Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Armenia (Volume 2 of 2) - Travels and Studies
Author: Lynch, H. F. B.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Armenia (Volume 2 of 2) - Travels and Studies" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                                ARMENIA

                          TRAVELS AND STUDIES


                                   BY
                             H. F. B. LYNCH



                    Nature's vast frame, the web of human things.

                                                       Shelley, Alastor.

                    Who can foretell our future? Spare me the attempt.
                    We are like a harvest reaped by bad husbandmen
                    amidst encircling gloom and cloud.

                                                         John Katholikos
                     Armenian historian of the Xth century Ch. CLXXXVII.



                             IN TWO VOLUMES

          WITH 197 ILLUSTRATIONS, REPRODUCED FROM PHOTOGRAPHS
                      AND SKETCHES BY THE AUTHOR,
                NUMEROUS MAPS AND PLANS, A BIBLIOGRAPHY

              And a Map of Armenia and Adjacent Countries

                                VOL. II

                         THE TURKISH PROVINCES



                        LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
                       LONDON: 39 PATERNOSTER ROW
                          NEW YORK AND BOMBAY

                                  1901



CONTENTS

                                                                PAGE
    CHAPTER I
    Descend into Turkish Territory                                 1

    CHAPTER II
    To Lake Van                                                   11

    CHAPTER III
    Across Lake Van                                               25

    CHAPTER IV
    Van                                                           38

    CHAPTER V
    From Van to Bitlis                                           116

    CHAPTER VI
    Bitlis                                                       145

    CHAPTER VII
    From Bitlis to Mush--Mush                                    160

    CHAPTER VIII
    From Mush to Erzerum                                         174

    CHAPTER IX
    Erzerum                                                      198

    CHAPTER X
    Return to the Border Ranges--Thalatta, thalatta!             225

    CHAPTER XI
    Revisit Armenia                                              237

    CHAPTER XII
    Across the Central Tableland to Khinis                       245

    CHAPTER XIII
    From Khinis to Tutakh                                        254

    CHAPTER XIV
    Down the Murad to Melazkert                                  264

    CHAPTER XV
    From Melazkert to Akhlat                                     276

    CHAPTER XVI
    Akhlat                                                       280

    CHAPTER XVII
    Our Sojourn in the Crater of Nimrud                          298

    CHAPTER XVIII
    Round Nimrud by Lake Nazik                                   314

    CHAPTER XIX
    Ascent of Sipan                                              326

    CHAPTER XX
    Back to the Central Tableland                                340

    CHAPTER XXI
    Our Sojourn on Bingöl                                        359

    CHAPTER XXII
    Home across the Border Ranges                                379

    CHAPTER XXIII
    Geographical                                                 383

    CHAPTER XXIV
    Statistical and Political                                    408

    APPENDIX I
    National Constitution of the Armenians in the
    Turkish Empire                                               445

    APPENDIX II
    Chemical Constitution of some Armenian Lakes                 468

    BIBLIOGRAPHY                                                 471
    INDEX                                                        497



LIST OF PLATES


    Lake Van with Sipan from Artemid                    Frontispiece
    Plain of Alashkert from the Slopes of Aghri Dagh  To face page 2
    Group of Kurd Hamidiyeh Cavalry                   Back to page 4
    Group of Karapapakh Hamidiyeh Cavalry                          5
    The Kuseh Dagh from the Plain of Alashkert       To face page 10
    Yusuf Bey of Köshk                                            16
    Kurd of Köshk in Gala Dress                                   17
    Sipan from the Plain of Patnotz                               19
    Van from the Slopes of Mount Varag                            53
    Van: Interior of the Mosque of Ulu Jami         Back to page 106
    Van: Frieze in Ulu Jami                                      107
    Van: Cuneiform Inscription of Meher or
        Choban Kapusi                               To face page 112
    Van: Mount Varag from the Heights of Toprak Kala             113
    Akhtamar: Church from South-East                Back to page 130
    Akhtamar: Church from North-West                             131
    Church at Akhtamar: Sculptures on North Wall    To face page 132
    Crater of Nimrud as seen on the Road from Garzik
        to Bitlis                                                142
    Bitlis from Avel Meidan                                      145
    Kerkür Dagh from the South: Nimrud Crater in the background  161
    Young Kurd Woman at Gotni, Mush Plain                        163
    Well-to-do Inhabitant of Khaskeui, Mush Plain                166
    Monastery of Surb Karapet from the South        Back to page 176
    Church of Surb Karapet from South-West                       177
    View South from the Terrace at Surb Karapet     To face page 178
    The Two Chapels at Surb Karapet                              180
    The Akh Dagh and the Plain of Khinis from the South          186
    The Central Tableland, Bingöl in the distance,
        from near Kulli                                          191
    Kargabazar, across the Plain of Pasin, from the
    southern margin of the Central Tableland                     193
    Erzerum from the Roof of the British Consulate: the
        Citadel in the middle distance and Eyerli Dagh
        in the background                                        208
    Erzerum: Chifteh Minareh                        To face page 211
    Looking East-South-East from near the Kop Pass               230
    Castle of Kalajik, Upper Kharshut                            236
    Monastery of Sumelas                                         239
    Tekman and the Bingöl Dagh from near Khedonun                247
    Khamur from the Pass between Ali Mur and Khinis              252
    Melazkert from the North: Sipan in the background            269
    Akhlat: Iki Kube--(the Kala, or Ottoman City,
        in the background)                                       285
    Akhlat: Isolated Tomb                                        290
    Akhlat: The Kharab-Shehr, or Site of the Ancient City        292
    The Nimrud Crater from the Promontory of Kizvag              298
    Sipan: View from the Western Summit over the Summit Region   334
    Hamidiyeh Cavalry at Gumgum                                  357
    Armenian Village of Gundemir: Bingöl Cliffs in the
        background                                               359
    The Bingöl Cliffs with the Head Waters of the Bingöl Su
        from the Village of Chaghelik                            360
    The so-called Crater of Bingöl from about the centre of
        the Moraine from Kara Kala                               369
    View from the Western Summit of Bingöl                       373
    Panorama from the Hill of Gugoghlan                          373



ILLUSTRATIONS IN THE TEXT

    Caravan on the Black Sea--Tabriz Trade Route                   8
    Karakilisa from South-West                                    10
    Akantz                                                        26
    Ruins of Arjish from the North                                28
    Ruins of Arjish from the South                                29
    Our Boat on Lake Van                                          30
    Scene on the Island of Ktutz                                  33
    Doorway of the Church at Ktutz                                34
    Bronze Shield from Toprak Kala                                62
    Bronze Fragment from Toprak Kala (British Museum)             63
    Ornament from Toprak Kala (British Museum)                    63
    House of an Armenian Merchant at Van                          81
    Interior of Haykavank from the East                          102
    The Rock and Walled City of Van                              104
    Street in the Walled City                                    105
    The Crag of Ak Köpri                                         111
    Monastery of Yedi Kilisa (Varag)                             114
    Interior of the Church at Yedi Kilisa                        115
    Van on the Road to Bitlis                                    116
    Mountain Range along South Coast of Lake Van                 119
    Island of Akhtamar                                           130
    Promontory of Surb (on the left the back of the Sheikh
        Ora Crater; in the distance Nimrud)                      140
    Bitlis: Fortified Monastery                                  155
    Tunnel of Semiramis                                          156
    Looking down Valley of Bitlis Chai                           157
    Nimrud Crater from the Volcanic Plateau                      161
    Armenian Village of Khaskeui, Mush Plain                     165
    Terrace of Lava resembling Human Fortifications              189
    Looking down the Valley of the Upper Araxes from
        below Mejitli                                            192
    Erzerum and its Plain from the South                         207
    Armenian Youths                                              215
    Armenian Maidens                                             216
    Five Generations of an Armenian Family                       221
    Range North of Ashkala                                       229
    On the Banks of the Chorokh above Baiburt                    232
    Armenian Cemetery at Varzahan                                234
    Kurdish Dancing Boy at Gopal                                 254
    Piece of Seljuk Pottery from Akhlat                          285
    Tombstone at Akhlat                                          291
    The Lake in the Crater of Nimrud                             302
    Village of Uran Gazi with Sipan                              332
    Grave on the Summit of Khamur                                340



LIST OF MAPS AND PLANS

    Plan of Van                                      To face page 81
    Bitlis and Environs                                          147
    Plan of the Ancient Fortifications of Melazkert              271
    Plan of Akhlat                                               296
    Interior of the Nimrud Crater                                305
    Nimrud and Surroundings                                      312
    Plan of the Summit Region of Sipan                           336
    The Bingöl Dagh on the North                                 366
    The Bingöl Dagh on the South                                 378



CHAPTER I

DESCEND INTO TURKISH TERRITORY


October 24.--The track which we were following winds for some distance
along the spine of the range. You cross and cross again from the one to
the other watershed, overlooking now the open spaces of the southern
landscape, now the narrow and encumbered cañon of the Araxes below
the adjacent cliffs of the tableland. The rocky parapets and gloomy
valleys appear to extend from basin to basin, at right angles to the
axis of the chain. West of the crags about us, and isolated from them,
rose a shapely mass with black but snow-streaked sides. Darkness was
falling when we descended from this lofty position into one of the
valleys of the southern slopes. In its recesses we came upon a little
Kurdish settlement, which seemed to promise shelter during the night.

Kurtler--Kurds! No sooner have we crossed the frontier than we find
ourselves in their midst. The mountains of Kurdistan are more than 100
miles distant; yet these parasites fasten upon the countryside. Still
their presence is appropriate and is not unwelcome, so long as they are
confined to alpine solitudes like those which surround the village of
Chat. Tufts of grass, interspersed with an endless crop of stones, were
the only pasture which we had seen for some time. Yet the shepherds
were in possession of a considerable stock of hay, against the approach
of a winter season which can scarcely lack rigour at an elevation of
6700 feet above the sea. Their habitations just protrude above the
level of the ground; and, once within the doorway, you proceed through
narrow passages into the very bowels of the earth. In the darkness you
stumble upon the forms of cattle or wake a ragged child. We took up
our quarters in one of the largest of the subterranean chambers, lit
our candles, and spread our carpet on the bare soil. We were surprised
to discover that the roof of the apartment was artificial--layers
of mud and straw, held together by laths of wood, and supported by
huge beams. The walls, too, were built up of rough stones, plastered
together; it was evident that the room was only three-parts buried,
and that it communicated directly with the outer air. In fact we could
see an aperture, the rude counterpart of a window, above the opening
to the winding passage through which we had come. On the side opposite
this only entrance a square hole in the face of the wall nourished a
smouldering fire. The smoke wreathed upwards to a vent in the roof,
or was sucked inwards towards the tunnelled approach.

When morning broke we were glad to issue from the fetid atmosphere of
this human burrow into the pure mountain air. A few gaunt figures were
standing upon the higher stages of the eminence which had provided a
suitable site for these underground operations, and which rose like
a large ant-hill from the waste of stone. Women squatted before the
doors of the straggling tenements, weaving the bright rugs for which
their race is famed. We proceeded down the glen, along the banks of a
little stream. It finds an easy exit from the heart of the mountains,
threading the trough of one of the meridional valleys. After riding
for an hour and a half, we opened out the southern landscape from
some high ground above the village of Amat (Fig. 108).

The great plain of Alashkert was outspread before us, bounded on
the further side by the snow-capped mountains of the Ala Dagh,
which stretched across the horizon from the east. Just before us,
this lofty range was seen to recede into the misty background, the
outlines bending away towards south-west. But the barrier was resumed
at no considerable interval by a chain of hills, less distant, although
of humbler proportions, called Kilich Gedik, or the sharp sword. We
could just descry the site of Karakilisa, backed by the recess of
the Ala Dagh. We knew that the Murad must be flowing through that
nebulous passage in the opposite bulwark of the plain. The surface
of the ground below us was level as water; the expanse was greatest
in the west. In that direction the spurs of the range upon which
we stood plunged by a succession of promontories into the floor
of the plain. We were reminded of the valley of the Araxes in the
neighbourhood of Erivan. Both depressions have the appearance of
inland seas at the foot of the mountains, the one on the northern,
the other on the southern side. But that of Alashkert is much more
elevated (5500 feet), and less sheltered; you miss the presence of
those extensive stretches of orchard and verdure which soften the
landscape through which the Araxes flows. The eye wanders out over
dim, ochreous tracts, broken by patches of fallow, and seamed by white
rivulets. Just below the Armenian settlement we reached the margin of
the level ground, and cantered along, almost on a compass course. We
saw several insignificant villages; but the district was wild, the
soil for the most part unreclaimed. Flocks of duck and geese took
wing at our approach; cranes, with their long necks, sailed across
the sky. In the course of an hour and a half we reached the street
of Karakilisa, a distance from Amat, measured direct, of 9 miles.

A motley crowd collected round us as we enquired for the government
quarters; a hundred curious faces were upturned towards us, and our
ears were greeted with the cry of Ferengi! Ferengi! passed like a
shuttlecock from mouth to mouth. The little town was full of stir;
new shops and houses were in course of erection; it was evident that
trade and traffic were on the increase. We had almost crossed it from
end to end, when we were ushered into a modest building, of which the
hall or outer chamber was thronged with people, for the most part
peasants; while an old servitor or usher, with white beard and a
flowing robe, was marshalling the rows of slippers by the threshold
of an inner door. At our approach he drew aside the quilted curtain
which screened this sanctuary, and turned the handle and bade us pass
within. The low divan, which on three sides followed the walls of
the apartment, was already occupied by a full complement of seated
figures; they appeared to be engaged in deliberation when we broke
in upon their séance. A little man with vivacious eyes was directing
the conversation; he sat on the only chair behind a table covered
with faded baize. Although we could scarcely doubt that our arrival
had been announced beforehand, we seemed to take these notables by
surprise. The little man rose from his chair; the assembly huddled
together in order to give us place on the divan. Compliments were
exchanged; coffee and cigarettes were provided; the discussion was
adjourned by tacit consent. One by one, after satisfying without
displaying their curiosity, the councillors stole from the room.

Meanwhile the figure at the table--it was the Kaimakam, or district
governor--had examined our numerous and weighty credentials, and had
directed a billet to be provided and prepared. Our effects, which
arrived later, were not subjected to examination; no excisemen or
policemen dogged our steps. Such officials are almost unknown in this
happy country! so we reflected with a sense of immense relief. The way
they worry the people in the neighbouring empire passes the capacity
of the uninitiated to realise. The Greek poet was certainly wrong when
he gave expression to the sentiment that anarchy is the greatest of
human ills. Here we were, enlightened observers, exchanging order for
disorder with rapturous delight! We were free to wander as we willed,
to enjoy a British liberty without so much as the restraint of roads
and walls. Coming from Russia, the contrast was indeed startling;
independence is far preferable to feeling reasonably certain that
you will not be knocked on the head by a Kurd.

The Kaimakam escorted us to the adjacent barracks, in which a
whitewashed room had been made ready to receive us. It belonged to the
quarters of the superior officer--with the rank of Miralai--a Turk of
great stature and broad shoulders, to whom we were introduced. He wore
a dark blue military tunic of European pattern and material; but he
had forgotten to fasten the lower buttons of this imposing garment,
as well as the upper ones of the trousers beneath. His mouth and
ears and nostrils were of unusual proportions; the expression of the
face was kind, and denoted a childlike, buoyant nature--de bonne bête
humaine, as one might say. In him we found an agreeable and a sensible
companion. He bustled about the place, was accustomed to shave each
Friday; he settled every difficulty with eh, wallah! accompanied by a
hearty laugh. From time to time the troops were visited by the Liva,
or commandant, an aged figure with a beard of snow. He had been at
Plevna, and had made the campaign of Bulgaria; but nothing remained
of him now but a worn-out body, made doubly infirm by an inveterate
habit of getting drunk.

The peculiar care and constant plague of these high officials were the
newly-enrolled regiments which, under the name of Hamidiyeh, flatter
the vanity but sap the throne of the reigning Sultan. Am I guilty of
indiscretion when I say that the prevailing opinion of them in official
circles is one of contempt, not unmixed with alarm? Your high-placed
Turk will quote at their expense his favourite proverb, the fish begins
to stink from the head. The young men are the sons of their fathers,
who are Kurds and brigands; the example of the fathers is transmitted
to the sons. Something might be done, if the process were arrested--if
the recruits were removed from their homes. When I objected that the
Tsar's Cossacks presented in some respects a hopeful analogy, I would
be met by the reply that the Russian autocrat employed strong measures,
the like of which the Turkish Government was too mild to enforce.

Perhaps my reader is already aware that the Hamidiyeh are irregular
cavalry, who owe their origin to the endeavour of the Sultan
Abdul Hamid to emulate the example which gave to Russia her Cossack
troops. They are recruited for the most part among the Kurdish tribes;
the name of yeomanry expresses the nature of their military service,
but cannot be applied to the class to which they belong. The force is
still undergoing the initial process of organisation. At the time of
our journey it afforded the principal topic of conversation. Yuzbashis,
or sergeants, of the regular army were being poured into the country,
and distributed among the villages, to instil into the shepherds
the rudiments of drill. Depots of arms were being established in
convenient centres; and it was the intention of the authorities
to keep the weapons under lock and key, except when they should be
required for the annual trainings in spring. Hundreds and thousands
of suits of uniform were arriving in the principal towns, loaded
on bullock carts. Each regiment had been allowed to exercise its
own fancy upon the choice of a distinctive garb. The result was
an incongruous mixture of the braids and gold lace of Europe with
the Georgian finery of a serried row of silvered cartridge cases,
banded across the breast of a skirted coat. How proud they seemed,
and how insensible of their ridiculous appearance in our eyes--the
long-beaked Kurds, the swarthy Karapapakhs, masquerading down the
street of Karakilisa in these strange creations of the tailors of
Pera or Stambul! They did not require pressing to consent to be
photographed--a group of Kurds (Fig. 109), a group of Karapapakhs
(Fig. 110). Some of the principal officers of either regiment are
represented in my illustrations; and I would beg my reader to observe
the seated Kurd in the Georgian dress--it is Eyub Pasha with his son
and nephew. Behind him stands his principal henchman, who, although
a Kurd, has seen service with regular troops.

In the caza, or administrative subdivision, of Karakilisa three
regiments of Hamidiyeh have been enrolled. Two are recruited from Kurds
of the Zilanli tribe; the third from Karapapakhs. This people--who
take their name from their caps of black lambskin--are found on
either side of the Russo-Turkish frontier, and are no doubt related to
the Tartars of Azerbaijan. The Kaimakam informed me--but I question
whether his statement, even if true, can apply to more than a small
number--that the fathers of those among them who inhabit this district
were followers of the famous Shamyl. According to his account they
were at that time settled in Daghestan, whence they removed to their
present seats. He added that their villages were 8 in number in this
caza; that their regiment had a strength of 800 men; and that they had
branded no less than 650 horses with the military mark. Their chief,
Ali Bey, is a man of hideous features, whom we recognised as the same
individual who had been seated in the place of honour, when we broke
in upon the deliberations of the Kaimakam. I now learnt the purport
of their lively discussion; it had been a question of fixing a price
for grain. Months ago Ali Bey had made a contract with the Kaimakam to
supply the cereal for Government purposes at a stated price. The time
had just arrived for delivering it into the granaries; but the price
had risen, almost to famine rates. In the drawer of the green baize
table was securely buried the precious document, behind a lock of
which alone the Kaimakam possessed the key. How great was the dismay
of the wretched official to find that it had been abstracted, and to
recognise that the robbery might cost him his place! His despoiler
felt quite safe behind his Hamidiyeh uniform and his paper figures
of 800 men-at-arms.

But the Kaimakam was not the man to go to sleep beneath an injury; he
possessed both energy and brains. He and the Miralai would each evening
repair to our quarters, and discuss the events of the day over coffee
and pipes. On one occasion, in company with the Miralai, we had awaited
to a late hour the arrival of the Kaimakam. When at last he made his
appearance, his clothes were covered with dust and he was wearing his
long top-boots. His eyes were bright with excitement as he narrated
in vivid language the story of his day's work. Kurds from Lake Balük
had made a foray into his district, and had plundered the village of
Mangasar, inhabited in equal numbers by Armenians and Mussulmans. He
had proceeded in person to the scene of their depredations, and at
the head of his motley followers had forced them to retire after a
sanguinary fight. What was the origin of this man whose animated face
and supple character contrasted strangely with the wooden figures of
officers and notables who attended his divan? He told me he was an
Albanian; he was, of course, a Mohammedan; but his whole appearance
stamped him a Greek. Compared with Kurds like Eyub Pasha, with their
resemblance to big birds, he stood on the opposite pole of human
development. Although in point of years the youngest of the group,
he led them all by the nose. A situation had scarcely been stated
when he had already discovered the solution; he shared the feelings
as well as the thoughts of the individual to whom he was lending his
ear. I have no doubt that he was far the superior of Ali Bey in the
successful practice of every kind of deceit. He professed himself
my friend; I am sure he took a pleasure in abusing the confidence
which I was obliged to affect. We had almost exhausted our stock of
money when we arrived in Karakilisa; between us and the town of Van,
where we might hope to replenish it, lay the wildest districts of
Asiatic Turkey. Semi-civilised communications are entirely wanting
in those regions; it was even impossible to hire a caravan. It was
necessary to purchase horses; three days were consumed in finding
the animals; having selected four, at an average price of £6 apiece,
we were without funds to defray our expenses in the town. The Kaimakam
might no doubt have advanced the few pounds in perfect safety; but he
had cast longing eyes upon my gun. Alleging that he had already spent
the last instalment of his allowance, he insisted that the usurers,
who would supply him with the money, required that I should leave the
weapon in his charge. It was arranged that, the moment the debt had
been recovered, he would despatch the valuable pledge to Erzerum. No
sooner had we reached Van than I contrived to send him the amount by
way of Bayazid. Weeks later, upon my arrival in the capital of his
provincial government, the gun had not yet come to hand. The Vali, or
Governor-General, was recently dead; no successor had been appointed;
the fact that I was an Englishman was scarcely worth recalling to
the petty authorities, daily witnesses of the feebleness of the
British Government, and full of contempt for the British Power. When
my property was at last restored to me through the good offices of
Mr. Graves, the whole winter and part of the spring had gone by. The
Kaimakam had wreaked his revenge; the weapon came in broken pieces,
and the barrels bore the marks of heavy blows.

I was unable to ascertain with any accuracy the number of the
inhabitants, whether of the district or of the town. The Kaimakam,
although extremely communicative on other subjects, professed to
have been forbidden to make them known. According to the most recent
official statistics, the caza contains no less than 58 villages, and
possesses a population of 5377 Mohammedans and 1902 Armenians. For
the town in particular I have not had access to any information; but
I should judge that the residents might be put down at 1500 to 2000,
of whom the Armenians would be nearly two-thirds. With the exception
of the shops, the houses are in general little better than the usual
village tenements, half buried beneath the ground. But Karakilisa
is increasing in importance day by day, being situated on the great
avenue of communication between Persia and the Black Sea. Strings
of camels, with their finery of coloured tassels, were continually
passing at a stone's throw from our door (Fig. 111). They were bearing
the multitudinous wares of Europe for distribution among the Eastern
bazars. They proceed by way of Trebizond, Erzerum, and Bayazid to
the city of Tabriz. The place has also the advantage of being both
a military and an administrative centre; there is always something
going on. The fashionable amusement of the day were the Hamidiyeh. A
luxurious coffee-house had just been built for their delectation;
their name was on every tongue.

It was whispered in fear and terror by the poor Armenians. I
visited their bishop, and found him in a state of blank despair. He
was afraid to receive me, and sent me excuses--which, however, I
refused to accept. After some parley with intermediaries he made his
appearance--a stout figure, a thick-lipped, common face. He refused
to listen to the simple questions which I addressed to him, and burst
out into abuse. Europe, and especially England, had played the part
of swindlers towards his miserable race. Their hopes had been incited
by delusive professions, which had only served to alarm the Sultan and
let loose the Kurds. Nor could they look to Russia, the arch-offender,
fanning the agitation for ends of her own. The poor man continued in
this strain until he was nearly beside himself; I was obliged to leave
him to his rage. His diocese embraces the districts between Zeidikan
and Bayazid, and extends southwards to the borders of the vilayet,
or Government, of Van. His church at Karakilisa is little better than
four stone walls. An ignorant priest imparts instruction in a wretched
little building which can scarcely be dignified by the name of school.

One afternoon we made an excursion to the point where the Murad changes
direction, and flows through the gap towards the south. Between
the barracks in which we were lodged, on the extreme outskirts
of Karakilisa, and the river, flowing placidly over the plain,
there extends a considerable tract of marshy ground and low covert,
the home of plover and innumerable water-birds. We crossed a stream
which, coming from Aghri Dagh, passes just beneath the barracks to
join the Murad a little further west (Kör Su), and made across the
marsh in the direction of a little Armenian village which stands on
the left bank of the principal body of water, almost due south of
the town. Just below this settlement, called Küp Keran, we forded
the Murad, which was winding at the foot of a gentle eminence of
the southern border through a pebbly and many-channelled bed. Either
shore was quite a museum of living wildfowl; in especial we admired a
beautiful species of golden duck of which the wings were flaked with
white bands. Avoiding the swamp on the opposite margin, we followed
this bank for some distance: and a little later crossed back to the
northern side. About a mile and a half below Küp Keran the river
describes a beautiful curve, and enters the spacious passage of
the hills. It is pushed southwards by rising ground at the base of
the Kilich Gedik barrier; but the higher outlines of that range,
as well as those of the snowy Ala Dagh in the east, are several
miles removed from its shores. It flows towards grassy hills, among
which you lose the silver thread which the eye has followed as far
as a village, named Dombat. The breadth of the Murad at the bend,
where its errant waters had issued from the marsh, did not appear to
us to exceed thirty yards. The intense stillness of the scene was in
harmony with the quiet sunset which shed radiance over mountain, river,
and plain. From the lofty bulwark of the northern chain, beyond the
lake-like surface of the steppe, rose the form of a single summit,
overtowering its neighbours--the shapely dome of the Kuseh Dagh
(Fig. 112). The fantastic profile of the system was drawn across the
horizon in hues of opal to the far east. In that direction we could
clearly see the magnificent bastions of Ararat, mounting the sky behind
these heights. The snowfields were flushed with a delicate madder;
we noticed that from this side they appear to gather to a single
peak, the eminence upon which we had stood. We remarked the convex
modelling of the lower slopes of the system along the opposite margin
of the plain. A shorter way was shown us for the return to Karakilisa
(Fig. 113), which leaves the river and crosses the head of the marsh.



CHAPTER II

TO LAKE VAN


The principal artery of traffic in Turkish Armenia crosses the land
from west to east. It follows the direction of a series of depressions:
the plains of Erzerum, of Pasin and of Alashkert. It consists of a
carriageable track, or rough road of unequal quality. The bulk of
the transit trade between Europe and northern Persia is conveyed on
the backs of camels along this route. The wall of protective duties
which has been reared by the Russian Government compels this commerce
to flow through a Turkish port and to adhere to Turkish soil. It
has been stimulated by the efforts of a series of British consuls,
resident at Erzerum. Robberies have been punished with great severity;
and, at the present day, the traffic is seldom, if ever, interrupted,
although it passes through the Kurd-inhabited districts about Bayazid,
and the lawless border of the Persian and Turkish empires.

South of this beaten avenue are situated regions which, in spite of
the researches of individual travellers, are still but imperfectly
known. The lake of Van remains a centre of agriculture and primitive
industry; yet it lies beyond a zone of feebly governed country which,
year by year, is becoming more difficult to cross. The pest of Kurds
has settled firmly upon these richly favoured territories, destroying
agriculture and banishing trade. What caravans there are travel in
large bodies, and every man is armed to the teeth. Between Erzerum
and the town of Van they choose between two routes according to the
season of the year. In summer they cross the mountains behind the
northern capital, and proceed by the plain of Khinis, crossing the
Murad at Melazkert. During winter they make the round by way of Pasin
and Alashkert, deviating on the confines of the latter district, and
passing the river at Tutakh. The approach through the town of Mush is
used only once a year, when the pilgrims journey from Erzerum to the
cloister of Surb Karapet. On that occasion the caravan, according
to my informants, continues its course as far as Van. By the two
first routes it is usual to follow the eastern shore of the lake,
which is reached near the little town of Akantz. [1]

We set out from Karakilisa on October the 29th, mounted on our
newly-purchased horses, and accompanied by a zaptieh or gendarme. Our
objective was this same Akantz; the principal intermediate stations
were Tutakh and Patnotz. I had thought it possible to accomplish the
ride in the course of two days; our friends laughed at the idea. I
decided therefore to start in the afternoon, with the hope of arriving
on the evening of the third day. At a quarter-past three o'clock we
were making our way along the marsh to the point where the Murad
leaves the plain. After reaching the bend, we proceeded down the
passage which receives the river, towards Dombat and the grassy hills
which I have already mentioned. On our left hand, at an interval of
about 500 yards from the left bank, rose the first gentle slopes of
the Ala Dagh system; this high land was answered on the right bank,
at about a similar distance, by the outworks of the Kilich Gedik. The
Murad pursues its course between these two blocks of mountain, and,
a little lower down, forces its way through the narrowing gap. Near
Dombat both banks are of considerable elevation, and the ridges appear
to cross the direction of the stream. Before arriving opposite the
village we crossed the Sharian Su, a tributary which collects the
drainage of the western portion of the plain, and which appeared to
us to have a volume scarcely less than that of the principal branch.

After passing Dombat--which was said to be inhabited by Kizilbashes--we
sank to a valley in which is situated the Kurdish village of Zado,
and ascended the ridge on its opposite side. From the summit we
commanded a prospect towards Karakilisa, and were impressed by the
serpentine course of the river, flowing towards us in a pebbly bed
which it threaded by several channels. We were placed at a height of
some 250 feet above its waters. On a hillside further south we could
now discern our evening station, the little village of Avdi. It was
signalised by a green patch, due to vegetable gardens; its surroundings
were bleak and bare. Arriving at half-past five, we selected the best
of the fifteen tenements as quarters for the night. We were surprised
to find a sergeant of the regular army established in this miserable
place. He had come to recruit Kurds for the Hamidiyeh, and bitterly
cursed his fate.

Next morning we were anxious to reach Tutakh before mid-day in
order to pass the night at Patnotz. At a quarter to eight we were in
the saddle; it had rained during the night, and heavy clouds hung
over the hills. As we rose up the slope, we caught glimpses of the
mountains which bound the plain of Alashkert upon the north. The plain
itself had long been lost; we were at some distance from the river;
we looked across high hills, which engulfed the invisible waters,
to the summits of the Ala Dagh. The doubtful track commenced to
wind between grassy slopes, strewn with boulders--a belt of country
well adapted to guerilla warfare, and reputed the favourite haunt of
Kurdish robbers. Horsemen would no doubt be completely at their mercy
in the blind recesses of these irregular valleys. At a quarter to nine
we approached the Murad, still high above it; the hills rose from
either bank. In another half hour we obtained our first view of the
cone of Sipan, a gleaming object in the south. Some two miles further
the landscape opened, and assumed the character of a vast steppe of
broken and uneven ground. Distant ranges encircled the expanse with dim
outlines; Sipan alone was clearly defined against the sky. From the
Kurdish village of Köshk we obtained a fine view over this country,
with its waving surface featured by shadows from the clouds. We had
got behind the barrier of the Kilich Gedik; and the whole segment of
the circle from north-west to south-west was filled by comparatively
level land. We observed a prominent shape in the mountains of the
furthest distance, which we identified with the Khamur Dagh. Beyond
the Mussulman village of Okhan, the river, which had left us, took
a sharp bend, and joined our course. We made our way along it at a
rapid trot and reached Tutakh a little after eleven o'clock.

The little township does not possess more than about a hundred houses;
yet it is the seat of a Kaimakam whose administrative area includes
Patnotz, and meets the boundary of the vilayet of Van. It stands on
rising ground, at some little distance from the bank of the river,
facing the lofty hills which rise on the opposite shore, and push
the Murad towards the west. It is about equidistant from Karakilisa
and from Patnotz, a ride of some twenty-three miles from the first,
and of twenty-eight miles from the second. The inhabitants are for the
greater part Karapapakhs, imported into the district after the last
Russo-Turkish war. They can now boast of some 400 houses in the caza,
or a population of about 3000 souls. Agriculturists by profession,
and by temperament robbers, they appear to be in an extremely
prosperous state. Their aged chief conversed with me, and imparted
several particulars which I had not known before. He told me that
they had emigrated from the province of Chaldir, being dissatisfied
with the Russian Government, who had not treated them well in the
matter of lands. The Sultan had received them back, settled them in
these fertile regions, and allotted to them as much ground as they
required. I questioned him with some care about the original seats of
his tribe; he was emphatic that they had always lived in Chaldir. [2]
Taylor tells us that they became possessed of the villages and lands
in that province, and in the neighbouring province of Kars, which
had been abandoned by the Armenians who followed the army of Marshal
Paskevich upon his evacuation of Turkish territory in 1829. According
to the chief, their original possessions in Transcaucasia extended
from Daghestan to Chaldir. The tribe supplies a regiment of Hamidiyeh
for this caza; the head men were resplendent in their new uniforms,
of which they seemed very proud. Both here and at Karakilisa I was
impressed by the diversity of type which is found among them. Mingled
with physiognomies of purely Tartar or Persian character were faces
which, with their lighter hair and fairer complexion, might have
belonged to a group of Circassians. With the exception of the shops,
single-storeyed stone buildings, the houses in Tutakh are the usual
loose agglomerations of earth and rough stone. The great majority of
the population in the caza are Kurds; a scattering of Armenians are
entirely at the mercy of their rapacious Mussulman neighbours.

Our baggage animals, which had started from Avdi with us, arrived at
one o'clock. They were in charge of a second zaptieh, to whom I had
given instructions to find his way to Akantz as best he could. A little
before two we were again in the saddle, making for the adjacent ford
across the Murad. The river is fairly broad just opposite the town,
having a width at this season of about 100 yards. It had spread beyond
its average dimensions in this region, and the water did not reach
higher than the horses' knees. We admired the clear, blue current,
sweeping past us--a stream neither sluggish nor impetuous, as befits
the beginning of a great river. From the opposite bank we proceeded
at right angles to its direction, up the side of the line of high
hills. At eighteen minutes after two we had wound our way to the
summit; we stood on the surface of rolling downs. A little later,
when I thought we had reached the highest point of these uplands, I
took the reading of my aneroid. We had reached a level of 5800 feet,
or of 560 feet above Tutakh. The exhilarating air, the easy ground,
the magnificent prospects rendered our ride most enjoyable. Behind
us was the outline of the Kilich Gedik, running from east to west. We
could just see the crest of the Kuseh Dagh beyond it, the summit of the
dome. Towards the south rose the irregular mass of the Khamur, and the
beautiful landmark of Sipan. That graceful mountain stood disclosed
to three-quarters of its height. Such are the rewards which Armenia
bestows upon the traveller, and which Man is powerless to destroy.

That insignificant creature lives in squalor amid scenes of desolation
which are due to himself alone. The soil is rich and loamy; but
it is little cultivated, and lies idle beneath a covering of rough
grass. The climate is more propitious than that of the corresponding
highlands in the more northerly, or Russian portion of the land. The
rainfall is probably less; but this disadvantage may be balanced by
the earlier maturing of the crops. We rode for an hour without seeing
a village, with the heights of the Ala Dagh following our course
away on the left. The first settlement which we passed was Milan,
inhabited by Kurds, which we were careful to avoid. Those of their
number whom we met were armed with numerous knives, and had rifles
slung across their shoulders. A little further I called a halt on
the requisition of the zaptieh; he was very anxious that the plan
of the journey should be changed. It was half-past three o'clock;
we could not reach Patnotz before nightfall; if I persisted it was
almost certain we should be attacked. In crossing from the territory
of the Sipkanli tribe to that of the Haideranli, we should be obliged
to run the gauntlet of the armed parties which scoured the frontier
between these two hostile tribes. He pointed to a dot on the grassy
plain about us which he identified with the village of Köshk. He said
that it was the residence of the chief of the Sipkanli, who from his
official relations with the Turkish Government would be obliged to
shelter us. His counsel was no doubt sound if one could only trust
his estimate of our distance from Patnotz. For some time we had been
passing between two opposite hill ranges, one on our left front, the
other on our right. On our point of course, in the middle distance,
these outlines approached one another, leaving between them a wide
gap. The ridge on the left, a spur of Ala Dagh, was said to bear the
name of Gelarash Dagh; that on the right was called Kartevin Dagh. It
would be no short ride to the passage between the two; and this gave
access, according to the zaptieh, to the plain in which, upon its
further confines, was situated Patnotz. Satisfied by his explanations,
I deferred to his judgment, and directed our steps a few points off
our true course, towards the village which he had indicated. A shower
of soft rain was falling as we entered Köshk at four o'clock.

I have already introduced my reader to a Kurdish village; the
description of one may be applied to all. But Köshk is distinguished
by a single house in the proper sense, a two-storeyed building of
stone. It is the abode of Yusuf Bey, chieftain of the Sipkanli, whose
portrait I was allowed to take (Fig. 114). His followers gathered
round us, a throng of Kurdish warriors, prepared at any moment for a
fight. Besides knives, each man carried a rifle; a band of cartridges
was fastened across the breast. I examined several weapons; all bore
the Russian marks and letters. They told me that they were procured
from the Russian soldiers, probably Cossacks, in the frontier districts
of Kagyzman and Erivan. When a little later I questioned the chief
about this traffic, he expressed surprise that the soldiers should be
able to obtain firearms for the purpose of selling them. After some
palaver we were ushered into his presence; he happened to be engaged in
prayer. A broad divan followed the bare walls of a spacious apartment,
and rugs were spread upon the divan. Several tall, lank figures stood
on these bright carpets, with stockings on their feet. They faced
the window and the light; at the head of one of the two lines was
placed an individual whom we easily recognised as the mollah from
his humbler stature, stouter person and ampler robes. Their backs
were turned towards us as we entered; we advanced a little, but not
a muscle of the faces moved. Then the silence was broken by a deep,
gurgling sound, which developed into the expression of a series of
labials, half a chant, half a spoken prayer. At certain passages
the figures bowed to the ground, or dropped to a seated posture,
and were still. To us it seemed an ideal rendering of the solemn
relation between man and the universe.

The litany completed, our hosts at once turned towards us, with a
sudden change of countenance which took us by surprise. Yusuf Bey
extended to us his massive but almost fleshless hand; his cavernous
cheeks were lit by a smile. He and his brother are men of more than
ordinary proportions, and both are true types of the Kurd. He told
me that they were in daily expectation of attack from Hoseyn Pasha
of Patnotz. This miscreant, although under the ban of justice, had
been given the title of Pasha by the Turkish Government, partly in
order to recruit their new irregulars among his tribe, and partly as
a recompense for his bribes. He had quite recently burnt some villages
of the Sipkanli, and had reduced the clan to poverty. Judging from the
finery which was displayed by the inhabitants of Köshk (Fig. 115), I
could only accept the latter part of this statement in a very relative
sense. The seats of the Sipkanli extend to the territory of Bayazid;
they supply three regiments to the Hamidiyeh. After partaking of
supper, we composed ourselves to sleep in the same apartment into
which we had been introduced. The night was disturbed by the weird
cries which were exchanged at frequent intervals between the patrols
in the outskirts and the guard in the village.

Among the forty tenements which constituted this particular
settlement we were astonished to find that six were inhabited by
Armenians. Imagine the condition of these poor people, in the very
jaws of their enemy, who just allows them to exist and no more! The
Turkish authorities, a long way distant, would be quite powerless
to assist them, even if they had the desire. A poor stableman told
us beneath his breath that their lot was desperate, and that some of
his countrymen had contrived to escape to Russia.

The rawness of the climate in the plain of Alashkert had disappeared
when we reached Köshk. [3] The weather became mild, and the sun shone
freely from a sky almost devoid of cloud. When next morning we were
again in the saddle at twenty minutes after seven, the mown pastures
looked green and fresh after the rain of the preceding evening, and it
was a delight to breathe the crisp air. We could still see the distant
dome of the Kuseh Dagh; the ridge on our left hid the lower slopes
of Sipan. We rode towards the still remote promontory of that grassy
ridge, and the gap between the outlines in the hills. At a little after
eight we had reached the passage; it appeared to have a width of about
a mile. It leads from the undulating plains about Köshk to the level
plain of Patnotz. The ground falls away by a succession of inequalities
to a spacious area of flat alluvial land. Beyond that lake-like surface
rises the fabric of a single mountain, the broad base, the vaulted
slopes, the massive crown. Sipan was at last exposed from foot to
summit, recalling by many a characteristic the majestic Ararat. [4]
There was the same length of sweep, the same symmetry of structure,
the same rounded central form. And if we missed the gardens and the
immense expanse of the campagna of Erivan, this open plain seemed to
repeat the surroundings of Ararat on a scale exactly suited to Sipan.

Near the opening we passed the tiny village of Burnu Bulakh, inhabited
by Kurds. We doubled the long promontory; it was evident it had been
pushing us away from our true course. Once rounded, we pursued a
south-easterly direction, keeping to the base of the hills to which
it belongs. In these solitudes a human figure is an unfamiliar object;
great was our surprise to perceive several men running towards us from
a recess in the range. Stranger still was the discovery that they did
not bear arms; we collected together, and awaited their approach. When
they had reached speaking distance, they unfolded their story, and
begged for protection at our hands. They were Turks from the province
of Kars who had deserted their lands and homes, taking with them all
their portable wealth. They said that the Russian Government treated
them very badly, favouring the Molokans, and annoying the members of
their religion and race. They had resolved to seek new seats beneath
the sceptre of the Sultan, and had crossed the frontier in pursuit of
this end. Their journey had until yesterday been uneventful; but last
evening, as they were approaching the territory of the Haideranli,
they had been savagely attacked. The Kurds had despoiled them of
all their possessions, and had been induced with difficulty to leave
them the clothes in which they stood. Poor fellows! honest, sturdy
peasants, returning to their old allegiance and to the stronghold
of Islam, only to find the one insulted by robbers and the other a
gaping ruin. All we could do was to take them to the prince of the
bandits, in the hope that he would be more prudent than his wild
bands. Inasmuch as they were without horses it was impossible that
they should accompany us to the town of Akantz.

Not less eloquent an illustration of the decay of the Ottoman Empire
was the landscape through which we passed. Mile after mile, the eye
ranged across the floor of the alluvial plain to the lower slopes
of the great volcano which, with the hills circling towards them,
compose a basin-like area of vast extent. The fertile soil lies idle,
as though the waters had lately receded; in the distance some goats
and cattle browsed the burnt and scanty grass. Nature alone has made
the most of exceptional opportunities; and Sipan, with this plain on
one flank and the lake of Van upon the other, is worthy to rank among
the most beautiful objects in the natural world (Fig. 116). There, can
be little difference between the level of the expanse on either side;
plain and sea have an elevation of about 5500 feet. The summit of the
slowly-rising fabric which divides them attains an altitude of 13,700
feet. The history of the mountain may be studied to advantage from
this, the northern side. There can be little doubt that it possessed a
central crater, of which the walls have fallen in upon the north. The
southern rim still stands, presenting an almost horizontal outline of
sharp rock, harbouring drifts of snow. [5] The processes of denudation
have been busy with the slopes of this ancient cone, and have broken
the surface into knife-like ridges. We stood for half-an-hour in full
face of the pile. After crossing two little rivulets which wandered
out from the hills behind us, we arrived at half-past ten in Patnotz.

We found it nothing better than a wretched Kurdish village, with some
one hundred huts and numerous stacks of dried manure. It is situated at
the foot of the hill range which we had been skirting, and which had
gradually been circling round towards Sipan. It overlooks the plain
and the opposite volcano. About thirty of the tenements are occupied
by Armenian families, and there is a row of shops which rise proudly
from the ground. On the further outskirts a large stone building was
in process of being erected; the Armenian masons were busy with the
work. It was to serve as a school and for other purposes, and was due
to the policy in favour with the Sultan, of educating the Kurds. I
understood that the funds were provided by the Turkish Government. We
rode up to a group of people assembled before this palace, and
enquired for the chief. Among them was an individual of heavy build
and forbidding features, attired in a long coat of military pattern,
and displaying the brass ensign of the Hamidiyeh on the sheepskin cap
which he wore. It was Hoseyn Pasha, lord of the Haideranli, and ruler
of the territory of Patnotz. The irregular mouth and nose, and the
dull, sparkless eyes correspond with the reputation which he bears. But
discontent as well as malice was written upon his countenance; and
the situation explained the humour of the man. His followers would
no doubt argue that he was assisting at his own destruction; this
school was the visible evidence of the Ottoman yoke. I have no doubt
that he would console them with the assurance of its futility; and I
am certain that he would be right. Meanwhile he had appropriated the
completed apartments as a residence for himself. I waited for him to
invite us to be his guests in his new quarters; but he beckoned to an
attendant to find us a room in one of the huts. So I dismounted, and
myself led the way into the schoolhouse, obliging him either to affront
or follow me. He chose the latter course. Continuing the same tactics,
I bade him take a seat by my side on his own divan. In his company was
a fine specimen of the Kurdish nation, whose mien contrasted with that
of his chief; and a genial Turk who had travelled, and was at once
a man of the world and a parasite of the lowest type. This gentleman
was delighted to have an opportunity of conversing about the affairs
of the outside world; it was to him that I addressed the conversation
until the sullen temper of the chief relaxed. When I was able to put
some questions in return for those which I had answered, the tongue of
Hoseyn Pasha had commenced to flow. He told me he was the titular chief
of the Hasananli Kurds, a tribe of which the Haideranli, Adamanli, and
Sipkanli were offshoots or species. This widely-spread genus extended
to the Persian frontier. I asked him why his people did not cultivate
the plain, and augment their wealth and numbers. He replied that in
the absence of communications and markets they were not encouraged to
take such a course. We lunched off some wretched cheese, inlaid with
herbs in Kurdish fashion; and, after commending our companions to his
sense of responsibility, took leave at a quarter-past eleven o'clock.

I am sorry that I am not able to present a better description of the
features of the country between Patnotz and the lake of Van. I hope
that some future traveller will be able to ascend the sides of the
hills along the trough of which we rode for many miles. I should advise
him to devote at least three days to the journey between Karakilisa
and Akantz. The first night would be spent at Tutakh, the second at
Patnotz. Hoseyn Pasha was astonished to hear of our intention to push
on to our destination by a single stage. But the zaptieh knew of no
village in which we might safely sojourn, before reaching the territory
of Akantz. The authority of the Turkish Government is little better
than a name among the valleys of the Ala Dagh. I was assured that I had
formed a wrong conception of the distance, which, measured direct on
the map of Kiepert, amounts to no more than twenty-one miles. Arrived
at Akantz, I computed that we had covered, from station to station,
no less than thirty-six miles. An incident which occurred just after
our departure contributed to hasten our steps. A Kurd, mounted on
a swift Arab, cantered ahead of us and was soon lost to sight. The
zaptieh was certain it was an emissary of the chief, whose treachery
he feared. The word would be given to the bands in the district that
helpless travellers were passing their way. I think it more probable
that he was bearer of orders not to attack us on any account.

From Patnotz we proceeded in an easterly direction towards the ridge
which bounds the plain upon the east. It connects with the hills
which we had so long been skirting, and which hollow inwards beyond
the village. A few minutes before twelve we were on the summit of the
low pass, and were leaving behind us the landscape of the plain. We
entered a broad valley, which, with a grassy hill range on either side,
stretched away towards south-east. The range on our right concealed
from view the lower slopes of Sipan, and was distant about a mile. Its
elevation above the valley was at first not greater than from 100
to 500 feet; but, as we proceeded, it rose to a more considerable
altitude, and, at the same time, came closer up to the track. On our
left hand the barrier was more remote and loftier, some five miles
off, and some 1000 feet above our heads. The heights were streaked
with snow; according to our informants, they belong to the system of
the Ala Dagh. We rode for several hours between these two ridges, the
ground rising as we advanced. Here and there a little brook threaded
the waste soil, flowing towards the west. At one o'clock we came up
with a long line of bullock carts, travelling from Erzerum to Van. We
counted no less than seventy of these primitive vehicles, crawling
over the ground with creaking wheels. Several horsemen accompanied
the caravan, their persons bristling with arms of every kind. The
leader was a Turk of quality and some importance. He told me that
the journey occupied eight days, and that the Murad was crossed at
Tutakh. Each of the drivers was said to be in possession of weapons,
although they did not happen to be wearing them as we passed.

Three-quarters of an hour later we crossed a nice stream which,
according to the zaptieh, flows into the lake. The transparent
current pursued for some distance a roughly parallel direction to
the south-easterly course upon which we rode. It left us to diverge
southwards towards the barrier on our right; but we could not discover
at what point it pierced the hills. A few horses were grazing upon its
margin, and we wondered to whom they might belong. The track continued
to approach the immediate foot of those hills, and they continued to
increase in height. But it became evident that the average elevation
of the ground had risen, for we were on a level with the higher slopes
of the opposite range. At three o'clock we reached the end of the
long valley, which narrows towards its head. The hills roll away;
you stand on a lofty platform which commands a distant prospect of
the lake of Van.

Dismounting on the rough soil, we stood for half-an-hour in
contemplation of the scene. All our horses showed signs of fatigue;
that of the dragoman was quite exhausted, and his plump rider required
to be lifted from the saddle. We had covered, according to estimate,
some 18 miles from Patnotz and over 33 from Köshk. The instruments were
uncased, and the elevation taken, which I compute in round numbers at
1000 feet above the level of the lake. Below us lay spacious tracts
of undulating country--friable soil, modelled into hummock shapes. We
could follow the long profile of the hills on our left hand, dying
away towards the still remote shore. The waters were scarcely visible
beyond the detail of the middle distance--a glimpse of blue in the lap
of the expanse. They represent the gulf-like extremity of the inland
sea, of which the broad face is hidden from these slopes. But the
scale and tendency of the land forms prepared us for such a presence,
which they were aptly designed to usher in. We stood on the edge of
a great half-circle; the view ranged to some sharp summits, belonging
to a ridge on the opposite side of the lake, which must have been some
40 miles away. Our zaptieh knew it under the name of Besh Parmak, or
the mountain of the five fingers. The arc of the curve was composed
by the heights in that direction, arresting the softness of the
vaulted hills and shelving ground. We were shown a long bank which
had the appearance of a mound, and was distinguished from similar
shapes by its size. It lay in the distant trough of the landscape,
and was said to overlook the town of Akantz.

I placed the dragoman on my own horse, and was obliged to perpetrate
the cruelty of riding his jaded animal. We had the benefit of the
incline; but the nature of the ground was against us, necessitating
long winds. Deep gullies obstructed our course; or we were turned aside
by rising land. If I have estimated correctly, we were separated from
our destination by a space of fifteen miles. We took to the saddle at
half-past three; we did not arrive until past seven; and we must have
covered some eighteen miles. At half-past four we crossed the first
running water, and we were at the first village at a little before
five. Karakilisa (Black Church) is well named, for it possesses
a little church of black stone, with group of gables and conical
dome. It is inhabited by Armenians, and has an air of prosperity;
we were refreshed by the rare sight of a group of trees. The next
settlement, Hipsinek, was also Armenian; we had emerged from the
wild Kurdish zone. As we neared the lower levels, the deep silence
of the evening was broken by a loud, rumbling sound. It was a river,
descending from the mountains, and flowing in a stony bed. They call
it the Buyuk Chai or Erishat; we crossed it, and arrived, soon after,
at a village which bears the last of these names. It was half-past six
o'clock; the light was uncertain; we were near water and on marshy
ground. A villager was hailed; he showed us the way with a lantern
to the solid land beyond. We proceeded at a walking pace along the
foot of a dark cliff to the houses of Akantz.



CHAPTER III

ACROSS LAKE VAN


The Kaimakam of Akantz was in the company of his notables when we
entered his reception room. Along the walls of the bare apartment
stretched the usual cushioned seat; a row of figures, serried upon
it, lined two sides. It was with difficulty that place was made for
us beside him; and several minutes were occupied by the exchange
of salutes, each man bowing and raising the hand to the chin and
forehead. Coffee and warmth revived the drooping person of the
dragoman; such was his command both of the Turkish and the German
languages that it cost him little effort to perform his task. While
supper and a lodging were being prepared for us, I was able to discuss
plans with the Kaimakam. He promised that he would endeavour to procure
a trading vessel to take us to Van on the following day. He engaged to
despatch our horses thither, as soon as they should recover, by way of
the southern shore of the lake. Unlike his colleague of Karakilisa,
he proved faithful to his word; but I regret to say that we never
saw the dragoman's horse again. That night and the following day I
attended him myself; but he appears to have died a few days after we
left. [6] It was arranged that on the morrow we should visit the ruins
of Arjish. I enquired of our host whether he knew of the remains of
a city on the table surface of the cliff above Akantz. He confirmed
the information which is given by Vital Cuinet, and said that the
place was known to the learned under the name of Kala-i-Zerin. The
people call it Zernishan. [7]

According to the Kaimakam there are no less than 500 houses in Akantz;
but I am inclined to consider this figure excessive. A number among
them are well built, with good walls and glass-paned windows; and
it was a change to erect our camp beds in a clean and airy room. The
population is partly Mussulman and partly Armenian. I should say that
the former have the preponderance, although not in the proportion
which was assigned to them by the same authority of four-fifths
of the whole. [8] The Armenians possess two churches and a school,
administered by a priest. Several regiments of Hamidiyeh have their
headquarters in the town. They are recruited among the Haideranli
and Adamanli Kurds. Their enrolment has been attended by the usual
result--a general relaxation of the law. Robberies are committed
under the eyes of the Kaimakam, and stealing is scarcely considered
an offence. While our effects were being conveyed to the lake in a
little cart, a clever thief made away with the yoke of the oxen.

The morning of the next day was devoted to preparations, and the whole
afternoon was occupied by our excursion to Arjish. The site bears
a few points west of a line due south from Akantz, at a distance
of several miles. But the track across the plain is obstructed by
channels of water which compel you to deviate. Leaving the town by
the south side, we paused to admire the cluster of houses, embowered
in trees, and backed by the high cliff (Fig. 117). A continuation
of the same ridge rises behind the gardens and orchards, which are
about a mile away, upon the east. Between us and the lake lay a broad
zone of alluvial land, of sandy surface broken by green oases. We
rode through two considerable villages, Hargin and Igmal. They are
almost buried beneath the foliage of tall poplars and forest trees
which are supported by a network of irrigation. The last of these two
settlements can scarcely be less distant than an hour's walk from the
shore. Beyond them the ground is patched with cultivation, which in
turn gives place to a desert, cut by dikes. The ruins adjoin the lake,
and accentuate the loneliness of the bleak waste from which they rise
(Fig. 118 from the north, and Fig. 119 from the south).

Little is left above ground of the once important borough of mediæval
repute. The crumbling walls of a castle, a ruined chapel, a minaret are
the principal monuments still erect. The method of building is that of
a more cultured age. A recent fire had converted the brushwood into
black patches. We looked across the silvery waters to the opposite
shore of the lake, from which a range of hills rise. Behind this
barrier towers a rocky ridge of serrated outline, which, commencing at
a point about east of the ruins, extends westwards and groups together
with the magnificent chain on the southern margin of the sea. The arm
beside which we stood stretched away by a succession of promontories,
to spread towards those distant and snowy peaks in the south.

Arjish played an important part in the history of the Middle Ages;
and there can be no doubt that these ruins are those of the mediæval
city. [9] On the other hand it is quite possible that the name Arsissa,
under which Lake Van was known to Ptolemy, may be connected with
a much more ancient Arjish, which may well have stood on the high
land overlooking the modern town of Akantz. I regretted at the time
of my visit, and I have since had reason to deplore more keenly, our
inability to protract our stay in the neighbourhood, and to examine
the site of the so-called Zernak, or Zerin, or Zernishan, of which I
have already spoken. Its situation seems to correspond with that of
the plateau of Karatash or Ilantash, where Schulz informs us that he
discovered traces of the sites of numerous buildings, and at the foot
of which, on the north-east, facing the plain, he copied inscriptions
in the cuneiform character, which, according to the translation of
Professor Sayce, record the planting of vineyards in this region by
the Vannic king Sarduris III., who lived in the eighth century before
Christ (c. 735 B.C.). [10] The inscriptions are found upon a series of
three tablets, hewn in the rock, some eight feet above the ground. One
of the tablets is without any characters. [11] Close by is the cave
where a nest of serpents or large lizards are reputed to have lodged
since immemorial times, and have been seen by modern travellers. [12]
The place is described as being situated about two miles east of
Akantz near the road to Haidar Bey. [13] Messrs. Belck and Lehmann,
who have visited Akantz since I was there, were brought some objects
in bronze, of which one represented a serpent, and another contained
cuneiform characters. They were found by the natives among the ruins
of this Zernak. [14] It will be interesting to learn the result of
the excavations which they appear to contemplate. In the village of
Hargin, through which we passed, they have found a large stele, with
a cuneiform inscription of Argistis II. (714-c. 690 B.C.). A second
monument, containing records of the same monarch, has been discovered
by them in the same district. [15] The name Arjish agrees so nearly
with that of this Vannic king that one is tempted to suppose that it
is derived from it. And we may be rewarded by the bringing to light
of a city of Argistis, buried upon the summit of that salubrious
plateau of which the cliff backs the houses of Akantz.

The mediæval city of Arjish was sacked by the Georgians in A.H. 605,
or A.D. 1208-9. The Arab historian, Ibn-Alathir, who chronicles
this event, states that its outcome was the desertion of the place
by the inhabitants, so that it remained in the ruinous condition to
which it had been reduced. [16] But there seems to exist evidence
to show that, like Ani, Arjish struggled on through the centuries
during which barbarism was increasing its hold upon the land. [17]
It was known to Marco Polo (thirteenth century) as one of the three
greatest cities of Armenia; and at the commencement of the sixteenth
century it formed one of the seven fortresses which encircled the
lake of Van. [18] In the summer of 1838 it was still peopled; but in
the winter of that year the waters of the lake rose, until in 1841
they had attained an increase of some 10 to 12 feet. The foundations
of the houses gave way and the supply of fresh water failed. [19]
Arjish was evacuated by its reduced population, and is at the present
day not tenanted by a single soul. Marshes extend on either side of
the ruins; that on the east appeared to me to be the more extensive.

We had been warned not to linger too long upon the site; the
district is inhabited by some Kurds of ill repute. One of them had
been sighted making off to apprise his friends of our presence. Yet
darkness had fallen before we were clear of the intricate dikes,
among which it would have been easy for an armed man or two to cut
off our retreat. The villages lay before us--a mass of gloom in
the dimly lighted scene. We were glad to pass within the fringe
of their orchards; and a little later we were again in safety at
Akantz. Meanwhile the necessary preparations had been completed, and
we were informed that a vessel would be ready to receive us after we
had partaken of a meal. We set out at nine o'clock; yet not a single
light flickered among the houses of the silent town. The boats station
at a point about south-east of the settlement, along the margin of the
sandy shore. It was after ten o'clock by the time we reached the lake
and our craft, from which the long stage was dropped upon the sand to
let us in (Fig. 120). The vessel was not decked, and we could spread
our carpets within the hollow of her lofty sides. Scarcely a breath of
air was stirring; but the breeze was expected, and it was decided to
await its approach. We composed ourselves to sleep beneath the stars.

