Charles Bucke.

Ruins of ancient cities : with general and particular accounts of their rise, fall, and present condition (Volume 1) online

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then two hundred and more inferior mosques and
wdgids *.

The walls of Byzantium t were bxiilt of large square
stones, so joined as, apparently, to form one single
block. They were much loftier on the land side than
towards the water, being naturally defended by the
waves, and in some places by the rocks they are built
on, which project into the sea.

They were of Cyclopian structure | ; and of the
workmanship, from what Herodian has said of them,
the masonry was greatly superior to any of the work-
manship now visible in the fortifications. It was sur-
rounded by a wall, made of such immense quadran-
gular masses of stone, and so skilfully adjusted, that
the marvellous masonry, instead of disclosing to view
the separate parts of which it consisted, seemed like
one entire mass. " The very ruins," says Herodian,
" show the wonderful skill, not only of the persons
who built it, but of those, also, by whom it was

The wall of Theodosius begins at the castle of
Seven Towers, whence it traverses the whole western
Chamber* f Clarke. J Barthclcmy.


side of the city. This is the only part of the general
wall of the city worth seeing. It is flanked into a
double row of inural towers, and defended by a fosse
about eight yards wide. The same promiscuous
mixture of the works of ancient art columns, in-
scriptions, bas-reliefs, &c. seen in the walls of all
the Greek cities, is here remarkably conspicuous.
But the ivy-mantled towers, and the great height of
this wall, added to its crumbling ruinous state, give
it a picturesque appearance, exhibited by no other
city in the Levant : it resembles a series of old
ruined castles extending for five miles from sea to

Of the eighteen gates, which once existed on the
west side of the city, only seven now remain. The
site of the two temples erected by Justinian, as
safeguards of the city, may still be ascertained by
their vestiges ; but these have almost disappeared.

The walls, which are well built, are still standing,
and consist of stone terraces from fifty to sixty feet
high, and occasionally from fifteen to twenty feet thick,
covered with freestone of a greyish-white colour ; but
sometimes of pure white, and seeming fresh from the
chisel of the mason. At the feet of the walls are the
ancient fosses filled with rubbish and luxuriant loam,
in which trees and pellitories have taken root ages ago,
and now form an impenetrable glacis. The summit
of the wall is almost everywhere crowned with vege-
tation, which overhangs and forms a sort of coping,
surmounted by capital and volute of climbing plants
and ivy. These walls are so noble, that La 5lartine
says that, next to the Parthenon and Balbec, they
are the noblest existing memorials of ruined empires.

" There is nothing either grand or beautiful in

* The whole circumference of the walls measures eighteen miles ;
the number of inural towers is four hundred and seventy-eLht.

194 RUINS 01

the remains of the brazen column, consisting of the
bmlics of three serpents twistel spirally toother. It is
about twelve feet in height, and being hollow, the
Turks have filled it with broken tiles, stmirs. ami
other relies. But in the circumstances of its his-
tory, no critique of ancient times can be more inte-
resting. For it once supported the golden tripod at
Delphi, which the Greeks, after the battle of Plat;i-a,
found in camp of Mardonius *."

Near the Valide is a COLUMN of POHPHYHY t,
generally supposed to have supported the statue of
CONST ANTINE. It is composed of eight pieces, sur-
rounded by as many wreaths or garlands of the same
marble. Not long since it gained the name of Co-
lonna Brugiata, or burned pillar, ha-ving l>tvn very
much defaced by the many conflagrations to which
this vast city has been subject.

Near Mesmer-Kiosch j is a view of the summit
of the Corinthian pillar of white marble, fifty feet
high, in the gardens of the seraglio, with the inscrip-


This has been erroneously supposed the column of
Theodora. Pococke mentions that it was taken from
some other part of the town to the seraglio gardens.
It ia supported by a handsome capital of vcrd

This building , the mosque of St. Sophia (for-

" This fact," continue* Dr. Claike, * lias been so well ascer-
tained, that it will, probably, never he disputed." " The guardians
of the most holy relics," says Gibbon, " would rejoice if they were
nhle to produce such a chain of evidence as may be alleged on this
occasion." The original consecration in the temple of Delphi is
proved from Herodotus and Pausanias ; and its removal by
Zoiimus, Kim-bins, Socratci, Ecclesiasticus, and Sozomen.

v I ."ill Sandwich. \ I tollhouse. 9 Sandwich.


nierly of much larger extent), owes its foundation to
the emperor Justinian, who lived also to see it
finished, A. D. 557. It was dedicated by him to the
wisdom of God. This fabric is entirely Gothic.

