Excursion From Damascus To Yabrûd, Etc. -- By: J. L. Porter

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 011:43 (Jul 1854)
Article: Excursion From Damascus To Yabrûd, Etc.
Author: J. L. Porter

Excursion From Damascus To Yabrûd, Etc.

Rev. J. L. Porter

In attempting to explore the eastern part of Syria, which has hitherto scarcely been entered upon by the geographer, I have pursued a regular plan. I marked out a series of excursions in different directions, to be undertaken when circumstances world permit, or a regard to health required a short respite from more severe studies. My object has been threefold: first, to become acquainted with the state and character of the people; second, to note the topography, physical features, and antiquities of the country; and third, to make such surveys as would enable me to construct a map.

My plan, laid down some two years ago, is now nearly completed as far as regards the “Environs of Damascus.” The Wady of the Barada and the route by Neby Shît to Ba’albek were first examined. Then the valleys of Helbôn and Menîn, with the mountain-chains and groups near them. After this, I went to the summit of Jebel esh-Sheikh, and glanced at the southern section of Antilebanon, the sources of the river A’waj, and the western parts of the plain of Damascus. The substance of my observations upon all these has been already communicated to you.

My next journey was to Saidanâya and Yabrûd, returning by the Aleppo road to Kutaifeh, and then crossing the mountains to Maksûra in the eastern plain, on the borders of the desert; and thence to Damascus. No part of this route has ever been accurately described, so far as I know; and the latter part of it has never been traversed by Frank travellers. During this excursion 1 was enabled to explore the central-eastern section of Antilebanon, and the north-eastern division of the plain of Damascus. I afterwards proceeded to the lakes east of Damascus, all of which I carefully surveyed, taking bearings from different points. The central and eastern portions of the plain here occupied my attention, with the lower part of the river A’waj. My last ride was to the summit of the lofty conical peak on the south bank of the A’waj, called Tell Mâni’a. This is a conspicuous object, and commands a fine view over the surrounding country.

Two other much longer journeys which I made have also afforded me additional opportunities of ascertaining the leading features of the Environs of Damascus. The first was to Palmyra, more than two years ago; the other to the Haurân, in January, 1853. In the latter, I went by the eastern end of the ranges of Jebel el-Aswad and Jebel Mâni’a, and across the plain to Burâk on the north-east corner of the Lejah. Thence I travelled along the east side of the Lejah southward to the mountainous region called Ard el-Bethenyeh. I returned by the western border of the Lejah, D...

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