At midnight we set sail. When I awoke at half-past seven, the sky was
blue in the zenith above my eyes. Set within that field of brightness,
the pale crescent of the moon marked the boundary of a sheet of
cirrus cloud. The gauzy tissues deepened as they neared the horizon,
and gathered into long banks of heavy vapour, suspended about the
summits of the chain of inky mountains which borders the lake upon
the south. In that distant and gloomy range I at once recognised the
features of the mountains of Kurdistan. It was the same chain that I
had followed for weeks upon the waters of the Tigris, threading the
vast plains between Diarbekr and the Persian Gulf. Day by day those
steep parapets, sharp peaks, and gleaming snows had accompanied the
peaceful voyage of my little raft.

How well I now recalled the longing I had then experienced to explore
the famous lake on their further side! What a thrill of pleasure
I now felt to be floating upon its waters, expanding towards those
mountains with the proportions of a sea! The reflection of the blue
vault above us paled and whitened as the flood approached that long
black line. Bank upon bank, the clouds were serried upon the peaks,
shot by the lights from the snows. Here and there the fretted outline
of a pearly bed of vapour was drawn across the background of dull
opal in the region of the middle slopes; or wreathing forms, like
smoke, clinging to the sides of some loftier eminence, broke the
horizontal layers.

The scene behind us contrasted the softness of a southern landscape
with the stern grandeur of the coast above our prow. The northern
shores of the lake were bathed in light; and the hummock convexities
of the Ala Dagh, streaked with snow towards the summits, rose against
a sky of transparent turquoise, and sank to a surface of more solid
substance, but not less pure and not less blue. From these heights,
across the long sheet of azure water to dazzling snow in the heaven
above our heads, the fabric of Sipan mounted slowly to the flat rim
of the central crater, and, sweeping past us, declined, with equal
majesty of outline, to low ground in the west. The great volcano
composes one whole side of the lake, and faces full south. I observed
that the snow-line was perceptibly higher than on the occasion when
we had approached the mountain from the north. The western limits of
the lake were vague, and, in places, invisible; the mass of Nimrud,
dim and cloud-streaked, had the appearance of a long island, rising
on the horizon between the sunny slopes of Sipan and the nebulous
barrier of the Kurdish chain.

It is this contrast--no chance effect of light and atmosphere--between
the more northerly and the more southerly coasts of the vast basin
that gives to the lake of Van its own peculiar character and a
beauty quite its own. On the one hand, length of sweep in the form,
and brilliancy of tone in the colouring--as seen in the curves of the
bays, in the profiles of the mountains, in the texture of the soil;
on the other, startling steepness, black rocks and deep shadows--one
long serration, made more vivid by the snows. Here a scene which
recalls the luxuriance of the bay of Naples; there the features,
the austere features, of a Norwegian fiord.

A fresh north-easterly breeze filled our huge lateen sail; in the
hollow of the white fold were painted large in a russet brown the
emblems of a crescent and a star. The ship was heading for a low
promontory which showed up yellow against the shades of the distance,
and ended in a little island rock. That cape conceals the site of the
city of Van, as you approach it from the east. The answering horn
of a wide bay rose from the waters in our wake; we were skirting
the eastern shore of the sea, with its gentle hills and delicate
hues. On the slopes we could just discern a single small village,
the only sign of the presence of man.

On we glide, and are soon almost abreast of the promontory, opening
the expanse on the further side. The line of the shore curves inwards,
and describes a wide half-circle, meeting the base of the stupendous
barrier in the south. The whole long range is exposed to view, from
foot to cloud-swept summit, from the waters in the west to beyond
the waters in the east. The eye is arrested by a strange vision in
the middle distance--a bold, black rock, starting from a bed of white
mist on the surface of the sea. We learn from the sailors that it is
the castled rock of Van. When the mist clears, and the object appears
in its true proportions, it becomes a speck against the parapet of
the great chain.

We approach the little island; I decide to land upon it; the water
shallows, and assumes a hue of pure cobalt. Then the bed of soft
white rock shines through the crystal element, and the vessel takes
the ground. One steps ashore with the feelings of a Greek mariner,
come from afar to a strange land. Gulls circle round us or rest tamely
on the rocks; surely we have sailed across the bosom of the high seas.

Ktutz is the name of this enchanting spot, a name insulting to a
Western tongue (Fig. 121). [20] We walked across a narrow stretch
of grass, strewn with boulders, in the direction of a crag of the
same white limestone, weathered yellow, [21] by which the cliff
on the opposite shore of the islet falls away before reaching the
point. Against that crumbling surface rose the conical dome of an
ancient church, surmounting a picturesque group of gables, and, below
these, a cluster of mud walls. Several almond-trees, of great age,
spread their stippled foliage along the foot and up the side of the
cliff. We observed for the first time one of the primitive structures
which the people use for drawing water from their wells. [22]

The figure of a priest advanced to meet us; he greeted us kindly,
and offered to escort us to the monastery. The finished masonry of
the dome, the careful juxtaposition of black with yellow stone in
the roof, evinced the culture of a happier age. The church consists
of an outer nave and an inner sanctuary, from which the former is
separated by a solid wall. As at Khosha Vank, near Ani, this outer
building or pronaos is of larger dimensions than the shrine to which it
leads. [23] It has probably been added at a later epoch. The nave is
accompanied by two broad aisles. The doorway through which you enter
the inner chapel is richly carved in the Arab style (Fig. 122). You
look from without the open door across deep shadows to the lofty daïs
of sculptured stone which supports the high altar in the apse.

The inner chapel must date back to a remote period, in spite of the
ogival arches of the two little doorways in the apses of the narrow
side aisles. These betray the direct influence of Arab architecture,
and are a solecism among the pointed arches of which the rest of the
edifice is built up. It is disposed in the form of a Greek cross; the
dome rises from massive piers. The apse on the north contains a chamber
in which you are shown the grave of John the Baptist, and a girdle
which is said to have belonged to the Saint. Frescos after the taste of
the Persians cover the smaller spaces--garlands and wreaths of bright
leaves. The archways are painted in quiet blues and reds; pictures of
saints are suspended from the walls. Elaborate altar-pieces adjoin
the entrance, one on either side of the door. The floor is carpeted
with rugs, and an air of comfort pervades the dimly-lit shrine. This
twilight serves to soften the gorgeous decorations which the wear
of time has assisted to subdue. Neither they nor the interior which
they adorn are of striking merit; yet you leave under the impression
of a composite charm. We, as Englishmen, were much interested by an
old standard clock which, to our surprise, bore on its face the name
of Isaac Rogers, London. It ticked away in the heavy quiet, an object
so familiar that our guide forgot to point it out. [24]

He was a pleasant individual, quite young, extremely ignorant and
without ambition to learn. He was called the monk Peter, or Petros
vardapet. Eight monks were on the foundation of the cloister; of
these only four were in residence on the island. We found them each
in his cell, sharing the group of little buildings which cluster at
the foot of the church. All appeared to be without work or occupation
of any kind. They seemed to have passed their lives upon the cushions
of their couches, looking across the tremulous shade of the almond
trees to the Italian sea and the soaring fabric of Sipan.

It was half-past twelve when we put off; the wind had dropped, and
scarcely enabled us to forge ahead. For several hours we lay becalmed
on the bosom of the lake, here at its widest, in full face of the
murky chain on the horizon, which was reflected in hues of burnished
steel. Banks of mist shrouded the landscape, especially in the west,
where the mass of Nimrud seemed encircled by the sea. A pest of little
midges covered our clothes and blackened our papers; then a shower
fell, and yet another, and they disappeared. About four o'clock a
nice breeze freshened, coming from the shore of low hills upon our
left. It brought with it rain; but a little later the sun triumphed,
and burst the canopy of clouds in the south and west. A double rainbow
of great brilliancy rose from that near shore, revealing the site
of a little village. Our head was pointed to the rock of Van, which,
at this distance, shows like an island, even without the assistance
of mirage. The long barrier of the Kurdish range declines in that
direction, and gives way to a less steep and less gloomy ridge;
but that outline again rises on the further side of the city, to
culminate in a lofty parapet of saw-shaped edge. Varag--such is the
name of this mass--commands the bay in which Van lies from behind a
spacious interval of garden and field. In the landscape it strikes the
last note of the tumultuous theme which is suggested by the mountains
in the south--a final trumpet blast by which the procession marches
onwards to the Persian plains.

In the opposite quarter, across the lake, and against the declining
slope of Sipan the gardens of Adeljivas might just be seen in shades of
grey. Those of Artemid were more distinct--a stretch of softness and
verdure along the summit of a low cliff of yellow substance near the
foot of the black range. A fragment of rock thrown seawards from those
mountains was identified as the isle of Akhtamar. But the site of Van
engrossed us, surpassing our expectations, high as these were. The
rock, which had appeared at a distance to be an island, projected
almost into the waters from a background of plain and without visible
connection on any side. Battlements crowned its horizontal outline;
while at its foot and along the shore luscious foliage, touched by
autumn, covered all the inequalities of the ground. From rock and
garden, and from the vague detail of the middle distance the eye was
led upwards to the stony slopes of Varag; a bed of cloud lay captive
upon them; but the jagged parapet stood out from a clear sky. Here
and there, stray fragments of vapour, flushed by the evening, floated
outwards from the dense canopy over the mountains in the south. The
veiled snowfields of the range were revealed in fitful glimpses
of yellow, unnatural light.... We moored our vessel by the side of
a cluster of similar craft at the so-called harbour, and took the
direction in which the town was said to lie. It is surrounded by
a walled enclosure, and nestles at the foot of the rock. Darkness
had fallen as we passed down its silent streets, made more gloomy by
the shadows from the cliff. The bark of dogs, the sad refrain of an
Eastern song were the only sounds which broke the stillness of the
night. Then we entered a broad chaussée which stretches inland to
the suburb of gardens which usurps the importance of the fortified
town. There are situated the Consulates of the European Powers, and
the residences of the principal citizens. Poplars of great height
rose from the irrigated ground on either side of the road. Side lanes
led away from this broad avenue into the park of trees. After a walk
which seemed interminable, and which occupied no less than three hours,
we arrived at the British Consulate at half-past nine o'clock.



CHAPTER IV

VAN


Of the various sites which one might select upon the shores of the
lake of Van, none would present as great advantages for a populous and
self-contained settlement as that of the city from which it derives its
name. The great range along the southern coast leaves little respite
of even land between the waves and the parapet of rock. The opposite
margin of the bosom of waters is filled with the fabrics of those huge
volcanoes, Nimrud and Sipan. Sipan, indeed, upon nearer acquaintance,
is robbed of some of his apparent extension; and the low outlines
on the west and east of the dome-shaped mass upon the horizon will
be recognised to belong to a belt of limestone with intrusive igneous
rocks which the traveller follows all the way from Akhlat to Adeljivas,
and upon which the volcano has built itself up. But those hills,
which from the neighbourhood of Van seem to constitute the train of
Sipan, are at once rugged and approach closely to the shore. Arjish
alone is backed by a zone of fairly even and fertile country; while,
as regards the coast between Van and the mouth of the Bendimahi Chai,
I do not know that it has ever harboured a considerable city. On the
other hand, the alluvial plain which is confined by Mount Varag upon
the east, and which may be said to extend from a headland near the
village of Kalajik on the north to the high ground just north of
Artemid upon the south, affords a considerable area of rich soil,
capable under irrigation of producing the choicest fruits of the earth.

Of the beauty of the site it would not be possible to speak too highly;
but I tremble to provoke in my English reader a nausea of descriptive
writing. The Armenians have a proverb which is often quoted: Van
in this world and paradise in the next. The comparison might be
justified under happier human circumstances, the perversity of man
having converted this heaven into a little hell. Its aptness may be
recognised during the course of a walk in the neighbourhood, or from
the standpoint of the rock which supports the citadel. In the north
across the waters is outspread an Italian landscape--a Vesuvius or
an Etna, with their sinuous surroundings, on an Asiatic scale. Nearer
at hand and fully exposed, the long barrier of the Kurdish mountains
recalls the wildest scenery of the Norwegian coast. From the city
herself as from the extremities of the wide basin, the short, sharp
ridge of Varag is seen with pleasure to the eye, lifted some 4500
feet above the waters, and, at evening, reflecting the sunset in the
most varied hues. The lake is not sufficiently large to separate
these various objects by distances which preclude under ordinary
conditions the simultaneous enjoyment of the beauty of all from a
single shore. And it is large enough to spread at their feet with
all the qualities of the ocean--the depth and vastness and changing
surface of the high seas.



I.--THE LAKE OF VAN

It is about six times as large as the lake of Geneva, having an area of
some 1300 square miles. Its western shore is erroneously laid down in
existing maps; and this necessitated a particular survey of that region
during my second journey, the result of which has been to invest the
lake with a shape of greater symmetry--a central body with two arms,
one on the north-east, the other on the south-west. The remainder
of the outline I have borrowed from the best available sources,
adapting them to the position of Van, of which the latitude and
longitude are approximately known, and correcting them as well as
possible by sketches, and readings to the principal points from the
summit of Sipan. If my reader will turn to the map which accompanies
this work he will, I think, be able to transfer, with the aid of a few
illustrations, the features which are there conventionally delineated
into a picture visible by the mind's eye.

How strange it seems that at the end of the nineteenth century one
should be engaged in exploring and mapping this fine country, one of
the fairest and most favoured of the Old World! How should we be able
to explain, still less to justify, the circumstance to some visitor
from another planet? It lies about in the centre of the land area of
our hemisphere; the climate is bracing, water is abundant, the sun
is warm. Yet it is so little known to the more civilised peoples
that their travellers journey thither with the aid of a compass
through districts which are now deserts, but which are well capable
of supporting the races that are highest in the human scale. The
case would appear to have been much the same during the period of
the expansion of Greek culture and of the later and beneficent sway
of Rome. The knowledge displayed of these regions by representative
writers like Strabo, Pliny and Ptolemy is, to say the best of it, vague
and fabulous. Yet Strabo, the contemporary of Augustus, was a native
of Asia Minor; the countrymen of Pliny had carried the Roman eagles to
the Araxes; and Ptolemy wrote during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian
whose statue, commemorating his journey through the interior, looked
out upon the waves above Trebizond. The first of these authorities
plainly confuses the position of Lake Urmi with that of Lake Van;
but he is well acquainted with the essential characteristics of both
sheets of water, different and strongly marked as these are. The
former is described as largest in area, and second in size to the
sea of Azof; its name is interpreted to signify the deep blue (kyanê
hermêneutheisa). The water is salt; and there are salt works in the
neighbourhood. [25] The peculiar properties which actually distinguish
the latter exactly tally with the language of Strabo, who, speaking
next of the lake Arsene or Thopitis, says that it is charged with
nitre, which word would seem with him to signify carbonate of soda,
[26] and that it washes clothes as though they had been scoured. He
adds that the water is undrinkable and supports only one kind of
fish. And he proceeds to relate a circumstance which is repeated and
embroidered by Pliny, and which is so curious that I cannot refrain
from extracting the whole passage from the work of the last-named
writer. [27]


"Meet also and convenient it is to say somewhat of the river Tigris. It
begins in the land of Armenia the greater, issuing out of a great
source; and evident to be seen in the very plaine (fonte conspicuo in
planitie). The place beareth the name of Elongosine (or Elegosine,
Elosine, Elegos). The river it selfe so long as it runs slow and
softly is named Diglito; but when it begins once to carry a more
forcible streame it is called Tigris, for the swiftnesse thereof;
which in the Median language betokens a shaft (sagitta). It runs into
the lake Arethusa; which beareth up aflote all that is cast into it,
suffering nothing to sinke; and the vapors that arise out of it carry
the sent of nitre. In this lake there is but one kind of fish, and that
entreth not into the chanell of Tigris as it passeth through, nor more
than any fishes swim out of Tigris into the water of the lake. In his
course and colour both he is unlike, and as he goes may be discerned
from the other: and being once past the lake, and incountreth the
great mountain Taurus, he loseth himself in a certain cave or hole
in the ground, and so runs under the hill, untill on the other side
thereof he breaketh forth again, and appeares in his likenesse, in a
place called Zoroanda. That it is the same river it is evident by this,
that he carrieth through with him, and showeth in Zoroanda, whatsoever
was cast into him before he hid himselfe in the cave aforesaid. After
this second spring and rising of his he enters into another lake, and
runneth through it likewise, named Thospites; and once again takes his
way under the earth through certain blind gutters, and 25 miles beyond
he putteth forth his head about Nymphæum. Claudius Cæsar reporteth,
that in the country Arrhene, the river Tigris runs so neere the
river Arsania, that when they both swell, and their waters are out,
they joyne both their streams together, yet so, as the water is not
mingled: for Arsanias being the lighter of the twain, swimmeth and
floteth over the other for the space wel-neere of 4 miles: but soon
after they part asunder, and Arsania turneth his course toward the
river Euphrates, into which he entreth."


We need not discuss in this place the phenomenon last mentioned,
except to remark that the story may well have been suggested by the
propinquity of the sources of the Diarbekr branch of the Tigris
to the stream of the Murad, the ancient Arsanias. The country
of Arrhene is probably the same as that better known as Arzanene,
which is comprised within the present vilayet of Diarbekr. Our present
interest in the passage lies in the statements relative to the Tigris,
that it flows through two lakes called Arethusa and Thospites. Strabo,
in speaking of the same phenomenon, attributes it to one lake only,
namely that of Arsene or Thopitis. The river, according to him, rises
in the Niphates mountains, by which name he seems to be referring
to the Nepat of Armenian writers, the modern Ala Dagh. After flowing
through Lake Thopitis it disappears in a chasm at the corner of the
lake. It comes to light again in the province of Chalonitis; and,
although later on he attributes that province to the Zagros, I cannot
help thinking that the sense which his informants wished to convey was
that it came to light in the mountains of the peripheral region. The
mention of two lakes by Pliny need not perplex us over-much; for
his Arethusa no doubt denotes the Arjish arm of Lake Van, and his
Thospites the principal body of water with the city of Van, the Dhuspas
of the cuneiform inscriptions, upon its eastern shore. Ptolemy, on
the other hand, entangles the subject still further by separating
the lakes of Areesa--no doubt the Arethusa of Pliny--and Thospitis
by four degrees of longitude. This geographer does not give us any
indications as to the properties of the lake waters; but he tells
us that the Tigris is partly a river of Armenia and that its sources
constitute Lake Thospitis. The position which he assigns to the town
of Artemita--which is probably the modern Artemid--is further evidence
that in speaking of Lake Areesa or Arsissa he was in fact referring to
Lake Van. One cannot help concluding that his Thospitis with the town
of Thospia was actually the self-same sheet of water. The discrepancy
in longitude finds a parallel in the degrees assigned by this writer
to Lakes Sevan and Urmi. They are really upon the same degree. Yet
Ptolemy, under the names of Lychnitis and Martianes, assigns to them
the difference of over four degrees.

I think it is plain that the names Thopitis, Thospites, Arsene,
Arethusa, and Areesa or Arsissa, are all applied to the great
basin with the two immemorial cities, Dhuspas--the modern Van--and
Arjish. Moreover, I should be surprised to learn that any lake
exhibiting the same properties had been discovered in the belt of
mountains south of Lake Van in which the present sources of the Tigris
are found. Put together, the scraps of information retailed by the
classical geographers go to show that in their days there existed a
widely spread belief that the Tigris drew its waters from the tableland
of Armenia, flowed through a lake strongly impregnated with soda, and
disappeared in a chasm at its further and narrow extremity (mychos)
to come to light again on the further side of the barrier of Taurus
or, in other words, of the parapet of mountains which are aligned
upon the south coast of Lake Van. The mention of two lakes by Pliny
and Ptolemy may point to a former isolation of the Arjish arm. I
have taken the trouble to set forth these accounts--though not with
all the care that I should desire--because they have an important
bearing upon the subject to which I now proceed--a brief notice of
some of the peculiarities which distinguish Lake Van.

It may not be out of place to cast one's look a little further so
as to include the other great lakes. That of Urmi in the Persian
frontier province of Azerbaijan has an area of 1823 square miles. Its
extreme length from north to south is about 80 miles, and its breadth
from east to west 24 miles. It resembles its neighbour on the west
in constituting an isolated basin, many rivers flowing in but none
out. On the other hand its insignificant depth invests it with the
character of a lagoon; the average being probably not more than 20
feet and the maximum some 45 or 50 feet. Evaporation must be very
rapid over such a sheet of water; and it is at once situated further
south than the lake of Van and at a level which is lower by 1500 feet
(Lake Urmi, 4100 feet; Lake Van, 5637 feet). Abnormal salinity is the
special feature about the waters of Lake Urmi; and extensive beds of
rock salt are found in their vicinity. It has been estimated that they
are six times as salt as the ocean, though only three-fifths as heavily
charged with saline matter as the waters of the Dead Sea. Viewed from
a height they are coloured a deep azure, a characteristic usual with
salt lakes. If they are allowed to dry upon the body of the bather
it is as though he had been covered with flour, and neither fish nor
molluscs can live within them. The shores of the lake, which are in
general low, are impregnated with salt; and the margin, upon which
are found fragments of fossil coral and shell, shines like a white
ribbon by the side of the blue. Three boats of not more than 20 tons
burden compose the entire fleet of this inland sea. [28]

Very different is the description which may be given of Lake Gökcheh
(the blue) or Sevan--the Lychnitis of Ptolemy, the lake of Gegham or
of Geghark in Armenian literature. It is situated at a level of 6340
feet, and is therefore the most elevated, if also the smallest, of
the three great sheets of water upon the surface of the tableland. It
lies at a distance of about 130 miles north of the northern shore of
Lake Urmi, and close to the barrier of the mountains of the northern
peripheral region. Its waters are sweet and support delicious salmon
trout; they are said to attain a depth of 360 feet, or, according to
another observer, of 425 feet. [29] Gökcheh is in fact essentially an
Alpine lake, lying restfully in the lap of a circle of mountains of
which those on the southern shore are of eruptive volcanic origin. It
has an outlet on the west to the river Zanga, and a portion of its
waters find their way through this channel to the Araxes. The balance
of opinion inclines to the view that this connection is of artificial
origin; and when the lake is low, especially in autumn, the stream
will be almost dry. [30]

But both Urmi and Gökcheh sink into obscurity when compared to the
lake of Van. Almost as large as the one and perhaps deeper than the
other, it at once combines some of the characteristics of either
basin and adds others essentially its own. Like Urmi its waters are
heavily charged, though with soda rather than with salt. Its great
elevation and its juxtaposition to the mountains of the peripheral
region recall corresponding features in Gökcheh. But like a book
which may borrow much from the work of other writers, and yet
produce an effect on the reader which is wholly new, so one opens
the landscape of Lake Van with that particular emotion which only
very beautiful and original objects can produce. With the wondrous
pieces of natural architecture about the margins of this inland sea
my reader will become perfectly familiar as this work proceeds. My
present object is to fly very low to the ground, and to notice such
facts as appeal to the mind rather than to the eye. The extreme length
of the lake would seem to measure 78 miles, and the breadth from north
to south of the principal body about 32 miles. To all appearance it
is very deep except at the north-east and south-west extremities;
but no systematic soundings have been taken to my knowledge, though
it would be extremely interesting to know whether indications can be
traced of the Arjish arm having once composed a separate unit. The
principal streams enter the easterly portion of the basin; they are
the Erishat or Irshat near Akantz, the Bendimahi Chai, the Marmed and
the Khoshab. Several little rivers are collected in the delta below
the old Akhlat, and quite a nice stream cascades into the lake at the
neighbouring village of Karmuch, which probably collects a portion of
the drainage of the plain between Nimrud and Lake Nazik. No issue of
the sea has yet been discovered. None of the copious springs which
feed the Tigris on the southern side of the parapet of mountain,
quite close to the flood washing its northern slopes, has yet been
shown to possess any of the strongly marked qualities characteristic
of the waters of Lake Van. One of the most remarkable of these springs
is situated near the south-west corner of the lake, at Sach in the
Güzel Dere or beauteous valley--a valley with a specially appropriate
name. [31] It has been examined by Major Maunsell, who describes it
as issuing from the base of a cliff and immediately constituting a
stream 50 yards wide and 18 inches deep. It is quite possible that
this source of the Tigris may have given colour to the belief of the
ancients that the river flowed through the lake and found an exit
at its further end by an underground channel. Another scarcely less
interesting fountain in the neighbourhood is that of Norshen at the
head of the plain of Mush. It rises in a circular pool with a diameter
of 105 feet, from which it wells over into a stream which runs to
the Euphrates. The natives hold that it is in connection with the
lake in the crater of Nimrud, and relate how a shepherd, whose staff,
weighted with a small parcel of coin, had sunk below the surface of
that deep mere, had one day been astonished to see the lost object
eddying in the current of the pool of Norshen. Careful scrutiny of
the spring during my second journey established the conviction that
it affords no outlet to Lake Van. Moreover, its position and the
delicious flavour of its water point to its being derived from the
limestones of the range on the south of the plain.

Analysis of the waters of Lake Van has furnished results which are
described as remarkable by the eminent chemist to whom I submitted
the sample which I brought home with me, and which I obtained by
swimming out from the rocky shore at Erkizan, some distance east of
the abandoned Ottoman fortress of Akhlat. The amount of suspended
matter has been found to be very trifling; while the proportion of
solids in solution, principally carbonates of potassium and sodium,
chlorides and sulphates, is very large indeed. It is estimated that
the alkalinity is equal to rather more than 3 1/4 ounces of ordinary
soda crystal dissolved in a gallon of water. The presence of a
little silica accompanies the alkali. The account given by Strabo of
the cleansing properties of the lake is thus confirmed in a striking
manner. Indeed, the bather issues from his swim as though his limbs had
been rubbed with soap--but with a soap of extremely agreeable quality,
leaving a velvety feeling upon the skin. The great buoyancy of the
waves enhances the pleasure of such exercise, and they are at once
pellucid and sparkling under the ruffle of the breeze. On the other
hand they are most unpleasant to the taste. The colour of the sheet
of water cannot be given in a single word; and indeed it varies with
extraordinary range of scale. A cobalt of great brilliancy is perhaps
the most normal hue; but a certain milky paleness is seldom quite
absent, becoming invested at morning and evening with an infinite
number of delicate tints. [32]

Only one kind of fish is found in Lake Van, resembling a large
bleak. But, often as I have bathed, I have never seen one gliding
through the water, or surprised a shoal while following the shore. It
is possible that they adhere to the estuaries of the rivers, up which
they make their way in large numbers to spawn during the season of
spring freshets. It is then that they are caught in great quantities
by means of barriers placed at the mouth of the streams with baskets
resting against one side. The fish leap the barrier and fall into
the baskets, after which they are dried and salted. Seagulls and
cormorants haunt the lake, but are not very numerous; nor have I
observed a pelican, although these birds are conspicuous on the
adjacent lake of Nazik together with many varieties of smaller
waterfowl. The main body of the sea never freezes over in winter,
rigorous as that season is at this high altitude.

A feature which has occupied considerable attention, especially
among German writers, is the fluctuation in level of these Armenian
lakes. There can be no doubt that they are all three subject to more
or less pronounced periodical changes; and various reasons have been
assigned. Do these fluctuations arise from the opening or closing
of subterraneous issues or from movements of the earth's crust? Or
may they be accounted for by ordinary climatic conditions, such as
the fall of snow and rain and the consequent variation in the volume
of the rivers and in the activity of springs? The economic state of
the country and the extent of irrigated land within the watershed has
been recognised as a factor, but a factor of insufficient importance
to produce the recorded results during the period reviewed. In the
case of Lake Van we are precluded from attributing these fluctuations
to the agency of subterraneous issues. Not a single one of such has
yet been discovered. Nor am I aware that any such outlets to Gökcheh
or Urmi have been noted by any traveller. The evidence which may be
collected in the case of all goes to show that the islands are as much
affected as the adjacent shores. It may therefore seem unlikely that
the changes arise from movements at the bottom of the lake; for these
would lift or depress the islands to some extent. [33] If I venture to
join in the discussion I would submit the suggestion that we should for
convenience group the phenomena under two heads. Temporary variations
should be distinguished from any differences of a more permanent
nature the existence of which it may be possible to prove. [34]

It cannot be expected that we should be able to collect evidence
of a satisfactory nature in respect of the changes which would fall
within the first category. We have to rely upon the statements and
even upon the inferences which may be derived from the writings
of travellers. Even if we could rest contented with the accuracy
and sufficiency of such testimony in the case of lakes which are
so much affected by the melting of the winter snows, it would not
establish, except in a very approximate manner, the beginnings and
ends of the successive phases. Still, the subject is so interesting
that it is worth while to collate the observations of which record
may be found. In the subjoined table I have endeavoured to perform
this task; and it has already been undertaken with great diligence
by Dr. Sieger. It will be seen that a certain correspondence may
occasionally be traced in the periodical fluctuations which have
affected the three sheets of water. [35] Perhaps the most remarkable
evidence in this sense is that which is furnished by the almost
simultaneous observations for 1898. Messrs. Belck and Lehmann for Lake
Gökcheh, Mr. Günther for Lake Urmi, and my companion, Mr. F. Oswald,
and myself for Lake Van, all bear witness to a rise in quite recent
years. Our own investigations were made during the month of July of
that year, and were confined to the westerly inlets of the lake. A
prominent feature about these inlets was the tendency of the streams
to form shallow lagoons behind a narrow barrier of alluvial sand. On
the margin or even in the bed of such lagoons one might often see a
group of willows. Some had been immersed a foot or two by the rise
in the waters; and, while their neighbours on dry land were green and
thriving, these were quite dead. The most notable example was observed
by Oswald within the little broken-down crater on the southern shore
opposite Akhlat. It receives the lake within its enfolding arms. We
have called it Sheikh Ora after a little village of that name which was
discovered in its south-east corner. Oswald sailed across to examine
this interesting spot while I was busily engaged at Akhlat. Between
the village and the water he came across a small grove of willows upon
which the lake had gained. Those above the water line were evidently
flourishing; but those which stood in the lake had been killed and
their bark withered, so that many of the stems were quite gaunt and
bare. The average diameter of the trunks of the dead and the living
was not appreciably different. It was therefore not a question of
an advance of the lake dating back very many years. On the other
hand there had been time for the chemical properties of the water to
exercise their destructive effect.



TABULAR STATEMENT OF THE EVIDENCE OF TRAVELLERS IN RESPECT OF THE
FLUCTUATIONS IN LEVEL OF THE THREE GREAT LAKES.

=====+=================================+=====+===============================+=====+===========================
Year.|           Lake Van.             |Year.|         Lake Urmi.            |Year.|       Lake Gökcheh.
=====+=================================+=====+===============================+=====+===========================
1806 |Jaubert attests a gradual rise   | 1811|Morier attests a relapse.      |     |
     |  in the waters, threatening     |     |  The former island of         |     |
     |  Arjish and the suburbs of      |     |  Shahi has become joined      |     |
     |  Van (Voyage en Arménie,        |     |  to the mainland by a         |     |
     |  etc., p. 139).                 |     |  swampy isthmus during        |     |
     |                                 |     |  the last two or three        |     |
     |                                 |     |  years (Second Journey,       |     |
     |                                 |     |  p. 287, seq.).               |     |
     |                                 |     |                               |     |
     |                                 | 1812|Progressive relapse of         |     |
     |                                 |  to |  about 10 feet during this    |     |
     |                                 | 1829|  period attested by Monteith  |     |
     |                                 |     |  (J.R.G.S. 1833,              |     |
     |                                 |     |  vol. iii. p. 56).            |     |
     |                                 |     |                               |     |
1838 |Brant attests a relapse which,   | 1834|Relapse attested by Fraser     |     |
     |  according to the natives, has  |     |  since his last visit in 1822 |     |
     |  effected a gain of one mile    |     |  (Travels in Kurdistan,       |     |
     |  in ten years to the plain on   |     |  pp. 47 seq., and Narrative   | 1830|A low level, perhaps
     |  which Arjish stands (Journal   |     |  of Khorassan, p. 321).       |     |  a minimum, is attested
     |  R.G.S. 1840, x. p. 403).       |     |                               |     |  by Monteith.
     |                                 |     |                               |     |  The canal to the
1838 |Loftus records a rise on native  | 1838|Autumn. Rise attested in       |     |  Zanga is an insignifi-
     |  authority, commencing during   |     |  general terms by Rawlinson   |     |  cant runnel, supplying
     |  the winter. In twelve          |     |  (J.R.G.S. 1840, vol.         |     |  the river with the
     |  months, viz., by the winter    |     |  x. p. 8) and more precisely  |     |  smallest portion of
     |  of 1839, the lake is said to   |     |  in 1839, by Perkins          |     |  its waters (J.R.G.S.
     |  have risen nearly 6 feet. In   |     |  on native testimony          |     |  1833, vol. iii. p. 43).
     |  the next two years, viz., by   |     |  (Residence in Persia,        |     |
     |  1841, it is said to have risen |     |  Andover, 1843, p. 394).      | 1856|Lieut. Owerin of the
     |  altogether 10 to 12 feet,      |     |  Rise has been gradual.       |     |  topographical staff
     |  necessitating the evacuation   |     |                               |     |  of the Caucasus,
     |  of Arjish by the inhabitants,  |     |                               |     |  estimates that nearly
     |  the place becoming an island   |     |                               |     |  1/8th of the waters of
     |  (Quarterly Journal Geol.       |     |                               |     |  the lake find an
     |  Soc. 1855, p. 318).            |     |                               |     |  egress through the
     |                                 |     |                               |     |  canal to the Zanga
1847 |Hommaire de Hell attests a       |     |                               |     |  (Petermann's Mitt.
     |  relapse (Voyage en Turquie,    |     |                               |     |  1858, p. 471). Other
     |  etc., quoted by Sieger,        |     |                               |     |  evidence goes to
     |  Schwankungen, p. 6).           |     |                               |     |  show that in the
     |                                 |     |                               |     |  forties and fifties
1850 |Layard attests a rise "during    |     |                               |     |  the lake was certainly
     |  the last few years." Many      |     |                               |     |  higher than in
     |  villages on the margin are     |     |                               |     |  Monteith's time.
     |  partly submerged. Iskele,      |     |                               |     |
     |  the port of Van, is still in-  |     |                               |     |
     |  habited; but the greater part  |     |                               | 1859|Relapse during this
     |  of the village is under water  |     |                               |  to |  period is assigned to
     |  (Nineveh and Babylon, p.       |     |                               | 1879|  the lake by Brandt
     |  408). [Layard was perhaps      |     |                               |     |  (Zoologischer Anzeiger,
     |  only witnessing the effects of |     |                               |     |  ii. 523 seq.),
     |  the rise which commenced       |     |                               |     |  from whose observations
     |  1838.]                         |     |                               |     |  we may infer
     |                                 |     |                               |     |  a minimum about
1852 |Loftus attests a considerable    | 1852|A relapse is attested by       |     |  1879. Islands had
     |  relapse during recent years,   |     |  Perkins to Loftus (Quarterly |     |  formed; these again
     |  said by the natives to have    |     |  Journal Geol. Soc.           |     |  had become a peninsula.
     |  commenced in 1850. Arjish      |     |  1855, p. 307).               |     |  The canal to
     |  is connected by a passable     |     |                               |     |  the Zanga seems to
     |  isthmus to the mainland for    | 1856|Rise may be deduced from       |     |  have been scarcely
     |  eight months in the year       |     |  N. von Seidlitz who          |     |  operative at all.
     |  (op. cit. p. 318).             |     |  seems from a distance to     |     |
     |                                 |     |  have seen Shahi, an island   |     |
1863 |Strecker records a continuous    |     |  in October (Petermann's      | 1891|Relapse has continued.
     |  rise during the years prece-   |     |  Mitt. 1858, pp. 228, 230).   |     |  Trees planted
     |  ding his writing, as evidenced |     |                               |     |  thirty years ago
     |  by Turkish officials           |     |                               |     |  on the margin of the
     |  of his acquaintance (Peter-    |     |                               |     |  water at the island
     |  mann's Mitt. 1863, pp. 259     |     |                               |     |  of Sevan are now
     |  seq.)                          |     |                               |     |  standing some 50
     |                                 |     |                               |     |  feet away, and some
1875 |A maximum at about this          |     |                               |     |  7 to 10 feet above
     |  period may be inferred from    |     |                               |     |  the lake level. (Belck
     |  the accounts given by Bishop   |     |                               |     |  in Globus, vol. lxv.
     |  Poghos of Lim to Dr. Belck     |     |                               |     |  p. 302).
     |  (Globus, vol. lxiv. p. 157),   |     |                               |     |
     |  and by the Rev. Mr. Cole of    |     |                               | 1898|Rise dating back
     |  Bitlis to Dr. Butyka (Globus,  |     |                               |     |  several years is at-
     |  vol. lxv. p. 73). From this    |     |                               |     |  tested by Belck and
     |  period there appears to have   |     |                               |     |  Lehmann. The trees
     |  been a gradual relapse until   | 1898|Günther chronicles a rise      |     |  alluded to above are
     |  1892, and possibly later.      |     |  during the last two years    |     |  now standing in the
     |                                 |     |  on native evidence           |     |  water (Zeitschrift
1898 |Evidence of Oswald and myself    |     |  (J.R.G.S. November           |     |  für Ethnologie, 1898
     |  infers a rise during the       |     |  1899, p. 510).               |     |  p. 414).
     |  last few years.                |     |                               |     |
=====+=================================+=====+===============================+=====+===========================


The same phenomenon of a rise in level was apparent on the margin
of the large lake in the crater on Nimrud. There the brushwood,
representing the growth of many years, was submerged; and much had
already perished from want of sustenance. All the evidence points
to the fact that such changes are of a temporary nature, and that a
period of increase is followed by one of decline. The most probable
explanation is that they are due to climatic conditions, which, it
is well known, are variously operative over cycles of years. In the
absence of any observatory in these countries this question is largely
a matter of surmise or, at best, of inference. The existence of such
periodical fluctuations may be regarded as having been established;
it remains to consider the changes of a more permanent order.

We must not forget that at a period relatively recent in geological
time this lake of Van was but a part of an extensive inland sea,
which appears gradually to have become divided up into a series of
basins. There can be little doubt that down to quite a late geological
epoch no such barrier had been constituted between this basin and that
of the plain of Mush, which immediately adjoins it upon the west. The
waters have left their mark upon the rocky boundaries of that plain;
and to their action I do not think we should err in attributing the
peculiar appearance of the basal slopes of the Kerkür Dagh, where they
face the great depression of Mush. To the same period perhaps belong
several terraces which may be traced upon the bush-grown face of the
southern coast of Lake Van between Garzik and the Güzel Dere. The
highest of these is perhaps the most conspicuous, and may be situated
at an elevation of a hundred feet or more above the present level. Just
as the waters of the plain of Mush were drained away through a narrow
opening in the mountains which hem it in upon the west, so it is
quite likely that a similar vent was offered by the gorge which cuts
through the parapet of Taurus in the direction of Bitlis, and at the
present day affords an easy passage to the caravans from the plains of
Armenia into the defiles of Kurdistan. Loftus chronicles a tradition
that the waters of Lake Van cover a plain that was once studded with
villages and gardens. The streams of Arjish and the Bendimahi Chai--and
presumably the Khoshab--are said to have met and formed one large
river about midway between Arjish and Bitlis. His informants were
under the belief that it had issued from the plain through a hole in
the earth; and that when this passage had been closed up by a sudden
convulsion the present lake formed. [36] This story is at least not
lacking in verisimilitude, so far as the existence of a former river
is concerned. This river would have probably flowed to the Tigris,
of which it would have been the principal branch. The cause of its
being dammed up was perhaps the outpouring of lavas from Nimrud, which
have formed the plateau between Tadvan and the head of the plain of
Mush--a plateau which rises to a height of 680 feet above the lake,
and, extending across from Nimrud to the face of Taurus in the south,
chokes the entrance to the Bitlis gorge. It is this barrier which
actually maintains the lake of Van. No eruptions on this scale are
recorded during the historical period; and, of course, it is not
impossible that they were originally submarine.

These phenomena, which are partly attested by the ancient lake
terraces and in part suggested by the general structure of the country,
belong to an epoch which, if quite modern from the standpoint of the
geologist, probably lies beyond the range of the archæologist as well
as of the historian. Much the same conditions as at the present day
appear to have prevailed during the historical period--a vast sheet of
water, deep and translucent, dammed up by the volcanic barrier at its
westerly extremity. I think there can be no doubt that the permanent
tendency of this sheet of water has been to rise in level. Moreover,
all the evidence is to the effect that this tendency has been operative
in the case of the other two seas. Dr. Belck has recorded that in the
year 1890 during the month of July he came across a little lake at
the eastern end of Lake Gökcheh, separated from it by a tongue of land
scarcely more than 55 yards broad, and connected with it by a stream
descending from the mountains and piercing through the isthmus. On
the margin of this shallow lagoon, near the outflow of the stream,
he discovered an ancient Armenian graveyard of which the stones were
under water. When he returned in August of the following year they
were only just dry. His visit coincided with the latest stage of
a period of decline; and it seems certain that since the time when
the cemetery was constituted the norm about which the fluctuations
oscillate had risen in a marked degree. The same traveller draws our
attention to the interesting circumstance that the three last lines
of the cuneiform inscription of Rusas the First (c. 730-714 B.C.),
cut in the face of the rock overlooking that same northern lake, have
been almost completely destroyed by the erosion of the waters, although
placed just above their level in 1891. It seems incredible that the
Vannic king should have engraved his memorial in a situation where it
would be exposed to the periodical floods. [37] As regards Lake Urmi
I need only recall the important discovery of Mr. Günther in 1898. In
the islands of that sea he found many species of living animals which
could not have crossed the stretch of salt water, amounting to a
distance of some 10 miles, that at present separates their homes from
the shore. In his opinion the zoology affords conclusive testimony of
these islands having been joined to the mainland at no very distant
date. Upon one of them he found the skeleton of a wild sheep. [38]
The evidence which may be collected upon the shores of Lake Van all
points in the same direction of a progressive upward tendency.

Strecker has thrown out the suggestion that this process may be
accountable for the junction of the Arjish arm to the main body;
and that we may therefore attach some credence to the statements of
Pliny that in his time there were two lakes. [39] However this may be,
we are not dependent upon such hypotheses, or upon the stories current
of submerged causeways or bridges. The three old fortresses of Akhlat,
Adeljivas and Arjish all bear testimony to a considerable rise in the
level of the lake since the days when they were built. The walls of
the first two on the side of the water have either fallen in or are
being slowly undermined. Arjish has been permanently abandoned by its
inhabitants. Immemorial villages, like that of Kizvag between Akhlat
and Tadvan, are being menaced by the latest periodical increase, which
seems to have commenced about 1895. Nature herself speaks eloquently
in the same sense. An ancient walnut-tree which stands on the rocky
bank of the lake in the gardens of Erkizan, a quarter of Akhlat,
had already been deprived of a great portion of its foothold when we
encamped beneath its boughs in 1898. In the Sheikh Ora crater a giant
mulberry, which may have been some 500 years old, was standing with
half its roots in the water and was already doomed. The most obvious
explanation of this gradual rise in the norm of the lake level is
furnished by a cause, which must be constantly operative, namely the
increase of sediment deposited upon the bottom. But whether this factor
by itself be sufficient to have produced such important changes is
a question upon which I am not qualified to pronounce an opinion. [40]



II.--THE ANCIENT EMPIRE OF VAN

Deep in the curve of the bay, which with minor indentations extends
from the promontory and island of Ktutz to Artemid, lies the
isolated rock with the mediæval city at its southern foot and the
long line of gardens stretching eastwards across the plain towards
the slopes of Mount Varag. These various features are disclosed or
suggested in my illustration (Fig. 123), which was taken from those
distant slopes. But before I invite my reader to explore the ancient
township, something must be said upon a topic which here fascinates the
traveller's interest equally with the characteristics of the strange
lake beside which he sojourns. I have already on several occasions
remarked upon the insignificance of the human element in these Armenian
landscapes. At Van for the first time we become sensible of a different
impression, derived, not indeed from the peoples who now inhabit
the country, but from the monuments of a remote civilisation which
abound in the neighbourhood, and of which the spirit is wafted towards
us across the ages. Here the massive substructures of an aqueduct,
there the Cyclopean masonry of the fragment of a wall tell the tale
of man's mastery over Nature, and insensibly conjure the vision of
the plains crossed by great roads, the rivers spanned by bridges,
the fertilising waters brought from afar. Our curiosity is enhanced by
the inscriptions in the cuneiform character which are deeply incised
in the hard stone of the various works. But it rises to the degree of
fervour when we survey the rock of Van, clearly recognised as the very
navel of this old polity. Its precipitous sides are quite a library
of inscriptions, carved upon their face in spaces polished by human
hands. Square-cut shadows disclose the entrances of chambers hewn into
the calcareous mass at a considerable height above the level of the
plain. And something in the spirit of the works and in the choice
of situation at once distinguishes them from the rock dwellings,
such as those at Vardzia near Akhalkalaki, with which we have become
familiar during the course of our journey south. It is evident that
in their original purpose they were only a feature of a large design
which mocks the scale of the existing fortifications.

By what people were they inscribed, these regular lines of elegant
characters; and who were the kings who sojourned upon this delightful
platform, which seems to have been raised by a freak of Nature in the
midst of the plain with its westerly extremity almost reaching into
the lake? Armenians, Persians, Arabs, Seljuks, Tartars, Turkomans,
Turks--all have come and passed or stayed, and none have been able
to return an answer to the question invited by the writings on the
citadel. They have had recourse to the resources of Oriental legend,
or have been content with the explanation that these inscriptions
are talismans, sealing treasures long since buried in the heart
of the rock. The fame of the place is widely spread over all the
surrounding country, forming as it does the kernel of a populous city
on the confines of Armenia and Kurdistan. It has been described by the
national historian of the Armenians in terms which in many respects
portray the existing features in a singularly faithful manner. Moses
of Khorene attributes the works to an Assyrian queen Semiramis,
and relates on the authority of Mar Abas Katina and from Chaldæan
sources the story of her fruitless passion for the reigning king of
Armenia, Ara, and of the death of that monarch while resisting her
endeavours to obtain his person by force. The queen is said to have
accompanied her armies to the northern kingdom, and to have founded
the city as a summer residence for her luxurious court. The tale is
beset by incidents which reveal its fabulous nature; and the historian
informs us that several such legends relating to Semiramis were current
among his own countrymen. [41] At the same time he deplores the lack
of culture among his ancestors, to which he ascribes the absence of
native annals. [42]

It has been reserved for our own age to penetrate the mystery, which,
indeed, is only now as I write being dispelled. Quite early in the
nineteenth century, while the future excavators of the Assyrian cities
were either unborn or were still in their nurseries, a young French
student, Jean Antoine Saint Martin, the son of a tradesman in Paris,
was fired by the account of the inscriptions at Van contained in the
pages of Moses of Khorene. [43] Mainly through his efforts the French
Government--always solicitous of the interests of culture--were induced
to despatch a mission to Armenia in 1827, engaging the services of a
young German professor, Friedrich Eduard Schulz. The first report of
the explorer was published by Saint Martin in 1828. [44] By a piece of
misfortune, happily rare in the annals of travel in these countries,
Schulz was murdered by the Kurds in 1829. But his papers were recovered
and brought to Paris, where they seem to have awaited in obscurity the
awakening of interest in Oriental antiquities which was consequent upon
the discoveries of Burnouf, of Lassen, and of Rawlinson. An instructive
memoir, together with copies of forty-two inscriptions at Van and in
the neighbourhood, appeared under his name in 1840 in the pages of the
Journal Asiatique. Schulz's copies have been found to be in the main
remarkably accurate, although he had not the smallest knowledge of the
language in which they were composed. Little by little the contents of
the tablets in a similar character which are spread over Persia yielded
up the secrets which they had so long maintained; and the excavations
in Mesopotamia furnished Orientalists with the necessary material to
enable them to understand the languages of the cuneiform inscriptions
furnished in such profusion by the buried cities of the plains. But
with the exception of the great tablet in three columns and as many
tongues which is such a conspicuous object on the southern face of the
rock of Van (Schulz, Nos. IX., X., and XI.), and an inscription on a
stone in the remains of a wall at its base (Schulz, No. I.), none of
the Vannic records agreed with the syllabaries already discovered,
or could be translated into any known language. Schulz had indeed
perceived that the first of these monuments contained the names and
titles of Xerxes, son of Darius; and when Layard visited Van and took
new copies in 1850, it had come to be recognised that this tablet of
Xerxes resembled other Achæmenian inscriptions, and was very nearly
word for word the same as those of this Persian monarch at Hamadan
and Persepolis. [45] The characters upon the stone in the wall were
exactly the same as those of Assyrian writings; and, although the
inscription had not been satisfactorily deciphered when Layard's
book was published, that investigator was able to discern that
the language also was Assyrian, while that of all the remainder,
in spite of the similarity in character, was peculiar to Van,
and baffled decipherment. In the meanwhile other equally perplexing
inscriptions had been discovered in districts of the tableland remote
from the city of Semiramis; and a partially successful endeavour had
been made by the English Orientalist Hincks to read the mysterious
texts. [46] But the problem remained unsolved for very many years,
while the stock of inscriptions collected by travellers in various
parts of Armenia was continually increasing. A great step forward
was made by the discovery by M. Stanislas Guyard, announced in 1880,
[47] that the phrase at the conclusion of many of the Vannic texts
represented the imprecatory formula found in the same place in their
Assyrian and Achæmenian counterparts; and this enabled Professor
Sayce of Oxford to proceed rapidly with their decipherment, upon
which he had been engaged for some years. [48] Mainly as the result
of his labours we are now enabled to gather their meaning, and to add
a new language and a new people to the museum of the ancient Oriental
world. Since he has written, the number of known Vannic texts has been
doubled by the German scholars and travellers, Professor Lehmann and
Dr. Belck. They have also, in a series of most instructive articles,
called up the vanished civilisation from the grave. [49]

We now know who built Van and by whom these tablets were engraved
upon the face of the citadel. As the horizon opens with each advance
in our acquisition of the vocabulary and with each addition to the
catalogues of texts, we are introduced to no obscure dynasty which
slept secure behind the mountains, but to a splendid monarchy which
for at least two centuries rivalled the claims of Assyria to the
dominion of the ancient world. The native designation of the imperial
people was that of Khaldians or children of Khaldis, just as the
Assyrians reflect the name of their god, Assur. The constitution
of the State was that of a theocracy in which Khaldis occupied the
supreme place. The company of the remaining deities were spoken of as
his ministers, and the whole land appears to have borne his name. [50]
It was the wrath of Khaldis that was invoked against whosoever should
destroy the tablets; and with him were coupled in a kind of Trinity
the god of the air and the sun-god. The seat of Khaldis was the city
of Dhuspas, the modern Van; and all conquests were made by the king
in his name. Dhuspas was the capital of the territory of Biaina,
from which the king derived his title. We can readily trace through
literature the corruption of the word Biaina into the existing form,
Van; it figures in the shape of Buana in the writings of Ptolemy and
in that of Iban as late as Cedrenus. [51] In the course of time it
had come to be applied to the city; while the name of the city was
transferred to the province in which it was placed, and became the
Dosp or Tosp of Armenian writers. [52] The contemporaries and rivals
of the Vannic monarchs, the rulers of Assyria, styled the northern
kingdom Urardhu or Urarthu; and this is the same name that appears
in the Bible in the familiar form of Ararat. They make no mention of
the local appellation of Biaina; although it seems possible that the
district called Bitanu or Bitani in the Assyrian inscriptions may be
connected with the latter name. [53] On the other hand there can be
little doubt that the Turuspa of the Assyrian annals is the Dhuspas
of the monuments of Van.

The Khaldians take their place in this new chapter of history
at least as early as the latter half of the ninth century before
Christ. Their language was neither Semitic nor Indo-European; and it
is therefore impossible to connect them either with the Assyrians, who
were Semites, or with the Armenians, who belong to the Indo-European
family. They ruled over the tableland which is now Armenia before the
Armenians had appeared upon the scene; and it was the movement of
races with which was connected the Armenian immigration that seems
ultimately to have occasioned their dispersal and the overthrow of
their power. Their dominion appears to have been due in no small
degree to the happy choice of Van as their capital. Assyrian history
ranges beyond the probable date of that foundation, to a period when
Urardhu was perhaps an obscure province in the neighbourhood of the
modern Rowanduz in Kurdistan. The Assyrian armies in their marches
northwards were opposed by a confederacy of petty princes whose country
is called Nairi in the Assyrian inscriptions. That loose term evidently
embraced a considerable portion of the Armenian tableland; for it
was in the plain of Melazkert that the Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser
I. (c. 1100 B.C.), [54] overthrew the united forces of the kings of
Nairi and erected a memorial tablet which has been preserved to the
present day. [55] In a restricted sense the name Nairi was applied
by the Assyrians to the province about the middle and upper course
of the Great Zab; and the lakes of Van and Urmi, between which that
territory was situated, were both known as the Upper seas or seas of
the land of Nairi, Lake Van being sometimes distinguished as the Upper
sea of the West, and Lake Urmi as the Eastern or even as the Lower
sea. [56] The kingdom of Urardhu is for the first time mentioned
by the Assyrians in the reign of Ashur-nasir-pal (885-860 B.C.);
but it is not before the ensuing reign of Shalmaneser II. (860-825
B.C.) that we have certain evidence of an Assyrian army marching into
Armenia to attack the territories not of a league of Nairi princes
but of a monarch of Urardhu. This prince, of whom no records have
been discovered in Armenia, is called Arame. His capital, of which
the site is at present unknown, but which certainly lay to the north
of Lake Van, bears the name of Arzasku. Arame was signally defeated
in 857 or 856 B.C. and abandoned his capital. His cities as far as
the sources of the Euphrates (Murad?) were taken by Shalmaneser in
845 or 844 B.C. When next we hear of a king of Urardhu we are able
to recognise in his name the earliest of the rulers who appear in the
Vannic texts. And this monarch, Sarduris the First, the contemporary
of the same Shalmaneser and his antagonist about 833 B.C., was the
founder of the fortress of Van.

No better position for a stronghold against a Power operating from the
lowlands in the south could have been discovered by the builders of an
empire on the Armenian plains. In the later phases of the history of
Armenia the movements of empires and peoples have generally proceeded
between the east and the west. Against such currents the city of Van
composes a minor obstacle, which they avoid on their more normal and
northerly course. Always secure with a fleet on the lake and the passes
of Mount Varag fortified, the true military value of the place only
advances into first-rate importance when the centres of the hostile
forces lie in Mesopotamia. It is screened in that direction by perhaps
the most impenetrable section of the entire outer or Iranian arc of
the peripheral mountains which support the tableland. [57] Moreover,
the circumstance that the arc has snapped and sent out a splinter
into the districts on the north, represented by the mountains in which
the Great Zab has its source, and, further north, by the elevated but
not impassable waterparting between the basin of Lake Van and that of
the Araxes, has had the effect of concealing Van within the fork of
a twofold parapet where it reposes with its back against the complex
barrier and defies attack from the south or south-east. The approach
from the west along the southern shore of the lake is interrupted by
the spurs of the great range; and the Assyrian armies were compelled
to make the détour by the plain of Melazkert, gaining the plateau by
one of the passes north of Diarbekr and leaving it upon their return
home through one of the passages east of Rowanduz where the sea of
mountains settles down to a regular course. Such an immense circuit
through a hostile country necessitated resources on a vast scale, the
existence of which among the Assyrians fills the mind with admiration
when we contemplate the squalor of the Oriental empires of the present
day. But there can be no doubt that all the advantages lay on the side
of their northern adversaries, to whom was offered a reasonable chance
of annihilating their hosts, or, in the event of defeat, the secure
alternative of shutting themselves up in their capital and there
awaiting the passing over of the storm. These considerations serve
to explain the comparative immunity and the rapid development of the
empire of the successors of Sarduris the First; at a time, too, when
Assyria was governed by such warlike monarchs as Shamshi-Ramman and
Ramman-nirari. [58] It was reserved for Tiglath-Pileser the Third to
beard the lion in his den, and to appear before the walls of Van. But
even this gigantic figure failed to capture the citadel, although he
appears to have destroyed the garden town at its feet (735 B.C.). [59]
The ultimate effects of his campaign may be measured by the fact that
the inveterate and sometimes successful adversary of Sargon (722-705
B.C.) was the Vannic king Rusas the First. And the northern empire
is still a force with which the Assyrians have to reckon as late as
Ashur-bani-pal, the Sardanapalus of the Greeks (668-626 B.C.).

So far as our knowledge at present extends we may regard Sarduris the
First as the initiator of a remarkable and far-reaching revolution
among the peoples of the tableland. The title which this monarch
bears, that of king of Nairi, as compared with that of his successors,
kings of Biaina, [60] connects him with the earlier period of the
confederacy of Nairi princes which his dynasty under the ægis of
the god Khaldis was destined to supplant. His son, Ispuinis, and his
grandson Menuas at once extended the empire and added to the works
upon the citadel of Van; and the latter was the principal author of
that magnificent canal which to the present day under the fanciful
name of Shamiram-Su, or river of Semiramis, conducts the waters
of the Khoshab to the suburbs of Van. [61] Menuas may, therefore,
be considered as the founder of the garden town; although at that
time it is probable that it was situated south of the citadel rather
than, as is now the case, at some distance to the east. [62] During
the reign of the successor of Menuas, Argistis the First, the Vannic
dynasty reached the zenith of its power. The kinglets of the valley
of the Araxes had been dispossessed of their fertile territories, and
the great city which was afterwards known as Armavir rose from the
banks of the river in honour of the god of Van. The whole extent of
the Armenian tableland, such as it is described in the present work,
with the possible exception of some of the most northerly districts,
was subject to the rulers residing on the shore of the great lake;
and their inscriptions recording conquests are found as far east as
the province south of Lake Urmi and as far west as the Euphrates near
Malatia. In that direction they came in contact with the Hittites;
while their neighbours on the east were none other than the Minni of
Scripture, residing in the more southerly portion of the Urmi basin
and the adjacent districts. [63] The inscriptions on the rock of Van
enumerate the feats of arms of Argistis the First and Sarduris the
Second. No records have yet been found further north than Lake Gökcheh,
Kanlija, near Alexandropol, and Hasan Kala, near Erzerum. South of
their capital the wild districts of Shatakh, Norduz and Mukus have
been scoured by travellers in quest of such monuments, but hitherto
without result.