" In the time of Procopius * its dome might have
seemed suspended by a chain from heaven ; but at
present it exhibits much more of a subterranean
than of an aerial character. The approach to the
Pantheon at Rome, as well as to the spacious aisle
and dome of St. Peter's, is by ascending; but in
order to get beneath the dome of St. Sophia, the
spectator is conducted down a flight of stairs. * * *
The more we saw of the city, the more we had
reason to be convinced that it remains as it was from
its conquest by the Turks. The interior of St. So-
phia manifestly proves the indisposition of the Turks
towards the decoration of the buildings they found.
* * * There is so much of littleness and bad taste
in the patchwork of its interior decorations, and of
confusion in the piles and buttresses about it, when
viewed externally, that we hardly considered it more
worth visiting than some other mosques, especially
those of sultan Solyman and sultan Achmet."

This is one of the largest edifices ever built for the
purpose of Christian worship ; but though built by
Constantino, it is evident, from the barbarous style
of art which pervades the mass of stone, that it is
the production of a vitiated and declining age. It is
a confused memorial of a taste which no longer
exists. " In its present state," says La Martiiie,
" St. Sophia resembles an immense caravansary of
God ; for there are the columns of the temple of
Ephesus and the figures of the apostles, encircled
with gilded glories, looking down upon the hanging
lamps of the Iman." _




In the mosques, called Osmanic, are pillars of
Egyptian granite, twenty-two feet lii^h and tliree
feet in diameter ; and near it is the celebrated sarco-
phagus of red porphyry, called the Tomb of C'onstan-
tint y nine feet long, seven feet wide, and five
thick, of one entire mass. In the mosque of sult;in
Achmct are columns of verde antico, Kgyptian gra-
nite, and white marhle. Several antique vases of
glass and earthenware are also there suspended,
exactly as they were in the temples of the ancients
with the votive offerings.

Near the mosque of sultan Achmet*, which is
one of the finest buildings in Constantinople, stands
the Hippodrome, called by the Turks Ktmeidon,
which is no other than a translation of the ancient
name ; it being made use of at present for exercising

It is a space of ground five hundred and seventy-
four yards in length, and one hundred and twenty-
four in breadth, and at one end are two obelisks, the
one of granite fifty-eight feet high, on which are in-
scribed many Egyptian hieroglyphics. The pedestal
is adorned with has- relievos of but ordinary sculp-
ture, representing different actions of the emperor
Thcodosius in relation to the races that were per-
formed in the Hippodrome. In one place, particu-
larly, he is to be seen crowning a figure who is
supposed to be the person that had carried off the

The other obelisk is composed of several pieces of
stone, and seems, by many cavities between the
stones, to have been covered with brass plates; which,
together with its height, must have rendered it
superior to the former in magnificence. Between
these obelisks is the Delphic pillar.

* Loid Sandwich.


The aqueduct of the Roman emperors still remains*.
It was first erected by Hadrian : it was called by
his name ; subsequently it bore that of Valens, and
of Theodosius. Being ruined by the Avans in the
reign of Heraclius, it was repaired by one of the
Constantines. In a later period Solyman, called the
Magnificent, finding it gone to decay, caused it to be
restored. It consists of a double line of arches, built
with alternate layers of stone and brick.

Within the walls of Constantinople t the Greek
emperors had formed, by excavation, a number 01
immense cisterns, or reservoirs, which were always
to be kept full, and which might supply the capital
in case of siege. One of them, though no longer
performing the office for which it was intended, is
still one of the curiosities of Constantinople, to which
all travellers are conducted. It is a vast subter-
ranean edifice, whose roof is supported by an im-
mense number of columns, each column being curiously
formed of three pillars placed one on the top of the
other. The Turks call it the place of the " thou-
sand and one columns" not that the columns
are really so numerous but because it is the
favourite number of the oriental nations. Though
the earth has, in part, filled it up, it is still of great

The whole cavity, according to Dr. "Walsh, is capa-
ble of containing 1,237,939 cubit feet of water when
full. It is now, however, dry ; and a number of silk-
twisters have taken possession of it, and ply their
trade at the bottom in almost utter darkness. There
is another, also, which still exists as a cistern ; which
Dr. Walsh, who first gave us any account of it,
describes as being a subterraneous lake, extending
under several streets, with an arched roof that covers

* Clarke. f Chambers.


and conceals it. supported on three hundred and
thirty-six magnificent pillars.

