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village, and may have been about a mile distant from where we
stood. It interested us as well by its lonely and dangerous
position as by an adjacent and isolated group of trees. It is
called New Akhury, and, according to the official statistics,
contains a population of some 400 Tartar inhabitants. It is the
seat of a Cossack station, and bids fair to increase in size before
the next earthquake shall sweep it away.

Makar directed our attention to some fallen gravestones, not
many yards distant from where we stood. They are the remains
of the cemetery of the old Akhury, and among them we admired
several crosses with rich chasing in the old Armenian style. We
found them overgrown with a thick, orange-hued lichen, resembling
the appearance of rust. He told us that many of his relations
had been buried in this graveyard, and he pointed out in
particular a group of seven stones. He said that they marked
the graves of seven brothers who had been killed in the gardens
of the vanished township by the attacks of a single snake.

After regaling ourselves with delicious milk and eating an ftg%
or two, we started at noon on our excursion up the ravine. We
made our way along the eastern side of the chasm, sometimes
picking our course as we might among the boulders, at others
following a beaten path on higher ground. Not far beyond the
hamlet we noticed a little spring, of which the water was trickling
over. The next object to excite our interest was the peculiar
formation of the floor of a side valley, in which we found ourselves
at half-past twelve. Throughout an area of some 350 by 200
yards the ground was perfectly level, like a billiard table, with a
smooth surface of sand and little pebbles. The length of this
round ellipse followed the direction of the main ravine, which lay

194 Annejiia

at some considerable depth beneath it, and from which the basin
of this valley was separated by a low bulwark of rock and soil.
We were impressed by the sharp distinction between the bottom
of this flat area and the banks which, on the one side, were formed
by this bulwark and, on the other, by towering cliffs, overgrown
with grass. The basin has an entrance and an exit gully, through
which the waters collect and escape. Not a single pool lingered
within it at this season, and it was difficult to realise that this
warm and sunny recess probably owes its most distinctive features
to the erosive action of ice.

We mounted ever higher up the slopes which flank the ravine.
In the trough of the gulf we noticed another flat space, similar in
character but less pronounced than that which I have described.
Bushes of wild rose luxuriate on these cliff-sides, and from this
foreground of rich tints and red berries we looked across to the
dark and perpendicular precipices which encircle the head of the
chasm. At every lift in the restless vapours we feasted our eyes
on the snows of the summit, and we remarked the great length
and horizontal profile of the summit-outline, seen between the
opening arms of the abyss. Muffled women's figures, astride of
their horses, came winding down the path. They were Armenian
ladies, returning from a pilgrimage to St. Jacob's Well ; foot-
attendants held their bridles and picked their way.

At two o'clock we arrived at the famous rose bush and the
holy well. The path has been w^orn by the feet of pilgrims, who
journey hither from the plains. The water issues from a recess
in the side of the mountain which has been levelled with a
masonry of hewn stone. The overflow nourishes the rose-tree, on
the twigs of which are attached countless little ribbons of rag,
shreds from the garments of the devout. Just beyond these
sacred objects you are shown a level site, overhanging the ravine.
Rows of stones are interlaced upon its surface, a sign for pious
wayfarers. Here was placed the little shrine which during the
great earthquake must have tumbled headlong into the chasm.
The pilgrims insert tiny sticks into the ground with the same
little ribbons of rag. The holy water is a talisman against all
kinds of calamities, and it is supposed to attract the birds which
destroy the locusts when they desolate the country-side.

It is a fine standpoint from which to command the upper end
of the chasm, which has here a width of some 500 yards. My
illustration (Fig. 39) was taken from a spot close to the well and

The Heart of Ararat 195

the site of the shrine, but perhaps a httle lower down. The site
itself has an elevation above sea-level of about 7500 feet.^ The
camera has belittled the natural features, and I must ask my
reader to interpret my picture with the help of the reflection that
the snows which overhang these perpendicular precipices are
nearly 17,000 feet high. We penetrated further up the romantic
valley, along the bed of a dry watercourse. Skirting the
buttresses of the eastern wall, we observed that they were com-
posed of a compact grey andesite with something of the appear-
ance of slate. Seams of a rock similar in character, but which
have turned red in weathering, lend variety to the surface of
these bold bastions ; while the dark face of the wall which mounts
to the summit region is scored by extensive veins of that de-
composed and orange-hued lava which spells destruction wherever
it appears. The bottom of the ravine is covered by a deep
beach of boulders, worn by the action of ice and water. Animal
life is represented by a flock of crows or jackdaws, which croak
and circle round you as you advance.