With one exception no systematic excavations have yet been made
upon any of the sites of the cities and strongholds of the Vannic
kings. When these shall have been undertaken we may expect to have
drawn an impressive picture of the attainments of their people in
the arts. The single instance of such efforts--and it is not one of
which we need be proud [64]--has been directed to the low limestone
hills which overlook the gardens of Van upon the north, and which
in their neighbourhood bear the name of Toprak Kala. In or about
the years 1879 and 1880 operations were conducted upon this eminence
under the direction, as I have gathered, of Captain Clayton, then our
consul at Van, and of Mr. Hormuzd Rassam. [65] Tunnels were opened
into that part of the site which disclosed the buried remains of an
ancient settlement, and which was found to have been covered with
buildings composed for the most part of sun-dried bricks. The most
important result of the enterprise was the laying bare of a temple,
still containing quite a number of bronze shields with cuneiform
inscriptions, embossed and chased with ornamental designs and the
figures of animals. Some of these may be seen in the British Museum
and others in the Museum at Berlin. They represent votive offerings
on the part of the kings, and were suspended upon the walls in the
manner shown by an existing bas-relief from the palace of Sargon
at Khorsabad. Indeed that sculpture portrays the destruction by the
Assyrians of the temple of Khaldis in the city of Mutsatsir, not very
far from the present town of Rowanduz. The dimensions of the edifice
were small, only 69 feet by 44 feet, measured at the foundations. But
the walls were built of great blocks of hewn stone, and traces of
a pavement in a kind of mosaic were found. The doors appear to have
been of bronze. Outside the entrance stood a block of marble which
was hollowed out and was probably used for sacrifices. At the time
of my visit little was to be seen of this interesting structure,
for the vandal townspeople had removed its masonry for building
purposes. Large faced blocks, taken thence and perhaps from other
edifices, were being rolled down the hillside. Only a fraction of the
objects found was brought away by Messrs. Clayton and Rassam; their
workmen abstracted the remainder, from whose hands some portions
have filtered into Europe. Toprak Kala has quite recently (1898)
been the scene of further excavations, this time on the part of
Messrs. Belck and Lehmann. They have dug out the substructures of the
temple to its foundations, cleared away the rubbish which obstructed
a long subterraneous passage, debouching into a large chamber which
may have served as a reservoir, and which was fed by an artificial
duct deriving its water from a neighbouring spring; and discovered
a wine-cellar containing colossal vats, some engraved with Vannic
writing and one with a Persian cuneiform inscription. We also owe to
their labours the discovery not far from the temple of a space which
seems to have been set apart to receive the bones of the sacrificial
animals and of the human beings, captives of war, who had been offered
up to the god. They have acquired numerous objects, of silver as well
as of bronze and iron, including weapons and ornaments of various
kinds. But the principal service which they have rendered is the
identification of Toprak Kala with the city of Rusas mentioned in the
stele near Keshish Göl on the slopes of Mount Varag. The inscription
on that monument, if rightly deciphered, leaves little doubt that King
Rusas, probably the first of that name, made use of that little lake
as a partly natural and partly artificial reservoir, and conducted
its waters along the foot of the Toprak Kala heights to the region
occupied by the present site of the garden town. The earliest ruler
mentioned on the shields is Rusas the Second; while we know from their
contents that the temple was built or restored by Rusas the Third in
honour of the god Khaldis. All the indications favour the assumption
that in consequence of the depredations of Tiglath-Pileser the Third
some change was made in the disposition of the city. The heights of
Toprak Kala seem in some degree to have usurped the importance of
the citadel, and to have been used as defences for the extension of
the gardens in that direction. [66]

The culture of the Vannic kingdom was perhaps borrowed from the
Assyrians and was certainly derived from the Mesopotamian plains. The
legend of the passion of the queen of Assyria, the consort of the
eponymous hero Ninus, for an Armenian king who suffers death at her
hands and is restored to life, [67] contains, so far as it expresses
the intercourse of the pre-Armenian peoples, a considerable kernel
of truth. Ara and Semiramis are none other than Tammuz and Istar,
the Adonis and the Aphrodite of the Hellenic myth; and the advent
from Assyria of the voluptuous queen in quest of a beautiful but
reluctant lover may be connected with the introduction from abroad of
the worship of Istar. [68] However this may be, it is certain that
the earliest inscriptions found at Van are in the Assyrian language
and character; while those of the successors of Sarduris the First,
although composed in the Vannic tongue, show but slight deviations from
the cuneiform writing as practised at Nineveh. There is evidence to
show that long after the disappearance of the empire of the Khaldians
Assyrian influences lingered on in the land. I shall have occasion to
remark these traces in the study of the architecture of the church at
Akhtamar; and they compose a factor which should never be quite absent
from the mind when examining the masterpieces of Armenian mediæval
art. The Vannic dynasty are not the symbol of resistance on the part
of rude mountaineers to the approach of civilisation moving up from
its immemorial seats. Far rather do they represent the beneficent
spread of arts and letters over the Armenian plains. The favourite
sites of their cities are not the recesses of the mountains of the
tableland, but some small eminence from a wide extent of level and
fertile ground, as typically embodied by the rock of Van and the mound
of Armavir. They are builders of canals to irrigate the land, of roads
to traverse even the scarcely passable ridges of the peripheral region,
of bridges to span the great rivers. If we are still in the dark with
respect to their ethnic affinities, we need harbour no doubts upon
the character of the civilisation which they contributed to diffuse.

Like Adonis they have been carried down the stream of time, and over
them the eddy has long since closed. The spade of the archæologist
reveals the charred remains of their later stronghold on the heights
of Toprak Kala overlooking the gardens of Van. But by what people
and at what date were they stricken to the ground, and their temples
and palaces given to the flames? It is the disadvantage of a history
which is derived from inscriptions, that issues as well as origins
must remain obscure. I am not aware that any certain answer can
be given to the first part of the question, and the date of the
supreme catastrophe which must have overtaken the city can only
be approximately fixed. The Vannic records differ in one important
respect from those of Assyria; they do not contain a single date. The
chronology is therefore dependent upon the mention in them of an
Assyrian monarch or by the Assyrians of a contemporary ruler of
Urardhu. The latest inscriptions hitherto discovered belonging to the
northern kingdom are those of Rusas the Third, the son of Erimenas,
who lived in the time of Ashur-bani-pal. But a successor of this
prince is mentioned in the Assyrian annals as having sent an embassy
to Nineveh about 644 B.C. His name is the familiar one of Sarduris,
and he takes his place as the third king of that name. It would appear
likely that at the time of his embassy he had only just begun to reign;
and we should probably be justified in protracting the span covered
by the Vannic dynasty at least as late as the death of Ashur-bani-pal
(c. 626 B.C.). This date brings us down to the dawn of Oriental history
as contained in the works of Greek writers. In the pages of Herodotus
the Armenian tableland as well as Assyria form portions of the great
empire of Darius (521-486 B.C.) and Xerxes (485-465 B.C.), which had
succeeded the loose rule of the Scythians. And this new era has left
behind it one of the most impressive of the monuments upon the rock of
Van. On its southern face, in full view of the walled town at its base,
is inscribed the trilingual record of the Persian conquest. "A great
god is Ormazd, who is the greatest of gods, who has created this earth,
who has created that heaven, who has created mankind, who has given
happiness to man, who has made Xerxes king, sole king of many kings,
sole lord of many. I am Xerxes the great king, the king of kings,
the king of the provinces with many languages, the king of this
great earth far and near, son of king Darius the Achæmenian. Says
Xerxes the king: Darius the king, my father, did many works through
the protection of Ormazd, and on this hill he commanded to make his
tablet and an image; yet an inscription he did not make. Afterwards
I ordered this inscription to be written. May Ormazd, along with all
the gods, protect me and my kingdom and my work. [69]

Years before this noble pronouncement was engraved in its imperishable
arrowheads the empire of Assyria had come to an end. Nineveh was laid
desolate in 606 B.C. by her Babylonian subjects assisted by the hordes
of the Scythian king. [70] Within a very brief period of the history
of these countries ethnic changes on a vast scale had taken place. New
nations had appeared upon the scene. The Cimmerian nomads, followed
closely by the wild tribes of Scythia, had penetrated southwards from
the countries on the north of Caucasus and swarmed over the settled
lands. Ancient kingdoms tottered and fell into the human surge. It
is just at this period that we come to hear of the Armenians. All the
evidence points to the conclusion that they entered their historical
seats from the west, [71] as a branch of a considerable immigration
of Indo-European peoples crossing the straits from Europe into Asia
Minor and perhaps originally coming from homes in the steppes north
of the Black Sea. Just as their kinsmen, invading Europe, drove the
old races before them, such as the Etruscans, the Ligurians, and the
Basques, so the Armenians seem to have filled the void which may have
been created by the ravages of the Scythians and to have supplanted
the subjects of the old Khaldian dynasty in the possession of the
plains of the tableland.

That this revolution was not accomplished until at least as late
as the fifth century before Christ may be gathered from the pages
of Herodotus. The Armenians are known to this father of historians
as inhabiting the mountainous country about the sources of the Halys
and those of the Tigris, extending round towards the Mediterranean in
the neighbourhood of Cilicia, their boundary on this side being the
Euphrates. [72] On the other hand the Khaldians or Urardhians have
not already disappeared, although they have obviously declined to a
subordinate position. They are mentioned under the name of Alarodians,
[73] and they are joined with the Matienians and Saspeires or Sapeires
in the eighteenth satrapy of the Persian empire. [74] Herodotus leaves
us in the dark as to the exact localities in which they lived, although
he indicates that the seats of the Saspeires lay to the south of the
Kolchians, who inhabited the southern shore of the Black Sea in the
neighbourhood of the Phasis. [75] He informs us that Alarodians and
Saspeires were both armed like the Kolchians, and the fact that the
satrapies were organised with a view to ethnic affinities suggests
the possibility that the two names first mentioned had come to be
applied to one and the same race. Other considerations seem to point
in the same direction. Down to a comparatively recent period we find
a people called Chaldians (as written in the Greek character) or
Chaldæans occupying the mountains between Trebizond and Batum. There
can be little doubt that they represented the remnants of the Vannic
people, and they were almost certainly the same as the Alarodians of
Herodotus and probably the same as the Saspeires, who have perhaps
left their name to the present town of Ispir. [76] When the Armenians
had expelled the ancient inhabitants from the settled country we know
from a most interesting chapter in the Cyropædeia of Xenophon that
the latter took refuge in the mountains. They fortified inaccessible
peaks and lived by plunder, raiding down upon the plains. [77] Our
knowledge of the geography may at this point assist our historical
investigations; and we may be reasonably sure that we shall find the
relics of the dispossessed Khaldians inhabiting the fastnesses of
the peripheral ranges which border Armenia upon the north and south.

That this was the case in the northern region is proved by the long
survival of the name Chaldia (= Khaldia) among those inhospitable
heights. Professor Lehmann has collected with a thoroughness of which
his countrymen alone seem capable, a catalogue of passages in Greek
and Byzantine writers making mention either of the Chaldian people or
of the province to which they gave their name. [78] That people are
sometimes called Chaldæans in classical authors. But that this was an
error seems sufficiently proved by the name of the province--Chaldia;
by the survival side by side of the variant form--Chaldians, and by the
practice of Armenian writers to distinguish between the name of the
tribe on their northern frontiers and that of the Chaldæans. Chaldia
with the capital Trebizond formed one of the military themes of the
Byzantine empire; and I should like to add yet another reference
to the lists of Professor Lehmann, this one taken from the travels
of the Castilian ambassador, Don Ruy Gonzalez Clavigo, in the year
1404. Setting out from Trebizond on his way to Erzinjan, we find him
travelling on the third day out through the snowy mountains of the
province of Chaldia to the castle of Tzanich which stood on a crag;
and on the morrow, in the evening, he arrives at the castle of the
duke of Chaldia, where all caravans pay toll. The territory formed
a part of the empire of the Grand Comneni; and the name has survived
to the present day as that of a diocese of the Greek Church with the
capital Gümüshkhaneh on the road from Trebizond to Baiburt. [79]

It is not so easy to trace the remnants of this ancient people in
the southern zone of mountains. Their presence there is attested by
the march of Xenophon with the relics of the Ten Thousand. A body
of Chaldæan or, more properly, of Chaldian mercenaries oppose his
passage of the Bohtan branch of the Tigris. [80] They are described
as of independent spirit and warlike nature, and, like the Karduchi,
the modern Kurds, as still maintaining their political freedom. One is
tempted to enquire whether the present so-called Chaldæan or Assyrian
Christians, who are spread about the districts in the neighbourhood of
Julamerik watered by the Great Zab, may not supply the necessary and
missing link. But here we approach a thorny and difficult question,
upon which the limitations of the present enquiry forbid us to
touch. [81] It will be better capable of discussion when some unanimity
shall have been attained upon the origin and ethnic affinities of
the subjects of the old Vannic kings. The Chaldæan Christians are
reputed to have fled into the mountains from Mesopotamia as late as
the era of Timur. Baghdad and then Mosul would seem to have been
the earlier seats of their patriarchate. The name Chaldæan is not
one which they apply to themselves, although they believe in their
"Assyrian" origin. There is held by some scholars to be the widest
etymological and original difference between the name of the people who
were called after the god Khaldis and that of the Babylonian Chaldees
or Chaldæans. But the question of a possible racial or cultural link
between them cannot at present be regarded as already negatived. [82]

Although the whole subject of the Vannic kingdom has scarcely yet
arrived beyond its infantile stages, the knowledge already attained
serves to throw quite a flood of light upon the early history of
Armenia and of the Armenians. In a former chapter [83] I had occasion
to remark the obscurity of Armenian chronicles prior to the advent
of their Arsakid dynasty. The people known as Armenians to Darius
and to classical writers have always been accustomed to prefer
the name of their reputed progenitor, Hayk, the son of Togarmah,
great-grandson of Japhet. They call themselves the Hayk or children
of Hayk. They believe that their ancestor emigrated from Babylon in
a north-westerly direction and ultimately arrived upon the shores of
Lake Van. They style the line of their primeval kings the Haykian
dynasty, and they relate in a fabulous manner the early struggles
of this dynasty with the Assyrian Power. Their historians admit
that for this period they are destitute of native annals, and they
deplore the illiterateness of their forefathers. It would almost seem
as if they had presented us with a darkened and legendary account
of the history of their predecessors, possibly mingled with the
experiences of their own race. That the people of the Vannic kings
were not Armenians is proved by the distinctive character of their
language. That their empire continued to exist until at least as
late as the latter half of the seventh century before Christ is a
fact which is beyond doubt. Nothing which we might be inclined to
attribute to the Armenians has been found at Toprak Kala. On the
other hand, we may gather from Xenophon that after a period of mutual
distrust the Armenians intermarried with the Khaldians whom they had
dispossessed. [84] To this extent they may inherit the blood of that
ancient people which gave to Armenia a degree of civilisation which
in many respects it has not been privileged since to enjoy.

The Armenians, like all capable and conquering races, borrowed
much from the and attainments of the older inhabitants. Their most
ancient cities--Van, Armavir, and perhaps Melazkert and Arjish--were
foundations of the Vannic kings. The city of Hayk, as it has long
been called, in the Hayotz-dzor, south-east of Van, has disclosed to
the first essays of the modern archæologist the familiar features
of a Khaldian settlement. [85] But Persian influences left upon
them a more visible impression; and their supreme god during the
pre-Christian era was not the Khaldis of the Vannic texts but the
Ormazd of the inscription of Xerxes, "who has created this earth,
who has created that heaven, who has created mankind." [86]


Sequence of the Vannic Kings. [87]


Arame.--No inscriptions. Known only through those of the Assyrian king,
in which he is styled king of Urardhu. Attacked in 860 or 859 B.C. by
Shalmaneser II. and again in 857 or 856 B.C. in his capital, Arzasku
(site?). [88] His cities as far as the sources of the Euphrates were
taken by the same monarch in 845 or 844 B.C.

1. Sarduris I.--Son of Lutipris. Three inscriptions (Zeitschrift für
Assyriologie, 1899, p. 315) on massive blocks of stone, forming part
of a wall which extended from the western extremity of the rock of Van
roughly in a northerly direction towards the harbour across the plain
(Verhandlungen der Berliner Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, etc., 1897,
p. 305). Appears to have been the initiator of the fortifications of
the rock of Van. Bore the title: "king of the world (Sar Kissati),
king of Nairi." Attacked about 833 B.C. by the general of Shalmaneser
II.; styled king of Urardhu in the Assyrian inscriptions.

2. Ispuinis.--His son. Several inscriptions, in which he is more
commonly associated with his son Menuas. The inscriptions are found
as far apart as the Kelishin Pass between Rowanduz and Ushnei, the
hill of Ashrut-Darga, east of the village of Salekhane, east of Van
and the Van region, and Patnotz, north of Sipan. His title is given
in the Vannic text of the Kelishin stele as: king of Nairi, king of
Suras (i.e. of northern Syria [89]), inhabiting the city of Dhuspas;
and in the inscription of Ashrut Darga as: king of Biaina, inhabiting
the city of Dhuspas. Is probably the Uspina from whom the general
of the Assyrian king Shamshi-Ramman III. (825-812 B.C.) captured
11 forts and 200 villages during his campaign against Nairi. His
newly-discovered inscription near the Tabriz gate at Van appears to
ascribe the construction of the works upon the citadel to himself,
his father Sarduris, his son Menuas and his grandson Inuspuas
(V. Anth. 1898, p. 575).

3. Menuas.--His son, associated with his father in the government,
and afterwards with his own son, Inuspuas. To this king belong the
largest number of the inscriptions yet discovered, ranging from the
Kelishin Pass and the rock of Tashtepe, near the southern shore of
Lake Urmi (Sayce, J.R.A.S. vol. xiv. p. 386; Belck, Z. Assyr. 1899,
p. 313), the latter of which commemorates his conquests in the kingdom
of Minni (V. Anth. 1894, p. 481) in the east, to Palu on the Lower
Murad in the west; and from Van and the Van regions in the south to
Hasan-Kala, near Erzerum, in the north. Perhaps his most important
conquest was that of a great portion of the valley of the Araxes on
the northern side of the Ararat system. Menuas may be regarded as the
founder of the original garden city of Van, which probably occupied
a somewhat different position than at the present day, and extended
to the borders of the lake, where it received the waters of the canal
since called the Shamiram Su, coming through Artemid--a work on a great
scale, which we now know to have been constructed principally by this
monarch, and which provided the volume of irrigation necessary for
an extensive settlement. Records his conquests. Extensively restored
Melazkert (Z. Assyr. 1892, p. 262; V. Anth. 1898, pp. 569 seq.) and
founded Arzwapert, north-east of Arjish. His title is: the great king,
the king of Biaina, inhabiting the city of Dhuspas.

4. Argistis I.--His son. Numerous inscriptions which show that he
extended the conquests of Menuas, especially towards the north. These
inscriptions are found as far north as Kanlija, near Alexandropol,
and Sarikamish, on the road from Kars to Erzerum, by which route he
probably advanced or retired from the districts north of the Ararat
system. From those at Van, which are in fact detailed annals of his
conquests, we learn that he met and overcame the armies of Assyria
on more than one occasion in the regions south-east of Lake Urmi. His
reign represents the culminating point of Vannic empire. He ascribes
to himself works upon the rock and in the city of Van; and he was
the founder of the city of Armavir in the valley of the Araxes
(V. Anth. 1896, p. 313). He bore the title of: the great king, the
king of Biaina, inhabiting the city of Dhuspas.

5. Sarduris II.--His son. Numerous inscriptions, distributed over a
large area of country, one being found in the south-east corner of
Lake Gökcheh, another (discovered by us) near the western summit of
the Bingöl Dagh, [90] and yet another as far west as the Euphrates
near Malatia in Asia Minor. The first and last record conquests in
those countries. Ascribes to himself works upon the rock and in the
city of Van, and gives a list of his conquests, including some over
the Assyrian monarch Ashur-nirari II., 754-745 B.C. (V. Anth. 1898,
pp. 570-77). But these successes were followed by disasters which
dealt a severe blow at the Vannic kingdom. With the accession of
Tiglath-Pileser III. of Assyria (745-727 B.C.) a new area is initiated
in the relations of these two great Powers of the day. The clash seems
to have come in the year 743 and in connection with the endeavour
of Tiglath-Pileser to possess himself of the strong place of Arpad
between the present towns of Aleppo and Killis, the key of northern
Syria, a country over which the Vannic kings had for several reigns
upheld pretensions. Sarduris headed the league against the Assyrians
and drew off the king from the siege of Arpad. He was, however,
signally defeated "near Kistan and Khalpi, districts of Kummukh"
(Kommagene), and pursued as far as "the bridge over the Euphrates, the
boundary of his kingdom." Subsequently, in 735 B.C., Tiglath-Pileser
carried the war into the very heart of the Vannic country, and at
length appeared before the city of Van. Sarduris was obliged to shut
himself up in the impregnable citadel, while his adversary massacred
his warriors and his people in the city at its feet, and erected a
statue of himself in front of it. He then ravaged the territory of
Sarduris over a space of some 450 miles, meeting with no opposition
anywhere. (For the sequence of these events, made known to us by the
Assyrian inscriptions, see V. Anth. 1896, pp. 321 seq., and Smith's
Assyria, London, S.P.C.K. 1897, pp. 83 seq.). Sarduris increased the
importance of the city of Armavir, and ascribes to himself works upon
the citadel and in the city of Van. Bore the title: king of kings,
king of the land of Suras, king of Biaina, inhabiting the city of
Dhuspas. Styled king of Urardhu in the Assyrian inscriptions.

6. Rusas I.--His son. The author of at least two important extant
inscriptions, that of Kölani-Girlan (Alutshalu), on the face of a
rock overlooking Lake Gökcheh, and that of Topsanä (Sidikan), in
the district of Rowanduz in Kurdistan, discovered by Rawlinson and
recently examined by Dr. Belck (Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, Berlin,
1899, pp. 99-132). The first records conquests and the restoration
of a palace; the second, which has, however, not yet been published,
conveys noteworthy facts bearing upon the relations with Assyria. We
know from the Assyrian inscriptions that the Vannic kingdom was by
no means crushed by the campaign of Tiglath-Pileser; for the son of
Sarduris, this Rusas the First, displayed great activity in inciting
the neighbouring principalities against the successor of the conqueror,
Sargon (722-705 B.C.), among which may be specially mentioned the
kingdom of Minni, south-east of Lake Urmi, and the almost impregnable
territory of Mutsatsir or Ardinis near Rowanduz. Sargon tells us
how, in 714 B.C., he penetrated into Mutsatsir, which contained a
temple of the god Khaldis, the god of the Vannic kingdom; how its
king Urzana fled, and how he plundered and burnt the city, rifled the
temple and carried off the statues of the gods. He relates that Ursa,
king of Urardhu (i.e. Rusas I.), upon hearing of this disaster to
his ally and of the carrying off of the god, committed suicide. The
contents of the inscription of Topsanä throw doubt upon this latter
statement. They are to the effect that Rusas restored Urzana to
his kingdom, led his armies as far as "the mountains of Assyria,"
and restored the offerings to Khaldis in Mutsatsir.

If, as seems probable, the Rusas of the shattered stele of Keshish
Göl near Van be this first king of that name, then we must ascribe to
this monarch the various works which are mentioned in that inscription
(Sayce, No. lxxix.), and which, as Messrs. Belck and Lehmann have
conclusively shown, should be referred to Toprak Kala, an eminence
from the plain some little distance east of the rock of Van and
close to the present garden town. These works appear to have been:
the constitution of the Keshish Göl into a reservoir, the conduct of
its waters to the Rusahina, or city of Rusas, as distinct from Dhuspas;
the laying out of this new city, with numerous vineyards and gardens,
and the building of a palace there. Rusas I. may therefore be regarded
as the author of the transference of the site of the garden town from
the south to the east of the rock of Van, where it was protected by
the heights of Toprak Kala. The necessary irrigation was drawn from
the Keshish Göl instead of or in addition to that derived from the
canal of Menuas. The change was probably made in consequence of the
destruction by Tiglath-Pileser of the old town, although he was unable
to effect the capture of the citadel or rock of Van (Z. Ethnologie,
1892, pp. 141 seq.; V. Anth. 1893, p. 220; Z. Assyr. 1894, pp. 349
seq.; Deutsche Rundschau, Christmas 1894, pp. 411 seq.; V. Anth. 1898,
p. 576; Z. Assyr. 1899, p. 320). Rusas I. is styled Ursa, king of
Urardhu, in the Assyrian inscriptions. Those of the Vannic Monarchy,
hitherto published, do not furnish a title.

7. Argistis II.--His son. The mention of this ruler in a Vannic text
was discovered by Messrs. Belck and Lehmann in an inscription on a
shield from the temple at Toprak Kala, now in the British Museum
(Z. Assyr. 1894, pp. 82-99; cp. Z. Assyr. 1892, pp. 263 seq.;
V. Anth. 1895, p. 595); and two of his own inscriptions have recently
been found by these investigators in the neighbourhood of Arjish
(V. Anth. 1898, p. 573). They have not yet been published. This prince
is alluded to in the Assyrian annals. He appears to have endeavoured
to repeat the tactics of Sarduris III. against Tiglath-Pileser III.,
and to have succeeded in inciting the king of Kummukh (Kommagene)
against Sargon. But his efforts only resulted in the subjugation of
Kummukh by the Assyrian monarch in 708 B.C. (Smith's Assyria, 1897,
p. 116).

8. Rusas II.--His son. So known to us from the inscription on the
shield above mentioned (Z. Assyr. 1894, pp. 82-99, and 339 seq.;
V. Anth. 1895, p. 596). Two new inscriptions of this king have been
found by Dr. Belck at Adeljivas (V. Anth. 1898, p. 573), in which he
is stated to have conquered the Hittites and Moschians. He is also
mentioned on a clay tablet discovered by Messrs. Belck and Lehmann
at Toprak Kala (Van). He was the contemporary of Esarhaddon of
Assyria (681-668 B.C.), and is mentioned in an Assyrian inscription
of that reign (H. Winckler, Altorientalische Forschungen, 2nd
ser. vol. i. 1898, p. 41; and see Z. Assyr. 1894, p. 341).

9. Erimenas.--Known only from an inscription on a shield from the
temple at Toprak Kala, now in the British Museum, as being the father
of Rusas III.

10. Rusas III.--His son. Rebuilt the temple of Khaldis on Toprak Kala
(shield inscriptions in the British Museum published by Prof. Sayce,
No. lii. in J.R.A.S. 1882, pp. 653 seq. For Tuprak Kilissa read
Toprak Kala, Van, and cp. Z. Assyr. 1892, p. 266; Z. Assyr. 1894,
p. 97 and pp. 339 seq.; V. Anth. 1895, p. 595). An inscription of this
king has been found at Armavir (Sayce, lxxxv.). Sent an embassy to
Ashur-bani-pal of Assyria about 655 B.C. (Z. Assyr. 1894, p. 342). Bore
the title: the great king, inhabiting the city of Dhuspas.

11. Sarduris III.--Known through the Assyrian inscriptions as having
sent an embassy to Ashur-bani-pal about 644 B.C. (Z. Assyr. 1894,
p. 342).



III.--VAN TOWARDS THE CLOSE OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

With the single exception of the remains of a mosque enriched
with traceries and Arabic legends in a style worthy of the best
traditions of Saracenic art, there remains no vestige in Van of
any period of prosperity and splendour subsequent to the era of the
pre-Armenian kings. It is true that the whole region is subject to
seismic influences, and that many of the monuments of later ages may
have succumbed through this cause. There exists a tradition that
the isolation of the rock of Van itself is due to an earthquake
in very ancient times, resulting in its severance from the heights
adjacent on the east. Several visitations of considerable severity
have probably occurred during the historical period; thus we learn
that in the year 1648 of the Christian era one-half of the wall of
the fortified city, as well as churches, mosques and private houses,
were shattered by successive shocks and fell to the ground. [91]
But it is at least doubtful whether posterity has been deprived of
many treasures by this agency or by the scourge of such a destroyer
as Timur. Van must have occupied a subordinate position among the
capitals of the Achæmenian empire; and her ancient temples, together
with the structures of her former magnificence, appear to have been
demolished at a very early date. A restoration is ascribed to an
Armenian king of the Haykian dynasty, who is said to have lived a
little prior to the Asiatic conquests of Alexander the Great. But
the very fact that this monarch is named Van, and is related to have
rechristened the city of Semiramis after himself, invests the story
with a fabulous character. [92] Greater credit may be attached to
the statement of Moses of Khorene that the place was rebuilt by
the first ruler of the Armenian line of the Arsakid or Parthian
kings. [93] A colony of Jews, with the high priest of their nation,
were settled in Van by one of his successors, the contemporary of
King Mithridates of Pontus and his ally against the Roman Power. [94]
These Jewish captives appear to have prospered in their new seats;
and about the middle of the fourth century of our era they are said
to have numbered 18,000 families, who were again transported into
captivity, this time into Persia, by the ruler of the new empire
which had arisen in Asia, the Sasanian king Shapur. [95] Neither
Arsakids nor Sasanians appear to have laid much store by the city;
and, indeed, the centres of political gravity in the Asiatic world
had undergone a marked change since Assyrian times. The tableland
of Persia had become incorporated into the imperial systems of Asia,
giving ready access into the Armenian highlands. Europe had already
appeared upon the changing scene of Oriental despotisms, and the real
struggle was between the East and the West. When the Mohammedan empire
of the caliphs had supplanted that of the Sasanian fire-worshippers,
Persia and Armenia formed parts of the new structure. With the decay
of the edifice it might appear that a fresh era had dawned for the
Christian Armenians, supported on the west by their co-religionists
of the Byzantine dominions, and capable of fortifying Van against
the assaults of the Arabs operating from Baghdad and the lowlands
in the south. In such circumstances was born the Armenian kingdom of
Vaspurakan, which flourished for awhile during the Middle Ages, and of
which this city was the capital. We have already glanced at its history
while pursuing the annals of its contemporary at Ani, and have had
to deplore the lack of cohesion among the Armenians at that period,
which precluded them from playing a part of first-rate importance
in the world movements of the time. We have seen the kinglets of Van
bowing the head to the Seljuk invasion and creeping for safety into
the bosom of the Byzantine empire. [96] Perhaps we have not overlooked
the picturesque interest of the pact they concluded, under which the
heirs of the Romans took over the city of Sarduris and Menuas as an
outpost of the civilised world. After the Byzantines had been carried
away by the storm of barbarism the annals of Van, in so far as it is
possible to follow them, are of scarcely more than local interest. The
place must have settled down to that long spell of half-conscious
existence under which it sleeps and heaves and moans at the present
day. Its garrison of Turkomans offered a prolonged resistance to
the armies of Timur; and, if the citadel was indeed virgin after the
lapse of ages, to the savage Tartar belongs the boast of having torn
her defences away. When Van was visited by a European traveller at
the commencement of the sixteenth century, the Persian Shahs of the
Safavid dynasty were in nominal ownership and a Kurdish chieftain in
real possession of the fortress. This individual went so far as to
coin money with his own stamp; but he was ejected after a prolonged
siege by the general of Shah Ismail the First (A.D. 1502-24) and the
inhabitants brought over to Persian allegiance. [97] In the year 1534
the keys of the city were brought to the vizier of the Ottoman sultan,
Suleyman the First. [98] The Ottoman Turks thus became masters of a
fortress on the side of Persia which they converted into one of the
strongest places in their empire. In the seventeenth century it is
said to have fallen to Shah Abbas I., [99] but it was recovered by
the Turks. Their rule has perpetuated the abuses of the Kurds; and
in the forties of the nineteenth century Van was again in the tender
keeping of a rebellious chief of that turbulent people, Khan Mahmud.

In spite of all these revolutions the Armenian people still
maintain themselves in large numerical preponderance in the city and
neighbourhood of Van. It was about the shores of this lake that,
according to their traditions, their ancestor, Hayk, established
some of their earliest seats. For at least 2500 years they have
kept their hold upon them, and have become accustomed and inured
to see the empires come and pass, reaping their harvest of tears
from the Armenian peasantry. Since the impressions which I am about
to record were committed to paper a fresh massacre has decimated
their community. And now, as I put them together, comes a piteous
appeal from the American missionaries, despairing of preserving the
lives of the famished survivors who have lost their livelihood,
but begging for help on behalf of their crowded orphanages. The
perspective of history helps to correct the sentiment of blank
despondency engendered by the contemporary condition of the Armenian
inhabitants. At the time of my visit they numbered two-thirds of the
population of the town and gardens of Van. This proportion has no doubt
been reduced by recent events; but it is almost equally certain to be
redressed. The fecundity of this people is not less remarkable than
their persistency; and their presence is needed by the officials who
exploit the land. It would seem that the Armenian inhabitants of Van
have been increasing during the present century. There can be little
doubt that the proportion which their numbers bear to those of the
Mussulmans has been tending to become greater. Consul Brant records
that in the year 1838 Van contained not less than 7000 families,
of which only 2000 are ascribed by him to the Armenians. [100] This
estimate represents a population of about 35,000 souls, of whom
25,000 would be Mussulmans and 10,000 Armenians. The total agrees
approximately with the most reliable statistics which I was able to
obtain. At the time of my visit the town, including the gardens, was
believed to be inhabited by 30,000 people; but the Mussulmans numbered
only 10,000 to the 20,000 of the Armenians. I received the impression
that these figures were correct in respect of the proportion of the
Armenian and the Mussulman element. In the aggregate they appeared
to be a little too low. If we include the population of the caza or
neighbourhood of Van, we shall probably not err much in arriving at
a total of at least 64,000, made up of 47,000 Armenians and 17,000
Mussulmans. Consul Taylor in 1868 reckoned the inhabitants "of Van
and the neighbourhood," by which he would appear to mean of the town
and caza, at 17,000 Mussulmans and 42,000 Christians. For Christians
one might almost write Armenians. [101]

When one contemplates the vast extent of the garden suburbs and the
closely-packed quarters of the walled town, it is difficult to believe
that not more than 30,000 people inhabit so imposing a place. Let my
reader refer to the plan which accompanies this chapter. I based it
originally on one published in the fine book of M. Müller-Simonis,
[102] and I filled it in during my daily rides. It at once enables
me to dispense with a tedious topographical narrative, and serves to
show the distribution of Armenians and Mussulmans. On the left of the
paper is represented the rock of Van with the cuneiform inscriptions
and the city or fortified town at its southern base. On the right
extends the hill ridge of Toprak Kala, commencing on the west with
the bold crag of Ak Köpri, and making a bay towards the gardens as
it stretches in an easterly direction, presenting the side of what is
actually a nearly meridional mass. Between the two lies the plain--a
bower of leafy gardens, most dense along a line drawn south of Ak
Köpri, but continuing westwards from the southerly outskirts of those
thickly-planted quarters to the district of Shamiram or Semiramis,
south of the citadel. Mussulmans and Armenians are distributed over the
area of these suburbs, and they share between them the population of
the walled town. Some quarters in the gardens are peopled exclusively
by Armenians, some by Mussulmans, and some by both alike. The names
which I have placed upon the plan are in some cases those of quarters,
and in others of blocks of houses and enclosures. The citadel or rock
of Van is occupied by the garrison alone, and none of the townsmen
are permitted to ascend that delicious platform.

The tall poplars and luxuriant undergrowth hide the houses of the
suburbs as you approach Van from the plain in the south. But penetrate
within the foliage and you will find clusters of habitations which grow
in frequency and importance as the central avenue is reached. Along
that well-trodden thoroughfare--filled at morning or in the evening
by a stream of pedestrians and riders, wearing the fez and more
rarely the turban, some in flowing Oriental robes, others attired
in European dress--a number of stately residences abut on the road
with their gardens around them, and dissemble the squalor which for
the most part reigns within. Extremely picturesque are some of these
lofty houses, with verandahs disposed in various and fanciful manners,
as may be seen in my illustration of the dwelling of a wealthy Armenian
inside the precincts of the walled city (Fig. 127). The fact that a
large number of the inhabitants of the garden town proceed daily to
their different places of business in the city partly accounts for the
paradoxical smallness of the population, which ebbs and flows between
the two. Here in the gardens are the private residences of the Vali
or Governor of Van and of the principal officials. Most of the rich
Armenian merchants have their dwellings among these quarters, where
are also situated the various European Consulates. It is here that are
housed the principal schools, and are located the most considerable
of the churches. It is therefore scarcely correct to speak of the
garden town as a suburb; far rather does it bear to the narrow and
crowded streets at the base of the citadel a relation analogous to
that of the West End of London towards the City and the Strand.

Among these groves we spent a pleasant and fairly restful fortnight,
housed in the empty apartments of the British Consulate near the
cross-roads of Khach-poghan. There, in the great room containing the
safe, and the scroll enumerating the consular fees payable by the
only two subjects of Her Britannic Majesty who, besides the Consul,
are resident at Van, my companions erected their camp beds. Mine
was placed in a little chamber on the further side of the spacious
landing, which was open to the air. Here I could receive visits
and read and write. My windows, paned with glass, looked out upon a
sylvan scene of fairy-like character. All this verdure is produced
by irrigation; and it is the peculiar quality of such artificial
sustenance that plants and trees preserve the perfection which in
northern latitudes can only be admired in a conservatory. The storm
clouds, dissolving in rain, do not disturb this southern climate and
play havoc with the leaves. Moss and mildew are unknown beneath this
dry, continental atmosphere and the rays of this brilliant sun. The
air is saturated with light, streaming from a heaven which is always
blue. Into the liquid canopy start the needle forms of the poplars,
forced from the soaking earth with wand-like stems. Apples and peaches
and pomegranates--all the hardier fruits which can withstand cold
winters--attain a beauty of form and an excellence of flavour which
would do credit to better gardeners. Here at Van they grow much as
they please. Melons and cucumbers find just the conditions under
which they thrive. All this pulsing and exuberance extends unchecked
through the long summer; and when the autumn is at length at hand,
towards the end of October, the change is only marked by the gradual
passing over of shades of green into shades of gold. The leaves remain
on their branches until the withered stalks can hold no longer;
but of violence there is rarely a trace. The sky becomes black and
rumbles; some showers fall, and Sipan is clothed in white to his
lower slopes. But the passing darkness of the day only enhances the
goldness of a foliage which awaits the first coming of the snows. Such
were the phases of the year, which, towards the middle of November,
were silently being accomplished before our windows.

These cross-roads, Khach-poghan, are situated almost in the centre
of the most thickly-populated districts of the garden town. On
the whole it is a painful impression which one receives from daily
intercourse with one's fellow-creatures at Van. The salient feature
of the situation is the war between two opposite elements--the one of
restless energy, measured almost by a European standard; the other
passive, suspicious, fitfully aflame. Neither is endowed with the
capacity of government; and the least numerous and least capable
rule. The Armenian subject majority spend lives which are certainly
laborious and create whatever wealth the city possesses. The Mussulman
dominant minority grow fat in the mostly highly-paid sinecures, or
employ the most keen-witted among the Christians to devise ingenious
schemes for robbing the public or the public funds. Over all presides
an imported official of little ability and no education; and a few
troops, under the orders of an independent commander, who is a centre
for intrigue, redress the balance in favour of the least enlightened
and most corrupt.

Things are in the habit of going on in this haphazard manner, jolting
and creaking along. But within the last decade or two a new spirit
has been born, which my reader knows under the name of the Armenian
movement. Here at Van, no less than elsewhere, it has been a clumsy
birth, as might be expected from its parentage. It springs from the
two elements above indicated, and flourishes most in the circumstances
described. In its ultimate origin it is at once a product of economical
conditions and a reflection of the spirit of the times. It causes
the old elements to ferment beyond recognition and to assume the most
incongruous shapes.

The phenomenon is most remarkable in the case of the Turks. One
may remark, by way of parenthesis, that there does not appear
to be any evidence of an actual settlement of Turks in Van or the
neighbourhood. Among the Mussulman inhabitants of the town about six
families or clans, comprising each on the average some fifty persons,
may be classed as of Turkish descent. Of these the most prominent are
the Timur Oglu; then the Jamusji Oglu, or sons of the buffalo driver,
and the Topchi Oglu, or sons of the artilleryman. From their ranks
was formed a kind of oligarchy, which ruled the city in former times,
and, as was natural, developed a fine taste for faction and had its
counterparts of Guelphs and Ghibellines. The passion for intrigue has
survived among them longer than the ability to indulge it in methods
of their own choosing. Their power has been much curtailed by the
progressive centralisation of all government at Constantinople. But
they still maintain their hold upon much of the machinery of the
administration, filling the offices which are not under the direct
patronage of the imperial authorities, such as the presidencies of the
municipality, the administrative council, and the judicial courts. With
the exception of these families there are very few real Turks in Van;
and in the country districts the Mussulman population are probably
for the most part of Kurdish origin. They speak both Turkish and
Kurdish. The more peaceable among them, who are accustomed to settled
pursuits, disown the name of Kurds and affect that of Osmanli, or Turks
of the ruling race. They do not belong to any Kurdish tribe. Their
sympathies are on the whole on the side of law and order; and their
aversion to the turbulence of the tribal Kurds counteracts and perhaps
outweighs their jealousy of their Christian neighbours.

An enlightened Government would seize upon these points of union and
forge from them strong links to connect society in defence of common
interests against the excesses of the Kurds. Van is situated upon the
threshold of the Kurdish mountains, close to the immemorial strongholds
of Kurdish chieftains, whence they descend with their motley followers
into the plains. No sooner had the centralising tendencies in the
Ottoman Empire come near to establishing upon a permanent basis the
unquestioned supremacy of Ottoman rule in these remote districts,
than the Armenian movement commenced to make itself felt. The truth
is that those tendencies were of impure origin. The officials at
Constantinople were concerned with nothing less than the extension
of good government. But they were clever enough to perceive that
such modern inventions, as, for instance, the telegraph, gave them
the means of controlling for their own purposes distant territories
which in former times had been left more or less to themselves. The
telegraph substituted the authority of a clique in the Palace at
Constantinople for the rough-and-ready but often honest and, on the
whole, well-meaning methods of a Turkish pasha of the old school. It is
quite possible that the good old pashas would have brought about the
ruin of the country, which, indeed, was in effect ruined long before
they appeared on the scene. But things might have gone on longer;
their rule could not have cost one quarter the existing misery; and
the travelled person would at least have preferred spending his life
in their shadow than within reach of the wings of the eagle of Russia
and the quills of her bureaucrats.

From one cause or another the whole character of Mussulman government
has undergone a marked change within recent years. It is scarcely
possible to recognise in the ruling circles of such a city as Van
the Turkey of our fathers. Fear and suspicion are written upon every
face. These passions are transmitted to the rank and file of their
co-religionists; the air is full of rumours of Armenian plots. In the
old days there would have been a riot and quite possibly a massacre;
and everything would settle down. At present a swarm of spies, under
the direction of emissaries from the Palace, keep the old sores open
and daily discover new opportunities for inflicting wounds. All
the vices of the Russian bureaucracy have been copied by willing
disciples in the capital, and sent down to the provinces to serve
as a model. One may assert without exaggeration that life is quite
intolerable for an inhabitant of this paradise of Van.

The spies smell out a so-called plot and denounce its authors to the
Governor, who, poor man, is tired to death with their reports. If he
fail to follow it up, he is accused at Constantinople, and runs the
risk of losing his post. If he interfere, his action may quite well
lead to bloodshed at a time when his efforts at pacification were
commencing to bear fruit. I gathered that a certain Vali of Bitlis
had discovered a working solution of the difficulty. His principle
was to go one better than the informers, and himself to organise a
huge plot against himself. When this sedition had been quelled by
his soldiers just at the time that suited him best, his zeal would
be rewarded by the despatch of a decoration from the Palace, and he
would be left in peace for some time.

Of course the power of the Kurds is daily on the increase in such
circumstances as these. The Palace leans towards them; their petty
leaders are taken to the capital and invested with high orders. The
wretched puppet of a Governor does not dare to overawe them, as even
his slender resources would well enable him to do. On the other hand,
the former docile, cringing spirit of the Armenians has given place to
a different temper. Partly they are goaded by the spies into so-called
rebellion; and, in part, they have been aroused to a consciousness
of their own real miseries by the persecution of the most respected
of their clerical leaders and by the spread of education.

The Armenian movement has had the effect of resolving their community
at Van into two distinct parties. The one is animated by the spirit of
the present Katholikos, His Holiness Mekertich Khrimean. The memory of
his noble life, spent so largely among them, outlives his long absence
from their midst. The evidence of his work and example is spread over
the city, and may readily be recognised in the demeanour of those
who have shared his thoughts and aims. His last period of residence
in this, his native place, would appear to have come to an end in
1885. At that time he was bishop of Van as well as abbot of Varag. His
labours were directed to the education of his countrymen; "educate,
educate"--the girls no less than the boys--may be said to have been
his watchword. His personal influence and the power of the pulpit,
when occupied by such a preacher, were thrown into the endeavour
to awake those dormant feelings which few human beings, however
much their spirit may have been broken, are entirely without. To
realise their manhood, and what they owed to themselves and their
race was the constant exhortation which ran through his sermons and
penetrated to the inmost selves of his flock. Schools sprang up in
abundance beneath the magic of his individuality, and teachers were
imbued with that enthusiasm for their high calling without which
their profession savours of drudgery and tends to produce a similar
impression upon their pupils. But the spirit of truth is too often akin
to the spirit of revolution, and there are bonds from without as well
as from within. When the scales fell from the eyes of this downtrodden
people, the naked ugliness of their lot as helots was revealed. Their
native energies were transferred from the domain of money-making to
that of social improvement and political emancipation. The craft
of their minds, abnormally quickened by the long habit of oblique
methods, exchanged the sphere of commerce for that of politics. What
wonder if they infused their politics with a character at which your
superior European would sometimes frown and more often smile? He
has been trained by a long spell of comparatively pure government;
while the Armenians have been a subject race for over nine centuries,
are honeycombed with the little vices inherent in such a status,
and are quite unused and as yet unfit to govern themselves.

So the old Armenian nature underwent and is still experiencing a
process of fermentation and change. At the same time it threw off
some of the characteristics which had been hitherto among the most
pronounced. Rashness and contempt for calculation took the place of
the old qualities of servility and time-serving. In the domain of the
community these discarded qualities were represented by individuals
and by a party. The watchword of this party has been submission to the
powers that are, and the solid argument which underlies the counsels
of those who inspire it is based upon the apparent hopelessness
of resistance and the tragic failures which such resistance has
already involved. But the sympathy of the impartial spectator can
scarcely be enlisted on their side, even if his judgment incline
to their views. They are not the new Armenians, chastened by sorrow
and sobered by reflection, but, for the most part, the very dregs of
the old. Their leader in Van is the bishop of Lim, commonly known as
Bishop Poghos. This prelate has long been resident in the city. His
talents have been employed to counteract the influence of the present
Katholikos; and he has stood at the head of his opponents. When
Khrimean departed from his see he named Bishop Poghos his vekil
or deputy, it would seem in the hope of promoting peace. But the
inhabitants do not appear to have favoured this solution, and the
bishop has not held the office for the last several years. He did me
the honour of coming to see me--a man of great bulk of body and in
advanced years. His features are of the blunt order characteristic
of so many Armenians; and one might doubt whether he could ever have
understood the personality of such a man as Khrimean.

Such, perhaps, is not an unfair analysis of society at Van and
of the transformation which the principal elements have been
undergoing. Several massacres of the Armenians have done less to
exasperate them than the importation of Russian methods into their
daily life. The place swarms with secret police. Should a Mussulman
harbour a grudge against an Armenian, he endeavours to excite the
suspicions of one of these agents; the house is entered and searched
from roof to cellar. Perhaps some harmless effusion of patriotic
sentiment is found in the desk of a son of the house, a student. The
poem is seized and the youth thrown into prison. Arms are said to
be concealed, and a pistol may be discovered. The whole family is at
once rendered suspect. One might multiply these instances almost to
any extent; but my object is not to excite resentment against the
Turkish authorities, only to show the folly of their procedure. If
they would only return to their old traditions and try to govern less,
the situation would be immensely improved.

I feel sure that such counsel would be appreciated and even tendered
by the Pasha if he were consulted by those from whom he takes his
orders. But it would have been in doubtful taste to speak one's mind
out to him, the intercourse between us having been confined to the
courtesy of an exchange of visits. Nor was he the man to enter usefully
into a discussion of the subject. He had come to Van in the pursuit of
his profession of Governor some twenty months ago. A Mussulman Georgian
of good family, whose ancestral estates lie in Russian territory, not
far from the coast of the Black Sea, he could probably lay better claim
to a preference for straight over crooked dealing than to any of the
more special qualities of a statesman. The Mohammedans who emigrate
from the Russian provinces into the dominions of the Sultan are
most often those who are unable to sustain competition with stronger
elements, given fuller economical play under Russian rule. The Vali
of Van, notwithstanding his name and a certain dignity of presence,
could scarcely hope to occupy a position of equal importance in the
empire of the Tsar. I found in him a man of little or no education,
about fifty years of age. Tall and of large frame, his features were
almost handsome, except, perhaps, the mouth. He habitually wore a
smile upon his face. There he would sit in his long, bare room from
morning until evening, sipping coffee with his visitors and puffing
cigarettes. He appeared to encounter all kinds of difficulties in
the vicarious management of his property in Russia; but one could not
doubt that the comely beard would grow white in the Turkish service,
and the groves of Kolchis know him no more.

We spoke of the Kurds and of the redoubtable Hamidiyeh regiments,
of which, he assured me, no less than twenty had been instituted in
his vilayet, including the mountainous region of Hakkiari. He stated
that their horses had already been branded, and that the prescribed
strength of each regiment was from 600 to 700 men. Passing from this
magnificent topic to the sphere of prose and of reality, he lamented
the want of communications in the country, ascribing most of the
troubles of the time to this cause. But when I enquired whether it
would be permissible to organise a service of transport on the lake,
bringing out a steamer or two and the necessary craft, he replied, as
I expected, that one must apply at Constantinople, and that he had no
authority to sanction the possession even of a pleasure launch. He had
himself embarked upon the enterprise of constructing a road to Bitlis
along the southern shore of the lake. But it did not appear to have
yet got further than the village of Artemid, less than a half day's
stage. The Vali called my attention to the peculiar hardness of the
walls in Van, although built of nothing better than mud. They remain
intact for years and years. He also sang the praises of a coal mine,
a short way distant, which he hoped would be exploited some day.

Commerce and industry find in the Armenian population of Van a soil
in which they would flourish to imposing proportions under better
circumstances. The city is not situated upon any artery of through
traffic, and a trade with the Russian provinces can scarcely be said to
exist. The imports from abroad are carried in bullock carts or on the
backs of pack horses by stages of almost endless number. Perhaps the
bulk of them are derived from the port of Trebizond, travelling through
Erzerum. From that provincial capital there are two main tracks,
the one, which is used in summer, by way of Tekman or the plain of
Pasin, passing through Kulli and Melazkert; the other, frequented in
winter, making the detour along the plain of Alashkert and crossing
the Murad at Tutakh. The journey from that township is not without
danger as far as Akantz on Lake Van. The caravans are accompanied by
armed men, and are constantly on the alert against attack by bands of
Kurds. Communications with Persia are conducted principally through
the town of Kotur, and, more rarely, through Bashkala. On the south the
territory of Van is separated by almost impenetrable mountains from the
lowlands of Mesopotamia. But some cotton goods find their way up from
the Mediterranean and through Aleppo and Diarbekr along the passage of
Bitlis and the southern shore of the lake. I was informed of a more
direct route which, after leaving Bashkala, passes by way of Gever,
Shemzinar (Shemdinan?) and Rowanduz to Erbil and so to Baghdad. But
it was represented as encountering considerable natural difficulties
between Shemzinar and Rowanduz.

Native industries, such as the production of various kinds of textiles,
as well as a number of small handicrafts, are necessarily confined
within very humble limits, owing to the poverty of the country. Wages
are low, and the price of bread is apt to become high under a system
of commercial rings which involves the Government officials in the
artificial production of a famine. At the time of my visit wheat
stood at an almost prohibitive figure; yet large quantities of the
cereal were reputed to be stored, and no additional supplies were
encouraged to come in. Many of my readers will be familiar with the
circular wafers, resembling pancakes, which take the place of our
loaves of bread throughout the East. Never very palatable, as I think,
they are really unwholesome, besides being nasty, in the paradise of
Van. They appeared to be compounded of a gritty mud with an admixture
of dough. We endeavoured in vain to procure some white bread; the
bakeries were said to be forbidden to supply such a luxury to any
but the Vali's table. The wretched bakers are a class subject to
constant persecution; the officials have the right and even the duty
of inspection; and this is tantamount to asserting that the bread is
sure to be bad and its producers at their wits' end to squeeze from
the staple the necessary bribes.

Corruption has wormed its way into every department of the
administration. I enquired of a prominent citizen, who impressed me
as a man of parts, and to whose house I was obliged to wade through
mud which lay ankle deep upon the central avenue of the garden town,
whether a municipality were an institution unknown to Van. He replied
that, on the contrary, they possessed an elaborate machinery for the
regulation of municipal affairs. Were Christians excluded from the
body?--By no manner of means.--Then what prevented him and those of
equal calibre with him from attending to such important affairs? The
answer came that those Armenians who served upon the Board were mere
robbers or abettors of robbery. No honest man with a reputation to lose
could consent to co-operate; should he make the endeavour he would
rapidly be edged out. Such is the manner in which the paper reforms
which tickle Europe are in practice transferred to the category of
grave abuses.

There must exist a trace of light in every gloomy picture; and at
Van the ray falls upon a little band of artisans and craftsmen as
well as upon a few of the tradesmen and merchants. These elect are
without exception Armenians. Our money matters were adjusted with a
promptitude and a spirit of honesty which revealed capacities that came
as a surprise after our experiences in Russian territory. Yet there
is here no bank in the proper sense of the term. We were in want of
warm overcoats, and gave a light cape as a model; it was repeated in
a thick cloth imported from European Turkey with a skill which would
not disgrace a West-End tailor. My Van coat has since that day been my
constant companion; no wet has ever penetrated the coarse but cunning
texture, and not a stitch has given way. Work in metal is produced
with a sleight of hand and sureness of eye which are nothing less
than extraordinary. The jewellers bring you objects which, although
fanciful rather than artistic, are little wonders in their way. And
from the background of such brighter memories shine the eyes of the
great Van cats--as large as terriers, with magnificent tails and long
fur, with the gait and fearlessness of dogs.

If you could only forget the shadows or wipe them away like a
picture-restorer, there would not be absent other elements of
light and hope. But a very long vision would be necessary for their
discernment, and senses in other respects keen. For one thing--in
spite of the spies, and all the miserable stories of Armenian brides
carried off by Kurds who go scot-free--a larger atmosphere seems to
surround the immediate political environment, disclosing vistas into
freedom. There is none of that feeling of quite irremovable pressure,
which in the Russian provinces is already sealing the springs of human
activity as a noxious climate sits upon the lungs. Freaks there are,
and wicked freaks on the part of Government; nor does there exist
any security for life and property. Officials and public bodies are
woefully ignorant and hopelessly corrupt. In spite of these real
miseries I should not hesitate to consent to endure them, were the
alternative the lot of an Armenian in Russia. But this is, perhaps, a
purely personal impression which I need not expect my readers to share.

Some acquaintance with the outside world is derived by the citizens as
a result of the immemorial custom among the male Armenian inhabitants
of migrating for a number of years to Constantinople and returning
home when they have amassed a certain competence. Married men leave
their families behind. Visits from Europeans are naturally few and far
between; but two or three political consuls are generally in residence,
and there is a fairly numerous American Mission. The Americans are
under the protection of the British Consul; and it is pleasant to
recognise these two elements working silently and unseen together in
the van of humanity and civilisation. The British Consul deserves a
special measure of esteem and sympathy. He fights the same battles as
the devoted missionaries; but he has no public, however much limited,
to applaud his efforts and stimulate him with their enthusiasm upon
his return home. He corresponds with an Ambassador entirely ignorant
of the local conditions; his reports moulder in the pigeon-holes of an
impalpable Foreign Office; and the least show of zeal is often rewarded
by one of those snubs which your British official, and especially the
younger diplomatists, have a natural talent for inflicting. The quality
lacking to the average Englishman of a heart permeating manners is
possessed in a marked degree by the Americans. Their Mission on the
extreme eastern outskirts of the garden town is an oasis of human
kindliness and light and love. It was presided over by Mr. Greene,
assisted by Mr. Allen and by Dr. Raynolds, who was on leave of absence
at the time of our visit. The lady workers included Dr. Grace Kimball,
with a large medical practice, and Miss Fraser, a young and charming
Canadian lady, who was at the head of a staff of Armenian teachers in
the school for girls attached to the institution. In their society it
was my privilege to spend several pleasant and profitable evenings,
making drafts upon the varied experiences of Dr. Kimball, and realising
what a blank is presented by social life in Mussulman countries,
where freedom of intercourse with women would be regarded as a crime
and where cultured women in the true sense are almost unknown.

I received abundant testimony to the morality of Armenian women,
even under circumstances which may be regarded as distinctly
unfair. Although husbands leave their brides behind when they migrate
to Constantinople, infidelity is uncommon. Were it otherwise, the
fact could scarcely escape the observation of a lady practitioner. It
often happens that a widow, about to marry again, will bring her young
child to the feet of the missionaries, beseeching them to bring it
up and educate it in her place, as their monument--for so she puts
it--before God. But it never occurs that they are offered illegitimate
offspring. For this reason, if for no other, they are disinclined to
believe the aspersions which are usually cast by the authorities upon
the character of Armenian women abducted by the Kurds. A less bright
side of the Armenian character was, they said, their inveterate
treachery towards members of their own race. In this respect, as
well as in the domain of personal chastity, there appears to exist
a rough analogy between the Armenians and the Celtic population of
Ireland. But one must be careful not to press the resemblance too
closely, the two peoples being fundamentally unlike.

The gruesome stories, which we find it difficult to credit in
Europe, of the miseries endured by the inmates of Turkish prisons
were abundantly confirmed upon unimpeachable evidence. The most
ordinary sanitary precautions are neglected, until the cells attain
an unspeakable condition. Mussulmans are often able to obtain certain
relaxations in the rigidity of their confinement. They plead that
it is impossible for them to worship Allah upon floors which are
in this state. Perhaps they will be accorded permission to emerge
for a time into the open air. Christians are seldom favoured with
similar indulgences; and it often happens that an unhappy youth,
immured upon mere suspicion, will be sent home in a dying condition,
suffering from poisoning of the blood.

