is any, swings under the left bank; an ample supply had been promised to us, with the implied condition that we should camp at this Mahattat el-‘Urbán (“Halting place of the Arabs”), after a marching day of two hours! Seeing that we rode on, the Baliyy declared that they had searched for the two principal pools, and that both were dry, or rather had been buried by the Bedawin. But, with characteristic futility, they had allowed me to overhear their conversation; and the word was passed to the soldiers, who at once filled themselves and their water-skins.

Hitherto we had been marching south of east. Presently, where the pretty green Wady el-Surám falls into the left bank, we turned a corner, and sighted in front, or to the north, the great plain of Badá. The block, El-‘Akábil, had projected a loop of some ten miles to be rounded, whereas a short cut across it would not have exceeded three. And now the Wady Abá Daumah abruptly changed formation. The red and green traps of the right side made way for grey granite, known by its rounded bulging blocks on the sides and summit, by its false stratification, by its veins of quartz that strewed the sand, and by its quaint weathering — one rock exactly resembled a sitting eagle; a second was a turtle, and a third showed a sphinx in the rough. The Badá plain is backed by a curtain so tall that we seemed, by a common optical delusion, to be descending when we were really ascending rapidly.

Anxiety to begin our studies of the spot made the ride across the basin, soled with rises comfortably metalled, and with falls of sand unpleasantly loose and honeycombed, appear very long. The palm-clump, where men camp, with its two date-trees towering over the rest, receded as it were. At last, after a total of four hours and forty-five minutes (= sixteen miles), we dismounted at the celebrated groves, just before the ugly Khamsín arose and made the world look dull, as though all its colours had been washed out.

The dates form a kind of square with a sharp triangle to the south, upon the left bank of the thalweg, which overflows them during floods. The enceinte is the normal Arab “snake-fence” of dry and barked branches, which imperfectly defends the nurseries of young trees and the plots of Khubbayzah (“edible mallows”) from the adjoining camping-place of bald yellow clay. The wells, inside and outside the enclosure, are nine; three stone-revetted, and the rest mere pits in the inchoate modern sandstone. The trees want thinning; the undergrowth is so dense as to be impenetrable; but the heads are all carefully trimmed, the first time we have seen such industry in Midian. The shade attracts vipers, chiefly the Echis: and I was startled by hearing the gay warble of the Bulbul — a nightingale in Arabia!

The next day was devoted to inspecting this far-famed site, with the following results. We have already seen a Bada’ [Arabic] and a Badí‘a [Arabic], whilst there is a Badí‘ah [Arabic]223 further north. We are now at a Badá [Arabic] which fulfils all the conditions required by the centre and head-quarters of “Thamuditis.” The site of the Bújat Badá, “the Wide Plain of Badá,” as it is distinguished by the Arabs, represents, topographically speaking, a bulge in the Wady Nejd, before it becomes the Wady Abú Daumah, between the Shafah Mountains to the east and the Tihámah range seawards. The latitude is 26° 45’ 30” = 0° 31’ 30” north of El–Wijh [Footnote: Ahmed Kaptán’s observation of Polaris. The [Greek] (Bades) of Ptolemy is in north lat. 25° 30’.]. From its centre, a little south of our camping-place, the Jebel Zigláb of Shaghab, distant, according to Yákút, one march, bears 32°, and the Aslah (Athlah) cone 30° (both mag.): it lies therefore south of Shuwák, with a little westing. The altitude is upwards of twelve hundred feet above sea-level (aner. 28.72). The size of the oval is about nine statute miles from north to south, where the main watercourse breaks; and twelve miles from east to west, giving an area of some 108 square miles. The general aspect of the basin suggests that of El–Haurá; the growth is richer than the northern, but not equal to that of the southern country. The ruins belong to the Magháir Shu’ayb category, and the guides compare the Hawáwít with those of Madáin Sálih.

Such is the great station on the Nabathæan overland highway between Leukè’ Kóme and Petra; the commercial and industrial, the agricultural and mineral centre, which the Greeks called [Greek] the Romans, Badanatha (Pliny, vi. 32); and the mediæval Arab geographers, Badá Ya’kúb, in the days when the Hajj-caravan used to descend the Wadys Nejd and the “Father of Glass.” Now it is simply El–Badá: the name of the “Prophet” Jacob, supposed to have visited it from Egypt or Syria, being clean forgotten.

The rolling plain is floored with grey granite, underlying sandstones not unlike coral-rag, and still in course of formation. Through this crust outcrop curious hillocks, or rather piles of hard, red, and iron-revetted rock, with a white or a rusty fracture — these are the characteristics of the basin. The lower levels are furrowed with their threads of sand, beds of rain-torrents discharged from the mountains; and each is edged by brighter growths of thorn and fan-palm. The fattening Salíb grass is scattered about the water; the large sorrel hugs the Fiumara-sides; the hardy ‘Aushaz-thorn (Lycium), spangled with white bloom and red currants, which the Arabs say taste like grapes, affects the drier levels; and Tanzubs, almost all timber when old, become trees as large as the Jujube.

The Bújat is everywhere set in a regular rim of mountains. The Shafah curtain to the north is fretted with a number of peaks, called as usual after their Wadys;224 the west is open with a great slope, the Wady Manab, whose breadth is broken only by the “Magráh” Naza’án, a remarkable saddleback with reclining cantle. It is distant a ride of two hours, and we have now seen it for three marches. A little south of east yawns the gorge-mouth of the Wady Nejd, the upper course of the Abá‘l-Gezáz: a jagged black curtain, the Jebel Dausal, forms its southern jaw. Further south the Tihámah Mountains begin with the peaky Jebel el-Kurr, another remarkable block which has long been in sight. Its neighbour is the bluff-headed Jebel el-Wásil of Marwát; whilst the trap-blocks, already mentioned as the Jibál el-‘Akábil, finish the circle.

The better to understand the shape of the ruins, we will ascend the irregular block which rises a few furlongs to the north-east of the palm-orchard. It has only three names: ‘Araygat Badá (“Veinlet of Badá”); Zeba’yat Badá, “the Low-lying (Hill) of Badá;” and Shahíb el-Búm, “the Ash-coloured (Hill) of the Owl.” I will prefer the latter, as we actually sighted one of those dear birds on its western flank. It is an outcrop of grey granite, pigeon-holed by weather, and veined by a variety of dykes. Here we find greenstone breccia’d with the blackest hornblende; there huge filons of hard, red, heat-altered clays, faced with iron, whilst the fracture is white as trachyte; and there filets of quartz, traversing large curtains and sheets of light-coloured argils. This was evidently the main quarry: the sides still show signs of made zigzags; and the red blocks and boulders, all round the hill, bear the prayers and pious ejaculations of the Faithful. The characters range between square Kufic, hardly antedating four centuries, and the cursive form of our day. Some are merely scraped; others are deeply and laboriously cut in the hard material, a work more appropriate for the miner than for the passing pilgrim.

From the ruined look-out on the summit the shape of the city shows a highly irregular triangle of nine facets, forming an apex at the east end of our “Owl’s Hill:” the rises and falls of the ground have evidently determined the outline. The palm-orchard, whose total circumference is five hundred and thirty-six metres, occupies a small portion of its south-eastern corner; and our camping-place, further east, was evidently included in the ancient enceinte. The emplacement, extending along the eastern bank of the main watercourse, is marked by a number of mounds scattered over with broken glass and pottery of all kinds: no coins were found, but rude bits of metal, all verdigris, were picked up north of the palm-orchard. Here, too, lay queer fish-bones, with tusks and teeth, chiefly the jaws of Scaridæ and Sparidæ (seabreams).225

Descending the Shahíb el-Búm, and passing a smaller black and white block appended to its south-south-western side, we now cross to the left bank of the main drain. Here lies the broken tank, the normal construction of El–Islam’s flourishing days. It is a square of thirty-two metres, whose faces and angles do not front the cardinal points. At each corner a flight of steps has been; two have almost disappeared, and the others are very shaky. The floor, originally stone-paved, is now a sheet of hard silt, growing trees and bush: dense Tanzub-clumps (Sodada decidua), with edible red berries, sheltering a couple of birds’-nests, suggested a comparison between the present and the past. At the east end is the Makhzan el-Máyah, or “smaller reservoir,” an oblong of 7.80 by 6.60 metres: the waggon-tilt roof has disappeared, and the fissures show brick within the ashlar. Along the eastern side are huge standing slabs of the coarse new sandstone with which the tank is lined: these may be remains of a conduit. Around the cistern lies a ruined graveyard, whose yawning graves supplied a couple of skulls. A broken line of masonry, probably an aqueduct, runs south-south-east (143° mag.) towards the palms: after two hundred metres all traces of it are lost.

The mining industry could not have been a prominent feature at Badá, or we should have found, as in Shaghab and Shuwák, furnaces and scoriæ. Yet about the tank we lit upon large scatters of spalled quartz, which, according to the Baliyy, is brought from the neighbouring mountains. Some of it was rosy outside: other specimens bore stains of copper; and others showed, when broken, little pyramids of ore. Tested in England, it proved to be pure lead, a metal so rare that some metallurgists have doubted its existence: the finds have been mostly confined to auriferous lands. The blow-pipe soon showed that it was not galena (the sulphide), but some of it contained traces of silver. Without knowing the rarity of these specimens, certain American officers at the Citadel, Cairo, compared them with the true galenas of the Dár-Forian mines, called Mahattat el-Risás (the “Deposit of Lead”), in the Wady Gotam, three days north-east of the capital El–Fashr. The African metal is rich. Large quantities, analyzed by Gastinel Bey, gave fifty per cent. of lead, and of silver fifty dollars per ton; but the distance from any possible market will reserve these diggings for the use of the future. Some were sanguine enough to propose smelting the metal at Khartúm, where Risás is ever in demand; and accordingly, for a time Dar–For was “run,” by a mild “ring,” against Midian.

The plain, I have said, is everywhere broken by piles of stone forming knobby hills. Leaving the outlined sphinx to the right, we ascended a second block, which rises on the west of the chief watercourse, further down than the “Owl’s Hill.” This Tell el-Ahmar (“Red Hill”), alias Ja’dat Badá (the “Curved Hill of Bada’”), is a quoin of grey granite bluff to the south-west. The north-eastern flank shows the normal revetment of ruddy and black heat-altered grit, which gives a red back to the pale-sided, drab-coloured heap. Over the easy ascent is run a zigzag path; half-way, up it passes piles of stone that denote building, and it abuts at the summit upon one of those “look-outs” which are essentially Arab.

Again, to the south-east of the palms is the Huzaybat Badá, the “(Isolated) Hillock of Badá,” a low ridge of naked grey granite, much scaled and pigeon-holed. On the plain to its north stretch regular lines of stone, probably the remnants of a work intended to defend the city’s eastern approach. South of the Huzaybah appear the usual signs of an atelier: these workshops are doubtless scattered all around the centre; but a week, not a day, would be required to examine them. On the very eve of our departure the guides pointed northwards (350° mag.) to a “Mountain of Marú,” called El–Arayfát, and declared that it contained a Zaríbat el-Nasárá, or “enclosure made by the Nazarenes.” I offered a liberal present for specimens; all, however, swore that the distance ranged from two to three hours of dromedary, and that no mounted messenger could catch us unless we halted the next day.

The Bedawin, still relegated to the upper country, were sending their scouts to ascertain if the water-supply was sufficient in Badá plain. The adjacent valleys were dotted with she-camels and their colts. The adult animal here sells for twelve to thirty dollars. During the cotton-full in Egypt, and the cotton-famine of the United States, they fetched as many pounds sterling at the frontier; and the traders of El–Wijh own to having made two hundred per cent., which we may safely double. I asked them why they did not import good stallions from the banks of the Nile; and the reply was that of the North Country — the experiment had ended in the death of the more civilized brutes. This is easily understood: the Baliyy camel seems to live on sand.

The camp was visited by a few Bedawi stragglers, and the reports of their immense numbers were simply absurd. The males were not to be distinguished, in costume and weapons, from their neighbours; and the “females” were all dark and dressed in amorphous blue shirts. At last came an old man and woman of the Huwaytát tribe, bringing for sale a quantity of liquefied butter. They asked a price which would have been dear on the seaboard; and naively confessed that they had taken us for pilgrims — birds to be plucked. But sheep and goats were not to be found in the neighbourhood: yesterday we had failed to buy meat; and today the young Shaykh, Sulaymán, was compelled to mount his dromedary and ride afar in quest of it. The results were seven small sheep, which, lean with walking, cost eleven dollars; and all were slaughtered before they had time to put on fat.

During our stay a pitiable object, with a hide — bandaged lower leg, often limped past the tents; and, thinking the limb broken, I asked the history of the accident. Our hero, it appears, was a doughty personage, famed for valour, who had lately slipped into the Juhayni country with the laudable intention of “lifting” a camel. He had, indeed, “taken his sword, and went his way to rob and steal,” under the profound conviction that nothing could be more honourable — in case of success. He was driving off the booty, when its master sallied out to recover the stolen goods by force and by arms. Both bared their blades and exchanged cuts, when the Baliyy found that his old flamberge was too blunt to do damage. Consequently he had the worse of the affair; a slicing of the right hand forced him to drop his “silly sword.” He then closed with his adversary, who again proved himself the better man, throwing the assailant, and at the same time slashing open his left leg. The wounded man lay in the “bush” till he gathered strength to “dot and go one” homewards. Amongst these tribes the Diyat, or “blood-money,” reaches eight hundred dollars; consequently men will maim, but carefully avoid killing, one another.

The evening of our halt, with its lurid haze and its ominous brooding stillness, was distinguished by a storm, a regular Arab affair, consisting of dust by the ton to water by the drop. This infliction of the “fearful fiend, Samiel, fatal to caravans,” began in the west. A cloud of red sand advanced like a prairie-fire at headlong speed before the mighty rushing wind, whose damp breath smelt of rain; and presently the mountain-rim was veiled in brown and ruddy and purple earth-haze. A bow in the eastern sky strongly suggested, in the apparent absence of a shower, refraction by dust — if such thing be possible. We were disappointed, by the sinister wind, in our hopes of collecting a bottle of rain-water for the photographer; nor did the storm, though it had all the diffused violence of a wintry gale, materially alter the weather. The next two nights were brisk and cool, but the afternoons blew either the Khamsín (“south-wester”) or the Azyab (“south-easter”).

The only Bedawi tradition concerning the Bada’ plain is the following. Many centuries ago, some say before the Apostle, the Baliyy held the land, which was a valley of gardens, a foretaste of Irem; the people were happy as the martyrs of Paradise, and the date-trees numbered two thousand. The grove then belonged to a certain Ibn Mukarrib, who dwelt in it with his son and a slave, not caring to maintain a large guard of Arabs. Consequently he became on bad terms with the Ahámidah-Baliyy tribe, who began systematically to rob his orchard. At last one of a large plundering party said to him, “O Ibn Mukarrib! wilt thou sell this place of two thousand (trees), and not retreat (from thy bargain)?” He responded “Buy!” (i.e. make an offer). The other, taking off his sandal, exclaimed. “With this!” and the proprietor, in wrath, rejoined, “I have sold!”

Ibn Mukarrib then arose and went forth, with his son and the slave, to the place whence came the water (that fed the palms): this he closed up, and fared towards the north. One day it so happened that the three were sitting under the shade of a Marakh-tree and eating its berries. Quoth the sire to the son, “Say, which is the sweeter, the eating of the Marakh fruit or the dates of our orchard?” And the youth rejoined, “O my father! far sweeter is the eating of the fruit of our palm-yard;” when his sire at once arose and slew him with the sword (to wipe away the disgrace of such want of manliness).

Then Ibn Mukarrib turned to the slave, and asked him the question which he had asked of his son. Whereupon the slave replied in this quatrain:

“Eating wild grain in the house of respect;
And not eating dates in the house of contempt:
And walking in honour but a single day;
And not sitting in disgrace for a thousand years!”

Ibn Mukarrib, pleased with these words, forthwith adopted the slave; both marched to the north and dwelt there till the end of their days. The palm-trees, deprived of irrigation, all died; and Bújat-Badá, the beautiful, became a wilderness. About twenty years ago, the wells were reopened and the dates were replanted. So much for the past: as for the future, we may safely predict that, unless occupied by a civilized people, the Badá plain will again see worse times. Nothing would be easier than to rebuild the town, and to prepare the basin for irrigation and cultivation; but destruction is more in the Bedawi line.

221 Vol. II. Chap. X.

222 Described in “The Gold–Mines of Midian,” Chap. XII.

223 Chap. XVIII.

224 The barbarous names, beginning from the west, are Jebels Sehayyir, ‘Unká (“of the griffon”), Marákh (name of a shrub), Genayy (Jenayy), El–Hazzah, El–Madhanah, Buza’mah, and Urnuwah.

225 Dr. C. Carter Blake examined the four brought home, and identified No. 1, superior pharyngeal bone and teeth (Scarus); No. 2, inferior bone and teeth of a large fish allied to Labrus or Chrysophrys; No. 3, left side, pre-maxillary, possibly same species; and No. 4, lower right mandible of Sphœrodon grandoculis, Rüppell.

Chapter XVIII.

Coal a “Myth”— March to Marwát — Arrival at the Wady Hamz.

Before leaving Badá I was careful to make all manner of inquiries concerning stone-coal; and the guides confirmed the suspicions which had long suggested themselves. His Highness the Viceroy had laid great stress upon the search: the first question to me on return was whether the fuel had been found; and a shade of disappointment appeared when the answer distinctly declared it a myth.

This coal, it appears, is an old story. My learned friend Sprenger wrote to me (June 13, 1877): “It is likely that west of Marwa, on the way to Hawrá (which lies on the sea-shore), coal is found: I confess that the prospect of discovering much coal in Arabia does not appear to me very great; still it would be worth while to make inquiries.” Subsequently (December 8, 1877), he gave up all hopes of the pure mineral, but he still clave to bituminous schist. El–Mukaddasi (p. 103),226 treating of the marvels of the land, has the following passage unconnected with those which precede and succeed it:—“A fire arose between El–Marwat and El–Haurá, and it burned, even as charcoal (el-Fahm) burns.” Probably Sprenger had read, “and it (the stone) burned as charcoal burns,” suggesting that the houses and huts were built of inflammable material, like the bituminous schist of the Brazil; and that the Arabs were surprised to find them taking fire. Evidently, however, the text refers to an eruption in one of the many Harrahs or volcanic districts. El–Mukaddasi describes the “houses artful (farihín, alluding to the Thamúdites in the Koran, xxvi. 149), and made of admirable stone (alabaster?); over the doors were knots (‘Ukúd), and ornaments (Turúh), and carvings (Nukúsh).”

Landing at El–Wijh, I at once consulted our intelligent friend, the Wakíl Mohammed Shahádah. He had sent for a camel-load of the stuff, which, he declared, would not burn, although it had burned his money. He then travelled in person to the Jebel el-Muharrak (“Burnt Mountain”), five short marches inland from El–Badá plain, and behind its northern curtain, the Jibál el-Shafah. According to him, El–Muharrak is part of the great Harrah; and the unexplored Jaww, which lies north (?) of it, is a prolongation of the Hismá plateau, here belonging to the Balawíyyah or Baliyy-land. The mountain is tall and black, apparently consisting of the “coal.” Near its summit lies the Bir el-Shifá’ (“Well of Healing”), a pit of cold sulphur-water, excellent for the eyes; and generally a “Pool of Bethesda,” whither Arabs flock from afar. At Abá‘l-Gezáz, Mohammed destroyed all our surviving hopes by picking up a black stone which, he declared, belonged to El–Muharrak. It was schist, with a natural fracture not unlike coal, and weathered into the semblance of wood: unfortunately it was hard as iron, and it did not contain an atom of bitumen.

At Badá old Shaykh ‘Afnán, whose tents are now pitched one day ahead of us, was taken into consultation upon the subject. He confirmed these statements of the Wakíl, adding that the Shafah Mountains are a mere ridge, not the seaward walls of a plateau, and that the land east of them is exactly that which we have already traversed. He had bathed in the sulphur-water; he spoke of brimstone being picked up on the hill-flanks, and he had heard of El–Kohl (stibium, collyrium, antimony) being found about El–Muharrak.227

These details, apparently authentic, did not tempt me to waste precious time upon El–Muharrak. I do not yet despair, as has been said, of finding coal in Arabia; but we must hardly expect volcanic ground to yield it.

Our preparations for a march southwards were made under difficulties. The Baliyy evidently like the prospect of some £6 per diem; and do not like the idea of approaching the frontier, where their camels may be stolen. Every silly, childish pretext was used to suggest delay. We ought not to move without seeing the “Nazarenes’ Ruin” at El-‘Arayfát. Again, I had sent a certain Salim, a cousin of the Shaykh, with orders for fresh supplies from El–Wijh: he was certain to miss us if we marched. Still again, old ‘Afnán’s dromedary had a thorn in the foot — u. s. w.

Nevertheless, an order was given for the return march on April 5th.

No matter how philosophical the traveller may be, I defy him not to feel some emotion when, his Desert work being duly done, he throws his leg over the saddle, and turn the animal’s head homewards — towards London. Such was our pleasant predicament; for, though the détour would be considerable, and the delay still more so, I could distinguish the bourne at the far end of the very long perspective.

We were now in excellent marching order, not, however, including the mules, of which two had broken down with sore backs, and the others were breaking fast. The réveillé sounded at 3 to 3.30 p.m.; the “general” followed at four; and the start took place immediately afterwards. The camels are wretched animals, that work equally badly full and fasting: when hungry, they break their halters to graze along the path; and when gorged they are too lazy to go beyond a saunter of two miles an hour. Yet they can work well when pushed: the man Sa’lim came up with us on the evening of the fourth day, after a forced march of thirty-two hours.

We took the track which crosses the Bújat-Badá to the south-east. For a short way it was vilely rat-eaten; presently it issued upon good, hard, stony ground; and, after four miles, it entered the Wady el-Marwát. This gorge, marked by the Jebel Wásil, a round head to the north, is a commonplace affair of trap and white clay; broad, rough, and unpicturesque. The sole shows many piles of dry stone, ruins of “boxes,” in which the travelling Arab passes the night, whilst his camels are tethered outside. The watercourse heads in a Khuraytah, the usual rock-ladder; we reached it after eleven miles’ riding. Nájí, the sea-lawyer of the party, assured us that we had not finished a third of the way, when two-thirds would have been nearer the truth.

The Wady sides and head showed traces of hard work, especially where three veins of snowy quartz had been deeply cut into. The summit of the Col, some 2100 feet above sea-level, carried a fine reef of “Marú,” measuring eight feet at the widest, and trending 332° (mag.) Around it lay the usual barbarous ruins, mere basements, surrounded by spalled stone: from this place I carried off a portable Kufic inscription. The view down the regular and tree-dotted slope of the Wady el-Marwát, as far as the flats of Badá, was charming, an Argelèz without its over-verdure.

From the Col two roads lead to our day’s destination. The short cut to the right was reported stony: as most of our mules were casting their irons and falling lame, I avoided it by the advice of Furayj, thereby giving huge offence to old ‘Afnán. We followed the long slope trending to the Wady el-Kurr, which drains the notable block of that name. Seeing the Wakíl, and the others in front, cutting over the root to prevent rounding a prodigiously long tongue-tip, I was on the qui vive for the normal dodge; and presently the mulatto Abdullah screamed out that the Nakb must be avoided, as it was all rock. We persisted and found the path almost as smooth as a main road. The object was to halt for the night at a neighbouring water-hole in the rocks; and, when their trick failed, the Baliyy with a naive infantine candour, talked and laughed over their failure, sans vergogne and within earshot.

Despite the many Zawábahs (“dust-devils”), this was one of our finest travelling days. After the usual ante-meridian halt, we pushed on down the valley, meeting only a few donkey-drivers. At 2.15 p.m. (seven hours = twenty miles and a half), we reached the beautiful ‘Ayn el-Kurr, some ten direct miles east of the Wady Rábigh; and the caravan was only one hour behind us. This Wady is a great and important affluent of the Wady el-Miyáh already mentioned. The reach where we camped runs from north to south; and the “gate” of porphyritic trap, red, green, yellow, and white with clay, almost envelops the quartz-streaked granite. The walls are high enough to give shade between eight a.m. and 2.15 p.m.; and the level sole of the cleanest sand is dotted, near the right side, with holes and pools of the sweetest water. Here “green grow the rushes,” especially the big-headed Kasbá (Arundo donax); the yellow-tipped Namas or flags (Scirpus holoschænus) form a dense thicket; the ‘Ushr, with its cork-like bark which makes the best tinder, is a tree, not a shrub; and there are large natural plantations of the saffron-flowered, tobacco-like Verbascum, the Arab’s Uzn el-Humár (“Donkey’s Ear”). Add scattered clusters of date-trees, domineering over clumps of fan-palm; and, lastly, marvellous to relate, a few hundred feet of greensward, of regular turf — a luxury not expected in North–Western Arabia — a paradise for frogs and toads (Bufo vulgaris), grasshoppers, and white pigeons; and you will sympathize with our enjoyment at the ‘Ayn el-Kurr. In such a place extensive ruins of the “Old Ones” were to be expected. Apparently there is no trace of man beyond Wasm on the rocks; a few old Bedawi graves in a dwarf Wady inflowing from the west; a rude modern watercourse close above its mouth, and Arab fences round the trimmed dates and newly set palm shoots.