Behind the lofty wall of rock which is seen on the left of my
illustration, in jagged outline against the snows, a glacier descends
from the summit region which is probably the only true glacier
on Ararat, and which I should judge to be gradually decreasing
in extent. According to Abich, the long ridges which have the
appearance of piles of boulders, and which are seen in his
illustration descending the trough of the chasm to a point some
distance below St. Jacob's Well, were composed in 1874 of
compact and dirty glacier ice, covered over with stones and debris.
He informs us that in i 844 there was a direct but deeply buried
connection between this ice and the ice in the circus at the lower
end of the glacier ; and that in 1874 this connection had been
severed, and the ice -hills themselves had decreased about one-
third in height.' On the top of these ridges he discovered

^ This was the reading of my Hicks mountain aneroid, which was working well,
and it agrees with Parrot who says that the shrine stood about looo feet above the
cloister, i.e. at about 7400 English feet. I fear, therefore, that iladame Chantre is in
error in ascribing to the site of the cloister, much lower down, an elevation of 2250
metres or 7382 feet {U Arvicnie Ritsse, p. 238). Monsieur Chantre, in his monograph
on Ararat, confuses the site of the shrine with that of the cloister, an error which was also
made by my Armenian guide {Annales dc G^ographie, Paris, 1893-94, vol. iii. pp. 81-94).

- Abich, Geolog. Forsch. part ii. p. 412, and see for the glacier, etc. pp. 397,
399, 400. The illustration is contained on Table VL of his atlas. Parrot appears to be
silent on the subject of this glacier ; but Von Behagel, his companion, ofifers some re-
marks upon it (Parrot, 2nd part, p. 184). I may also refer my reader to Dr. MarkofPs
article in the Bulletin de la soci^tJ royale Beige de geographie, 1888, p. 589.

196 Armenia

a series of marshes and little lakes, of which the largest was
several hundred paces in circumference. I cannot testify myself
to the present condition of these ice-hills ; I cannot even say that
they exist. I did not see any ice in the trough of the chasm,
although it was evident that its present condition was largely due
to ice action, and although we admired a little lake of glacier
water, set like a turquoise in the waste of mud and stones. It is
computed that the actual glacier descends as low as a level of
about 8000 feet — a notable fact when we consider that the line
of perpetual snow on this side of Ararat is as high as 14,000

We lingered for some little space in the ravine beyond St.
Jacob's Well, waiting for the clouds to lift. But they hung
jealously about the upper slopes of the precipices, whence a mist
descended upon us like rain. The mountain thundered ; from
time to time the mist was gently parted, and gave passage to the
sun. If we were disappointed of a clear view of the higher
regions, w^e were at least able to appreciate to the full the vista
down the weird chasm to the fair landscape of the plain. The
comparative straightness of the gulf renders such a prospect
possible, even from its uppermost end. No projecting spur or
interposed eminence obstructs the continuous stretch of the hollow
outlines to the distant campagna of the river-side. On the horizon
were the crinkled mountains in the direction of Lake Sevan,
flushed with tints of delicate yellow and ameth}-st, lightly shaded
with opal hues. Deep gloom lay upon the floor of the abyss, and
only the pools of blue glacier water caught the brilliance of day.
On the open base beyond these shadows the sinuous lines of
dry watercourses led the eye into the expanse of the plain ; and
we could still see the recumbent blocks which once hung in
'pinnacles above the spot upon which we stood.

Evening was drawing in when we again reached the entrance
to the chasm. We skirt the Kurdish village, we pass a pool of
water and a group of barefooted Kurdish girls. Away on our
left are the mud houses of the Tartar settlement, and the green
clump of trees. To these succeed the bouquets of pink and
white atraphaxis, and the scattered crags of conglomerate rock.
A flora of great variety starts from the sand and among the
stone. While we are crossing this upper region of the base, the
sun disappears behind the still, grey clouds ; the blue zenith pales
and fades. A full moon rises from the grey clouds, wreathing

The Heart of Ararat 197

the landscape with soft lights. Heavy quiet reigns over the vast
and lonely scene, and the only sound is the cicada's hum. The
low, dark outline of the trees of Aralykh is a mere shadow on the
plain. Nature touches the chords of that stately and solemn
movement which issues in and faintly accompanies the life
of man.