The American Mission at Van is only one of the many establishments
which have been spread over the face of Asiatic Turkey by the pious
enterprise of the Protestant inhabitants of the New World. It is an
established etiquette between the various Societies of the same faith,
although not necessarily of the same nation, to avoid overlapping
into one another's spheres; and from an early date in the present
century the Americans entered this field and made it their own,
working their way into Asia Minor and thence into Mesopotamia. Their
Society is supported by the Congregational Church of America; and
this particular Mission was founded as late as 1871. Their activities
are practically confined to the Armenian population professing the
Gregorian religion. But I understand that the making of proselytes is
no special or paramount object of the teaching which they dispense. If,
perchance, these lines should reach an American public, I would
venture to entreat the supporters of the Mission to emphasise rather
than to check this wholesome spirit of abnegation among the devoted
men and women who serve their interests so well. The Church is at
the present day the only stable institution which the Armenian people
possess. No Armenian of education--whether priest or layman--doubts
that it is in need of reform. Reform will come from within as the
result of the growing enlightenment which the Church herself is
engaged in propagating under extraordinary difficulties among her
scattered communities. To wean her children from her, while she is
still in the stress of a noble purpose, would be to promote that cruel
spirit which lurks in all religions when they are assailed in their
instincts of maternity from without. Such an endeavour would be at
once in a high degree impolitic, and alien to the highest principles
of Christianity--mutual tolerance, humility, love.

The circumstances are not the same as when Luther reared the standard
of rebellion; nor are Americans sons of the Armenian Church. Their
true mission is to compose rather than to accentuate the internal
differences which the strong wine of their personality can scarcely
fail to elicit among the congregations with whom they are brought in
touch. The Armenians are scarcely less Protestant than themselves
in their attitude towards the Church of Rome. I should hesitate to
expound such arguments in a manner so didactic were I not convinced
that they are recognised in their full force by the thinking minds
who influence the aims of the Mission. Throughout the extensive field
which is worked from this centre only seventy-five adults have been
received into the Protestant Church. But the standard of wholesome
living has been incalculably raised both in the material and in the
moral sphere. The sick receive skilled treatment; schools are opened
in the most needy villages; the alms of Europe, as well as of America,
are distributed among the necessitous poor. The effect of a massacre
is somewhat softened by the institution of numerous orphanages. Such
are some of the results of over twenty years of labour, upon which
the Society may look back with unmixed pride. In the eyes of the
traveller they are likely to outvalue the long roll of converts which
some of the constituents of the Mission might desire to possess. There
is always a certain element of selfishness in proselytism which is
peculiarly repugnant to the ordinary visitor to distant lands.

The healthy absence or subordination of such an element among the
Americans has contributed in no small measure to their success. The
missionaries live on good terms with the Armenian clergy, and are
sometimes invited to preach in their churches. They are loud in their
praise of the tolerance of the Armenian hierarchy. They assured me
that no attempt is made in their schools to convert the pupils from
their ancestral religion. An early opportunity was afforded me of
visiting these schools. They are two in number, one in the gardens
and the other in the walled city. To both are attached companion
institutions for girls. The school in the gardens was attended by
110 boys and 115 girls. That in the city had only a third of this
number. The better-to-do among the people pay a small yearly fee,
ranging, according to the standard of education which they may
be receiving, from 15 to 60 piastres. [103] The highest class are
expected to pay the last-named sum. Boys enter the school at seven
years of age, and some remain as late as their sixteenth year or even
into their eighteenth. The course consists of primary, intermediary
and high-school classes; and to each class it would be usual to
devote three years. The curriculum of the highest class consists
of English and French among foreign languages, algebra and geometry
in the domain of mathematics, and physics and physiology in that of
natural science. History is taught under certain drawbacks. I saw a
copy of Xenophon's Anabasis which had been abstracted from the trunk
of a teacher, and in which the name of Armenia had been erased with
a penknife from the map!

Indeed, one of the greatest difficulties under which they labour within
recent years consists in the enforced mimicry of Russian methods by
the little Turkish officials. Their books are stopped on the road
or sent back. Restrictions are placed upon the choice of books; and
both Milton and Shakespeare are suspect. The Bible comes through;
and a very handsome Bible it is, printed by the Society in modern
Armenian. They sell it for a small sum. The Armenian clergy prefer
the old, classical Bible, which, however, few of their flock quite
understand. The enterprise of the missionaries has also produced
a Testament in the Kurdish language, which they dispense to those
Armenians living in the recesses of the peripheral region who have
forgotten their native tongue.

Mr. Greene was of opinion that the sons of parents who possess some
education are not inferior in natural abilities to the average American
boy. In the English class I listened to some very fair reading,
certainly as good as in the Russian seminary at Erivan. Some very
practical theses were expounded; why, for instance, should one sleep
in a bed and not on the floor? For four reasons: a floor is cold,
dirt collects upon the floor, gases hang to the floor, damp affects
the floor. There can be little doubt that the Armenian schools are
greatly benefited by competition with the less fashionable American
institutions. They at least receive a certain stimulus and some new
ideas. This is notably the case in respect of their schools for girls,
which owe their development to the American example.

During the course of our stay in Van I visited every school both in the
city and the garden town. In no better and surer way is the traveller
enabled to gauge the attainments of the community among whom he
sojourns. The Armenians possess no less than eleven such institutions,
each dispensing both primary and secondary education, and counting as
many as 2180 pupils in all, of whom about 800 are girls. The majority,
namely six, are purely ecclesiastical foundations, that is to say, they
are attached to the churches and largely supported by Church funds. But
four are owned and managed by private individuals, attracting to them
the children of the wealthier parents. The single remaining unit is
contributed by a school for girls which is due to the munificence of a
wealthy Russian Armenian, the late M. Sanasarean. It has received the
name of Sandukhtean. In numbers it is surpassed by the Church school
of Hankusner, which has a roll of 250 maidens. These attend in the
private residence of the present Katholikos, the author and patron
of the college. The four private schools number about 400 scholars,
of whom over 100 are of the female sex. All these schools, with the
single exception of Yisusean, are situated among the gardens. This
last, of which the name signifies that it is dedicated to Jesus,
is attached to the ancient churches of Tiramayr and Surb Paulos in
the walled city and close to the foot of the rock. [104]

The ecclesiastical schools are housed in buildings adjoining
the several churches to which they are attached. But they do not
necessarily bear the same name as the church. Coming from Russia,
it is curious to hear the loud grumblings which are called forth
among the Armenians by their obligation to pay to Government a
tax of two per cent upon their incomes towards the expenses of
education. Government pockets the money but fails to provide a
Christian school. In Russia they do not complain of the imposition
of the corresponding tax, but would be eager to throw away at least
double the amount in consideration of being permitted to retain
and develop their own unassisted schools. What the Armenians would
desire above all things both in Russia and in Turkey is the refund
by Government under certain conditions of the tax levied upon them
for education. Taking into account the efficiency of their schools,
the purely political nature of the opposition they encounter, and
all the peculiar circumstances of the case, one is inclined to come
to the conclusion that both Empires would be well advised to accede
to the wishes of their Armenian subjects upon this point. At least
those wishes are likely to enlist the sympathies of impartial men.

Except for the protection which is afforded in their relations
with Government by the close connection with the ecclesiastical
organisation, the Armenian schools display a detachment from
hierarchical influences which no friend of true education can fail
to admire. The teachers are almost without exception laymen; and
knowledge is allowed to pursue its own salvation. Formerly there
existed in Van an institution for preparing teachers; but it was
closed by Government for political reasons some years ago. Its place
might probably be taken by the Sanasarean college at Erzerum; yet I
only met one master who had been equipped by that wealthy foundation,
and the fact deserves remark. The rest had been chosen from the ranks
of the best-educated citizens; and, in the absence of any other but
a commercial career for young men thus qualified, the teaching staff
attracts a fairly high class. No limits are placed by Government upon
the standard of instruction--the sentence sounds strange; and one
requires to have come from Russia to appreciate the magnanimity of the
concession. But Russian methods have crept in within recent years,
and the private schools have already been regulated. In all schools
gymnastics are rigidly prohibited, on the ground that the boys might
be drilled and might rebel! Such puerilities are balanced on the other
side by the comparative latitude which on the whole the schools enjoy.

Text-books, translated or compiled from European sources, are
supplied by the printing presses of the Mekhitarist order in Venice
and Vienna. I enquired why the Bible had not been issued in modern
Armenian by the organisers of the Church schools. The reply came that
the difference between the ancient and modern tongues was not so
great as between Latin and Italian; and that it was desirable that
Armenians should be familiar with their best literature, written
in the same classical speech. The curriculum comprises, besides the
Armenian language, religion and literature, a fairly thorough study of
the Turkish tongue, both written and spoken. French is also taught;
and two of the masters at Yisusean conversed in fluent French. The
natural science course includes astronomy and physical geography;
while mathematics, anatomy, geography and general history figure in
the routine of one or other of the grades. Leaving out of account
the primary course, most of the schools have a higher as well as
an intermediary grade. In both a pupil remains some three to four
years. He might complete the course in about his sixteenth year. But
the majority are much too poor to be able to remain more than half
this term; and in the school of Arakh, the largest in Van, I counted
only sixteen youths attending classes in the highest grade. Only five
were in the last year. About one-half were competent to contribute
a small payment, the highest sum being a couple of mejidiehs or 40
piastres a year.

The oldest of these schools are Yisusean and Arakh, both founded
nearly fifty years ago. The latter may perhaps serve as a typical
example of the scholastic institutions attached to the churches. Its
proper name is the somewhat cacophonous one of Thargmanchatz, or the
school of the translators--Sahak, Mesrop and their companions. It
is situated in the Arakh quarter of the gardens and in the same
enclosure with the church. You are shown into a reception-room
of moderate proportions with a coarse divan at one end and a few
chairs. Upon the walls are suspended a photograph or two, displaying
the features of well-known ecclesiastics. A single priest and a bevy
of lay teachers will be assembled to do the honours. On the occasion
of our visit there were not less than twenty people present, and we
were addressed in passable English by one of the teachers who had
come from the American school. Coffee was served and cigarettes. No
matter what the subject of conversation might happen to be, a certain
middle-aged and sour-faced individual who sat in a corner would always
insist upon putting in his say. To the remonstrances of his companions
he would retort with much vehemence that his only privilege left in
life was freedom of speech. In that cause he had withered in prison,
from which he had only just been set free, and to which he was likely
soon to return. Then he proceeded to heap curses upon the Turks and
their government, until I was obliged to say that one of us two must
leave the room. As a guest in a Turkish city, it would ill become me
to listen to treason against hospitable and considerate hosts. The
strange thing about this incident was the fact that these teachers
should be willing to harbour such a suspicious character. He did not
belong to the school. The reputation of the place was jeopardised by
his presence. What children--so one reflected--these people are!

The younger pupils in the primary class will be collected in one
vast room, seated on benches or on the floor. They are attired
in nondescript and ragged cotton garments; and few even of the
older scholars are possessed of suits in cloth. A number of smaller
classrooms, with forms and blackboards, are approached from a long
passage. Although the windows are all open, an unpleasant odour
pervades the air; this is a characteristic which we deplored to
our cost in every school at Van. It was evident that not even the
American missionaries had yet succeeded in inculcating personal
cleanliness. Perhaps some of the young people display the Jewish
type--a relic probably of the colony settled in Van by the Arsakid king
and said to have been removed into Persia by Shapur. These are by far
the most favoured. The vast majority, however, have the less pronounced
and more irregular features common among the youth of Europe. But their
eyes are all very dark and very bright, shining like big beads. They
look extremely intelligent. The little girls did not impress me as
being very attractive; though, again, among the older maidens some
beautiful Biblical types may be seen. These betray Semitic blood. The
teachers in the girls' schools were all very plain--broad as galleons,
with round faces, straight hair and crooked eyes; what was wanting
in their busts seemed to have been added below the waist.

Van, at the time of our visit, was the proud possessor of no less
a dignitary than a Director of Public Instruction. Whatever may have
been his full Turkish title, he was always addressed by the less ornate
style of Mudir. By origin he was an Albanian, by religion a Mussulman;
he spoke French well, and impressed me strongly as a zealous and
capable man. It is a pity, and indeed a shame, that such material is
not employed to fill the higher administrative posts. Although the
Turkish schools fell more particularly within his province, to him
was assigned the regulation of the Armenian private schools. They
were constrained to submit their syllabus for his approval, and also
their text-books. Changes or additions to their teaching staff were
subject to the same sanction. I am not quite sure that these rules did
not equally apply to the Church schools; but, however that may have
been, they were in practice mildly enforced. The Turkish scholastic
system, as it is operative in Van, comprises three grades. There is
first the primary; then the secondary, which is termed Rushdiyeh;
and last the college or lycée, called Idadiyeh. Of official primary
schools not one existed prior to the arrival of the Mudir, only
a few months before ourselves. The Mussulmans were in the habit of
sending their children to small schools attached to the mosques. This
practice had only partially been discontinued since the institution
by the new functionary of six primary schools, numbering altogether
some 240 boys. Of these fresh foundations I was only invited to
visit one. Secondary education was dispensed in three institutions
of the Rushdiyeh class to about 350 students in all. The Mudir was
in hopes of opening an Idadiyeh during the following summer; and it
was also his ambition that Christians as well as Mussulmans should
attend the course. The bringing together of the two elements would
certainly work to their mutual advantage; and the experiment might
succeed if it were tried on social and educational grounds, and not
as a political thrust against the Armenian schools.

Of the three secondary institutions only two deserve remark, the
third being apparently in an inchoate state. Both are situated on
the great avenue leading from the walled town and forming the artery
of the gardens. So far as I could ascertain, neither dated more than
a few years back. The spacious buildings in which they are housed,
the fine classrooms, the dress of the pupils--everything contrasts
to their advantage in external matters with the comparative squalor
of the Armenian schools. We did not see a single untidy youth; the
air was sweet, the floors scrupulously clean. Scholars and teachers,
with the exception of a mollah or two, were attired in a distinctive
uniform. Such, indeed, was the case in both institutions; but it
was a more noticeable feature in the more numerously attended of the
two, popularly known as the military school. The Mudir was careful
to explain that it was not in fact a military school; that it so
appeared was due to the circumstance that they had been unable to
obtain good civilian teachers, and had been obliged to have recourse
to the military academy at Constantinople. I was the more inclined to
give implicit credit to this statement after making the acquaintance of
the staff of the purely civilian school. It was evident, however, that
the instructors in the companion establishment had not abandoned any of
their military methods. They wore their uniforms, and all their pupils,
even the youngest, had been drilled. Here again we were introduced to
a copy of Russian institutions; and we might almost have been visiting
the Russian High School at Erivan. The curriculum included the French,
Persian and Arabic languages. The boys had evidently learnt by rote,
but had learned well. They could draw maps of the countries of Europe
on the blackboard. One of their number stood up and answered all
geographical questions with an accuracy which no German boy could
excel. The outline of England was rapidly sketched in from memory;
and, when I enquired the situations of even Greenwich and Gravesend,
they were each assigned their proper place. The population of London
was correctly given. Most of the faces one saw around one were
extremely intelligent; and only in a few instances were those dull,
stupid features conspicuous which are not rare among the settled
Mussulman population. All, without exception, were Mohammedans,
and the majority the sons of officials. Unlike the Armenian boys,
most of whom wear a shapeless cap, every youth had a clean fez with
tassel upon his head. In the evening they would canter off on richly
caparisoned horses; but, to sum up the relative merits of the Armenian
and the Turkish schools, while the first contemplate Knowledge,
the second pursue her image, heedless of the resentment which the
sensitive goddess keeps in store.

While one is walking through the gardens, paying visits to the
various schools, the attention will often be distracted to the very
interesting churches, of a type which I have not seen in any other
Armenian town. It might not be inappropriate to call them log churches,
although the outer walls are built of stone. The oldest is no doubt
that of Haykavank, situated in the quarter of the same name. I was
unable to ascertain its age. But it represents a transition form
from the usual stone edifice to the style of the other four churches
in the gardens, in which the columns of the nave, the roofs and the
interior fittings are exclusively of wood. The exteriors of all are
featureless and plain. In Haykavank the nave is separated from the
aisles by four stone piers as well as by sixteen wooden shafts,
eight on each side. The face of the daïs supporting the altar is
also of stone. Light is thrown upon the interior through three
box-shaped structures in the roof, each containing four windows
(Fig. 128). The shafts are in every church mere trunks of trees with
the bark lopped off them; and at the west end, seen in the background
of my illustration, will always be situated a wooden gallery for
the women. The floors are carpeted. The most attractive of the five
is Norashen, remarkable for its two octagonal domes in wood. The
largest is Arakh, with a length inside of 135 feet and a breadth
of a little over 56 feet. It appears to have been built as late as
1884 on the site of a smaller edifice. Nor is Norashen said to have
been constructed more than about fifty years ago. It is remarkable
that of these five churches of the gardens--the remainder are known
respectively as Hankusner and Yakob--all, with the exception of the
last, are dedicated to the Virgin. The same may be said of two out
of six in the walled town. The fact would seem to point to something
approaching a cult of the Virgin, though plainly not for the reason
for which, according to Voltaire, she was worshipped in old France.

One may be disposed to linger awhile in two of these
churches--Haykavank and Hankusner. The first is filled with the
musty memories of the dark ages, and the second with the vivid
magnetism of a personality which has not yet been removed from our
midst. The ancient stone crosses inlaid into the daïs of Haykavank,
the painted reliefs of angels in the screen of the altar, and a most
barbarous carved panel of the Last Supper are so many survivals of
pure mediævalism. The dingy logs and the rickety boxes in the roof,
through the little windows of which the sweet light falls, are in
harmony with the stiff figures, overlaid with gaudy but faded colours,
which turn towards one from the shrine. From an adjoining apartment
comes the sound of a chant by the choir at practice--a graceless
music, sung through the nose. During a respite from this discord
you hear the tick of an old standard clock; and, moving towards it,
read the name of its English maker years ago--Markwick Markham of
the city of London. It has a companion of its own kind in this same
church. Here they have stood and ticked in company for, I wonder,
how many years! The colleague is by Michael Paieff of Vienna,
and has a song chime, so sweet and clear and pure.... Hankusner,
on the other hand, if devoid of any antiquities, is associated with
a name which should always be honoured in Armenian history, and with
a spirit which calls to the Church to throw off her mediæval fetters
and look into the light of the day. It was in that humble structure
across the river, beneath the cliff of Toprak Kala, that Mekertich
Khrimean was for many years accustomed to address his countrymen,
standing upon the low daïs by the altar beneath the roof of logs. His
humble residence is situated on the Van side of the stream. You knock,
and a man in the garb of a peasant steps forth and holds your reins
as you dismount. Yet he is the nephew of the supreme pontiff of
the Armenians. He informs you that this was the house in which the
Hayrik was born. It is now tenanted by the girls' school. The rooms
are neatly maintained, but their walls of mud are neither plastered
nor papered. That which used to serve as his sleeping apartment
contains a couple of wooden divans, used as seats by day and couches
by night. Two pictures, one in oil and the other a crayon, portray
the familiar face in youth as well as in age. What a handsome type,
with the magnificent features and silky black beard! The remaining
frames, most, no doubt, due to the piety of his relations, display
by the side of Armenian texts the title page of a journal upon which
figures in all his splendour the eagle of Vaspurakan.

It is quite a ride from the heart of the gardens to the walled
city. The central avenue leads through great open spaces some time
before the gate in the east wall is reached. On the left hand,
across the fields, lie the less dense plantations of the quarter
of Shamiram. The main entrance adjoins the rock which supports the
battlements of the citadel, and is called the gate of Tabriz. Extremely
picturesque is the appearance from this side of the precipitous ridge,
with the long serration of the mediæval wall sharply outlined against
the sky, and the ponderous towers crowning the hump of the mass
(Fig. 129). It forms the northern side of the irregular parallelogram
which is described by the walls of the city at its southern base. The
area thus enclosed is of very moderate size, and the central and
southern quarters seem pressed for room. These constitute the busy
portion of the town, containing the bazars and the mosques. The former
are, as usual in the East, thronged with motley figures; and quite a
crowd collected as I set up the camera inside a booth upon which were
spread out a variety of cheap comestibles (Fig. 130). The mosques,
of which there are three besides smaller places of prayer, are not,
I think, worthy of remark. Only two, Kaia Chellaby and Khusrevieh,
are at present frequented by the faithful. The third, Topchi Oglu, in
the more northerly quarter, is now no longer used. Its minaret may be
seen on the right side of my illustration depicting the house of a rich
Armenian in this district (Fig. 127). In addition, there is at least
one mosque in the garden suburb, known as the Hafizieh. Khusrevieh
deserves attention for its cuneiform slab, built into the pavement upon
the threshold of the building. It was swimming in mud when we elbowed
our way towards it through a Friday's assembly of not too friendly
bystanders. I had been informed of the existence of a second tablet,
but could not discover its whereabouts. [105]

But there exists in the city a ruined mosque which mocks these Turkish
edifices and is really a noteworthy example of Arab art. It is strange
that it does not appear to have been mentioned by any traveller. The
Ulu Jami, or great mosque, is situated in the western quarter, under
the precipice of the citadel rock, which is here at its highest, and
of which the sheer escarpments tower into the sky. The rareness and
humility of the adjoining houses permit the view to wander from the
remains of this beautiful building along the face of the upstanding
limestone to the great tablet with the inscription of Xerxes some
little distance east of where you stand. Two great periods of world
history are embodied in these two monuments; and, as we gazed upon
them, the rock and tablet were bathed in the yellow light of evening,
while the mosque was in shade. No one could tell us by whom it had been
constructed, nor when it fell into decay. The pigeons build their nests
in the crannies of the kiln-burnt bricks of which it is composed. In
the centre rises a pillar, seen on the left of my illustration; the
angles are filled with the stalactite architecture dear to the Arabs
(Fig. 131). The clay traceries upon the walls are as hard as stone
and as delicate as ivory (Fig. 132).

The Armenian churches are in general situated in the close vicinity
of the overhanging parapet from which the works of the citadel
frown. Although for the most part of considerable antiquity, none has
any claim to architectural pretensions, such as one might expect in the
capital of the mediæval kingdom of Vaspurakan. Indeed in their original
form they are small and quite plain stone chapels; and the church
proper has probably been added at a much later period, being furnished
with the log pillars and plank boxes in the roof characteristic of
the churches in the gardens. Access to the chapel is gained through an
opening in the daïs at the east end of the church. The entrance will
usually be closed by a door with double folds. In some churches or on
some occasions this door will be thrown open when service is being
held. The priest will then stand with his back to the congregation
upon the step on the threshold of the chapel. On the other hand,
I have also attended when one would scarcely divine the existence
of such an inner sanctuary. The priest performed his functions upon
the daïs of the church before an altar of the usual gaudy order. It
is therefore evident that the uses of the larger building oscillate
between those of a mere pronaos and a church in the proper sense.

These edifices are six in number: Surb Tiramayr (the mother of the
Master, i.e. Jesus Christ), Surb Vardan, Surb Paulos, Surb Neshan
or the token, so called from a relic of the Cross, Surb Sahak,
Surb Tsiranavor. The last is of almost tiny proportions, and is
named after the Virgin with the purple robes. A seventh chapel,
close to Surb Paulos, bears the name of Surb Petros, or St. Peter,
but was severely shaken by an earthquake a few years ago, and has
been partially destroyed to prevent it collapsing. High mud walls,
such as may be seen on the left of the photograph of the house
in Van (Fig. 127), enclose the courts in which the churches are
built. You enter through a low door of great weight after hammering
with a ponderous knocker. The most interesting of all is certainly
Surb Paulos; and the teachers in Yisusean, who accompanied me on my
visit, were inclined to ascribe it to the times of St. Thaddeus. I
see no reason to doubt that certain parts of the chapel date back to
an epoch before the advent of St. Gregory, when Christianity must
have flourished in Vaspurakan. Surb Paulos seems to have served
as a model to the other churches; and the chapel is approached
through the usual pronaos or church proper. The inside dimensions
of the chapel are 57 feet by 27 1/2 feet; and the thickness of the
stone wall on the west side, where it is capable of being measured,
is not less than 7 feet. Of rectangular shape, the disposition of
the interior is not abnormal. You have an apse on the east side,
preceded by a daïs or raised stage in stone; and the roof centres in
a conical dome of great depth and admirable masonry, in which a row of
loophole apertures admit a scanty light. The dome is supported by piers
adhering to the walls. There is not a trace of plaster or ornament in
the place; and the dark hue of the naked stone enhances the gloom. We
observed three blocks which had been built into the walls and were
inscribed with cuneiform characters. But they appeared to have been
hewn without any regard to the inscriptions, which must have suffered
considerable mutilation. Better treatment had evidently befallen a
large inscribed slab which had been used as a lintel or upper stone,
roofing a niche in a recess of the south wall. The arrowhead writing
was well preserved. In this same wall we admired a most beautiful
Armenian cross, carved in bold relief upon a stone panel 5 feet high
and 4 feet broad. We seemed to be able to read a date--409 of the
Armenian era or A.D. 960. My reader is already familiar with these
crosses (Fig. 59, Vol. I. p. 271); but I regret that the light in the
sanctuary was much too dim to enable me to photograph the most artistic
specimen of this form of ornament which I remember to have seen. [106]

The citadel crowns the summit of the isolated ridge which forms the
northern side of the fortified town. This is the famous rock of Van
(Fig. 129). It rises to the height of about 300 feet from level land
on all sides. The ridge is narrow in proportion to its length, and
has a direction a few points north of an east-west line. In shape it
has been compared to the back of a camel, the citadel occupying the
hump. The sides of the mass, which is composed of a limestone so hard
that it resists a knife, are most precipitous on the south. They are
most amenable at the western and eastern extremities. The remains of an
ancient wall with inscriptions of Sarduris the First may be discovered
at the western end. The wall was probably protracted to the lake in the
neighbourhood of the present harbour. There are no houses on the north
side. The ground in that direction is waste or disposed for pasture;
and a little marsh adjoins in one part the base of the rock. We tried
our best, but in vain, to obtain permission to visit the citadel. The
Pasha was powerless and the Commandant obdurate. The majority of
modern travellers have met with the same refusal, due, no doubt, to
a desire to hide the nakedness of the place. The blandishments of
Schulz, as well, perhaps, as the hopes he held out of discovering
treasure, were successful in effecting a temporary breach in the
tradition of official obstinacy. He was admitted within the gate
of the inmost fortress, to find it occupied by a garrison of two
living creatures--an old janissary and a tame bear. Later visitors,
more privileged than ourselves, tell of a few obsolete cannon. The
disappointment which is engendered by the attitude of the authorities
may be appreciated by the fact that the caves of Khorkhor and other
antiquities are included within the fortified area. I have endeavoured
in the accompanying note [107] to offer some description of them,
largely at second hand. The general impression which we may receive
is that the ancient works upon the ridge belie the hopes excited
by the account contained in the pages of Moses of Khorene. They do
not amount to much more than a few groups of chambers excavated in
the rock. The purpose which these caves served was almost certainly
that of tombs; though they may also have been used as refuges in
time of war. It must, however, be remembered that all the ancient
structures upon the rock have long since been destroyed. The same
fate has befallen even the staircases. Some of the recesses appear
to have been destined to receive bas-reliefs; and if such may have
been the case, these images have been demolished. Yet enough remains,
especially the elegant characters of the many inscriptions, to fill
the mind with admiration of that old race and vanished culture. They
were certainly not lacking in the instincts of imagination; and,
year by year, they must have taken pleasure in gazing out upon the
landscape from the grottos constructed to receive them when they
died. A people of Cyclopean walls, embossed shields and chariots,
they would almost seem to have belonged to the race of giants,
preceding the evolution of fox-like man.

I must not close this chapter and dismiss the memories of the paradise
of Van without bestowing some little space upon the surroundings of
the city, which abundantly justify the Armenian proverb. The governing
feature of the nearer landscape is the lofty parapet of Mount Varag,
distant from the citadel some eight miles in an easterly direction
and nearly ten miles from the margin of the lake. The plain rises
gradually beyond the limits of field and garden to meet and mingle
with those slopes. Spurs connect the mountain with the irregular hill
mass on the north of the suburbs, which in its totality appears to be
known under the name of Zemzem Dagh. Like Varag itself, these hills
are composed of a hard limestone; and their south-westerly extremity
is signalised by a very bold, detached crag, standing forth like a
sentinel (Fig. 133, and see the plan). This portion of the mass is
known as Ak Köpri, which means in Turkish "the white bridge." That
is the name of a straggling quarter, inhabited by Mussulmans, on the
north side of the little river and close to the crag. [108]

The stream itself is also called Ak Köpri; and, coming from Van
gardens, we crossed it by a little bridge. Standing close to the crag,
which we reached after a short ride, the view ranged widely in all
directions except that of the cliffs at our back. Looking west and
south we had the great plain before us, bounded only at an interval of
many miles by low hills circling from Varag into the lake in front
of the distant barrier of the Kurdish mountains. Turning round,
we commanded a view of uncultivated flats, extending several miles
to another line of bare hills ending on the west in a crag, called
Kalajik. The only trace of verdure in that landscape were the gardens
of the village of Shahbagh. But the outlines of the promontories,
the blue lake, the distant fabrics of Nimrud and Sipan, composed into
a picture it would be difficult to forget.

The level ground in the direction of Kalajik forms the first of two
extensions of the plain of Van, properly called. Retracing our steps
for a short distance, we soon turned off in an easterly direction, and
rounded the bluff of Ak Köpri. We found ourselves in the bay of cliffs
which faces Van gardens; and we were soon standing in front of the
great cuneiform inscription, which contains such an interesting list of
the gods worshipped by the Vannic people, and of the sacrifices which
were appointed for each god. [109] The tablet is hewn into the rocky
slope of the cliff, about 50 feet above the level and cultivated ground
(Fig. 134). Some 10 feet below it is a shallow cave. Three successive
jambs recess inwards to the face of the tablet from that of the rock,
which has been flattened on either side. The depth of the recess is
4 feet 2 inches. The dimensions of the tablet or polished surface
containing the inscription are a breadth of 6 feet 5 inches and a
height of about 17 feet 6 inches. From a distance the recessed slab
has all the appearance of a door giving access to a grotto behind.

After continuing our direction for no great space we mounted to the
summit of the cliff. It may be some 200 feet high. But the flat top
rises at its southerly extremity to a level of about double that
altitude above the gardens of Van. These are the heights of Toprak
Kala. From a cleft in the mass we opened out the upper valley of
the Ak Köpri Su, the second of the extensions of the plain of Van of
which I have spoken (Fig. 135). The mountain in the background of my
photograph is Varag.

The monastery of Yedi Kilisa, situated on the slopes of that
mountain, is the most frequented of the numerous cloisters in the
neighbourhood; and thither we made our way on a fine November day. The
first snowstorm of the coming winter had raged during the night; and
the snow was lying in spite of a brilliant sun. A ride of some seven
miles along the windings of the track brought us to the door of the
enclosure. We had passed over rising ground, in places furrowed by
the plough, but, except for the oasis of the village and monastery
of Shushantz, entirely devoid of trees. A mere fleck upon the white
canopy of the hills on our right hand had been named to us as the
cloister of Surb Khach. Our Armenian friends in Van were fond of
speaking of these foundations as centres of light and learning in
the older and happier times. They have been scattered with a liberal
hand over this magnificent landscape; yet how they have fallen from
their estate! Two poor monks, who lived on gritty bread and salted
cheese inlaid with herbs, received us at the gate. One was the
abbot, or rather the deputy of the abbot; for that office is still
held by the present Katholikos, the Hayrik or Little Father of the
Armenians. Daniel Vardapet--for so he was addressed--is a type of
the better-educated priest. A delicate man some fifty years of age,
his features were those of a Casaubon. I am afraid his attainments
would not compare with those of that scholar; yet he had the suavity
and the speech of a cultivated man. His assistant was a monk of the
peasant class. Some fifteen youths were housed in the cloister--the
remnant of the school founded there years ago by Khrimean. A cloud of
unusual gloom enveloped the destinies of the ancient place; and one
might doubt whether the gentle Daniel had ever experienced so many
calamities during the thirty-five years which he had passed within
these walls. The most severely felt of all the blows which the Turkish
Government had been raining upon them was the loss of their printing
press. Some short while back the officials appeared and walked off
with the precious instrument, of which the voice had been mute for
many years. They erected it in Van, and, having kidnapped an Armenian
compositor, used it to publish an official gazette. In company with the
Mudir I had happened to pass the building where it was lodged; and my
companion remarked to me that he was looking forward to obtaining some
money for his schools with the proceeds of the sale of the paper. [110]

The site of the monastery is a dip or pass upon the outline of gentle
hills which stretch from the more southerly slopes of the mountain to
confine the plain upon the south (Fig. 136). From its windows only
a vista of the lake is obtained. The church consists of a larger
pronaos with the usual conical dome, communicating on the east by a
richly moulded and spacious doorway with a chapel or sanctuary. [111]
The interior of this chapel recalls features in St. Ripsime at
Edgmiatsin. It has four apses or recesses, one on each wall, separated
from one another by deep niches. The whole is surmounted by a conical
dome (Fig. 137). In the floor of the pronaos are seen three stone slabs
with inscriptions. They cover the remains of King Senekerim, of the
Armenian mediæval dynasty, his queen Khoshkhosh and the Katholikos
Petros. The frame of an altar erected upon the site of these slabs
has been stripped of all its ornaments. This act appears to have been
committed by the Hayrik, and out of anger against Senekerim. [112]
The mild features of Daniel Vardapet contracted as we spoke of that
monarch; and he assured me with some vehemence that he would dig
out his bones and cast them on the rocks were it not for his title
of king of Armenia. The chapel of Yedi Kilisa is most interesting to
the student of architecture, and is no doubt a work of considerable
antiquity. A ruined chapel on the south of the building contains a
much-effaced inscription to the effect that it was constructed by
the lady Khoshkhosh, daughter of Gagik and queen of Senekerim. [113]



CHAPTER V

FROM VAN TO BITLIS


The journey from Van to Bitlis may be performed in four days; it is a
ride of about a hundred miles. But no traveller will desire to omit
a visit to the isle of Akhtamar, which will occupy another day. Nor
is it well to press in haste through a country of such manifold
interest, and along a coast which for beauty of feature and grandeur
of surroundings can scarcely have an equal in the world. It was at Van
that, for the first time since setting foot upon Armenian soil, we had
been introduced to a civilisation in any sense comparable to the scale
and dignity of the landscapes through which we passed; and, although
the monuments of that vanished culture belong to a remote antiquity,
they are well calculated to divert our minds from the contemplation
of the works of Nature, or at least to recall us to a sense of the
power of man. The spirit of that race of iron which held in check the
Assyrians still lingers over the scene of their exploits. You leave
the ancient city with an added element of interest in a country
which was the home of so great a people, and which still retains
the memorial of their sway. But that country was also the centre of
a mediæval kingdom, the contemporary and sometimes the rival of the
dynasty which has left us Ani as an example of their craft and taste;
and, such is the concern of the modern Armenian in the history of his
nation, that long before you will reach Van you will be familiar with
the name and arms of the kingdom of Vaspurakan. [114] It was therefore
with curiosity that we set out upon our journey, and with regret that
we were obliged by the season to narrow the sphere of our wanderings
to the regular stages of our prescribed route to Erzerum. [115]

At a little before noon on the 16th of November we mounted our horses
in the court of the American Mission, whither we had proceeded
to take leave of our friends. We passed by the church of Arakh,
and emerged from the zone of gardens upon the surface of the
bare plain. The usual stoppages in connection with the baggage,
which seldom fails to begin by slipping from the horse's back to
beneath his girth, enabled us to fill our eyes with the vision of
the bay and beauteous city which we might never contemplate again
(Fig. 138). We had purchased two new horses, one for the dragoman
and the other to carry our effects. You require a good animal for
the last of these purposes, who will trot along by himself. But
throughout our journey we experienced the greatest difficulty in
obtaining serviceable beasts at any price. Even at Van my choice was
narrowed by the various ailments of the other candidates to a sturdy
four-year-old who had not known work. This youngster, an iron grey,
was no sooner set at large than he set off at full gallop across
the plain. His career was cut short by the rapid overthrow of his
load, which dragged him panting to the ground. But we trained him to
perfection before reaching the northern capital, and I sold him at
a profit in Trebizond. Worse fortune attended our second purchase,
that of a seasoned horse of milk-white hue. I noticed that he was
limping about an hour out of Van; and, to my surprise, when I came to
examine him closer, he proved to be an ingenious substitute for the
one I had bought. The colour was the same, and also the appearance;
but not the points which had influenced my selection, although they
would not appeal to the dragoman's eye. The knave of an Armenian who
had concluded the sale with me had abstracted his former property
from my stable, and had put in his place this unsound hack. I sent
him back in charge of the zaptieh with a letter to Mr. Devey; but I
do not know whether our Consul ever recovered my stolen steed. He
most kindly sent me on a fine horse of his own, which reached us
safely at Vostan. Such are the tricks of these subtle Armenians,
whom long centuries of oppression have ingrained with every kind of
turpitude. As we rode along this shore, one regretted God's covenant,
that He would be patient with the hopeless race of man. To overwhelm
them in these waters and people afresh the scene of their crimes,
would, it seemed to us, be the kindest and wisest plan.

The weather was delightful--a climate mild as spring, made fresh
by the expanse of sea. The rays of a hot sun flashed through a
crystal-clear atmosphere, which disclosed wide prospects over lake
and land. Fragments of white cloud floated above the outline of
the Kurdish mountains, less gloomy beneath the newly-fallen snows
(Fig. 139). In the west, Nimrud was faithful to its appearance of an
island, separated by a strait from the train of Sipan. But to-day we
could see the walls of the vast crater--a caldron of which the rim
appeared commensurate with the area of the island, rising in a robe
of white from the waves. We were pointing towards the high land in
the direction of Artemid, the southern limit of the spacious plain
of Van. When near the village, we struck a road which the Pasha was
building, with the avowed intention of extending it to Bitlis. Workmen
were busy upon it, and there was quite a stream of little bullock
carts, conveying stones and soil. It follows the margin of the lake,
and the drive along it to Artemid will be a treat such as few cities
can bestow. The castled rock, backed by the fabric of the great volcano
beyond the distant headland of the bay; the noble lake, intensely blue,
expanding to the distant Nimrud, yet plashing tamely with tiny wavelets
on the sand--these are answered in the opposite direction, across the
poplars which hide the village, by the precipitous walls, sharp edges
and deep shadows, characteristic of the stupendous barrier in the
south. Although the distance between Van and Artemid does not exceed
eight miles, it was after two before we arrived. We mounted the side of
the hill ridge which meets the lake at this point in a bold and high
cliff. Gardens decline along the easier levels towards the invisible
margin of the shore. You look across the foliage to the fabric of
Sipan, no longer covered by the horn of the bay (Frontispiece).

Artemid! the Greek name, and the memorials in the neighbourhood of
that early civilisation which is revealed by the inscriptions of Van,
suggest, no less than the striking site, the possibility of further
discoveries, when the place shall have been thoroughly explored. [116]
A hasty examination would have been of small service, and we were
anxious to reach Vostan. So we rode, without halting, through the
straggling settlement, and did not draw rein until we had reached
a point some two miles beyond it, where it was decided to rest our
horses and take lunch. We were still crossing the barrier of hills
which support the gardens of Artemid; our situation was elevated, and
the view superb. We were able to follow on the horizon the outline of
the Ala Dagh, although those mountains were over sixty miles away. They
were loftiest on a bearing a few degrees east of north; and in that
direction there was a fine peak, overtopping the neighbouring summits
which fretted the edge of the long wall of snow-clad heights. A little
further west we could see those heights receding towards the south,
to the passage of the Murad. In the ridges which bordered the gap we
well recognised the outworks which the river pierces between Karakilisa
and Tutakh--the same ridges which, from our standpoint on the slopes of
the Ararat system, had composed a distant parapet, so faintly seen that
we questioned the impression, between the two blocks of mountain on the
southerly margin of the plain of Alashkert. [117] The landscape south
of Ala Dagh was now outspread before us; it was indeed an instructive
view. Whatever eminences broke the expanse were comparatively humble;
a zone of plains or vast steppes would appear to be interposed between
that barrier and the lake of Van. Recalling the prospects about Tutakh,
we arrived at the conclusion that those steppes are continued towards
the west; and subsequent travel established the fact that they extend
from the foot of the plateau of Bingöl Dagh towards the longitude of
Bayazid in the east. The only object which arrested the eye in the
direction of Ala Dagh was a high hill on the southern shore of the
arm of the lake, with a village and gardens at its base. It was said
to be the village of Alur. Ararat was not visible; but for the first
time we discerned land between Sipan and the crater of Nimrud. The
two mountains appeared to be joined by some low hills.

Proceeding at four o'clock, we commenced to descend after half an
hour from the range of hills which we had now crossed. In the plain
before us, bordering the lake, we could see a winding river which our
zaptieh knew under the name of Anguil Su, but which, I believe, is
more correctly spelt Enghil Su (Brant's Anjel Su). It comes from the
territory of Mahmudia, where it is called the Khoshab. [118] But we
had not yet reached the floor of the valley before we were confronted
by a swift stream which, fortunately for us, happened to be spanned by
a bridge. It was the famous Shamiram Su, flowing towards Artemid along
the slopes of the hills. I was informed that it has its source in some
springs about two hours distant, near the village of Upper Mechinkert,
and that a portion of its waters find their way into the Anguil Su
at the neighbouring settlement of Lower Mechinkert. After irrigating
the orchards of Artemid, it pursues its course to the gardens of Van,
in which it is said to become absorbed. [119] There can be no doubt
that it is an artificial conduit; left to itself it would join the
lake at the foot of this plain. My informant attributed to Semiramis
the conducting of it as far as Artemid. We remarked the exceptional
pureness of the current. Soon after crossing it, we reached the right
bank of the Anguil Su at a convenient bridge. The basin proper of
the river may have a width of some two miles, and it is a distance of
three or four miles from the bridge to the lake. Looking up the valley,
we could follow the outline of the Kurdish mountains as they circled
round towards Varag; that ridge itself was concealed by the hills
behind Artemid; but, although the range beyond had diminished in height
after leaving the lake, it was still the same range of bold parapets
and snowy peaks. The most elevated portion lay in the direction of
Akhtamar, where there was a lofty mass, known as Mount Ardos.

The stream, which had a greenish hue, was not more than some thirty
feet wide; a number of rivulets, driving flour-mills, come in on the
left bank. We had left that bank before opening out the village of
Anguil or Enghil; it lies below the bridge, on the further side of the
river, and consists of some sixty or seventy neat houses, inhabited
by Armenians and a few Kurds. On the same shore, about a mile lower
down, is situated the village of Mesgeldek. Some high ground separated
us from the plain of Vostan; but it dies away before reaching the
lake. Gaining the summit of this moderate eminence, we looked across
some flats and marshes to a hillside which projects from the foot of
the mountains, and forms a promontory of the shore. The foliage which
softened the lower slopes of the headland belonged to the gardens of
Vostan. We followed the bay of higher land, and reached the village
of Atanon after over an hour's ride from the Enghil Su. Just beyond
this Armenian settlement the zone of orchards commences; in the plain
below a swift stream flows. An isolated house on its right bank was
indicated to us as the residence of the Kaimakam of Vostan. We reached
this edifice at ten minutes before seven, having covered a distance
from Artemid of about fifteen miles. In the place of the official,
who happened to be absent, we were received with great kindness by his
brother. We were invited to pass the night in the room of audience; and
quilted coverlets, filled with cotton, were spread on takhts or wooden
couches, after the manner of the East. After supper and conversation
we enveloped ourselves in them, and were not long in falling asleep.

When morning came I commenced to explore and realise our
surroundings. Vostan is no town, nor even a village, but is a district
or zone of gardens at the foot of the Kurdish mountains about the
spurs of Mount Ardos. On the east it extends to the village of Atanon,
and on the west to the promontory. The orchards keep to the high
land about the base of the range; between them and the lake there is
an extensive strip of alluvial soil which, in the neighbourhood of
our quarters, had a width of about two miles. I was assured on all
sides that there were four or five hundred houses within the limits
of the district of Vostan; but people get confused when dealing with
an area of this description, and with the dispersed units of which
such a settlement is composed. I doubt whether there could be found
more than half that number. The Armenian families have emigrated;
their room, but not their place, has been filled up, at least in part,
by Kurds. As a natural consequence, it is impossible to obtain the
bare necessaries of a little corn, or a shoe for a horse. A small
church still remains, a memorial of better times, which is said to
have existed for many centuries. We could see its plain four walls
and small conical dome to the east of the Kaimakam's house. We were
told that it is still attended by a priest.

It is only on the neighbouring slope of the bold promontory that
Vostan can be said to assume a concrete existence; and, even there,
the group of buildings which feature the hillside are but the remains
of the ancient town. You see the relics of an old castle, the ruins of
a church, and a mosque where the faithful still pray. On the margin
of the lake, below the headland, a little mausoleum of yellow stone
still rises above the grassy soil. I set out on foot to visit the
site, in the company of the doctor of law for the caza of Kavach. My
companion--a man of middle age and intelligent face--bore the name
of Mustapha Remzi Effendi, and was known as the Hakim. After jumping
many ditches, which often compelled us to deviate, we arrived at the
mausoleum standing among the debris of an ancient cemetery, on rising
ground, at an interval of a few hundred yards from the peaceful waters
of the lake. It is indeed a charming monument, of highly-finished
masonry, fresh and clean as on the day when it was completed. In
shape it is dodecagonal, and it has an inside diameter of 15 feet 8
inches. The surface of the roof of stone--in form a cone with twelve
sides--is relieved by a moulding of geometrical pattern; a sculptured
frieze and a long inscription in Arabic character runs round the walls,
just below the roof. A familiar feature are the niches with stalactite
vaulting; a small doorway, surmounted by a moulding in this character,
gives access to the interior from the side of the lake. The Hakim read
to me an Arabic inscription which is placed above this entrance; it was
translated for me in the following sense. "This mausoleum belongs to
the daughter of the ruler here in Vostan, Sheikh Ibrahim." According
to my companion, the name of the lady was Halimeh. I doubt whether
her remains still repose within the enclosure of this jewel which
is her tomb. The door is gone, and the vault yawns as though it were
unoccupied, except by a heap of rubbish and debris. One admires the
taste of the architect, who refrained from decorating the interior
and left intact the restful influence of the spaces of wall.

From this cemetery we proceeded up the face of the hillside which juts
out from south to north and meets the lake. The remains of the castle
are situated upon the summit; the mosque and the ruins of the church
lie beneath it, upon the middle slopes. The castle has no pretensions
to architectural merit, and very little is left of the church. Some
stones engraved with crosses in the old Armenian fashion could still
be seen in the masonry of the last of these buildings, a mere chapel
rather than a church. But the mosque is an edifice of respectable
proportions, having inside dimensions of 65 feet 7 inches by 64
feet 4 inches. From the outside it is nothing more than four walls
of hewn stone, surmounted by a dome of clay. But when you enter the
spacious chamber the eye is pleased by the vaulted ceilings, and by
the double series of open arches which support the roof. These arches
are three in number in each series, and between each there is a space
of wall veil. In this manner one may say that there are a nave and
two aisles; but these aisles are of greatest length in the opposite
direction to that of the altar, which faces the entrance door. In
fact the arrangement is that usual in a Christian church, except for
the position of the altar. The ceilings are built of plain kiln-burnt
bricks, and neither they nor the walls are decorated in any way. A fine
feature is the dome, in the aisle furthest from the door. The membair,
or pulpit, on the right of the altar is a richly-wrought structure of
wood. An inscription records that it was the gift of Khosrov Pasha,
and that the donor restored the mosque in the year of the Hegira 850
(A.D. 1446). I have almost forgotten to mention that between this
mosque and the castle is placed a little building with three windows,
said to be the tomb of Sheikh Ibrahim.

Who was Sheikh Ibrahim, who was Khosrov Pasha? The answers which I
received to these questions did not go far to dispel my ignorance. The
Hakim called them Arabs, and connected them with the caliphate;
yet he admitted that they were a branch of the family which reigned
in Konieh, that is to say, of the dynasty of Seljuk Turks. To Sheikh
Ibrahim he attributed the foundation of both mosque and church, with
the intention of inducing his Moslem and his Christian subjects to
tolerate and respect each other's creed. He added that the last of
this line of rulers was one Izzeddin Shir Bey.

We returned to the house of the Kaimakam, where I joined the remainder
of my party. All were in the saddle by ten minutes to four o'clock. We
mounted the slope of the hill which forms the promontory, and which we
found to be a spur of Mount Ardos. It is crossed at a point behind,
or on the south of the castle; the ascent is steep and the decline
none too short. Nearing the strip of shore on the opposite side of the
barrier, we were impressed by the outcrops of red granitic rock and
green serpentine, the beds lying side by side. At half-past four we
gained the level, and proceeded at the foot of some hills which are
interposed between the range and the shore. These recede after some
distance, and circle away from the lake, leaving a spacious bay of
low and, in places, marshy ground. On the further horn of the shore
we were shown a group of trees and slowly-rising wreaths of smoke. It
was Akhavank, known to the Turks as Iskele (the port), the residence
on the mainland of the Katholikos of Akhtamar. Although the sand on
the border of the water was rather powdery, we found it better than
the broken ground inland. It was pleasant too to ride by the side of
the crystal water, and look down into the blue depths. Several little
villages could be seen at the foot of the hills; they appeared more
clearly from the lake next day. We reached Akhavank at ten minutes
to six, and I estimate the distance from Vostan at about eight miles.

A two-storeyed white-faced house, an upper room, built out, like
a verandah, with large windows overlooking the lake; stables and
appurtenances of various application--the whole relieved against
a background of poplars and fruit trees--such is Akhavank, the
residence of His Holiness the Katholikos Khachatur (given to the
cross) of Akhtamar. The house was full of people, and the stables of
horses; it so happened that the Kaimakam of Vostan was on a visit,
accompanied by a numerous retinue. The interior of the building was
bare and uncomfortable, rooms and passages alike. Full decadence was
written large on the squalid furniture and cheerless walls. I was
ushered into a long apartment, facing the bay, and composing one
side of the first floor. A fetid smell of garlic, and the want of
ventilation, almost overpowered me. At the further end of the room,
on a Kurdish rug, spread on the floor at the foot of the divan, sat
or squatted a fat priest, attired in a black robe edged with sable,
and wearing the usual black silk cowl of conical form, to which a cross
of dim rose diamonds was attached. His back rested on quite a little
nest of cushions; a few papers and a little bag lay at his side. On
the adjacent couch beside the wall were seated several persons of
various types of physiognomy and styles of dress.

I saluted, and received the salute of the figure on the floor; it was
the Katholikos of Akhtamar. He spoke of his advanced age and growing
infirmities; he was seventy-four years old, and had been possessed
of his dignity for no less than thirty years. His tomb was already
built; nothing remained but to spend the interval and descend into the
grave. This touching sentiment is often used as a becoming pretext
for idleness by better people than Khachatur. But, as he spoke,
the tongue lolled heavily from side to side, and the voice seemed
to struggle with an advanced asthmatic affection. In reply to my
enquiry why he did not reside in the island, I received the answer
that at Akhavank he was in a better position to receive his guests
and satisfy their wants. It is, no doubt, a paying business to keep
such a monastery, provided always that you manage it well. You must
personally superintend the arrangements for the picnic, or others of
lesser station will abstract your clients. You must be careful to keep
well with the Government officials, or pilgrims will be afraid to come.

So the Katholikos of Akhtamar discards his pomp, is seen and eats
with his guests in the same room round the same tray. On this
occasion he was the centre of what was certainly a curious party,
assembled against the evening meal. Servants entered with a circular
platter on which were arrayed the various viands, and placed it
before His Holiness. Requested to seat myself on the right of our
host, I endeavoured, as best I might, to fold my legs beneath my
body on a carpet by his side. Opposite me sat a Kurd, an old man
who was still a giant, with bony hands more than proportionate to
his size. From his sunken cheeks projected the beak of a vulture
between small and deeply-caverned eyes. One of the pupils had almost
entirely disappeared, leaving a patch of red within the hollow of the
contracted eyelid, from which a mucous fluid was discharged over the
parchment skin. Of such a face smiling could scarcely be expected; my
neighbour remained grave, taking his fill of each dish, and fixing me
with his single eye. On my right was the Kaimakam, a little man of no
particular characteristics, wearing a fez and European dress. Although
a Georgian and a relation of the Pasha of Van, you would take him for
a Turk. Towards myself he was profuse of compliments and attentions,
expressing his regret that he had not been present in Vostan to receive
us, and blaming the British Consul for not having written to announce
our stay. An officer of zaptiehs whom I had brought from Vostan with
me--a mad fellow who had lathered his pony by the wildest manoeuvres
as we rode along the sands--and some of the principal attendants of
the Turkish official, completed the company who were privileged to
share the meal of the Katholikos and sit at his pewter tray.

But on that tray my eyes discerned with ill-concealed fright a
spectre invisible to my fellow-guests. The shade of Hunger floated
over the messes of meat and unpalatable vegetables, swimming in oil
or ghee. [120] I could not eat the gritty pancake bread, or the salt
cheese inlaid with pieces of green straw. Nor was I able with success
to emulate the politeness of Julius Cæsar; a sickness came over me
when I tried. The old priest was at liberty to dip his fingers into
my dishes and pick the choicest bits. I could scarcely swallow a few
morsels; but my host was much too stupid to see through the excuses
which I made.

I felt that the cross might have joy of Khachatur, and left his
presence when the dishes had been removed. On my guard against the
prejudice of a bad dinner, I reflected that at Varag the pangs had
been the same; yet what pleasant recollections remained of that visit
and of the companionship of the quiet Daniel Vardapet! I sought out the
steward of His Holiness, and of him enquired for a sleeping-place. Zadò
was the name of this personage; he was an Armenian, but looked like
a Kurd. He was the most influential of the clerical officials,
and certainly smelt the worst. With him came Avò, the trustiest
of his henchmen, proud of his antecedents as crossing-sweeper
in Stambul. We were by them desired to spread our blankets in the
draughty antechamber; but I made them surrender a large, unoccupied
room. We were astonished to find within it a stack of cane-seated
chairs, and puzzled our heads to discover the purpose for which they
were used. Zadò informed us that they were arrayed on great occasions;
but nobody was aware that they were objects of necessity to a European
or even that they had come from Europe to these wilds.

Dawn had not yet broken when the boatmen we had ordered entered our
apartment, and summoned us to avail ourselves of the breeze. In spite
of our entreaties over night, the tea and eggs were not forthcoming;
hungry we went on board the little bark. The sun rose above the horizon
before we put off--a bright and joyous morning, the colours starting
from land and sea, and the still waters of the lake becoming every
moment more transparent and more blue. A light air, moving from the
shore, just ruffled their even surface. The plank was drawn inwards,
the broad square-sail set, and we glided easily away.

The crag of Akhtamar lay before us; behind us the sinuous shore at
the foot of the parapet of the Kurdish range. Who would expect that
these crystal depths should contain such nauseous elements, like a
beautiful but poisonous flower? The water of Lake Van is charged with
chemical matter, and is briny and putrid to the taste. You remark the
absence of fish, and recall the contrast of the teeming inlets of a
Lake Geneva or a Lake Lucerne. Nor are the coasts alive with boats
and the expanse with white-winged vessels; you rarely find a shallop
within the numerous creeks, although at times you may discover quite
a fleet of lateen-sailed craft crossing the broad sheet of sea. They
are manned almost exclusively by Armenian sailors; and when I asked the
eldest among our crew whether there were any of different nationality,
he said that with the exception of about five Kurds, only Armenians
pursued this calling. They are simple, hardy fellows, easy to get
on with; they conduct a small coasting trade. Those who had taken us
from Arjish were at Akhavank when we arrived, and were full of joy,
kissing our hands, to see us again. I had asked them to convey us
to Akhtamar; but they told me it was impossible, as their ship was
loading and, besides, it was not their turn.

The island is distant about two miles from the nearest shore and more
from Akhavank. At its westerly extremity a bold cliff of hard grey
limestone rises to a height of about eighty feet above the waters,
in face of the monastic buildings on the mainland. From this crag
the ground declines towards the east, and affords a level site
for the church and cloister. The bight, where the vessels moor, is
situated on the southern coast, not far from the bluff on the west
(Fig. 140). Within the space of an hour we were nearing the inlet,
and, a little later, stepped ashore.

Besides the cliff and the tiny bay there is not much of Akhtamar;
yet the little church looks small, even among such surroundings,
the work of a jeweller rather than of an architect. In our company
were two young clerics, deputed by His Holiness to escort us, the one
a priest of the peasant type and with the ignorance of a peasant, the
other a deacon who had been educated at Constantinople and who affected
to despise his colleagues and superiors. In spite of his pale face,
this second Khachatur (given to the cross) was not less stupid or
less indolent than the rest. Two more priests were in residence upon
the island; but neither belonged to a higher social or intellectual
grade. None among them knew more about the place and its history
than a few stereotyped words, learnt by heart. Press them further,
and they would burst into an inane giggle, the vardapet of Akhavank
giving the cue.

How one regretted the society of the well-read monks of Edgmiatsin,
from which community and spiritual government this monastery became
dissociated during the religious quarrels of the twelfth century. [121]
We walked to the cloister on the south side of the church; the low mud
wall joins the outer wall of the narthex on the west, and is produced
so as to form a court. There is nothing interesting in the residence
of the monks or in the apartments of the Katholikos. But the edifice
which they face is indeed a remarkable monument and, so far as my
experience extends, unique. Its dimensions are not large: a length of
48 feet 6 inches and a breadth of 38 feet (interior measurements). The
characteristics which impress the eye, accustomed to the beauties of
Armenian architecture, are the height of the composition with its lofty
walls and central tower, and the elaborate mural decorations. As usual,
the effect is marred by the additions of a later age. On the south
side a belfry and portico, giving entrance to the interior, are due
to the misplaced piety of a katholikos of the eighteenth century; and
the same personage contributed the spacious narthex or pronaos which
adjoins the church upon the west. [122] The eye is obliged to remove
these later excrescences before it is enabled to seize the merits of
the design. My reader will recognise the first of these features in
the illustration taken from the south-east (Fig. 141). The companion
picture from the north-west corner exhibits the low narthex coming
forward beyond the side of the church (Fig. 142).

A work of the first quarter of the tenth century is disclosed in all
the freshness of its original appearance. [123] Some of the figures
which project from the walls have suffered partial fracture; but the
rich friezes are almost intact. Beginning at the base, we have first a
broad space of plain masonry, enhancing the value of the sculptures
above, from which it is separated by a band of deeply chiselled
stone. This band, like the friezes, is both continuous round the
building and in emphasised relief. It consists of a spiral geometrical
pattern, representing the vine. Life-size human figures, interspersed
with the forms of animals, compose a series of pictures rather than a
procession, and rest upon the moulding just described. They are also in
relief, and stare out at the visitor with all the naïveté of the early
Middle Ages. Subjects from Bible history succeed one another, varied
by the gaunt figures of Christian saints. Here you remark the colossal
figure of Goliath, armed with club and shield (Fig. 141); there it is
Adam and Eve, standing naked beside the tree of life, and, a little
further, the serpent tempting Eve (Figs. 142 and 143). The treatment
of the human form is primitive and almost barbarous, recalling the
Romanesque. One is impressed with the combination of naturalism, nay of
realism, subdued, and at times checked by hieratic convention. These
sculptures pass over into a restful region of unworked stone, and are
succeeded by a row of heads, the heads of animals and birds, jutting
out at irregular intervals from the face of the building. Above them,
again, you admire the freedom and extraordinary intricacy of the most
elaborate of the friezes. Hunters and wild animals and strange birds
are represented, woven together by branches of vine with clusters
of grapes. Higher still another band is drawn along the eaves of the
roofs, except on the north and south sides of the apse. Rampant animals
are the principal subject; but on the north side of the western arm
you observe a row of human heads. A somewhat similar frieze is seen
below the roofing of the central tower or dome.

