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constructed for the purpose of keeping up the waters to inundate
the contiguous level ; if so, the demolition is as derogatory fiom
the policy and sagacity of the monarch, as it is flattering to his

Opis was the principal city on the Tigris, in the age of X6n(J-
phon and Alexander ; it rose probably on the decline of Niniv^,
and the other Assyrian cities after the Persian conquest, most
of which X6nophon found in a state of decay and desolation ;
but the situation of Opis ** is much doubted by geographers.
There is no apparent reason indeed why the position assigned
to it by d'Anville should not be admitted ; but having examined
the question for my own satisfaction, I have subjoined the result

"7 He notices the beat as intolerable. one bundrcd and twenty (eet high in the fall,

** This is mentioned at Lemloun, on the between Mosul and the great Zab. Vol. i.

Euphrates ; at Higrc, Hogknc, and Eski p. 227.

Mosul, on the Tigris. Niebuhr, vol. ii. *» In hoc Chaldasorum tractu fuit Opis, em-

p. 307. Edit. Amst. Travels. He supposes porium ad Tigrim, sed incertum quo loco et

the mound at Higre to be in the very place ol ordine respectu oppidorum a Ptolemseo memo-

that demolished by Alexander. ratorum. Cellarius, voL iL p. 462.
^ Tavcrnicr mentions one of these dyWcs

3 T

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of my inquiries for such readers as may find a pleasure in geo-
graphical discussion.

After conducting Alexander to Opis about the middle of
June, the military transactions winch succeeded are foreign to the
purpose of the present work. It will be suflicicnt barely to
meptioii the mutiny of the army which took -place at this city^
and the discharge of the veteran soldiers, wha were sent home
under the command of Cr^terus. The latter end of the summer
was employed in an excursion into Media; and at Ecbdtana,
the capital of that province, the death of Heph^stion was the
principal circumstance whicli occun'cd. Paroxysms of grief
occupied the Conquci^op during the autumn ; in the indulgence
of Avhich, like another Achilles, he dishonoured himself, while
he intended to honour the memory of his Patroclus. Upon the
commencement of winter, he is said to have resumed his arms
in order to sooth his sorrow ; and the conquest of the Koss^
was completed in forty days. They are the same tribe still
called Kouz", or Cosses, inhabiting the mountains of Louristan ;
iand, by the invasion of them from the north, ought to be on the
northern •• face of that range which incloses Susiana. Upon
the conclusion of this expedition, Alexander returned .towards
Mesopotamia, with an intention of proceeding to Babylon;
and, upon this march, we are again informed of a renewed at-
tention to his marine : for. Heraclldes was now sent into Hyr-
cania [Mazanderan], with Orders to cut timber and prepare a
fleet of vessels built after the Grecian manner, for the purpose
of exploring the Caspian *^ Sea* It seems extraordinary, that in

*' Plutarch writes this came Ktf9<r)0^> Koos- '^ It is remarkable that Nadir Shah was

Mci; and hence Kyssii. Alexander, p. 704. building a fleet 00 the Caspian, and forming

^ As the Uxii arc on the southern, idyo? one on the Gulph of Persia, a few months be- .

;^c»,t3 'Ov?*«-f . Arr. lib.vii. p. 29^- ^< his deaths aS; well as Alcxanderi- Tho:

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the age of Alexander it was still doubted whether this sea was
a vast lake, or communicated with the Northern Ocean ; but
the information of Her6dotas, as it appears, had not been suf-
ficient to cohvince the Greeks of its real state. The solution of
this doubt was motive enough to influence the conduct of
Alexander; and the desire of obtaining a knowledge of his
own empire, or. the situation of the hatioiis on his confines,
had always been an inducement to the boldest of his under-

After <:rossing the Tigris, he proceeded to Babylon *♦, and
entered the city much against *^ the inclination of the priests of
^lus. They had embezzled the revenues allotted for the re-
storation of the temple ** demolished by Xerxes, and wished to
avoid the day of account. The situation of Babylon is too well
known to require much disquisition on tliQ subject: it stood
twenty *' miles above the modern Hilleh, the town where all
travellers land who come up the Euphrates from Basra, and
whence they have a journey of only three or four** days*' across

transporting of timber and vessels into the a stop to the progress of the work. Lib. xvi.

provinces which were not supplied with cither p- 738.

is likewise noticed by Hanway, Otter, and Sir *' Mr. Jones says, twelve miles.