During the afternoon the Shaykhs came to us with very long faces. At this season, and as long as the Baliyy are in the Shafah uplands, the almost deserted frontier districts, which we are about to enter, suffer from the Gaum, or razzia, of the neighbouring ‘Anezah and the Juhaynah; — the two tribes, however, not mixing. The bandits, numbering, they say, from fifty to sixty, mounted on horses and dromedaries, only aspire to plunder some poor devil-shepherd of a few camels, goats, and muttons. They never attack in rear; they always sleep at night, save when every moment is precious for “loot”-driving; and their weapons, which may be deadly in the narrows, are despicable in the open country.

I suspected at first that this was another “dodge” to enhance the services of our Arabs, but the amount of risk we were to run was soon found out by consulting Furayj. He said that we must march in rear of the caravan for a day or two; and that such attacks were possible, but only once in a hundred cases. There might have been treachery in camp; the Egyptian officers suggested that a Baliyy scout could have been sent on to announce the approach of a rich caravan. Accordingly, I ordered an evening review of our “Remingtons;” and chose a large mark purposely, that the Bedawi lookers-on might not have cause to scoff. The escort redeemed many a past lâche, by showing that their weapons had been kept bright and clean, and by firing neatly enough. The Baliyy, who had never seen a breech-loader, were delighted; but one of our party so disliked the smell of powder, that he almost quarrelled with me for bringing him into such imminent deadly risk. He was hardly to be blamed; his nerves had been terribly shaken by a viper killed in his tent.

Next morning (April 6th) saw the most unpleasant of our marches. The young Shaykh Sulaymán, accompanied by his cousin Sálim, set out in the dark as éclaireurs: they were supposed to lead eight or ten of the best matchlock-men, whereas I doubt whether the whole camp contained that total. Presently it appeared that they were alone, and the farce was hardly kept up through the next day. At 5.15 a.m. we followed them, marching militairement, as my friend Sefer Pasha had strongly advised at Cairo. It is no joke to follow starveling beasts whose best speed seldom attains two miles and a half per hour. However, the effect was excellent: never had there been so little straggling; never had the halting-places been reached in such good time and good order.

A pleasant surprise awaited us in the grandest display of quartz that we had yet seen. The descent of the Wady el-Kurr seemed to be as flat, stale, and profitless as possible, when “Mará” appeared on the left side in mounds, veins, and strews. Presently we turned south, and passed the brackish well, El–Hufayrah (“the Little Pit”), in a bay of the left bank, distant about eight miles from our last camp. Here the whole Wady, some two miles broad, was barred with quartz, in gravel of the same rock, and in veins which, protruding from the dark schist, suggested that it underlies the whole surface. Nothing more remarkable than the variety of forms and tints mingling in the mighty mass — the amorphous, the crystallized, the hyaline, the burnt; here mottled and banded, there plain red and pink, green and brown, slaty and chocolate, purple, kaolin-white; and, rarest of all, honeycomb-yellow. The richest part was at the Majrá el-Kabsh (“Divide of the Ram”), where we alighted and secured specimens.

From this point the Wady el-Kurr flows down the right side of its valley, and disappears to the west; while the far side of the Majrá shows the Wady Gámirah (Kámirah), another influent of the Wady el-Miyáh. Various minor divides led to the Wady el-Laylah, where ruins were spoken of by our confidant, ‘Audah, although his information was discredited by the Shaykhs. Quartz-hills now appeared on either side, creamy-coated cones, each capped by its own sparkle whose brilliancy was set off by the gloomy traps which they sheeted and topped. In some places the material may have been the usual hard, white, heat-altered clay; but the valley-sole showed only the purest “Marú.” The height of several hills was nearly double that of the northern Jebel el-Abyaz; and the reef-crests were apparently unworked.

After the march had extended to seven hours (= 18 miles), there were loud complaints about its length, the venerable ‘Afnán himself begging us to spare his camels — which, being interpreted, meant spoiling our pockets. I therefore gave orders to camp in the broad and open Wady Laylah. We were far from water, but the evening was pleasant, and the night was still more agreeable.

At five a.m. next day (April 7th) we rode up the Wady Laylah, which gave us another surprise, and an unexpected joy, in the shifting scenery of the Jibál el-Safhah. The “Mountains of the Plain,” so called because they start suddenly from a dead level, are a section of the Tihámat-Balawíyyah range; yet they are worthy links of a chain which boasts of a Shárr. Rising hard on our left, beyond the dull traps that hem in the Wadys, these blocks, especially the lower features, the mere foot-hills, assume every quaintest nuance of hue and form. The fawn-grey colour, here shining as if polished by “slickensides,” there dull and roughened by the rude touch of Time, is a neutral ground that takes all the tints with which sun and moon, mist and cloud, paint and glaze the world: changeable as the chameleon’s, the coating is never the same for two brief hours. The protean shape, seen in profile and foreshortened from the north or south, appears a block bristling with “Pins” and points, horns and beaks. Viewed from the east the range splits into a double line, whose ranks have never been “dressed” nor sized; whilst a diagonal prospect so alters their forms and relations that they apparently belong to another range.

The background, lying upon the most distant visible plane, is the white-streaked and regular wall of the Jebel el-Ward, which we have already seen from the sea. Its northern foot-ranges are the pale-white and jagged ‘Afayr, whose utter isolation makes it interesting; and the low and long, the dark and dumpy Jebel Tufayyah. It is separated by a broad valley from its southern neighbour, the Jebel el-Ughlub, or El–Ghalab as some call it. This typical block consists chiefly of a monstrous “Parrot’s Beak” of granite, continued by a long dorsum to the south. Its outliers number four. These are, first, the Umm Natash, two sets of perpendicular buttresses pressed together like sausages or cigars. Then comes the Talát Muhajjah, a broken saddleback, whose cantle from the south-east appears split into a pair of steeple-like boulders — an architect of Alexander the Great’s day would have easily cut and trimmed them into such towers as the world has never seen. Follows the Umm el-Natákah, bristling like the fretful porcupine, and apparently disdaining to receive the foot of man; while the last item, the Jebel el-Khausilah, has outlines so thoroughly architectural that we seem to gaze upon a pile of building.

About five miles behind or south of El–Khausilah runs the Wady Hamz. Thus the two blocks, El–Ward and El–Ughlub, form the Safhah proper. The line is continued, after a considerable break, by the two blue and conical peaks in the Tihámat-Jahaníyyah, known as the Jebelayn el-Rál. They are divided and drained to the Wady Hamz by the broad Wady el-Sula’; and the latter is the short cut down which the Egyptian Hajj, returning northwards from El–Medínah, debouches upon the maritime plain of South Midian.

The Wady Laylah, draining both the Shafah and the Tihámah ranges, including the block El–Ward, assumes, as usual, various names: we shall follow it till it is received into the mighty arms of the Wady Hamz, some three miles from the sea. After riding eight hours, we sighted the long line of Daum-palms which announce the approach to El–Birkah, “the Tank.” Here the huge Fiumara, sweeping grandly from north-east to south-west, forms a charming narrow and a river-like run about a mile and a half long — phenomenal again in sun-scorched Arabia. The water, collecting under the masses of trap which wall in the left bank, flows down for some distance in threads, à ciel ouvert, and finally combines in a single large blue-green pool on the right side. A turquoise set in enamel of the brightest verdure, it attracts by its dense and shady beds of rushes a variety of water-fowl — one of our Bedawin killed a black-headed duck with a bullet, which spoilt it as a specimen. About the water-run are dwarf enclosures, and even water-melons were sown; unhappily the torrent came down and carried all away.

We halted near the upper spring at 8.20 a.m., after the usual accident which now occurred daily about that hour. On this occasion Lieutenant Yusuf’s shoe stuck in the stirrup when he was dismounting from an unsteady mule; the animal threw him, and he had a somewhat narrow escape from being dragged to death. Man and beast would have lingered long over the pleasures of watering and refection, but I forced them onwards at nine a.m., whilst the hot sun-rays were still tempered by the cool land-breeze. The threads of water and the wet ground extended some two kilometres beyond the Birkat. Further on was another fine “gate,” whose eastern or right jamb was the Jibál el-Tibgh, fronting the Wady M’jirmah. The narrows showed two Arab wells, with the usual platform of dry trunks that make a footing round the mouth. There was no break in the continuity of the quartz: the black trap enclosed, here sheets, there veins, and there almonds in puddings.

At the halting-place a “cerastes” (Echis carinata, Merr.), so called from the warty hollows over the eyes (?), was brought to me in a water-bag; the bearer transferred it to the spirit-bottle by neatly thrusting a packing-needle through the head. The pretty specimen of an amiable, and much oppressed, race did not show an atom of vice. I cannot conceive what has caused the absurd prejudice against snakes, even the most harmless. Perhaps we must trace it to the curious resemblance of the profile, with the flattened forehead, the steely bright eye, the formidable biting apparatus, and the vanishing chin, to the genus woman, species Lorette. It is hard to imagine that this little beast, which some one called a “Cleopatra’s hasp,” could be fatal: its small bag can hardly contain a couple of drops. Yet the vox populi is distinctly against me.

The Shaykhs were anxious to push on for another half-hour, where, they declared, a rain-hole is found in the next ravine, the Sha’b el-Kahafah. But we had been privily told of another further down the valley, at the Sha’b el-Hárr; and, although we much wanted a bottleful for photography, we determined to run the risk. The result is curious, showing how jealously water-secrets are kept in these lands. The next thing I heard was that the water had waxed salt; then it had dried up; and, lastly, it was in the best condition, the truth being that there was none at all. Consequently we were compelled to send back four camels and two cameleers from our next camping-ground to the Kahafah. Venerable ‘Afnán made many a difficulty, and an uncommon favour, of risking the plundering of the dromedaries and the lives of his caterans by a razzia. The fellows set off after nightfall towards the upper ravine, distant some two hours’ slow march: they must there have had a pleasant, refreshing sleep; and they did not return, doubtless by order, till late next morning. This gave the Shaykhs a good opportunity of fearing greatly for the safety of their people, and of delaying our march as much as possible.

Resuming the road at 2.30 p.m., we entered the western prolongation of the Wady el-Birkah. Here it becomes the Wady Abá‘l-‘Agág (‘Ajáj), and preserves that name till it anastomoses with the Hamz. There have been some wells in the bed; but all are now filled up, and water must be carried from El–Birkah. We camped at a noble reach, garnished with a mimic forest of old tamarisks, whose small voices, united in chorus, passably imitated the mighty murmur of the sea. Our day’s march had covered a score of miles; hard work, considering the condition of the mules.

After a splendid night, we set out London-wards at five a.m., April 8th, delayed, as has been said, by the politiké of the Shaykhs. Moreover, one of the party, whose motto should have been halt’s maul, had remarked that the camels appeared fewer than before — another reason for stopping to count them. Half an hour placed us at a lower and a grander carrefour, abounding in fuel and seducing with tamarisk-shade: its water is known as the Máyat el-Badí‘ah. Presently the hilly encasement of the Wady el-‘Ajáj ended with El-‘Adrá, a red butte to the left, and the Jebel el-Yakhmúm on the right. This knob was copiously veined with quartz, of which a prodigious depôt, explored on the next day, exists in the heights behind it. The Wady now flares out; we have done with the Tihámah Mountains, and we are again in maritime South Midian.

Although we were standing some four hundred feet above the wassersspiegel, there was no view of the sea, and we had to cross a wave of ground before we pulled off our hats to Father Neptune, as he lay smiling in front of us. There was nothing monotonous in the scene. The mirage raised high in air the yellow mound of Ras Kurkumah (“Turmeric Head”), which bounded the water-line to the south. Nearer, but still far to the left, ran the high right bank of the Wady Hamz, sweeping with a great curve from north-east to west, till it stood athwart our path. Knobby hills were scattered over the plain; and on our right rose El–Juwayy, a black mound with white-sided and scarred head, whose peculiar shape, a crest upon a slope, showed us once more the familiar Secondary formation of North–Western Arabia. Thus the gypsum has been traced from the Sinaitic shore as far south as the Wady Hamz.

We rode sharply forwards, impatient to see the classical ruins, leaving the caravan to follow us. The Girdi (“sand-rat”) had ceased to burrow the banks; but the jerboa had made regular rabbit-warrens. At half-past seven we crossed a winding and broad-spreading track, the upper Hajj-road, by which the Egyptian Mahmal passes when returning from El–Medi’nah viâ the Wady Hamz. A few yards further on showed us a similar line, the route taken by the caravan when going to Meccah viâ Yambú’, now distant five marches. The two meet at the Wady Wafdíyyah, to the north-east of the Abá‘l-Marú range, which we shall visit tomorrow.

Shortly after 10 a.m. we crossed the deepest vein of the Wady Hamz, urged the mules up the stiff left bank, and sprang from the saddle to enjoy a first view of the Gasr (Kasr) Gurayyim Sa’id.

226 The MS. of this geographer was brought to light by Professor Sprenger, and Part I. has been published by Professor de Goeje in his “Bibliotheca Geographarum Arabicorum,” here alluded to.

227 We have seen (Chap. II.) that the Arabs of Midian mistake iron for antimony; and the same is the case in the Sinaitic Peninsula.

Chapter XIX.

The Wady Hamz — the Classical Ruin — Abá‘l-Marú, the Mine of “Marwah”— Return to El–Wijh — Résumé of the Southern Journey.

Before describing the Palace of Sa’íd the Brave, I must devote a few lines to a notice of the Wady Hamz. The Wady Hamz, which has been mentioned as the southern frontier of Egyptian Midian, and the northern limit of the Ottoman Hejaz, is the most notable feature of its kind upon the North–Western Arabian shore. Yet Wallin has unjustifiably described and inscribed it “Wady Nejd,” confusing it with a northern basin, whose mouth, the Salbah (Thalbah), we passed before reaching Sharm Dumayghah. He appears to identify it with the classical Wady el-Kura. Sprenger clean ignores the name, although he mentions its branches; and of course it is utterly neglected by the Hydrographic Chart. This main approach to the Arabian interior is not a fissure, like the vulgar Wadys, but rather an opening where the Gháts, or maritime chain, break to the north and south. Distant one long or two short marches from El–Wijh, its mouth is in north lat. 25° 55’; and it is said to head fifteen days inland, in fact beyond El–Medínah, towards which it curves with a south-easterly bend. It receives a multitude of important secondary valleys; amongst which is the Wady el-‘Uwaynid, universally so pronounced. I cannot help thinking that this is El-‘Aúníd of El–Mukaddasi, which El–Idrísí (erroneously?) throws into the sea opposite Nu’ma’n Island. If my conjecture prove true, we thus have a reason why this important line has been inexplicably neglected. Another branch is the Wady el-‘Is, Sprenger’s “Al-‘Ys” (pp. 28, 29), which he calls “a valley in the Juhaynah country,” and makes the northern boundary of that tribe.

Ethnologically considered, the lower Wady Hamz is now the southern boundary of the Balawíyyah (Baliyy country), and the northern limit of the Jahaníyyah, or Juhaynah-land: the latter is popularly described as stretching down coast to Wady Burmah, one march beyond Yambú’ (?). Higher up it belongs to the Alaydán-‘Anezahs, under Shaykh Mutlak — these were the Bedawin who, during our stay at the port, brought their caravan to El–Wijh. Both tribes are unsafe, and they will wax worse as they go south. Yet there is no difficulty in travelling up the Hamz, at least for those who can afford time and money to engage the escort of Shaykh Mutlak. A delay of twelve days to a fortnight would be necessary, and common prudence would suggest the normal precaution of detaining, as hostage in the seaboard settlement, one of his Alaydán cousins. Water is to be found the whole way, and the usual provisions are to be bought at certain places.

The following notes upon the ruins of the Wady Hamz were supplied to me by the Baliyy Bedawin and the citizens of El–Wijh. Six stages up the lower valley, whose direction lies nearly north-east, lead to El-‘Ilá, Wallin’s “Ela,” which belongs to the ‘Anezah. Thence a short day, to the north with easting, places the traveller at Madáin (not Madyan nor Medínat) Sálih —“the cities of Sálih.” The site is described to be somewhat off the main valley, which is here broken by a Nakb (?); and those who have visited both declared that it exactly resembles Nabathæan Magháir Shu’ayb in extensive ruins and in catacombs caverning the hill-sides.

Also called El–Hijr, it is made by Sprenger (p. 20) the capital of Thamuditis. This province was the head-quarters of the giant race termed the “Sons of Anak” (Joshua xi. 21); the Thamudeni and Thamudæ of Agatharkides and Diodorus; the Tamudæi of Pliny; the Thamyditæ of Ptolemy; and the Arabian Tamúd (Thamúd), who, extinct before the origin of El–Islam, occupied the seaboard between El–Muwaylah and El–Wijh. Their great centre was the plain El–Badá; and they were destroyed by a terrible sound from heaven, the Beth–Kol of the Hebrews, after sinfully slaughtering the miraculously produced camel of El-Sálih, the Righteous Prophet (Koran, cap. vii.). The exploration of “Sálih’s cities” will be valuable if it lead to the collection of inscriptions sufficiently numerous to determine whether the Tamúd were Edomites, or kin to the Edomites; also which of the two races is the more ancient, the Horites of Idumæa or the Horites in El–Hijr.

And now to inspect the Gasr. The first sensation was one of surprise, of the mental state which gave rise to the Italian’s —

“Dear Columns, what do you here?
‘Not knowing, can’t say, Mynheer!’”

And this incongruous bit of Greece or Rome, in the Arabian wild, kept its mystery to the last: the more we looked at it, the less we could explain its presence. Not a line of inscription, not even a mason’s mark — all dark as the grave; deaf-dumb as “the olden gods.”

The site of the Gasr is in north lat. 25° 55’ 15”;228 and the centre of the Libn block bears from it 339° (mag.). It stands upon the very edge of its Wady’s left bank, a clifflet some twenty-five feet high, sloping inland with the usual dark metal disposed upon loose yellow sand. Thus it commands a glorious view of the tree-grown valley, or rather valleys, beneath it; and of the picturesque peaks of the Tihámat-Balawíyyah in the background. The distance from the sea is now a little over three miles — in ancient days it may have been much less.

The condition of the digging proves that the remains have not long been opened: the Baliyy state less than half a century ago; but exactly when or by whom is apparently unknown to them. Before that time the locale must have shown a mere tumulus, a mound somewhat larger than the many which pimple the raised valley-bank behind the building. A wall is said to have projected above ground, as at Uriconium near the Wrekin.229 This may have suggested excavation, besides supplying material for the Bedawi cemetery to the south-west. The torrent waters have swept away the whole of the northern wall, and the treasure-seeker has left his mark upon the interior. Columns and pilasters and bevelled stones have been hurled into the Wady below; the large pavement-slabs have been torn up and tossed about to a chaos; and the restless drifting of the loose yellow Desert-sand will soon bury it again in oblivion. The result of all such ruthless ruining was simply null. The imaginative Nájí declared, it is true, that a stone dog had been found; but this animal went the way of the “iron fish,” which all at El–Muwaylah asserted to have been dug up at El–Wijh — the latter place never having heard of it. Wallin (p. 316) was also told of a black dog which haunts the ruins of Karáyyá, and acts guardian to its hidden treasures. Years ago, when I visited the mouth of the Volta river on the Gold Coast, the negroes of Cape Coast Castle were pleased to report that I had unearthed a silver dog, at whose appearance my companion, Colonel de Ruvignes, and myself fell dead. But why always a dog? The “Palace” is a Roman building of pure style; whether temple or nymphæum, we had no means of ascertaining. The material is the Rughám or alabaster supplied by the Secondary formation; and this, as we saw, readily crumbles to a white powder when burnt. The people, who in such matters may be trusted, declare that the quarries are still open at Abú Makhárír, under the hills embosoming Abá‘l-Marú. We should have been less surprised had the ruin been built of marble, which might have been transported from Egypt; but this careful and classical treatment of the common country stone, only added to the marvel.

It must have been a bright and brilliant bit of colouring in its best days — hence, possibly, the local tradition that the stone sweats oil. The whole building, from the pavement to the coping, notched to receive the roof-joists, is of alabaster, plain-white and streaked with ruddy, mauve, and dark bands, whose mottling gives the effect of marble. Perhaps in places the gypsum has been subjected to plutonic action; and we thought that the coloured was preferred to the clear for the bases of the columns. The exposed foundations of the eastern and western walls, where the torrent has washed away the northern enceinte, show that, after the fashion of ancient Egypt, sandstone slabs have been laid underground, the calcaire being reserved for the hypaethral part. The admirable hydraulic cement is here and there made to take the place of broken corners, and flaws have been remedied by carefully letting in small cubes of sound stone. There are also cramp-holes for metal which, of course, has been carried off by the Bedawin: the rusty stains suggest iron.

The building is square-shaped, as we see from the western wall, and it evidently faced eastward with 25° (mag.) of southing. This orientation, probably borrowed from the Jews, was not thoroughly adopted in Christendom till the early fifth century, when it became a mos. The southern wall, whose basement is perfect, shows everywhere a thickness of 0.95 centimetre, and a total length of 8 metres 30 centimetres. At 2 metres 87 centimetres from the south-western corner is a slightly raised surface, measuring in length 2 metres 15 centimetres. Mr. James Fergusson supposes that this projection, which directly fronts the eastern entrance, was the base of the niche intended for the image. On each side of the latter might have been a smaller colonette, which would account for the capital carried off by us to Egypt. Thus, adding 2 metres 87 centimetres for the northern end swept into the valley, we have a length of 7 metres 89 centimetres; and the additional half thickness of the east wall would bring it to a total of 8 metres 30 centimetres.

The shrine was not in antis, and the site hardly admits of a peristyle; besides which, excavations failed to find it. That it might have had a small external atrium is made probable by the peculiarity of the entrance. Two rounded pilasters, worked with the usual care inside, but left rough in other parts because they could not be seen, were engaged in the enceinte wall, measuring here, as elsewhere, 0.95 centimetre in thickness. Nothing remained of them but their bases, whose lower diameters were 0.95 centimetre, and the upper 0.65; the drums found elsewhere also measured 0.65. The interval between the lowest rings was 1 metre 63 centimetres; and this would give the measure of the doorway, here probably a parallelogram. Lying on the sand-slope to the north, a single capital showed signs of double brackets, although both have been broken off:230 the maximum diameter across the top was 0.60 centimetre, diminishing below to 0.50 and 0.44, whilst the height was 0.40. The encircling wall was probably adorned with pilasters measuring 0.62 centimetre below, 0.45 above, and 0.11 in height: they are not shown in the plan; and I leave experts to determine whether they supported the inside or the outside surface. Several stones, probably copings, are cut with three mortice-joints or joist-holes, each measuring 0.15 centimetre, at intervals of 0.14 to 0.15.

In the tossed and tumbled interior of this maison carrée the pavement-slabs, especially along the south-western side, appear in tolerable order and not much disturbed; whilst further east a long trench from north to south had been sunk by the treasure seeker. The breadth of the free passage is 1 metre 92 centimetres; and the disposal suggested an inner peristyle, forming an impluvium. Thus the cube could not have been a heroön or tomb. Four bases of columns, with a number of drums, lie in the heap of ruins, and in the torrent-bed six, of which we carried off four. They are much smaller than the pilasters of the entrance; the lower tori of the bases measure 0.60 centimetre in diameter, and 0.20 in height (to 0.90 and 0.25), while the drums are 0.45, instead of 0.65. It is an enormous apparatus to support what must have been a very light matter of a roof. The only specimen of a colonette-capital has an upper diameter of 0.26, a lower of 0.17, and a height of 0.16.

Although the Meccan Ka’bah is, as its name denotes, a “cube,” this square alabaster box did not give the impression of being either Arab or Nabathæan. The work is far too curiously and conscientiously done; the bases and drums, as the sundries carried to Cairo prove, look rather as if turned by machinery than chiselled in the usual way. I could not but conjecture that it belongs to the days of such Roman invasions as that of Ælius Gallus. Strabo231 tells us of his unfortunate friend and companion, that, on the return march, after destroying Negrán232 (Pliny, vi. 32), he arrived at Egra or Hegra (El-‘Wijh), where he must have delayed some time before he could embark “as much of his army as could be saved,” for the opposite African harbour, Myus Hormus. It is within the limits of probability that this historical personage233 might have built the Gasr, either for a shrine or for a nymphæum, a votive-offering to the Great Wady, which must have cheered his heart after so many days of “Desert country, with only a few watering-places.” Perhaps an investigation of the ruins at Ras Kurkumah and the remains of Madáin Sálih may throw some light upon the mystery. In our travel this bit of classical temple was unique.