It may perhaps be found that this exterior discloses elements which,
blended together, are of high importance to the study of art. The form
of the church, the geometrical ornaments are Byzantine in character;
on the other hand, of all the churches which we visited during our
wanderings none other was decorated with bas-reliefs of human figures
after the manner of this edifice. Such treatment would be repugnant to
the chaster spirit of the architects of Ani, and may denote that the
standard of culture in the southern principality was not so high as
in Shirak. The friezes partake of the nature of those with which we
are already familiar; but they are more daring and much more freely
drawn. They may constitute an important link between the art of the
ancient Assyrians and the art of the Arabs and the Byzantines. Layard,
who visited Akhtamar, has most pertinently drawn our attention to
the resemblance between the principal frieze and the embossed designs
on some bronze dishes which were discovered at Nimrud (banks of the
Tigris); but he has not noticed that the bulls' heads which adorned
the ends of the arms of the king's throne at Nimrud are almost exactly
reproduced in some of the stone ornaments which project from the face
of this church. [124]

I have said that a narthex of later origin adjoins the building upon
the west; it was from that side that we entered the interior. The
façade of this narthex is as bald and plain as its inner walls and
the rude flagstones of the floor. The ceiling is low; in the centre
a shallow vaulting rests upon four arches and piers. It has a length
of 32 feet 11 inches, and a breadth, from north to south, of 36 feet
5 inches. It does not contain an altar, and the only object which you
remark within it is a large block of stone. Our companions informed me
that it is placed over the grave of one Abdul Miseh, a king, as they
supposed, of the Artsruni dynasty. If this block be the same as that
upon which Layard saw some cuneiform characters, their Abdul Miseh
may be a corruption of the name of the great king Menuas, revealed
by the researches of Western scholars. [125]

Four steps lead up from the narthex to the little, undecorated doorway
by which we entered the principal building. The interior may perhaps
be described as consisting of four apses, the whole surmounted by the
lofty dome. A feature are the deep recesses, narrow at the entrance,
which are placed one on either side of each apse, and are seen from
the outside between the arms of the cruciform figure. The apses on the
west and east are deeper than those on the north and south; the most
southerly contains a gallery of which the face is adorned with images,
two heads of bulls and two of rams, the head of an elephant and of
a tiger, carved in full relief out of the stone. In this gallery we
were informed that King Gagik had been wont to pray. The walls had
been adorned by rich frescos; but little of these remained. The apse
on the north communicates with a vaulted chamber and a little chapel,
where is preserved the holy oil.

A cemetery surrounds the church, from the south-east corner to the
north side. Issuing by the portico on the south, we stopped to remark
an ambitious tomb of which the stone was fresh from the chiseller's
tool. On the sides of the recumbent portion were represented the
figures of apostles--a frieze which had probably been copied from some
rude work of the Middle Ages, and which was coloured in gaudy reds and
greens and blues. Upon the upper surface of the slab was engraved a
long inscription, and beneath the inscription the grand emblem of the
double-headed eagle, with cross and mitre, the eagle of Vaspurakan. The
headstone was adorned with the portrait of a katholikos, wearing the
cross of diamonds on his cowl. The features were those of our host;
it was the tomb of Khachatur, into which he had told us that he
was preparing to step. The legend set forth that the grave had been
dedicated on September 12, 1893. Following this announcement, came a
farewell message from His Holiness, conceived in the following terms:--


I approach thee, O fair grave, with a greeting; my secrets to tell
I have no tongue, because they were lost before I came to speak
with thee. The generations of my people I grieve to relinquish; I
Khachatur, given to the Cross, will obey the Cross (es Khachatur i
Khachis ku-pakchim). When I come to thee, all the manifold memories
will have vanished. Whatever I may leave behind me--the holy oils,
the library, the cowl, the stole, the staff--I leave them to serve
as a memory of me for my successors. Lastly I approach my people and
entreat them to be loyal to Sultan Hamid, the illustrious, because
during my whole life I have found help from him and from his high
officers. My soul will be protected by the weekly prayer of my pupils;
pray for me weekly for a while and forget me not.


On the east of the building there is a little chapel, now in
ruins. I was informed by the Katholikos that it is even older than
the church. Returning to the monastic quarters, we asked to be shown
the library, and were ushered into a small, whitewashed room. Five
little shelves, occupying a single side of the apartment, hold all the
manuscripts and books which the monks possess. Neither the vardapet nor
the deacon was conversant with their contents; but the manuscripts, so
far as we were able to examine them, were all concerned with Biblical
subjects. Two stones, engraved with cuneiform inscriptions, are kept in
this room. [126] The treasure was carried off by the Kurds years ago;
[127] but our companions were able to produce several mitres and some
rich embroideries, of which one piece, worked with the device of the
double-headed eagle, appeared to be of considerable age.

After a last look at the remarkable church, with its many faces of
fresh pink sandstone, mottled by the subtle reliefs with light and
shade, our little party retraced its steps to the peaceful harbour,
and embarked on the homeward voyage. The breeze had veered for our
convenience to the opposite direction, and wafted us towards the
mainland. We passed close to the bold crag, and to the tiny islet
which, crowned by the remains of a fort and a diminutive chapel, juts
out from the south-westerly extremity of the sea-girt cliffs. Before us
lay the horn of the bay on the west of Akhavank, and in the foreground,
a second islet, the rock of Arter, which, like its fellow, supports a
little shrine. Sipan was seen in all his majesty, sweeping across the
horizon, until the outline of the base was covered by the outline of
the promontory. From that headland three little barks were stealing
towards us, specks of white on the expanse of blue. In the south
the snows of Ardos streamed with sunlight above horizontal layers
of cloud. I could hear the heavy breathing of my fellow-passengers;
the water eddied softly in our wake.

In the space of about an hour the plank was again lowered and the
stern allowed to graze the sand. The Kaimakam and his retinue were
assembled on the shore--the high officers mentioned in the message on
the tomb. I received their greetings and good wishes, and, promising
to rejoin them, passed with the dragoman to the apartment of the
Katholikos. I found His Holiness seated on the same rug at the foot
of the divan, in the same posture and attired in the same ceremonious
dress as when he had received us the preceding day. The same cowl
with the diamond cross enveloped the forehead, which, judging from
the thick lips, flat nose and little eyes, was better hidden than
revealed. He beckoned his people to withdraw; we were alone with the
Patriarch; Turkish contempt still shrinks from converting the chamber
of a Christian prelate into a permanent lodging for a Kaimakam. So
our host was free to answer the questions which I addressed to him
without fear of being reported by malevolent tongues. He informed
me that his patriarchate was quite independent, both of Edgmiatsin
and of Constantinople. But he was in the habit of consulting with
the Patriarch of Constantinople in respect of such Church matters
in which collaboration was mutually useful. Artemid is the easterly
limit of his spiritual kingdom, and is included within its area. On
the west it comprises a portion of Garchigan, but does not extend as
far as Kindirantz. On the south, the cazas of Mukus and Shatakh are
either its boundaries or contribute constituent districts.

The practice of their religion he assured me was quite free,
emphatically he repeated, "quite free." The political troubles which
convulsed the country were caused by scamps (chapkiner) on the side
of the Armenians, and by bad Kaimakams. I questioned him closely as to
whether, when he was young, the Armenian population was not much more
numerous along this shore. He answered that the country on the south
was at that time inhabited by them in far greater numbers than now;
but there was no perceptible difference along the coast. He admitted,
however, that during his youth there were Armenians residing at Vostan.

At this point in the conversation my host pronounced the name of
Zadò; and forthwith divine fragrance announced the presence of
the major-domo, attentive to the faintest call. Obedient to his
master's behests, he proceeded to unlock a large wooden box, and to
lay out upon the floor a number of tawdry State Orders and Firmans of
investiture. Es Khachatur i Khachis ku-pakchim! Some of these objects
the Katholikos regarded with especial reverence, devoutly pressing them
to his lips. Religion has become a trade with such as this prelate,
and they themselves hotel-keepers and show-mongers. Each pilgrim
leaves the equivalent of double what he costs. Placing a suitable
present in the hands of his Holiness, which he accepted after many
protestations, I took leave of Khachatur for ever.

Resuming our journey at four o'clock, we crossed the high land on the
west of Akhavank, and again descended to a strip of plain, bordering
the shore. On the opposite side of the deep inlet, which was now
disclosed to its furthest recesses, lay the arm of the long promontory
which encloses the landscape in the neighbourhood of Akhtamar. About
halfway in, along that coast, we saw a considerable village, said to
be an Armenian settlement, called Mirabet. [128] Further inland, at the
head of the gulf, is situated the Armenian village of Norkeui; while on
the rising ground, at the extremity of the plain, a little to the east
of Norkeui, the Kurdish hamlet of Sarik receives the torrent of a long
cascade, descending precipitous cliffs. We turned our backs to the lake
and passed between the two last-named settlements, towards an opening
of the hills on the opposite shore. A stream or little river issues
from the cleft and flows towards Norkeui. A single telegraph wire,
taken across the plain, followed us on our left hand. At half-past
five we were in the fork, entering a long and stony valley, with a
main direction from south-east to north-west. It is well watered,
and what soil there is has been rendered productive by artificial
channels. The swirling current swept past us at the foot of a sparse
grove of golden-leaved forest trees. The vista backwards was closed
by the broad-shouldered Ardos, with gleaming snows and precipitous
sides. Our destination was Enzakh, an Armenian hamlet of some dozen
burrows, in a lofty situation at the head of this valley. It was
nearly seven when we arrived, having covered a distance of some
thirteen miles, and attained an elevation of about 6900 feet.

When we issued from our fetid quarters on the following morning
(November 19), a frost lay on the ground. At nine o'clock we were
in the saddle, proceeding in a westerly direction in order to cross
the wall of the valley. It is lofty, and is scaled by a precipitous
path. Before taking the main ascent, we passed by a lonely chapel,
surrounded by a stone enclosure. It is known to the Armenians under
the name of Surb Yakob (or Agop), and to the Kurds under that of
Gubudgokh. The interior consists of a dome, resting on four arches,
and a deep apse. The priest was not forthcoming, having left his
eyrie to purchase bread. It was nearly ten o'clock when we reached
the summit of the ridge at an altitude of about 7600 feet.

Although the ground was flecked with snow in the immediate
neighbourhood of where we stood, the sun had already warmed the
mountain air. We halted for half-an-hour in order to realise our
position. We had come a little south of a westerly course from
Enzakh. Our ridge appeared to be a spur from the barrier in the
south; but it increased in height as it approached the invisible
lake. The mass of rock in that direction was called by our guides Ak
Kul; they knew nothing of Kiepert's Mount Gubudgokh. These heights
compose the promontory on the west of Akhtamar, and, in a country of
railways, would no doubt be pierced by a tunnel. In the east we could
discern the summit of Varag; a succession of ridges lined the west,
pursuing an almost meridional direction, the most distant covered
with snow. Continuing our march at the back of Ak Kul, I counted no
less than six of these parapets, without including those of lesser
significance. They appeared to be inclined a few points towards
the east. I hammered off a fragment of the characteristic strata,
a mica-schist, weathered a pale reddish hue.

For over an hour we were involved in this sea of mountains,
our course being clearly indicated by a line of telegraph posts,
dipping and rising to the troughs and up the crests. But at a quarter
before twelve we emerged from this wild and uninhabited district,
and again overlooked the lake. We were approaching the easterly end
of the beautiful bay of Baghmesheh (garden of oak), and were about to
follow the upper slopes of the lofty block of hills which confine the
narrow respite of the shore. Our present position was about two miles
distant from the calm water, and at a considerable elevation above its
level. We rode for half-an-hour along these slopes, through a bush
of oak which nowhere attains the proportions of trees. A few boats
were moored against the sand, and we could descry a few huts. Zenith
and sea were intensely blue; but grey vapours came floating towards
us, concealing all but the shining summit of Sipan. From the further
extremity of the bay we again saw the isle of Akhtamar, and, behind
it, dimly perceived, the rock of Van.

It cost us little effort to ascend from our track on the hillside
to the summit of the ridge which forms a headland on the west. The
view from that eminence in a westerly direction recalled none of the
landscapes through which we had passed. At our feet lay a plain of
perfectly level surface, enclosed on all sides by hills. On the side
of the lake a line of heights shut out this plain from the shore,
resembling a huge dam. After a descent of half-an-hour we reached
the floor of the formation, which is a little more elevated than the
surface of the lake. Under this eastern wall lies the Armenian hamlet
of Göli, while, on an opposite slope, at the head of the valley into
which the plain narrows, is situated the village of Kindirantz. We
rode for half-an-hour from the first to the last of these settlements,
deviating south of our direct course. I was anxious to visit in his
capital the Kaimakam of Garchigan. For Kindirantz is no less a place
than the seat of government for that caza, although it cannot boast
of more than thirty houses. [129] We arrived before two o'clock,
having completed a distance of some seventeen miles from Enzakh.

The Kaimakam was at his post and delighted to receive us. We found in
him an official who did honour to his country, active and strenuous
in spite of his white hair. He had built himself a house with solid
walls of masonry, a rare luxury in these wilds. It had of course been
erected by Armenian workmen; but he complained of the backwardness and
laziness of the Armenians inhabiting his administrative district. He
told me that it comprised no less than seventy-six villages, of which
only twelve were peopled by that race. But I noted that of the five
settlements in the plain of Kindirantz, three, including his place of
residence, were Armenian. The largest village in his caza was, he said,
Kordikran, inhabited by Kurds. But it was not so well situated for
purposes of administration as Kindirantz. The Kurds in his district
were all settled on the land, and formed the large majority of the
population. They sent recruits to the Nizam or regular army. He
assured me that since his arrival in the country complete security
for life and property prevailed. I have no reason to doubt his word.

Kindirantz must be five or six miles distant from the lake, and the
plain may have a length from north to south of five miles, with an
average breadth of about two miles. A nice stream descends from the
hills in the neighbourhood of the little town. In connection with
this plain I may mention a natural phenomenon which repeats itself
every year. When the snows melt in spring and the torrents rush down
from the mountains, the plain becomes completely submerged. The
line of heights on the side of the lake prevent the egress of the
waters, which attain in places a depth of about ten feet. The flood
ultimately escapes through three principal subterraneous passages,
besides several minor outlets. The water rushes through these natural
tunnels in the dam formed by the cliffs, but it takes a considerable
time for it all to disappear. When the land is again revealed, the
peasants sow their crops, which, in some years, yield an excellent
harvest. But it often happens that they are withered by the fierce
sun of summer, which has already commenced by the time that the lake
has run out. To this cause the Kaimakam attributed the poverty of
the neighbouring villages. I have no doubt that the little stream,
if properly utilised, would go far towards irrigating their lands;
and if a proper tunnel were cut, and reservoirs constructed, the soil
might be made as fertile as any in the world.

We proceeded on our journey at four o'clock, accompanied by the
Kaimakam, who rode a fiery grey horse. His saddle rested on a light
blue cloth, bordered with a yellow fringe; the trappings and bridle
were adorned with yellow tassels. He himself was attired in the civil
dress of Europe, and wore the fez. He could not control his steed,
although a good horseman; the youngster who carried our baggage became
enlivened by the example, and set off at a canter with his load. The
Kaimakam galloped after him; but our colt was in condition, and showed
him his heels until he was arrested at an adjacent village. This
escapade cost us time, and it was nearly half-past five before we had
scaled the heights on the west of the plain. At our feet lay the lake,
about two miles away. It is the peculiar favour of this fascinating
seaboard that, often hidden, it is always new and always fair. Not
a patch of ragged coast disturbs the impression of ideal beauty,
resuming and blending the choicest features of other shores. Our
landscape of this evening embraced the westerly extremities of the
white, unruffled expanse (Fig. 144). The sun was declining beyond the
colossal crater of Nimrud, a true caldron rising from the lake on the
opposite margin. Deep shadows clothed the promontories between our
standpoint and the mountain, among which a bold headland, seen on the
left of my illustration, jutted out in the form of a peninsula. It was
named to us after a neighbouring village, the cape of Vanik. During
my second journey it was found to conceal a small crater. In the
foreground we overlooked the soft foliage of the village of Surb,
with fertile fields and a little bay of U-shaped curve. It caught the
light from the western sky, and reflected the tender tints on the very
threshold of the pale water and gloomy rocks. I was informed that it
is inhabited by Armenians and Moslems. We left it on our right hand
as we descended by a precipitous path.

West of Surb the mountains descend to the immediate border of the
lake, and the track is taken at no great height above the water along
their steep and rocky sides. It follows every bend in the outline of
the shore. This characteristic was new to us, a crowning variety of
the manifold features which rendered memorable our journey along the
coast. As we advanced along this path we opened out the majestic Sipan,
seen from foot to summit in the failing light. Night was closing when
we arrived at a recess in the barrier, harbouring some fine chestnut
trees. There is situated the village of Garzik, with thirty small
tenements, of which twenty are inhabited by Armenians and ten by
Kurds. The Kaimakam had sent forward a horseman, and our arrival was
expected; a stable of unusual loftiness had been prepared. Hay had
been laid on crates, and rugs spread upon this primitive mattress,
destined to be our bed. Our horses rested near us, my colt and the
Kaimakam's show-horse munching peacefully side by side. Our kind
friend of Kindirantz related stories to us, while we watched the
smoke wreathing upwards to the central aperture in the roof of logs.

One of these stories was suggested by a question which I put to him,
whether monogamy was strictly practised by the Christians. He told
me--and his statement was confirmed from Christian sources--that the
possession of several wives was not an infrequent occurrence among
them, in spite of the ban of the Church. Not that the priests were
a model of chastity according to his experience, which agreed with
the conclusion arrived at by a bishop of Rumelia, his friend and
countryman. That prelate had told him that four wives were allotted
to a Mohammedan, one to a Christian and all to a bishop. I asked
whether the Armenians intermarried with the Kurds in a village of mixed
population like Garzik. His answer, which was in the negative, explains
the stories of abduction which make such a show in our Blue-books. A
Kurd sees a pretty Armenian girl of his own village, and, as often
as not, a mutual passion arises between them. The lady is not always
an unwilling victim, as our Armenian friends would lead us to suppose.

We slept soundly in spite of the fleas which made a meal upon us,
and were again in the saddle at a quarter before eight. After taking
leave of the Kaimakam, who returned to Kindirantz, we continued our
journey along the path on the mountain-side. For three-quarters of an
hour we made our way beneath the precipices, until we again emerged
upon a strip of plain. Vanik it is called, after an Armenian village;
it has a depth of about a mile. We crossed it in a quarter of an
hour, and entered a natural passage between a promontory of the lake
and the main range. This passage became a valley of bleak and rugged
aspect, and we did not see the lake again. At half-past nine we left
the telegraph wires, which we had been following for some distance;
they stretched away on our right hand. They are taken by Elmali to
Tadvan and Bitlis by a more northerly and less direct course. The
prospect opened towards the north; we were in face of the mass of
Nimrud, no longer separated by an arm of the sea (Fig. 145). A little
later we arrived upon the banks of a stream which flowed along with
us for some way. We crossed it by a ford near an ancient bridge
of hewn stone which had been allowed to fall into ruin. Pursuing a
westerly course, we passed through a considerable village, inhabited
by settled Kurds. It is called Gotok, and is distinguished by some
caves, adjoining the track, with artificial niches and chambers. It
contains no less than seventy tenements, and is included within the
limits of the vilayet of Bitlis. It seems a prosperous place. Our
stream, which they named Sapor, now flowed off upon our right towards
Lake Van. We ourselves took an almost south-westerly direction, while
our rugged valley became more spacious and more fair. It assumed the
form of a strip of plain, between opposite ridges, stretching away to
snow-clad mountains in the south. It is known as the Güzel Dere, or
beautiful valley; we thought it deserved the name. We met and saluted
a shepherd at the head of his flock; as usual in the neighbourhood
of Bitlis, he was armed with a rifle. At half-past eleven we entered
a side valley, almost at right angles, on a course a little north of
west. We could see our track, climbing the side of a lofty ridge of
mountain at the head of this opening. The Güzel Dere was lost to view,
extending towards the spine of the chain. A ride of a quarter of an
hour brought us to the Armenian village of Sach, situated at the upper
end of this side valley. It is composed of fifty houses and possesses
a church; but its inhabitants are extremely poor. They subsist on
cakes of millet seed, and have little corn or barley, although the
soil in these valleys is extremely rich. When I upbraided them with
their indolence, I received the answer that labour was useless so
long as the peasant was not permitted to enjoy the fruits of his toil.

We halted in this village for three-quarters of an hour, and then
commenced the ascent of the ridge. The pass has an elevation of
about 1900 feet above Lake Van; and one can readily appreciate the
reasons which have influenced traffic to prefer the easier if somewhat
lengthier route by way of Elmali. The actual scaling of the parapet
occupied half-an-hour; patches of snow clung to the rocks about the
summit. It is called the Pass of Bor, from an Armenian village in
the opposite valley. We reached that settlement at three o'clock;
it lies in the watershed of the Tigris, to which a stream flowed
from the further side of the ridge we had crossed, a tributary of
the Bitlis Chai. The people of Bor appeared to us to be on the verge
of starvation; the women had for the most part been reduced to mere
skeletons. It is a place of some size, and I afterwards heard of some
interesting tombstones which were said to belong to this township. This
upper portion of the valley has a breadth of three-quarters of a mile,
and expands as you proceed. We pursued a westerly course, and arrived
at the junction with the road from Tadvan. The telegraph wires are
carried across the heights on the north of the valley, which at this
point are insignificant. We stopped to visit an ancient khan, built
of hewn stone and of considerable size. Beside it is a new bridge,
also of finished masonry, recalling the grand old days. I was informed
that it had been constructed by the present Vali of Bitlis, though,
heaven knows! he has no excuse for such lavishness. The stream
which it crosses and which flows in a deep gorge is spanned by a
less presumptuous structure which might suffice for all ordinary
needs. Further evidence of this childish but truly Oriental habit of
embellishing your capital while your kingdom is quaking about you
was furnished by a metalled road which commences at this point and
puts the traveller in a good mood. After passing a second bridge,
traversing the chasm of a torrent which came towards us on our right
hand, we turned with the valley to a south-westerly direction, which
was maintained for about 1 1/2 miles. We then defiled into the deep
recesses of the network of valleys in which repose the castle and town
of Bitlis. It was after four o'clock, and I estimate the distance from
Garzik at 27 miles. Between Kindirantz and that village we covered
about 9 miles, which gives a total of just under 100 miles from Van.



CHAPTER VI

BITLIS


Not far south of the line of junction of the volcanic plateau west
of Lake Van with the first outworks of the main Taurus range, where
the level spaces of the elevated tableland of Armenia break away to
the crest and trough of Kurdistan, there, within the threshold of
the chain but at the very head of the mountainous country, lies the
picturesque town of Bitlis. Coming from the north, the traveller is
impressed by a change of scene which is at once sudden and complete. In
place of the great plains, divided by irregular mountain masses of
eruptive volcanic origin, he is introduced to the regular sequence
of ridge upon ridge and valley after valley, which are in fact the
steps, or succession of mountain terraces with stratified formation,
leading down to the burning lowlands of Mesopotamia. The clouds no
longer float in tranquil, feathery beds, but sail across the sky,
grazing the peaks. The rivers hiss in the gorges and are white with
foam instead of winding with sluggish current over the flats. The
glare of the open and treeless landscape is succeeded by the gloom
of overhanging parapets; and, while the margin of the streams will
be overgrown by willows and poplars, the forest trees, among which
the walnut and the elm are conspicuous, flourish upon each oasis
of deeper soil. Even the Kurdish shepherds have failed to destroy a
vegetation favoured by moisture and shade.

It is a place of beginning and ending, of ways radiating outwards, of
ways closing in. South of the town the valleys collect together; slope
approaches slope, increasing in acclivity and holding the united waters
as in a vice. About the site itself the walls of mountain recede,
forming an amphitheatre of commanding heights upon the north. Passages
thread their way within the folds of that landscape, following
side valleys of which the pleasant spaces caress the eye until they
are lost to view in a turn of the fold. The sense of imprisonment,
which soon outweighs the romance of a sojourn among the mountains,
is a feeling foreign to the genius of these surroundings. Far rather
is one diverted by the variety of the expanses which preclude the
palling of this essentially alpine scene.

Yet, in spite of the comparative openness of such a situation, you
do not see Bitlis until you are well within her precincts. The body
of the town--the mediæval castle, the minarets and the bazars--lies
in the trough of a deep gorge. The river which threads the valley is
composed by the union of two main streams, the one coming from the
north through a direct passage from the plains of the tableland, the
other from the east, the direction of the Güzel Dere and the road to
Van. The waters meet at some little distance above the settlement, to
bury themselves on a south-westerly course in a ravine or cañon with a
depth of about 100 feet. From either side of the ravine rise the slopes
of the mountains, leaving no great interval of level ground. The road
is taken along the right bank upon the summit of the cliff; and after a
few winds reaches the commencement of the houses. They cluster on the
cliffs on both sides of the stream and mount the first acclivities of
the mountain walls. Of a sudden the valley opens and the river changes
direction, settling down to a southerly course. Two side valleys with
confluent streams enlarge the views. Tier upon tier the flat-roofed
dwellings are terraced up the slopes, and are seen extending into
the recesses of the hills. It will be about a quarter of a mile from
where you reached the first buildings; and still the castle and the
bazars are hidden from sight. It is not until that venerable pile
is already passed that the banks of the river flatten. It grazes the
eastern side of the platform of rock supporting the battlements, and
is soon joined by the tributary to the right bank. These are the most
densely-built quarters. Stone bridges with a single span of arched
masonry present the most charming prospects up the labyrinth of houses
to the castled rock of which the figure is that of a wedge with the
broad side facing south. The water bubbles over the boulders in its
bed, which is not more than thirty or forty feet wide. From its margin
rise the slender stems of willows or poplars. A little lower down the
second tributary rustles in, this one to the left bank. But the river
soon resumes its burrowing and boring tendency, and compels the houses
again to take refuge up the slopes on either side. The expanse narrows
and assumes the form of a single trough in the mountains, threaded
by a thin line of foam. The most comprehensive view of the city may
be obtained from these southern limits, just before the entrance of
the affluent from the east. It forms the subject of my illustration,
which was taken from a position in the Avel Meidan (Fig. 146)--the
quarter in which is situated the American Mission, and where, since
the date of my visit, has been established the British consulate,
the pioneer of the political and commercial intercourse of the states
of the West with this remote Oriental town.

I have endeavoured to portray the principal features in the topography
of Bitlis on the little plan--hastily executed upon the spot--which
accompanies this chapter. [130] The old castle in the well of the
expanse, towards which the valleys converge, suggests the appearance,
when seen from a standpoint on one of the adjacent heights, of a
gigantic starfish. The long feelers of the creature, represented by
the valleys covered with houses, straddle somewhat about its slender
body. Abundance of water and the shade of trees favour the place as a
residence; but these advantages are balanced by the heats which prevail
in summer and by the quantities of snow which collect in winter. The
southern aspect of the site makes it a trap for the fiery sun; while
its elevation of 5200 feet above sea-level enables the snow to lie
during the winter months, when it accumulates to a great depth, as
in a natural reservoir. On the other hand the houses are the best
built in this part of Asia, and their solid walls are almost proof
against extremes of temperature. It is quite a pleasure to observe
their substantial masonry after the habitual rubble or plastered mud
of Eastern dwellings. Here at Bitlis they are composed of blocks of
hewn stone, broken by a layer or two of thick beams, to equalise the
shock in case of earthquake. The walls are double, and the stone is
faced on the side of the interior as well as upon that of the garden
or the street. A layer of mud and rubble is sandwiched between the
two walls. Very little mortar is used to bind the blocks together,
which consist of a yellow lava weathering to a warm grey. This lava is
found in abundance in the troughs of the valleys, having presumably
flooded down them from the volcanic plateau on the north. A quarry
of white marble in the western valley, some three miles distant,
supplies ornamental material. Window glass is brought from Europe and
extensively employed. There are only wanting our open fireplaces and
groups of stone chimneys to complete the resemblance to an English
west-country town. In Bitlis the rooms are warmed most usually by
braziers and more rarely by European stoves.

The importance of the situation can readily be appreciated when we
reflect upon the geographical conditions. The entire section of the
Tauric barrier between the Great Zab on the east and this valley of
the Bitlis Su upon the west is composed of quite a network of lofty
mountains, extremely difficult to cross. To these natural obstacles,
which have played an important part in the history of these countries,
are added dangers to traffic arising out of the lawlessness of
regions which it has never been easy to police. Bitlis commands
the approach to the first important natural passage between the
districts about Lake Van and the Mesopotamian plains. The avenue
of communication is taken down the valley of the Bitlis Su, and,
crossing thence into that of the Keser Su, to the town of Sert, a
distance of about forty miles. Although this route has not as yet
been rendered passable to wheeled traffic, it is well adapted to
caravans. At Sert you are already upon the fringe of the lowlands
and in a different climate. On your one hand lies Diarbekr, with
its ready access to the Mediterranean, and on the other Mosul, upon
the navigable waterway of the Tigris, whence in any other country
but Asiatic Turkey a service of first-rate steamers would afford
quick access to the Persian Gulf. West of Bitlis there are several
passages, the routes converging upon Diarbekr; but they are for the
most part less accessible to the great plains of the tableland. It
is therefore towards this avenue that the traffic is directed between
widely distant centres of the plateau country and Aleppo or Baghdad.

It is not so very long ago that this door between highlands and
lowlands was in the keeping of a line of Kurdish princes. The Merchant
in Persia, who travelled in the early portion of the sixteenth
century, describes Bitlis as a town of no great size, ruled by a
Kurd in only nominal allegiance to the Shah of Persia, and named in
the peculiar jargon of these early adventurers Sarasbec. The castle,
with its spacious area, high walls, turrets and towers, was occupied
by this petty feudal sovereign. [131] A century later the Bey of
Bitlis impressed Tavernier with his show of power; he could place in
the field no less than 20,000 to 25,000 horsemen besides a quantity of
good infantry. He resided in the castle, approached by three successive
drawbridges; and his private apartments were situated in the last and
smallest of three courts through which the visitor made his way on foot
to audience. The Bey acknowledged neither the Sultan of Turkey nor the
Shah of Persia, and was courted by both on account of the strategical
value of his city, barring the communications between Aleppo and
Tabriz. [132] When the Jesuits founded a mission in Bitlis in the year
1685 they were kindly received by the ruling Bey. But that prince was
in nominal subjection to the Sultan, each successive ruler paying to
the Porte a small present as a matter of form upon the occasion of his
accession. [133] In the eighteenth century the padre Maurizio Garzoni,
who sojourned for eighteen years among the Kurds in the interests
of the Propaganda at Rome, speaks of the dynasty of Bitlis as one
of the five considerable principalities which divided between them
the Kurdistan of his day. The remainder were respectively located at
Jezireh, Amadia, Julamerik and Sulimanieh. [134] The last of this old
order of princes at Bitlis was a man of many-sided and remarkable
character, whose romantic history one peruses with breathless
excitement in the dry reports and correspondence of Consul Brant,
the eye and ear of the famous Stratford Canning. His name was Sherif
Bey; and he built a fortified palace on the heights which confine the
valley on the east. The site of his residence I have indicated on the
plan, although it has long ago been razed to the ground. After a life
of chequered fortune and fox-like resistance to the Turkish power he
was finally overwhelmed by the operations of Reshid Pasha and taken
a prisoner to Constantinople in 1849. It appears to have been this
prince who first deserted the ancient castle, which has now fallen
into complete ruin. Since his overthrow Bitlis has been governed by a
Turkish pasha, and it forms the capital of a vilayet bearing its name.

The derivation of that name does not appear to be known, although it
was prevalent in the time of the Arab geographers. [135]

The place seems to have borne the earlier appellation of Baghesh,
and to have belonged to the Armenian province of Beznuni. [136]
Local tradition ascribes the origin of the castle to the campaigns of
Alexander--a persistent belief which has no foundation upon any known
facts. A laughable story is gravely related in this connection. The
King of Macedon was impressed by the advantages of the site as
he journeyed past it at the head of his army. Detaching one of
his generals who was called Lais, or Lis, he ordered him to erect
a stronghold at the junction of the two streams and to endeavour
to complete it against the return of the royal forces. The general
executed these commands to the very letter; and when the King retraced
his steps to the valley which had excited his admiration, he found
it defended against his entry by a formidable fortress. After in vain
employing all the arts known to the besiegers of his day, he contrived
to possess himself of the person of his revolted subject. When that
rebel was introduced to the royal presence, he defended his action
against the vehement reproaches of his master in the following brief
speech. "My lord ordered me to build him a strong castle, the strongest
which should yet have been constructed. How could I better convince my
lord of the obedience of his servant than by successfully resisting
in that castle the greatest warrior of the world?" Alexander was
pleased by the words, but playfully observed in the Persian language
that Lis was a very naughty man, bad Lis. The epithet adhered to the
name of the general and survives in that of the town to the present
day. This is a good example of an Oriental yarn.

The connection of Bitlis with Alexander is probably apocryphal; but
the number of Greek coins that are dug up and offered for sale to the
traveller argue the extension of the later Hellenic culture into the
recesses of this distant valley. During my stay at Akhlat in the course
of my second journey several of these pieces in silver, derived from
Bitlis and the neighbourhood, were brought into my tent. One of them, a
coin of Antiochus the Sixth of Syria, lies before me as I write. Greek
inscriptions, perhaps of the Roman period, are said to be forthcoming
in the vicinity. But such hearsay should be received with considerable
caution; and the same remark will apply to the statement made to Shiel
by an aged native that there had existed an inscription on the wall
of the castle ascribing its foundation to a date 300 years before
the prophet Mohammed. [137] The Arabic writings seen on the ruins,
but unfortunately not copied or translated by modern travellers,
have most likely, almost without exception, disappeared.

The population of the town appears to have increased during the
present century. In 1814 it was believed to consist of not more than
12,000 souls, one-half Mussulman, and the remainder Armenian. [138]
Brant computed the number of families in 1838 at 3000, or from
15,000 to 18,000 souls. Of these, two-thirds were Mussulman, and
one-third Armenian, besides 50 families belonging to the Jacobite
persuasion. [139] In 1868 Consul Taylor speaks of 4000 families,
of which 1500 were Christian, that is to say Armenian. [140] At the
time of my visit the population of the town probably amounted to
close on 30,000 souls, 10,000 Armenians, 300 Syrians or Jacobites,
and the rest Mussulman Kurd. The official figures for the town and
caza, comprising Tadvan and the head of Mush plain, showed a total of
just over 44,000 inhabitants, including about 15,500 Armenians. If we
would equalise the number of the females to that of the males, 15 per
cent must be added to these figures. [141] Bitlis owes its somewhat
flourishing state mainly to its position as a provincial centre; but
it does a trade in gall-nuts and gum, collected in the surrounding
country, as well as in loupes or whorls found on the trunks of the
walnut trees and exported to France for veneering purposes. The nuts
of these trees furnish an oil which is also marketable, and madder
root is found in the district and used for dyeing purposes. From the
leaves of the oak and other trees, the villagers in the neighbourhood
collect manna -- an old-world practice still in vogue in Kurdistan.


I would now invite my reader to accompany me in a ride through the
town. Our starting-point will be a fine house on the heights of Bash
Mahalla, immediately adjoining the road from Van. A stone bridge
crosses the road from the precincts of the mansion to the dwelling
of the ladies of the family, surrounded by a pleasant garden. The
best rooms of the salamlik or larger residence had been placed at
our disposal by one of the notables of Bitlis, by name Shemseddin
Bey. Adjoining this quarter are the open spaces of the Gök Meidan,
where you may admire an old medresseh, now used as a military store--a
fine square building in hewn stone with four turrets at the corners,
and a rich façade in the Arab style on the south side. The place is
overgrown with weeds. Ancient elm trees spread their shade over the
ruins of a mosque not many feet away. Adjacent is a cemetery with
numerous headstones and two considerable mausolea. In this same
district, not far from the residence of the Pasha, is situated the
small mosque called Meidan Jamisi. A mollah dispenses instruction to
some twenty little boys in a small den of a room close by. Descending
the cliff-side to the main valley by a paved way, we pass the little
mosque of Dort Sanduk, and the Armenian church of Karmirak. The latter,
although presided over by the bishop of Bitlis, is an unpretentious
building of four plain stone walls, with two rows of three stone
pillars in the interior and crowned by a small dome. The bishop--poor
fellow--will probably be in prison; that was his residence on the
occasion of our sojourn. Attached to the church is a school with
four teachers and over a hundred pupils, who certainly impressed us
as better-to-do than at Van. Quite a number were wearing cloth clothes.

The prison, full of Armenians, frowns out from the edge of the
cliff. We make our way down the trough of the valley and past the
castle. It is nothing better than a shell, the inner structures
having fallen in or yielded their masonry to serve as material for
other buildings. On an eminence, overlooking the pile, is placed
the Turkish High School or Rushdiyeh, with seventy scholars and four
instructors. Our visit was expected, but no preparations could conceal
the squalor and general decrepitude of the institution. Most of the
pupils were quite small boys. Where was the Mudir or Director of
Public Instruction? It transpired that he too, although a Mussulman,
was in prison. He had been complaining to Constantinople that the
military authorities had turned him out of the building destined
to serve as a High School, and had converted it into a store. The
officers retaliated by locking him up. [142]

The Syrian church is situated in the same quarter--that of Kizil Mejid,
or the red Mejid. Mejid is said to be a proper name. A plain little
whitewashed chapel nestles under the cliff, and here the service
is read in the Syriac language, and a Syriac Bible lies upon the
desk. Not that any of the congregation understand that tongue; they
speak Armenian and are familiar with Turkish. The Bible is expounded to
them in Armenian, which may be said to be their native tongue. When we
reflect that the services of the early Armenian Church were celebrated
in the Syriac or the Greek languages, this transformation in the
old order of things is not without interest. The attendant priest,
a charming man who had come from Diarbekr, seemed half aware of the
irony of the situation. He went so far as to say that the Armenians
had usurped the Syrian religion and then set up a separate Church. But
the differences between the Churches amounts to little more than a
divergence in the preparation of the consecrated bread. The Syrians
use leavened bread. There was sadness in his voice when he related
the fortunes of the Jacobite community. In old days he maintained
that they had been much more numerous; and he believed that the
principal mosque in Bitlis had originally been a Syrian church. Some
had emigrated; the greater number had become Armenians. A Jacobite
marries an Armenian wife whom he leaves a widow; the woman brings up
the children in the Armenian faith. I enquired why the faithful remnant
spoke Armenian to the exclusion of any Syrian dialect. He replied,
"Because this earth is Hayasdan (Armenia)." He added that there were
some 1500 Syrians in the sanjak of Sert, mostly in the districts of
Sert and Shirvan. Their spiritual ruler is the patriarch of Mardin.

The Armenian Catholics are a mere handful among the inhabitants of
Bitlis, amounting to not more than fifteen families, of which only
three or four represent the converts of the former Jesuit Mission,
founded here in 1685. The remainder have become Catholics during
quite recent years. Persecution and schism have dealt hard blows
at the Catholic community. In 1838 they did not number more than
fifty citizens, and their priest had been taken a prisoner by the
Gregorian Armenians and cruelly beaten at the monastery of Surb
Karapet above Mush plain. [143] In the eighties that well-informed
and genial ecclesiastic, Father Rhétoré of Van, speaks of them as the
most neglected and disorganised body in Bitlis, which had dwindled
during the Kupelianist movement and from other causes from thirty
to nine families. [144] The advent of an energetic pastor, who had
studied in the Jesuit college of Beyrut, has infused new life into
the flock. He speaks French fluently, has travelled widely, and is
an accomplished man. A school has been recently opened. The Catholics
of Bitlis have had good reason to resent their treatment at the hands
of the Gregorians; but their spiritual leader displayed an antipathy
towards the Armenians of the national persuasion in which religious
hatred had overcome the bonds of race.

Very different is the attitude of the American Protestant missionaries,
whose flourishing establishment is situated in the Avel Meidan within
the angle formed by the confluence of the stream from the eastern
valley with the main Bitlis river. If their conversions excite
the jealousy of the Gregorian hierarchy, their proselytes display
no tendency to divest themselves of their nationality, but, on the
contrary, remain Armenians to the core. This fact does not increase the
goodwill of the Turkish official classes towards the Americans. Founded
in 1858, their Mission encountered the same opposition on the part
of the Armenian clergy as had formerly been experienced by the
Catholics. It was not until after the lapse of seven years that a
nucleus of five professed Protestants was formed; and, once a start
had been made, progress was rapid. Of late years the labours of
the missionaries have been wisely directed to the extension of their
schools rather than to the propagation of Protestant doctrine. Debarred
from working among the Mussulmans, they have supplied the Armenians
with priceless advantages in the shape of a college in the provincial
capital, and no less than fifteen schools in the smaller towns and
villages comprised within the limits of the vilayet. About one-half
of the attendants are and remain Gregorian. The college dispenses
three grades of education: the High School, the intermediate and
the primary grades. At the time of our visit twenty scholars were
included in the first of these categories, fifty in the second,
and about sixty in the third. There were fifteen boarders living on
the premises. The teachers numbered four, besides the missionaries,
the principal teacher having graduated at the important American
institution in Kharput. Some eighty girls, some of them boarders,
were receiving instruction. Of these the residents were in most
cases inhabitants of Bitlis, parents preferring that their daughters
should avoid passing to and fro in the streets. The majority pay for
their maintenance in kind. They impressed me as being very neat and
clean. The Mission was under the direction of Messrs. G. C. Knapp,
R. M. Cole, and George Knapp--all zealous, experienced, and amiable
men. Their Board have constructed a large church in the quarter, the
community supplying a small portion of the funds. There are about 100
professed Protestants in Bitlis, and about three times this number
of attendants at service. The Protestants of the whole vilayet may
be counted at 1200, including those who have made no public profession.

The valley which stretches eastwards from the quarter of the
missionaries is only sparsely built over. The houses belong to the
Avekh ward. Fields of cabbage occupy a considerable portion of the
level area, which is dotted over by poplars and other trees. At
a distance of about two miles from the confluence of the stream
is situated among lonely surroundings the Armenian monastery of
Astvatsatsin and an adjacent church which belongs to the Jacobite
community. The buildings of the cloister have fallen into ruin, and
are tenanted by a single priest wearing the dress of a peasant and
not distinguishable in other respects from the lowest of the peasant
class. When we alighted at the entrance, a figure stepped forth to
hold our horses, whose full, round face, large eyes and sturdy limbs,
clad in loose trousers, impressed us as belonging to a good-looking
youth. But the shirt, happening to open, displayed the bosom of a
maiden. The church was so little lighted, one could scarcely discern
the architecture; but one may say in general of the monastic churches
on the outskirts of Bitlis that they are well-built stone structures,
with four plain walls on the exterior, unbroken by any projection
on the side of the apse. The interiors display features typical of
Armenian architecture--the lofty dome, supported upon arches rising
from detached pillars, and the stone daïs at the eastern end in front
of the apse upon which the altar is reared. Their peculiarity is a
partiality for Arab stalactite ornament, as seen in the capitals of the
pillars and in the altar pieces. The most remarkable is Surb Joannes,
belonging to the monastery of Amelort in the western valley, or Koms
Mahalla. Other examples are Astvatsatsin, in the village of Koms at the
head of that valley, and the church of the fortified cloister of this
same name among the hills bordering the main stream upon the east. A
track from Van and the Güzel Dere, leaving the village of Bor on the
north, comes in over the hills at the extremity of the eastern valley.

Issuing again from this minor trough and regaining the principal
artery, we may extend our ride to the fortress enclosure of the
monastery last mentioned--a curious receptacle for a sanctuary
dedicated to the mother of Christ (Fig. 147). In spite of its massive
walls, it was rifled by Kurds during the last Russo-Turkish war; and
you may still see the imprints of the large stones which they hurled
at the door communicating with the treasury adjoining the apse of the
church. The ignorant peasant who was priest in charge informed us that
the cloister had been in possession of charms wherewith to raise the
dead to life; with these, too, the marauders had made off. A sheep
was bleating in the yard; his fat tail had been bitten off by a wolf,
while he grazed upon the sward outside. Wolves enter the streets of
the town during winter and have been known to carry away the dogs.

Returning by the right bank of the Bitlis river, we may thread our
way through the crowded bazars. They are nothing better than roofed
passages, narrow and low. An old Khan with a fine doorway in the Arab
style, adorned with the figures of two snarling lions, varies the
monotony of the shabby booths. The Arab façade with inlays of marble
of the Sherifieh mosque adjoins the masonry of the bridge over the
western confluent. We were unable to penetrate within the walls of the
principal mosque, at the foot of the castle; but it did not appear
to offer interesting features. There is a persistent tradition that
several of the mosques in Bitlis were formerly Christian churches. A
question of still greater interest, but which I regret I have failed
to elucidate, attaches to the age of the various edifices. One
cannot help remarking a strong family resemblance between them,
all being markedly under the influence of the Arab style. They are
evidently the outcome of a period or periods of building activity,
which I have been unable to locate in the history of the city.

Not the least interesting among the experiences of a sojourn at Bitlis
will be the excursion to the so-called tunnel of Semiramis. You follow
the course of the river for a distance of some four miles below the
castle along the avenue of communication with Sert. A metalled road has
been constructed for some portion of the way, representing the abortive
attempts to connect the two centres by a carriageable chaussée. It
breaks off within 1 1/2 miles of the tunnel, to be succeeded by
sporadic patches of levelled inclines. These fitful reminders of
the puny civilisation of the present day struggle forward for no
great space into the alpine scene. Limestones on the heights above,
dark lavas in the trough below accompany your course. Mineral springs
well up in abundance along the path. The tunnel is an artificial work,
attributed to the Assyrian queen, which pierces a wall of rock blocking
the narrow valley and completely cutting off the path (Fig. 148). The
barrier has been formed by deposits of lime and other ingredients left
by a spring bubbling in a basin some 150 feet above the track and over
300 feet above the right bank of the river. The water in the pool is
clear as crystal to the eye, but it tastes strongly of iron. Iron rust
reddens portions of the surface of the rock, and is conspicuous on the
huge boulders in the bed of the river, detached by the hissing torrent
from the base of the parapet. The tunnel has a depth of 22 feet and a
height of about 18 feet. It seemed to constitute the only egress from
the gorge. The view from this standpoint, looking down the passage of
the mountains, is in the sternest vein of alpine landscapes (Fig. 149).

Bitlis, like Van, was in the throes of a Reign of Terror when we
were guests within her precincts. The storm was then brewing which
was to burst in the Sasun massacre, the forerunner of the whole
series of butcheries. The town was full of tales relating to a
notorious Armenian conspirator, who not many months ago had been
captured in the Sasun region, some said by treachery and others at
the hands of a Kurd disguised as an Armenian. His name is Damadean,
and he was lodged in the jail at the time of our visit. Sasun is
comprised within a section of the same zone of mountains as those
which rise about the site of Bitlis. In other words, it is a district
of the southern peripheral ranges of the Armenian tableland, and
it lies to the south of the plain and town of Mush. The Armenians
who inhabit it are on terms of subjection to the Kurdish chiefs,
to whom they pay sums fixed by custom for protection against other
Kurdish tribes. Each chief has his own Armenian dependants, who are in
possession of arms. Being a race of mountaineers they are noted for
their courage and stubbornness; and there can be little doubt that
Armenian political agitators, such as Damadean, fixed upon them as
suitable material for a conflagration. The object of these men is to
keep the Armenian cause alive by lighting a flame here and there and
calling: Fire! The cry is taken up in the European press; and when
people run to look there are sure to be some Turkish officials drawn
into the trap and committing abominations. On this occasion the scene
of the trouble had been the village of Talori or Talvorik--the same
village which played a part in the later tragedies. Its inhabitants
earn a livelihood by the primitive exploitation of mines of iron,
and there is sufficient wood in the neighbourhood for smelting
purposes. Damadean had for some time been busy in the district,
and he had endeavoured to effect a coalition between Kurds and
Armenians to resist the levy of taxes for Government. At the same
time the Vali of Bitlis, Tahsin Pasha, happened to be on bad terms
with the authorities at Constantinople. It was said in Bitlis that
he was delighted to be afforded an opportunity of recovering favour
by suppressing a so-called rebellion. The result of these opposite
tendencies was a little piece of warfare, in which Turkish troops,
accompanied by the Vali in person, appeared before Talori. Taxes were
demanded and refused. The villagers, who had fled to a strong place
in the vicinity--where they had already successfully resisted two
tribes of Kurds friendly to the Government--stated to the official
envoy with much reason that they could not afford to pay a double set
of taxes, one to Government and the other to Kurds. If they yielded
to the present demand, was it likely that the chiefs would forego
payment when the Turkish force had turned their backs upon Sasun? The
Vali appears so far to have acted with good sense, that he avoided
bloodshed. He recovered the cattle which had been carried off by his
Kurdish allies and liquidated his claims from the proceeds of their
sale. His services were rewarded by a decoration from Constantinople;
and he was able to pose as the restorer of the authority of Government,
the ringleader being in his hands. These events occurred in the month
of June.

Damadean is a good type of the Armenian revolutionary. He received
a sound education in the school of the Mekhitarists at Venice, and
he is said to speak both the French and the English languages. Some
ten years before our visit he came to Mush as a teacher in one of
the Armenian schools. The real miseries attendant upon the social
and political lot of his countrymen are nowhere more eloquent than
in that remote town. They spoke to the soul of an Armenian who had
tasted the liberties of Europe without succumbing to the vices on the
surface of European life. The actions of such a neophyte are in so far
misguided that they operate upon much too low a plane. They produce
disturbance rather than wholesome change. The despairing usher shook
off the dust of Mush from his feet; and, when he returned after a
protracted absence to pursue his old vocation, the profession was
only a cloak to the designs he had matured in Constantinople as a
petty conspirator and correspondent of European newspapers. When his
plans were sufficiently ripe, he exchanged the dress of his office for
that of a peasant in Sasun; and the disguise enabled him to pass to
and fro between the town and the adjacent mountains in the capacity
of a seller of firewood. Disposing of his logs in the houses of
the principal officials, he had ready access to their confidential
servants. No move was made of which he had not been apprised. His
career was cut short in the doubtful manner already indicated; but
it was not calculated to accomplish abiding results.



CHAPTER VII

FROM BITLIS TO MUSH--MUSH


At twenty minutes past eight o'clock on the morning of the 25th of
November we set out for the neighbouring town of Mush. It is the
capital of a sanjak, or larger administrative division, belonging
to the vilayet of Bitlis. It is situated on the further side of the
wall of mountains which divide the watersheds of the Tigris and the
Euphrates, and at a distance by road from the provincial capital of
rather over fifty miles. You retrace your steps towards the valley
of Bor and the telegraph wires, in order to cross by an easy and
almost imperceptible ascent to the volcanic plateau on the western
side of Lake Van. The lavas from Nimrud, and perhaps from lesser
volcanic fissures near the base of the Kerkür Dagh, have levelled
the inequalities of the ground in this direction, and have risen,
as it were, to the rim of the basin in which the tributaries of the
Tigris have their source. Indeed, as you diverge from the valley on
a northerly course through a side valley or opening in the hills, you
skirt the margin of a shallow stream, an affluent of the Bitlis Chai,
which has its origin on the very lip of the volcanic plateau. We made
our way up the current babbling over the rocks, through a bleak but
comparatively open scene. On our right was an ancient khan in a ruinous
condition, of lesser dimensions than the one on the road from Van to
Bitlis which we had already passed. In its neighbourhood the track
bifurcates, one branch maintaining a northerly direction, and the
other inclining a little eastwards in the direction of Tadvan. Sipan
now came in view on our right front, seen from the summit to the
middle slopes above the outline of the plateau. A little later, we
stood upon the actual floor of this table surface, at an elevation
of 800 feet above the higher quarters of the town of Bitlis.

It was ten o'clock. I called a halt, and took a photograph of the
Kerkür Dagh, which rose in front of us, hiding Nimrud (Fig. 150). You
just obtain a peep of the crater of the giant volcano on the west
of that bold elevation. We could not discover traces of a crater on
Kerkür, which appeared to compose an isolated mass. The level ground
upon which we stood extended in both directions, towards the west and
towards the east; but the configuration of this high land was such
as to conceal completely the waters of Lake Van. We now commenced a
more westerly course, and in another hour had passed the Kerkür Dagh
and were in full face of Nimrud (Fig. 151). The heights of the Kerkür
are seen on the extreme right of my illustration, descending by bold
bastions to the steppe. After a second halt we arrived upon the edge of
the plateau, where it overhangs the great plain of Mush. We had been
walking or trotting along for a space of nearly an hour, excluding
stoppages, from the point at which my first photograph was taken.

The prospect from this position was at once far-reaching and
instructive. On our right hand, a few miles off, rose the caldron of
Nimrud from the table surface upon which we stood. Behind us there was
nothing but the undulating steppe. Our barometers were now sensible
of a slight decline in elevation--a decline of about 350 feet. We
were placed at a level of 5500 feet; abruptly before our eyes the
ground fell away to the head of the plain, 1000 feet below. The
appearance of the plain of Mush recalled our view from the slopes
of Aghri Dagh over the district of Alashkert. Both depressions are
in fact the beds of former lakes, to which the mountains descend
in bold promontories. On that occasion we were overlooking the
breadth of an even area; to-day we were commanding the length. And
what a curious commencement of the plain that feeds the Euphrates,
this colossal dam, 1000 feet in height and several miles across! The
boundaries of the depression are, on the north, the train of Nimrud,
which extends for a short distance towards the west. Further on, the
line is continued by a range of lofty hills, which, as we looked,
extended across the horizon, their summits topped with snow. The
Kurdish chain contributes the southern and continuous barrier. Our
course was indicated by a distant headland of that southern border,
bearing about west-north-west.

The descent to the plain occupied nearly an hour, and it was one
o'clock before we were again on level ground. The first steps of the
declivity led us past a little village, and along a torrent which
contributes its waters to the Euphrates. The name of Morkh is applied
both to the hamlet and to the stream. Looking backward, we observed
a little conical crater on the flank of Nimrud, resembling a boil,
and facing the Kerkür. Eruptive volcanic stones were strewn upon
our path. Lower down we threaded our way through some low bush of
oak. When we reached the head of the plain, a hill mass of no great
height, and evidently of volcanic origin, rose between us and the
descending train of Nimrud. We could see the trees of the Kurdish
village of Norshen, beneath the mountains of the southern border,
and scarcely more than half-a-mile away.

In less than half-an-hour we arrived at a handsome mausoleum, standing
in the midst of an ancient cemetery, and now fallen into a ruinous
state. It was circular in shape. I was not aware at the time of the
existence in this neighbourhood of the spring of which Mr. Ainsworth
speaks. [145] But at Erzerum I learnt that I had passed by it, and was
made acquainted with an interesting theory of its origin. It is said
that a shepherd, pasturing his flocks on the slopes of Nimrud, happened
to lose his staff, which was weighted with a purse, in the waters that
collect in the caldron of that great volcanic mass. A little later the
same staff was found on the bank of the stream which issues from this
well. Such an occurrence is not improbable on a priori grounds. It
is only necessary to recall the connection generally accepted as
subsisting between the pool on the summit of the Little Ararat and
the Sirdar's well in the valley at its feet. While in Erzerum I was
also given a copy of the Arabic inscription on the mausoleum just
described. It records that it is the tomb of a certain emir, Karanlai
Agha, who died in the year of the Hegira 689, or of our era 1290. [146]

Our mid-day stage was the Kurdish village of Gotni, which we reached
at two o'clock. It is situated at the foot of the southern border
range. With the greatest difficulty we obtained some hay for the
horses and a little milk for ourselves. My Swiss had gone in pursuit
of the grey colt with the baggage and provisions, and had ended by
losing his way. He did not appear before we were all very anxious
about him; but the Dutch cheese and white loaves, a present from the
missionaries, were not less relished because they arrived after our
scanty meal. This was the first village inhabited by Mohammedans
in which I was allowed to photograph the women. I obtained this
favour by dint of considerable cajolery and judicious presents to
the elders and to the ladies themselves. But my success cost me dear
during the subsequent journey, and was one of the causes of our bad
treatment at Mush. One of my models was a damsel of no little beauty--a
full-blooded, strapping girl. It was evident that she was the belle
of the whole settlement, and she was certainly an exception and a
contrast to the lank creatures who were her comrades (Fig. 152). [147]
The zaptiehs spoke of the women of Gotni as little addicted to prudery,
and, indeed, as amiable sinners. They told me that in exchange for a
mirror or kerchief, purchased for ten paras in the bazars, they were
in the habit of receiving the supreme favours of these fair ones; and,
once contracted, the alliance could always be resumed. A feature of
the bargain, upon which they did not fail to lay emphasis, was that
their companion provided them with food during their stay.

Proceeding at four o'clock, we arrived in half-an-hour at the
promontory which had been our point of course. We were obliged to
cross the neck of this rocky cape, in order to avoid a marsh. Nor was
the surface of the plain less boggy to which we descended--such is
the neglect or inability on the part of the natives to profit by the
natural advantages so lavishly bestowed. We were obliged to hug the
headlands of the southern barrier for some considerable time. When at
last we struck into the open plain on a more north-westerly course,
the village which was our goal proved to be completely destitute both
of barley and of hay. We were therefore escorted by a peasant to a
neighbouring settlement, in the recesses of the spurs. It consisted
of some thirty miserable tenements, of which ten belonged to Armenian
families and twenty to Kurds. No grain was possessed by this village,
but, after much wrangling, a little barley was produced. This sufficed
to feed the horses, and we decided to spend the night there; the name
of the place was Zirket.

But which of these underground hovels was the least repugnant as
a lodging for the night? The first I entered displayed the flicker
of a fire of dried manure, and was almost filled by the dim forms
of cattle. But I could hear a human cough and the wheezing of sick
people; and, as I advanced, I stumbled upon a prostrate figure. It
was muffled in a ragged shawl, and I could not see the features;
when I touched it on the bare feet it did not move. No better fortune
attended a visit to a neighbouring hut; it was more lofty, but it was
tenanted by a huddled group of women, one of whom was unable to move
from the ground. Returning to my first choice, I ordered the cattle
to be ejected, and the sleeper to be taken to an adjacent stable. We
slept beside our horses and were attacked in force during the night
by a formidable army of minute enemies.