The identification of Mount Ararat with the mountain upon which the
Ark rested is at least as early as the adoption of Christianity by the
Armenians, and may have been originally made by Jewish prisoners of
war. But there does not appear to have existed in the neighbourhood of
Ararat an independent local tradition of the Flood ; and the mountain is
still locally known not as Ararat, but as Masis to the Armenians, and as
i\ghri Dagh to the Tartars. It is, however, called Ararat in Armenian
literature as early as Faustus of Byzantium, who uses the name in relating
the story of St. Jacob of Nisibis {Faustus, iii. 10. The name appears to
have been wrongly spelt Sararat by the copyists). The Ararat of Scripture
is the Assyrian Urardhu ; and the "mountains of Ararat" of Genesis
viii. 4 must be sought within the country of Urardhu. Dr. Belck has quite
recently examined, in the light of his remarkable researches into the lore of
the Vannic texts, the question of the original geographical application of
the term Urardhu {Zeitsc/irift fiir Ei/i?io/ogie, Berlin, 1899, pp. 113 seq.) ; it
appears to have spread from a district in Kurdistan, south-west of Lake
Urmi, to the country about Lake Van. It would, therefore, seem that the
tendency of the term has been to travel north ; for the Urardhu or Ararat
of the historical period is the province about Mount Ararat, one of the
great divisions in the kingdom of the Arsakid monarchs of Armenia, and
well known under the name of Ararat to Agathangelus and the earliest
Armenian writers. Mount Ararat could scarcely have been known to the
peoples of the lowlands, among whom the Biblical legend of the Flood
originated. Various aspects of the subject are well discussed by Suess
{Das Antlitz der Erde, Leipzic, 1885, vol. i. pp. 25-92 ; Die Stntfluth),
Bryce {Transcaucasia and Ararat, edition of 1896, pp. 211 seq.), and
Sayce {Dictionary of tlie Bible, London, 1898, sui? voce Ararat).

The fabric of Ararat composes an elliptical figure with an axis from
north-west to south-east. The base plan measures about 28 miles in
length, and about 23 miles in width. The fabric is built up by two
mountains : Great Ararat (16,916 feet above the sea) and Little Ararat
(12,840 feet). Their bases are contiguous at a level of 8800 feet, and
their summits are 7 miles apart. Both are due to eruptive volcanic
action ; but no eruption of Ararat is known to have occurred during the
historical period, and the summit of the greater mountain presents all the
appearance of a very ancient and much worn-down volcano with a central

iqS Arinenia

chimney or vent, long since filled in. I have already described the
summit region of Great Ararat. The estimates or measurements of my
predecessors are at variance with one another in detail ; but one may
assert that it consists of two separate elevations, divided one from the
other by a depression some loo to 150 feet in depth. The more easterly
is much the larger, having the character of a spacious platform of saucer-
like form. The more westerly presents the shape of a symmetrical cone,
when seen from the platform ; and is in connection with the snow-laden
and almost horizontal bastions at the head of the north-western slope.
Both elevations have about the same height ; but, if anything, the more
westerly is the higher.^ The reader will be able to distinguish them in
my photograph (Fig. 37), as well as to observe how they mingle together
as mere crinkles in the crown of the dome. Parrot was inclined to think
that the Ark came to rest in the depression between these two elevations.

Yielding in height to the most lofty peaks of the Caucasus in the north
(Elburz, 18,525 feet), which are visible from the summit, and to Demavend
(over 1 8, coo feet) in the belt of mountains which rise along the southern
shore of the Caspian Sea, Ararat is by far the loftiest of the mountains of
Armenia, and is over 1000 feet more elevated than the highest peak
in Europe, Mont Blanc (15,780 feet). Moreover, Elburz and Kazbek,
Mont Blanc, and even Demavend, all rise among a sea of mountains, of
which they are little more than the highest crests. The isolation of Ararat
is not its least interesting feature — a feature which I would fain hope is
already imprinted upon my reader's mind. The plains which it overlooks
belong to three empires ; the frontiers of Persia, Turkey, and Russia
meet upon its slopes.