Mr. Fergusson, whose authority in such matters will not readily be disputed, calls the building a small shrine; and determines that it can hardly be a tomb, as it is hypæthral. The only similar temple known to him is that of “Soueideh” (Suwaydah), in the Haurán (De Vogüé, “Syrie Centrale,” Plate IV.). The latter, which is Roman, and belonging to the days of Herod Augustus, has a peristyle here wanting: in other respects the resemblance is striking.

M. Lacaze photographed, under difficulties such as bad water and a most unpleasant drift of sand-dust, the interior of the building, the stones lying in the Wady below, and the various specimens which we carried off for the inspection of his Highness the Viceroy. Meanwhile we “pottered about,” making small discoveries. The exposed foundations of the north-western wall, where the slabs of grit rest upon the sands of the cliff, afforded signs of man in the shape of a jaw-bone, with teeth apparently modern; and above it, in the terreplein, we dug down upwards of a yard, without any result beyond unearthing a fine black scorpion. The adjoining Arab graveyard, adorned with the mutilated spoils of the classical building, gave two imperfect skulls and four fragments. We opened one of the many mounds that lie behind the Gasr, showing where most probably stood the ruined town; and we found the interior traversed by a crumbling wall of cut alabaster — regular excavation may some day yield important results. A little to the south-west lies a kind of ossuary, a tumulus slightly raised above the wavy level, and showing a central pit choked with camels’ bones: at least, we could find no other.

And here I was told the Arab legend by the Wakíl; who, openly deriding the Bedawi idea that the building could be a “Castle,” opined that it was a Kanísah, a “Christian or pagan place of worship.” Gurayyim Sa’íd, “Sa’íd the Brave,” was an African slave, belonging to an Arab Shaykh whose name is forgotten. One day it so happened that a razzia came to plunder his lord, when the black, whose strength and stature were equal to his courage and, let us add, his appetite, did more than his duty. Thus he obtained as a reward the promise of a bride, his master’s daughter. But when the day of danger was past, and the slave applied for the fair guerdon, the Shaykh traitorously refused to keep his word. The Brave, finding a fit opportunity, naturally enough carried off the girl to the mountains; solemnly thrashed every pursuing party; and, having established a “reign of terror,” came to the banks of the Wady Hamz, and built the “Palace” for himself and his wife. But his love for butcher’s-meat did not allow him to live happily ever after. As the land yielded little game, he took to sallying out every day and carrying off a camel, which in the evening he slew, and roasted, and ate, giving a small bit of it to his spouse. This extravagance of flesh-diet ended by scandalizing the whole country-side, till at last the owner of the plundered herds, Diyáb ibn Ghánim, one of the notables celebrated in the romance called Sírat Abu’ Zayd,234 assembled his merry men, attacked the Gurayyim, and slew him. Wa’ s’ salám!

Here Egypt ends. We have done our work —

“And now the hills stretch home.”

I must, however, beg the reader to tarry with me awhile. The next march to the north will show him what I verily believe to be the old gold-mine lying around El–Marwah. It acquires an especial interest from being the northernmost known to the mediaeval geographers.

El–Mukaddasi (vol. I. p. 101), in an article kindly copied by my friend, the Aulic Councillor, Alfred Von Kremer, says, “Between Yambú’ and El–Marwah are mines of gold;” adding (“Itinerary,” vol. i. p. 107) the following route directions: “And thou takest from El–Badr (‘the New Moon’)235 to El–Yambú’ two stages; thence to the Ras el-‘Ayn (?),236 one stage; again to the mine (subaudi, of gold), one stage; and, lastly, to El–Marwah, two stages. And thou takest from El–Badr to El-Jár237 one stage; thence to El–Jahfah (?), or to El–Yambu’, two stages each. And thou takest from El–Jiddah (Jedda) to El-Jár, or to El–Surrayn (?), four stages each. And thou takest from El–Yasrib (Jatrippa or El–Medínah) to El–Suwaydíyyah (?), or to Batn el-Nakhil (?), two stages each; and from El–Suwaydíyyah to El–Marwah, an equal distance (i.e. four marches); and from the Batn el-Nakhil to the mine of silver, a similar distance. And if thou seek the Jáddat Misr,238 then take from El–Marwah to El–Sukyá239 (?), and thence to Badá Ya’kúb,240 three marches; and thence to El-‘Aúníd, one march.” Hence Sprenger would place Zú‘l-Marwah “four days from El–Hijr, on the western road to Medina;” alluding to the western (Syrian) road, now abandoned.

And now for our march. On the finest possible morning (April 9th), when the world was all ablaze with living light, I walked down the Wady Hamz. It has been abundantly supplied with water; in fact, the whole vein (thalweg) subtending the left bank would respond to tapping. The well El–Kusayr, just below the ruin, though at present closed, yielded till lately a large quantity: about half a mile to the westward is, or rather was, a saltish pit surrounded by four sweet. Almost all are now dry and filled up with fuel. A sharp trudge of three-quarters of an hour leads to the Bir el-Gurnah (Kurnah), the “Well of the Broad,” in a district of the same name, lying between the ruin and the shore. It is a great gash in the sandy bed: the taste of the turbid produce is distinctly sulphurous; and my old white mule, being dainty in her drink, steadfastly refused to touch it. The distinct accents of the Red Sea told us that we were not more than a mile from its marge.

We then struck north-east, over the salt maritime plain, till we hit the lower course of the Wady Umm Gilifayn (Jilifayn). It heads from the seaward base of the neighbouring hills; and its mouth forms a Marsá, or “anchorage-place,” for native craft. A little to the north stands the small pyramidal Tuwayyil el-Kibrít, the “little Sulphur Hill,” which had been carefully examined by MM. Marie and Philipin. A slow ride of eight miles placed us in a safe gorge draining a dull-looking, unpromising block. Here we at once found, and found in situ for the first time, the chalcedony which strews the seaboard-flat. This agate, of which amulets and signet-rings were and are still made, and which takes many varieties of tints, lies in veins mostly striking east-west; and varying in thickness from an inch to several feet. The sequence is grey granite below, the band of chalcedony, and above it a curious schistose gneiss-formation. The latter, composing the greater part of these hills, is striped dark-brown and yellow; and in places it looks exactly like rotten wood. The small specimens of chalcedony in my private collection were examined at Trieste, and one of them contained dendritic gold, visible to the naked eye. Unfortunately the engineer had neglected this most important rock, and only a few ounces of it, instead of as many tons, were brought back for analysis.

A short and easy ascent led to a little counter-slope, the Majrá Mujayrah (Mukayrah), whose whitening sides spoke of quartz. We rode down towards a granite island where the bed mouths into the broad Wady Mismáh, a feeder of the Wady ‘Argah. Here, after some ten miles, the guide, Na’ji’, who thus far had been very misty in the matter of direction, suddenly halted and, in his showman style, pointed to the left bank of the watercourse, exclaiming, “Behold Abá‘l-Marú!” (the “Father of Quartz”). It was another surprise, and our last, this snowy reef with jagged crest, at least 500 metres long, forming the finest display of an exposed filon we had as yet seen; but — the first glance told us that it had been worked.

We gave the rest of the day to studying and blasting the quartz-wall. It proved to be the normal vein in grey granite, running south-north and gradually falling towards the valley-plain. Here a small white outlier disappears below the surface, rising again in filets upon the further side. The dip is easterly: in this direction a huge strew of ore-mass and rubbish covers the slope which serves as base to the perpendicular reef. The Negro quartz, which must have formed half the thickness, had been carried bodily away. If anything be left for the moderns it is hidden underground: the stone, blasted in the little outlier, looked barren. Not the least curious part of this outcrop is the black thread of iron silicate which, broken in places, subtends it to the east: some specimens have geodes yielding brown powder, and venal cavities lined with botryoidal quartz of amethystine tinge. In other parts of the same hills we found, running along the “Mará,” single and double lines of this material, which looked uncommonly like slag.

The open Wady Mismáh showed, to the east of our camp, the ruins of a large settlement which has extended right across the bed: as the guides seemed to ignore its existence, we named it the Kharábat Abá‘l-Marú. Some of the buildings had been on a large scale, and one square measured twenty yards. Here the peculiarity was the careful mining of a granitic hillock on the southern bank. The whole vein of Negro quartz had been cut out of three sides, leaving caves that simulated catacombs. Further west another excavation in the same kind of rock was probably the town-quarry. The two lieutenants were directed next morning to survey this place, and also a second ruin and reef reported to be found on the left bank, a little below camp.

We have now seen, lying within short distances, three several quartz-fields, known as — Marwah, “the single Place or Hill of Maú’” (quartz); Marwát, “the Places of Quartz;” and Abá‘l-Marú, the “Father of Quartz;” not to speak of a Nakb Abú Marwah241 further north. The conclusion forced itself upon me that the name of the celebrated Arab mine Zú‘l Marwah or El–Marwah, the more ancient [Greek] (Mochura), which Ptolemy places in north lat. 24° 30’, applied to the whole district in South Midian, and then came to denote the chief place and centre of work. To judge by the extent of the ruins, and the signs of labour, this focus was at Umm el-Karáyát (the “Mother of the Villages”), which, as has been shown, is surrounded by a multitude of miner-towns and ateliers. And the produce of the “diggings” would naturally gravitate to El–Badá, the great commercial station upon the Nabathæan “Overland.”

Thus El–Marwah would signify “the Place of Marú,” or “Quartz-land,” even as Ophir means “Red Land.” A reviewer of my first book on Midian objects to the latter derivation; as Seetzen, among others, has conclusively shown that Ophir, the true translation of which is ‘riches,’ is to be looked for in Southern Arabia.” Connu! But I question the “true translation;” and, whilst owning that one of the Ophirs or “Red Lands” lay in the modern Yemen, somewhere between Sheba (Sabá) and Havilah (Khaulán), I see no reason for concluding that this was the only Ophir. Had it been a single large emporium on the Red Sea, which collected the produce of Arabia and the exports of India and of West Africa, the traditional site could hardly have escaped the notice of the inquiring Arabian geographers of our Middle Ages. The ruins of a port would have been found, and we should not be compelled theoretically to postulate its existence.

And now nothing remained but to escape as quickly as possible from the ugly Wady Mismáh; with its violent, dusty wester, or sea-breeze, and its sun-glare which, reflected and reverberated by the quartz, burned the grass and made the trees resemble standing timber.

April 10th saw the last of our marches, a hurry back to the stable, a sauve qui peut. The camel-men, reckless of orders, began to load and to slip away shortly after midnight. Ali Marie, who, as usual, had lost his head, when ordered to enjoin silence gave the vain and vague direction, “Tell the Arabs to tell the camels not to make so much noise.” Even the bugler sounded the “general” of his own accord; and the mules, now become painfully intelligent, walked as if they knew themselves to be walking homewards. Our last stage lay over the upper skirts of the maritime plain which has already been noticed. At 10.15 am., after riding five hours and thirty minutes (= seventeen miles), we found ourselves once more upon the seaboard. Our kind host, Captain Hasan Bey, came to meet us in his gig: the quarter-deck had been dressed with flags, as for a ball; and before twelve bells struck, we had applied ourselves to an excellent breakfast in the gun-room of our old favourite, the Sinnár. The auspicious day of course ended with a fantasia.

Résumé of Our Last Journey.

We had left the Sharm Yáhárr on March 21st, and returned to it on April 13th; a total of twenty-four days. Our actual march through South Midian, which had lasted thirteen days (March 29 — April 10), described a semicircle with El–Wijh about the middle of the chord. The length is represented by 170 miles in round numbers: as usual, this does not include the various offsets and the by-paths explored by the members; nor do the voyages to El–Wijh and El–Haurá, going and coming, figure in the line of route. The camels varied from fifty-eight to sixty-four, when specimens were forwarded to the harbour-town. The expenditure amounted to£92 13s., including pay and “bakhshísh” to the Baliyy Shaykhs, but not including our friends the Sayyid, Furayj, and the Wakíl Mohammed Shahádah.

This southern region differs essentially from the northern, which was twice visited, and which occupied us two months, mostly wasted. Had we known what we do now, I should have begun with the south, and should have devoted to it the greater part of our time. Both are essentially mining countries; but, whilst the section near Egypt preserves few traces of the miner, here we find the country carefully and conscientiously worked. The whole eastern counterslope of the outliers that project from the Ghát-section known as the mountains of the Tihámat-Balawíyyah, is one vast outcrop of quartz. The parallelogram between north lat. 26 degrees, including the mouth of the Wady Hamz, and north lat. 27°, which runs some fifteen miles north of the Badá plain, would form a Southern Grant, sufficiently large to be divided and subdivided as soon as judged advisable.

If the characteristics of North Midian (Madyan Proper) are its argentiferous, and especially its cupriferous ores, South Midian worked chiefly gold and silver, both metals being mentioned by the mediaeval geographers of Arabia. Free gold in paillettes was noticed by the Expedition in the micaceous schists veining the quartz, and in the chalcedony which parts the granite from the gneiss. The argentiferous Negro quartz everywhere abounds, and near the ruins of Badá lie strews of spalled “Marú,” each fragment showing its little block of pure lead. Saltpetre is plentiful, and a third “Sulphur hill” rises from the maritime plain north of the Wady Hamz.

The principal ruins and ateliers number five; these, beginning from the north, are the Umm el-Karáyát, the Umm el-Haráb, the Bújat-Badá, the Kharábat Abá‘l-Marú, and the old Nabathean port, E1-Haurá. Amongst them is not included the gem of our discovery, the classical shrine, known as Gasr Gurayyim Sa’íd, nor the minor ateliers, El–Kubbah, Abá‘l-Gezáz, and the remains upon the Marwát ridge. Good work was done by the Egyptian Staff-officers in surveying the fine harbour of El–Dumayghah, so well fitted as a refuge for pilgrim-ships when doing quarantine; and I venture upon recommending, to the English and Egyptian Governments, my remarks concerning the advisability of at once re-transferring the station to El–Wijh. It is now at Tor; and, as has been said, it forms a standing menace, not only to the Nile Valley, but to the whole of Europe.

Whilst abounding in wood, the Southern Country is not so well watered as are Central and Northern Midian On the other hand, the tenants, confined to the Baliyy tribe, with a few scatters of the despised Hutaym, are milder and more tractable than the Huwaytát. As I have remarked, they are of ancient strain, and they still conserve the instincts of their predecessors, or their forefathers, the old mining race. It will be necessary to defend them against the raids and incursions of the Juhaynah, or “Sons of Dogs,” who border upon them to the south, and from the Alaydán-‘Anezah to the south-east; but nothing would be easier than to come to terms with the respective Shaykhs. And the sooner we explore the Jaww, or sandstone region in the interior, with its adjacent “Harrahs,” the better for geography and, perhaps not less, for mineralogy. The great ruins of Madáin Sálih upon the Wady Hamz still, I repeat, await the discoverer.

228 Ahmed Kaptán’s solar observation.

229 Written in pleasant memory of two visits to Uriconium, the favourite “find” of poor Thomas Wright, under the guidance of our steadfast and hospitable friend, Mr. Henry Wace, of Brooklands, Shrewsbury.

230 The capital was also transported to Cairo; it could not have been voluted as there were only two projections.

231 Lib. xvi. c. iv. § 24. The MSS. differ in the name of the “village situated on the sea;” some call it Egra, others Negra, after the inland settlement; and the commentator Kramer remarks, Mire corrupta est h?c ultima libri pars.

232 North lat. 26°, which would correspond with that of the Abá‘l-Maru’ ruins.

233 My friend Sprenger strongly protests against Ælius Gallus, begging me to abandon him, as the Romans must long have held the whole coast to El–Haurá, their chief settlement.

234 For a specimen of the superficiality which characterizes Lane’s “Modern Egyptians,” and of the benefits which, despite the proverbial difficulty of changing an old book into a new one, an edition, much enlarged and almost rewritten, would confer upon students, see Vol. III. Chap. XXI. Instead of a short abstract of all this celebrated story, we have only popular excerpts from the first volume.

235 On the maritime road between Meccah and El–Medínah, celebrated for the apostolic battle which took place in A.H. 2.

236 The names marked with interrogations are unknown to all the Arabs whom I consulted: they are probably obsolete.

237 Identified by Niebuhr and Wellsted with certains ruins south of Yambú’. See Chap. IV.

238 The straight path, the highway to Egypt or Cairo.

239 Elsewhere called Sukyat Yezíd, a name now forgotten.

240 I have remarked that the name of the Patriarch Jacob is no longer connected with the Badá plain.

241 Schweinfurth (the Athenæum, July 6, 1878) speaks of a “Wadi Abu Marwa (‘Quartz Valley’)” south of the Galalah block.


The next day saw us at El–Wijh, dispensing pay and “bakhshísh” to the companions of our Desert march; and shipping the men and mules, with the material collected during the southern journey. The venerable Shaykh ‘Afnán and his Baliyy were not difficult to deal with; and they went their way homewards fully satisfied. We exchanged a friendly adieu, or rather an au revoir, with our excellent travelling companion, Mohammed Shahádah; and I expressed my sincere hopes to find him, at no distant time, governor of the restored Quarantine-station.

On the morning of April 12th we set out betimes, and anchored for the night in one of the snug bays of Jebel Nu’man. The next day placed us at the Sharm Yáhárr, where the process of general distribution happily ended. Here the final parting took place with the gallant companions of our four months’ travel. Shaykh Furayj, delighted with the gift, in addition to his pay, of a Styrian skean-dhu and an Austrian Werndl-carbine, at once set off to rejoin the tribe up-country; while the Sayyid steadfastly stayed with us to the last. These men had become our friends; and my sorrow at leaving them was softened only by the prospect of presently seeing them again.

Immediately after my return to Cairo I strongly recommended the Sayyid for promotion, in these words:—“First and foremost is the Sayyid ‘Abd el-Rahím, the head of a noble family, settled for generations at El–Muwayláh, where he is now Kátib (‘accountant’) to the Fort. He knows thoroughly the whole Land of Midian; he is loved and respected by all the Arabs, and both he and his are devoted to the Government of your Highness. Evidently it would be advantageous to promote such a man to the post of governor of the place — a post which will presently become of high importance, and which is actually held by an old officer, almost bed-ridden.

“The second is Shaykh Mohammed Shahádah, of El–Wijh, a man of family and position; known far and wide, and made generally popular by his generous and charitable actions. He was formerly Wakíl, or ‘agent,’ to the Fort el-Wijh, until that office was abolished. The port will presently have its custom-house; and I propose forwarding to her Britannic Majesty’s Government my notes upon the subject of the Quarantine-station, which has imprudently been transferred from Arabia to Tor, in the Sinaitic Peninsula. Meanwhile it would, I venture to suggest, be most advantageous if Mohammed Shahádah were named governor of his native place.”

The Expedition, in its urgent desire to return northwards, was not seconded by weather. Despite an ugly gale, the Sinnár boldly attempted giving the slip to Arabia on April 16th, but she was beaten back before she reached El–Muwaylah. After another stormy day, we again got up steam; and, fighting hard against adverse winds and waves, greatly to the distress of the unfortunate mules and gazelles, we reached Suez on April 20th.

At Suez my wife had been awaiting me for long weeks, preferring the simplicity of the Desert to the complex life of Cairo. Some delay was again necessary in order to telegraph our arrival, to apply for a special train, and to sort and pack in the travelling-cases our twenty-five tons of specimens. As often happens, the return to civilization was in nowise cheery. Everything seemed to go wrong. For instance, the Dragoman despatched to town from the New Docks in order to lay in certain comforts, such as beef and beer, prudently laid out the coin in a brand-new travelling suit intended for his own service. Such an apology for a dinner had not been seen during the last four months of wild travel — unpleasant when guests have been bidden to a feast! The night at the Docks, also, was a trifle mortuary, over-silent and tranquil: all hands, officers and men, who could not get leave to sleep ashore, simply took leave — I believe myself to have been for a time both captain and crew of the Sinnár. And, lastly, we heard that both our dog-companions, Juno and Páijí, had died of some canine epidemic.

The next day ended our halt at Suez, with visits to slop-shops and a general discussion of choppes. The old hotel, under the charge of Mr. and Mrs. Adams, had greatly improved by the “elimination” of the offensive Hindi element; and my old friends of a quarter-century’s standing received me with all their wonted heartiness. Sa’íd Bey was still a Bey, but none the less jovial and genial; Captain Ali Bey, who had commanded the Sinnár, was now acting commodore; and my only regret was having again missed Colonel Gordon (Pasha).

April 22nd convinced us that, even in these prosaic regions, our misadventures and accidents had not reached their fated end. A special train had been organized by Hanafi Effendi for eight a.m. About ten miles from Suez one of the third-class carriages began “running hot;” and, before we could dismount, the axle-box of a truck became a young Vesuvius in the matter of vomiting smoke. I ordered the driver, who was driving furiously, to make half speed; but even with this precaution there were sundry stoppages; and at the Naffíshah station, where my Bolognese acquaintances still throve, we could not be supplied with a change of “rolling-stock.” About Tell el-Kabír, the brake-van also waxed unsafely warm; but it reached Zagázig without developing more caloric. Briefly, we caught fire three times in one morning.

These accidents must always be expected, where spare carriages are placed for months upon sidings to become tinder in the sun; and where the cracks and crevices of the woodwork fill up with the silicious sand of the Desert, an admirable succedaneum for flint and steel. One consolation, however, remained to us: the Dragoman, brand-new clothes and all, was left behind at Suez. His last chef d’œuvre of blundering has already been noticed242 — the barrel of Midianitish oysters sent to Admiral M’Killop (Pasha) had been so carelessly headed up, and so carefully turned topsy-turvy, that the result was, to use my friend’s words, they could be nosed from the half-way station. The “Kyrios” had probably passed a Bacchanalian night with his Hellenic friends, and he subsequently made act of presence at Cairo with a very British-looking black eye. His accident at Suez was a bit of “poetical justice,” which almost convinced one of the “moral government.”

A succulent breakfast à la fourchette, in the charming garden of our friend M. Vetter, of Zagázig, duly discussed, we again went “on board,” amusing the lookers-on by our naive enjoyment of the Nile-valley: they had not been in Arabia, and they found the “emerald-green” dusty and yellow. We reached Cairo at 5.30 p.m. More troubles! Ten minutes after arrival we found ourselves in possession, in sole charge of the gare. The train was loaded with Government property, officers, soldiers and escort, mules, boxes and bags of specimens whose collecting had cost money. Yet station-master, agent, and employés at once went their ways, declining even to show the room allotted to our goods, although a telegram from the railway authorities had advised me that one had been made ready. The assistant-agent, when at last hunted up, declared, before vanishing once more, that the porters for whom we applied were busy loading cotton, and that we must e’en do the best we could for ourselves. So the waggons were shunted and unloaded by their tenants, and the minerals were deposited under a kind of shed whose key was not forthcoming. We failed to find even a light, till the local train from Suez was announced; and, when it began whistling, the officials, who had returned like rats from their holes, gave us peremptory directions to shunt again. This time, however, I had the game in my hands; and replied by taking due precautions against being turned out.

At first the soldier-escort worked as well as could be expected; but the numbers fell off every quarter of an hour, till we were left with a very select party; the only recipients, by-the-by, of “bakhshísh.” The Sub–Lieutenant Mohammed Effendi mounted a donkey the moment he stepped out of the R.R. carriage; and, utterly disregarding so vexatious a frivolity as asking leave, rode off to his home at Torah. His example was followed by the Sergeant Mabrúk ‘Awaz. And yet both these men had the impudence to call upon me at the hotel, and to apply for especial Shahádahs, or “testimonials” of good conduct. In short, we were detained at the station for three mortal hours, working with our own hands. If this be a fair specimen of European management in Egypt, and I am told that it has now become worse, much worse in every way, the sooner we return to Egyptian mismanagement the better. The latter is, at any rate, cheap and civil.

On the next day the Viceroy graciously sent his junior Master of Ceremonies, his Excellency Tonino Bey, to welcome me back; and I was at once honoured with audiences at the Khedivial Palace, ‘Abidin, and by Prince Husayn Kámil Pasha at Gizah (Jízah). The Khediv was pleased to express satisfaction with my past exertions, and ordered several measures to be carried out at once. Amongst them was a little exhibition of mineralogy and archaeology, maps and plans, sketches and croquis, at the Hippodrome.