The ride to Mush on the following day occupied four-and-a-half marching
hours. Our average course was a little north of west. The plain in
the neighbourhood of our station was some five to six miles broad,
and villages became both larger and more frequent. The same line
of high hills still composed the northern barrier, and the Kurdish
mountains that on the south. Ice lay upon the puddles during the
early morning, but was soon melted by the sun. The marshes continued
but were less obstructive; they afford food to large flocks of
wild geese. The villages in the plain appeared to be for the most
part Armenian, but some Armenian villages are in part inhabited by
Kurds. [148] We halted for a meal in one of the largest of these,
the Armenian settlement of Khaskeui (Fig. 153). It is a typical
Armenian dwelling-place, resembling a series of ant-hills; but my
illustration does not comprise the knot of venerable trees which
adjoin it, an unwonted landmark in the expanse. In Khaskeui there are
no less than 300 houses and 2 churches, besides ruins of more ancient
sanctuaries. But the school had been closed by order of Government,
and only one per cent of the peasants could read or write. I found the
priest an ignorant man;--poor fellow, he had been lately imprisoned
on a summons for withholding taxes. If only Armenian patriots would
see to the reform of the rural clergy, what an inestimable harvest the
race would reap! The inhabitants of this village were a good example
of Armenian peasantry--such broad shoulders, and massive hips! They
were fairly well-to-do, some in easy circumstances (Fig. 154). One
is impressed by their resolute look.

Khaskeui has an open site on the floor of the spacious plain, while
Mush nestles under the wall of the southern range. Our course was
again directed to one of the headlands of the barrier, bearing about
west-north-west. Proceeding at a rapid trot, we reached our landmark
in three-quarters of an hour, and, after doubling it, turned due
west. We were riding across the fork of one of the deepest and
most spacious of the valleys formed by the spurs descending from
the chain. High up on the hillside above the head of this opening
we admired the position of the famous cloister of Arakelotz Vank--a
walled enclosure surmounted by a conical dome. [149] The windows of
that eyrie must command an immense prospect, for the chain of hills
had declined to less significant proportions on the opposite margin
of the plain. We ourselves could see the shining summit of Sipan
above their long outline. They almost die away at a point about due
north of this position, but are soon succeeded by a still more lofty
and snow-capped range. The valley is dotted with several villages,
and gives issue to a stream called the Arakh. Where we crossed it,
the water was trickling over a stony bed which must have been nearly
a quarter-mile broad. As we closed the view of this valley, we passed
the large Armenian village of Tirkavank, on the side of the hill.

But this recess was no sooner passed than it was succeeded by another
inlet of this coast of hills, backed by snow-clad heights. Scarcely
less spacious and not less fair than the valley of the Arakh, that
of the Garni Chai is enclosed by two protecting promontories, opening
towards the expanse of plain. At the head of the western arm, a rocky
spur projects into the bay at an angle from the promontory. Increasing
in height as it proceeds, it takes the appearance of a rounded
hill, rising isolated from the floor of the valley. Screened by
the headlands from the winds, yet in full possession of the plain,
it is indeed an enviable site. The hill is encircled by tiers of
houses--horizontal lines of flat mud roofs--which lead up the eye,
like steps, to the vaulted summit. In former times a castle rose
from that proud eminence--probably a work of the Armenian Middle
Ages. It has been razed to the ground, and the simple houses usurp
the space once embellished by the city's crown. We were soon within
the precincts of the town of Mush.

It was evident that our arrival had been expected. Groups of people
were collected in the street up which we passed, and were occupying
posts of vantage along the route. I have little doubt that their
interest in us was due to the attitude of the authorities towards
our visit, rather than to curiosity on the part of such semi-animate
individuals to see a European enter their town. The presence of the
chief of the police, attired in a new greatcoat, from the brass buttons
of which flashed the device of the crescent, was alone sufficient
to attract a crowd. He stood in front of his office, facing the main
street, and saluted us gravely as we wound up the steep ascent over
an irregular pavement towards the central bazar. In the foreground
of the picture before our eyes rose a massive minaret with a spacious
gallery; and we admired the rambling design, composed of the admixture
of yellow and brown blocks of stone, which varied the surface of
the circular column of masonry. It belongs to the mosque of Aladdin
Bey. The humble houses straggle down the side valleys, from which the
stalk-like trunks of poplars rise. Looking backwards, the eye rests
upon the green of tobacco fields in the main valley; and we noticed
that the large leaves had already been gathered, leaving the stems
of the plant almost bare. The gaunt sticks were preparing to wither
under the first severe frost. Little foliage remained upon the trees
in the gardens, and the poplars were already stripped of leaves.

The dwellings are constructed of rubble-stone, faced with mud. Some are
whitewashed; but in the case of the greater number lapses of the mud
coating reveal the rudeness of the structure behind. The flagstones in
the bazar were swimming in filth of every description as we picked our
way through the accumulation of heterogeneous objects--bullock carts,
piles of straw, the skins of slaughtered animals with the entrails
gathered up within the skin. The bazar of Mush is a mere aggregate of
miserable open booths, clustering about the base of the minaret. The
richest merchant--an Armenian--owned a stall which was not much larger
than that of a costermonger. In this booth we observed the figure of a
general in blazing uniform, squatted on the boards and gossiping with
the shopman. It was none other than the Commandant of the troops. The
place was crammed with sightseers, clad in red and blue cottons; their
loose shirts, open to the waist, revealed the breasts of the men and
the bosoms of the women, in whom bad diet, unwholesome tenements, and
ceaseless toil had destroyed the graces natural to their sex. It was
painful to see such a collection of miserable human beings; and the
lank features and dishevelled locks of the old women haunted us for
many a day. From the bazar we were escorted to the government house,
in order to be received by the Mutesarrif or chief civil official of
the sanjak of Mush.

A wooden staircase, reeking with filth and scattered with the debris
of the tumble-down edifice, gave access to the first floor. A
vagrant, nondescript crowd thronged the stairs and landing, from
which a thick curtain, drawn aside, allowed us to pass into an inner
apartment. Seated on the divan before us were several figures, to one
of which--a fat old man with a fez and a shabby European coat--we were
introduced as being the Mutesarrif. His coarse features, abnormally
large ears, and the heavy lobes of the wrinkled under-lids of his
dull eyes, prepossessed us against him at first sight. His stomach had
become distended with continual sitting, and the scanty hair upon his
head was quite white. A smart young man, wearing a fez, was seated upon
his left hand, and a mollah with a white turban and dark robes upon his
right. The first was his secretary; and the second--a thin-featured,
little man, who never moved a muscle during the whole interview--was
no less a dignitary than the Mufti of Mush. On either side of this
central group were serried the other notables, members of the Mejlis.

Even the Mutesarrif himself appeared afraid to utter a word. No topic
of conversation would unloose their tongues. Why had we come? What
untowardness would result from our visit?--that was the question buried
in those gloomy souls. I elicited the interesting fact that not one of
them had ever heard of the code of Napoleon. When I mildly remarked
that it was said to be the civil law of Turkey, the Mutesarrif broke
in with the observation that he now remembered to have been told that
there was such a code.

Bystanders eyed us curiously as we issued from this visit, and I quite
expected to be escorted to the jail. We were agreeably surprised to
be conducted to the best house in the place--standing by itself in
a sunny situation overlooking the valley on the east. I expressed a
desire to go to the bath. The answer was that in a couple of hours
it would be at our disposal. When we arrived, there was not a single
soul within the building except a couple of attendants. Incense had
been burnt in the really spacious and comfortable chambers, which
were newly swept and fragrant and clean. We were ministered to by an
Armenian boy of unusual comeliness--the curves about his sash made
it difficult to distinguish him from a girl. When we stepped forth
into the night we were awaited by a muffled policeman, who took us
home and joined in the circle of our visitors until we retired to rest.

The chief commissary of police with the new coat and the brass
buttons--office and uniform modelled on a Russian pattern--had a busy
time during our stay. Happily he was by nature an agreeable man; but
he was fresh from Constantinople. His poor brain had been crammed
with all those irksome regulations which have been spread over the
Russian Empire and a great part of Europe, presumably from a Prussian
source. An Englishman, it is true, should perhaps endure them with
complacency; for does he not owe his wealth and his colonies to
the prevalence of this cancer among his neighbours, and to his own
complete freedom from the disease? Passports were examined at Mush
for the first time since our arrival in Turkey--a country in which
the traditionally liberal treatment of travellers is gradually giving
place to measures of exclusion. My letters of introduction were read
with mingled feelings--disappointment that they rendered necessary
very special and delicate treatment, and relief that they clearly
placed the responsibility for our visit upon officials in a high place.

We were rarely left alone--not even in our own apartment; for we
slept and ate in the principal room of the residence allotted us,
from which it was impossible to exclude the master of the house
and his companions; and the presence of a single visitor was always
accompanied by the entrance of the commissary or his adjutant. One of
the two was never absent from our side. The anxiety of such a novel
charge sat heavily upon both of them; both looked quite worn out by
the time we were ready to depart.

Early on the morning following our arrival we were quite ready to
sally forth; but the lesser official was already astir, and besought
us to postpone our walk until he should have apprised his chief. The
commissary was not long in coming, his toilette half completed; and
no sooner had he saluted us than his sleepy eyes fell on the camera
case, and he enquired what it might contain. A camera! had we received
an iradeh from the Sultan to take photographs of what we saw? All
photography was forbidden unless such a permit were forthcoming. So
we abandoned the camera with good grace.

Well, whither shall we direct our steps? Let it be to the
Rushdiyeh--the Turkish official school. We are informed that the
building is under repair. It is actually in a ruinous condition,
and no such institution really exists. Then to the remains of the
old castle.--There is no such thing as an old castle.--Well, to
the site upon which it stood. The climb through the town is really
quite worth while. The view from the summit of the hill is extremely
pleasing--the bold walls of the valley expanding to the level plain,
the mountainous background soaring upwards and white with snow, and
in the folds of this expanse the little hill of Mush--a mere button
upon which you stand. The neck which connects this eminence with the
arm of the main valley is dotted over with the headstones of deserted
graveyards, seeming from a distance like bleaching bones. You look down
into the glen between the two elevations through which trickles the
Garni Chai. In its lap lies a white edifice which is indicated as the
barrack, and towards its head you admire the form of a second minaret,
resembling its companion in the bazar. The summit of the hill is flat;
and, although the houses rise up to the margin, the platform itself is
still bare. The debris of the old castle are strewn upon the grass,
but not one stone remains upon another. Most have been taken away as
building material.

Let us proceed to the school of the Armenian Catholics.--Yes,
certainly, if such be our desire.--We wind down the town towards the
valley on the east, and arrive before the enclosure of a newly-erected
church. That is the Catholic Church;--but where is the school? It is
situated just opposite;--oh! but it is closed.--Certainly, the school
is closed.--The church at least is open; let us pass in.--Certainly,
and we enter the building. The first to enter is the commissary,
followed by four policemen in military dress. The bleak walls of the
brand-new edifice echo the clank of their boots. A single figure is
present--the black-robed figure of a priest; and it crouches on the
high altar, visibly trembling, such as we may imagine some male Hypatia
of olden times. While I greet the priest from the doorway, a soldier
walks across, and dares the wretched creature to address a word to
us. On our part there is nothing to be done but to keep our tempers.

A very interesting church!--Now let us visit the remaining
churches. That building close by is the principal church of the
Gregorian Armenians; it is withal a very poor place. The door is open;
we have been expected; not a soul is present. Pursuing our way, we
meet an Armenian priest--a young, broad-shouldered, open-faced man. He
seems inclined to speak, so we ask him how many churches there may be
in Mush. He answers, seven; but the commissary had said four. A soldier
addresses him in Kurdish; the poor fellow turns pale, and remarks that
he was mistaken in saying seven; there cannot be more than four. I
turn to the commissary and ask him to take us to the teacher in the
school of the United Armenians--a philanthropic institution with
some schools in the provinces and headquarters in the capital. The
reply comes that he is absent from town. The school is enjoying a
holiday. There can be no doubt that they have all received orders to
close their schools; but it is not probable that many schools remain
in such a place. The Protestants have closed theirs.

Such are a few of our experiences during our short sojourn at Mush. We
were not merely shadowed by the police, but prevented from enjoying any
of the profit and pleasure which a traveller seeks in return for all
his trouble and expense. To protest to the Mutesarrif would have been
worse than useless; and the policy of the British Foreign Office is so
weak in these countries that we lose the advantages of our Consular
system. When I called upon the chief official to take farewell, I
congratulated him upon the possession of such an energetic commissary,
and begged that he would recommend him in the despatch which no doubt
he was preparing for a suitable reward. His efforts had, indeed, been
completely successful; we had scarcely communicated with a single soul
in Mush. I thanked him for the politeness with which our seclusion
had been effected; and the old man rose, and accompanied me to the
door.... What iniquities had they been committing and were desirous
of screening? Terror, the most abject terror, was in the air. We
drank it in from the very atmosphere about us--a consuming passion,
like that of jealousy--a haunting, exhausting spectre, which sits
like a blight upon life. Such a settled state of terror is one of the
most awful of human phenomena. The air holds ghosts, all joy is dead;
the sun is black, the mouth parched, the mind rent and in tatters.

Mush is the most mis-governed town in the Ottoman Empire. Ever
since the inauguration of closer relations between Europe and these
countries, the testimony of the few Europeans who have realised and
noted such facts bears out this judgment almost to the letter. It is
less easy to assign any definite cause. The disease has become chronic;
and its symptoms are so familiar that the inhabitants have grown
callous to their condition. It is only Damadeans, and such imported
members of the community, that such deeply-rooted evils impress.

The Mussulman majority are probably almost all of Kurdish origin;
and since the enrolment of the Hamidiyeh irregular cavalry they
openly profess the name of Kurd. The slopes of the hills around Mush
are covered with vineyards and gardens; and in each garden there is a
small, two-storeyed house, resembling from a distance a scattering of
bathing-machines. The Mussulmans retire to these gardens during summer,
and superintend their cultivation. The whole winter through they sit
idle in Mush. There they consume a great quantity of tobacco; and all
this tobacco is contraband. It is their custom to buy their wives,
the best-looking and best-born women sometimes fetching not less
than a hundred pounds. All are obstinate in their belief that it was
the Prussians who enabled the Russians to conquer Turkey in the last
war. Their hope is that this assistance will not be forthcoming in the
future, and they are therefore confident of success in the conflict
which they foresee. And they pit their Hamidiyeh against the Cossacks.

The Armenian minority are artisans, smiths, makers of everything that
is manufactured in Mush. They are carpenters, plasterers, builders. All
the keepers of booths which we passed in the bazar plainly belonged to
this race. I am unable to supply any reliable statistics for the town
itself; but my impression was that the population was certainly less
than 20,000 souls. In the cloister of Surb Karapet it was believed
that Mush contained nearly 7000 houses, of which 5000 were occupied
by Mussulman and 1800 by Armenian families. Although this estimate
is certainly too high, it would appear that the population has been
increasing. In 1838 Consul Brant speaks of 700 Mussulman families
and 500 Armenian, which would give a total of not more than some
6000 or 7000 souls. [150] Thirty years later, Consul Taylor, who also
visited the place, computed the inhabitants of Mush and the vicinity,
not including the plain, as numbering 13,000 souls, 6000 Armenians
and the rest Mussulmans. [151] In the plain of Mush the Armenians are
in a large majority, the official figures for the caza allowing them
a total of 35,300, as against 21,250 Mussulmans. Some 2500 of their
number are Catholics and about 500 Protestants. [152]

The origin of the name of Mush is wrapped in obscurity. [153] It
formed the capital of the old Armenian province of Taron under the
rule of the princely family of the Mamikoneans. [154] At the present
day it contains two considerable mosques with minarets, four churches
of the Gregorian Armenians and one of the Catholics. The Gregorian
churches are named Surb Marineh, Surb Kirakos, Surb Avetaranotz, and
Surb Stephanos. None are of any size or of much interest. There are
three fine khans in the neighbourhood of the bazar. Our host informed
us that not less than thirty-six Hamidiyeh regiments had been enrolled
in the sanjak; but he added that none had yet been constituted in
the sanjaks of Bitlis, Sert and Genj. These four sanjaks compose
the vilayet of Bitlis. The first portion of his statement was almost
certainly false, even on a nominal basis.



CHAPTER VIII

FROM MUSH TO ERZERUM


In travelling from Mush to Erzerum, you cross the block of the
Armenian highlands from their southern margin almost to their northern
verge. Should the season be that of summer, it is possible to perform
the passage on a course nearly as straight as a bee-line. For the
mountains which face the traveller from the depressions of this region
are, for the most part, but the sides of a higher table surface over
which he may ride for miles without drawing rein. But this higher
surface is much too elevated to render the journey pleasant, or
even safe, at the commencement or during the progress of an Armenian
winter. It is more prudent to adhere to the great plains at a lower
level, through which the tributaries to the Murad wind their way;
and from these to cross to the deeply-eroded bed of the Upper Araxes,
which affords a luxurious approach to the northern districts. This
route once adopted, two deviations are suggested which will not
lengthen the journey by many miles. The first is a visit to the
ancient cloister of Surb Karapet (John the Baptist), on the northern
border range of Mush plain; the second, a short sojourn in the ancient
burgh of Hasan Kala, not far from Erzerum. The northern capital will
be reached by convenient stages in six travelling days, the distance
covered being about 160 miles. [155]


It was the 29th of November, just after half-past nine in the
morning, when our party of four Europeans and four Turkish soldiers
defiled into the plain from the hill of Mush. The iron-grey colt
was being led by one of our new companions, the more docile that he
anticipated release. Were we prisoners and these our jailers? I asked
the question of the principal man, who was a sergeant with the name of
Mevlud Chaoush. A black shawl, reaching to the shoulders, was wound
about his head as a protection from the weather. His irregular and
forbidding features never broke into a smile, nor did his lips move
except to utter a command. We passed several deserted burying fields,
with fallen headstones, and forded the Garni Chai, a mere torrent in
a wide bed. More than half-an-hour had passed before we doubled the
western promontory, and struck our true course across the plain.

We skirted or could see several hamlets--dots in the expanse, which
had the appearance, usual in this country, of a sea. No hedges or
artificial boundaries parcel the ground; no leafy trees blend in the
distance to a soft, grey mass. The harvest had been gathered, and
you could scarcely tell the difference between the cultivated and the
unreclaimed soil. Marshes, instead of a network of irrigation channels,
received the waters babbling down from the southern range. After
several halts, rendered necessary by the freaks and misfortunes of
the baggage horse, we reached at half-past twelve the considerable
Armenian village of Sheikh Alan, near the ford of the Murad. About a
mile beyond the village we approached the margin of the noble river
which we had followed from Karakilisa to Tutakh.

It appeared to be flowing in two channels through a bed having a width
of 200 yards or more. After fording the first of these branches, which
was about 30 yards across, we made our way over a beach to the second
branch. It was some 100 yards in breadth, the water reaching to the
horses' knees. When we had gained the opposite bank, which was firm
and well-defined, we prepared to say good-bye to the Murad. What was
our surprise to meet a third and magnificent river, sweeping towards
us in an independent bed! It was buffeting its high left bank, at
the extremity of a beautiful curve, and the flood was much too deep
to venture in. So we followed the current until the bluff sent it
swirling to the opposite margin, diffused over a wider space. Even
at this point the passage was not without risk; but an experienced
villager piloted us safely to the further side. From bank to bank
was a distance of about 80 yards, and the wavelets wetted our horses'
flanks. The confluence of the Kara Su, the stream which collects the
drainage of the plain of Mush, is situated some little distance above
the ford. [156]

Following with the eye the course of the river, we searched in vain
for a gap in the mountains among which it disappeared. These describe
a bold half-circle at the western extremity of the plain, not many
miles from where we stood. The heights on the north join hands with
the heights upon the south, and appear to prevent all issue from the
plain. From the ford we proceeded in a north-westerly direction to the
village of Ziaret. It is an Armenian settlement with 150 tenements,
and possesses a church but no school. The kiaya, [157] or head of the
village, was quite a civilised individual; and such was his politeness
that he sent his own son with me, to wait on me during my sojourn at
Surb Karapet. He informed me--the usual story--that there had been a
teacher in the village, but that last year he had left (euphemism),
and his place had not since been filled.

After a stay in this settlement of an hour and three-quarters,
we continued our journey at a quarter before four. Our course was
about the same, and we reached the foot of the northern barrier at
half-past four o'clock. Although the level of the ground had risen,
the ascent to the monastery occupied over an hour. It is situated among
the uppermost recesses of the wall of mountain, at an elevation of
about 6400 feet, or of 2200 feet above the trough of the plain. [158]
We wound our way up a cleft in the face of the rock, through a
bush of low oak. The temperature fell, and we became enveloped in
banks of cloud. A drizzling rain turned to snow before we reached
the cloister, and next morning the adjacent slopes were cloaked in
white. The monks informed us that it was the first fall of snow which
they had experienced during the course of this brilliant autumn.

A walled enclosure, like that of a fortress, a massive door on
grating hinges--such is your first impression of this lonely fane
(Fig. 155). My illustration shows the long line of monastic buildings
on the south; the gateway is on the west. You enter a spacious court,
and face a handsome belfry and porch, the façade inlaid with slabs
of white marble with bas-reliefs (Fig. 156). We were conducted to a
long chamber, with walls of prodigious thickness, recalling our Norman
refectories. It was nearly six o'clock; the monks received us without
surprise, and had probably been forewarned by the Mutesarrif. When
I asked for a separate room, it was pleaded that none was vacant;
and the preparations of Mevlud to sleep by our side in the long
chamber convinced me that resistance would as yet be vain. With the
best humour we joined in a meal of extreme frugality, which was spread
upon trays and partaken of by all the monks. Of these there were six in
residence and six absent, one being confined in a Turkish prison. Four
deacons were also of the company; but conversation was difficult in the
presence of the silent Mevlud. Our hosts were superior people, judged
by the standards in this country; and after supper, over the glow of
a number of braziers, we were drawn together by common sympathies. In
particular I was attracted to a well-read monk of quiet demeanour,
whose personality and name I hesitate to disclose.

The morning broke serene and clear; a brilliant sun embraced the
landscape which from the terrace outside the walls, where is situated
a little cemetery, was outspread at our feet (Fig. 157). The eye
sank to the floor of the plain or was lifted to the summits of the
mountains, which were seen in all the variety of their many forms and
myriad facets above beds of vapour, clinging captive to the middle
slopes. This sea of clouds concealed the river where it issues
from the expanse to be buried in the amphitheatre of heights. But
my companion, the mild-tempered monk, told me they could sometimes
hear from this terrace the hissing of the waters as they enter the
passage. They call the place Gurgur, a name imitative of the sound
which, when the air is heavy with cloud towards the end of winter,
is loud and long-maintained. Then they say that spring is near at
hand. He added that the ruins of an Armenian fortress may still be
seen within the gorge. Its ancient name was Haykaberd.

I must regret the loss of a great portion of my notes, made during
the course of this day. The monastery is one of the oldest in Armenia,
and was certainly founded by the Illuminator himself. He came hither
after his famous conversion of King Tiridates, when many of the princes
of the land had espoused his religion and his sacred cause. But that
cause and religion had become divested of their peaceful character;
and it was rather with torch and sword than with the lamp of the
teacher and the staff of the missionary that the Christian saint
appeared on the threshold of this beauteous plain. He had been
apprised of the existence of two heathen temples, standing on the
spot where now the cloister stands. They were an object of especial
reverence by a colony of Hindu refugees, long since established
under the sceptre of the Armenian kings. They worshipped two idols,
which were made of brass, with colossal proportions, and were known in
the country under the names of Demeter and Kisane. These interesting
figures, with the ancient cult which they represented, were doomed
to destruction at the hands of the Christians. The attendant priests
raised the alarm among their lay brethren, and St. Gregory and his
friends were obliged to reckon with a hostile force. But the Hindu
warriors with their Armenian allies were defeated in two battles,
and their sanctuaries were razed to the ground. A Christian church
was erected upon the site which they had occupied; and the body of
St. John the Baptist, translated from Cæsarea, took the place of
Demeter and Kisane. These events are related by the Syrian Zenobius,
an eye-witness and a lieutenant of the Saint. I had perused his
narrative overnight in the pages of Ritter, and I was anxious to know
whether it were known to my companion. I found him conversant with
every particular of the story, and he expressed his conviction that
these heathens were Hindus. He was equally certain that the gypsies,
who may still be met with in the country, were descendants of this
colony. He told me that their language was known as Sanskrit among
the Armenians. [159] He led me within the enclosure, and showed me a
little chapel situated upon the west of the church. In that chapel he
assured me that St. Gregory had said his first mass, and it stood on
the site of the temple of Kisane. That of Demeter had been, he said,
the larger of the two shrines. [160]

What portion, if any, of the present edifice is the work of that remote
age, I am unable to pronounce. My impression is that earthquakes are
held to have destroyed the original structure. The two chapels on
the east, with their polygonal towers and conical roofs, are probably
the earliest in date of the existing buildings. I reproduce them on
a larger scale, my picture having been taken from the gallery of the
monastic buildings on the south (Fig. 158). The body of the church
immediately adjoins them; it is spacious, but not remarkable for
architectural beauty or richness of ornament. It is in the character
of a large conventicle, and the roof is flat. Slabs, inlaid in the
floor, cover the graves of princes and warriors, of whom we read
in the pages of Armenian historians. The bloody wars against the
Sasanians are recalled by the tombs of Mushegh, of Vahan the Wolf and
of Sembat. The grave of Vahan is denoted by a slab of black stone,
before the entrance to the more southerly of the two chapels. That
of Sembat is said to be situated near the threshold of the companion
sanctuary, which is dedicated to St. Stephen. Near the wall on the
south repose the remains of Vahan Kamsarakan. [161] Slabs are wanting
in the case of the two graves last mentioned. Inscriptions are found,
I believe, on some. The porch and belfry on the west are of no great
antiquity, as the reader can see for himself.

What with the Kurds and the suspicions of the Turkish Government this
once flourishing monastery has been stripped of much of its glamour;
indeed the monks are little better than prisoners of State. The
new buildings on the west, erected by Bishop Mampre, have never
yet been used. They were destined to receive the printing press,
and the relics of the library. But the printing press--the wings of
knowledge, said my companion--was placed under the ban of Government
as early as in 1874. The library was pillaged by Kurds during the
first half of the present century, and its contents burnt or littered
about the courts. Nor is it possible for the community to pursue
their studies, since any book which deals with the history of their
nation is confiscated by the authorities. I think I have already
mentioned that the same officials seize and burn our Milton and our
Shakespeare. And yet the ambassadors of Europe dally on the Bosphorus,
powerless to redress these wrongs and avenge these insults. It is
because in Russia they practise similar iniquities, and because Europe
stoops to sit at Russia's feet. Upon such matters we conversed when
the air was a little clearer, after a fierce encounter between Mevlud
and myself. That sinister personage had presumed to accompany me to
my host's room; but I peremptorily ordered him out. I told him that
if he ventured to invade the privacy of a priest's apartment I would
undertake to have both the Mutesarrif and himself dismissed.

We left the cloister--which is generally known under the name of
Changalli, from its bells, heard in the plains from afar [162]--on the
morning of the first day of December, a little before noon. Snow lay
thickly upon the ground; but the thermometer at eleven o'clock stood
at four degrees (Fahrenheit) above freezing point. The atmosphere was
free of vapour, and a kind sun shone. We made our way to the heights
behind the monastery, and kept zigzagging up and along them for over
two hours. When the process had been completed after a tedious ride to
the pass, during which the horses would often flounder in the snow,
we had not ascended to a difference of level of more than 1500 feet,
nor had we progressed more than 3 1/2 miles. The better course,
I feel sure, would have been to proceed in an easterly direction
along the level terrace or open valley in which the cloister stands,
leaving the neighbouring hamlet of Pazu just on our right hand. We
could then have climbed the parapet which shelters these lofty uplands;
or we might have scaled it in the immediate vicinity of Changalli. The
black chaoush and his three myrmidons were indifferent guides. [163]

Because the pass is no pass in the ordinary sense; it is merely the
edge of a tableland. Mile after mile towards the north stretched the
undulating snow-field, swept by the winds, pierced by spinous blades
of grass. We stood at an elevation of nearly 8000 feet. Below us,
infinitely deep, lay the magnificent plain of Mush, bounded on the
further side by the barrier of the Kurdish mountains, crossing the
landscape from the invisible waters of Lake Van. In one continuous
wall they swept across the horizon, serrated, sharply chiselled above
the deep valleys opening transverse to the line of the wall. Taurus
they call the range, adopting a nomenclature which the West must
have borrowed from the East. Taurus was very high where the Murad
dives into the mountains; nor did the peaks appear less lofty on its
right bank. We saw them circling towards the river from behind the
plateau upon which we stood; but I was unable to trace the origin
of this northern chain. It formed a marked exception to the outlines
north of Taurus, which were vaulted or horizontal. Nimrud was seen to
join the two contrasting landscapes, placed across the head of the
plain. The neighbouring Kerkür looked more rounded than when we had
first observed it, while, north of the Nimrud caldron, the swelling
contours of the Sipan fabric were doubly soft in a robe of recent snow.

This was our last complete prospect over that great depression which
is known as the plain of Mush. [164] We proceeded at half-past two,
and rode at a trot over the plateau, first on a northerly and then
on a north-easterly course. The rock appeared to be of an eruptive
volcanic description. By half-past four we arrived upon the opposite
margin, where the ground abruptly sank to a wide trough of broken
country, with a small plain, level as water, at its western end. We
ascertained that this fresh depression had an elevation of about 5000
feet, or a difference in height of 3000 feet from the pass at which
we measured that of the plateau. On the further side rose a cliff of
such gigantic proportions that, when we reached the middle slopes
of the descent into the hollow, it reminded me of the landscape in
the narrows of the Araxes, with those cliffs raised to double their
size. From a distance we had wondered at the strange appearance of
this flat-edged mass, which seemed to embrace us in a wide segment
with precipitous sides. A nearer view disclosed the direction it was
pursuing, and enabled us to trace, although in a most imperfect manner,
its connection with the orography of the eastern districts. That
direction was approximately latitudinal, but inclined a little towards
the south. The further east the mass proceeded, the more it lost its
cliff-like character, the nearer it approached to the characteristics
of a mountain range. In this form it was protracted to dimly visible
limits, joining the distant outlines of Sipan.

I had read many accounts of the famous Bingöl Dagh, the parent mountain
of the Araxes and of the principal tributaries of the Euphrates, and,
in some sense, the roof of Western Asia. None had prepared me for
the vision before our eyes. The actual walls of the crater were not,
I imagine, visible; but those cliffs had no doubt been covered by deep
beds of lava which had added to their height. The greatest eminence
on the extinct volcano is that of Demir-Kala, which must be situated
not far from the edge of the cliff. It has an elevation of 10,770
feet. [165] But the mountain proper is but a wart on the face of the
lofty tableland from which it rises, and which it has contributed
to shape. I tried to examine the relation of this tableland to the
plateau which we had crossed, but was prevented by the lie of the
land upon the west.

While descending into the plain, we passed through a Kurdish village of
some size, called Randuli. We now opened out the whole extent of the
even surface--a floor at the foot of towering cliffs. The plain may
have a length, from west to east, of about three miles and a breadth
of two miles or less. Water serpents through it in all directions,
to collect in a little river which our people knew under the name
of Dodan Chai, but which is apparently more generally known as the
Bingöl Su. [166] Four villages of some importance are situated in the
plain--Baskan, Gundemir, Diyadin and Dodan. The last-mentioned is
placed at its eastern extremity and close to the river which bears
its name. All four are inhabited by Armenians. Having gained the
level, we forded the stream above the village, and at six o'clock
rode through Dodan. Night was falling; we followed a track which had
been made by the bullock-carts, at some little distance from the left
bank of the river. We were skirting on an easterly course the base of
the northern heights, along the trough of irregular surface which we
had overlooked. The soil was deep and black, covered in places by a
crop of stones. It seemed as if the valley were choked by the shapes
of hills. We were over two hours in reaching Gumgum.

The village or little town--for it is the capital of a caza, the
caza of Varto, belonging to the sanjak of Mush--is situated in the
long valley of which I have been speaking, between the Bingöl and the
block of mountain on the north of Mush. A small river flows below it
at some little distance, which joins the Bingöl Su some two or three
miles south of the town. The united waters issue into the Murad or
Eastern Euphrates about eight miles south-east of Gumgum. The direct
road to Mush is taken along the Murad, which, after the confluence,
finds a passage through the hills. It reaches the plain at the village
of Sikava.

We were received by the Kaimakam, who lodged us in his room of
audience, a chamber of which the stone walls were daubed with
whitewash, while the massive logs of the ceiling were left bare. A
single window, with panes of greased paper, diffused a dim light by
day. A little lamp revealed the burly figure of our host, seated on
the divan. Beside him, but in shadow, we might just discern a face
and features which were recognised as familiar to us. We identified
this pleasant countenance and chiselled lineaments with those of the
silent chess-player at Mush. It was in fact the Hakim Effendi, learned
in the law; though for what purpose he had travelled to these unruly
wilds we were unable to ascertain. He had brought his law books with
him in a khurjin, or little saddle-bag, which was placed by his side
on the couch. So he travels from place to place, the name and shadow
of a dispensation which he has not the power to enforce. Even under
the eyes of the Kaimakam cases of theft, and even of robbery, are
of daily occurrence and go for the most part unredressed. Entering
the stable allotted to our horses, I was met by an Armenian woman,
a poor old hag with bare feet and in rags. She moaned and wrung her
hands, explaining, in answer to my enquiry, that her cows had been
displaced to make room for us. She would never see them again--and,
in fact, next morning I was grieved to learn that two had been stolen.

The town occupies a fairly high site in the valley, having an elevation
of about 4800 feet. A few houses, in the more proper sense of the
word, serve to magnify the appearance of the place. But the tenements
are for the most part the usual ant-hill burrows; and I do not think
that in all there can be more than eighty dwellings, of which ten may
be inhabited by Armenians. The Kurds have a large preponderance in
the caza; they are, for the most part, of the Jibranli tribe. This
tribe furnishes three regiments of Hamidiyeh cavalry, recruited in
Varto. The tribesmen spend the summer on the pastures of the Bingöl
Dagh, and the winter in villages of their own in the plains. They
travel as far as Diarbekr, and even Aleppo, taking their vast flocks
to those markets. Or they sell the sheep to middlemen who travel from
all parts of Turkey, and establish their headquarters in Khinis.

During the night it froze hard; but on the following morning the
air was warmed by a brilliant sun, shining in a clear sky. The
thermometer stood at 37° before we again set out. Leaving at a
little after eleven, we proceeded on an easterly course, towards
the heights which rise behind Gumgum. I was unable to ascertain the
exact connection of these hills with the block of the Bingöl; but,
whereas we could still perceive that distant outline in the west, it
was lost to view as it came towards us, stretching east. The northern
barrier was now composed by the hill range already mentioned, which,
at this point, appeared to be inclined towards south-east. After
crossing a considerable stream, flowing down to the trough of the
valley, we commenced at twelve o'clock the ascent of these hills.

Looking backward, one was impressed by the uneven character of the
ground from which we rose. The valley is choked with hills, especially
on the south-east, and it may have a width of about eight miles. The
soil is covered with tufted grass, which must afford fine pasture
in spring and early summer. The southern border consists of the mass
of mountain which we had crossed from Changalli; but it had sensibly
declined and was still declining in height. Beyond its sheet of snow
the peaks of Taurus commenced to be visible; and when we reached
the pass, before one o'clock, we could see the broad ribbon of the
Murad lying in the plain of Mush. The river had passed the gap in the
barrier on the north of that plain, which, it was evident, becomes
much lower at the point where the passage is effected, the outlines
sinking towards either bank.

We were standing in snow, at an elevation of 6600 feet. On our left
front rose the cliffs of the Bingöl plateau, that mighty presence which
for awhile had been concealed. They were still stretching from west
to east, but were seen to turn towards north-east, in the direction
of where we knew Khinis to lie. The eye pursued their long perspective
into the distance, where, at a point about north-north-east, they broke
away into a range of mountains, the range which bounds the plain of
Khinis on the north. I was still unable to define the relation of
the heights upon which we were placed to the mass from which they
appeared to come; but they must contribute to compose the long line
of heights which we had seen extending from the Bingöl towards Sipan.

How great a part has been performed by the action of water in
shaping the relief of this land may be realised by the frequent
occurrence of perfectly flat depressions between the masses of higher
ground. Thousands of feet below those levels lie these sheltered
spaces, rendered fertile by winding streams. Such was the nature
of the little plain to which we descended, appearing land-locked on
every side. It is known as the Bashkent ova, or plain of Bashkent,
from a Kurdish hamlet through which we presently passed. [167] It
is situated at the comparatively lofty level of about 6000 feet. On
the east it is enclosed by that irregular lump of mountain which we
had first seen on the furthest horizon from before Tutakh. Khamur
it is called. The ridge was some miles distant; but its outworks,
a succession of sand-like convexities, rose from the margin of the
plain. The western limit were the cliffs of Bingöl, frowning above
the ova, and sending out a spur towards the Khamur on its northern
verge. Towards that spur we made our way across the plain, on a
north-easterly course. The flat surface has a length of about 3 1/2
miles, and is covered with marshes or rank weeds. Besides Bashkent
we could only see a single other hamlet, said to be inhabited by
Kizilbash Kurds. We reached the summit of the rounded and opposite
heights at half-past two o'clock. They may be described as flanking
outworks of the Bingöl plateau, and they have an elevation of about
6550 feet. A little later, while still following along the side of
these slopes, we came to a halt and partook of a scanty meal.

At a quarter-past three we were again in the saddle. Our course
remained easterly, at about the same level; and at half-past three
we were on the top of one of those bulging spurs which project from
the side of the cliffs. The horizontal edge of the lofty tableland
was now just above us; and, inasmuch as we were now able to pursue a
north-north-easterly direction, it is evident that the mass must recede
towards the north. Indeed it is probable that it describes a curve,
concave to the plain of Khinis; we seemed to get behind the cliffs. On
our right hand we were followed by the deformed shape of Khamur, now
many miles away. The horizon was fretted by the long outline of the
Akh Dagh--a fine, bold range with connections circling towards Khamur.

In a short time this mountain landscape was seen in fuller
significance; a vast expanse of level depression was opened out. The
black chaoush and his three myrmidons had taken their departure at
Gumgum; and I was able to unpack the camera. I directed the lens to
north-east, towards the plain and the distant Akh Dagh (Fig. 159);
and next to south-east, upon the Khamur. [168] We reached the level at
about five o'clock, after crossing a spur of the plateau, strewn with
volcanic stones. Khinis was seen, a speck in the lap of the plain,
towards which we rode at a rapid trot. At a quarter to six we arrived
upon the deeply-eroded banks of the river of Khinis, which we forded
and entered the town.

By directions of the Kaimakam we were lodged in his own office;
he made his appearance early on the following day. A burly old
man, with a head of great size and a massive forehead, with huge
dimensions below the waist. This habit of body, which seemed to
aggravate an advanced asthmatic affection, was due to continued
sitting rather than to intemperance of diet. Our conversation was
soon directed to the condition of the country--a subject upon which
he held strong views. The people of his caza were, he said, almost
without exception, liars, rogues and thieves. The Government did what
it could; but the officials were not competent, being ignorant men
like his humble self. Schools? There was supposed to be a Rushdiyeh
in Khinis, but it was a Rushdiyeh only in name. As for the Kurds,
they were the plague of his existence; you reaped them where you had
not sown. Five houses here, there fifty people--impossible to count
or to bring to count. If you wished to get anything out of them,
you must borrow a stick from a bear-tamer and beat them about the head.

He proceeded to inform me that the town was the principal centre
of the trade in sheep, fattened upon the pastures of the Bingöl
Dagh. Merchants come from the great cities, notably from Damascus, and
make their arrangements in Erzerum. They bring their own shepherds,
whom they send to Khinis when their agents there have concluded
the purchase and received the flocks. It is at about the present
season--that of early winter--that the trade is at its height. The
sheep are driven across the mountains to Diarbekr, whence they are
despatched through the plains to the Syrian centre. My host added that
it was no very easy matter to get them safely through the snow to the
head of the Mesopotamian plains. To me it seems a most remarkable feat.

I asked the Kaimakam whether he could tell me the number of
the inhabitants; and, forthwith, he most kindly consulted his
registers. According to his figures there are 387 houses in Khinis,
besides numerous shops. Of the dwellings 250 are inhabited by
Mohammedans and 137 by Armenians. The former are censused at 1350 and
the latter at 586. But there is a large discrepancy between males and
females in the case of both denominations in favour of the males. He
was of opinion that the figures for the Armenians were too low; they
evade the census in order to avoid the military tax. Small and large,
he put the total of villages in his caza at 287. It forms part of the
vilayet of Erzerum, and its borders march with those of the caza of
Erzerum. [169]

He knew of no Yezidis within the limits of his district; but gypsies
wander through it in summer. Of Kizilbash Kurds he believed there to
be about fifteen villages. The principal tribes in the neighbourhood
are the Haideranli and Zirkanli, besides about eight villages of
Jibranli Kurds. Four battalions of Hamidiyeh are said to be enrolled
in the caza.

I am sensible of the defective standpoint of my photograph of Khinis,
taken, to avoid suspicions, before entering the town. [170] But it
clearly shows the mingling rivers, with their cavernous beds, sunk into
the volcanic soil. It shows the castle--of which the ruins display
a face of hewn stone upon a structure of agglomerate rubble--and,
in the background, behind the picturesque disorder of the clambering
township, the distant terrace of the Bingöl plateau. At eleven o'clock
on the 3rd of December we were winding our way in the shadowed gorges,
about to issue upon the plain on the north.

The day was fine, with a warm sun and a blue sky; the air was fresh and
strong. Before us, and on every side, stretched the undulating surface,
of rich and friable brown loam. It is subjected to primitive methods of
cultivation; but at this season it was difficult to trace the hand of
man. We saw no villages; what there are must be hidden in laps of the
ground; and Nature, a kind and bountiful Nature, is allowed to revolve
her seasons almost in vain. Bright streams come bubbling down from the
distant framework of mountains, and wind on a south-easterly course to
the far Murad. We passed no less than three of these tributaries to the
river of Khinis. The first was flowing between high banks of volcanic
rock, and sheltered a beautiful church in the old Armenian style,
called Kilisa Deresi, or the church in the valley. Around this monument
were grouped the tall headstones of a disused cemetery, some engraved
with the elaborate crosses which were so dear to the ancestors of the
unhappy people, now the bondsmen of parasite Kurds. Even as we stood
in admiration of this charming building, an active Kurd in a showy
dress stepped into the path. He vaulted upon the back of a graceful
chestnut Arab, which was being led to and fro. We saw him cantering
off to the neighbouring Armenian village, and we wondered upon what
errand he was bent. At a quarter-past one we commenced to ascend to
a passage of the hills which confine the plain upon the north.

In the space of half-an-hour we had reached an elevation of over
6000 feet. We stopped for some little time to fully realise the
scene which we were now about to leave behind. The terraces of the
Bingöl plateau had been following our steps at some distance on our
left hand. We had come in a northerly direction from Khinis; and
the heights we were preparing to cross were an immediate spur from
that table surface, linking it to the long range on the north of the
plain. Both that spur, or connecting ridge, and the range which it
joined, tended to incline south-west from a latitudinal course. The
plateau itself was now close up; indeed it rose immediately above us,
on the west of our winding track. It is therefore plain that it must
have pursued a north-north-easterly direction, since it had formed a
distant background to the town. I turned the camera upon the flanking
ridge (Fig. 160), and then mounted to an adjacent eminence, almost
on a level with the surface of the plateau. My illustration shows a
formation characteristic of the edge of the terraces, great blocks
of stone welded together as if by a human hand. The surface is flat
and is covered with rough grass, of which the higher stalks pierced
the covering of recent snow.

So little interest is taken by the people in their surroundings that
even the Kaimakam was unable to tell me the name of this adjacent
range, which forms a lofty barrier to the plain. He was of opinion
that it was called the Akh Dagh (white mountain) or Tekman Dagh;
to some it was known as the Kozli Dagh. I prefer to retain the name
which I heard the most often, that of Akh Dagh. East of these linking
hills it assumes lofty proportions; but it appears to die away in
the remote south-east.

In the south, far away, rose the mass of Khamur, with hill ranges
circling round the plain. Above those humble outlines was revealed
the whole fabric of Sipan, some seventy miles distant from where we
stood. Such is the extension of these vast depressions; you cannot
define their limit; they render easy the traffic of peace or the
passage of war. And we may reconstruct in fancy the remote period,
when many of these bold landmarks were wreathed in smoke and reflected
fires, and thundered with the energy of the Globe.

Proceeding at two o'clock, we reached the pass in twenty minutes;
it is just under 7000 feet. We were now in the basin of the Upper
Araxes, approaching the districts on the north. The passage into a
new sphere could scarcely have been accentuated with more emphasis
than on this day. We dived into a dense fog; the cold was intense;
and, whereas not a single flake had hitherto lain on the track, it
was now all strewn with snow. Nor was the change of a merely local
application; it was the commencement of a new order of things.

We rode on a northerly course through beds of vapour over lofty uplands
at an elevation of more than 6000 feet. The track had been worn by
traffic, tracing upon the snow-fields winding furrows of rich brown
soil. A Kurdish village was passed, where our zaptiehs changed with
others; and, a little later, we overlooked a considerable depression
of the surface--the wide valley of a river it appeared to be. It
was clothed with snow and wreathed with mist. We descended into
this valley, said to belong to the district of Tekman, and crossed
the river, called the Bingöl or Pasin Su. It was flowing due north,
and had a breadth of about 15 yards. On the opposite margin of the
depression is placed the Kurdish village of Kulli, where we arrived
at a quarter-past four. It is situated at a level of about 6000 feet;
and, whereas at Khinis (5540 feet) we had enjoyed a temperature of 32°
at 10 P.M., the thermometer now registered at 7 P.M. no less than 7°
of frost (Fahrenheit).

The settlement consists of about fifty tenements, of which six or
seven belong to the Zirkanli tribe and the remainder to sedentary
Kurds. [171] These latter are liable to service in the regular army. A
single house is conspicuous among the huts of mud and stone; it is
used as a receptacle for travellers. We found it in the occupation
of a detachment of Turkish soldiers, on their way from Melazkert to
Erzinjan. Horses and men alike were quartered in the building; but,
after some parley, room was found for us. We joined in the circle of
officers collected round the open fireplace, in which cakes of tezek
glowed. Among other things I learnt that four regiments of Hamidiyeh
are enrolled in the caza of Melazkert. They are furnished by the
Hasananli tribe.

Next morning before eight we continued our journey, the temperature
registering 14° of frost. Mist still hung over the valley; but we
soon were raised above it, again ascending to the table surface which
borders the depression on either side. Full sunlight streamed upon the
undulating snow-field, and was reflected in tiny rays from a thousand
little crystals, placed, like diamonds, on the heads of encrusted
flowers. It was, indeed, over the face of an immense block of elevated
country that our course was directed for some little time. Here and
there, especially in the north, it appeared to be broken by chains
of mountain; but the closer you approached such an apparent barrier,
the more it assumed the familiar features--the flat edges, and the
fanciful castles with their Cyclopean walls. At half-past nine we
obtained a view of the Bingöl Dagh itself, in the furthest horizon
of the south (Fig. 161). We stood at a level of 7130 feet.

At ten o'clock we turned off eastwards to the bed of mist suspended
above the river, which lies in a deep trough. Following for awhile
along the sides of the lofty cliffs which confine it, we admired the
play of the vapours, wreathing like jets of steam. From the edge of
the cliffs on either bank, the table surface of the higher levels
was seen to stretch east and west, and back to the peaks of the Akh
Dagh--a sheet of snow, only broken by the gorge. The Bingöl Su was
pursuing a north-north-easterly direction, which became more northerly
as we progressed. The fog lifted and disappeared; we descended into
the bottom of the gulf, which opened on either side the further we
rode. At a quarter to twelve we arrived in the Kurdish hamlet of
Mejitli, where we decided to make our mid-day halt. We had come a
distance of about 13 miles from Kulli. The river, which had a breadth
of about 20 or 30 yards, was flowing some 50 feet below the village,
with a rapid current, flashing over the rocks. The site of the village
is a little plain on the left bank of the stream having an elevation
of about 5800 feet.

It has already been said that the valley of the Bingöl Su, or Upper
Araxes, offers an easy approach to the districts on the north. The
river pierces a wintry region of the table surface, and traffic
is carried along its bed. But some 2 1/2 miles below the village of
Mejitli it enters a deep and impassable gorge. You mount to the summit
of the lofty precipices which overtower its serpentine course. Again
in the saddle at half-past one, we reached this commanding eminence
at a quarter-past two. Nor did we descend afresh into the trough of
the stream, which proceeded to thread a chaos of mountains in the east.

The view from any point was one of savage beauty (Fig. 162). By
slow degrees the flat surface of the elevated plateau was becoming
riven and broken up. You could still discern the level snow-fields,
burying the stream in the south, and coming towards you on either
bank. But the cloak of winter had not yet hidden the yellow grass
on the adjacent slopes; while in the east the scene was changing to
a wild landscape of hill and mountain, upon which the snow had not
yet effected a hold. A few miles further these features increased
in definition. The layers of lava gave place to hard limestones,
forming peaks which had weathered a soft white. Masses of rock, of a
hue which was green as the rust of copper, or red like that of iron,
were exposed on the sides of the hills. From a foreground of tufted
herbage, sown with yellow immortelles, we looked across this troubled
region in which the river wound its way--a ribbon of changing colours,
skirting the foot of sweeping hillsides or confined in narrow clefts
of stupendous depth. In the far east we caught a glimpse of the snowy
dome of the Kuseh Dagh, which overlooks the plain of Alashkert.

At four o'clock the track diverged, and led us over the undulating
plateau which still continued, but with less regularity, in the
west. A short turn towards north-west brought us almost to the
threshold of the broad depression of Pasin. The ground fell away by
a succession of convexities to a level surface, deeply seated at our
feet (Fig. 163). But far in the north, on its opposite margin, again
appeared the cliffs of a plateau, exalted thousands of feet above
the plain. It represents the extreme extension of the tablelands of
Armenia, to be succeeded by the peripheral ranges in the north. It
was carried west and east, across the horizon. In this neighbourhood
it is known as Kargabazar.

We descended into one of the long valleys by which the heights we were
leaving meet the plain. If Erzerum be the next objective, you cross
to its western side and proceed by way of Ertev. Our own point was
Hasan Kala, a more northerly course, leading through the village of
Ketivan. That considerable Mohammedan settlement is situated at the
end of the valley, whence you issue upon the spacious expanse. We rode
at a rapid trot from this southern verge of the plain to the opposite
margin, upon which is placed the castle and town. It formed a welcome
landmark, which we reached in just an hour, arriving beneath the dusk
at half-past six.

The town, which has a population of several thousands, clusters at
the foot of a long ridge of volcanic rock which projects from the
towering background of mountain into the floor of the plain. The
southerly extremity of that precipitous ridge is crowned by lines of
battlements, a work ascribed to the Genoese. [172] But the present
masters of the country have neglected the fortifications, and have
fallen back upon Erzerum. Pasin lies at the mercy of their good
neighbours, the Russians, who already hold its doors. After fording
the river of Upper Pasin, the Kala Su, as it is called--a sluggish
stream, flowing in a divided channel--we passed through a feudal
gateway within a wall which was in ruins, and groped our way through
irregular lanes heaped with filth. Quarters were at last discovered
in a new and well-kept coffee-house--a room of some size, with a
wooden stage or daïs erected around the bare walls. Upon this stage,
behind the half-screen of an open balustrade, a number of loungers
in various dress, some wearing the turban, others the fez, others
again the Persian lambskin cap, [173] were gathered in groups, sipping
coffee from delicious little cups, and drawing the fragrant fumes of
the Persian tobacco from hubble-bubble or kaleon. In a further corner,
away from the light, one could not mistake some tall, lean figures,
and features of big birds of prey; we were indeed in the presence of
some officers of Hamidiyeh, conspicuous by the brass ensigns on their
lambskin caps. They were spreading their coverlets for the night,
or were turned towards the wall, bowing the head and then the body
in prayer.

We slept in an inner room of this clean little tavern, and resumed
our journey at eleven o'clock on the following day. The streets were
alive with people, a motley band of human beings--for Hasan Kala,
with its warm baths and numerous khans and shops, lies on the main
road to Tabriz. It is lifted a little above the face of the plain
and has an elevation of about 5600 feet. You look back upon its
crumbling walls with a certain sympathy for its fallen greatness,
and wonder whether it will again rise, like Kars, from its fallen
station under a further advance of the Russian Empire towards the
Mediterranean. Behind this deserted fortress--which, nevertheless,
I was forbidden to photograph--we admired the huge bulwark of the
mountain barrier, mocking the works of man. There was the same flat
edge, which had so often excited our wonder, to those formidable
cliffs. East and west, in a long and horizontal outline, they were
drawn beyond the range of sight. The corresponding features on the
south of the plain were less emphasised, the long valleys softening
the abruptness of the higher ground.

Pasin--the reader may remember--is one of the principal links of the
chain of depressions which connect the extremities of western Asia,
and facilitate intercourse between east and west. From the narrows
of Khorasan to the fantastic parapet of the Deveh Boyun, it has a
length of no less than forty-four miles. Our way to Erzerum led us
along this spacious avenue, and, after crossing the humble barrier
which I have just mentioned, debouched upon the city on the opposite
side. We were able to ride at leisure, along a course direct as an
arrow, free to observe the stream of traffic on the highway.

An element of special interest were a number of bullock-carts, laden
pell-mell with heaps of Hamidiyeh uniforms, destined for the rank
and file. They slowly made their way towards Hasan Kala, groaning
and creaking as they went. Long strings of Bactrian camels--huge,
large-humped, shaggy animals--defiled with a lulling symmetry of
movement and measured, noiseless tread. By their side walked the
drivers, Tartars with skins of parchment, their features scarcely
visible beneath their sheepskin caps. Of wayfarers there were many,
and of the most divergent types. Some were mounted on little hacks,
here and there a whole family--turbaned Mussulmans, astride of their
overhanging mattresses, to which were attached a jangling cluster
of cooking pots. A led horse would be encumbered by a still more
formless bundle, which, as you approached, displayed a pair of human
feet. Brawny Armenian peasants, a scattering of thick-set Lazes,
a Kurdish horseman or two swelled the throng.

There are several large villages in the plain of Pasin; but to what
race or mixture of races do the Mohammedan inhabitants belong? I was
impressed by the difference in the physiognomy of these people, which
was quite unlike the type prevailing among settled Kurds. The question
of the racial composition of the non-Kurdish element, inhabiting the
districts on the north, remains a subject for further research. The
Armenians are in a decided minority in Pasin. [174]

A broad chaussée with flanking ditches is carried along the plain,
almost in a straight line. But many of the culverts have fallen in,
forcing vehicles off the road into the soft soil on either side. Still
our horses liked the change, wearied by their long journey and much
clambering over rocks. The ground was free of snow, even on this
fifth day of December, and the air was comparatively mild. [175]
The further we proceeded, the more the expanse narrowed and the
perspective of the two long barriers closed. From afar we fixed our
eyes on what appeared to be an artificial earthwork, thrown across
the narrow head of the plain. At half-past one we were at the foot of
this apparent fortification, with broken ground on either hand. The
muzzles of cannon were turned towards us from the flat top of the
colossal mound, and from two hills which rose on the south of the
road. Indeed we seemed to face a completely impregnable position,
impossible to circumvent. And from a distance one would think that
the meeting walls of mountain were joined together by a transverse dam.

Approaching closer, the road is seen to find a passage between the
hills on the south and the adjacent flat-topped mass. The width of this
passage may be about half-a-mile. Once within the answering horns you
cross a spacious amphitheatre, in which the secret of the formation
is revealed. The two hills belong to the southern wall of mountain,
but so also does the mound. And a line of heights circle inwards from
behind the two hills, to protract the circle outwards to the horn
of the mound. Hills and mound are left behind before those heights
are breasted; or, to continue the figure, you scale the tiers of the
amphitheatre at the point most remote from the narrow opening on its
eastern side.

Such is the position which, due not to man, but to a freak of Nature,
arrests the flow of traffic or the tide of battle. The linking
heights--the opposite curve of the circle--are widely known through
the literature of travel and of Asiatic warfare as the Deveh Boyun,
or the camel's neck. The humps and head are represented, the first
by the two hills, and the second by the mound. The pass, to which the
road climbs, is situated on the neck of the camel; but a second ridge
must be surmounted, which is a little higher, and has an elevation
of about 6850 feet.

From the Deveh Boyun to Erzerum must be a distance of several miles,
since, although we rode at a rapid trot, we did not reach the city
in less than fifty minutes. Two facts, which were unexpected, became
clear as we proceeded. In the first place, the position is by no means
so strong as it might appear, even to a near view, from the eastern
side. There is at least one, and there are probably more than one
passage between the mound and the northern wall of the plain. This
circumstance, and the peculiar character of the ground on the west
of the barrier, which is broken up into precipitous heights, are in
favour of the attack, in so far as they necessitate the employment
of a considerable defensive force. The second surprise was perhaps
more personal; I had formed the conception of a transverse parapet
leading immediately into the plain of Erzerum. But the parapet is
succeeded by the broken ground of which I have spoken, and of which
the heights are crowned with batteries. The road is taken along the
face and among the recesses of the southern barrier; and you are
already above the picturesque site of the famous fortress before you
overlook the full expanse of the level land. We arrived within the
enclosure of the circumvallation at a few minutes before three. [176]



CHAPTER IX

ERZERUM


We rode through empty spaces, littered with ruin and refuse, haunted
by miserable and filthy dogs, to a street of some width, bordered
by substantial stone houses, down the incline of which we checked
the pace of our mounts. It leads to the north-eastern quarter of the
city--a quarter which is numerously inhabited by Christians, and where
are situated the Consulates of the European Powers, notably those of
Great Britain, France and Russia. The British Consulate is housed
in a small but comfortable residence at the northerly extremity of
the street. There we were received with emotion by the principal
dragoman--an Armenian with a handsome, frank and engaging face,
whose curly black hair had become tinged with grey. I had not seen the
excellent Yusuf for many a long year, not since the time when he used
to delight the fancy of childhood with dainty boxes, or the figures of
various animals, which he would fashion with exquisite skill in a kind
of silver wire--an art practised by the silversmiths of the East. What
tales he would tell us in England of this distant Erzerum! We used,
as children, to try and realise the features of the scenes of which
he spoke--the great Mesopotamian deserts, the encampments of the
Arabs, the khans on the roads to the highlands in which the traveller
rested, the mountains and the snow-clad plains. Alas! for the powers
of description; how different it all looked, when after many years
these various landscapes were successively unfolded before the
eyes! Yet they spoke to the very soul of the child grown to manhood,
perhaps reviving hidden germs in the lengthy process of heredity, or
recalling those early efforts to make pictures of them, or appealing in
virtue of none of these causes, but by the magnetic power inherent in
themselves. And here at last was Erzerum, with Yusuf standing before
the door and running forward with open arms! My reader will, I feel,
pardon this little personal digression, embodying, as it does, one
of my most permanent memories of the northern capital.

