Letters from Mr. E. H. Palmer

1869 Palestine Exploration Quarterly  
View related articles LETTERS PROM MR. E. H. PALMER. 311 given I put it down from sound (by Eli Smith's alphabet),land made Edward (who knows Arabic) do the same, and at the same time I made the dragoman write it down in Arabic on the spot. Each evening these lists were compared and an Arabic list made out, and on our return Dr. Sandreczky very kindly undertook to revise it; the results of his labour have already been sent home. Many of the words no doubt are somewhat in error, but I believe
more » ... r, but I believe with this list it would be very easy to get a correct list of the whole country from the Bedouins on the other side, who now often come to Jerusalem, It was not an easy job to keep the reconnaissance connected in a country where some of the most important points were inaccessible, and where now and then we had to be careful of showing our instruments, on account of the prejudices of the Bedouins. I may observe that on the east side, as on the west, it is not the ruins, or the 'ains, or the hills which have names generally, but a whole district; thus in one tract there may be nothing particular to mark it, while in another you may have two or three conspicuous hills, an 'ain, and several ruins, all of one name, and this fact, until it is recognised, is very perplexing. From the pointed arches lying so frequently on older work, it is apparent that domesticated races lived on this eastern side long after the fall of the Roman Empire, and that it is comparatively but a short time since the Bedouins have held sway there. The population at one time on the Belka appears to have been dense. The country now is cultivated by the black Bedouins and runaway fellahin from the western side, working under the Adwan. LETTERS FROM MR. E. H. PALMER. JERUSALEM, March 7th, 1870. III. Having found it expedient to divide our journey, and being unable to obtain camels for the second part without going up to Hebron, we have run up to Jerusalem for a few days to refit before starting again southwards, and I take the opportunity of writing you a short account of our progress. I am glad to say that our investigations thus far have been eminently successful, and that we have made some discoveries of great importance. The outline and features of the mountain range forming the edge of the Tih plateau were examined by us from the south, and while still in Sinai. This will be duly explained in the maps and route sketches, which we have made, and which we hope to be able to forward as soon as our work is complete. From the Naob el Mirad the pass in Jebel el 'Ejmeh, by which we entered the scene of our explorations, we crossed to Y Downloaded by [UNSW Library] at 02:14 28 April 2016 312 LETTERS FROM MR. E. H. PALMER. Nakhl, where we had made onr depot, and thence proceeded in a northeast direction as far as J. Ikhrimm. The whole of the desert crossed by the Hajj route, and of which Nakhl is approximately the centre point, is an arid rolling plain, relieved by a few isolated groups of mountains and low plateaus, but otherwise presenting scarcely any features of interest to the explorer. The great Wady el Ar'ish and its tributaries, which have been exceedingly incorrectly laid down on the maps, were first determined by us, and the orography more accurately defined ; but as these are points that can only be elucidated by means of our map and route sketches, I refrain from dwelling upon them here. At J. Ikhrimm we again turned off the regular route which we had been following for two days, and from this point up to our arrival at Beer-sheba every portion of our route was marked by objects and discoveries of the highest interest. Hearing that some ancient remains had been recently discovered by the Arabs at a place bearing the name of " El Contelleh " in Wady G-araiyeli, the large valley which receives the drainage of the mountain plateau south of J. Magrah or mountains of the " Negeb," we determined to investigate the facts. Arriving at the spot, we found an isolated hill, its summit covered with debris: here a chance hole was shown us in which we were told that a large waterjar had been found. We were unable to devote more than a day to the excavation of the place, but even in this time we cleared out sufficient of the debris to show that the summit had been occupied by a strong walled building, probably a fortress; but the most remarkable feature observable in it was that along the foundations of the walls there were square holes each containing four large amphorae, carefully packed in with straw and other rubbish, and protected above by a framework of timber. Of one of these jars, which was thus marked upon the shoulder, Mr. Tyrwhitt Drake has made a careful coloured drawing. Leaving Garaiyeh, we turned northwards to J. 'Araif, of which, in spite of the attempts made by the Arabs to prevent us, we made the ascent, being the first Europeans who have ever done so. The observations taken from the summit were of great use to us in determining the lie of the country, and in correcting previous maps. For instance, the high cliff noticed by Dr. Robinson, and called by him J. Mukhrah, is not an isolated mountain like Araif, but the precipitous edge of an extensive mountain plateau called Magrah, which, though intersected by various broad wadies, runs northwards, without any break, to a point within a few miles of Wady Seba, where it is divided by Wady er Rakhmah, from the mountains of that name. To the west of this plateau, and forming the eastern border of the desert of et Tih, are a number of lower mountain groups, amidst which the wadies which take their rise in the heart of J. Magrah meander on their way to the sea. This country is of course much more fertile than the open plain, and here it is that the interest of the region culminates, for here must have been the scene of a great part at least of Israel's wanderings, and here, if anywhere, we must look Downloaded by [UNSW Library]
doi:10.1179/peq.1869.051 fatcat:26mkryp3sze6jicby6obgpo45m