I need hardly say that his Highness at once saw the gist of the matter. Many concessions had been applied for, even from Australia; but the Viceroy determined that, before any could be granted, careful analyses of the specimens must be made, at his Highness’s private expense, in London. M. Ferdinand de Lesseps, of world-wide fame, volunteered, in the most friendly way, to submit échantillons of the rocks to the Parisian Académie des Sciences, of which he is a distinguished member. The Viceroy was also pleased spontaneously to remind me of, and to renew, the verbal promise made upon my return from the first Expedition to Midian; namely, that I should be honoured with a concession, or that a royalty of five per cent. on the general produce of the mines should be the reward of discovery. The young Minister of Finance, Prince Husayn Kámil Pasha, after courteously congratulating me upon the successful result of our labours, put as usual the most pertinent of questions.

The opening of our little Exposition was delayed by sundry difficulties. The Greek Easter set in with its usual severity about later April. A general shop-shutting, a carouse unlimited, catholic, universal; and, despite stringent police orders, a bombardment of the town by squibs and crackers, were the principal features of the fête. The 29th was the classical Shamm el-Nasin, or “the Smelling of the Zephyr,” a local May-day religiously kept with utter idleness. Mr. W. E. Hayns and I utilized it by going a flint-hunting on the left bank of the Nile.243 Then the terrible “May coupon” gave immense trouble and annoyance to the rulers; who, so far from making merry with the lieges, had to work in person between five a.m. and midnight. After such exertion as this, rest was of course necessary. Subsequently, a grand review monopolized one day; another was spent by the Court in despatching the young Prince Fu’ád to Switzerland; and yet another was given to his Highness the Prince Hasan Pasha, Commander-inChief of the Egyptian auxiliaries, who, on the conclusion of the war, had returned to Cairo en route for Europe.

Briefly, it was not before May 9th that the Khediv, accompanied by the Prince héritier, Taufík Pasha, found leisure personally to open the Exhibition — the first, by-the-by, ever honoured with the Viceregal presence. Despite all my efforts, the rooms, which should have been kept clear till his Highness had passed through, were crowded at an early hour. The maps prepared at the Citadel by Lieutenants Amir and Yusuf, with the aid of three extra hands, were very imperfect, half finished at the last moment, and abounding in such atrocities as “Ouorh” for “El–Wijh.” The engineer, M. Marie, when asked aloud, and with all publicity, by the Khediv whether he was sure that such and such specimens contained gold, shirked a direct reply, evasively declaring that “Midian is a fine mining country.” He had pointed out to me the precious metal during our exploration of Umm el-Karáyat; but such is the wretched result of “knowing the people,” instead of telling the truth like a man. And one of the many jealous, a mild Mephisto., whispered in the Viceregal ear, “There can’t be much gold there, or ces messieurs would have said more about it.”

Despite these small contretemps the Exhibition244 was pronounced a success, and served, as such things do, for a nine days’ wonder. Several travellers from England and Australia took the opportunity of inspecting the rocks; and I was much encouraged to find the general opinion so highly favourable. Locally there were dissidents, but this must be expected where interests differ.

Meanwhile his Highness kept me hard at work. I was directed to draw up a concise general description of the province; to report upon the political and other measures by which the Midian country would be benefited; and, lastly, to suggest the means which, in my humble opinion, were best calculated for successfully working the mines. In former days the Viceroy would at once have undertaken the task, and probably would have sent down five thousand men to open the diggings. Now, however, the endless trickery of European adventurers and speculators has made a wise precaution absolutely necessary. During the last audience, his Highness ably and lucidly resumed the history of the past measures, and the steps which he proposed for the future. The first Khedivial Expedition had been simply one of exploration, sent to ascertain whether the precious metals really existed. The second was intrusted with the charge of laying down the probable limits of the mining formation; and of bringing back varied specimens, in quantities sufficient for scientific analysis. The third and next step would be to organize a Compagnie de Recherche, with the object of beginning a serious exploitation. The future thus settled, I was kindly and courteously dismissed, with a desire that I should take charge of the specimens, and personally superintend the work of assaying. Mr. Charles Clarke received pay and leave for three months, and was ordered to convey the boxes by “long sea.”

On May 10th we left Cairo in company with our friend Mr. Garwood, C.E. At Alexandria a great repose fell upon my spirit; it was like gliding into a smooth port after a storm at sea. All the petty troubles and worries of Cairo; the cancans, the intrigues, the silly reports of the envious and the jealous, with the buzz and sting of mosquitoes; the weary waiting; the visits of “friends” whose main object in life seemed to be tuer le ver; and the exigencies of my late fellow-travellers, who, after liberal pay and free living for four months, seemed determined to quarter themselves upon the Egyptian Government for the rest of their natural lives; — all these small cares, not the less annoying because they were small, disappeared like magic at the first glimpse of blue water. I had barely time to pass an afternoon at Ramleh, “the Sand-heap,” with an intimate of twenty-five years’ standing, Hartley John Gisborne, an old servant of the Egyptian “Crown,” for whom new men and new measures have, I regret to see, made the valley of the Nile no longer habitable.

The next Sunday placed us on board the Austro–Hungarian Lloyd’s screw-steamer Austria (Capitano Rossol). As usual, the commander and officers did all they could to make their voyagers comfortable; the Company did the contrary. At this spring season, true, the migratory host of unfeathered bipeds crowds northwards; even as in autumn it accompanies the birds southwards. But when berths are full, passengers should be refused; and if the commercial director prefers dead to live goods, travellers should be duly warned. The accommodation would have been tolerable in a second-class or third-class English steamer, which charges fifteen shillings to a sovereign per diem; here, however, we were paying between £2 and £3.

The Alexandrian agent had been asked to lodge us decently. My wife found herself in a cabin occupied by two nurses. I was placed in a manner of omnibus, a loose box for six, of whom one was an Armenian and two were Circassians from Daghistán — good men enough, but not pleasant as bedroom fellows. No extra service had been engaged for an extra cargo of seventy-two; that is, forty-two first, and thirty second class. There were only three stewards, including the stewardess; and the sick were left to serve themselves. At least half a dozen were required; and, in such places as Trieste and Alexandria, a large staff of cooks and waiters can always be engaged in a few hours. On board any English ship some of the smartest and handiest seamen would have been converted into temporary attendants — here no one seemed to think of a proceeding so far out of the usual way. There was only one, instead of three or four cooks; and the unfortunate had to fill a total of one hundred and thirty-five mouths, the crew included, three times a day. The other tenant of the close and wretched little galley lay sick with spotted typhus; and, after barbarous neglect, he died on the day following our arrival at Trieste — I did not hear that the surgeon of the screw-steamer Austria had met with his deserts by summary dismissal from the service. The Austro–Hungarian Lloyd’s was once famed for good living; over-economy and high dividends have now made the cuisine worse than the cheapest of tables d’hôte. Provisions as well as their preparation were so bad that Sefer Pasha, an invalid, confined himself to a diet of potatoes and eggs.

Add the quasi-impossibility of obtaining a bath; the uncleanliness of the offices; the hard narrowness of the sofas; the small basins, or rather bowls, and the tiny towels like napkins; the clamorous pets of the small fry, cats and dogs; the crowding of second-class passengers on the quarter-deck; and the noise of the Armenian lady beating her maid, who objected to the process in truly dreadful language: throw in an engine which, despite the efforts of her energetic English engineer, Mr. Wilkinson, managed only nine instead of eleven and a half knots an hour; an ugly north-easter off Cape Matapan, bringing tropical downfalls of rain; and a muggy Scirocco off Istria, when we breathed almost as much water as air: and I think that the short entry in my journal, “horridly uncomfortable,” was to a certain extent justified by the conduct of the poor Austria. Yet the Austro–Hungarian Lloyd’s boasts a dividend of seven per cent. She shall see no more of my money: until she mend her ways I shall prefer the Genoese Rubattino.

But, as the Persian poet has it, Ín níz bug’zared —“Even these things pass away.” At Corfu we were cheered by once more meeting Sir Charles Sebright, who looked hale and hearty as of yore. When we reached Trieste, his Excellency Baron Pino von Friendenthall, accompanied by the most amiable of “better halves,” came off in his galley, happily unconscious of typhus; and carried us away without the usual troubles and delays of landing in harbour bumboats. Friendly faces smiled a welcome; and, after an absence of some seven months, I found myself once more in the good town which has given us a home during the last five years.

At Trieste I was delayed for some time, awaiting the report that the specimens collected by the Expedition had arrived at their destination, the warehouses of the London Docks. Mr. Clarke met with obstacles at Suez; and, consequently, did not reach England till June 20th, after twenty-three rough days. As her Majesty’s Foreign Office had been pleased to accord me two months of leave to England, I determined to make the voyage by “long sea.” Both suffering from the same complaint, want of rest and of roast-beef, as opposed to rosbif, we resolved to ship on board the English steamer Hecla, of the B. and N. A. R. M. S. P. Company, the old Cunard line, famous for never having lost a life, a ship, or a letter. We left Trieste on July 7, 1878, in charge of our excellent commander, Captain James Brown; and, after a cruise of twenty days, viâ Venice, Palermo, and Gibraltar — a comfortable, cheery, hygienic cruise in charming weather over summer seas — we found ourselves once more (July 26th) in the city of the Liver.

242 Chap. IX.

243 A paper describing our “finds” was read before the Anthropological Section of the British Association Meeting at Dublin on August 21, 1878, and subsequently before the Anthropological Institute of London (December 10, 1878).

244 The following was the announcement offered to the public:—

“La collection minéralogique et archéologique rapportée par le Capitaine Burton, de sa seconde Expédition au pays de Midian, est exposée dans les salles de l’Hippodrome, avant d’être envoyée à l’Exposition Universelle de Paris, sous la direction de M. G. Marie, inge’nieur des mines.

“La salle du sud renferme les croquis et les aquarelles faits par M. E. Lacaze.

“La partie du nord commence avec Akabah, point extrême atteint par l’Expédition; elle contient les résultats du premier voyage de l’Expédition, c’est-à-dire: Shermá, Djebel el-Abiat, Aynouneh, Moghair–Schuaib, Mokna et Akabah.

“Le mur de l’est contient tout ce qui se rapporte à la seconde exploration, c’est-à-dire l’Hismá et le grand massif du Shárr.

“Le mur du sud contient les principaux points de vue pris au sud du pays de Midian: Wedje, la forteresse, la montagne de Omm-el-Karáyát, travaillée par les anciens, la mine de Omm el-Hárab, le temple antique, etc., etc.

“Sur la table sont les médailles et la collection anthropologique fait par le Capitaine Burton.

“La salle du nord contient la collection géologique et minéralogique faite par M. G. Marie; les minéraux sont classés suivant l’ordre des pays parcourus, c’est-à-dire en commencant à Akabah et finissant au Ouadi Hamz, frontière du Hedjaz.

“Tout autour de la salle sont rangées les vingt caisses contenant des échantillons que Son Altesse le Khédive envoie en Angleterre pour y être analysés. Près de la porte de l’est sont placés les restes du temple de l’Ouadi Hamz, les moulins pour écraser le quartz, les briques réfractaires, et enfin les inscriptions Nabathéennes.

“Dans les loges de l’Hippodrome, derrière les deux salles, sont déposés environ quinze tonnes d’échantillons, destinès a être analysés par une Commission locale, nommée par Son Altesse le Khédive.”

Appendix I.

Dates of the Three Journeys (Northern, Central, and Southern) made by the Second Khedivial Expedition.

First Journey.

(December 19, 1877, to February 13, 1878.)

December 6, 1877, left Cairo.
10 1877, left Suez.
14 1877, reached El–Muwaylah (Sharm Yáhárr) on the “Day of ‘Arafát.”
* * * * *
December 19, 1877, landed at El–Muwaylah.
21 1877, marched upon Wady Tiryam.
22 1877, marched upon Wady Sharmá.
23 1877, marched upon Jebel el-Abyaz.
30 1877, returned to Wady Sharmá.
January 7, 1878, marched upon ‘Aynúnah.
8 1878, halted at ‘Aynúnah.
9 1878, halted at Wady el-‘Usaylah.
10 1878, reached Magháir Shu’ayb.
25 1878, marched upon Makná.
February 3 1878, embarked for the Marsá Dahab in the Sinaitic Peninsula.
4 1878, to the anchorage of El–Nuwaybi’.
5 1878, anchored at Pharaoh’s Island.
6 1878, halted at Pharaoh’s Island.
7 1878, steamed to El-‘Akabah town.
8 1878, ran down Gulf el-‘Akabah.
9 1878, anchored under Tírán Island.
10 1878, halted at Tírán Island.
February 11, 1878, ran from wrecking to Sináfir Island.
12 1878, halted at Sinafir Island.
13 1878, returned to El–Muwaylah (Sharm


Second Journey.

(February 17, 1878, to March 8,1878.)

February 17, 1878 walked to ruins of Abú Hawáwít.

18 ,, marched upon the Safh Jebel Malíh in the Wady Surr.
19 ,, camped in the Sayl Wady el-Jimm.
20 ,, marched upon El–Nagwah.
21 ,, reached the head of the Wady Sadr.
23 ,, camped below the Col, “El–Khuraytah.”
24 ,, reached the Hismá.
25 ,, descended the two Passes and camped in

the “Jayb el-Khuraytah.”

26 ,, marched upon the Majrá el-Ruways.
27 ,, ,, ,, ,, Wady Damah.
28 ,, ,, ,, ,, ruins of Shuwák.
March 1 ,, halted at the ruins of Shuwák.
2 ,, visited the ruins of Shaghab and camped at the Majrá el-Wághir.
3 ,, visited the ruins El–Khandakí and camped at the plain El–Kutayyifah.
4 ,, marched down the Wady Salmá and camped at the Má el-Badíah.
5 ,, reached Zibá town.
6 ,, halted at Zibá.
7 ,, visited the turquoise-diggings of Zibá and camped at the Máyat el-Ghál.
8 ,, returned to El–Muwaylah (Sharm Yáhárr).

Complementary Excursion to the Shárr Mountain.

March 13, 1878, camped in the Wady el-Káimah.
14 ,, camped in the Wady el-Kusayb.
15 ,, camped in the Safhat el-Wu’ayrah.
16 ,, up the Shárr.
17 ,, camped in the Wady Kuwayd.
18 ,, returned to El–Muwaylah (Sharm Yáhárr).


March 21, 1878, to April 10, 1878.)

March 21, 1878, left Sharm Yáhárr and made the Sharm Dumayghah.
22 ,, halted at El–Dumayghah.
23 ,, anchored in harbour of El–Wijh.
24 ,, set out in the Sinnár southwards.
25 ,, anchored at El–Haurá.
26 ,, halted at El–Haurá.

(On March 26th MM. Marie and Philipin marched from El–Wijh to the Wady Hamz, and rejoined head-quarters on the 28th.)

March 27, 1878 returned to El–Wijh.
29 ,, left El–Wijh and camped at inner fort.
30 ,, to Umm el-Karáyát (ruins and mine).
31 ,, visited ruins of El–Kubbah; camped in Wady Dasnah.
April 1, 1878 to Umm el-Haráb (ruins and mine).
2 ,, camped in the Wady Abá‘l-Gezáz.
3 ,, camped in the plain of Badá.
4 ,, halted at the plain of Badá.
5 ,, camped at the Ayn el-Kurr.
6 ,, camped in the Wady Laylah.
7 ,, camped in the Wady Abá‘l-‘Ajáj.
8 ,, to the ruins of the Gasr Gurayyim Sa’íd (classical temple).
9 ,, to the Abá‘l-Marú (Marwah mine).
1O ,, return to El–Wijh.


April 12, 1878 steamed northwards to Nu’man Island.
13 ,, reached El–Muwaylah (Sharm Yáhárr).
18 ,, left El–Muwaylah, night at sea.
19 ,, in Gulf of Suez.
20 ,, reached Suez.
22 ,, reached Cairo.

Appendix II.

Expenses of the Expedition to Midian, commanded by Captain R. F. Burton, H.B.M. Consul, Trieste.

Cairo, November 1, 1877.

£ s. d.
Sum received from Egyptian Finance 1977 12 0
Amounts Paid out by Order of Captain Burton. £ s. d.
Hotel bills for five persons (thirty-six days) 149 6 9
Advanced to members of Expedition up to date (May 3rd)245 74 12 3
Cost of provisions for journey to Midian, fourteen persons 314 8 9
Cost of tools, chemicals, instruments, canteen, etc. 185 19 0
Medicine chest from Dr. Lowe 10 10 0

Journey to Suez from Cairo, December 6th, 1878:—

Hotel bill for eleven persons (three days) 33 3 6
Tobacco for presents to Bedawin 6 8 0
Sundries 13 10 6
Telegrams and post service 3 9 0


£791 7 9

El–Muwaylah, December 16th, to return, February 13th:—

Journey to north246 316 14 3
Post service 14 8 0
Cost of sheep247 32 14 0
Sundries248 20 7 7
Five foot-soldiers’ salaries 7 4 0
Eastern journey to the Hismá249 187 6 6
Post service 3 8 0
Cost of sheep250 11 19 0
Sundries 5 11 0
Sambúk from Suez, as per contract 9 4 0
Soldiers from fort 3 0 0
Special payments:—
Journey to Shárr251 44 11 6
Cost of sheep252 3 4 0
Thirty pairs of boots for soldiers253 6 0 0
Sundries 1 0 0
Journey to south254 92 13 0
Cost of sheep255 15 16 0
Post service 2 0 0
Sundries256 18 3 6
Sayyid ‘Abd el-Rahím Effendi 16 0 0
Bukhayt 1 12 0
Husayn 1 12 0
Shaykh Furayj 4 0 0
Shaykh Furayj salary for twenty-five days 5 0 0
Expenses at Suez, unloading, etc., and hotel bills for ten persons 39 17 0
Post and telegrams 1 16 0
Suez to Cairo 1 12 6


£1658 1 7

Expenses at Cairo up to date May 5, 1878:—

Salaries of persons engaged from Cairo and Muwaylah:—
Unloading, cartage, and preparing for Exhibition 24 5 5
Anton Dimitri, Giorgi, and Petro257 93 17 6
Magazine-man at El–Muwaylah258 6 8 0
Sais from Suez, engaged through governor259 9 0 0
Mr. Clarke’s salary260 180 0 0


£1971 12 6
In hand for small expenses not yet sent in for payment 5 19 6


£1977 12 0

Sent in May 6, 1878.

(Signed) CHAS. CLARKE.
(Countersigned) RICHARD F. BURTON.

Commanding Expedition.

245 M. Marie, £35 12s.; Haji Wali, £23; M. Philipin, £12 4s.; M. Lacaze, £3 16s.

246 Starting with a hundred camels and three Shaykhs.

247 For all hands.

248 Includes “bakhshísh.”

249 Sixty-one camels, four Shaykhs.

250 For all hands.

251 Fifty camels, three Shaykhs.

252 For all hands.

253 Got from Mukhbir.

254 Fifty-eight camels, three Shaykhs.

255 For all hands.

256 Includes “bakhshísh.”

257 Six months’ pay.

258 Four months.

259 Four months and a half.

260 Employed on special service.

Appendix III.

Preserved provisions and other stores, supplied by Messrs. Voltéra Bros., of the Ezbekiyyah, Cairo.

£ s. d.
95 okes potatoes, at 5d. 1 19 7
670 okes best rice, at 8 1/2d. 23 14 7
152 okes sugar, at 11 1/2d. per kilog. 8 19 6 1/2
60 okes ground coffee, at 4s. 6d. 13 10 0
120 tins milk, at 14s. 7 0 0
120 bottles pickles 6 0 0
15 tins butter (of 1 lb.), at 2s. 6d. 1 17 6
60 okes oil, at 2s. 6d. 7 10 0
6 heads English cheese (60 1/4 lbs.) at 1s. 5d. 4 10 4 1/2
160 okes dried French beans, at 10d. 6 13 4
60 okes maccaroni and paste 3 0 0
54 okes onions, at 7d. 1 11 6
10 okes garlic, at 10d. 0 8 4
50 packets candles 2 10 0
5 okes cavendish tobacco, at 12s. 3 0 0
6 okes tobacco (Turkish), at 24s. 7 4 0
120 bottles soda-water, at 8d. per dozen 4 0 0
20 bottles syrups, at 2s. 2 0 0
50 bottles vinegar 2 10 0
10 dozen beer, at 11s. 5 10 0
15 bars soap, at 1s. 6d. 1 2 6
20 pots mustard, at 1s. 6d. 1 10 0
6 bottles curry, at 1s. 6d. 0 9 0
20 lbs. table raisins 0 16 0
10 large bottles pepper, at 2s. 1 0 0


£118 6 3
10 small packets salt, at 1s. 0 10 0
5 large packets salt at 1s. 6d. 0 7 6
6 bottles sauces, at s. 12d. 0 7 0
12 bottles lime-juice, at 2s. 6d. 1 10 0
12 umbrellas, at 4s. 2 8 0
12 bottles blacking, at 1s. (for tracing inscriptions) 0 12 0
6 lanterns, at 1s. 6d. 0 9 0
12 large tins sardines, at 1s. 6d. 0 18 0
2 corkscrews, at 1s. 3d. 0 2 6
2 opening knives 0 2 0
101 1/4 okes of biscuits, at 1s. 5 1 3
1 case Mumm’s champagne 4 5 0
1 case cognac, XX 2 8 0
1 case whisky 1 16 0
1 tin plum-pudding 0 2 6
10 packets matches, at 1s. 2d. 0 11 8
8 barrels flour, at L3 24 0 0
4 okes Curani (Kora’ni) tobacco, at 16s. 3 4 0
30 lbs. tea, at 4s. 6 0 0
24 tins green peas, at 1s. 1 4 0
18 tins haricots verts, at 1s. 0 18 0
18 tins haricots flageolets, at 1s. 0 18 0
18 tins champignons, at 1s. 2d. 1 1 0
18 tins macedoine, at 1s. 0 18 0
8 tins carrots, at 1s. 0 8 0
16 tins asparagus (large), at 3s. 2 8 0
53 1/2 lbs. ham, at 1s. 6d. 4 0 3
100 bottles ‘Ráki, at 2s. 10 0 0
100 tins meats, at 1s. 6d. 7 10 0
4 dozen pints beer, at 8s. 1 12 0
7 empty tins for coffee, at 1s. 6d. 0 10 6
17 empty bags 0 14 2
4 okes packing rope, at 2s. 0 8 0
1/4 okes isinglass 0 3 0
2 bottles spices 0 2 0
10 nutmegs 0 1 0


£205 16 7
£ s. d.
1 packet starch 0 3 0
1 oke twine 0 2 6
2 okes nails, at 10d. 0 1 8
1 box cigarette papers 0 8 0
Kitchen utensils 0 13 6
Empty bags 0 2 0
Packing 2 10 0


Total £209 17 3


Additional Supplies.

£ s. d.

50 bottles ‘Ráki, at 2s. 5 0 0
95 okes potatoes, at 5d. 1 19 7
16 lbs. tea, at 4s. 3 4 0
50 tins preserved meats, at 1s. 6d. 3 15 0
20 tins green peas, at 1s. 1 0 0
12 tins haricots verts, at 1s. 0 12 0
12 tins champignon, at 1s. 2d. 0 14 0
6 tins first size asparagus, at 4s. 1 4 0
10 tins butter (1 lb.), at 2s. 8d 1 6 8
36 lbs. English cheese, at 1s. 6d. 2 14 0
60 okes maccaroni 3 0 0
126 okes onions, at 7d. 3 13 6
20 packets candles 1 0 0
50 boxes matches, at 1s. 2d. doz. 0 5 0
5 bars soap, at 1s. 6d. 0 7 6
12 bottles sauces, at 1s. 2d. 0 14 0
6 large bottles pepper, at 2s. 0 12 0
10 small packets salt, at 1s. 0 10 0
5 bottles lime-juice, at 2s. 6d. 0 12 6
108 okes hard biscuits, at 1s. 5 8 0
2 1/2 okes snuff 2 10 0
16 lbs. ginger-root, at 1s. 6d. 1 4 0
2 doz. whisky, at 36s. 3 12 0
2 doz. Martel’s cognac 4 4 0
6 bottles absinthe, 2s. 6d. 0 15 0


£49 16 9
5 bottles Oxley’s essence of ginger, at 4s. 1 0 0
5 bottles pyretic saline, at 3s. 6d. 0 17 6
3 boxes seidlitz powders, at 2s. 0 6 0
1 bottle aconite 0 2 6
4 iron tea and coffee kettles 1 14 0
2 empty tins for tea 0 3 0
Packing 1 10 0
Carts, 2s.; railway fare, 82s. 4 4 0


Total £59 13 9

Appendix IV.

Botany and list of insects.


PROFESSOR D. OLIVER’S LIST OF DRIED PLANTS presented by Captain Burton to the Herbarium, Royal Gardens, Kew, September, 1878.