Another link of a not less personal nature must be mentioned in
order to explain the length of the sojourn which the present writer
made in Erzerum. It extended from the commencement of the really
cold weather to the approach of spring. Wesson and Rudolph were
committed to the kind offices of the Russian Consul, M. Maximoff,
who furnished them with the necessary facilities for returning home
through Russian territory by way of Sarikamish and Batum. The Swiss
had been experiencing the discomforts of home-sickness; and the
resourceful Wesson, who would make a most excellent campaigner, was
obliged for private reasons to abandon a nomad life and resume his
habits as a Londoner. It was my intention to work up my material in
Erzerum, and to devote a fortnight or more to this end. Our Consul,
Mr. R. W. Graves, most kindly placed two rooms at my disposal, and
insisted upon my being his guest. A friendship sprang up between us,
born of similar age and many common tastes; and, speaking for myself,
I may say that our solitude à deux in this corner of Asia formed
one of the most agreeable experiences of my life. I do not remember
having spent a single dull hour. His conversation, charm of manner and
kindliness of disposition were a resource which was never wanting to
revive one's intelligence after long hours devoted to writing and to
books. I was so happy and he so hospitable that the weeks had become
months before all the excuses which waved away the round of duties
in England had one by one become exhausted, and I tore myself from
his side.

This lengthy stay, followed as it was by two subsequent visits, has
made me feel quite at home with the subject of this chapter. And the
fact that I have approached Erzerum from the three directions in which
it is most accessible, from the east, from the west and from the south,
enables me to speak, in so far as a civilian traveller may judge such
a question, of the strategical importance of a city which is probably
destined to play a leading part in any future struggle between the
Russian and the Ottoman Empires. For an Englishman this side of the
subject has a special interest; since the possession by Russia of
this strong place would mean her control of the head waters of the
Euphrates, which issues in the Persian Gulf. It is a maxim of peculiar
appropriateness to such a country as Asia that he who is master of the
sources of a river is master of the lands through which it flows. On
the other hand, such an event would closely affect all Europe;
for there would then exist no important barrier between the Asiatic
provinces of Russia and the shores of the Bosphorus. Indeed Erzerum
resumes in herself the importance of Turkish Armenia as a factor in the
world movements of the near future. Mistress of this spot of ground,
Russia is mistress of these vast provinces. It is plainly the duty
of a writer who has enjoyed the advantages which I have mentioned,
not indeed to pander to the feeling of blind animosity against Russia,
but to place his readers in possession of the essential facts, in the
hope that at least they may not be taken unawares by any advance of
the northern empire in this direction.

Our large map will, I hope, make clear and preclude the necessity of
minutely describing the topography of the site with its surroundings
far and near. What the basin of Lake Van and the plain of Mush are
to the southern districts of Turkish Armenia, that are the plains of
Pasin and Erzerum to those on the north. They represent depressions of
the surface of the tableland and constitute arteries of communication
between east and west. The northerly is separated from the southern
string of depressions by a block of elevated plateau country, which
is most compact and continuous on a line between Mush and Erzerum,
and more broken into irregular lines of heights with intervening
plains between the northern shore of Lake Van and Pasin. An invader
coming from the east and desirous of forcing his way westwards will
find all his roads converging on either one or other of the two strings
of depressions. The block of lofty tableland, seared by the action of
ice and water, and covered for the greater part of the year with snow,
causes them to be deflected as by an impassable obstacle, though it
is in fact by no means impervious to an army during summer, when the
principal difficulty would be the absence of supplies. The geographical
position of Russia is decisively in favour of an advance by the most
northerly of the two main avenues. She might detach a column to move
upon Bitlis; but the objective of this force would be the lowlands
of Mesopotamia rather than Asia Minor west of the Euphrates. There
can be little doubt that the weight of her onset would be thrown
into the northerly channel; and Pasin would fall without a blow being
struck. At that moment she would be confronted by the defences of the
Deveh Boyun--an impregnable barrier if only held by a sufficient force.

We have seen at the close of the last chapter that the Deveh Boyun
consists of a composite ridge, thrown across a narrow portion of
the northerly depression, and dividing it into two. It is due to an
outbreak of lava--a hard trachyte--which has pursued a direction almost
at right angles to the general structure of the country, its elevation
being nearly meridional. Similar outbreaks are readily recognisable in
the northern border heights of the plain of Pasin; but those ridges are
of little geographical importance, losing themselves on the confines
of the plain. On the other hand the Deveh Boyun, the most westerly
of the series, determines the drainage of the great basin. From its
eastern slopes the waters flow to the Araxes, and from those on the
west to the Euphrates. On the one hand lies Pasin, and on the other
the plain of Erzerum. The height of the pass over the parapet is
not more than some 500 to 800 feet above the level of the adjacent
plains. But the ridge is defended by a line of modern forts; and,
if these were captured, the invading army would find itself enclosed
within a space which, while it can scarcely exceed a width of about
four miles, can be swept by the fire from heights on the north and
heights on the south. These positions, which have all been fortified
since the last Russo-Turkish war, rest against the slopes of the
parallel walls of mountain, confining the depression on either side.

There does exist, I believe, a narrow passage through an irregular
valley between the Deveh Boyun main ridge and the northern wall. But
this approach by the flank is commanded by some of the forts already
mentioned. Nor would the fate of Erzerum be necessarily determined if
both the ridge and the works which protect it had been occupied by the
enemy after a series of frontal attacks and great loss of life. There
would remain the defences of the Top Dagh, a hill mass, or, as they
would say in South Africa, a series of kopjes, separated from the Deveh
Boyun by the valley of a small tributary to the Euphrates derived from
the wall of mountain on the south. The Top Dagh bristles with forts,
of which the most conspicuous are Forts Mejidieh and Azizieh. It
immediately abuts on the enceinte of the city which it screens from
attack from the east. The city lies with its head upon the talus or
accumulated rubble which fans out from the heights on the south. Its
feet touch the floor of the plain.

Under modern conditions Erzerum is by far the most important
strategical position throughout the length and breadth of the country
described in this work. The heights confining the plain on the south
are in fact the edge of the great block of tableland interposed between
the plain of Mush and the northern capital. Although the ground mass
of that lofty stage is composed of stratified and old igneous rocks,
yet more recent eruptive volcanic action has played an important part
in its configuration. To this agency are due the bold mountains along
its northern edge which constitute such a noble background to the
town. The most conspicuous peak is that of the Eyerli Dagh, or saddle
mountain, so called from the shape of its summit. The loftiest is
situated a few miles further east, and stands a little back from the
line of heights. It has an elevation of 10,690 feet above the sea,
or of 4500 feet above the city. It bears the same name as that of
the steep ascent to the plateau, and is known as the Palandöken, or
saddle shifter. Between these two commanding peaks is placed a cirque
or huge basin from which the detritus is emptied into the plain. It
has been supposed that the peaks are only the upstanding sides of
a huge broken-down crater represented by the cirque. It seems more
probable, however, that this great hollow is due to erosive agencies,
and it may originally have been commenced by glacial action.

Standing on the roof of your house in Erzerum, you can scarcely
conceive the approach of an invader by a turning movement across
those heights. It is, indeed, no easy matter to discover any natural
passage; but there are in fact four. The most easterly is Aghzi Achik
(his mouth is open--though I cannot agree that such is the case.) It
leads over to some villages in Tekman. Further west is the valley
called Abdurrahman Gazi after a holy man, reputed to have been the
standard-bearer of the prophet, whose tomb is a favourite resort
in summer. Next comes the Palandöken, grazing the peak upon its
western slopes after finding a way along the eastern declivities of
the cirque. The fourth and most westerly is that of Kirk Deïrmen, or
the forty mills. Of these the only approach of any importance is that
of Palandöken. It constitutes the summer route to the districts on the
south. The pass, just west of the peak, has an elevation of 9780 feet,
and is commanded on either side by two modern forts. A metalled road,
constructed during recent years, at once connects these important
outposts with the city and affords tolerable gradients to caravans. As
you examine the ground in this direction you observe a fortified hill
on the south-west of the enceinte; it is called the Keremitlu Dagh.

The wall on the north of the plain is scarcely less impenetrable,
though Nature has cloven it almost through by the defile known as
the Gurgi Boghaz, or Georgian gates, down which flows the infant
stream of the Euphrates and is carried the road from Olti. But
the portion of the Russian possessions from which it leads are
mountainous and poor in supplies, and the narrows are blocked on
the Turkish side by modern fortifications. In a geographical and
geological sense this northern barrier corresponds to that on the
south of the depression. A plateau-like character is not one of its
least pronounced features--a feature which is presented with startling
fidelity in the outline on the north of the plain of Pasin, where the
heights are called Kargabazar (Fig. 163, p. 193). West of the Gurgi
Boghaz they are broken into peaks, of which the most symmetrical is
the beautiful cone of Sheikhjik--a constant source of admiration to
an inhabitant of Erzerum. It consists of a mass of trachyte which has
welled up from the middle of a crater. [177] As these heights extend
westwards they have been less subjected to eruptive disturbances; and
the fine landmarks of the Akhbaba Dagh, the Jejen Dagh and the Kop
Dagh are composed of non-volcanic rocks. But these eminences serve
to accentuate the prevailing flatness of the outline, which remains
the outline of a block of tableland. Of little comparative width,
this mass declines upon the north to the valley of the Chorokh.

Erzerum, it will have been seen, is almost as difficult to get round
as it should be impossible to take by direct assault from the east. If
only Turkey were a naval power, able to cope with her adversary by sea,
it would be a long time before this bulwark of her Asiatic empire could
be broken down by a Russian attack. Herein lies the value to Turkey
of help from a first-rate naval Power and the hopelessness of her
position should it not be forthcoming. With her fleet in undisputed
possession of the Black Sea, Russia might laugh at the irresistible
defences of Erzerum. It would only be necessary to hold the garrison
by an advance on the side of Pasin; and the real attack, if it were
ever made, would come from the west, the vulnerable side, delivered
by a column which should have been landed at the port of Trebizond,
and which there would be nothing to prevent marching to Erzerum along
the chaussée. Sevastopol and Odessa rather than Kars and Erivan are
the storm centres from which will be let loose the forces that will
sweep the Ottoman Empire out of Asia, when we shall be confronted with
a brand-new set of barriers, precluding for the second time in history
the entrance of commerce and enlightenment into these magnificent
territories. In taking leave of this part of the subject, I must not
omit to mention the route which a Russian army might be expected to
follow in its progress westwards after the fall of Erzerum. As far as
Erzinjan the course of the Euphrates would in general be followed,
when the northern border heights would be crossed and the entry to
Asia Minor effected by way of Karahisar. There are no difficulties to
traffic along this avenue. On the other hand, an advance from Mush,
the side of the southern depression, could only be undertaken by
mountain paths above the course of the Murad, which have never been
touched by an engineer. It is therefore probable that the tide of war
would be diverted for some time to the lowlands, when it might threaten
the south-eastern districts of Asia Minor from the side of Diarbekr.

On three occasions, all during the course of the present century,
Erzerum has been at the mercy of Russian armies. In 1829 it was
actually taken by Marshal Paskevich, whose troops penetrated as far
north as Gümüshkhaneh and to within eighteen miles of Trebizond. [178]
Recovered by Turkey at the ensuing peace, it was threatened by a
similar fate after the fall of Kars in November 1855. It was only
saved by the Russian reverses in other quarters and by the early
termination of the war (Treaty of Paris, March 1856). In 1877
the Russians forced the Deveh Boyun barrier, which in those days
was unprovided with proper defences; but they met with a serious
repulse in an attempt to storm the forts on the eastern flank of the
enceinte. The investment was not completed until the month of January
1878; and, although the place was held by their armies as a material
guarantee during the negotiations for peace, it was retained by the
Sultan under the terms of the treaties of San Stefano (March 1878)
and Berlin (July 1878). Since the conclusion of that campaign the
advantages of the position have for the first time been turned to
proper account; and, if in the future the system of forts should be
found provided with the most modern ordnance and held by a sufficient
garrison, Erzerum may still earn the glory of owing her preservation
to the sword rather than to the pen.

But not only is this fortress the key to Turkish Armenia; it also
defends the most important of her trade routes. The principal avenue
of the commerce between Europe and northern Persia passes through
Erzerum. This traffic, which is conducted by means of numerous
strings of camels, was originally founded by the Genoese. Its
flourishing condition long after the disappearance of these great
merchants is attested by the Jesuit missionaries in the latter half
of the seventeenth century. [179] As early as the year 1690 we hear
of a British commercial agent residing in the city. [180] In those
days even a portion of the trade with India found its way through
Erzerum. After the initiation of a service of steamers on the Black
Sea in the year 1836, the land routes between the provincial capital
and Constantinople or the Mediterranean ports gradually fell into
disuse. On the other hand, the trade itself received a great impulse,
and has continued to increase year by year to the present day. In place
of the almost endless stages of land carriage through Asia Minor,
European steamers discharge their goods at the port of Trebizond,
whence they are conveyed on the backs of camels through Erzerum and
along a series of plains to the Persian city of Tabriz. In the year
1842 it was ascertained that the number of packages disembarked at
Trebizond in transit for Persia was about 32,000. In 1898 this trade
had increased to over 5000 tons; and in a normal year the value of the
imports into Persia is about £600,000. About two-thirds of this trade
belongs to Great Britain. It is to be hoped that the trunk railway
which already exists in Asia Minor will be extended to Erzerum, where
it should be joined by a branch line from Rizeh or Trebizond. From
Erzerum it could be continued without the intervention of any natural
obstacle through Bayazid to Tabriz; and from Tabriz it would proceed
through Teheran and Ispahan until it effected a junction with the
Indian railways. The capital to construct this railway should be
subscribed in Europe generally; and a certain percentage of interest
should be guaranteed on the revenues of Turkish Armenia as a provincial
unit, as well as on the revenues of Persia.

The population of Erzerum, especially the Armenian element, has
undergone a remarkable oscillation during the nineteenth century. In
1827 it appears to have numbered as many as 130,000 souls. [181]
Another but lower estimate gives a total at that period of 16,378
families, or from 80,000 to 100,000 souls. Of these 3950 families,
or from 19,000 to 24,000 people, were Armenians of the national
religion. [182] The Russian occupation of the city in 1829 was
followed in 1830 by a general emigration of the Armenian inhabitants,
who followed the Russian armies upon its evacuation. Those were the
days when Russia was assisted to her conquests by Armenians and hailed
by them as a deliverer. Numbers of their countrymen--it is said by
Armenians not less than 40,000--had already emigrated into the Russian
provinces from the frontier districts of Persia in the train of the
Russian army when it retired from Tabriz at the peace of Turkomanchai
(1828). [183] What with the exodus of Armenians both from the city
and the plain--which before those times was probably inhabited by an
Armenian majority--and the various calamities of a disastrous war,
the population of Erzerum had declined to a total of not more than
15,000 souls in 1835. [184] Only 120 Armenian families are said to have
remained behind. [185] At the time of my first visit the inhabitants
numbered about 40,000, exclusive of a garrison of 5000 or 6000 men. The
official figures assigned some 10,500 to the Armenians, 26,500 to the
Mussulmans, 1400 to the Persians and strangers, and about 500 to the
Greeks. Of the Armenians some 500 succumbed in the great massacre of
1898. It is evident, however, that the town has been returning to
its former condition; and there can be no doubt that with the most
moderate instalment of tolerable government the older figures would
be soon surpassed. I was informed by the Persian Consul that some
30,000 to 40,000 head of camel were yearly counted as having passed
through the city. The money spent by their owners for provisions
and sundries in Erzerum amounts to about £T90,000 or, in sterling,
£81,000 a year. Such is the value to the city of the Persian trade.

The aspect of Erzerum, when seen from without, is sombre and
unattractive. This impression is principally due to the colour of the
stone of which it is built and to the scarcity of trees. I am tempted
to offer my reader two illustrations of the place, the one taken from
the higher ground on the south, and displaying the features of the
great plain with the city in the foreground and in the distance the
lofty outline of the northern heights (Fig. 164); the other looking
south-west from the roof of the British Consulate, with the castle
in relief against the slopes of the Eyerli Dagh on the right of the
picture (Fig. 165). This view does not comprise the peak of Palandöken,
situated a little further to the left. The eminence in the centre
is a nameless mass, intermediate between the two greater mountains
and screening the cirque from the plain. A curious feature in the
landscape of the city, when seen from very near, are the chimneys,
which look like rows of dove-cots. The smoke escapes at the sides. It
is strange that the inhabitants display so little love of verdure,
for the sun is always brilliant and productive of glaring lights,
while during two or three months of the year its rays are fierce. The
few gardens that there are grow quantities of lilac, of a perfection
of bloom and colouring and perfume which surpasses any examples I
have seen elsewhere. Abundance of delicious water flows down from the
heights on the north; and under happier circumstances the slopes and
the plain outside the city would be dotted with dwellings embowered
in trees. At the present day, when once you have passed outside the
enceinte, you feel like a ship which has taken to the open sea. Not
a hedgerow, no oasis of foliage diversifies and softens the naked
and vast expanse. You steer your course whither you will. For at
least five months in the year the ground is covered with snow--an
unbroken sheet spread over mountain and plain. Little specks in the
landscape are recognised as villages; and now and again a gliding
object--it might be a boat on the ocean--moves swiftly towards the
city and, approaching nearer, is seen to be a sledge. The climate
of Erzerum has been compared to that of St. Petersburg, but the
comparison is most unhappy and in many respects fallacious. Sun and
sky belong essentially to the South. It is only the great altitude
of over 6000 feet above sea-level that produces the rigour of winter
and the crispness of the summer nights. My daily observations of
temperature during the months of December and January supply the
following results. In December the highest reading at 9 A.M. was 37°
Fahrenheit, or 5° above freezing-point; and the lowest at the same time
of the day was 8°, or 24° of frost. During January the maximum at 10
A.M. was 30° Fahrenheit, and the minimum at the same hour was -19 1/2°
centigrade, or 3° below zero of Fahrenheit. Double windows and German
stoves are necessaries in such a climate; and, as you take your ride
of an afternoon and gallop over the powdery snow, it is necessary to
protect the ears against frost-bite. On the other hand, it is not easy
to realise the severity of the weather, so brilliant are the rays of
the sun. And the warmth of walking exercise completes the illusion
of a snowfall in summer, while your spaniel ranges widely over the
endless white surface, intent upon his forbidden pursuit of the larks.

The charm of the place--and it has a charm which must appeal
to all sensitive minds--consists in the grandiose scale of the
surroundings--the sculpturesque beauties of the parallel lines of
mountain which meet in the perspective of the west; the subtle effects
of light and tint, which are those of some summit in the mountains
transferred to the habitable earth. The setting of the sun and the
rising of the moon reflect the originality of such conditions. The
plain itself must be close upon 6000 feet high; it has a length,
from west to east, of eighteen miles, and it is not less than some
ten miles across. [186] In its trough lies the infant stream of the
Western Euphrates, which, rising on the slopes of the Dümlü Dagh,
[187] a mountain of the northern border, is for some little distance
lost in a zone of marshes, almost opposite the city but not less
than about five miles away. These marshes are quite an aviary of all
kinds of wildfowl, which, besides supplying eggs to the inhabitants
of the neighbouring villages, afford most excellent opportunities to
the sportsman.

The enceinte, or circumvallation of Erzerum was constructed during
the period between the war of 1855 and that of 1877. It consists
of a rampart or ramparts of earth with ditches, and resembles the
enceinte of Paris. Cannons are mounted upon it at intervals. It
embraces an area of about three square miles, and is furnished with
four principal gates. That on the west is called the gate of Erzinjan,
and the one on the east the gate of Tabriz. The gates on the north and
south-west are named respectively the Olti and Kharput gates. Each
gate is guarded by sentries. The space enclosed within this rampart
is only partially covered by buildings, the town occupying not more
than about a square mile of ground. Down to comparatively recent times
Erzerum consisted of a citadel and walled city, with suburbs lying
outside the walls. These walls, which dated back to the Byzantine
period, were double and defended by sixty-two towers. They were
further protected by a moat. Their circumference appears to have
been not less than three or four miles, and no Christian was allowed
to reside within them. They were provided with four gates, bearing
the same names as those in the present enceinte. Texier, who visited
Erzerum in 1839, records that Greek characters were to be seen upon the
gates, and crosses incised in the stones of the walls. Both features
were evidently of Byzantine origin. His authoritative testimony
is supported by at least two of his predecessors, Hamilton (1836)
and Poser (1621). The last-mentioned traveller describes a marble
bas-relief and Greek inscription which he saw upon one of the gates. I
have little doubt that this bas-relief is the same of which Yusuf spoke
to me as having been copied by Consul Taylor in the sixties and taken
to the British Museum. The document is, however, not forthcoming in
our national treasure-house, and the original has disappeared. Only
in the central and more southerly quarters of Erzerum did I observe
a few remnants of the old walls. The citadel is still in existence,
crowning the highest ground in the city, and it still contains the
famous old tower. It seems to have served as a watch-tower, and was
provided with a clock which the Russians carried away in 1830. In
old days the captain of the Janissaries resided in the citadel;
and the only occasion upon which a pasha of Erzerum would enter that
sanctuary was if he came to have his head cut off. [188]

Not many ancient buildings remain in the city, which has not seldom
been visited by severe earthquakes. One of the most violent occurred
in the month of June 1859, destroying or seriously damaging 4500
houses, overturning several portions of the old walls and levelling
nine minarets with the ground. [189] The most pretentious edifice
is the old medresseh or college, called [Chifteh Minareh.] Chifteh
Minareh or the double minaret (Fig. 166). My illustration is from a
photograph taken many years ago, before the caps of both minarets had
fallen away. I was unable to obtain permission to enter the edifice,
which was being used as a military store. It has been described at some
length by more than one of my predecessors, and it is, I believe, an
architectural solecism. [190] The façade of hewn stone with elaborate
traceries contrasts with the brickwork of the pair of circular towers
which rise from stone piers on either side. The circumference of each
tower is diversified by eighteen small shafts, morticed into the main
mass. The space between each pair of shafts is filled by a triangular
moulding, of which the edge or narrow side faces outwards. Shafts and
moulding are built of reddish kiln-burnt bricks, inlaid with small
blue bricks. At the base of either pier is a large panel, framing an
elaborate ornament in sculptured stone. Between the uppermost sprays
of a bunch of foliage or feathers rests the device of a double-headed
eagle. The stalks or quills of the garland rest in the hollow of a
small semicircle, which is supported by the interlaced forms of two
dragons. The question is suggested whether this double-headed eagle
be the well-known emblem of the Roman empire over East and West. But
we know that the emblem was adopted by the Seljuk dynasty of the
Ortukids and by their successors the Ayubids; [191] and, indeed,
if one were left to one's own judgment, one might well suppose
that this was a monument of the Seljuk period. On the other hand,
a Cufic inscription, communicated to Professor Koch in the forties
by the dragoman of the British Consulate, is to the effect that this
building and an adjacent mosque were founded by a nameless benefactor
during the caliphate of Malek Khan and in the year of the Hegira
351 (A.D. 962). The inscription is described as consisting of two
portions, one on either tower. [192] Personally I could not discover
any trace of Cufic writing, nor, so far as I am aware, has such been
observed upon this monument by any of my predecessors. Adjoining
the building on the south side is a circular tomb in hewn stone,
resembling the mausolea at Akhlat, which are works of the thirteenth
century. Tradition ascribes the tomb to a Sultan of Persia. [193]

[Ulu Jami.] The large mosque of Ulu Jami is not more than a few steps
distant from the entrance to Chifteh Minareh. It has rather a vast
interior with several vaulted aisles; but it is devoid of architectural
pretensions. I was shown an ancient paper belonging to this mosque,
in which it was stated that it had been built by the Head of the
Government and Religion, Mohammed el-Fateh, in A.H. 575 or A.D. 1179.

The most pleasing situation in the city is that which is presented by
the disposition of the buildings as you make your way southwards up an
irregular ravine or gully, down which trickles a little stream. On your
right hand the high ground is crowned by the bastions of the citadel;
while to your front, on the same heights a little south of these grim
walls, rise the slender towers of Chifteh Minareh. The slopes on the
east are much gentler, and are covered with houses, terraced up the
incline. Here and there you may discern a pile of stones, or a block
of masonry abutting on a house. These fragments are the [Relics of
the old walls.] relics of the old walls, which formerly separated the
great mosque, the Chifteh Minareh and the citadel from the suburbs with
which these buildings are now continuous. One may turn aside among the
houses to visit a [Holy well.] holy well, which is frequented by both
Mussulmans and Armenians. The former assert that it is situated on
the spot where the successor of Sheikh Abdul Kader of Baghdad is said
to have met his death. The latter attribute its origin to a miracle,
by which the water welled up from the ground upon which was shed the
blood of two of their martyrs, the brothers Isaac and Joseph. They
met their fate in A.D. 796. [194] The spring rises from the mud floor
of a humble little house, and is quite tepid to the touch.



[Churches.] I need not detain my reader with any description of the
churches, because Erzerum has always differed from other Armenian
centres in not possessing any remarkable Armenian temples. The early
travellers speak of two insignificant chapels, and one of these still
remains. During the forties the Armenian inhabitants set about building
a more spacious edifice; and Curzon tells an interesting story in
connection with the enterprise, which may explain the origin of the
number of old sculptured stones which are such a feature in the walls
of many an Armenian church. The priests, he says, urged their flock
to bring in the tombstones of their ancestors; and the response was
so warm that there was quite a rush of able-bodied Armenians, carrying
tombstones from the graves of their families on their backs. Many were
unable to obtain a place in the walls or windows for their contribution
to the structure of the house of God. [195] I do not know whether
the edifice of which this traveller speaks is the same as the present
cathedral. In addition to the little chapel of which I have spoken,
this is the only church of the Gregorian community of Erzerum. The
city is the centre of one of their dioceses and was inhabited by a
bishop at the time of my stay. Monsignor Shishmanean--such was the
name and title under which I was introduced to this prelate--received
me with some show of state, being attended by all the members of his
lay council. He conversed quite fluently in the French language.

[Sanasarean school.] The popular basis of the Armenian Church is one of
its most remarkable features, and, with the rapid spread of education
which is now in process among the community, ought before long to
be productive of far-reaching reforms. This lay council consists
of notables chosen by the people; and, in a vacancy of the see, the
patriarch at Constantinople submits to them the names of candidates
among whom to choose a successor to their late bishop. In Erzerum this
lay body is an operative factor in the life of the community; but I
doubt whether its counterpart could be discovered in such centres as
Bitlis or Mush. It exercises considerable influence in the government
of the Sanasarean school, to a brief account of which I now proceed.


The origin of this institution--designed to dispense a higher standard
of education than that which obtains in other Armenian schools in
Turkish Armenia--goes back to 1881. In that year Mr. Madatean, one of
the three existing Directors, visited the provincial centres at the
invitation of a wealthy Armenian gentleman, the late Mr. Sanasarean. He
returned to Erzerum with several pupils, chosen among the poorer
class. In 1883 the school entered upon its present premises, which
have been considerably enlarged since. Its patron, Mr. Sanasarean,
died in 1890, bequeathing a sum of about £30,000 to his foundation
and directing his executors to draw up a constitution. This charge
has now been fulfilled. Two councils have been appointed--one at
Constantinople under the presidency of the patriarch, and the other
at Erzerum under that of the bishop. Thus the college is under the
protection of the Church; and it is with the patriarch or the bishop
that Government deals. Three Directors were chosen to preside over the
teaching staff, and to dispense instruction themselves. The council
of Erzerum consists of this triumvirate, who hold office for life,
and of three notables, one of whom vacates his charge every year. It
has also been provided that, upon the decease of any member of the
triumvirate, his colleagues shall take his place until the number shall
have been reduced to one, so that eventually there may be only a single
Director. Of the two councils that at Constantinople is supreme. They
administer the revenues, which have been increased since the death
of the founder by the receipt of at least one substantial legacy. The
institution has been launched with every promise of success, although
it seems likely to be destined to undergo vicissitudes before attaining
a full measure of usefulness.

The Sanasarean college is essentially a boarding college, and day
pupils are not encouraged. It has a roll of not more than about
eighty inmates, of whom nearly half are the sons of parents in narrow
circumstances, and pay nothing for maintenance. About fifteen youths
are natives of Erzerum, and the rest are derived from the provinces. A
few will have journeyed hither all the way from Constantinople. It is
expected of the gratuitous scholars that they shall all become teachers
in the various Armenian schools throughout Turkey. Of the sixty
members who had already completed the course at the time of my visit
one-half had adopted the scholastic profession. I went carefully over
the school, and was delighted with the arrangements. The dormitories
are large and kept scrupulously clean, and the same may be said of
the classrooms. There are a hospital attached and a playground. The
technical school is well provided with lathes and all kinds of
implements, and some excellent work is forthcoming from the young
handicraftsmen. Boys enter the college in about their tenth year,
and leave at the age of seventeen or eighteen.

The course comprises a preparatory class and six higher classes. The
subjects taught are in the first place the Armenian and the Turkish
languages, the former comprising both the ancient and the modern
speech. Of foreign tongues French and German are included, but
neither Latin nor Greek. The history of the Armenian Church and
nation is imparted under great difficulties and without the aid of
books. These would be confiscated by the Censor. In mathematics the
curriculum provides for algebra and geometry; and in natural science
for geography, geology, botany, zoology, astronomy, anatomy, chemistry,
and physics. Commercial book-keeping can also be learnt. Music is
studied and practised with much appreciation, and there are several
tolerable performers on the violin. The prospectus of studies must
by law be submitted to Government; but the Mudir or local director
of public instruction confines his energies to an occasional and
friendly visit. Most of the text-books are German. The teaching staff
numbers twelve members, including the Directors; the French master
had recently arrived from France. It is desired that the teachers
should have passed through this school, and then have completed their
studies in Europe. A certain portion of the funds have been set aside
to meet the expenses of one or two students during their residence
abroad. Two have already proceeded to St. Petersburg, and two more
are about to leave for Reichenberg in Bohemia in order to study in
a technical school.

I offer my reader a group of the scholars of this institution, with a
picture of the founder in their midst (Fig. 167). The faces are full
of character and determination. Nor should I wish to omit a similar
group of the comely maidens of Armenia, taken at Edgmiatsin and showing
the national dress (Fig. 168). I received the impression that there
was something wanting to the vitality of the school, that the pupils
were not using their talents to the best advantage. For instance,
when I asked them for the result of x + y × x - y, they were obliged
to make the sum and could not supply the result offhand. Personally the
Directors are charming men, neither self-assertive nor obsequious. All
three have studied in Germany; but not one of them has taken his
doctor's degree. They told me that they had in this obeyed the
expressed desire of their patron, M. Sanasarean. But, although
there can be little doubt that they made excellent use of their
opportunities, it is most pernicious to the interests of the school
that their example should be made a precedent. By what means can the
Council ensure that the young men sent abroad to study have really
penetrated into the inner circle of European scholarship? Only
by requiring that they should not return without obtaining its
badge. It also seemed to me strange that the pupils passed from
class to class by length of residence rather than by merit. Other
drawbacks, the first of which might be easily remedied, were the
absence of sports and games as a prominent feature of school life,
the want of touch with the Armenian schools in the Russian provinces,
and the unreality of the diplomas granted by the institution, which
have not as yet become the key to a variety of careers. The fact, too,
that the minds of the Directors have been filled with the pedagogic
lore of Germany militates against success. That so-called science
betrays the weaknesses of the powerful German intellect. In Germany
its pedantic influence is counteracted by military service; but this
wholesome corrective is wanting to the Armenian youth of Erzerum.

[Armenian Catholics of Erzerum.] In addition to the Sanasarean
college, the Gregorian community possess no less than six ordinary
schools. Of these the principal is attached to the cathedral and
is named Artsenean. It is attended by about 200 day scholars, and
corresponds to an Armenian school of two classes in Russia. The school
for girls, called Ripsimean, appeared to be well administered; it has
a roll of 350 maidens. The Armenian Catholics of Erzerum province
number several thousands of souls; and the city is the seat of one
of their bishops. Their school, which is conducted by four French
priests, is considered one of the best in the town. It is attended by
over 100 pupils, of whom nearly one-third are Gregorians. A little
boy of three did the honours of his class, when I availed myself of
the kind invitation of the frères. He addressed me in the following
speech, delivered with the most graceful gestures:--"Monsieur! Soyez
le bienvenu; que le ciel vous protège, cher Monsieur!"

[American missionaries.] The American missionaries have a
large establishment with schools in Erzerum. Their mission was
founded in 1839. It was presided over during my residence by the
Rev. W. N. Chambers, a man in the prime of life with fine physique
and a face of great beauty, which corresponds to the nobility and
sweetness of his character. His wife and worthy companion--one of
the most charming and refined of women--was perpetually busy with
her girls' school. One reflected upon the value to the womanhood of
the Armenian race of such an example as hers. In taking leave of the
American missions, it is pleasant to dwell upon this memory, which,
indeed, illustrates the kind of benefits which they confer upon the
country better than all the figures in their reports. They raise the
standard of life, and diffuse an atmosphere of wholesome living. I
ought to add that their missions are conducted by quite exceptional
men and women--of a type and perhaps of a class far higher than one
would expect. One admires in them a broad tolerance and entire absence
of all cant. One says farewell from the depth of the heart.

[Rushdiyeh. Idadiyeh.] Education is provided for the Mussulman
population by a single but well-appointed institution. It combines
the courses of a Rushdiyeh, or High School, with that of an Idadiyeh
or lycée. It is housed in a spacious new building in the centre
of the town, and I found it occupied by 130 pupils, of whom 45
were boarders. Youths enter the school between their eleventh and
fifteenth years, and stay seven years. Of this period three years
are spent in the lower and four in the higher course. There are
about eight teachers. The majority of the scholars were attired in a
quasi-military uniform; the rest were in civil dress. All looked in
excellent health. The dormitories were provided with brass bedsteads;
and I noticed that the linen was scrupulously clean. Shining napkins
were spread out upon the table of the dining-room, which was lined with
a row of chairs and provided with crockery. Adjoining the school is
a small hospital. The course comprises the same subjects as those in
the curricula of the Van schools; and, although this school professes
to dispense a much higher standard, it is in fact less advanced than
the so-called military school at Van. This is the only Idadiyeh in
Turkish Armenia; and the admirable official who acts as coadjutor to
an invisible Director of Public Instruction informed me that in the
year preceding my visit a Government order had been issued, to the
effect that all candidates for subordinate posts in the civil service
should be required to produce a diploma from an Idadiyeh. I learnt
on the same authority that there existed a Rushdiyeh in each caza of
the vilayet of Erzerum with the exception of the caza of Terjan.

We found Erzerum in a condition verging upon famine. During my
residence several people died of inanition, and the poorer classes
were only just alive. I was informed that there was no lack of grain
in the place; but it was all in the hands of merchants, and they
refused to sell except at famine prices. A short harvest in 1892 had
been followed by insufficient sowing, owing to the consumption of the
seed for food. Grain was said to be lying at Trebizond on Government
account; but the officials pleaded that they were unable to obtain
transport. Some of them, if not all, were no doubt confederates of
the Corn Ring. The same state of things was prevalent at Van; and
throughout our journey we had great difficulty in obtaining barley for
our horses, even when offering exorbitant prices. One may present some
conception of the acuteness of the sufferings of the townspeople by
recording some particulars of prices and wages. Wheat was selling at
50 piasters a kilé, or about 2 1/2 piasters an oke (2 3/4 lbs.). The
price of bread was 2 piasters an oke. A healthy man requires at least
three-quarters of an oke of bread a day, in addition to his ration
of sheep's tail or meat sausage, of which the working classes lay
in a provision in the autumn. The wages of a carpenter or skilled
labourer are in good times 8 piasters a day. But hundreds of workmen
were seeking employment at 1 1/2 piasters, and the best paid among
the makers of cigarettes for the régie were receiving a daily wage
of 2 piasters. Rice at Erzerum is quite a luxury, and potatoes are
so little grown that they may be left out of account. How was a man
to pay for his lodging, provide food for his family and himself, and
obtain tezek, or cow-dung cakes, for his fire upon the current wages? I
was shown the kind of bread upon which the majority were living; it
looked like a thin pancake, and its staple consisted of a black grain
or seed. But the principal ingredient was mud and chopped straw. The
cruelty of the situation was accentuated by the fact that all kinds
of comestibles were spread out upon the booths of the bazar. One
regretted the absence of the glass windows of our shops. Here the
temptation might be touched as well as seen. There is no poor-law,
and no poor-houses. People starve in the streets. A Mussulman girl
of great beauty came to our house, and begged piteously for food,
showing her face. We endeavoured to obtain for her a place as servant
in the residence of some Turkish ladies. But it was well known that
there was many a brute in Erzerum who, like the Spectre of Hunger in
the pregnant lines of Alfred de Musset, demanded kisses as the price
of a piece of bread.

The economical condition of the surrounding country is woeful in the
extreme. The great plains from Pasin to Lake Van were being raided by
bands of Kurds. I shall describe in a future chapter how this predatory
people came to be established in the agricultural centres. Erzerum was
full of accounts of their open attacks upon the industrious peasantry;
and even the Mussulmans, as, for instance, at Hasan Kala in Pasin, were
petitioning Government for protection. It is true they did not dare to
call their assailants to book as Kurds, but described them merely as
brigands. It was well known that these bands were led by officers in
Hamidiyeh regiments--tenekelis, or tin-plate men, as they are called
by the populace, from the brass badges they wear in their caps. The
frightened officials, obliged to report such occurrences, take refuge
behind the amusing euphemism of such a phrase as "brigands, disguised
as soldiers." The scourge had almost exhausted the Armenian population,
and was now commencing to sit heavy upon the Mussulmans. The Armenians
were emigrating as fast as they could. The Russian Consul informed
me that he had been obliged to issue no less than 3500 passports to
Armenians during the current year. The Russians did not want them;
but what were they to do? I learnt from another source that in the
caza of Khinis alone 1000 Armenians had left their homes, the majority
in abject poverty, and had taken refuge across the frontier.

With a famine in the provincial capital and the adjacent territory
stripped by marauders, the inhabitants of any other country would have
risen in revolt against the Government. But the population of Asiatic
Turkey, in spite of religious differences, are the most easily governed
in the world. All the talk about Mussulmans and Christians flying at
each other's throat is talk, and moreover very idle talk. During my
subsequent visits to Erzerum it was admitted to me by Turkish officials
that the massacres of 1898 were perpetrated in these districts
by bands of imported ruffians. The still unavenged guilt of these
abominable orgies does not lie upon the Mussulman population. Only
on one occasion during my residence did the famished townspeople of
the dominant religion come near to measures of insubordination. They
sent their women--a method of petition which is neither usual nor
lightly to be dismissed--in a body to Government House. Thence
the petitioners proceeded to the residence of an official of the
Treasury at Constantinople, who had been despatched to Erzerum to
make enquiries into the scarcity. The indignant matrons assailed his
ears with the pertinent question: neye geldin, whereto didst thou
come? Dissatisfied with the answer they received, they smashed the
windows of the functionary; but nothing came of the demonstration.

All through that anxious time the civil government was in abeyance;
and nothing was set up in its place. The Vali was recently dead;
his successor had not been chosen; the deputy Governor was at
once a puppet and an imbecile. An honest man with a few policemen
at his back could restore not only order but prosperity. There is
only one essential of any importance: to reorganise the territorial
boundaries of the provinces, select good governors and invest them with
extensive powers. If my reader be inclined to smile at the choice of
my epithet when applied to a Turkish official, I can only say that I
much regret my inability to introduce him personally to the present
holder of the office of Vali of Erzerum. I was privileged to make the
acquaintance of Raouf Pasha on the occasion of my second visit. His
career through a long life has been one of much distinction; he is
honest, just, capable, humane. If such a man could only be freed from
the leading-strings of the capital, he would go far towards a happy
settlement of the Armenian question, and of the still more important
question, the continuance of the Ottoman Empire.

The Armenian inhabitants of the provincial capital are undergoing
a state of transition from their ancestral customs to the less
straitened manners of the West. But these customs die a hard death,
and the emancipated Armenian who has studied in Europe must feel
their fetters upon his return to his native land. Let us suppose
that he wishes to marry; he must have recourse to his mother, or,
if she be dead, to a female relation. A bride is chosen for him,
whom, as likely as not, he does not see until the marriage ceremony
has been performed. If the parents of the bridegroom be still alive,
the newly-married couple reside with them; and it is the custom that,
while sons and daughters are permitted to speak to their parents,
a similar license is not usually accorded to the sons' wives. Thus a
maiden quits a home where freedom of intercourse and speech is allowed
her to enter one where she is not permitted to open her mouth. A son
may not smoke in the presence of his father; and great are the agonies
endured by the younger generation in this respect alone. The earnings
of the sons are handed over to the father, who rules the family quite
in the patriarchal style.

A single family comprises a very large number of members, all living
in the same house. In one house in which I visited there were not less
than thirty. I photographed a group of five generations in this family,
each person being in direct lineal descent. The infant is the son of
the pretty young lady on the left of the picture, and it reposes on
the lap of her great-grandmother (Fig. 169).

To Erzerum belongs an antiquity which, if not remote, is at least
respectable; and her history, or rather the glimpses which we obtain
of that history, illustrate the time-honoured struggle between
East and West. Founded during the reign of the second Theodosius
(A.D. 408-450), at the instance of one of the greatest of the early
Armenian patriarchs, and upon the site of a village which dated from
ancient times, [196] the new city received the name of Theodosiopolis,
and was designed to constitute an outer bulwark to the Roman Empire
of the East. In the description of this event which we receive from
Moses of Khorene the traveller recognises the familiar surroundings
of the present town. The emissary of the emperor had journeyed over
an extensive tract of country in search of a suitable site. His
choice at length fell upon a position in the province of Karin, at
the foot of a mountain in which several rivulets had their origin. At
no great distance were situated the sources of the Euphrates, which,
collecting into a sluggish stream, formed a large marsh, supporting
abundance of wildfowl, on the eggs of which the inhabitants lived. The
province lay in the centre of the country. Upon this site were laid
the foundations of a fortified city, defended by moat and walls and
towers. Baths of solid masonry were erected in the vicinity over the
hot springs which welled from the ground. [197]

Seized in the year 502 by the Sasanian king of Persia at the
inception of his war with Rome, this remote stronghold was shortly
afterwards recovered by the Emperor Anastasius and restored to its
former fame. [198] The fortifications were enlarged and increased by
Justinian; [199] but at the close of the sixth century it again fell
into Persian hands. [200] I do not know that we are able to follow
its fortunes during the campaigns of Heraclius, who is said to have
assembled there a council of Armenian bishops (A.D. 629?). [201]
In the year 647 Theodosiopolis became the prize of the Arabs; and
more than a century elapsed before it was regained by the Cæsars
under Constantine the Fifth (755). [202] That monarch razed the
walls, reduced the inhabitants to slavery, and transported a great
number of Armenians of the Paulician sect to Constantinople and
to Thrace. [203] Shortly after this event it appears to have been
rebuilt by the Mussulmans; and it played an important part during
the wars of Leo (886-911) and his son Constantine Porphyrogenitus
(911-959) with the Arabs in the neighbouring province of Pasin. [204]
But the waves of Mussulman conquest were closing in upon the Eastern
Empire. About the commencement of the thirteenth century we find the
place in the possession of a prince who bears the Turkish name of
Toghrul Ben Kilijarslan. From his hands it passed into the dominions
of the Sultan of Iconium. [205] The Seljuk Sultan was known as the
lord of Erzerum, just as his Ottoman successors bore the title of
lords of Kars. [206] The rule of the Seljuks was followed by that of
their Tartar conquerors. In the first half of the fifteenth century
Erzerum was in the keeping of the Turkomans, from whom it was wrested
by the Ottomans under Mohammed II. [207]

The name Erzerum dates from Mussulman times, but its exact derivation
is obscure. It may either signify the land (Ard in Arabic, Arz in
Turkish) of Rum, or of the Roman Empire; or it may be compounded of
this last name and of the name of an unfortified town in the vicinity
which was known as Artze or Artsn. It is quite probable that this
town was at an early date called Artze of Rum to distinguish it from
another Artze in the south of Armenia which lay within the Persian
sphere. [208] Local tradition places the site of the first of these
Artzes close to the present city and on or near the banks of the Kara
Su. We know that the place was sacked by the Turks in the middle
of the eleventh century; [209] and according to Saint Martin the
survivors took refuge within the walls of Theodosiopolis, to which
they transferred the name of their own populous town. [210] However
this may be, the ancient Armenian name of Karin is still applied to
the present city. [211] The monuments of the Eastern Empire have been
seen in Erzerum by modern travellers; and the chain of history has
not been broken in a manner to disparage the identity of the Roman
fortress with this key to the Asiatic dominions of the Ottoman Turks.



CHAPTER X

RETURN TO THE BORDER RANGES--THALATTA, THALATTA!


From Erzerum to the Black Sea, at the nearest point, near Rizeh, is a
distance as the crow flies of 88 miles, or, measured to Trebizond,
of 114 miles. Yet the distance by the main road to the ancient
capital of the Grand-Comneni is little less than 200 miles. [212]
This large discrepancy is due to the great height of the block of
mountain on the north of the plain of Erzerum, and, more especially,
to the essential character of the sea of troughs and ridges, interposed
between the town of Baiburt and the coast. The Turkish Government have
built a magnificent chaussée across this country, constructed in the
seventies by French engineers. But whatever its value in time of war,
it has failed to revolutionise the methods of transport in vogue from
immemorial time. Vehicular traffic is conducted between the termini
in summer, and in winter the journey is feasible on a sledge. But the
camel, the mule, and the packhorse are still the principal means of
carriage, and the caravan has not yet fallen into disuse. With horses
which were short of work after their long rest in Erzerum we reached
Trebizond during the height of winter in six days.

At this season of the year the traveller is warned to beware of the
blizzards which render formidable the crossing of the Kop Pass. The
name of that pass is pronounced with a certain degree of terror in the
bazars and coffee-houses of Erzerum. Each winter brings its catalogue
of disasters to man and beast, buried in the driving snow on those
bleak heights. Nor is it easy to perform the passage in a single day
from Erzerum, waiting in the city for a favourable occasion. The Kop
is situated about forty miles west of the provincial capital; and the
barrier upon which it is placed--the wall on the north of Erzerum--can
scarcely be surmounted at a more adjacent point while it is covered
by the snows. For it is only the continual plying of caravans across
a pass which, in this latitude and at so great an elevation above the
sea, renders it practicable all the year round. Caravans have chosen
the Kop, and there is nothing left to the traveller but to acquiesce
in their choice. It was therefore decided to make our first day's
stage at the village of Ashkala, on the banks of the Euphrates,
a stage of over thirty miles, and thence, on the following day,
should the weather be favourable, to take the ascent of the range.

We set out at eleven o'clock on the morning of the 6th of February--a
dim winter's day, when the sun was struggling with the grey mists
spread over the face of land and sky. The thermometer registered
no less than 20° of frost (Fahrenheit); plain and mountain were
completely covered with deep snow. Even the road scarcely revealed
a patch of brown soil, and was distinguishable only by the parallel
dints of the ditches in the foreground of the white expanse. But the
city was conspicuous on the lowest slope of the southern barrier,
where the vaulted summits and bold convexities of that lofty wall
of mountain sweep into the lake-like plain. There it lay, a sombre
mass, from which projected into the murky atmosphere the outline
of a tower, the needle forms of minarets. On its either flank, in a
wide half-circle, the chain of heights advanced into the open, more
elevated and less contracted towards the north-east, declining but
more adjacent on the west. In both directions, the opposite horns
of this bay of snow-clad eminences appeared to touch the answering
parapet in the north--west and east in a long, straight line, fretted
by the shapes of cones and humps, stretched the barrier of that still
distant range. The point of apparent intersection between the two
outlines are, in fact, the open doors of the plain. In the north-east
it is the inlet which leads towards Olti, known as the Gurgi Boghaz:
in the west the valley which receives the Kara Su.

Our course was directed towards Ilija, a village of above-ground houses
at the foot of the western promontory, near some hot springs. The
summer road to Erzinjan diverges towards the west shortly after you
have left Erzerum. It is taken across the horn of heights, up a partial
opening, which, however, was barely visible. The view across the
plain and along the summits of the northern barrier extends from the
Deveh Boyun and the distant heights of Kargabazar to the Kop mountain
in the west. Several individual heights may be distinguished from
their fellows: Sheikhjik, a beautiful cone, north-west of Erzerum;
then Akhbaba, a cockscombed outline, and next Jejen, a symmetrical
peak. The flat-topped, broad-shouldered mass, which closes the series,
is the Kop, beneath whose shadow lies the pass.

In the village of Gez--a cluster of houses, partly Mohammedan
and partly Armenian--we made a stay of twenty minutes, and said
farewell to some of our friends, who had driven out to meet us in
a sledge. Sleighing is much in favour during the winter, both among
rich and poor. Little black specks come gliding over the snow-field in
the neighbourhood of the town. Taking shape, they are seen to consist
sometimes of a lean hack drawing a couple of longitudinal logs, placed
upon skates; or a graceful car, drawn by a pair of high-stepping
horses, brushes past you at a rapid trot. Near Ilija we crossed a
stream of warm water, which proceeded to follow us on our right hand;
and at three o'clock we had reached the spot near the extremity of the
promontory where the Kara Su might be expected to enter the narrows.

But the river was quite invisible, buried beneath the canopy which
stretched to the opposite mountains without a break. After doubling
the horn, which was low, and was succeeded by gentle eminences, we made
our way down the valley, between these hills and the northern barrier,
through a dreary landscape upon which the mist hung. A fine fox with
a sweeping brush made off across the snow, and found it difficult to
escape from sight. I viewed him away with a shout which surprised
our followers, giving vent to a whole season's abstinence. At four
o'clock we passed the lonely station of Yeni Khan; and, an hour later,
a road branched off across the hills, leading to Erzinjan. In another
half-hour we crossed the mouth of a large side valley through which
was hissing a considerable stream. It comes from the mountains on the
north, and is called the Serchemeh Chai; the combined waters below
the junction with the Kara Su are generally known as the Frat or
Euphrates. [213] We were surprised to observe the manner in which the
connection was effected between this ice-free torrent and the buried
Kara Su. Descending to the trough of the valley, the rapid current
was introduced into the same bed in which the companion river slept;
nor did it dip beneath the canopy, but hurried along by the side of its
partner, fretting the edge of the ice. When we crossed, a little later,
by a substantial bridge to the right bank, the united ice and flowing
water had a width of fifty paces. The valley had narrowed and become
almost Alpine in appearance since the bifurcation of the roads. In
such surroundings is situated the picturesque village of Kagdarich,
just above the bridge, on the right bank.

Again the hills opened after our passage of the river, and, nearing
Ashkala, composed a plain. We reached our destination at a quarter
to seven, beneath the shadows of night. It is a Mohammedan village of
some size, with a few Armenian houses; the houses are above ground. The
valley must have in places a width of six or seven miles. Its character
became apparent as we rose above it on the following morning, after
crossing an affluent to the Frat, called the Kara Hasan Su, which
was almost concealed by a crust of ice. Like the plain of Erzerum,
it has probably been covered with a sheet of water during no very
remote geological period. The floor of the valley presents, in fact,
an almost level surface; but a special feature in this second lake-like
extension of the Euphrates basin is a bold mass of rock which protrudes
in the neighbourhood of the village, isolated from the heights upon
the north. The close resemblance of this hill to some of the spurs
from those heights suggested the conception of a remote age when this
valley was in its infancy, and the mountains which now rise on its
opposite margins were integral parts of a single block of elevated
land. The further we advanced towards the west, the more the plain
narrowed; we were pursuing a diagonal course along the lower slopes
of the northern barrier, and we could see the river at some distance,
partly ice-encrusted, and partly threading the snow in several tiny
channels. [214]

February 7.--We had left Ashkala (5520 feet) at half-past eight, with
the promise of a perfect day; for the vapours had become collected
into shining masses, and the sun was mounting into a clear, blue
sky. Just before losing the landscape of the plain, I stopped to take
a photograph of the summit-formation of a spur from the northern range
(Fig. 170). I was struck by the resemblance of the flat edge of this
eminence to the outworks of the Bingöl plateau. A little later we
entered a side valley through which flowed a small and partially
ice-bound stream. Proceeding up it a short distance on a northerly
course, we arrived at eleven o'clock in the pretty alpine village of
Pirnakapan. Beyond this Mussulman hamlet, which is graced by a grove
of willow trees, the valley becomes a gorge. So steep are the crags
which overhang it that in many places they were free from snow. We
were now at a level of about 6000 feet, and, as it were, about to take
the ascent. The rocks of this region are highly folded, and consist of
serpentines and limestones weathered to various hues. Two partridges
were seated fearlessly on one of the ledges a few yards from where we
rode. The actual climb begins a little further on, where the scene
opens and you stand at the bottom of the towering wall. There is
situated among the snows the Southern Kop Khan, from which the start
is made. You see the chaussée winding in a long series of spirals to
a lofty gallery of the range. It covers a distance between Pirnakapan
and the pass of about 7 1/2 miles.

To that gallery, which is nearly as elevated as the pass, we proceeded
to follow a much shorter track. In half-an-hour we had gained
the position after a valiant escalade, and the camera was at once
brought to bear. But our enemy was, alas! the sun, an inexpugnable
adversary, shedding his rays from just the quarter which we wished
to embrace. Regretting the absence of the resourceful Wesson, I was
obliged to turn the instrument towards the east-south-east. In that
direction we commanded the upper valley of the Euphrates (Fig. 171);
but we were robbed of a picture of the important landscape in the
south.

It was a little after noon; the mountains streamed with light, and
only above the deeply-seated river valley a heavy mass of vapour
hung. All the summits which are seen on this side of that vapour
belong to the block of mountain on the north. The conical peak on
the left of the illustration is the beautiful Jejen Dagh. Beyond the
mist, the distant heights are those of the southern border in the
neighbourhood of Erzerum.

In another half-hour we had reached about the highest point upon the
undulating snow-fields of the summit region. The Kop itself, the
mountain which gives its name to the pass, is a flat-topped mass,
rising with steep slopes on the right of the road. The pass has an
elevation of 8048 feet. So brilliant was the sun that we were enabled
to linger, and to attempt to realise the panorama of the south.

The traveller who should approach Armenia by this well-beaten avenue
might fail to discover the characteristics of a great tableland in the
configuration of that extensive portion of her area which is outspread
from this pass. It is true that the range he crosses resembles a
large block of hard material rather than a chain of mountains in the
more usual sense. But the outline of this mass is broken into peaks
of every shape; and the opposite ranges display the same features,
the whole combining to produce the impression of a troubled sea. How
different was this landscape from that which I had overlooked from
the pass of Zikar on the north! Yet the explanation of this diversity
does not, I think, belie the conception which a wide experience had
inculcated in my mind--the conception, namely, of a vast mass of
elevated country of which a prevailing characteristic is the flatness
of its surface. For in this landscape the levelling influence of the
lavas are almost absent, while, on the other hand, the operation of the
various processes of denudation have been conducted on a colossal scale
and with conspicuous results. The ancient sedimentary deposits have
been worn by their action into peaks of considerable relative height,
while the plains with their lake-like beds have, as it were, usurped
the character of the mountains by which they are overhung. Reserving
for further study the country between Frat and Murad on the west of
Erzerum and Mush, I need only remark that its present aspect from
the standpoint of this pass was somewhat foreign from the idea of
prevailing flatness which similar prospects had invited me to form.

Two, and only two, distinct chains of heights were visible in the
south. The first, which was apparently the lower, was that on the
south of Erzerum, the Palandöken and the continuing eminences toward
the west. Behind this outline rose a second and also horizontal
series, which were identified by my informant, a zaptieh who lives
on the mountain, as the range on the north of the Murad or Eastern
Euphrates, known to him under the same name as that of the district
of Terjan. Between these two chains lay a mass of vapour, suspended
above the river which joins the Western Euphrates below the town of
Mamakhatun. A third and further range, that of the Kurdish Mountains,
beyond the Murad, was not, and, according to the same authority,
could not be descried from this pass. [215]

Proceeding on our northward journey at ten minutes before two, we
entered, a little later, a break in the mass. In the hollow flowed a
torrent, partially encrusted with ice, the first of the streams which
find their way to the Black Sea. As we advanced, this shallow opening
became a deep gorge, leading, almost directly, towards the north. The
road was taken by easy gradients down this convenient valley, and,
after a course of over five miles from the culminating point of
the pass, reached the shelter known as the Northern Kop Khan. Here
we rested for an hour and a half, continuing our ride at half-past
four o'clock. We kept the torrent on our left, still adhering to
the gorge, which displayed a fine view backward to the top of the
mountain mass. A wall of stupendous height crowned its uppermost end,
and displayed the familiar flat edge. The strata, of a marmorised
limestone, which overhung the glen were much contorted, like the
grain of a knot in a tree. After crossing a stream, in part icebound,
which we recognised as the Chorokh, we arrived at a quarter-past six
at the little settlement of Maden Khan (5455 feet) near Halwa Maden,
distant some 6 1/2 miles from our last halting-place, or about 29
miles by the road from Ashkala.

I do not propose to follow in detail the further stages of our journey
to the coast of the Black Sea. But I have not yet taken my reader to
the extreme geographical limits of the country which in the present
work I am endeavouring to describe. From Maden Khan it was still a
ride of one and a half days to the pass where you bid farewell to
the Armenian plains. This northerly extension of the highlands of
Armenia is watered by the Upper Chorokh.

February 8.--Leaving the cluster of wayside hospices in which we
had passed the night, our course was directed westwards down the
stream. On either bank rose hills of marble with no great relative
elevation, covered, like the valley, with deep snow. The current
sometimes flowed in an open channel, and as often plunged beneath
a continuous crust of ice. Not a single tree, nor even a bush, was
visible in the landscape. A little further down the hills opened,
and gave place to a stretch of plain (Fig. 172). At the western end of
this expanse they again circled inwards, and the valley took an abrupt
turn towards the east. At the mouth of this passage is situated the
castle and town of Baiburt, barring the approach to these uppermost
reaches of the Chorokh.

