Notes Of A Tour From Damascus To Ba’albek And Hums -- By: J. L. Porter

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 011:44 (Oct 1854)
Article: Notes Of A Tour From Damascus To Ba’albek And Hums
Author: J. L. Porter

Notes Of A Tour From Damascus To Ba’albek And Hums

Rev. J. L. Porter

During the early part of the present slimmer (1853), I had intended making a mission tour to the town of Hums, and the Jacobite villages around it; but was prevented from fulfilling my purpose by the pressure of duties in this city. A short interval of leisure occurred after our return from our summer residence at Blûdân; and Mr. Barnett and myself resolved to employ this time in visiting the Christians of Hums, by some of whom our presence and instructions were earnestly sought. We proposed to include in our tour such Christian villages as lay in the line of our routed and that as large a number as possible might be embraced without waste of time, we determined to cross the mountains direct to Ba’albek, and follow the road by Râs, Hurmŭl and Ribleh; and then return, if possible, by way of Sŭdŭd; or, if that should prove impracticable, by the great caravan road to Hasya and Nebk. This latter was the road we were finally obliged to follow.

Tuesday, October 11th. We left Bâb Tûma (Thomas’ Gate) at 12 o’clock, and after half an hour’s ride in a northerly direction

among the gardens and orchards of Damascus, we crossed the canal Yezîd and entered the open plain beyond. At 1 o’clock we passed through the large village of Burzeh, at the entrance of the wild ravine of Ma’raba. Twelve minutes beyond, we commenced to ascend the low ridge of barren hills that here bounds the plain. We followed the course of an ancient road, now passing through deep cuttings in the white chalky cliffs, and now scrambling up long flights of stairs hewn in the hard limestone. At 1.40 we gained the summit; and here again I enjoyed a prospect which for richness and beauty is not surpassed, if equalled, in Syria. The scene was the same I had gazed on exactly twelve months before; but many of its features had become more familiar to me by visits paid them during the interval. The group of the Tellûl was there on the eastern horizon; but I could now distinguish along their base the dim outlines of the three singular ruins called the Diûra. Far away, south by east, were the mountains of Haurân; and I could now distinctly recognize the lofty conical peaks of Kuleib and Tell Abn-Tumeis, overtopping all others; while, in the plain to the north of this range, I could see the ruin-crowned Tell el-Khale-dîyeh. The bearings of these I noted, testing the accuracy of the compass by measuring their relative angles with the sextant. These bearings are important as determining the relative positions of the city and plain of Damascus, and the mountain range of the Hauran.

From this spot we descended the hill diagonally in a course N. 2...

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