It has been estimated that as late as the month of May the colossal
mountain is covered with snow to a level of gooo feet below the summit ;
and the appearance of this immense white sheet from the blooming
campagna of the valley of the Ara.xes is one of the fine sights in the
world. But by the month of September the snowy canopy will be confined
to the dome of Great Ararat ; and the limit of perpetual snow on the side
facing the plain on the north is not less elevated than from 13,500 to
14,000 feet above the sea. The extensive depression through which the
Araxes flows collects the heats of summer ; and the warm air from this
reservoir ascends the northern slopes of the mountain, melting the snow
o a height which is greater than might he expected in this latitude.^

The best season for an ascent is the latter half of September. During

' Feodoroft", the companion of Parrot, measuring from the valley of the Araxes,
estimated the difference at 7 feet; Khodzko at 120 feet ; Bryce at "some 50 feet or
so," all in favour of the more westerly elevation. My reader will notice that in the
photograph (Fig. 37) the more easterly, viz. on the left hand, appears to be slightly
higher ; hut this circumstance is due to the fact that it stands out a little in advance of
its neighbour, when seen from the side of the country between Erivan and Aralykh.

'■^ In estimating the level of the zone of perjoetual snow on Ararat I am leaving out of
account those smaller or greater collections of snow which owe their subsistence all
through the summer to special circumstances, such as shelter from the sun.

Mr. D. \V. Freshfield [Exploration of the Caucasus, London, 1896, vol. i. p. 55)
gives 10,000 feet as a fair figure for tiie snovv-lcvel in the central chain of Caucasus.

The Heart oj Ararat 199

October there is more chance of obtaining a view from the summit, which
is usually most free from clouds in that month. But the days are, of
course, shorter, and the fresh snow commences to lie. I should recom-
mend the traveller with time upon his hands who may be anxious to
extend our knowledge of the mountain to adopt the following programme:
— (i) Ascend Little Ararat from Sardar Bulakh. (Good accounts are
furnished by Parrot, cp. cit. pp. 219 seq. ; Stuart, Proceedings R.G.S. 1877,
vol. xxi. pp. 77-92; Kovaleffsky, Voyage an Mo fit Ararat, Moscow, 1899
\_in Riissiafi] ; Artsruni, Verhand. Gesell. Erdkuude Berlin, \o\. xxii. 1895,
pp. 606 seq. ; Ebeling, Verhand. Gesell. Erdkunde Berlin, vol. xxv. 1898,
pp. 130-132.) (2) Extend the journey to the southern slopes of Great
Ararat, and thoroughly explore that side of the mountain. (3) Ascend
Great Ararat, perhaps from a point a little further south than that indicated
in my account ; and (4) investigate the condition of the glacier in the
chasm of Akhury. An interesting excursion may also be made to the
little crater lake known as Kip Gol on the north-western slopes (see the
accounts of Monsieur and of Madame Chantre in their writings already

I append a list of the successful ascents of Great Ararat up to and
including our own, so far as I have been able to ascertain them ^ : —

1. F. Parrot, 1829. Started from the monastery of St. Jacob (chasm

of Akhury) and made the ascent by the north-western slope.

2. K. Spasky-Avtonomoff, 1834. From Akhury.

3. Herrmann Abich, 1845. From Sardar Bulakh.

4. H. D. Seymour, 1845. (From New Akhury ?).

5. J. Khodzko, N. V. Khanikoff, and others, 1850. From Sardar


6. R. Stuart and others, 1856. From Bayazid.

7. J. Bryce, 1876. From Sardar Bulakh.

8. G. P. Baker, 1878. From Sardar Bulakh.

9. Sivoloboff, 1882.

10. E. Markoff, 1888. From Sardar Bulakh.

11. Semenoff, 1888 (?).

12. Raphalovich and others, 1889. From Sardar Bulakh.

13. T. G. Allen and W. L. Sachtleben (1892 ?). From Bayazid.

14. Postukhoff, 1893. From Sardar Bulakh.

15. H. B. Lynch, H. F. B. Lynch, and Rudolph Taugwalder, 1893.

From Sardar Bulakh.

1 The account of an ascent in 1897 has quite recently come into my hands. It is
written by Herr A. Oswald, whose attempt was crowned with complete success {Eine
Besteigiing des Ararat in Jahrb. schweiz. Alpenclub, Berne, 1899- 1900, vol. xxxv. pp.



September 25. — We passed the morning upon the mound,
in the Httle open summer-house, face to face with the air)- snow-
fields which we had scaled to their topmost vaulting, with the
cavernous recesses which we had penetrated to their inmost core.
Such is the silence of Nature at the foot of this solemn mountain
that the faintest sound reaches the ear. I was therefore startled
by a clamour of voices in the direction of the cantonment, and I
hurried down towards the noise. A booted figure in drab
uniform, covered with dust from head to foot, was gesticulating
under the influence of extreme excitement to a little group of
Russian military in their white tunics, accompanied by some
languid Orientals at a respectful interval. It was the officer of
Cossacks who had joined our party near Takjaltu, and who had
left us at Sardar Bulakh. Suiting his gestures to his words, he
was narrating a thrilling story of a night encounter with the
Kurds. His little eyes were bloodshot and distended with
emotion ; his legs were parted and his feet planted firm. His
detachment had fallen in with a band of marauders, who had
carried off some cattle from over beyond Akhury, and made away
towards the Turkish frontier. They had fired on the Kurds, who
had returned their fire ; they had recovered the cattle and
chased the Kurds away. I enquired what bag he had made
of these human vultures, and he replied, with a sigh, that they
had carried off their dead.