William Jones, &c. *' Mr. H. Jones writes, — The following dis^

•♦ Babylon is four German miles from tanc<^» which 1 conceive correct, (for i have

Hilleh. Niebuhr, p.255. The Euphrates, at travelled it many times and in different ways,)

Hilleh, is four li'indred yards wide, with a " '^^^" ^'^^ » manuscript journal of my own.

bridge of thirty-two boats, p. 234. v . n • xjr 1. j ^^'^'^'*

.,^- ' , J Vt t • Hillah to Caravanserai Mahoud, lo

-^Tu T^' \ C ' « I '" Mahoud to ditto Naja Soliman, . 8

mentioned by Plutarch as the officer who came ^ ^^^^^^ ^^ ^.^^ Scanderca, o

out to meet the king, and forewarn h,m of hia^ g^^^^^^^^ ^^ ^.^^^ Beeranoos, . 10

^^^S^^' • Beeranoos to^ ditto Asad, - 10

•* It was not the temple or tomb o£ BeluP, ^s^^j ^^ ^^^^^ ^List p^^],jj^ ^ g

according to Strabo, but a pyramid of brick> ^^jjj Pachato Bagdad, . - jo

a stadium in height, and a stadium square at

itsljase. "Ten thousand men were employed 6<^

for two months, but the death of the king put *^ It is little more than fifty miles. Ives.

3t 2

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Mesopotamia to Bagdat. The remains of this capital are not
so obliterated as some travellers would make us believe ; they
arc, however, mountains of rubbish^ rather than ruins, with
caverns and hollow ground extending over a space of fifteen or
sixteen miles ; while there is hardly a town, a village, or a
building within many leagues of its neighbourhood, which does
BOt exhibit the bricks plundered '* from this once magnificent ^
metropolis of the East.

At Babylon, Alexander found part of his fleet, which had
pix)ceeded up the Euphrates while he was conducting the other,
part up the Tigris ; and, by the language of Arrian, it should
appear that Nearchus" had taken charge of this division..

The boat which carries dispatches is only
ten dayft between Basra and Hilkh. The or-
dinary passage about twenty-one days. Nie*
buhr, Voyage, vol. ii. p. 197, et seq. ITie
tide serves to Ardsje^ seventy miles above
Khoma» p. 198. L e. fourteen German miles.

^ Niebuhr trod the ground of Babylon
almost without knowing it ) he mentions hol-
low tumuli for three or four miles* and some
'trees still growing there not natives of Baby«
Ionia; vol. ii. p. 235, 236. Hilleh is in
ht. 32^ 28' 3c/. Babylon near twenty miles
to the north* See P. della Vall^, tom. ii.
p. 250. Hilleh is fifty miles from Bagdat by
common estimation, but I find it by a combi-
nation of routes fifty-five, in the late Mn
Howe's papersy communicated to me by the.
Bishop of Rochester.

*' A Caravanserai at Hilleh was built within
these few years with bricks from Babylon*
about the thickness of ours, but a foot square*
and very well baked. Niebuhr, p. 235.
The reason why there ace so few remains of
Babylon, is, that the ordinary buildings con-t
sisted of bricks baked in the sun. The bricks
of the walls and public buildings have be^n
conveyed to otber towns. .