Some remains of a Im-ir antique structure are Men
on the side of the Hippodrome; and it has been con-
jectured that this was the palace of the emperors ;
others suppose it to have been part of the Basilica.
the form of which Gyllins believes to have 1
quadrangular ; in opposition to those who had dr-
scril>ed it as an octagon. The Basilica was a c<>'
for the instruction of youth. In the reign of Basi-
licus there happened a great fire, and which con-
suming whole streets, with many stately edifices,
wholly destroyed the Basilica, together with its
library, containing six hundred thousand volumes.
Amongst these curiosities there was a MS. of the
Iliad and Odyssey, written in letters of gold ; upon
a serpent's gut, one hundred and twenty feet in

Wheler says that the Seven Towers do not look
strong enough for a castle ; but sufficiently so for a
prison ; which was the employment to which it wasput
for great men, or great malefactors, like the Tower of
London. He was not permitted to enter into it; but
he observed that one of the gateways was adorned
with bassi-relievi, or oblong tablets of white mar
ble. One of these represented the fall of Phaeton ;
another Hercules fighting with a bull ; another
Hercules combating with Cerberus; and another,
Venus coming to Adonis during the time in which he
is sleeping.

The appearance of these walls, says Hobhouse,
(the work of the second Theodosius), is more vene-
rable than any other Byzantine antiquity ; their
triple ranges rise one above the other in most places
nearly entire, and still retaining their ancient battle-
ments and towers, which are shaded with large trees,


which spring from the fosse, and through the rents of
repeated earthquakes.

The intervals between the triple walls, which are
eighteen feet wide, are in many places choked up
with earth and masses of the fallen rampart ; and the
fosse, of twenty-five feet in breadth, is cultivated and
converted into gardens and cherry orchards, with
here and there a solitary cottage. Such is the height
of the walls, that to those following the road under
them on the outside, none of the mosques or other
buildings of the capital, except the towers of Tekkun-
Sana, are visible ; and as there are no suburbs, this
line of majestic ramparts, defenceless and trembling
with age, might impress upon the mind the notion,
that the Ottomans had not deigned to inhabit the
conquered city, but, carrying away its people into
distant captivity, had left it an unresisting prey to
the desolations of time.

The Seven Towers reminded La Martine of the
death of the first sultan, who was immolated by the
Janissaries. Othman was allured by them into the
castle, and perished two days afterwards by the hand
of the vizir Daoud. Shortly after, the vizir himself
was conducted to the Seven Towers. His turban was
torn off his head ; he was made to drink at the same
fountain where the unfortunate Othman had slaked
his thirst ; and he was strangled in the same chamber
in which he had strangled his master. " I have seen
the ruins of Athens, of Ephesus, and Delphi," says
Lord Byron ; "I have traversed great part of Turkey ;
and many other parts of Europe, and some of Asia ;
but I never beheld a work of nature or art, which
yielded an impression like the prospect, on each side,
from the Seven Towers to the Golden Horn."

* Barthelerai; Wheler; Gibbon ; Sandwich; Hobhouse; Byron ;
Clarke; La Martine ; Chambers ; Parker.


NO. xx. cAino (OLD).

THIS city is said, by some, to have boon founded
by Semiramis, when she invaded Egypt ; others sup-
pose it to have been erected by the Persians mult T
('.unbyses in the place where Latopolis formerly
stood. Strabo, however, asserts, that it was built by
some barbarians who had retired thither by permis-
sion of their sovereign; and that in his time the
Romans kept in garrison there one of the three legions
that were kept in Egypt.

It is now called Fostat, and is situate between
Grand Cairo and the Nile. It succeeded Memphis
as the capital of Egypt; the history, therefore, of this
place merges in the general one of Egypt.

According to Elmanim in his history of the Arabs,
Amrou, son of Eleas, built Masr Fostat on the spot
where he had formed his camp previously to his
besieging Alexandria. The governors sent by the
caliphs afterwards made it their place of residence.
The situation on the banks of the Nile, and near to
land that communicated with the Red Sea, soon made
it very flourishing.