                               Núman North   Middle  South
                               Isle.  Midian. Midian. Midian.

Anastatica hierochuntina, L.
  Kaff maryam. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    -      I       -       -
Morettia parviflora, Boiss.
  Eaten by cattle. Thagar;
  Gaf'aa. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   -      -       I   I
Matthiola oxyceras, DC.
  forma gracilis. Animals
  eat. Hazá; Muhawwil    . . . . .    -      -       I       -
Malcolmia aegyptiaca, Spr.
  Animals eat.      Tarbeh. . . . ..  -      I       -       -
Zilla myagroides, F. Silla.
  Camels eat. . . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .     -      I       -       -
Biscutella Columnae, Ten. . . .     -      -       I       -
Diplotaxis Harra? Hárrah.
  Eaten by cattle. . . . . . . . . ..    -      -       I       -
Diplotaxis acris, Boiss.
  (Moricandia crassifolia,
  Gay) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..    -      I       -       -
Sisymbrium erysimoides, Desf.
  Salih. Eaten by camels
  and sheep. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    -      I       I       I
Farsetia Burtonae, Oliv.
  sp. nov. Ghurayrá . . . . . . . .      -      I       I       -
Schimpera arabica, H. and
  St. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .     -      I       -       -
Enarthrocarpus lyratus, F.,
  vel E. strangulatus,
  Boiss. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    -      I       -       -
Capparis Sodada, Br. (Sodada
  decidua, Forsk.). Tanzub.
  Red berries eaten. . . . . . . . .     -      -       -       I
Cleome chrysantha, Dcne.
  Mashteh. Pounded and
  drank for worms, etc  . . .    . . .    -      -       -       I
Cleome arabica, L. 'Ubaysd.
  Eaten by animals . . .  . . . .    . . .    -      -       -       I
Papaver Decaisnei, H. and St.    -      -       I       -
Ochradenus baccatus, Del.
  Gurzi. A large tree;
  eaten by cattle. . . . . . . .     . . .     -      I       -       I
Reseda (Caylusea) canescens,
  L. Zanabán. Eaten by
  cattle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     -      I       I       -
Reseda, an R. stenostachya(?),
  Boiss. Khizám. Eaten by
  animals. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .     -      I       -       -
Helianthemum Lippii, Pers.
  Kazim. Cattle eat. . . . . . . . .     -      -       I       -
Silene villosa, Forsk.
  'Abaysá. Too much coated
  with sand to serve as
  food for animals. . . . . . . . ..    -      I       -       -
Gypsophila Rokejeka, Del.     . . .     -      -       I       -
Polycarpaea fragilis, Del.
  Makr. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..    I      -       -       -
Portulaca oleracea, L. . . . . ..    -      -       -       I
Hibiscus micranthus, L. fil.
  forma. Khusiyat Ráshid.
  Eaten by animals . . .  . . . .    . . .    -      -       I       I
Abutilon fruticosum, G. and
  P. (Sida denticulata,
  Fres.). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .     -      -       -       I
Abutilon muticum, Don. . . .     . . .     -      -       -       I
Erodium laciniatum, Cav.
  Garná. Eaten by cattle    . . .      -      I       I       I
Monsonia nivea, Gay. . . . . . . . .    -      I       -       -
Geranium mascatense, Boiss.
  Hiláwá. Eaten by man and
  beast. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     -      -       I       -
Erodium cicutarium, L. . . . . ..    -      I       -       -
Tribulus terrestris, L.
  Katbeh. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     -      I       I       I
Zygophyllum simplex, L  . . .    . . .    -      -       I       -
Zygophyllum album, L.
  Gallúm. Camels eat. . . . . ..     I      -       -       -
Zygophyllum coccineum, L.
  forma (Z. propinqiuum,
  Dcne.). Muráká.
  Animals eat. . . . . . . . . . . . . ..    -      I       -       -
Fagonia cretica, L. van
  (F. glutinosa, Del.).
  Shikáá (North Midian);
  Darmeh (Núman) . . . . . . . .     . . .      I       I      -       -
Fagonia mollis, Del.
  Warágá; and young plant
  of same = Zarag. Animals
  eat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..    -       I      I       -
Fagonia Bruguieri, DC.
  Jamdeh. Animals eat. . . . . ..    -       I      -       -
Dodonmaea viscosa, L. var.
  (D. arabica, H. and
  St.). Athab. . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .     -       -      I       -
Rhus oxyacanthoides, Dum.
  'Ar'ar. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     -       -      I       -
Neurada procumbens, L.
  Sáadán. Eaten by man and
  beast. Mountain region.     . . .     -       I      -       I
Trianthema pentandra, L. . . . .     -       -      -       I
Trianthema(?). (Imperfect
  specimen.) Rumayh. Eaten by
  sheep and cattle . . .  . . . .    . . .    -       -      -       I
Aizoon canariense, L. Dááá.
  Grain pounded and eaten. ..    -       -      -       I
Gisekia pharnaceoides, L.     . . .     -       I      -       -
Cucumis prophetarum, L.
  Locality mislaid . . .  . . . .    . . . Cotyledon umbilicus, L.
  forma. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    -       -      I       -
Pimpinella arabica, Boiss.
  Rujaylet el-Ghuráb (Little
  Crow's-foot). Sheep eat.
  Locality astray. . . . . . . . . ..
Pimpinella (Tragium
  palmetorum? St. and H.).
  Very young. . . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .     -       I      I       -
Ferula (? sp., leaf only).
  Kalkh. Animals eat. High up
  on SHÁRR. . . . . . .  . . . .  . . . .    . . . Grammosciadium scandicinum,
  Boiss. sp. nov. . . . . . . . . . . . .    -       -       I      I
Medicago laciniata, All  . . .    . . .   -       -       I      -
Taverniera aegyptiaca, Boiss.
  (ex descr.). Shibrig. Eaten
  by animals. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    I       -       -      -
Indigofera spinosa, Forsk.
  Shibrig. Camels eat. Good
  fodder. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    -       -       -      I
Indigofera paucifolia, D. . . . .    -       I       -      -
Indigofera (stunted specimen,
  may be I. paucifolia).
  'Afar. Animals eat. . . . . . . . .    -       I       -      -
Tephrosia Apollinea, DC.
  Dalsam; Táwil. Animals eat.    -       I       I      I
Genista (Retama) monosperma,
  Del. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .    -       I       -      -
Lotononis Leobordea, Bth.
  Hurbat. Eaten by cattle.     . . .    -       I       I      -
Trigonella stellata, Forsk.
  (T. microcarpa, Fres.) . . . . .   -       I       I      -
Onobrychis(?), possibly
  O. Ptolemaica. (Barren
  specimen). . . . . . .  . . . .  . . . .    . . .   -       I       -      -
Astragalus sparsus(?), Dcne. .   -       I       -      -
Astragalus Sieberi, DC.
  Ghákeh. Dry and pounded
  root mixed with clarified
  butter. Drunk as a
  restorative. . . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .    -       I       -      I
Astragalus Forskahlei, Boiss.
  Kidád. Camels eat. . . . . . . . .     -       I       -      -
Cassia obovata, Coll. Senna..   -       I       I      I
Iphiona scabra, DC. Zafrah.
  Camels eat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    -       I       -      -
Pulicaria undulata, DC.
  Rabul. Fine perfume. . . . .     . . .    -       I       -      -
Blumea Bovei, DC.
  (B. abyssinica, Sch.) . . . . ..   -       I       -      I
Ifloga spicata, Forsk.
  Zenaymeh. Animals eat  . . .    . . .   -       -       -      I
Asteriscus pygmaeus, C. and
  Dur. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .    -       -       -      I
Anvillaea Garcini, DC.
  (fide Boissier). Nukud.
  Eaten by camels and sheep. .   -       -       I      -
Anthemis, an A. deserti(?),
  Boiss. Gahwán. Camels
  eat: also called Gurrays,
  pounded and eaten with
  dates. . . . . . . . . . .  . . . .  . . . .    . . .   -       I       I      I
Matricaria (Chamaemelum)
  auriculata (Boiss.) . . . . . . . .    -       -       I      -
Senecio Decaisnei, DC.
  Umm lewinayn. . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .    -       -       I      I
Senecio coronopifolius, Desf.    -       I       I      -
Calendula aegyptiaca, Desf. .    -       -       I      -
Calendula aegyptiaca(?) . . . . .    -       I       -      -
Calendula, an var.
  aegyptiacae(?) . . . . . . . . . . . .     -       -       -      I
Echinops spinosus, L.
  Akhshir. Eaten by camels,
  sheep, and asses . . .  . . . .    . . .    -       -       I      I
Zoegea purpurea, Fres.
  Rubayyán. Cattle eat. . . . .      -       -       I      -
Centaurea sinaica, DC.
  Yemrár. Eaten by sheep,
  asses, etc. . . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .     -       I       -      I
Picridium tingitanum, Desf.
  forma. Huwwá; Tiz
  el-Kalbeh; El-Haudán.
  Eaten by man and animals. .    -       I       I      I
Urospermum picroides, Desf. .    -       I       -      -
Microrhynchus nudicaulis,
  Less. 'Azid. . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .     I       -       I      I
Pterotheca bifida, F. and M.     -       I       I      -
Picris, conf. P. Saha*ae,
  C. and K. . . . . . .  . . . .  . . . .    . . .    -       -       -      I
Picris cyanocarpa, Boiss.     . . .     -       -       I      -
Callipeltis cucullaria,
  Stev. 'Ikrish. Cattle eat.
  North or Central Midian.
Crucianella membranacea,
  Boiss. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .      -       -       I      -
Galium capillare, Dcne. . . . .     -       -       I      -
Salvadora persica, L.
  El-Arák. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      -       I       -      I
Rhazya stricta, Dcne.
  Harjal. Eaten only by
  mules. Very fragrant. . . . .      -       I       -      -
Daemia cordata, R. Br  . . .    . . .     -       -       I      -
Steinheilia radians, Dcne.
  Faká . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       -       I       -      -
Convolvulus Hystrix, V.
  Shibrim. Root used as a
  purgative. Animals eat
  upper part of plant. . . . .       -       -       -      I
Cuscuta, conf.
  C. brevistyla, A. Br.     . . .       -       -       I      -
Withania somnifera, Dun.
  Shajarat el-Dib. . . . . . . . .      -       I       -      -
Lycium europaeum, L.
  'Aushaz. Eaten by
  animals. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       -       -       I      I
Solanum coagulans(?),
  Forsk. var. (A small
  fragment only) . . .  . . . .    . . .      -       -       I      -
Hyoscyamus pusillus,
  L. Saykrán. . . . . . . . . . . . .       -       I       I      -
Heliotropium arbainense,
  Fres. Rahháb. Cattle
  eat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       -       I       I      -
Trichodesma africanum,
  R. Br. Ahmim. Camels and
  other animals eat. . . . . ..      -       -       I      -
Echium longifolium(?), Del.
  Kahlá. Animals eat. . . . .        -       -       I      -
Anchusa Milleri, W. . . . .     . . .       -       -       I      -
Anchusa Milleri(?) young
  specimens. . . . . . . . . . . . . ..      -       -       I      -
Anchusa Milleri(?) young
  specimens. . . . . . . . . . . . . ..      -       I       -      -
Gastrocotyle (Anchusa
  hispida, Forsk.). Karir.
  Camels eat. . .  . . . .  . . . .    . . .      -       -       -      I
Arnebia hispidissima,
  A. DC. Fayná. Animals
  eat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       -       I       I      -
Lithospermum callosum, V. .      -       I       -      -
Lindenbergia sinaica,
  Bth. Mallih. Cattle eat.       -       -       -      I
Verbascum (in bud), an
  V. sinaiticum(?), Bth. .       -       -       -      I
Verbascum, sp. nov. Sammá        -       -       I      -
Herpestis Monniera,
  Kth. Nafal. Animals eat.       -       I       -      -
Veronica Anagallis, L.     . . .        -       -       -      I
Linaria aegyptiaca, Dum. .       -       I       -      -
Linaria macilenta, Dcne.
  Zuraymat el-Himar.
  Eaten by animals. . . . . ..       -       -       I      -
Linaria (*§ Elatinoides),
  sp. imperfect . . .  . . . .    . . .       -       -       I      -
Linaria simplex(?), DC. ..       -       I       I      -
Linaria Haelava Chav.
  (fide Boissier) . . . . . . . .        -       I       -      -
Blepharis edulis, Pers.
  (Acanthodium spicatum,
  Del.). Shauk el-Jemel.
  Camels fond of it  . . .    . . .       -       I       -      I
Lavandula coronopifolia,
  Poir. Zayteh. All
  animals eat. . . . . . . . .     . . .        -       I       I      -
Mentha lavandulacea, W.
  Habag. Animals do not
  eat. Pounded and mixed
  with fresh dates, "good
  for stomach". . . . . . . . . ..       -       I       -      -
Salvia aegyptiaca, L. . . . .        -       I       -      -
Salvia deserti, Dcne. . . . .        -       -       I      -
Salvia, an S. deserti(?).
  Jáadeh. Pounded in
  water and snuffed up
  nose. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..       -       -       I      -
Otostegia, var. O.
  scariosae(?), Bth. (vel
  O. repanda, Bth.)
  Ghasseh. Sheep eat. . . . .        -       -       I      I
Statice axillaris, Forsk.
  Annúm. Camels eat. . . . .         -       I       -      I
Plantago Psyllium, L.
  Nez'i'ah. Animals eat. .       -       I       I      -
Plantago amplexicaulis,
  Cav. Yanameh. Animals
  eat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .        -       -       I      -
Aerwa javanica, Jass.
  Rayl. Cattle eat. . . . . ..       -       I       -      I
Chenopodium murale, L.? ..       -       I       -      -
Chenopodium murale, L.?
  (Small seedlings.)
  Nafal. Cattle eat  . . .    . . .       -       -       -      I
Atriplex dimorphostegia?
  K. and K. Roghol.
  Animals eat. . . . . . . . .     . . .        -       I       -      -
Echinopsilon lanatum, Moq.
  Garay'á. . . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .        -       I       -      I
Suaeda sp.(?). (Small
  fragment.) . . . . . . . . . . . . ..      -       I       -      -
Suaeda sp.(?). (Barren
  fragments, insect
  punctured?) 'Aslá.
  Forage plant. . . . . . . . .     . . .       I       -       I      -
Suaeda monoica? Forsk.
  Zuraygá. Forage plant. .       I       -       -      -
Salsola(?), cf. S.
  longifolia, F. Hamz.
  Camels eat. . .  . . . .  . . . .    . . .      I       -       -      -
Caroxylon(?) (barren
  specimen), near C.,
  foetidum. Akahrit.
  Animals eat. . . . . . . . . . . . .       I       -       -      -
Rumex vesicarius, L.
  (R. roseus, Del.).
  Hammáz. Animals eat.     . . .        -       -       I      -
Emex spinosus, Camp. . . . . ..      -       I       -      -
Crozophora tinctoria, Juss.
  Hinaydieh. Not eaten.     . . .       -       -       -      I
Euphorbia cornuta, Pers.
  'Atir. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .       -       I       -      -
Euphorbia scordifolia,
  Jacq. Gharghir. Animals
  eat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       -       I       -      -
Euphorbia (Anisophyllum)
  granulata, Schf.
  Rugaygeh. Animals eat. ..      -       -       -      I
Euphorbia (Anisophyllum)
  granulata, forma(?).
  Lubayneh. Cattle eat.     . . .       -       -       -      I
Juniperus phoenicea, L.
  At four thousand feet on
  Sharr. Trunk thicker
  than a man's body.
  Halibeh. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       -       -       I      -
Parietaria alsinifolia,
  Del. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       -       -       I      -
Forskahlea tenacissima, L.
  Lissák. Animals eat.     . . .        -       -       I      -
Asphodelus fistulosus, L.
  (var. tenuifolius,
  Bker.). Bo'rak. Only
  eaten by animals when
  very hungry. Asses eat. .      -       I       I      -
Bellevalia flexuosa, Boiss.      -       I       -      -
Dipcadi erythraeum, Webb..      -       I       -      -
Gagea reticulata, R. and S.      -       I       -      -
Juncus maritimus, L. . . . . ..      -       -       -      I
Scirpus Holoschoenus, L.
  Namas. Sent to Egypt for
  mats. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .       -       -       -      I
Cyperus conglomeratus,
  Rottb. (Young specimens)       -       I       -      -
Chloris villosa, Pers. . . . .       -       -       I      -
AEluropus repens. . . . . . . . ..      -       I       -      -
Tricholaena micrantha,
  Schrad. Ghazuiar. Eaten
  by camels, etc . . .  . . . .    . . .      -       -       I      I
Panicum turgidum, Forsk.
  Zarram. Good fodder. . . . .       -       I       -      I
Arundo Donax, L. Kasbá     . . .        -       I       -      -
Polypogon monspeliensis,
  Desf. Kháfúr. Sheep
  eat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       -       -       -      I
Stipa tortilis, Desf.
  Pehmeh. Animals eat. . . . .       -       I       I      I
Aristida caerulescens,
  Desf. Shárib el-Kale.
  Animals eat. . . . . . . . . . . . .       -       I       I      -
Hordeum maritimum, L  . . .    . . .      -       I       -      -
Pappophorum, an P.
  phleoides(?), R. and S.
  Nejil. Sheep eat. . . . .     . . .       -       -       -      I
Barren specimen.
  Indeterminable. Grass    . . .       -       I       -      -
Grass(?). Root and leaves.
  Hashmil. Animals eat.     . . .       I       -       -      -
Typha(?). Root and
  fragments of leaves.
  Birdi. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .       -       -       -      I
Grass. Fragmentary. Záeh.
  Cattle eat. . .  . . . .  . . . .    . . .      -       -       -      I
Chara foetida, Braun.
  'Ishnik. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      -       I       -      -
A barren fragment of
  undershrub, with opposite
  fleshy leaves with
  recurved margins. Ajid.
  Eaten by animals.
  Doubtful. . . . . . . . . . . . .     . . .       I       -       -       -



The spirit-specimens submitted to Mr. William Carruthers, of the British Museum, are described by him as follows:—

1. Phallus impudicus, Linn. (in Arab. Faswat el-‘Ajúz). The common “stinkhorn,” extremely common in some districts of England, and obtruding on the notice of every one from its detestable odour. It is widely distributed over America and Africa, as well as Europe, but I find no record of its occurring in Asia.

2. Tulostoma mammosum, Fr. Also British, but not so common. Widely distributed.

3. Phelipoea lutea, Desf. A dark, fleshy broom-rape, with scaly leaves. We have one species of the same genus in England. They are parasitic on the roots of plants; and the Midianite species, which is found in North Africa, Egypt, and Arabia, grows on the roots of a Chenopodium.

4. Cynomorium coccineum, Mich. A fleshy, leafless plant, also a root-parasite. It was called by old writers Fungus Melitensis, and was of much repute in medicine. It is known from the Himalayas to the Canary Islands, and is said by Webb, in his history of the Canaries, to be eaten in the Island of Lancerotte.

5. Doemia cordata, R. Br. A spiny shrub, with roundish leaves and small sharp-pointed fruit, found in Egypt and Arabia.

6. Capparis galeata, Fres., with large fruit, long and pear-shaped. This caper is well known; from Syria and Egypt.


INSECTS COLLECTED IN MIDIAN BY CAPTAIN BURTON. (Identified by Mr. Frederick Smith, of the British Museum.)



l. Anthia 12 guttata.


2. Schizonycha reflexa.

3. Pachydema.


4. Heteronychus.


5. Cleonus arabs.


6. Mesostenanear punctipennis.

7. Adesmia.

8. Akis Goryi?

9. Mylabris.


10. Nepa rubra.


11. Eremiaphila arenaria. 12. Blepharis mendica.


13. Acocera.

14. Acridium peregrinum. 15. Poecilocera bufonia.


16. Androctonus funestus.

17. “ leptochelys.

18. “ quinquestriatus.


19. Galeodes arabs, in spirit.

20. Clubiona Listeri, in spirit.

(Signed) FREDK. SMITH.

Appendix V.

Meteorological Journal (December 19, 1877, to April 17, 1878).


Midian follows the rule of Syria — travel in the spring. The best time on the seaboard is during the months of March, April, and May. In the mountains and the Hismá plateau, April, May, and June are the most favourable. In Syria (Damascus) the autumn is dangerous: the finest travelling weather is in March to May. The second best season is between October and December.

January and February are cold; the latter also (sometimes) rainy.

March is stormy at first (El-‘Uwweh), but afterwards gets warmer (El–Ni’ám). Dews now begin, and last some three months: they wet everything like a sharp shower, and make the air feel soppy.

In July the first dates come in. Fevers are prevalent during this month, and also during August and September.

October is a month of heat and drought.

In November the first cold occurs.

December is the coldest month.


September is very bad — all should escape who can. Fruits everywhere; sun hot; air damp with irrigation water, white fogs and other horrors.

October is a good month, the weather being neither too hot nor too cold.

November is the month of the “second water” irrigation about Cairo.

December is pleasant.

January is cold and sometimes wet.

February is stormy, and even foggy with sand-mist.

March is windy, but on the whole a good month, except for Khamsin, which begins about March 20th.

April begins to feel warm (April 29, 1878, Shamm el-Nasim).

The winter presents a marvellous contrast to that of England, which can often show one hour and five minutes’ sunlight in the twenty-four, or 2.8 per cent. of its possible duration.


In El-‘Akabah are like Suez: first of month, flood, 6 — 12 a.m. and p.m.; ebb, the rest. But at Suez the tides rise one metre, and at times two metres; at El-‘Akabah (February 7), one foot.

For the instruments NOT used in this Expedition, see Chap. I. p. 11.

The barometre aneroid sold by M. Ebner was partially repaired by M. Lacaze, and served for Mr. David Duguid’s observations.

My pocket set by Casella (maker to the Admiralty and Ordnance) consisted of —

One watch aneroid (compensated, 1182).
Two sets wet and dry bulb thermometers (one broken).
One set maxima and minima thermometers, Nos. 12,877 and 12,906.
Two pocket hygrometers not numbered.


December 19, 1877, compared ship’s (Mukhbir) mercurial barometer, 758 millimetres, with my aneroid by Casella (29.85) = 765 millimetres; difference in ship’s, + 007 millimetre.

January 31, 1878, returned on board Mukhbir at Makná. Ship’s mercurial barometer, 773 millimetres; my aneroid by Casella, 764 millimetres; difference in ship’s, + 009 millimetre.

Date.   Time.  Aneroid Aneroid Ther. Dry   Wet  Hygr. Remarks.
               Inches. Milli.  (deg.)Bulb. Bulb.(deg.)

Dec. 19. 7a.m.    29.85 765    76    -     -    58     On deck of gunboat
                                                       Mukhbir, at Sharm
                                                       Yahárr, steaming to El-Muwaylah. Morning ugly.

                                                       Strong land-breeze,
                                                       turned to Azyab ("south-easter"). Waves rising.

                                                       Dark-blue clouds to

         Noon.    29.80 757    77    -     -    54     In big tent on shore,
                                                       open east and west. Wind
                                                       high. Everything feels
                                                       damp; looks gloomy;
                                                       mountains almost hidden
                                                       by clouds. Landscape
                                                       that of Europe. No sun
                                                       nor sunshine all day.

         3p.m.    29.09 -      86    -     -    51     In my small tent.
                                                       Clearing to windward
                                                       (north). Wind veering to
                                                       north. Moon nearly full.
                                                       High fleecy clouds. Sea
                                                       high. No sun all day.

Azyab (the wet wind) generally lasts two or three days; veers round by west to north. Much rain has already fallen (Arab lies). Land green (all brown); grass plentiful (not a blade to be seen). Rains here December 15th to February 15th; downfall one hour to four hours, then clears. On December 8th, violent rain for one hour; filled all the torrents (Sayl).

Dec. 20. 7a.m.    29.80 758    63    -     -    40     In small tent open to
                                                       east. Morning clear. Few
                                                       fleecy clouds: cool and
                                                       bright. "Misri" from
                                                       north-west; cold and

         3p.m.    29.92 759    78    -     -    32     Hot in tents, cool in
                                                       breeze. "Misri" high and
                                                       strong sea. At 1.10 p.m.
                                                       heavy clouds; expected
                                                       rain--few heavy drops.


Dec. 21. 6.35a.m. 30.02 763    71    -     -    35     Inside tent. Full moon
                                                       and clear. Dawn, 6 a.m.;
                                                       night, 6.30. Speckled

         Noon.    30.48 764    76    -     -    48     Under umbrella. Air
                                                       clear. Mottled clouds on
                                                       mountains. Sea horizon.
                                                       Low white bank of

         3p.m.    30.05 763    77    -     -    39     "Misri." High cirri from
                                                       west. Big black cloud
                                                       over sea. Suspected
                                                       rain: Arabs said no.
                                                       Cloud dispersed.