•■ The town of Hillah itself is nearly built
with materials brought firom these rains t and
when I was there> on my way to the Bacha'a
court at Bagdad, I lodged at the house of one
of the principal people of the town. Mj
landlord was making a new Scr-daub, that is
to say, summet* room, under ground. I ob*
served the bricks with which k was to be paved
to be of an uncommon size 5 and on inquiry I
found them to have been brought from Baby*
Ion. Each brick was about three inches thickt
and a foot and an half square. There was ad*
hering to the sides of many of them aa ap*
pareatly bituminous cement, and in the middle
an impressed scroll or label, apparently, from
the evenness of the lines, conuining a distich ;
the characters of which appeared to me to re*
semble a mixture of characters on Persepolis
and the modern Hebrew ones. The ruins of
Babylon, as I can testify, exkt naore perfect
than are generally supposed. Mr. H. Jones. ^ .

^ KoTf Xeif I i\ If B«Ci/Xiilii to wtvrixof t^ fiiy -
narik r^ 'Evf^THf «i«t«i^ »MMrnrXit)icec ar^ ,

Arr. lib. viL p« 299, This does not amount
to progf*

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^Jitlier also had been brought from Ph^nicia seven -and-forty
v€;3sels, which had been taken to pieces, and so conveyed over-
land to Th^psacus- Two of these were of five banks, three of
four, twelve of three, and thirty rowed with fifteen oars on a
side. Others hkewise were ordered to be built upon the spot,
of cypress, the only wood which Babylonia afforded ; while
mariners m ere collected from Ph^nicia, and a dock was directed
to be cut, capable of containing a thousand vessels, with
buildings and arsenals in proportion to the establishment.
To eflfbct this design, Mikkalus had been sent down to Ph^*
nicia with five ^ hundred talents, and a commission to take all
mariners into pay, or to buy slaves who had been trained to
the oar. *

Extensive as these preparations may seem, they were not toa
large for the designs of Alexander; he had conceived the idea
of conquering Arabia ", and colonising both sides of the Persiaa

** One hundred and nz thousand eight hun-
dred and thirty pounds.

^' An immense country without cities, pro-
perty, or cultiTation, deserts without water,
and an enemy always flying and hovering at
the same time, render the conquest of Arabia
almost impracticable : but their armies are not
formidable in the field ; the feuds of their
tribes, all independent by nature and habit,
prevent coalition : and no point of union has
yet been founds either in ancient times or mo-
dern, sufficient to bring a numerous body to
act in concert, except during the warmth of
Mahomedism, and in the three or four first
centuries after its propagation. Weak as the
Turkish government is, the Pashas of Bagdat,
Basra, Aleppo, &c* if soldiers, ne/er hesitate
to meet them in the field, or, if politicians,
never fail to divide tribe from ttibe^ or family


from fiunily. The celebrated Ahmed, Pasha
of Bagdat, employed arms, money, or trca*
chcry, as best suited the moment, and was
master of all the Arabs round his Paahalic.
Whether Yemen, which has both cities and
cultivation, is exempt from conquest, is still
probkmattcal. The Abyssinians succeeded^
Elms Gallus was repulsed.

Sec Ludovico dc Barthema Ramusio, vol.i.
p. 150. where he says, sixty Mammelucs were
a match for forty or fifty thousand Arabs.

Tanta c la vilta dcgli animi loro.

Li detti Arabi sono huomini molto piccoK
& de color Leonnatq scuro & hanno la voce
feminile, p. 149.

And afterwards, p. 153, 4000 Abyssinians
are of more value to the sultan of Rhada thaa i
80|000 Arabs*

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510 S E QJJ E L T O T H E

Gulph. The conquest, perhaps, might have been as precarious
as all other attempts which have been made against that sin-
gular nation ; but a fleet on the Euphrdtes in the summer, while
the stream ^ is full, anrd another on the gulph^ might have re-
strained the piracies and incursions of their plundering tribes ;
^nd in the field they have never been formidable, except dur-
ing the short period that fanaticism enabled them to act in

It " was either with a view to this expedition ••, or, as the his-
torians rather intimate, with a design of re-establishing the canals,
and benefiting the country by irrigation, that lie now under*
took a voyage down the Euphrates tp Palldcopas* A voyage
not without its difficulties ; but they &e such as 4he researches
of d'Anville, and the visit paid by Niebuhr to the spot, enable
xis to remove. In the neighbourhood of Babylon, there are still
the remains of two lakes, more celebrated by the names of Ali
and his son Hosein than by any appellation of their own. The