On the further side of the Araxes, opposite Aralykh, is
situated the celebrated monastery of Khor Virap, which marks the
spot where, according to Armenian tradition. Saint Gregory, the
founder of Christianity in Armenia, was imprisoned for thirteen
years in a deep pit. The country about and behind the cloister

Return to Erivan 201

is extremely rich in historical and archaeological interest, and I
would recommend the traveller to prolong his excursion up the
romantic valley of the Garni, whence he can return across the
mountains to Erivan. He will examine the sites of Artaxata and
Dvin, and, proceeding up the river, will reach the gorge with the
basaltic columns, and the platform where once stood the temple
of King Tiridates — a beautiful Greek shrine given to these
solitudes, like the temple of Segesta to the lonely Sicilian hills.
Hard by this platform above the river are found the relics of the
city of Garni ; and, near the sources of the stream, at a distance
of some five miles from Garni, the caves and monastery of Surb
Geghard, reputed to have been founded by St. Gregory, respond
to the spirit of a landscape which for grandeur and severity is
unsurpassed among these wilds. I was anxious to make the
acquaintance of some at least among these antiquities ; we there-
fore despatched our luggage with the Swiss and the cook to
Erivan, and, availing ourselves of the offer of a victoria as far as
Khor Virap, resolved to trust to fortune for the remainder of the

Had we been able to procure riding-horses, we might prob-
abl\- have ridden from the ferry over the Araxes direct to the
cloister across the plain. In a carriage we were obliged to
retrace our steps as far as Kamarlu, where the road which runs
parallel to the course of the river crosses the road to Erivan.
The stage which we had made after nightfall between that
village and Aralykh was now performed in the light of day.
The alluvial flats between the Araxes and the base of Ararat are
channelled by a network of irrigation runnels, which diffuse the
stream of the Kara Su. From the fields and marshes rise
luxuriant cotton and castor oil plants, the one with \-ellow single
blossoms, like a wild rose, and drooping fruit, resembling flakes
of snow ; the other, higher than these, raising a tender, juicy stem
to shining, palm-shaped leaves. Here and there, where the water
fails, bushes of hardy camelthorn spring up, like weeds, upon the

1 For Artaxata, Dvin, Khor Virap, etc., see Ker Porter's Travels (vol. ii. pp. 619
seq.) ; '^\ox\&x {Second Journey, p. 316 and pp. 339 seq.) ; Dubois {op. cit. vol. iii. pp.
382 seq.) ; Smith and Dwight {op. cit. pp. 273 seq.). Dubois mentions, but was unable
to visit, the grottoes of Okhtchapert on the direct road between Erivan and Garni,
p. 402. They are mentioned by Telfer {Crimea and Transcaucasia, vol. i. p. 210),
who passed by them on his way to Garni from Erivan. Telfer's book should be con-
sulted by English readers for an account of these various antiquities. I would also
recommend to the archxologist who is desirous of investigating the question of the site
of Artaxata a reference to Dubois (vol. iii. p. 449).

202 Armenia

fallow land. The oppressive climate of Aralykh, no less than the
plague of insects which infest it, are due to the sand upon the
pedestal of the mountain, and to these swamps with their
effluvia and mosquito swarms. Even at this season the sun
beats fiercely upon the plain ; and, when we reached the ferry, a
herd of buffaloes and bullocks, awaiting transport, were rolling
parched tongues and casting longing eyes at the river from the
bank of crumbling mud.

A double pontoon, staged across with planks, received our
carriage, and was swiftly impelled along the hawser by the force
of the stream. From the opposite margin a dreary tract of
baked alluvial soil extends to the zone of gardens and orchards
which commences at Kamarlu. I have already alluded to the
excellence of the road within that zone ; but by day you will be
loth to hasten along it, such is the charm and so great the
interest of the scene. The traffic from the lower Araxes, from
Persia and distant Mesopotamia, finds its way along this cJiaussee

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