It was about two leagues in circumference, when,
five hundred years after its foundation, it was deli-
vered up by Schaonar, king of Egypt, in order to
prevent its falling under the French (during the
crusades), who set fire to it. The conflagration lasted
fifty-four days. The unfortunate inhabitants quitted
the ashes, and took refuge in New Cairo, which then
assumed the name of Masr, and the former one of was lost.

Its environs are now scattered over with ruins,
which indicate its ancient extent; and which, wen-
history defective, would sufficiently attest it to be
comparatively modern. They want the majestic
character the Egyptians gave to their edifices, and


the impression of which time cannot efface. Neither
sphynx, column, nor obelisk, can be found among
those heaps of rubbish.

At this place, however, are still to be seen
Joseph's granaries ; if this appellation may be given
to a large space of ground, surrounded by walls
twenty feet high, and divided into courts, without
any roof or covering. But the only things worth
seeing in the ancient Cairo are the castle, and the
aqueduct that conveys the water of the Nile into
the castle. It is supported by three hundred and
fifty narrow and very lofty arcades.

These are thus described by Rollin: The castle of
Cairo is one of the greatest curiosities in Egypt. It
stands on the hill without the city, has a rock for its
foundation, and is surrounded with walls of a vast
height and solidity. You go up to the castle by a
way hewn out of the rock, and which is of so easy
ascent, that loaded horses and camels get up without
difficulty. The greatest rarity in this castle is
Joseph's Well ; so called, either because the Egyptians
are pleased with ascribing their most remarkable
particulars to that great man, or because there is
really such a tradition in the country. This is a
proof, at least, that the work in question is very
ancient ; and it is certainly worthy the magnificence
of the most powerful kings of Egypt. This well has,
as it were, two stories, cut out of a rock to a pro-
digious depth. One descends to the reservoir of
water between the two wells by a staircase seven or
eight feet broad, consisting of two hundred and
twenty steps, and so contrived, that the oxen em-
ployed to throw up the water, go down with all
imaginable ease; the descent being scarcely per-
ceptible. The well is supplied by a spring, which is
almost the only one in the whole country. The oxen
are continually turning a wheel with a rope, to which


buckets arc fastened. The water thus drawn from
the first and lowermost well is conveyed l>y a little
canal into a reservoir which forms the second wt 11,
from whence it is drawn to the top in the NIMH-
manner, and then conveyed by pipes to all parts of
the castle.

The remains of Egyptian Babylon merit attention.
says Mr. Wilkinson ; and, among other objects slmu n
by the monks, who live there, is a chamber of the V ir
gin, the traditions concerning which have been treated
by the credulous with the same pious feelings as the
tree at Ileliopolis. The station of Babylon is evi-
dently of Roman construction, and probably the
same that is mentioned by Strabo, in which one of
the three Roman lepions was quartered. It formed
part of the town of Fostat, built by Amer, near the
ruins of Babylon, and the mosque, called after him,
marks the spot of his encampment, which subse-
quently became the centre of the city he had founded.
The exterior of the Roman station still reminds us of
its former strength, which defied the attacks of the
Arab invaders for seven months, and its solid walls
still contain a village of Christian inhabitants. < > ver
the triangular pediment of the doorway, which is on
the south side, appears to have been an inscription,
long since removed ; and in an upper chamber above
one of the bastions of this now-closed entrance, is an
old Christian record, sculptured on wood, of the time
of Dioclesian, which is curious from its material and
the state of its preservation.

Near Cairo are some ancient catacombs. These
are situated beneath a mound in the middle of a
plain, adjoining the pyramids of Saccara, which lies
beneath the sandy surface. Dr. Clarke ancended into
them by means of a rope-ladder. "The first chamber
he entered contained scattered fragments of mum-
mies, which had originally been placed on a shelf cut


out of the rock, and extending breast-high the whole-
length of this apartment : there are two tiers or
stories of these chambers, one above the other, all
presenting the same appearance of violation and dis-
order, and smelling very offensively. At some dis-
tance from these, which were apparently appropriated
to man, are those in which the sacred birds and ani-
mals were deposited ; one apartment of which Dr.
Clarke found filled with earthen jars entire, laid
horizontally in tiers on one another, something like
bottles in a wine-bin. They were about fourteen
inches long, and conical in form, the cover being
fixed on by some kind of cement ; when opened, they
were found to contain the bodies of birds (the ibis),
with white feathers tipped with black, or the heads
of monkeys, cats, and other animals, all carefully
bandaged up in linen.