Dec. 22. 7a.m.    30.01 760    57    -     -    32     Cold night. Clear
                                                       morning. Cold sunrise.
                                                       Dry north-wester.
                                                       Instruments on paper,
                                                       resting on the sand.
                                                       Very dry.

         Noon.    30.14 -      82    -     -    22     Very dry. Straight
                                                       streaks of cirri

         4p.m.    30.00 763    72    -     -    17     At Wady Sharmá, on sand
                                                       protected from west
                                                       wind. Bright moon,
                                                       showed halo.

Kayhak 14 begins the Coptic winter, properly speaking evening of 13th; after sunset 1 hour 51 minutes. Sea-breeze and land-winds regular today and throughout the month.


Dec. 23. 7a.m.    29.90 760    58    -     -    19     Instruments on box
                                                       standing on sand. Moon
                                                       with halo at night. Red
                                                       sunrise, grey clouds.
                                                       Mountains blue-grey,
                                                       brightly defined. Before
                                                       dawn moon two halos,
                                                       large and small. Fleecy
                                                       clouds. Nine a.m. clear,
                                                       sun hot.

         2.30p.m. 29.15 740    78    -     -    25     Under rock in upper Wady
                                                       Sharmá. Streaky cirri.
                                                       Sun hot; air cool.
                                                       Little sea-breeze, kept
                                                       off by hills.

Arrived at the “White Mountain,” and stayed there a week.

         4p.m.    29.12 740    75    -     -    28     At Jebel el-Abyaz, on
                                                       box behind tent
                                                       sheltered from wind. Air
                                                       quite still; streaky
                                                       cirri. Camp Jebel el-Abyaz, say, 800 feet

                                                       above sea. Felt very


Dec. 24  7a.m.    29.10 738    61    -     -    29     In mess tent on mess
                                                       table. Cold. Mottled
                                                       clouds east and zenith.
                                                       Grey bank to sea
                                                       reddened by sunrise,
                                                       like storm clouds. Rain
                                                       here from Azyab ("south-east"). Sunrise at

                                                       Cairo, 6.55 a.m.

         Noon.    29.00 737    64    63    55   33     Suspended instruments.
                                                       Grey day: cold breeze
                                                       from east. Cold comes
                                                       only from wind; when no
                                                       breeze, very mild.
                                                       Getting greyer and
                                                       colder. Very like rain--
                                                       heavey clouds.

         3.10p.m. 29.00 737    64    64    52   28     Wind west, cold and raw.
                                                       Air grey and cold.
                                                       Evening cold; clouds
                                                       dispersed, sun came out.
                                                       Wind to west, inclining
                                                       to north.

Small thermometer shows higher than Casellás because in brass case; not so well exposed to air.

Dec. 25. 7a.m.    29.10 739    50    50    45   29    Morning cool and clear.

         Noon.    29.20 -      72    68    55   21     Very clear, still, and
                                                       hot. Slight breeze from
                                                       sea (west). Sun strong.
                                                       Swarms of flies. Dry
                                                       bulb in sun, 73 degrees;
                                                       wet, 60 degrees.

         3p.m.    29.16 741    72    69    54   15     Cool and gentle breeze
                                                       from sea, dispersing the
                                                       swarms of flies. At
                                                       times "sand-devil" from

All this day’s observations taken on writing table in large tent. Night cold: cold severest after two a.m. and before sunrise. Sky at night perfectly clear. Wind from north turning to east, a Barri (“land-breeze”). Height of Jebel el-Abyaz above tents, by aneroid = 350 feet (29.20 — 28.85 = 0.35).

Dec. 26. 7.15a.m. 29.21 743    48    46    43   22     In tent. Sky perfectly

         Noon.    29.26 -      76    77    55   6      Sun very hot. Air quite
                                                       still. Fleecy clouds
                                                       from west over the sun.

         4.45p.m. 29.23 743    73    69    55   8      Sun cooler. Air
                                                       perfectly clear.

Dec. 27. 7a.m.    29.16 740    50    49    43 5 3      In tent. Morning cold
                                                       and clear: few flecks of
                                                       cloud to east. Air feels
                                                       intensely dry.

         12.30p.m.29.23 743    77    74    58   9      Fine cirri high up. Sky
                                                       blue. Sun veiled at
                                                       times. Very little wind,
                                                       a breath from north.

         3.20p.m. 59.16 742    80    77    56   6      Sky with filmy white
                                                       clouds, thicker at west.
                                                       Sun hidden; very hot at
                                                       noon (rain-sun?). Not a
                                                       breath of air. Sense of
                                                       intense dryness. Ink
                                                       evaporates at once. Cool
                                                       breeze started up
                                                       shortly after 3.30 p.m.
                                                       from west, then clouds
                                                       thickened. Thermometer
                                                       fell 4 degrees.

Cool evening; quite clear. Fevers and feverish colds begin to show themselves in camp. Minimum thermometer during night — No. 1, 45 degrees; No. 2, 46 degrees; French, 15–1/2 degrees (Centigrade).

Dec. 28  7a.m.    29.10 739    55    53    46   10     In tent. Still. Neither
                                                       warm nor cold. Mottled

         Noon.    29.13 740    78    72    58   4      Clouds thin. Sun very
                                                       hot (rain-sun?). Light
                                                       breeze from north-west.

         3p.m.    29.10 739    79    72    58   -      Feels intensely dry.
                                                       Hot, close. Heavy
                                                       clouds, and purple to
                                                       west. Gusts from west.

No wind. Morning and evening very mild. At eight p.m. dark cloud moving from south-west to mountains. Drops of rain; then stars. Minimum thermometers during night, both 48 degrees. None of the maximum will act.

Dec. 29. 7a.m.    29.10 738    58    58    54   9      In tent. Cool, clear.
                                                       Blue-pink in west. Light
                                                       sea-breezes from west.
                                                       Must be awfully hot in
                                                       summer. In closed tent
                                                       at eleven a.m., 92

         Noon.    29.13 -      77    75    60   10     Nice breeze from sea
                                                       (west), bending to

         4p.m.    29.00 739    82    79    59   5     Warm and quite still.

Mean of nineteen aneroid observations at Jebel el-Abyaz = 29.13.


Dec. 30. 7a.m.    29.10 739    56    -     -    7      Clear, still. No speck
                                                       of cloud. Moon Náim
                                                       (sleeping = *[figure]).

         5p.m.    29.88 758    66    -     -    8      Air quite clear. Camped
                                                       at Sharmá. Change to
                                                       shore pleasant and soft.

Noon on journey; sun very hot. Evening still. Violent weather at night; cold and comfortless. Abated somewhat after sunrise.


Dec. 31. 7a.m.    29.88 758    59    -     -    7      Wind cold and dusty. Sky
                                                       perfectly clear. A few
                                                       light mist-clouds on

         Noon.    29.94 760    75    73    58   6      Wind still. Sun much

         3p.m.    29.90 -      74    71    58   3     Wind cool; some dust.

Clouds about sunset sailing out of Suez Gulf, forming archipelago of sky islets. Dark bank to south. Minimum thermometer at night = 42 degrees.

AT SHARMÁ, IN BIG TENT OPEN NORTH AND SOUTH (about 100 feet above sea-level).

Jan. 1.  7a.m.    29.90 759    53    50    45   10     Clear, fine, quite
                                                       still. Nice breeze began
                                                       about nine a.m.

         Noon.    29.97 -      71    69    57   4      Cold. North wind high.
                                                       Light clouds to west;
                                                       the rest clear.

         3p.m.    29.94 760    73    72    61   4      Clouds to west from Suez

High wind fell before midnight. Cold — sat in tent. Flies troublesome everywhere. Minimum at night, 42–43 degrees.


Jan 2.   7a.m.    29.98 761    53    -     -    10

         3p.m.    30.00 762    76    72    58   3      Cool breeze from north.
                                                       No signs of clouds. Sun
                                                       hot and air cool.

Evening no wind, no clouds. At night high cold wind from east, seems to pierce clothes. Lasted till morning and sun well up. Minimum thermometer, No. 1 = 45 degrees; No. 2 = 46 degrees.

Jan. 3.  7a.m.    29.92 760    58    57    47   3      Dawn comfortless. Cold.
                                                       Fire in tent. Sand
                                                       blowing. Air highly

         Noon.    29.90 762    77    76    61   2      Wind still. Hot sun.

         3p.m.    29.91 759    76    74    58   4      Hot sun. Gentle breeze.
                                                       Warm in tent.

Night very cold. Minimum thermometers, No. 1 = 40 degrees; No. 2 = 41 degrees.

Jan. 4.  "        29.83 -      52    50    -    5

         Noon.    29.93 760    81    80    60   3      Decidedly hot. No

         3p.m.    29.90 -      78    75    63   0     Very hot and still.

In evening few fleecy clouds to south-west. Appearance of Azyab. Minimum thermometers at night, No. 1 = 36 degrees; No. 2 = 38 degrees.


Jan. 5.  7a.m.    29.90 -      48    45    43   6      Pink clouds south-west
                                                       and south-east. Cirri

         Noon.    29.87 761    79    79    67   3      Hot and still. Clear;
                                                       few cirri.

         3p.m.    29.96 760    74    71    60   0      Cool wind. Cold in
                                                       shade. Cirri to south,
                                                       at times over the sun.

Very cold at night. Saw new moon; set in fire. Planets veiled in mist. Moon Káim (points upwards = *[figure]).

Jan. 6.  7.20a.m. 29.94 760    53    51    46   8      Still, clear. Light
                                                       breeze about 10.30 a.m.

         Noon.    29.80 761    82    -     -    4

         4p.m.    29.96 761    76    -     -    3      Clear and hot. Sunset,
                                                       red cirri. Water very
                                                       cold. Moon clear.

Jan. 7   "        29.98 758    52    -     -    18     At Sharmá. Cool and raw.
                                                       Few clouds to south and

         Noon.    30.08 764    78    -     -    26     At 'Aynúnah, in big
                                                       tent. Fresh wind from
                                                       north. Air much damper;
                                                       more pleasant.


Jan. 8.  7a.m.    30.11 763    55    -     -    22     Morning still--windless
                                                       Breath from east. Warm
                                                       and pleasant.

         Noon.    30.02 767    77    74    61   13     Quite clear and dry.
                                                       Gusts of wind. Flies
                                                       very bad, even in the

         3p.m.    30.15 767    77    76    63   7

Cold high wind at night.


Jan. 9.  7a.m.    30.04 -      63    -     -    10     Outside tent. Light
                                                       clouds everywhere at
                                                       dawn. Morning warm and

         Noon.    29.91 759    80    -     -    48     At El-'Usaylah. Sky
                                                       covered with clouds. Sun
                                                       coming out.

         4p.m.    29.87 758    53    -     -    23     In tent at El-'Usaylah.
                                                       No wind.

Cool pleasant night. Rain in Mount Sinai(?).

Jan. 10. 6.45a.m. 29.85 -      56    -     -    15     Observations in open.
                                                       Cold north wind. Clear
                                                       and cirri.

         3p.m.    29.30 745    77    -     -    1      At Magháir Shúayb, under
                                                       a tree.

Night cold. High wind; shook the tents.


Jan. 11. 7a.m.    29.37 747    60    -     -    20    In open, on box.

         Noon.    29.40 748    82    -     -    8     In tent.

         3p.m.    29.38 747    84    -     -    -4    Still. Air hot.

As a rule, at Magháir Shúayb we had land-breezes; cold from north and east.
Seabreezes during day, after noon.

Jan. 12. 7a.m.    29.35 746    59    -     -    3      In tent. Cool. Cirri. At
                                                       two a.m. cool fresh wind
                                                       from north.

         Noon.    29.46 747    83    -     -    -5     In tent. Hot sun. Light

         3p.m     29.30 746    83    81    64   -9     In tent. No sun, no
                                                       wind. Thin clouds.

Night warm; wind towards morning. Mosquitoes in tamarisks of Wady. Minimum
thermometer, 52 degrees.

Jan. 13. 7a.m.    29.38 745    65    -     -    -4     Outside tent, on box.
                                                       Cloudy; little wind. elt
                                                       warm. Sun came out
                                                       strong at ten a.m.

         Noon.    29.27 744    87    87    67   -9     In big tent. Heat like
                                                       summer. Flies
                                                       troublesome, travel on
                                                       our backs.

         3p.m.    29.20 743    85    85    65   -15    Very hot. Thin clouds.

Very hot and sultry weather: Arabs say portends rain. Wind (generally) from
north in morning; afternoon from sea.

Jan. 14. 7a.m.    29.01 740    63    63    55   0      In tent. Land-breeze set
                                                       in. Expected heavy rain,
                                                       and pitched camp higher

         2.30p.m. 29.15 -      81-1/279    68   0     Taken by Mr. Clarke.

Rain began 2.30 a.m. (Jan. 15), small drops, then heavy, lull, and again
heavy; ended about 4.30 a.m. A little wind from south-west rose after rain.

The last rain was on December 7-10, 1877; violent storms accompanied it.

Jan. 15. "        29.00 -      71-1/270    66   30     By Mr. Clarke at Magháir
                                                       Shúayb. Sky all covered
; little clear to west.
                                                       Mist all over north.
                                                       Things feel damp.

         Noon.    29.06 737    76    73    65   30     All cloudy. After rain,
                                                       sultry heat of noon
                                                       quite disappeared.

         3p.m.    29.06 738    75    73    65   25     Still cloudy. Cool.

Cold nights and mornings.

Jan. 16. 7a.m.    29.20 -      48    45    42   18     No rain. Cold. Little
                                                       wind. Cloudy. No wind.

         Noon.    29.05 -      69    65    54   3      Sun hot. Cool breeze
                                                       from north as usual. No

         3p.m.    29.25 -      69    65    52   12

Night fine and clear. Stars and moon very bright.

Jan. 17. 7a.m.    29.30 -      42    42    39   17     Clear morning. Very
                                                       cold. Land breeze.

         Noon.    29.36 745    69    66    54   18     Fine stiff breeze from

         3p.m.    29.34 745    73    70    59   16     Fine breeze falling.

Fine clear night, moon nearly full. No clouds. Not cold. Cool at night and
towards morning. Wind rose about four a.m.

Jan. 18. 7.30a.m. 29.28 745    55    55    50   26     In tent. Cool, clear.
                                                       Gentle land-wind.

         Noon.    29.30 -      79    79    63   16    Same weather.

         3p.m.    29.25 -      81    79    62   8      Night cool. Hardly any

Jan. 19. 7a.m.    29.15 -      53    52    45   16     In tent. Cold wind from

         Noon.    29.17 -      81    79    63   9      Sun hot. Cool breeze
                                                       from north. Sky clear.

         3p.m.    29.15 -      80    77    60   5

Remarkably warm pleasant night.

Jan. 20. 7a.m.    29.05 -      50    48    45   19     In tent. No wind. Air

         Noon.    29.10 -      79    75    63   12     Light wind (south-west).
                                                       Sun hot. Sky clear.

         3p.m.    29.10 -      73    73    60   8     Cool and pleasant.

Curious moonrise. Thin clouds like volcanic smoke, separated into cirri like
sheep-skin: all said sign of heat. Night still and warm. Few stratified clouds
to west.

Jan. 21. 8a.m.    29.13 740    56    54    50   20     In tent. Cold raw wind
                                                       (El-Ayli) from north-east. High clouds. Worse

                                                       near Gulf.

         Noon.    29.20 743    68    66    55   16     High cold wind,
                                                       continuous. Bright sun.
                                                       Sky intensely blue and

         4.15p.m. 29.22 744    66    65    53   8      Cool. High wind.

Strong wind at night; fell about midnight; gusts at times. Very cold. Bad
weather at Sharm Yahárr. Fortuna ("strong wind") began January 21st, ended
January 23rd: the next gale was on night of January 28th. As a rule, the
people say; black clouds show that the wind will increase; light clouds the

Jan. 22. 7a.m.    29.32 745    50    49    45   15     Cold and cloudy. El-Ayli

         Noon.    29.36 748    66    62    52   11     High cold north-easter
                                                       rose about 11.30. Sun
                                                       warm. Air cold.

Heavy purple clouds to north and west. Night still; occasional gusts. Eight
p.m. quite still. Mukhbir delayed by bad weather.

Jan. 23. 7.20a.m. 29.39 748    50    50    45   19     Gusts and calm. Nimbi to
                                                       west. High north wind
                                                       set in.

         Noon.    29.40 747    66    64    54   14     Cold in shade, hot in
                                                       sun. High wind.

         4p.m.    -     -      66    65    52   9      Wind still high. Dust.

Night alternately gusty and still. Warm. Mukhbir steamed back to her
anchorage, Sharm Yáhárr.

Jan 24.  7a.m.    29.29 745    55    52    47   15     Gentle breeze from
                                                       north. No clouds--sign
                                                       of no wind.

         1.30p.m. -     -      83    78    68   10     The normal hot,
                                                       windless, cloudless day.

         3p.m.    -     -      78    74    62   7      Pleasant sea-breeze. Sun
                                                       hot; air coolish.

Night warm and pleasant.


Jan. 25. 7a.m.    29.30 -      61     -     -   15     On box. Fine, and
                                                       perfectly clear.

         Noon.    29.45 -      78     -     -   -      On road to Wady Makná,
                                                       riding mule. Sea-breeze
                                                       about noon, strong.
                                                       Shortly after noon heavy
                                                       clouds (from north and
                                                       west) hid the sun.

         3p.m.    30.06 -      71     -     -   23     Arrived at Makná, on

Warm pleasant night. Appearance of rain. Wind from north. Moon clouded.


Land and sea breezes regular. Morning and evening cool. Noon hot. Evaporation
immense. Healthy near shore; feverish up the valley. Damp air from
neighbourhood of Mount Sinai.

Jan. 26. 7a.m.    30.02 -      68    -     -    21     Cloudy. Heavy white
                                                       waves on water. Wind
                                                       west; dangerous for

         12.30p.m.30.07 -      80    77    62   21     Sun hot; sky clear.
                                                       Light fleecy clouds on

         3.30p.m. 30.04 743    82    80    70   18     Air and sun hot. Clear.
                                                       Sea-breeze. No gale.

Rain probably during the day in Sinai. Muttali, or "fort," of Makná showed
aneroid 760 (29).

Jan. 27. 7a.m.    30.02 -      60    59    55   35     In tent. Fine clear;
                                                       nice land-breeze. Rush
                                                       of wind at two a.m. Wind
                                                       at four a.m. Loud noise
                                                       of reef.

         1.30p.m. 30.04 -      80    76    68   28     In big tent, opening to
                                                       south. Quite clear and
                                                       bright. No clouds.
                                                       Slight sea-breeze.

         3p.m.    30.02 -      80    79    70   26    Hot and still.

Night glorious. No wind. Only sigh and sound of reef.

Jan. 28. 7a.m.    29.98 -      58    58    53    30    Perfectly still and
                                                       clear. Light land-breeze.

         12.45p.m.30.00 -      80    78    66    20    Weather breaking. Clouds
                                                       forming everywhere. High
                                                       horizontal cirri. North
                                                       wind, whistling over

         3p.m.    29.98 -      80    79    67    20    Packed up wet and dry

At sunset high streaky cirri of red colour: all said wind. Same as at Magháir
Shúayb (January 21-23). At eleven p.m. El-Ayli (north wind from 'Akabat-Aylah?) came down upon us with a rush. Gravel like drops of rain. Tents at

once on the ground. Sky still clear--stars shining.

Jan. 29. 7.15a.m.30.02  -      62    -     -   19      In tent-hut. Wind
                                                       violent. Cold and raw
                                                       between moonrise and

         Noon.    30.04 -      81    -     -   13      In tent-hut. Wind (El-Ayli) gusty and violent.

                                                       Sky quite clear.

They say this gale denotes end of Zamharir ("great cold"). Wind fell about
three p.m. Mild at sunset. Wind then increased, and became very violent at
night (l0-11 p.m.); seems to beat down from above. Summit of quartz-hills, 2
obs. = 29.40

Jan. 30  7a.m.    30.06 -      62    -     -    19     In tent-hut. Mountains
                                                       perfectly clear. Fleecy
                                                       clouds to north and
                                                       south, sailing from west
                                                       to east.

         3p.m.    30.06 -      72    -     -    15     Clear and fine. Wind

Wind fell during afternoon and evening, but rose again at night; was at its
worst about eleven p.m.

Jan. 31. 7a.m.    30.06 -      67    -     -    22     In tent-but. Wind worse;
                                                       signs of blowing
                                                       everywhere. Light clouds
                                                       north and south. Mottled
                                                       clouds (cirri, mackerel-back). Gusts violent

                                                       after sunrise.

         Noon.    30.08 -      73    -     -    19     In cabin on board
                                                       Mukhbir. Wind violent.
                                                       Sky clear. White clouds,
                                                       as yet wind increasing.
                                                       Sand and dust but
                                                       mountains clear.

         3p.m.    30.09 -      78    -     -    22     On board Mukhbir. Wind
                                                       violent. Sky covered
                                                       with grey clouds.

At sunset, gleams to west and round horizon; heavy to north. Hoped for rain,
but none came. Fires alight all night. Very bad night; perhaps the worst yet
seen. Chain dragging. At nine p.m. sky clear, but wind worse.


Feb. 1.  7a.m.    30.08 -      70    -     -    21     Wind worse than ever.
                                                       Dark cirri to south.
                                                       Mountains clear on all

         Noon.    30.06 -      74    70    63   21     Wind very bad, turning
                                                       to east (?). Cirri
                                                       everywere: to west
                                                       formed ascending rays
                                                       like sun, extending to
                                                       zenith; to east were
                                                       crosses and lozenges.

         3p.m     30.04 -       -    70    65   -      Wind still bad. White
                                                       clouds have thickened to
                                                       south, and thinned to
                                                       north. Bases of
                                                       mountains blurred (by
                                                       dust?); summits clear.

At sunset wind lighter. Dark clouds to south, going westward from Suez. Cirri
overhead, presently disappeared; also about the horizon. At night fine
zodiacal light. Wind increased. Observations in main cabin throughout voyage.

Feb. 2.  7a.m.    30.00 -      69    70    65   22     Perfectly clear. Wind

         Noon.    30.00 -      78    -     -    21     Clear sky; only cloud,
                                                       thin white strata to

         3p.m.    29.04 -      75    73    63   19     No clouds. Wind milder.
                                                       Barometer falling (sign
                                                       of wind ceasing?). Wind
                                                       getting warmer, and
                                                       bending east.

Wind less in evening, and warmer; ceased about midnight; lasted from eleven
p.m., January 28, to midnight, February 2 = five days and five nights.
Zodiacal light.

Feb. 3.  7a.m.    29.93 -      56    65    56   20     On deck (wet and dry
                                                       bulbs in main cabin).
                                                       Fresh breeze from east.
                                                       Fleecy clouds south and

         Noon.    29.96 -      74    -     -    25     On deck. Fine breeze
                                                       from north.

In evening cirri to west and east. Black dots in regular lines. Night at Minat
Jinái. Very fine and clear; young moon and Venus. Deadly still. Zodiacal light
seen every night in the 'Akabah Gulf: not outside it.

Feb. 4.  7a.m.    29.92 -      74    70    67   24     En route to Nuwaybi',
                                                       along Sinai shore.
                                                       Morning grey; light
                                                       clouds everywhere. Dull
                                                       brassy sunrise. Water
                                                       dark. Wind south, felt
                                                       very damp. Sinai hills
                                                       clouded over: cirri
                                                       strata high up; nimbi in
                                                       fragments below.

         Noon.    29.86 -      74    73    68   28     Under awning on board;
                                                       going north. Sickly sun.
                                                       Cirri to east.

         3p.m.    29.80 -      75    73    66   26     Main cabin South wind
                                                       strong, increased after
                                                       noon. Clear horizon
                                                       then. Sea foaming: wind
                                                       became very strong, and
                                                       raised water about
                                                       sunset, then fell.

A regular day of south wind, blasts, mists, and gusts; calmed down in evening.
Quiet night. All day cirri and strata high up from west. Wásit sand forming

Feb. 5.  7a.m.    30.00 -      72    68    60   9      En route to Kaláh
                                                       (Jezirat Faráun of
                                                       maps), in main cabin.
                                                       Wind north. Clouds on
                                                       hill-tops and to north--
                                                       effects of yesterday.
                                                       East mountains misty;
                                                       west clear. Mottle of

         Noon.    29.94 -      73    70    61   7      On deck, steaming north.
                                                       Dry and wet bulbs in
                                                       main cabin. Clouds--
                                                       light cumuli to north,
                                                       east, and west; south
                                                       clear. Wind north,

         3p.m.    29.97 -      75    70    59   19     In main cabin off island
                                                       El-Kaláh. Violent gusts
                                                       from west, down valleys--deflection of south

                                                       wind, lasted only few
                                                       minutes. Cloudy and

Night clear. Violent gusts from south, lasting a few minutes, then still.