* Gallics of five banks of oars, such as
<those just mentioned) could never have been
employed on the Euphrates. They might
have been floated down during the increase of
the river, but must have been intended for ser-
:rtce either in the g^lph, or to attend the
army on the proposed expedition to Arabia.
They could hardly have been useful to Ne-
archus, in his circumnavigation to the Red

»^ Gronovius, in a very long and angry dis-
sertation, defends the sense which Vulcanius
h»M given to this passage of Arrian* in oppo-
sition to the perversion of it by Isaac Vossius ;
mnd Vossius seems to deserve every reproof
«hort of the scurrility of his antagonist. The
criticism of Gronovius on the word avoffo^^
tin which he proves it to mean the turning of

the water back; again from the canal bto the
channel of the river, removes all the real ob-
scurity which enveloped this passage. The
dissertation accompanies Gronovius's ^ition
of Arrian.

Polybius uses ixt^wn) for a digression, or
rather the point where the digression com-
mences. See lib. iv. cap. 21. in fine & passim.

^ Gronovius, with great vehemence, re-
jects all consideration of Araibia, or Arabians,
from the account ; but there is some intimation
in Arrian, that the city built by Alexander
near the lake had a respect to this nation ^
and Strabo, p. 741, mentions it in express
tcrttis. Strabo does not notice Pallacopas,
but only the vc^agc and the dcarHig ©f 1I15

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upper lake lies nearly on the parallel of Babylon ; and at its
northern extrcniky stands the town of KeAelai '% containing
Meschid lIosein% or the tomb of Ilosein*', grandson of Ma-

^' Hosein was killed at Kerbclai. The
beautiful Arabrart narrative of his, death ia
Ockley almost makes arncnds for the deficiency
of hibtoric matter in this and almost every
other Oriental work. Sec Ockley, voL ii^
p. 2IO, et seq. Meschid means the tomb of
All, Hosein, &c.

It ia the death of Hosein which gave rise to
one of the most celebrated fasts of the Persians,
and the murder of this ftimily, which makes
the distinction between the Schiites and Son-
nites, the two great sects of Mahomedism.
The Persians curse Omar, Abubecr, Othman,
and Ommawiah. Nadir- Shabf notwithstand**
ing his attempt to introduce the Sonnite tenets
into Persia, adorned these two Meschids of
the Schiites at the ex pence (as Niebuhr says)
of 66,666 German crowns for the roof only of
Meschid Ali, and ij,333 for the service of
Meschid Hosein ; and yet neither of these
Meschids is in his own kingdom, but both
under the Turkish government* Sec Niebuhr,
Yol. li* p. 206. Amst. edit.

^ Kerbela is a very populous city, owing to
the desolation of Persia by Nadir. Abdul
Khurreem, p. 121. The canal opened again
of late years, and trade revived, by Hassan
Pasha of Bagdat, at 20,000 1, expence. De-
scription of the tomb or Meschid.

From Kerbela to N^jeff (whence Bahr
Ncjeff), - - 16 farsangs.

to Huhleh = HiUah, 7

to Zulkefet, - 5^

to NcjtfF, - - 4

Nejeff not so populous as Kerbela, on ac-
count of its distance from the river infested by
Arabs. While Abdul Khurreem was here.
Nadir sent his Zirgir Bashy to cover the Mes-
chid at Kerbela and Ncjcff with golc^vthe
gold was of considerable thickness. »

A canal undertaken from Nejeff to the
Euphrates, three farsangs finished, but sloppetJ^
by Nadir's death. A proof that neither lake
or Pallacopas exist at present.