Old Cairo sustained all the evils of a great famine
in the year of Christ 597. We adopt the account
given of this calamity from the Encyclopaedia Lon-
dinensis : " Of the number of poor who perished
with hunger," says Abtollatiph, " it is impossible to
form any probable estimate ; but I will give the
reader some information on this subject, whence he
may form a faint idea of the mortality with which
Egypt was then afflicted. In Mesr, and Cairo, and
their confines, wherever a person turned he could not
avoid stumbling over some starved object, either
already dead, or in the agonies of death."

From Cairo alone nearly five hundred were daily
carried out to the burying-ground ; and so great was
the mortality in Mesr, that the dead were thrown
out without the walls, where they remained un-

But afterwards, when the survivors were no longer
able to throw out the dead bodies, they were left

204 iifiss 01 iii in-.

win-rover they expiml, in the houses, shops, or -t
The liml>- of tin- wire oven cut in pin-i-s ami
used for food ; and instead of receiving the la-t olli.-rs
from their friends, and being decently int in <1, their
n-inains were attended by persons who wore employed
in roasting or baking them.

In all the distant provinces and towns the inhabit-
ants became entirely extinct, except in the principal
cities, and some of the large towns, such as K<>u~
Ashmunein, .Mahal la, &c., and evrii there but a few

In those days a traveller might pass through a
city without finding in it one human creature alive.
lie saw the houses open, and the inhabitants dead on
their faces, some grown putrid, and others who had
recently expired. If he entered into the houses, he
found them full of goods, but no one to make use
of them ; and he saw nothing wherever he turned,
but a dreadful solitude, and a universal desolation.
1'h is account rests not on the information and autho-
rity of a single person, but of many, whose sevrral
assertions mutually confirmed each other. One of
these gave information in the following words :
" We entered a city, where no living creature
was to be found ; we went into the houses, and
there we saw the inhabitants prostrate and dead, all
lying in a wretched group on the ground, the hus-
band, the wife, and the children. Hence we passed
into another city, which contained, as we had heard,
four hundred shops of weavers : it was now a desert
like the former, the artificer had expired in his
shop, and his family lay dead around him. A third
city, which we afterwards visited, appeared like the
former, a scene of death and desolation. Being
obliged to reside in this place for some time, for the
puq)ose of agriculture, we ordered persons to throw


the bodies of the dead into the hole at the rate of
ten for a diakem. Wolves and hyenas resorted here
in great numbers to feed on the corpses*."


CANN.E is a small village of Apulia, near the
Aufidus, famous for a battle between Hannibal and
the Romans ; and as the spot where the battle
was fought is still pointed out by the inhabitants,
and is still denominated " the field of blood," we
shall refresh the memories of our readers with an
account of it. Both armies having often removed
from place to place, came in sight of each other near
Cannae. As Hannibal was encamped in a level open
country, and his cavalry much superior to that of the
Romans, ^Emilius did not think proper to engage in
such a place. He was for drawing the enemy into
an irregular spot, where the infantry might have the
greatest share of the action. But his colleague, who
was wholly inexperiencefl, was of a contrary opinion.
The troops on each side were, for some time, con-
tented with skirmishes ; but, at last, one day when
Varro had the command, for the two consuls took it
by turns, preparations were made on both sides for
battle. jEmilius had not been consulted; yet, though he
extremely disapproved the conduct of his colleague,
as it was not in his power to prevent it, he seconded
him to the utmost. The two armies were very un-
equal in numbers. That of the Romans, including
the allies, amounted to eighty thousand foot, and about
six thousand horse ; and that of the Carthaginians
consisted but of forty thousand foot, all well dis-
ciplined, and of ten thousand horse. .ZEmilius com-
manded the right wing of the Romans ; Varro the
left ; and Servilius was posted in the centre. Han-

Online LibraryCharles BuckeRuins of ancient cities : with general and particular accounts of their rise, fall, and present condition (Volume 1) → online text (page 16 of 36)