Feb. 6.  7a.m.    30.12 -      70    66    59   15     In main cabin. A regular
                                                       raw and gloomy English
                                                       morning. Clouds
                                                       everywhere--drops of
                                                       rain. Wind south,
                                                       deflected west. Gusts at
                                                       times. All felt damp and

         Noon.    30.10 -      70    65    59   26     In main cabin. Sky all
                                                       covered with clouds.
                                                       Wind from north, gusty.
                                                       Barometer rising.

         3p.m.    30.12 -      66    68    60   21     In main cabin. Sky
                                                       covered; gleams of sun.
                                                       Clear to south. Wind
                                                       north, mild.

A few drops of rain morning and evening. Pleasant quiet night.

Feb. 7.  6a.m.    30.13 -      -     62    57   19     In main cabin. Still;
                                                       fresh air; no wind.
                                                       Heavy clouds from west,
                                                       covering east-west
                                                       mountains. West mottled;
                                                       north and south clear.

         3p.m.    30.10 -      71    66    62   25     In main cabin. Cool
                                                       breeze. Hot sun. Cloudy
                                                       and clear.

Drops of rain at sunset. Wind west. Heavy rain twice at night; after midnight
wetted deck. Rain at 'Akabah from west, with clouds and winds.


Rise of tide off El-'Akabah town, one foot.

Feb. 8.  7a.m.    30.20 -      56    63    61   3      On deck. Dry and wet
                                                       bulbs in main cabin. At
                                                       sunrise heavy purple
                                                       clouds drifting over
                                                       plain, covering hills on
                                                       both sides. Cold, raw,
                                                       wet wind. Rain on Sinai
                                                       to north-west and south-west. Saw rainbow. Wind

                                                       gradually turning to
                                                       east (favourable). Play
                                                       of light and shade over
                                                       plains and hills.

         Noon.    30.15 -      65    64    57   22     In main cabin. Glorious
                                                       day. Blue sky; bluer
                                                       sea. Strong breeze.
                                                       Cloudy and clear.

         3p.m.    30.16 -      67    65    58   25     In main cabin. After
                                                       noon wind gradually
                                                       fell, and sky cleared;
                                                       became much warmer.
                                                       Steamer (five and a half
                                                       knots) beat the sailing
                                                       tender. North perfectly
                                                       clear; south and east,
                                                       fleecy clouds. Sun clear
                                                       and warm.

At sunset red cirri. Wind increased greatly. Waves following us, high and
hollow. Bad night. Wind and water high. At midnight(?), rode with head to
gale. February 9th, four a.m., turned south. Six a.m. stood for Makná (right
angles, and nearly "turned turtle").


Feb. 9.  7a.m.    30.22 -      -     64    26   26     In main cabin, off Sharm
                                                       Dabbah. Sky quite clear.
                                                       North wind colder than
                                                       ever, yet we are going
                                                       south. Beginning of
                                                       dangerous gale which
                                                       lasted till February
                                                       13th. Ugly hollow sea.

         1p.m.    30.15 -      -     66    58   28     In main cabin. Out of
                                                       'Akabah Gulf. Passed
                                                       into a summer sea. Under
                                                       lee of Tirán. On deck 63
                                                       degrees (F.).

         3p.m.    30.11 -      -     69    59   27     In main cabin, rounding
                                                       south of Jezirat Tirán.
                                                       Sky all clear, except
                                                       wind cirri over 'Akabah
                                                       Gulf and to west.

At nine p.m. halo round moon, and far from it--bad sign! Before midnight gusts
began. Increased at one a.m. (February 10). At four a.m. very violent north
wind from El-'Akabah.

Feb. 10  7a.m.    30.07 -      -     69    65   30     In cabin of Mukhbir,
                                                       south of Tirán. Water
                                                       ruffled. Clouds
                                                       everywhere. Rain on the
                                                       coast. Felt raw. Mottled

         Noon.    30.03 -      -     72    64   38     In cabin at Tirán. Sun
                                                       out at nine a.m. Clouds
                                                       and clear. Windy sky.
                                                       Cirri to west and north-west. Dark clouds to


         3p.m.    29.94 -      -     74    65   25     In cabin at Tirán. Rain-storm to south-west.

                                                       Wind north. Sky cloudy
                                                       and clear. Cool breeze,
                                                       not high.

At four p.m. a few large drops fell. Heavy rain at El-'Akabah and on east
coast. Sand-veil over Sinaitic shore. Six p.m., wind gusty. Rain-clouds all
over coast. Wind becoming warm. At 1.15 a.m. (February 11), terrible rush and
fall of rain. Wind westing. Mild at first. Five a.m., hard Gharbi, threatening
Azyab. All mist--could hardly see the shore.

Feb. 11. 7a.m.    29.82 -      -     71    67   35     To windward of Tirán.
                                                       Howling west wind. Sun
                                                       like pale cheese.
                                                       Aneroid falling. After
                                                       seven a.m. the storm
                                                       broke, and we narrowly
                                                       escaped a wreck in two
                                                       places, Tirán and
                                                       Sináfir. Crisis of gale.

         Noon.    29.80 -      -     70    60   30     In Sináfir port, main
                                                       cabin. Wind west,
                                                       bending to south on

         3p.m.    28.20 -      -     72    65   24     In main cabin. Mist and
                                                       sand. English sun. Wind
                                                       west and warm. Sea green
                                                       and breaking.

At five p.m. the sand-mist began to clear off. Wind died away, then turned
north and north-north-east. Light scud over moon, going slowly. Patches of
blue, and stars. Barometer rising fast. Perfectly still night till midnight,
when it began to blow, about the setting of the moon. At Suez, during the
gale, red dust prevented ships seeing one another; and at Cairo trees were


Feb. 12  "        30.13 -      -     68    62   31     In main cabin. At 3.30
                                                       a.m. a violent Ayli,
                                                       like that of El-'Akabah,
                                                       began to blow. Gusts and
                                                       shivering water. Swept
                                                       off all sand-fog.

         Noon.    30.17 -      -     73    64   27     In main cabin. Howling
                                                       wind. Sea less, because
                                                       of ebb. Breeze fresh.
                                                       Sky clear to south; few
                                                       white clouds to north-east and west. Sun

                                                       bright and warm.

         3p.m.    30.14 -      -     75    65   24     In cabin. Wind violent
                                                       as ever, and cold from

During the night the wind blew from all possible directions; north-east, and
at one time due west.


Feb. 13. "        30.18 -      -     66    60   36     In main cabin. Howling
                                                       north wind till four
                                                       a.m., then milder.
                                                       Hardly a speck of cloud.
                                                       Fresh cool air from
                                                       north. Sea very blue.
                                                       All sail set. Mist-clouds on tallest peaks

                                                       of coast-range. Wind
                                                       diminished as we went
                                                       south. Cirri everywhere,
                                                       zenith and on horizon.

         Noon.    30.12 -      -     69    59   26     On deck. Soft pleasant
                                                       air; before cold and
                                                       hard. Influence of
                                                       El'Akabah. Thermometer
                                                       on deck 69 degrees (F.).

         3p.m     30.10 -      -     71    62   20     On board. Sky milky
                                                       everywhere with cirri.
                                                       Wind north-west, going

Red sunset. Distant halo round moon--cleared off soon (a good sign), and not
well marked. Light westerly gale (No. 2).


Feb. 14. 7a.m.    30.06 -      -     64    58   22     In cabin (open).
                                                       Splendid morning. Wind
                                                       west, set in hard before
                                                       noon. Milk-and-water
                                                       sky. Should have been
                                                       kept at Sináfir.

         Noon.    30.04 -      -     71    60   20     West wind increased. Sky
                                                       clear; but SHÁRR
                                                       Mountains cloudy--
                                                       condensing moisture.

         3p.m.    30.02 -      -     71    60   20     In cabin. North-west
                                                       wind strong. Moved ship.
                                                       Heavy black clouds on


Feb 15.  "        30.10 -      -     66    58   30    In cabin.

         Noon.    30.13 -      72    -     -    35    In cabin.

         3p.m.    30.14 -      75    -     -    26     On deck. Clouds above
                                                       the mountains.

Cold north-west breeze at five p.m. Sea high. Aneroid observations at Sulphur
Mountain--foot, 30.14; top, 29.90; difference.24 = 250 feet.

Feb. 16. 7.30a.m. 30.23 -      -     63    55   20     In cabin. Aneroid
                                                       unusually high. Clear
                                                       and cloudy at mountains.
                                                       Cool air and light

         12.50p.m. 30.23-      -     64    55   20     Cool. Wind north. In

         3p.m.    30.20 -      -     66    56   18     In cabin. Cool. No

Splendid night. Not a sign of cloud. Cool. White streak on the water (milky
sea, like that of Bombay, caused by fish?). Finest weather yet seen.


Feb. 17. 6a.m.    30.17 -      66    -     -    15     In cabin. Cool, clear,
                                                       splendid. Forenoon warm
                                                       and still. Sea glassy.

         Noon.    30.16 -      74    -     -    20     In cabin. Sea-breeze
                                                       came up strong at eleven

         3p.m.    30.13 -      -     -     -    23     In cabin. Sky clouded
                                                       all the afternoon--did
                                                       not see the sun. Moon
                                                       veiled--not a nice look.

Night very cold (shivery). Wind Barri ("land-breeze").


Feb. 18. 6.30a.m. 30.00 -      61    -     -    14     Cold and clear. Land-breeze.

         Noon.    30.04 -      78    -     -    33     Sea-breeze setting;
                                                       land-breeze stopped. Sky
                                                       perfectly clear. Sun
                                                       hot. No end of flies.

         3p.m.    30.04 -      78    -     -    22     Fierce and violent west
                                                       wind--a Gharbi, or
                                                       exaggerated sea-breeze?
                                                       Sky quite clear.

Night quite still. Cold wind stopped at nine p.m. rather suddenly.


The distance traversed comprised 222-1/4 statute miles, mostly through
unexplored country.

On return compared aneroids:--
French. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 763 millimetres.
My Casella. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 762     "

Difference. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. .001    "

Date.   Time.  Aneroid Ther. Hygr.   Remarks.
               Inches. (deg.)(deg.)

Feb. 19. 6.20a.m. 30.07 65     23  In big tent at El-Muwaylah. Cool land-breeze. Sky quite clear.

         Noon.    29.82 74     23  At Wady Surr, under tree in sea-breeze.
                                   Clear sky, few white clouds. Cold land-breeze in Wady Surr at ten a.m.; cold sea-
breeze at eleven a.m.

         3.40p.m. 29.60 76     20  At Safh Wady Malayh (Malih), in big tent.
                                   Feels as if high up.

Night perfectly still, except a gust about midnight.

Feb. 20. 6.25a.m. 29.53 60     21       In big tent at Safh Wady Malayh. Clear and

         11.20a.m.29.40 73     43  Under tree at base of western Gháts. Fine
                                   cool sea-breeze.

         3p.m.    29.44 78     17  At Sayl Wady el-Jimm ("water-gathering").
                                   Hot sun. Cold sea-breeze.

Night cold, with land-breeze.

Feb. 21. 6.15a.m. 29.38 64     7   In big tent at Sayl Wady el-Jimm. Clouds
                                   to north and east; air damp. High wind and

         12.45p.m.28.82 71     25  On march up Wady Sadr, under tree. Cold
                                   sea-breeze. Sky quite clear; sun warm.
                                   Awful east winds down these Wadys form the
                                   Goz or sand-heaps.

         3.30p.m. 28.86 76     7   In small tent at El-Nagwah, in Wady Sadr.
                                   Sun hot; breeze cold.

Night cold, but not so cold as we expected.

Feb. 22. 6a.m.    28.86 56     8   In big tent at El-Nagwah.

         11.50a.m.25.40 65     4   Under tree in Wady Sadr; say, 1600 feet
                                   high. White clouds. West wind (sea-breeze
                                   deflected to north) blowing. Here cold
                                   comes from wind.

         3p.m.    27.80 74     3   In big tent at Amwáh el-Rikáb, Wady Sadr.

At four p.m. cold and clouds; cumuli and cirri. West wind deflected to north.
At five p.m. thermometer in tent 66 degrees. Fire in tent. Night cold, clear,
and still. A few gusts about midnight.


Feb. 23. 6.30a.m. 27.80 53     5   In big tent foot of Gháts. Weather lovely--clear, fine, and cold. At eight a.m. sun

                                   warm, then cold wind.

         1.30p.m. 26.88 72     5   In big tent. Cold easterly gale.

         4p.m.    26.90 65     2   In small tent, same place.

Violent wind at midnight. Cold; thermometer 38 degrees.

Feb. 24. 6a.m.    26.95 48     0   At head of Wady Sadr.

                  26.15 45     0   To summit of Khuraytat el-Jils (Pass).
                                   Above the Pass, aneroid 26.25; below,
                                   26.70: difference, .55 = 450 feet. Walked
                                   down in twenty-six minutes.

         11.30a.m.26.18 56     0        In the open, under shade. Perfectly clear
                                        of clouds. Sun hot.

         3p.m.    26.26 66     -2  In big tent on Hismá plateau (short
                                   descent to camping-ground). Air clear; sun

Very cold when sun sets. Gusts from east at night.


Feb. 25. 6.30a.m. 26.30 42     3   In big tent.

         12.30p.m.27.84 74     12  At foot of Khuraytat el-Jils. Still, no
                                   wind; no clouds.

         3.30p.m. 27.83 78     17  No wind; no clouds.

Night splendidly clear and still. Felt warm.

Feb. 26. 6a.m.    27.72 64     2   In big tent on Hismá plateau. Glorious
                                   orange-coloured dawn. Mild north wind.
                                   Moon in last quarter. At eight a.m. good
                                   breeze from north; at eleven a.m. cool and
                                   pleasant breeze from east.

         Noon.    28.00 70     -8  On march in Shafah Mountains. Hot sun.
                                   Cold wind.

         3p.m.    28.30 85     -4  Camp Majrá el-Ruways. In small tent.
                                   Strong west breeze in gusts.

Night glorious at foot of the two Passes.

Feb. 27. 6a.m.    28.10 65     -4  On ground outside tent at Majrá el-Ruways.
                                   Sky overhead quite clear; a few flecks to
                                   south, low clouds to east. At 8.30 a.m.
                                   wind south. Sun at first hot; then sky

         11.45a.m.28.48 80     3   At El-Rahabah, head of Wady Dámah, under
                                   tree. Fine sea-breeze. High white strata
                                   to north-east and south. No clouds

         5p.m.    28.56 76     -5  Under thorn-tree at Wady Dámah. Fleeting

Night very cold. Not a sign of dew till we returned on board Mukhbir.

Feb. 28. 6a.m.    28.50 44     -5  At Wady Dámah, on box in open. Clouds and
                                   sea-breeze at 8.45 a.m.

         1p.m.    28.29 70     19  Under tree at Shuwák ruin. Thermometer in
                                   sun, 82 degrees. Bits of cumuli from
                                   south. At two p.m. furious wind and dust
                                   (sand-devils) scouring up valley from
                                   south, also deflected to west by Pass
                                   gorge. "Sand-devils" in Wadys Surr, Sadr,
                                   Dámah, Shuwák, and Salmá.

         3p.m.    28.19 71     16       In big tent.

A few gusts during early part of night; the rest very still. Cold and clear.

Mar. 1.  6.45a.m. 25.30 46     10  Very cold; hands chilled. Land-breeze at
                                   eight a.m. At barrage (dam), aneroid

         Noon.    28.37 76     17  In small tent. Noon hot. Wind gusty--not
                                   regular and strong as yesterday.

         3p.m.    28.34 77     6   In small tent. Sky clear; air still and

Mar. 2.  6a.m.    28.30 58     11  In big tent at Shuwák. Air still. Clouds
                                   to east. Afterwards sky mottled, windy
                                   striae. At seven a.m. rainbow without
                                   rain; thin cloud north of sun;
                                   perpendicular streak, brilliant enough:
                                   lasted twenty minutes.

         9a.m.    28.75 66     -   At Shaghab ruin. Sea-breeze at eleven a.m.
                                   Clear and cool. Day slightly cloudy; sun
                                   partly hidden.

         3p.m.    28.60 86     15  In big tent at Majrá el-Wághir. Mild sea-breeze. Hot sun. High clouds.

Night windless, except few occasional gusts. Stars veiled. Grand zodiacal
light (now the regular thing). Cool and pleasant.

Mar. 3.  6a.m.    28.55 66     14  At Majrá el-Wághir, outside tent. Sky
                                   cloudy; mist to north, "mackerel's back"
                                   to east. Sea-breeze at 9.30 a.m. in Wady

         Noon.    29.13 75     26  Under tree in Wady Dámah. Cool wind from
                                   south-west. A few clouds, getting
                                   gradually darker to west and south-west.

         4p.m.    29.20 78     15  At El-Kutayyifah (camp) under a tree. Cool
                                   south-west wind.

         6a.m.    29.30 63     16  Cold north wind. Sea-breeze at nine a.m,
                                   In big tent at El-Kutayyifab.

Mar. 4. 11.30a.m. 29.33 68     11  In shade of rock, Umm ámil.

         4p.m.    29.63 80     10  In small tent at Má el-Badi'h, Wady Salmá.
                                   Cold, stiff gale: dust-laden sea-breeze up
                                   the ugly gorge.

         5.45a.m. 29.50 60     13  At Má el-Badi'h, on box in open air. Air
                                   clear; thin threads to south.

Mar. 5. 12.30p.m. 30.06 84     -3  At Zibá, in big tent, open east and west,
                                   fronting the bay.

         2.45p.m. 30.00 82     4   At Zibá, in small tent.

AT ZIBÁ, IN CAMP (our second halt).

Mar. 6.  6a.m.    29.92 61     15  In big tent. Rather heavy clouds to east
                                   and elsewhere. Sea-breeze began at ten

         Noon.    30.04 86     10  In big tent. Air dull and heavy. "Rain-sun."

         3.45p.m. 30.00 81     3   Sky quite clear.

Storm at sunset. Heavy clouds rising over arch from west to north: all said
meant wind. At seven p.m. violent gusty gale; nearly blew down tents. Rushing
and furious rain from north-west. Gusts lasted long. Fell about eleven p.m.
Rose again very violently at midnight; then blew itself out. Followed by cold
air. Rain lasted about one hour; damped the ground, and left deep puddles in
the rock-hollows.
Never had thunder and lightning in Midian.

Mar. 7.  6a.m.    31.12 58     15  At Zibá, on box. Cold and clear. A few
                                   clouds to west.

         11.30a.m.29.96 74     19  At Jebel el Ghál, in shade in the open.
                                   Fine west wind.

Night and morning cold. On summit of Jebel el-Ghál, aneroid 29.75.

Mar. 8.  6a.m.    30.04 51     11  At Máyat el-Ghál (camp), on box.

March 8th is the 30th (last day of) Imshir (February), 1094.
March 9th is the 1st of Barmáhát (March). See Chap. I. p. 22.
In the early days of Barmáhát they expect the Husum or violent wind which
destroyed the tribe of Ad.
After seven nights and eight days begins the Bard el-Agúz, or "old man's
On Barmáhát 12 (March 20) is the Intikál el-Shams, or "vernal equinox;" after
which the weather becomes warmer.

MARCH 12, 1878.

Date.   Time.  Aneroid Ther. Dry   Wet  Hygr. Remarks.
               Inches. (deg.)Bulb. Bulb.(deg.)

Mar. 8.  12.40p.m.30.08 74     -     -     18   Main cabin, Mukhbir.

Mar. 9.  7a.m.    30.10 20     69    62    -    In cabin.

         12.30p.m.30.13 73     72    64    -    Quite clear. Fresh sea-breeze.

         3p.m.    30.11 75     74    64    -      Clouds white and streaky

In the evening clouds on hills and mountains, especially the SHÁRR; elsewhere
clear. Red sunset, grand. At night dew heavy on board Mukhbir; gunwales wet in
morning. Moon with kind of half halo round her. Night very hot--sign of coming

At noon compared ship's (Mukhbir)
mercurial barometer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  773 millimetres.
With my aneroid by Casella. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..  765 millimetres.
And (Mr. Duguid's) aneroide. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  765 millimetres.
Difference. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. -008 millimetres.
On December 19, 1877, ship's difference. . . . . +007 millimetres.
Difference. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. +001 millimetres.

Mar. 10. 6.30p.m. 30.12 73     69    61    -      In cabin. Clouds on SHÁRR like
                                                  flights of birds, low-lying
                                                  banks to south. Morning
                                                  slightly muggy: no breeze.

         Noon.    30.12 76     75    60    -      In cabin. Gentle sea-breeze.
                                                  Sky quite clear.

         3p.m.    30.11 76     76    66    -      Cool, pleasant sea-breeze.

Fine night, pleasant and cool.

Mar. 11. 6a.m.    30.10 73     68    65    -      In cabin. Splendid morning.

         Noon.    30.10 -      80    64    -      In cabin. Glorious day; sea-breeze cool and fresh.

         3.30p.m. 30.05 78     77    65    -      In cabin. Sea-breeze lively
                                                  and strong.

Mar. 12. 7a.m.    30.04 -      67    61    -      In cabin. Warmish. Splendid
                                                  sunrise on SHÁRR; cold to
                                                  north, warmer tints in centre,
                                                  and glowing red-yellow flush
                                                  to south.

         3p.m.    30.03 78     77    70    -      In cabin. Fine cool sea-breeze.

Tides high and low (March) pier shows difference of three feet in rise, about
the midlength of Sharm Yáhárr.


The distance traversed comprised 59 miles.

On return compared aneroids:--
French (left on board Mukhbir) . . . .  758 millimetres.
My Casella. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  756   "
Difference. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  002   "

Date.   Time.  Aneroid Ther. Hygr.   Remarks.
               Inches. (deg.)(deg.)

Mar. 13. 6.20a.m. 29.96 66     23  On deck of Mukhbir. Cool land-breeze; hot
                                   at nine a.m. Sea-breeze at 10.45. At Wady
                                   Sanawiyyah aneroid 29.60.

         3p.m.    29.26 82     13  Under tree (acacia, but shady). Grand sea-breeze from one to three p.m.

Warm night under the SHÁRR, stones retaining heat. Moon misty. Very heavy dew,
like rain; wetted boxes; saw for the first time inland. Will last for some
three months, and must greatly assist vegetation.

Mar. 14. 6a.m.    29.30 68     28  In big tent. All the sky clouded over as
                                   if rain coming. Sea-breeze 10.30.

         Noon.    29.60 88     28  Camp at Safh Wady Kusayb. Cloudy and
                                   sultry all day. Little sun, except from
                                   nine till eleven a.m. Rain-heat; seems to
                                   threaten rain.

         3p.m.    29.56 86     23  In big tent. Sultry-feels like storm.

At night, violent storm of wind from north-east, with nasty warm gusts. The
people call it Sabáh, probably for Sabá, the "Zephyr"--the Bád-i-Sabá of
poetry; also El-Farawi, because it blows at night. Big tent down in a moment,
as at Makná. N.B.--No windstorm on the coast. At foot of Abú Sháar Pass,
aneroid 28.80; at foot of quartz-vein (wall), 28.50.

Mar. 15. 6a.m.    29.50 76     1   In big tent at Safh Wady Kusayb, north-east wind still blowing. No dew in


         11.45a.m.29.22 93     -5  In Wady Surr. Curious windy cirri to west.
                                   Wind blew itself out in Wady Surr.
                                   Pleasant sea-breeze from south.

         3p.m.    28.93 100    14  In big tent at Safhat el-Wúayrah, Wady
                                   Surr. Cloudy. Wind from south, a deflected


Mar. 16. 6a.m.    29.86 70     2   On box outside tent. Morning grand; still,
                                   clear, warm, and dry. At seven a.m., going
                                   uphill, aneroid 28.20; at 7.35, half-way
                                   up, 27.70.

         9a.m.    26.83 63     3

         Noon.    26.70 82     -   Under rock. Pleasant sea-breeze from
                                   north-east. Sun hot; day quite clear.

         3p.m.    26.76 86     3   Shade of rock, summit of outlier. Strong
                                   wind from west.

Mean of two observations on summit of outlier, 26.79 = 3,200 feet above sea-level.


Mar. 17. 9a.m.    28.36 80     3   Under tree. Very hot sun that tired all.
                                   Breeze at 8.30 a.m.

         11a.m.  28.76(?)93    -   Same place. At summit of Pass el-Kuwayd,
                                   aneroid 28.13; in Wady Kuwayd, 28.20. Very
                                   small descent to 28.50, say 400 feet.