The length of the canal would have beew
thirty-five farsangs 5 and it was intended that
those parts of the banks which were rocJ^y
should have been strengthened with stone and
mortar, and where the soil was sandy, with
copper and lead. Nejeff was a dependency of
Kufa. Nothing magnificent remains at Kufa
but the mosque where Ali received his wound.
The Meschid is a farsang from it. The
mosque has been an ancient temple ; the west*
wall, now made bare by the weather, shews
figures cut in stone. The others are of mo-
dern construction. Abdul Khurreem, pp. ia6^
et seq.

Kufa and Modain were exhausted by the
building of Bagdat. Id.

^' Meschid Plosein, or Kerbelai, is five
German miles from HiHeh, and five fronr
Moschid .AK. Niebuhr,. vol. ii. p. 217^
The canal from the Euphrates is still pre-
served. Both these Meschids have been plun-
dered by the Wahabites.

Meschid Ali is at Hira, (d'Anville Geog.
Anc. torn. ii. p. 259.) and Hira is an ancient
abode of Arabs in. Irak. or Persia. It is the
first place beyond the limits of Arabia oc-
cupied by the Moslems, under Abubecr'a.'
khalifate. Abul Pharaj, p. lop.

Hira is the scat of an Arab tnbe, under an
emir called Al-Mondar, the Almundarus oi.
Procopius and the Byzantine historians. This
Al-mondar was supported by the Persian em-
pire, as the sovereigns of Pecra by the Romans ; .
and war between the two empires often com*,
menced by the excursion of these Arabs 00.1

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hornet. From the southern extremity of this lake to the northem
;point of the lower, or Bahr Nedsjef, the distance is about five-
and-twenty miles, with Meschid Ali a little to tlie east. Kufa,
where Ali was murdered, is not more than six miles from this
spot. It stood in a south-east direction between Bahr Nedsjef
and the Euphrates ; but is now totally ruined ♦*, and without
inhabitants. It is this lower lake into which the Euphrates was
diverted by the cut at Palldcopas, in the season of its inunda-
tion ; and the opening or closing of this canal was committed to
the satrap of Babylon, as a part of his office. In a tract like
that on both sides of the Euphrates, where all is desert that
cannot be watered, and every spot is fertile that can be flooded
or drained at the proper season, this office must have ever been
of the highest importance. While Babylon was tlie capital of
the East, the controul of the waters invigorated all the con-
tiguous districts ; but when the Persian conquerors dwelt on the
other side of the Tigris, at Ecbdtana, Susa, or Pers^polis, as
the due attention was discontinued, Mesopotamia, Chald^a,
and the capital declined together. The Parthian dynasty en-
couraged the increase of a desert between their own and the
Roman frontier, and, in the latter vicissitudes of power, des-
potism and neglect have completed what policy might have
commenced. Still it happened in every age, and under every
government, that the neglect was not universal : the grand
canals, it is true, have failed ; but a partial distribution of the
waters has constantly been preserved ; and, even under the de-

f Niebuhr mentions a dry canal at Eufa^ it. Niebuhr himself calll it PaOacopas^ yol. ii.
(Dsjarrc Zaade,) which would answer very p. 183.

wtU to the cut bf Pallacopasi as I wish to fix

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relating empire of the Turks, is to this hour an object of com-
parative ^ importance.

If Alexander, then, had fixed upon Babylon for the future
capital of his empire, (and here the sovereigns of the East ever
ought to have fixed, if they had not rather wished to shrink
from their European frontier, than to maintain it,) the first step
necessary was to restore the country round it to the state it had
enjoyed in its primitive splendour under the Babylonian mo-
narchy. This had been effected ' by managing the superfluous
waters of the Euphrates, by withholding them at one season
and dispensing them at another, and by making the abundance
of the summer subservient to the deficiency of the winter.