         3.40p.m. 28.65 90     -9  In big tent.


Mar. 18. 4.20am   28.63 73     -4  Complete change of climate. No Khamsin today. Fine sea-breeze in puffes at 9:30

                                   a.m.; came up strong about noon.

         11.45am  29.43 91     5   Under tree in Wady el-Bayzá.

On March 17th began what our Egyptians called the Khamsin, and the Arabs El-Dufún (Bedawin, Dafún) generically; and specifically Dufún el-Suráyyá ("of the

Pleiades""). Sky dark without clouds. At night, yellow clouds over moon. Gusts
alternately hot and cold. Highly electrical; few could sleep at night. Tents
left open. It was followed by damp and gloomy weather, which the Arabs
attribute to the Intikál el-Shams ("vernal equinox"). This began on March
19th, and lasted till the 22nd. Aneroid falls lower than we have yet seen it.

20, 1878.

Date.   Time.  Aneroid Ther. Dry   Wet  Hygr.   Remarks.
               Inches. (deg.)Bulb. Bulb.(deg.)

Mar. 18. 3p.m.    29.91 84     -     -     24     In main cabin. A few light

Mar. 19. 7a.m.    29.83 -      70    64    -      Under deck awning. Morning
                                                  still, calm, and muggy. Clouds
                                                  everywhere. Presently cool
                                                  land-breeze came up. Regular
                                                  Khamsin at eight a.m.

         Noon.    29.80 -      79    71    -      In captain's cabin. Cloudy and

         3p.m.    29.76 -      79    70    -      In captain's cabin. Afternoon
                                                  sultry. Wind Azyab, and from
                                                  south. Seems to threaten a
                                                  storm. Heavy clouds from west
                                                  and north-west.

Mar. 20. 7a.m.    29.82 -      75    71    -      In captain's cabin. Sultry,
                                                  "juicy" morning.

         Noon.    29.75 -      76    70    -      Dark and cloudy. Cool wind
                                                  from south-west.

         4p.m.    29.80 -      76    68    -      In captain's cabin. Sultry
                                                  air; no breeze; nasty and
                                                  damp. Cloudy all over. A storm
                                                  somewhere (Alexandria? Suez?).
                                                  Swell on sea, breaking on
                                                  south reef; comes from north-west. Weather looks like that

                                                  of Europe.

About eight p.m. a cool draught from north. No moon or stars. Expect it to end
either in a gale or in heavy rain. It ended on morning of March 22nd, with a
fine north wind; and at 9.10 p.m. with slight earthquake.


Date.   Time.  Aneroid Ther. Dry   Wet  Hydg.   Remarks.
               Inches. (deg.)Bulb. Bulb.(deg.)


Mar. 21. 7a.m.    29.76 -      75    71    -      In captain's cabin. Aneroid
                                                  very low. Wind south-west.
                                                  Ugly, gloomy weather.
                                                  Mountains misty. Very slight
                                                  roll in sea--became heavy in
                                                  afternoon--mar vecchio (Bahr
                                                  madfún). Bursts of half sun
                                                  after nine a.m.

         12.40p.m.29.84 -      77    71    -      Aneroid rising. At noon sea
                                                  quite calm and oily. Shortly
                                                  after, sea-breeze from west
                                                  set in. About one p.m. made
                                                  sail; rolling began. More sun.
                                                  Sails down. At two p m.
                                                  rolling heavy, cross sea (mar

         3.30p.m. 29.85 -      76    73    -      Damp increases.

After five p.m. sky clearer and weather finer, but still dark to south. Stars


Mar. 22. 6.15a.m. 29.92 -      73    66    -      In cabin. Morning cool. Wind
                                                  north. Total change of
                                                  weather. Sky clear, except
                                                  cirri, and wind increased.
                                                  White "horses" outside. All
                                                  nature gay.

         Noon.    30.01 -      79    65    -      In cabin. Damp disappeared.

         3p.m.    30.90 -      74    64    -      Fine, strong, bright sea-breeze. North wind,

                                                  threatening to blow hard.
                                                  Cloudy and clear. Windy sky.

At 9.10 p.m. earthquake from north to south; lasted twenty seconds; followed
by strong north wind, which lasted only a short time. So end the Equinoctials.

Mar. 23. 6a.m.    30.00 -      70    61    -      At Dumayghah. In cabin.
                                                  Glorious morning; cool, calm,
                                                  bright. Zephyr from north. At
                                                  noon a few wind-clouds and
                                                  cirri to north and west. Very
                                                  heavy rolling (mar vecchio)
                                                  from north-west. Long waves.

         3p.m.    29.98 -      74    65    -      At El-Wijh. Pleasant, cool
                                                  north wind. Afternoon cloudy
                                                  and cold, as if wind came
                                                  through rain.

Cleared in the evening. Saw stars.


Mar. 24. 5.45a.m. 29.94 -      71    68    -      In cabin. Grey, cloudy
                                                  morning. No cold.

         3p.m.    29.98 -      74    65    -      In cabin. Fine north breeze.
                                                  Warm sun. Air cool. Wind-clouds to east; the rest blue.

                                                  Sky wondrous clear.

At 4.30 p.m. left El-Wijh, and steamed nearly due south-west. Fine breeze and
long waves from north-west. Wind and waves fell. Rolled horridly from seven
p.m. to midnight: no ballast; very bad steering: then turned south-east, and
movement somewhat improved. Very heavy dew. Zodiacal light clear.


Mar. 25. 7.30 a.m.30.04 -      73    68    -      Marvellous fine morning. Wind
                                                  north. Glorious day.

         12.15p.m.30.01 -      75    64    -      Near El-Haurá. Lovely day.
                                                  Steady north breeze.

         4p.m.    29.97 -      77    69    -


Mar. 26  6a.m.    29.94 70     -     -     36     In cabin. Red morning, warm
                                                  and still. Sea oily. Light
                                                  mists. Venus throws shadow.
                                                  Very heavy dew--all wet.

         12.15p.m.29.91 -      74    70    -      Same place. Warm sun; cool
                                                  breeze from north.

         3.20p.m. 29.87 -      78    74    -      At sea. Cirri and wind-clouds
                                                  to east and nearly everywhere.

Weather fine, yet glass falling. Damp air. Hence (possibly) many have colds,
coughs, and hoarseness. Wind-clouds, but clear to north. Dew very heavy.


Mar. 27. 7a.m.    29.87 -      73    68    -      In captain's cabin Dew-clouds
                                                  everywhere. Air very damp.

         11.45a.m.29.98 -      78    70    -      Air still and pleasant.

         3p.m.    29.85 -      78    72    -      Day decidedly hot and damp.
                                                  Aneroid very low.

Mar. 28. 6.30a.m. 29.89 -      70-1/2 68   -      In cabin. Dew wetted tents and
                                                  decks like heavy shower. Sky
                                                  all dew; air feels soppy.
                                                  Violent wind from north-west.
                                                  Ship rolling.

         1p.m.    29.97 -      70-1/2 67   -

Mar. 29. 7a.m.    29.97 71     -     -     33     In cabin. Strong, cold north
                                                  wind. Men coughing like cries
                                                  of camels. Sky very clear.
                                                  This kind of storm is called
                                                  Hawwá el-'Uwwah ("last storm
                                                  of March"), and blows fourteen
                                                  days. Followed by El-Ni'ám el-Kabir ("greater"), and El-
Saghir ("less"); continues

                                                  forty days.

         6p.m.    28.78 74     -     -     30     At Fort El-Wijh, two hours'
                                                  journey up the valley.

Fine day on seaboard--not much gale. Wind north-west. Night cool, but no dew.
     Ship's barometer,   6 a.m.,   30.7 Wind north-west. Ther. (F.) 64 deg.
     Ship's barometer,   noon,     30.7 Wind north-west. Ther. (F.) 76 deg.
     Ship's barometer,   3 p.m.,   30.7 Wind north-west. Ther. (F.) 76 deg.


Compared ship's (Sinnár) mercurial barometer, 30.07 (64 deg. F.), with
anerold, 30.01; difference, aneroid,--0.06.

On return compared ship's (Sinnár) mercurial barometer, 29.99, with aneroid,
29.86; difference, aneroid,--0.13.

Date.   Time.  Aneroid Ther. Dry   Wet  Hydg.   Remarks.
               Inches. (deg.)Bulb. Bulb.(deg.)

Mar. 30. 5.30a.m. 29.70 64     -     -     24     At Fort El-Wijh, on box before
                                                  tent. Cold and cloudy morning.
                                                  Moon and stars veiled.

         Noon.    29.55 90     -     -     43     In camp at Umm el-Karáyát--
                                                  deep valley. Puffs of sea-breeze from south. Strong sun.

         3.15p.m. 29.50 86     -     -     29     In big tent at Umm el-Karáyát--lat. 26 deg. 13'. Sun very

                                                  hot. Fresh and strong sea-breeze from east (?).

Cool and pleasant night. No sign of dew. Climate healthy. Garrison at Fort El-Wijh in excellent condition.

Mar. 31. 5a.m.    29.44 45     -     -     19     In big tent at Umm el-Karáyát.
                                                  Very clear, still morning.
                                                  West pink. At sunrise wind,
                                                  and hot and cold puffs (south-east and land-breeze).

         11.10p.m.29.46 90     -     -     -3     At Wady el-Kubbah, under tree.
                                                  Very hot. Wind shifting from
                                                  east to west (sea-breeze).
                                                  Stones in sun so hot that they
                                                  cannot be held. At noon
                                                  regular Khamsin; air sandy.

Top of Jebel el-Kubbah, aneroid 29.34; in valley below, aneroid 29.46 (47?);
height, 120 feet.

         3p.m.    29.30 94     -     -     -20    At Máyat el-Dasnah. Hot west
                                                  wind. Thermometer in big tent,

Night cool.

April 1.  "       29.30 63     -     -     -12    At Máyat el-Dasnah. Morning
                                                  pleasant, still, and quite
                                                  clear. No sign of dew or
                                                  Khamsin. Hygrometer
                                                  exceedingly dry. Sun rose hot.
                                                  Slight breeze from eight a.m.
                                                  to 8.30 a.m., when the rocks
                                                  and stones have become
                                                  thoroughly heated. Very
                                                  refreshing: cools head; stops

         9.30a.m. 28.96 83     -     -     -10    At foot of Marú Rábigh, in
                                                  shade of rock.

         12.30p.m.28.92 99     -     -     -8     At Marú Rábigh, under big tent
                                                  awning. About noon a medley of
                                                  winds; hot blasts of Khamsin
                                                  from south-west, suddenly
                                                  changed to north.

         3p.m.    28.88 100    -     -     -25    At Marú Rábigh. Hot sun. Wind
                                                  in puffs, mostly south-west.
                                                  No sand in air. Stones in
                                                  sunshine too hot to hold; yet
                                                  there are flies.

This is second day of Khamsin. Comes up about ten a.m.; wind either too much
or too little. At 2.5 p.m. nearly blew tent down.

April 2. 5.10a.m. 28.98 70     -     -     -6     At foot of Marú Rubayyigh in
                                                  Wady Rábigh. Morning perfectly
                                                  still. All appearance of
                                                  Khamsin. Light horizontal
                                                  striae to north.

         Noon.    29.15 92     -     -     -18    At Abú Gezáz valley, under
                                                  tree. Much bothered by small

         3.10p.m. 29.14 100    -     -     -25    In big tent, which was again
                                                  blown down.

Third day of Khamsin. All animals weak and worn out. Wind comes up later--
11.30 a.m. to noon. Gives feeling of faintness and awful thirst. "Devils"
(Zawábah) rose high in valley with electrical whirl. Evening lowering. Wind or
rain clouds from west and north. Night still and cool. Threatening clouds east
and west.

April 3. 5a.m.    29.20 65     -     -     -13    At Abú Gezáz valley. Morning
                                                  cool (sign Khamsin gone). Sun
                                                  pleasant. Red wind-clouds to
                                                  north and east. At six a.m.
                                                  pleasant, cool land-breeze
                                                  from south.

         Noon.    28.80 90     -     -     -16    At El-Badá, under palm-tree.
                                                  Wind west. Milky sky, all

         3p.m.    28.75 95     -     -     -24    In big tent. Regular Khamsin--
                                                  very nasty. Clouds to west.

Night still. Neither warm nor cool. climate fine. Colds and coughs


April 4. 5.30a.m. 28.70 68     -     -     -7     On box outside tent. Traces of
                                                  dew. White clouds. Looked
                                                  regularly like a Khamsin day.

         Noon.    28.74 90     -     -     2      In big tent. No sun. Air
                                                  muggy. White gleams. View
                                                  poor; like rain. Strong blast
                                                  from south-west. Heavy clouds
                                                  west and north. Drops of rain
                                                  fell three times between one
                                                  p.m. and three p.m.

         3p.m.    28.70 90     -     -     -8

At four p.m. in west a dust like general or prairie fire. A few drops of rain
fell at long intervals--could not catch any for photographs. Broad parallel
veins of white, red, and black cloud rising from east to west. Puffs of cold
wind came on, soon growing to blasts; then storm came down upon us. No thunder
or lightning. Kind of "dust-bow" in west (no rain), half the arc. Wind then
turned north and felt cold and rainy. Heavy cloud-bank to west. Forms of
mountains crept out of the brown and purple mist, half dust, half rain. All
enjoyed storm. No rain for two years has fallen here. Rainbows at El-'Akabah
(double) and at Shuwák (single). Cool and pleasant night, with dew. Mean of
six aneroid observations at El-Badá, 28.78. After leaving El-Badá mornings and
evenings delightful; sun warm in day; nights cool and pleasant. Dust at times.

April 5. 4.30a.m. 28.65 -      -     -     -8     In big tent at Badá. Dust
                                                  "devils." Great change after
                                                  rain. Very damp.

         3p.m.    28.58 86     -     -     -3     At 'Ayn el-Kurr, under shade
                                                  of rock. Strong north wind.

Though all prophesied Azyab or "south-easter," this was perhaps the finest of
all our days. Night cool. Cold wind at one a.m., of which all complained.

April 6. 5.45a.m. 28.59 58     -     -     6      At 'Ayn el-Kurr, on box
                                                  outside tent. White clouds to
                                                  south. No wind. False sea-breeze at seven a.m.; true at

                                                  ten a.m. Cloudy forenoon.

         11.45a.m.28.90 84     -     -     -    In Wady el-Kurr.

         3p.m.    28.87 87     -     -     -3     At Wady Laylah, in big tent.
                                                  Afternoon windy as usual.
                                                  Puffs from west (sea-breeze),
                                                  cold. Sky quite clear.
                                                  Mountains milky.

Night cool, but not cold.

April 7. 4.15a.m. 28.80 60     -     -     +5     In big tent at Wady Laylah.
                                                  Morning especially bright.
                                                  Lucifer like a little moon.
                                                  Breeze at eight a.m.

         Noon.    29.39 54     -     -     +2     Wady Birkat, under rock. Going
                                                  down seawards fast. Cool west
                                                  wind. Good sea-breeze. Sky and
                                                  sun clear--sun not unpleasant.
                                                  Hot in sheltered bends.

         3.10p.m. 29.46 81     -     -      4     At Abál-Ajáj, under tamarisks.

Dew at night.

April 8. 5a.m.    29.55 60     -      -    27     Outside tent at Abál-Ajáj.
                                                  Cool morning; warmer at eight
                                                  a.m. before breeze set in.

         Noon.    29.94 83     -     -     22     At the temple (El-Gasr), Wady
                                                  Hamz. Sand-dust with sea-breeze, terrible at temple and

                                                  around it. Eyes filled,
                                                  clothes covered. Saw mirage--
                                                  well defined for first time.

         3p.m.    29.90 52     -     -     20     At Wady Hamz. Hygrometer damp
                                                  on account of sea-breeze.

April 9. 4a.m.    29.92 70     -     -     25     Still, clear, and beautiful,
                                                  like all these mornings. Hot
                                                  sun. Blue sea, glassy near the
                                                  shore. Puffs of wind from

         Noon.    29.90 96     -     -     -8     In big tent at Wady Mismáh.
                                                  Cool breeze from north-cast.
                                                  Heat strongly reflected from
                                                  quartz. Vegetation dreadfully
                                                  dry; plants look dead. Two bad

         3p.m.    29.74 92     -     -     -18    In big tent at Abál-Marú.
                                                  Another nasty afternoon. High
                                                  west wind--sea-breeze, not
                                                  Khamsin; tent almost blown
                                                  down. Dust dreadful.

Evening charming. Night admirably cool.

April 10 4.20a.m. 29.74 -      -     -     0      In big tent at Abál-Marú.
                                                  Splendid morning; few striae
                                                  in east. Will be hot.

         4.30p.m. 29.95 -      76    73    -      On board Sinnár, captain's
                                                  cabin. Pleasant afternoon.
                                                  Cool sea-breeze.


April 11.6a.m.    29.86 -      70    66    -      In captain's cabin. Felt damp
                                                  strongly after the Desert.

         12.30p.m.29.87 -      78    74    -      All complaining of heat (white
                                                  heat); damp is the cause. No
                                                  sea-breeze to speak of.

         3.15p.m. 29.83 -      79    75    -      White clouds everywhere.
                                                  Curious wind-clouds, not a
                                                  little like comets.

Heavy dew. Streets of El-Wijh wet.


Date.     Time.     Aneroid  Dry   Wet    Remarks.
                    Inches.  Bulb. Bulb.

April 12. 6.20 a.m.  29.89   78    73        En route to El-Muwaylah, captain's
                                             cabin. Red sunrise. Clouds thin all
                                             about horizon. Looks like regular
                                             Khamsin day. Feels exceedingly damp.

          12.20 p.m. 20.80   79    70        In dead calm. Sea oily, like mirror.
                                             No winds. Thin white clouds

          3.35 p.m.  29.78   81    76        In captain's cabin. Wretched day at
                                             El-Wijh and ashore. Very muggy.

At night a "bruch" (halo) of clouds round moon, and far from it.  Expect
storm. "Bruchs" round moon on 13th, 14th, and 15th.

April 13. Noon.      29.84   78    70        Anchored before El-Muwaylah. No dew
                                             in morning, and clouds everywhere.
                                             No sun seen. Very hot at noon. White
                                             clouds everywhere. Smoke of steamer
                                             hangs low. Mountains look very high.
                                             Muggy. Fine drinkytite.

          3 p.m.     29.80   83    73        At Sharm Yáhárr. Hot and sweaty.
                                             Light west wind rose after noon;
                                             soon fell.

At night clouds and "bruch."  Clear to north, thick to south.

April 14. 6.30 a.m.  29.82   78    72        At Sharm Yáhárr.  Nasty muggy
                                             morning. Light north breeze set in.

          12.40 p.m. 29.88   82    75

          3 p.m.     29.85   83    76        Warm and cloudy.

Weather threatening. The same storm that found us at Makná last year.

April 15.  "         -       -     -         Water flooded pier, and waves broke
                                             on shore.

April 16.  "         -       -     -         Ran to El-Muwaylah. Had to return to
                                             Sharm Yáhárr. Furious wind from west
                                             (Gharbi) began about nine a.m.

April 17. Noon.      29.98   77    65        In captain's cabin, Sharm Yáhárr.

          3 p.m.     29.92   76    65

Wind changed to north.  Weather became cool and pleasant. Gale still, but
shows signs of abating.

On April 18th weather somewhat abated. Stopped at El-Mawaylah to drop Sayyid
'Abd el-Rahim; and steamed off for Suez, where we arrived on 20th.  Voyage
very slow in teeth of north wind. Yet at Suez had had south wind for some
days, and congratulated us upon the fact.


(He used the French aneroide and the Centigrade thermometer bought at Cairo.)

Date.     Time.     Aneroid      Thermometer  Remarks.
                    Millimetres. Centigrade.

Jan. 8.   Noon.     768          25           At Sharmá camp.

Jan. 9.   Noon.     768          25           Ditto.

Jan. 10.  Noon.     761          26           Ditto.

Jan. 11.  Noon.     763          19           Ditto.

Jan. 12.  Noon.     763          19           Ditto.

Jan. 13.  Noon.     760          30           Ditto. Very hot.

Jan. 14.  Daylight  760          20
           (?)      755          25           Very hot.
          8 p.m.    758          23

Jan. 15.   (?)      757          21
           (?)      757          25           Hot.
          Nightfall 759          20

Jan. 16.  Daylight  762          18           Mr. Duguid marched from Sharmá to El-Muwaylah.

Jan. 17.  Sunset.   768          25           On board Mukhbir at Sharm Yáhárr.

Jan. 18.  Sunrise.  766          22           On board Mukhbir.
           (?)      766          23           Ditto.
          Sunset.   764          28           Ditto. Hot.


Jan. 19.  Sunrise.  763          21
          Noon.     762          25
          Sunset.   763          25

Jan. 20.  Sunrise.  761          21
          Noon.     762          25
          Nightfall 762          28           Hot

Jan. 21.  Sunrise.  763          23           Bad weather at Sharm Yáhárr.
          Noon.     763          24
          Sunset.   767          25

Jan. 22.  Sunrise.  769          19           Mukhbir delayed by bad weather.
          Noon.     768          24

Jan. 24.  Noon.     767          24

Mr. Duguid steamed out of Yáhárr for Makná. Anchored off Sináfir Island.

Jan. 25.  Sunrise.  767          23           Reached Makná.
          Noon.     766          24
          Sunset.   765          25

Jan. 26.  Sunrise.  764          23           On board Mukhbir.
          Noon.     763          27
          Sunset.   763          29

Jan. 27.  Sunrise.  765          22           Ditto.
          Noon.     763          23
          Sunset.   763          27

Jan. 28.  Sunrise.  763          21           Ditto.
          Noon.     762          24
          Sunset.   762          22

Jan. 29.  Sunrise.  763          20           Ditto.
          Noon.     762          22
          Sunset.   762          23

Jan. 30.  Sunrise.  766          20           Ditto.
          Noon.     764          24
          Sunset.   765          24

Jan. 31.  Sunrise.  765          22           Ditto.
          Noon.     764          23
          Sunset.   764          23

Feb. 1.   Sunrise.  765          21           Ditto.
          Noon.     764          22


Date.     Time.     Aneroid      Thermometer   Remarks.
                    Millimetres. Centigrade.

Feb. 18.  7 a.m.     764           18          Clear sky. Light breeze.
          Noon.      763           23          Same weather.
          5 p.m.     764           23          Clear sky. Good breeze.

Feb. 19.  7 a.m.     764           20          Clear sky. Light wind.
          Noon.      764           23          Light wind. Few clouds in east.
          5 p.m.     764           24          Clear sky. Light wind.

Feb. 20.  7 a.m.     765           20          Clear sky. Light east wind.
          Noon.      765           21          Clear sky. Light north-west wind.
          5 p.m.     764           23          Clear sky. Light east wind.

Feb. 21.  7 a.m.     765           20          White clouds all round. Light east wind.
          Noon.      766           23          Few clouds to south. Light north-west wind.

Feb. 22.  7 a.m.     765           20          Few clouds to east. Light west wind.
          Noon.      764           22          Few clouds to east. Good north-west breeze.
          5 p.m.     764           22          Few clouds to west. Light north wind.

Feb. 23.  7 a.m.     764           19          Clouds to south-west. No wind.
          Noon.      765           21          Clouds to east. Light north-west wind.
          5 p.m.     765           22          Few clouds to east. Light north-west wind.

Feb. 24.  7 a.m.     767           19          Clear sky. No wind.
          Noon.      768           22          Clear sky. Light north wind.
          5 p.m.     768           24          Same weather.

Feb. 25   7 a.m.     769           20          Clear sky. Light east wind.
          Noon.      769           22          Clear sky. Light west wind.
          5 p.m.     768           24          Clear sky. No wind.

Feb. 26.  7 a.m.     766           20          Clear sky. Light east wind.
          5 p.m.     766           20          Same weather.

Feb. 27.  7 a.m.     762           20          Few clouds to south. Light north-east wind.
          Noon.      762           23          Clear sky. Light north wind.
          5 p.m.     761           25          Clear sky. Light west wind.

Feb. 28.  5.p.m.     764           23          Heavy clouds to west. Strong west wind.

Mar. 1.   7 a.m.     767           20          Few clouds in south. Light north wind.
          Noon.      767           23          Clear sky. Good north-west breeze.
          5 p.m.     765           22          Few clouds to west. Light wind from west.

Mar. 2.   7 a.m.     765           20          Clouds all round. Light east wind.
          Noon.      765           23          Clouds all round. Light west wind.
          5 p.m.     764           24          Clouds all round. Light north wind.

Mar. 3.   7 a.m.     762           20          Few clouds to east. No wind.
          Noon.      763           22          Few clouds to south. Good north-west breeze.
          5 p.m.     763           23          Few clouds to north. Good w