To these views v(e may attribute the expedition to Palldcopas,
which was a canal issuing into a lake or marsh on the Arabian
side of the river, fifly miles below Babylon. I'his lake is the
Bahr Nedsjef of Niebuhr, the Rahemah ^ of d'An ville ; it is now
dry, in the winter season at least wholly, for Niebuhr ^^ seems
almost to have passed through the centre of it, and found no-
thing like a lake, though several cuts and channels now totally
neglected ^ : if the water ever enters them at the height of the

^ While Ives was on his passage up, he Query, whether it is not an error of the

met a Pasha coming down, with commission to press for Bahr-eURahama, the sea of Rahama,

direct the places where the bank was to be or Birk-eURahama, like Birk-el-Hadji in

opehed, or the outlets closed, p. 255. This Egypt, the lake of the pilgrims^ i.e, where

is still an office of dignity, for this Pasha was they assemble for the pilgrimage,

a commander of 50,000 men ; and as we may "* Niebuhr landed at M'aschwira, on the

conclude that under the Turkish government, western bank, a little above Lemloon, and

every drop of water is paid for, though the went by land to Meschid Ali. He must either

service will be performed badly, it will still be have gone along the bed of the sea, or have seen

performed. >^' '^ *^ existed. He was here in December,

** See Capper, p. 212. Birket Rahamah. Vol. ii. p. 183. P. 209, he says, the lake was

What 19 Birket ? Birk is a well. If the tra- dry. Another name he mentions, El-Buheire.

vcllcr had given us this, we might have judged *^ Dsjarrc Zaadc.
whether it is yet a lake or dry.


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increase, it is not from the attention of the government, but
from the natural level of the ground, and from the remains of
ancient industry, policy, and discernment. Niebuhr is of
opinion, that a canal ^' ran parallel with the Euphrates from
Hit, above Babylon, through the whole length of the desert,
till it issued at the Khore Abdillah into the Gulph of Persia. I
have already subscribed to this opinion ; and though proof is
wanting to identify the continuity of this channel through its^
whole extent, yet it is hardly possible to follow the march of
armies, and the route of travellers in any age, without findings
something to confirm this supposition. From a view of the twa
lakes at Meschid Hosein and Meschid Ali, there is every reason
to suppose that there was fomierly a communication between
them ; and from Meschid Ali, or Bahr Nedsjef, to the sea, the
existence of the channel is indubitable ^. One proof of this is^
still existing, for .) traveller passes the great desert betweea
Basra and Aleppo, without encountering the remains of towns ^^
buildings, and traces of habitation **• These rehcs are hardly
Arabian, for it is not the country where the Arabs hve in towns ;

^^ This attention to the canals is justified by

^' A man's testimony k express. *Ex }\ t5,

^CfjiMTtt, U^r^MTtf. Lib. vii. p. 303*

The reason why these mouths were undis-
coverable [a^>S] to Arrian, was, because he
had conceived the mouth of the Euphrates to
be where we now €nd the Khore Abdillah ;
and when we read in Pliny that the stream no
longer flowed through this khore into the sea,
because the inhabitants of Orchoi had stopped
its course, we ought to conclude, that, be-
tween the age of Alexander and Pliny, the
Arabs of the desert in the neighbourhood of

the Bahr Nedsjef had divertrd its waters in the
time of the inundation, to irrigate their own
lands, and consequently exhausted them in*
stead of permitting them to follow their former
course to the Khore Abdillah. If d'Anville'a
supposition were true, that there was auothei*
derivation from the Khore Abdillah to Bahr-
ain, the extent of Niebuhr's canal would be
increased to eight hundred miles.

^» Niebuhr, vol. ii. p. 307.

** See Asiat. Researches, vol. iv. p. 401..
Ruins of a town, Castrohain^ Calmay, sis
days from Aleppo, forty miles from Palmyra,,
fifty miles fi-om the Euphrates, Sec Capper'*
Route^ passim.

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they are probably Chaldean, Syrian, or Macedonian, they must
all have possessed water as the primary means of existence, and
they have ceased to exist, because the Euphrates has ceased to
convey to them the means ^' of fertilising the desert.

At what period we are to fix the failure of water in the two
lakes is uncertain ; neither have I hitherto found the means of
investigating whether they are yet absolutely dry in summer.

Online LibraryWilliam VincentThe commerce and navigation of the ancients in the Indian Ocean → online text (page 44 of 49)