But on the west of this picturesque and ruinous fortress the heights
which deflect the river to its long course toward the east command
the stronghold and detract from its value in modern war. Indeed they
constitute an undulating upland or plateau, framed by the convex
shapes of distant hills. At about its highest point this plateau has
an elevation of some 5620 feet. Leaving the town, we made our way
across this upland in a direction of west to west-north-west; and,
in a little over an hour, overlooked one of the flat depressions
which have already been so often described. Upon its snow-clad
surface was placed an Armenian village with three fine buildings,
now in ruins, a relic of the old times. What an eloquent memorial
those shapely forms and that finished masonry still preserved to a
cultured and beneficent race! Varzahan was the name of the village;
but we had again been placed under surveillance, and it was impossible
to perpetuate the image of these decaying remains. [216]

The ova or plain of Varzahan, to which we descended, is, in some sense,
a westerly extension of that portion of the valley of the Chorokh
which lies below the town of Baiburt. Yet it was separated by a range
of hills from the trough in the surrounding outlines through which
we knew that the river must flow. These hills circle southwards from
the latitudinal chain of distant heights which confine this ova and
the Chorokh valley alike. A passage is no doubt found by the streams
which collect in the plain and find their way to the Chorokh. We were
reminded by its appearance of the plain of Erzerum, of which many of
the features were reproduced on a smaller scale. It seemed to strike
the last note of the distinctive theme to which we had been listening
for so many long months. The plain has an elevation of about 5300 feet,
and it is possible to scale the heights on its northern border and,
in summer, to pursue the journey to Trebizond. [217] But in winter
you are taken up an opening at its westerly extremity which we may
call, after a considerable village which lies within it, the valley
of Balakhor. This valley conducts you in a westerly direction, to the
ridge or ridges which form the water-parting on the south of the Lycus,
and on the west and east of the Kharshut and Chorokh.

It was towards those dividing heights that we set out on the 9th
of February from the lonely station of Khadrak in the valley of
Balakhor. The stream which waters this valley and finds its way
to the plain of Varzahan was buried beneath a continuous canopy of
snow. The heights on either side were of insignificant elevation,
relative to the general level of the ground. In half an hour a way
diverged, well beaten by traffic, leading to Kelkid and Erzinjan. It
branched off on the left hand; we were at the head of the valley,
surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills. Our course was directed to
the wall upon our right; and in another ten minutes we had gained
the eminence. We were standing not exactly on a ridge, but on the
face of an upland, over which the winds sweep in stormy weather with
considerable force. Yet another half-hour brought us to an elevation
of 6468 feet, the saddle of the Vavuk Pass. We had arrived upon the
boundary line between two vilayets, of Erzerum and of Trebizond.

I was informed that quite recently a Tartar horseman had met his
death while carrying the post across this pass. He was overtaken and
overwhelmed by a tipe or blizzard before he could reach the shelter
of the valleys on either side. Indeed the loss of life to beasts of
burden is considerable along this road. No more eloquent evidence
could be furnished of the want of humanity in the natives than the
callous indifference to the sufferings of dumb animals which day by
day is displayed upon these passes. Such a habit of cruelty at once
argues a lapse into barbarism, and explains the perpetration of the
nameless horrors which so often shock the conscience of the West. We
kept passing strings of heavily-laden quadrupeds, which with their
dull eyes, drooping heads, and fleshless bodies, covered with sores,
had lost the distinctive qualities of the horse. None of them had any
thighs to enable them to breast the ascents, and most were incurably
lame. Their hocks were bent with curbs or swollen by spavins; one poor
beast was dragging his hind legs behind him, and another had one of his
forelegs bent almost double. Neither--it could not be doubted--were
destined to reach Trebizond. So they crawl over the ground, from
year's end to year's end, until they close their miserable existence
by sinking exhausted on a pass. Even at the moment of liberation they
are doomed to a prolonged agony; and, having been martyred all their
life by the barbarity of the human animal, they become victims of
his perverse humanity in their death. You will see them prone upon
the road, where their drivers have abandoned them to kick out their
life in the snow. Religious scruples prevent these misguided monsters
from giving them the despatch. We were sickened on one occasion by
the spectacle of a wretched horse which, with glazed eyes, continued
to paw in a convulsive manner a space of ground which in his agony
he had cleared of ice. At the end of my revolver I compelled one of
the drivers to sever his jugular vein.

From such scenes the traveller turns to the contemplation of Nature,
not only with a sense of relief, but under an added consciousness of
her sublimity, the high exponent of the harmony of things. The pass
of Vavuk divides two landscapes of exactly opposite nature, and leads
over into a new climate and a new world. The opposite wall of rock is
dotted with low fir trees, which, as you proceed, increase in height
and shade. The opposite valley to which you descend is already warm by
comparison with the bleak highlands from which you have come. By the
time the river is approached, the winding reaches of the Kharshut,
free, even at this season, of ice, great rolling masses of cloud
are sailing over the mountains, distilling into mingled snow and
rain. Even at this distance the senses recognise the sea. All the
characteristics of the border ranges, aligned in a deep belt upon the
coast, are displayed during the successive stages of a ride of two
and a half days. If the forests are less luxuriant than on the side of
the Rion, the view in places recalls, even during this season, those
tree-clad parapets. Valleys of immense depth are overtowered by rocky
precipices; it is essentially a land of crest and trough. And just
as the scene contrasts with the Armenian landscapes, so the people
and the types are new. The familiar features of the Greek take the
place of the Armenians, and the ear is greeted by the language of the
Greeks. [218] Yet another pass must be traversed, the wintry pass of
Zigana (6640 feet), and from its further slopes expands a vista of
the distant sea. The thermometer has risen to 62° by the time the
seaboard is reached. And there, at Trebizond, the roses blossom in
the gardens while the Armenian rivers are buried beneath the ice.



CHAPTER XI

REVISIT ARMENIA


Four years had elapsed since the close of my last journey. Armenia
had in the meanwhile been the scene of tragedies which had touched
the conscience of the West. Petty disturbances among the mountaineers
in the wild fastnesses of Sasun, south of Mush, were magnified by
the provincial authorities into the appearance of a revolution,
and were suppressed with savage cruelty. The example of a single
massacre was not sufficient to overawe the Armenians; the Palace
had tasted blood, and their special agents throughout the provinces
were eager for the work and its rewards. Against the counsels of
their best officials and the entreaties of Turkey's truest friends,
the Palace organised a series of butcheries on a great scale. The
events in Sasun were followed by similar atrocities not only in the
towns and villages inhabited by Armenians but also in the capital
itself. Europe, deeply pledged to secure good government among the
Armenians, was unwilling to embark on a policy of decisive action,
paralysed by the mutual jealousies of the principal Powers. During
those dark times the country had been closed to travellers; and it
was only with the greatest difficulty that I was at length enabled
to complete the studies which had been interrupted on the former
occasion by the rigour of winter.

June 7, 1898.--On a day of early summer, when the air was fresh and
the sun warm, my friend Oswald and myself set out from Trebizond,
to perform the journey which forms the subject of the last chapter in
the reverse sense. I have already described the stages from Erzerum
to the Vavuk Pass; but it may be desirable to notice briefly the
intermediate section between the sea and that natural threshold of
the Armenian tableland. For a distance of over a mile the chaussée
follows the coast beneath the shadow of that table-topped mass of
dark porphyritic lava which is known as Boz Tepe. The view ranges
over the considerable delta of the Pyxitis--a strip of sand and
pebbles projecting far into the sea, which is discoloured for some
distance by the suspended sediment. But the large prospects are
at once lost as you enter the river valley and proceed at right
angles to your former course. The stream is swirling along, divided
into several channels, and overhung at a respectable interval by
tall cliffs. In places the outlines open and disclose a country of
rolling hills, as where the large and white-faced monastery of Aiana
is seen high-seated in a charming landscape on the right bank. It is
indeed an admirable approach to the recesses of the Pontic chain,
this valley of Deïrmen. It leads with much of the straightness and
space of a church's nave through the lofty and intricate outworks of
the range almost to its spine at the Zigana Pass.

Before we had completed ten miles the wooded heights on either hand
were dotted with the dark forms of the first spruce firs. The valley
narrows; the walls grow steeper, and tower to a greater altitude; but
you never lose the expanse of sky. If the scene recalls Tyrol you are
not conscious of confinement; there is none of the chill and darkness
of an Alpine glen. The character of the landscape is influenced by
the alternation of tuffs with lavas; the latter become much darker
and more compact. To the tuffs are largely due the softer spaces
of field and garden; while the lava, which has cooled into a roughly
columnar structure, produces parapets of immense height and precipitous
crags. A little below the town of Jevizlik we stood in wonder at the
foot of a cliff composed of a rock of this description. It fills the
angle between the main stream and a tributary to the left bank, and
it must be at least 1500 feet high. The columns of lava suggested the
appearance of an organ of colossal proportions. And what a romantic
feature, the bold perspective of the side valley, the cultivation
carried upwards by almost impossible gradients, the vivid green of
the young corn contrasting with patches of fallow land, coloured a
light purplish-brown! Along the summits of the wide amphitheatre of
ridges the forest rises against the field of the sky.

Jevizlik, the first station, is reached at about the twentieth mile;
it is situated just below the confluence of a considerable stream which
comes in on the right bank. A rough road diverges from the chaussée at
this point, and follows the course of the tributary. It leads to the
famous monastery of Sumelas, a ride or sharp walk of three and a half
hours. We passed bands of pilgrims on their way to this resort--whole
families, an entire village packed up and piled upon horses, the women
astride with their babes beside them, the men on foot. The monastery
is built on a ledge of an almost perpendicular wall of mountain,
at a height of 4450 feet above sea-level, and of 800 feet above the
torrent which hisses at the base of the rock. It is placed almost at
the head of the beautiful valley of Meiriman--a valley which, indeed,
is narrower than that of the Pyxitis, but which combines in its various
stages all the features of this fair land. Orchards and stretches of
forest trees clothe the easier gradients at the mouth of the opening--a
large circle of heights soaring up into the heaven above purple slopes,
where the soil is exposed by the plough. Clusters of wooden châlets
overlook the winding river, and each bolder eminence is crowned by
a white, stone chapel. As the valley becomes a glen--the term is
ill adapted to express the scale upon which Nature has worked--the
vegetation increases in luxuriance and changes in character, until
the scene assumes that strange and almost supernatural appearance
which has found such just expression in the weirdness of the Kolchian
myths. The foliage, which almost obscures the light of the brightest
day, is composed of alder, lime, walnut and elm, of beech and Spanish
chestnut, of ash and, on the higher slopes, of tall firs. Trees of
holly, of azalea and of rhododendron supply an undergrowth which at
this season is ablaze with bloom. In the autumn the pink, poisonous
crocus (colchicum) springs from the rocks, of double the length and
size of the ordinary flower. Fungus with crimson stools start from the
silver lichen, which diffuses an unearthly light. Long streamers of
grey-green lichen float on the lower branches, from which a profusion
of creepers are festooned. Here and there the thicket opens to an
expanse of lawn. The forest is fed by the clouds collected in this
caldron of Nature; and from the month of May to that of October the
windows of the monastery are seldom greeted by the rays of the sun
(Fig. 175).

The traveller to Erzerum who is in search of romantic scenery could
not do better than follow this valley of Meiriman. It is the route
which I selected upon our return from this second journey; but it
is not practicable during the winter months. A steep ascent from
the head of the glen leads to a country of grassy uplands, rising
gradually to the pass of the Kazikly Dagh. This pass is the more
easterly counterpart of the Zigana, but exceeds it in height by more
than 1000 feet (8290 as against 6640 feet). The barrier on the north
of the plain of Baiburt is crossed at the Kitowa Dagh by a pass
of 8040 feet (as against the 6470 feet of the Vavuk Pass). Beyond
the Kazikly Dagh there is a fair track which is used by caravans in
summer; but between that point and Trebizond they pursue a shorter
route. This approach to the plains of Armenia is almost in a direct
line, avoiding the long detour by Gümüshkhaneh. The journey from the
cloister of Sumelas to Baiburt may be performed in two days. [219]

On the present occasion we were constrained by perverse orders from
Constantinople to follow the chaussée. The tributary, which we crossed
at Jevizlik by a bridge of several arches, appeared to bring almost
an equal volume of water as the river which it feeds. The upper
stages of the main valley are picturesque in character, with none
of the gloom and savagery of the vale of Meiriman. The slopes on
either side terrace upwards into the haze of the sky; and for some
miles above Jevizlik they are alive with settlements. At mid-height
you admire the frequent clusters of the villages; the churches are
built on projecting pinnacles of rock, and consist of a group of
gables surmounted by a dome and approached through a belfry with two
storeys of open arches. A white-faced monastery is seen high up on the
opposite or left bank of the river; it fills a niche or natural recess
in a vertical wall of rock, and its roofs are overhung by the roof of
the cave. The stream is spanned at frequent intervals by little stone
bridges with single arches, the arches highly curved and the roadway
rising to the centre of the bridge. In one place the way which led up
the cliff-side to a village was flanked at its upper end by a strong
tower from which the inmates could resist attack from below. Above
this inhabited zone, at the foot of the firs, near the crests of
the ridges, sparse hamlets or isolated châlets are just discerned in
the vague detail of the uppermost slopes. A report of guns, sounding
distant, comes from one of those eyries where they are celebrating
a marriage feast. In the fields, with their strange gradients, men
and women are at work, the men lithe of limb, the women square-set,
with skirts to below the knee and thick stockings on their legs. It
is a dreamy southern scene, in one hand beauty, in the other squalor;
and it repeats on a large scale the characteristics of those transverse
cuttings which extend from the coast to the highlands of Asia Minor
and are inhabited by a population of Greek race.

The chaussée follows the right bank, at some height above the stream,
in full possession of the views on either hand. The valley maintains
its width; but the nature of the landscape changes; cultivation ceases,
and the forest descends to the road. Thickets of rhododendron are seen
for the first time--the tree-like bushes with which we are familiar
in England and the large flowers. The brakes were a mass of bloom;
a little higher we met the azaleas; the yellow azalea and the pale
mauve petals of the rhododendron were in the splendour of their latest
blossoming. In the lush forest we noticed the beech tree, the walnut,
and the maple, the hazel, the oak and the elm; the elders were in full
flower, and the cherry trees were conspicuous for their number and
size. The more open spaces were covered with masses of forget-me-nots;
calices of hellebore, withered yellow, rested on the rank grass; and
yellow mullein, filling the air with its subtle perfume, rose from
among the rocks. Little waterfalls leapt through the deep shade of
narrow clearings; we were nearing the head of the valley. A bed of
sandstone, holding the moisture like a sponge, interrupts the lava
beds. The ridges circle inwards; the valley becomes an amphitheatre,
and its stately character is preserved to the last.

Upon a terrace of this amphitheatre the little settlement of Lower
Hamsi Keui commands the long perspective towards the north. It
is distant some fourteen miles from Jevizlik and thirty-four from
Trebizond. We made our stage at the Upper Hamsi Keui, over a mile
beyond the Lower, by a continuous ascent. It is situated above one of
the two larger side valleys which converge towards the hamlet first
named. It is from here that you commence the first portion of the
climb to the Zigana Dagh, through forest glades in which the spruce
firs alternate with the beech woods, and which are carpeted with an
undergrowth of rhododendron and azalea and tall palm-leaved bracken. As
we rose on the following morning above our surroundings we looked in
vain for the vista of sea, the horizon being veiled in mist. Our ears
were greeted by the song of nightingales, and by the clear call-notes
of the cuckoo; while the plashing of innumerable streamlets and
waterfalls mingled to a background of tremulous sound. Flocks of sheep
were passed on their way to their summer pastures, and we could hear
their liquid bells from afar. They were accompanied by shepherds with
dogs not much smaller than mastiffs, which had long white hair and
tails like a fox's brush. The side valley is left behind, and then
a second and still smaller valley; until the forest ceases and you
enter the region of dreary heights. But the azalea still continues,
mounting the ridge like our English gorse and not less riotous of
flower. Patches of snow remain unmelted even at this season. At the
saddle of the pass we had covered about 10 miles and risen nearly
2600 feet (Upper Hamsi Keui, 4060 feet; Zigana Pass, 6640 feet).

The slopes are inclined at an angle of about 30° and the rock is much
decomposed. Time was wanting for a careful examination; but Oswald
favoured the conclusion that it is hard and holocrystalline, similar
in character to that of the Kitowa Dagh further east. The descent is
long and gradual from the pass to the valley of the Kharshut, which
eats its way through wild mountains to the Black Sea. The road is
carried along the heights, on the east of a basin of ridges, by a
succession of terraces. In winter, when the snow spreads a carpet
at the foot of the fir trees, the view is at once inspiring and
superb. But in summer the long stretches of barren yellow talus--a
trachyte, decomposed and weathered a staring yellow, fatigue the eye
and repel the sense. There is a certain contrast in the vegetation
of the southern slopes. The luscious forest has disappeared, and so
have the rhododendra; but the azalea and the spruce firs still clothe
the walls facing the Pontic winds. On the other hand, the Scotch fir
takes the place of its slenderer rival on the parapets which are less
exposed to the moisture. At the foot of the main descent are placed
at intervals three hamlets with numerous caravanserais. The first is
Maden; the other two are known respectively as the Upper and the Lower
Zigana (4330 feet). The distance from the pass to the Lower Zigana
may be about 4 1/2 to 5 miles. Thence it is another 7 1/2 miles to
the bridge over the Kharshut (3100 feet). The landscape, of immense
extent and of the most savage character, is framed in the south by the
serrated outline of the Giaour Dagh, veined with snow and capped by
cloud. Between the pass and the hamlets we noticed huge volcanic dikes
seaming the hillsides with bold causeways of finely crystalline rock.

The little town of Ardasa on the banks of the Kharshut affords shelter
for the night. It is placed at a distance of about 2 miles above
the bridge, and of about 24 1/2 miles from the Upper Hamsi Keui. The
straggling settlement is overtowered by a cliff some thousand feet in
height, perhaps a limestone and coloured a rusty brown. On the summit
are seen the fragments of a mediæval castle. Between Ardasa and the
pass of Vavuk we followed next day the winding river, tracking it
up almost to its source. The valley is fairly open, with a number
of side valleys; but the scene is desolate and bare. Not a remnant
of the azalea enlivens the landscape; the vegetation adheres to
the margin of the water--fruit trees and willows, the large mauve
flowers of the field-iris, hawthorn in bloom, the yellow blossoms
of the barberry. There is a certain air of comfort in the pretty
wooden houses with their gables and wooden roofs, shining white. But
this note is often and quickly lost in the sounding discords of a
chaotic Nature--the shales and limestones compressed into almost
impossible contortions and baked and uplifted by huge bosses of
igneous rock. Beyond such a devil's gorge, which is overhung by a
robber's eyrie, is situated the considerable town of Gümüshkhaneh,
famous for its silver mines, now no longer worked. You leave it on
your right and pass through a lower suburb, at a distance from Ardasa
of about 16 1/2 miles.

Another 10 miles brings you to the large village of Tekke; and about
2 miles further a bridge crosses the Kharshut. It takes a road which
here diverges to follow a tributary to the left bank, and which
leads across the Giaour Dagh to Erzinjan. We slept at Murad Khan, a
comfortable shelter, having made a stage of about 33 miles (alt. 4430
feet). On the morning of the 10th of June we again pursued the river,
now become shallow, and were soon passing beneath the castled crag
of Kalajik, one of the wonders of the journey to Erzerum (Ch. X.,
Fig. 174, taken in winter). The size of the ruin and the scale of
the outworks, which defend each ledge of the limestone precipice,
far surpass the similar fastnesses in this wild valley. At 7 miles
we left the stream to ascend by easy gradients the gentle slopes of
the Vavuk Pass (6468 feet). At the saddle we had covered a distance
of rather over 10 miles.

We stood on the threshold of the Armenian tableland, beneath a new
climate and in face of a new scene. The contrast impressed Oswald,
who saw it for the first time, and who at once seized the special
features of this new world. We had crossed the zone of sparse fir
trees; the summit is completely barren; the plain before us, as well
as the rounded outlines of the opposite hills, devoid of vegetation
of any kind. Only by the margin of a slowly-flowing river beneath us
beds of buttercups marked out in patches its idle course. Limestones
and shales are the material of this and the further eminences; it
is a country of soft, swelling downs on a large scale. The clouds
stand arrested on the higher summits of this barrier; the sky beyond
is pellucid, the air bracing, the tints warm. As we made our way
beneath the night to our distant goal beyond Baiburt the evening star
was shining with the brilliance of a beacon, and my friend mistook
the milky way for a luminous cloud. When we arrived in Erzerum (6168
feet) on the 14th of June the lilac filled the gardens with its heavy
scent. It was commencing to blossom in our native country before we
left its shores behind.



CHAPTER XII

ACROSS THE CENTRAL TABLELAND TO KHINIS


The site of Erzerum is already familiar to my reader; he sees her
towers and minarets on the southern margin of a lake-like plain,
and raised on the daïs of a fan of detritus from the southern line
of heights. He knows the large surroundings of that city of inspiring
prospects: the long and regular line of the block of mountains in the
north, with their Sheikhjik, their Akhbaba, Jejen and Kop; the vague
and gloomy passage of the Gurgi Boghaz through those mountains; and in
the east the transverse parapet which interrupts the issue eastwards,
that freak of Nature, the Deveh Boyun. The southern barrier, which
rises in the peak of Palandöken to a height of 4500 feet above the
town, would appear to constitute an impassable obstacle to traffic;
and in fact precludes it during the winter months. Yet there are
several natural openings in the steep slopes of that barrier, leading
to the uplands of Tekman on its further side. Of these the principal
passage is that of Palandöken, crossing the so-called crater of the
Palandöken--Eyerli Dagh.

June 20.--Our course was directed up the fan of detritus to this
Palandöken Pass. [220] Our little horses, full of corn, curveted along
the path through the dreary waste of water-worn stones. Erzerum was
soon behind us, lost already in the expanse. What a contrast between
these cities of Asia and those of Europe with their suburbs and
villas! These repose upon their plains like a ship upon the ocean,
which you speak, and all is soon again blank. In half-an-hour from
the enceinte we gained a metalled road, which follows the course of
a torrent of some size. It leads to two modern forts, planted high
on the southern slope, on either side of the pass. The pass itself is
placed beneath the peak of Palandöken, upon its western flank. The road
goes winding up the gorge, and along the eastern side of the so-called
crater, crossing and re-crossing the torrent by a number of bridges.

A nameless and minor mountain of symmetrical proportions and vaulted
form rises on the northern margin of the cirque. We passed between
it and the slopes of Palandöken, supported by the outworks of the
larger mass. Patches of snow lay on the grass at this increased
altitude, their melting remnants fringed by bright fieldflowers. On
the banks were pulsatillas, with their drooping bells and scent of
wine; buttercups and marsh marigolds in the beds of the runnels;
forget-me-nots in profusion on every side. Still the scene was bleak
in character; and the sailing cumulus clouds sent their shadows over a
surface which has been worn by ice and snow and water, and seems alien
even to the hardiest plants. Such was the appearance of the irregular
caldron on our right hand--a yawning hollow sapping the bases of the
adjacent peaks. Closed on the south, it sends its drainage through deep
valleys to the plain. The white face of a limestone rock interrupts
the more grassy spaces, and is varied by the darker serpentines. The
soaring heights around the cirque are of eruptive volcanic origin,
and display the lava flows. After a sharp ascent, the chaussée reaches
the standing southern wall of this caldron, and is taken, in a fine
gallery, for some distance along its northern slope. Its cliff-like
outline extends from the heights of Palandöken to those of Eyerli in
the west. A turn of the road conducts us to the pass (9780 feet).

It was three o'clock; but the snow lay in sheets over the hollows,
and the temperature was only 46° Fahrenheit. Grey clouds veiled the
sky in the northern landscape, and were collected in inky masses about
the snowy peaks of the Chorokh region. The view in that direction,
and along the two parallel lines of heights which border the course
of the Frat, impressed us in a double sense. On the one hand it was
the great height of the summits in the north, which now showed up
behind the cone of Sheikhjik; we concluded that they must belong to
the group of mountains in which the Chorokh has its source. The other
fact which appeared plain was the rising and massing of both lines
of heights in the far west. Following the chain upon which we stood
across the slopes of the Eyerli Dagh, or pursuing the outline of the
opposite barrier across the plain, the long perspective westwards met
in shining masses of mountain, covered with snow and with precipitous
sides. In the case of the opposite barrier, Kop and Jejen and Akhbaba
were dwarfed and humbled by those Georgian heights upon the one side,
and, on the other, by those giants in the west.

A soldier, muffled in an overcoat, descends upon us from the nearest
fort, and bids us to desist from our investigations.--The tripod had
been erected: and they could see us taking bearings, which in this
country, devoid of maps, is regarded as spying. But the bearings had
been taken, and we were not loth to leave. The road becomes a track
as you descend the southern slopes; we might say farewell to roads
for many weeks.

Tekman lies before us--a vast plateau, a continuous basin, stretching
towards the foot of a gently vaulted opposite mountain with long
horizontal outline and shield-shaped slopes. It is the outline of the
Bingöl Dagh; such its appearance at this distance; it is thirty-two
miles away as the crow flies. It constitutes the opposite rim of the
basin, the counterpart of these heights in the north. Snow is lying
in large quantities even upon its lower contours, a fact explained
by their northern aspect and rounded shape (Fig. 176). [221] The
southern declivities of the barrier upon which we are standing are
only flecked with snow. Bingöl is little more than the culmination
upon the horizon of the long outline of the tableland--a snow-clad
ridge of little relative height. In places hard, black rock shows
through the shining canopy, just below the crest of the ridge. In the
east the highest point is but an eminence of the cliff-like parapet;
but in the west there is a low vaulting which resembles a peak. In
front of this western summit rises a mass of dark rock.

No intervening forms obstruct the view over the basin to that long,
low, east-west ridge. Nor further round, towards the east, is the
landscape interrupted, except at an immense interval and by imposing
shapes. At a distance of fifty-two miles, a second shield-shaped giant
is less conspicuous because only streaked with snow. It is Khamur, a
volcanic mass beyond the plain of Khinis--a plain concealed by these
higher levels, but indicated in places by a sharp edge, where the
plateau breaks abruptly to the floor of the plain. As the train of
Khamur declines, a very lofty and pronounced mountain towers up into
the sky. None of our attendants know its name; but it is the Akh Dagh,
seen in profile, the boundary of the Khinis region on the north. It is
forty miles distant; such are the limits in that direction; while in
the west the eye is arrested by outlines from the adjacent heights. We
cannot see Sipan for haze.

A better standpoint than that of the pass from which to realise this
region is afforded by the brow of a hill a few miles west of the
village of Madrak, to which we mounted on the following day. What
a bleak and lonely scene! A country of rolling downs extends on
every side, framed by the distant landmarks just described. Yet the
prevailing hue is not that of grass, even at this season; but of naked
limestone, weathered a pale ochre, or of serpentine, dull-green or
bluish-grey. Both rocks compose hills of a gently rounded character;
the limestones are most often capped by slabby lavas, which resist the
crumbling and contribute to the horizontal appearance of all higher
forms. The few clouds which have scaled the barrier of the Palandöken
send liquid shadows over the undulating expanse. Of cultivation there
is little--in places a patch of light reddish-brown; the stones are
thickly strewn upon the fallows. The sparse hamlets, built of mud
and stone, are lost in the folds of the hills.

We were disappointed with the flora. We saw whole beds of white
anemones; vigorous fennel and slender ferns filled the crevices
between the rocks. The long grass was coloured by the ubiquitous
forget-me-nots; magenta primulas flourish in the frequent
little marshes, and masses of buttercups along the margins of the
streams. Such flowers, although common and humble, filled the air with
perfume; and few countries in the world are endowed with such strong,
sweet air. The earlier hour and the clearer day enlarged the scope of
our vision; and the snow-robed Sipan, a second Ararat, was a ghostly
presence in the south-east. We strove to identify the outlines on the
extreme horizon of the half circle; but several even of the larger
masses were not marked on any map. In the west the general level
of the country was higher, and with less distinctive forms. In that
direction the opposite heights, of Bingöl and of Palandöken--the rims
of the basin--appeared in perspective almost to meet. And over the
edge of the Bingöl series you could see the mountains on the north of
the Murad, emerging in the far south-west. Looking backwards to the
northern barrier, we saw the white face of the limestone emerging in
patches from the rough grass on its slopes. It is little more than
the elevated and broken rim of the plateau country over which we were
making our way. The Akh Dagh showed up boldly on the limits of the
shallow synclinal described by these wintry, waterworn uplands. Deeply
eroded in that direction, they present a flat and more uniform surface
as they stretch, mile upon mile, with gently shelving contours,
to the opposite slopes of Bingöl.

What track will you follow, or what course will you shape towards
Khinis and its fertile plain? The natives take a route by Tashkesen
and Chaurma, and descend to the plain over the Akhviran Pass. They
travel in armed caravans. We had passed such a cavalcade on the road
from Palandöken, at the head of which, surrounded by attendants,
armed to the teeth, rode a woman, muffled and veiled. But a portion
of this route I had already followed during my former journey;
and I was anxious to penetrate into the little-known region in the
direction of Bingöl. The Kurdish village of Madrak is situated on
the further side of an affluent of the Araxes, at a distance of some
eight miles from the Palandöken Pass. Although it lies in a hollow,
near a marsh, abounding in snipe, it is about 1000 feet higher than
Erzerum (7061 feet). Our zaptieh professed to know a track which led in
the desired direction, and which should take us by a direct route to
Khinis. Starting at three o'clock, after a morning of storm and rain,
we followed a path which conducted us in a southerly direction across
the downs. A single hamlet was passed by, and after a ride of over
an hour we overlooked a spacious valley and a considerable stream. On
its left bank is placed the considerable Kurdish village of Duzyurt;
the gay dresses of the inhabitants brightened the scene. We forded
the stream, which must join the one on the north of Madrak; the water
was pellucid, but barely reached to our horses' knees. Regaining the
uplands on its further side we enjoyed a larger prospect; the whole
of Bingöl was exposed to view as well as some of the outlines in the
east. Forget-me-nots shed a shimmer of blue through the grass which,
as usual in this region, was thickly strewn with stones. At half-past
five we were high up and in face of a second river valley; some rude
buildings were collected on the down. We followed the course of this
valley some little distance towards the east, and pitched our tents
near the hamlet of Khedonun (6713 feet).

A band of armed Kurds, richly attired, were watering their horses,
or strolling idly along the banks of a little stream. The hamlet is
situated on its left bank. The inhabitants of this region are at the
present day exclusively Kurds; but I was informed that, as regards
the district of Tekman in general, they are of comparatively recent
importation. The Armenian inhabitants left en masse with the armies
of Paskevich, and the Kurds occupied their vacant villages. The Kurds
of Khedonun were said to belong to the Jibranli tribe--a tribe which
is strong in the caza of Varto. But among the Kurdish population
some have been brought from the distant vilayet of Diarbekr, at the
head of the Mesopotamian plains. These belong to the Zireki. Our
people fraternised with the horsemen; they composed the escort of a
bridegroom who had come to the village from a neighbouring hamlet in
quest of a bride. The wedding was to take place on the following day.

Although settled on the land, these Kurds are distinctly tribal,
and glory in the fact of being Kurds. Indeed throughout the country
which I crossed during my second journey, if I asked people whether
their village were "Osmanli," I received the emphatic answer,
"Kurd." Khedonun may serve as a sample of the settlements of this
district. It seemed fairly well-to-do. The wealth of the villagers
consists of their flocks and herds, upon the produce of which they
subsist. During winter they stable them in the group of buildings
which we had passed, and last winter a pack of wolves destroyed their
flock. They said that bears abounded in the neighbourhood. They sow a
little wheat, and plant some onions and cabbage; they profess to have
tried potatoes, but it was a failure, owing to the late frosts. Indeed
the night was very cold, not much above freezing; and even at ten
o'clock on the following morning the shade temperature was only
62°, although from sunrise the day had been warmed by a brilliant
sun. The wedding was extremely picturesque. The procession, all on
horseback, made a circuit of the countryside in the lap of which
the hamlet lies. The bride was robed in a red shawl, and sat astride
of a milk-white horse. A veil of yellow silk, which floated in the
breeze, completely concealed her face. On either side rode two women,
veiled and dressed in white. The horsemen, in gala attire, followed
or flanked the ladies; all proceeded at a walk. But from time to time
this irksome restraint was broken through by an explosion of wildness;
and a shouting warrior, mad with excitement, would dash forward at
full gallop, brandishing his rifle like a stick.

The Araxes, or Egri Chai, as it is called in the district, flows
at a little distance south of the hamlet and receives the runnel
which skirts Khedonun. That it was the Araxes appeared plain from
the volume of water which it brought, from the direction from which
it was flowing, and from our subsequent research. Mounting to an
eminence south of the village, we observed some lofty mountains on
the sky-line in the west. The boldest peak among them lay almost above
the course of the river, as it meandered towards the east. One of the
Kurds knew that peak by the name of Sheikhjik. The relation of these
mountains to the plateau country we were enabled to ascertain at a
later date. Looking up the valley we could see that it was carved
out of calcareous deposits, overlaid by flows of lava or tuff. These
deposits, which are without doubt lacustrine in character, extend
for some miles towards Bingöl.

June 23.--After fording the Aras we made our way for some considerable
distance up the fairly broad valley of another little river, which
was already close to its confluence. The valley favoured our course,
having an almost meridional direction; the river was coming straight
down from Bingöl. The peculiar charm of this region is the number of
delicious streams which furrow the breezy downs. With their grassy
valleys and blue surface they refresh and please the eye, and in
part atone for the absence of trees. The sides of the valley were
seen to consist of a very white lacustrine limestone; these rocks
were varied a few miles further, and at length almost superseded,
by sheets of dark brown tuff. Among such surroundings is situated
the considerable Kurdish village of Kalaji, backed by a low cliff of
rectangular blocks of tuff, and overlooking the stream from its left
bank. At this point we crossed the river and regained the uplands;
our landmarks were again in view. The snowy peak which we called
Sheikhjik lay on our right, above high outlines of these undulating
downs. Behind us stretched the outline of the Palandöken heights;
while before us rose the western and more pronounced eminence of the
long ridge of Bingöl. Our guide was making for a village at the foot
of Bingöl which bears the name of Kherbesor.

Hitherto we had been pursuing an almost southerly course; it was time
that we should be turning towards the east. This wide curve is dictated
by a block of limestone hills, which interposes a sea of peaks, with
little relative height, between Khedonun and the plain of Khinis. We
had now reached the base of the platform which supports Bingöl; it
breaks off just on the south of the village of Kherbesor in a line of
cliffs, which concealed the eastern summit. We were in the district
of Shushar; our further progress was directed up a wide valley between
those cliffs and the block of hills with the rounded peaks. The cliffs
appeared to consist of a dark lava, overlying calcareous lake deposits,
which again overlay the tuffs of the plain of Kherbesor. At a distance
of some five miles, we crossed a col (7340 feet) over a ridge of
limestone, joining the block of hills to the uppermost extremity of
the cliffs. Thence we descended to a spacious and roughly-circular
valley, a kind of caldron among the bleak heights. It sends its
drainage to the Araxes in a stream which skirts the eastern outworks
of the block of limestone hills. The hamlet of Ali Mur, which nestles
in the lap of this hollow, has an elevation of 7180 feet. It belongs
to the district of Khinis. It takes its name from a grey-beard who
became our guide on the following day, and who was the founder of
the settlement. Ali Mur and his people are Kizilbash Kurds. He told
me that they had found on this site the relics of a village known as
Kharaba, and a cemetery which he believed was Mussulman.

Next morning we made our way in a south-easterly direction up the
amphitheatral heights. In less than an hour we arrived at the col
(7490 feet), a ridge of limestone hardened to marble, just outside the
limits of the lavas of Bingöl. This pass lies some miles south-west
of that of Akhviran, and, like that pass, leads down from the plateau
country to the lower levels of the plain of Khinis. Our immediate
surroundings were lofty downs from which rose the ridge of Bingöl,
both summits being fully exposed. Beyond a vast trough, in which the
plain of Khinis lay, the mass of Khamur loomed large (Fig. 177). In
the south-east soared the snowy shape of Sipan, infinitely high.

As we descended we overlooked two deeply-eroded cañons, that on our
right hand being much the more pronounced. The stream which flows
within it is known as the Bingöl Su; a smaller affluent was coming
down the minor cañon. All these waters find their way round the
Khamur elevation by a long course to the Murad. The face of the cañon
of the Bingöl Su displayed lavas and tuffs to a depth of about 100
feet; these were seen to overlie the limestone, and it was evident
that they had come from Bingöl. Similar terraces capped the cliffs
of the minor stream. The ride over the tongue of high land which
separates the cañons was not only remarkable for the wide prospects
which opened before us, but also for the refreshing change to a
little vegetation and to a kinder climate. Little oak trees clothe
the slopes, and an abundance of wild roses; these and purple peonies
were in full bloom. When we reached the bed of the smaller river and,
after fording it, followed the Bingöl Su, the pleasantness of our
first impression was increased. The valley had become wide, but with
high cliffs on either side; that on the right showed a face of lava,
capped by tuff. These tuffs in the Bingöl region resemble blocks of
masonry, and have the horizontal outline of a wall. The heights on
the left bank were of marble. The river winds like a snake through
a fairly wide meadow, in which the grass was vividly green. Tall
willows spread their shade over the crystal-clear water; and our
English fieldflowers, the poppy being most conspicuous, coloured the
luscious undergrowth. Grave storks were busy in the marshy places;
the song of nightingales was heard in the groves. The limbs relaxed
beneath this summer; we were loth to leave the sweet valley after a
ride within it of three-quarters of an hour. The river enters a gorge
before issuing into the plain; our path took us up the heights above
its right bank. For some time we enjoyed fine views over the level
country in the east, and then descended to the bed of a tributary. Here
I greeted and Oswald admired the lonely "church in the valley." [222]
A little later we arrived on the edge of the cañon in which reposes
the town of Khinis (5550 feet).



CHAPTER XIII

FROM KHINIS TO TUTAKH


We pitched our tents upon the plain, above the cañon, on soil
consisting of a deposit of lacustrine sands and gravels, overlying the
lavas and tuffs from Bingöl. Far and wide, in an immense half circle,
stretched the even, treeless surface--a surface scarcely less blank
or less receptive of the hues of the sky than the waters which once
rippled there. In the opposite direction rose the shield-shaped
mass of Bingöl; we stood at the foot of the several terraces of
lava which mount like steps from the plain to the upper platform,
whence volcanic emissions on a large scale have poured towards the
lower levels. Following the outline northwards, on the confines
of the plain, its general character is that of a long bank, with
scarcely perceptible declivity; until, about in the region of the
pass over which we had journeyed, it again rises and becomes almost
horizontal, curving over into the precipitous marbles of the Akh Dagh,
which oppose a barrier of commanding proportions in the north. The
flat edge of the Tekman highlands is due to a capping of lava, from
which the Akh Dagh limestones are free. In the recess of the curve,
and in front of the horizontal outline stands a hill of marble with
a gently rounded summit. The eye returns to the series of gloomy
terraces leading upwards to the eastern summit of Bingöl. Deep cañons
sear the lower slopes.

Khinis was little changed since I had last stood in its gloomy
valley; but I noticed a larger sprinkling of Kurds with the vulture
features, and a greater display of the Hamidiyeh ensign in their
lambskin caps. They appeared to have nothing to do; but the Armenian
craftsmen were, as usual, busy at work in their booths. The old,
outspoken Kaimakam was dead. I could scarcely conceal my feelings
when I was introduced to his successor, who, on his part, was at some
pains to dissemble his want of ease. It was my old acquaintance,
the Kaimakam of Karakilisa; but I refrained from alluding to the
adventure about the gun. I was lost in astonishment at the change
in his appearance. Four years ago he was a supple young man, full
of spirits, proud of his wit, and spending his leisure in hunting
Kurds. He had become middle-aged, almost old. His eyes had lost their
lustre and his figure its shape. He rolled on the divan as he spoke. I
enquired after Ali Bey, the rascally Karapapakh; the reply came
that he too was dead. He had pined away--such was his phrase--under
Government surveillance. The resourceful character of my old host was
the one quality which appeared to remain to him. My cook had mutinied
that morning, and could not be found anywhere; but he soon succeeded
in tracking him out. He seemed to regret the society of the stupid
miralais, the delighted gallery to which he used to play. A single
companion of this description was vouchsafed to him at Khinis--an
officer of the regular army stationed in the town to drill the Kurdish
yeomanry. I enquired of this individual whether I could be shown a
regiment exercising. He replied that they were called out only during
April. Had they trained last April? The answer was in the negative,
but it was hoped they would do so next year. They were very brave men.

My present object was to follow the course of the Murad from Tutakh
to Melazkert. [223] By shaping a direct course to the former of these
places, we might become involved in an intricate, mountainous country;
but, on the other hand, we should avoid the beds of the rivers, and
become better acquainted with the configuration of the land. Leaving
Khinis soon after noon on the 26th of June, we gained the valley of
the Bingöl Su; and, as far as the large Armenian village of Chevermeh,
followed its tortuous channel. Low cliffs, composed of lacustrine
deposits, border the meadows through which it flows on either
hand. Chevermeh, where we forded the stream, has some 150 ant-hill
houses; it is surrounded by a pleasant oasis of willow trees, which
cluster at the confluence of the Teghtap Su. A few small fields of
potato and of vegetable marrow indicated a rather higher standard of
life. A hedge of pink wild roses was a pleasure to see. Several very
young girls, almost naked, were playing in the shade by the water,
and we were surprised to observe the fairness of their hair. Some
of the villagers are Protestants, devoted disciples of Mr. Chambers,
the head of the American Mission at Erzerum. They are indebted to him
for relief during the past years of bad harvests; but they professed
themselves confident of an excellent harvest during the present
year. The missionaries have established a school and orphanage in their
midst. The village reflects the greatest credit upon the Americans,
the people being well spoken and polite. They have their share, too,
of material prosperity; and we had seldom seen such herds of cattle
and droves of horses.

Having gained the heights on the left bank of the river, we struck
obliquely across the plain, in the direction of the Akh Dagh, which
shone in the softening glow. It is well named the white mountain,
being composed of hard calcareous rock, which scarcely supports
a trace of vegetation. Seen from in front, it forms a chain many
miles in length, inclined, roughly speaking, towards south-east. It
has been carved out into valleys of great depth, from which rise
a succession of bold peaks. This portion of the plain of Khinis is
little cultivated, and in a most haphazard manner. There is, however,
an abundance of water, and, if stony, the soil is fairly fertile. From
time to time we were compelled to turn aside from a patch of corn
which already was in ear. The large Armenian village of Kozli was
seen reposing on the basal slope of the Akh Dagh. Another Armenian
settlement, that of Yeni Keui, lay directly upon our course. The day
was drawing to a close as we approached Dedeveren, a Kurdish village
where we decided to camp. We had been travelling through a country
which was typically Armenian--a spacious plain, quite treeless, but
clothed with warm and delicate hues, and framed in the distance by
mountains of great individuality. In one direction it was Bingöl;
in another Khamur; while Sipan stood so high that he could be seen
from the river valley, always a ghostly presence in the sky. We
pitched our tents a little distance west of the village, and looked
across its stacks of tezek and wreathing smoke to the dim white form
of Sipan. It is characteristic of Kurds that they never approach
one another if they have anything to communicate. They remain at a
distance and shout. Such clamour is at its height towards evening,
when the flocks and herds are brought in from the pastures. Groups of
gaily-dressed people had gathered round us; a little boy, stepping
forward, makes an offering of a snow-white rabbit. The setting sun
sheds a glow of orange and amber above the horizontal outline of
Bingöl. A single group of clouds, torn into tatters, as by a storm,
repose motionless against the lights of the western sky. As those
lights wane a crescent moon has risen above the white mountain, and
a little dew falls. Soon the watchman sends his long-sustained cry
into the night, arousing the bark and howling of the dogs.

Next morning we proceeded towards the extremity of the Akh Dagh, where
it sinks into the plain. After passing a copious spring, welling up
in a little basin (the source of the Akher Göl Su), we reached the
Armenian hamlet of Gunduz. Our path had led us over ground which was
fairly high, and was composed of travertine. A new mountain had come
to view behind the Khamur heights. Although of imposing size, it is not
placed upon maps; and none of our people knew its name. It was the bold
and isolated Bilejan. From Gunduz we made an excursion to the banks
of the Bingöl Su, at the large Armenian village of Karachoban. The
stream was winding at the base of the Khamur heights, through a
river-valley about a mile in width. The fact that these heights
are not the train of a volcano, as their appearance might suggest,
had already been divined as we made our way at a distance; it was
now established beyond doubt. They were seen to consist of lacustrine
deposits; higher up, patches of white limestone emerged from the scanty
bush. The lavas of Khamur rose at once above and behind them, towering
up in terraces. The block of mountain had become low; the river pierces
its extremities about two miles below the village. There it assumes
its natural course, so long interrupted, and meanders idly to the
Murad. The Khamur heights are crossed by a track which we could see
from the plain of Khinis in the neighbourhood of Dedeveren. A portion
or the whole of that section of the block is known as Zirnek Dagh.

While we were returning to Gunduz a party of four horsemen were seen
galloping towards us from Karachoban. They proved to be an officer
of zaptiehs and three men. We had received a summons, when in the
village, to visit the officer; but had excused ourselves from want
of time. It was a forbidding picture, these zaptiehs living at free
quarters in an Armenian village. The fierce and almost black face of
the officer fawned obsequiously upon us when he had learnt who we were.

From Gunduz we made our way over some grassy heights which continue
the outline of the Akh Dagh. They are composed of intrusive rock,
mainly basic in character. The marble of the Akh Dagh, dipping to the
south-east, is interrupted by them; and the range, as such, is brought
to an end. The pass across them is low (6265 feet), but it commands
fine prospects over the country beyond the plain of Khinis. A portion
of the Akh Dagh comes to view, seen on its reverse side. Two bold
ridges were observed, plunging in an east-north-east direction, down
from the summit region to a little river. It became clear that the axis
of the range, as seen from the plain of Khinis, does not correspond
with its axis of elevation. In fact the Akh Dagh appears to consist
of a number of ridges, ranged in echelon towards east-north-east. A
sprinkling of snow rested on the north-eastern slopes, from which
those on the south-west were entirely free. Sipan was exposed from
foot to summit, answered further west by another almost insular mass,
the sombre rock and jagged outline of Bilejan. Vast tracts of plain
were outspread at our feet--without a tree, with only a few rare
patches of cultivation, the soil, where exposed by the plough,
being coloured a rich brown. The air which we were breathing was
strong and invigorating, while the sun, even near five o'clock,
was warm. Motionless grey clouds were suspended over the Akh Dagh;
towards evening they increased in gloom; it lightened, and a few drops
of rain fell. Such is the counterpart upon the tableland of the storms
of the Pontic region. A village lay below us at the beginnings of
the tracts of plain; it was the Armenian village of Gopal, in which
we were to pass the night (5643 feet).

One often wonders, while encamping in such a village as Gopal how the
burden of life can be sustained by its inhabitants. Their property,
their lives, and the chastity of their women are at stake from day to
day. They exist under a perpetual Reign of Terror; and Fear, the most
degrading, the most exhausting of human passions, is their companion
from hour to hour. Conspicuous in this village were a band of Hasananli
Kurds, parasites, no doubt, on the industrious Armenians. A Kurdish
agha, in a gay dress which displayed some beautiful embroidered silk,
visited us in our tent. We admired the sheath of his dagger, which
was finely chased. Between these Kurds and the petty officials and
the hungry zaptiehs, the Armenian cultivator hovers on the margin
between life and death. From time to time a revolution is invented
by an ambitious functionary, and the village becomes the scene of
bloodcurdling deeds.

Gopal is situated at the confluence of two little streams which collect
the drainage of the mountainous country on the east of the Akh Dagh,
and issue upon the plain near the village. The spot is indicated on
Kiepert's map by the site of a place named Karakeupru; but we were
assured that no such village exists in the neighbourhood, and that
Gopal had never borne this name. Further doubts as to the topography
of the map decided us on an excursion to the point where the streams,
which unite at Gopal, discharge into the Bingöl Su. Our guide conducted
us across the plain, which has here the character of downs, through
which the river flows in a deeply-eroded bed. Gopal itself rests on a
wide flat of alluvial land; and the level of the plain on the south
and east is appreciably higher than that of the plain of Khinis. It
has, indeed, been flooded with sheets of lava, which have probably
issued from several points of emission at the base of the hills which
confine it on the north. These lavas appear to have flowed towards the
south-east; in places they are overlaid by calcareous marls. Spaces
of grass occur which are almost free from stone, and over which it is
a pleasure to canter. On the horizon rise Sipan and Bilejan. In the
middle distance we remarked a bold escarpment of limestone which we
had noticed at Karachoban. It forms one side of the gorge through which
the Bingöl Su issues from the plain of Khinis. The beds were seen to be
dipping almost directly towards Sipan; and they are probably continued
across the river into the Khamur heights. After a ride of over an hour,
we arrived at the tongue of high land filling the fork between the
two rivers. Deep below us, at the foot of the cliffs, which are here
composed of limestone, meandered the meeting streams. In one direction
we looked up the gorge of the Bingöl Su; in another towards the face
of the cliff on the left bank of the Gopal Su, which must be several
hundred feet high. The village of Murian, on its right bank, a little
above the confluence, was a mere speck in the bed of the river at
our feet. But we could see its inhabitants running in all directions,
the size of ants, and like ants which have been disturbed. Horsemen
came spurring up the steep side of the precipice, of which we occupied
the neck. Our position was so strong that we had full leisure for our
occupations, myself with the mapping, Oswald with the rocks. Krimizi
Tuzla is neither at nor near this confluence, as the map of Kiepert
shows. The joint waters flow off towards Bayaz Tuzla, which, however,
was invisible. The eye follows their winding reaches for some distance
as they cut their way through a succession of low, white hills. Murian
belongs to the vilayet of Bitlis, and Gopal to that of Erzerum.

In the meantime the horsemen had formed in line on the level ground
north of our position. They proved to be a band of Kurds in the employ
of a Kaimakam who resides in this remote village. That official
stepped forward and saluted us with deference; at his side rode a
sergeant of the regular army, commissioned to drill the Kurds. These
are members of the great Hasananli tribe. The Kaimakam escorted us
for a part of the way to Gopal, over the spacious downs. I employed
my brief experience with yeomanry in England in the endeavour to put
his retinue through some simple exercises. The sergeant translated the
words of command. But it was impossible to keep them in line for any
time. They would burst forward, each trooper vying with his neighbour,
and careering over the plain, the rifle brandished like a spear. The
more I saw of Kurds the deeper grew my impression that they would be
completely worthless in time of war.

On the outskirts of Gopal were encamped some gypsies, who subsist by
making sieves. [224] It was late in the afternoon of the 28th of June
before we left the village, and mounted the cliff on the left bank of
the stream. For several miles we rode in a north-easterly direction
across the upland plain. These levels extend from the ridges of the
Akh Dagh, in the west, to a barrier of marble heights which rose on
our point of course, and appeared to be continued southwards in a
roughly south-east line. The prospect over the region in the direction
of Lake Van disclosed an immense area of comparatively even country,
limited only by the insular masses of Sipan and Bilejan. These masses
were in some sense linked by the long outline of a range of hills,
which, in fact, compose the southern edge of the Murad basin, and
beyond which repose the waters of the great lake. Khamur was boldly
defined in the south-west.

I feel that I shall exhaust the patience of my reader if I follow in
detail the remainder of our journey to Tutakh. I have brought him
along the outskirts of the important plain of Khinis to the region
about Lake Van. In case he may be a traveller, desirous of guidance
over the wild country which separates Gopal from Tutakh, I would offer
the suggestion that he should shape a direct course by his compass; I
doubt that he would be obliged to deviate often or for very far. Such
advice would have saved ourselves from getting lost in the intricate
districts to the north of such a direct line. Nobody knew the way;
there are few villages; and, although the inhabitants appeared to
belong exclusively to the Hasananli, each village was at feud with its
immediate neighbours, and it was impossible to obtain guides. Moreover
the division of the day into tedious units of hours is a process which
in that region is unfamiliar and scarcely known. During the summer the
few inhabitants are scattered in the yailas; the remnant in the village
is largely composed of old men and women, besides the children, male
and female, whose naked stomachs are distended by the quantities of
gritty bread they are obliged to consume. Such scenes of abject poverty
are rarely tempered by a brighter vision--the vision of youth, mature
and unimpaired. The few young women and girls, who have not followed
the flocks and herds, will be busy at their weaving of material for
the black tents, stretching the long strands of goat-hair twine, and
adding the woof to the web. Their loose cotton trousers display the
slimness of their limbs; and it is a pleasure to watch the rhythm of
their bodies, seated by the side of their task with knees apart.

But neither Oswald nor myself regretted our wanderings. By adhering
to the higher levels we obtained a picture of structural features,
which not only confirmed the studies we had pursued together, but
also contributed several interesting facts. It is in this region
that the great lines of elevation and mountain-making describe that
beautiful curve which attains its greatest orographical significance
in the mountains which border the highlands of Armenia and Persia
on the north and on the south. In the south it is the line of the
Armenian Taurus arching over into that of the Zagros chain; while in
the north the wider span of the alps of Pontus and the Chorokh region
is deflected into the border range of Russian Armenia and into the
mountains of Khorasan. [225] Within the area of the Armenian tableland
this curve may be clearly traced; for instance, it is conspicuous in
the trend of the mountains from Palandöken to Kilich Gedik, and in
that of the Aghri Dagh further north. Even in the country over which we
were travelling, some distance south of the former of these barriers,
and of comparatively even nature, the strike of the stratified rocks
displayed the change in direction; while the sheets of lava, which
overlay them, were evidently due to zones of weakness, where the
stress of bending over had been attended with fracture, and the apex
of the arc had given way. Speaking generally, the rocks consisted of
older limestone, hardened into marble, and varied by igneous material,
crystalline in character and of intrusive origin. Upon this foundation
rested layers of later limestone; while over all were outspread the
lavas, sometimes covering the entire series, at others swathing the
base of marble eminences. These lavas had welled up from fissures, for
the most part on the north of our track; they had flowed towards the
south, in the direction of the still distant Murad, often following
the trough of the river valleys, and sometimes altering the course
of the drainage. The change of strike in the stratified rocks was
observed in the neighbourhood of the village of Alkhes. There the
axis of the limestone folds was almost latitudinal; and, as we neared
Tutakh, it assumed a direction of east-south-east. This was also the
direction of the several valleys between Alkhes and the Murad.

In many respects the region resembles Tekman; the higher levels over
which we passed have an elevation of from 6000 to 7500 feet. But the
lavas have played a greater part in its configuration; and the streams,
which were mere runnels, have eaten to an immense depth and flow in
meridional valleys. Thus we were always either picking our way over
a sheet of lava, crumbled into boulders and yellow with fennel, or
descending hundreds of feet into a deep valley through which trickled
a rivulet. We crossed only one considerable stream--the Kersuk or
Kersik. It was winding through a gorge composed of limestone overlying
serpentine, and was changing its course from south-east towards the
south. At the bend, on the left bank, at some height above the river,
is situated the picturesque village of Alkhes. The channel had a
breadth of only a few paces; but the water reached to our horses'
girths.

The district about Alkhes, and for some distance west and east, is
known by the name of Elmali Dere, or the vale of apple trees. These
pleasant trees, with their grey-green foliage, are found in abundance
in the valley and side valleys of the Kersik. But the dreary fennel is
almost the only plant on the higher levels; nor can the eye, far and
wide, thence discern the shape of a tree. In the north the mournful
landscape is framed by the mountains which bend south-eastwards
into the Kilich Gedik. At Alkhes they were known under the name of
Khalias Dagh; at Tutakh, where our informants were better educated,
under that of Mergemir. Towards the south, upon the limits of a wide
semicircle, rose the snow-clad and still distant summits of the Ala
Dagh, rose Sipan and Bilejan. An unknown mountain, of relatively humble
proportions, concealed the western slopes of the giant of Lake Van;
it proved to be Kartevin, a volcanic and insular mass, on the left
bank of the Murad.



CHAPTER XIV

DOWN THE MURAD TO MELAZKERT [226]


The perfume of a hayfield, in which the mowers were busy, greeted our
approach to the town of Tutakh. It came as a refreshing change after
the dreary lava-sheets overgrown with fennel, and the stony paths,
down and up, across the valleys. Great rivers impress their dignity
upon their surroundings; and, although we failed to discover the
Murad until we were close upon it, the larger folds of the down-like
country, and the growing sense of space, appeared to indicate that we
were already near our goal. Twenty minutes before our arrival on the
outskirts of the settlement, the white waters were seen winding far
below us, at the foot of the hills. In the bare brown mountains from
which they had issued, curving towards them from the outlines in the
north, we recognised the distant horn of the crescent to which they
had pointed at Alkhes as the heights overlooking Tutakh.

Those brown slopes indeed belonged to the barrier which the Murad
pierces upon its egress from the plain of Alashkert. No trace of
stratified rock could be detected upon them; nor was Oswald, on the
following day, when he examined a section of the bank of the river,
successful in finding among the pebbles, embedded in the side of the
cliff, any examples which were not derived from an eruptive origin. The
face of the plain itself, through which the river wanders towards
the basin of Melazkert, has been flooded with sheets of lava, which
have probably flowed in a southerly direction, and which extend at
least as far as the right bank. Along the opposite margin rise grassy
heights, volcanic in character, and placed like an outer buttress in
front of the ridges of the Ala Dagh. These are succeeded by the lavas
of the Kartevin. Just below Tutakh the Murad enters a low gorge;
but the remainder of its course is spent in a wide, alluvial bed,
at the foot of rounded eminences on either shore. Almost exactly at
the point where the troubled ridges of the Kartevin Dagh commence
to sink into the plain of Melazkert, the heights on the right bank
roll away. And, a little lower down, the river reaches the trough
of the basin, which is about 450 feet lower than the level of Lake
Van. [227] There it changes direction with almost startling abruptness,
and flows off westwards through an expanse of even ground.

The country upon the right bank of the Murad, over an area which is
roughly limited by the town of Tutakh on the north, and by the villages
of Dignuk and Murian (on the Gopal Su) upon the south and west, would
appear to present features which do not widely differ from those of the
higher region we had just crossed. As we overlooked a portion of that
area from some of the loftier eminences which border the left bank,
we were confronted by the familiar shapes of grassy, treeless downs;
of terraces of lava or tuff sloping towards the river, of valleys
deeply cut in the barren soil. The single river which effects a
confluence through that region is the Kersik; it enters the Murad at
the foot of lofty cliffs. But the flowering yellow fennel was either
absent or less conspicuous; and its place was taken by a purple vetch,
of restful hue and delicate petals, climbing the hillsides, like a
heather, yet more intense.

It is interesting to compare this impression of the country, formed
during our journey along the river, with the conception of its
character already present in our minds before we had reached Tutakh. It
was while descending from the upland plain above the left bank of the
Kersik, as far north as the village of Alkhes, that we had for the
first time obtained a prospect from a comparatively low level over
the expanse in the direction of Sipan. We stood nearly at the bottom
of a wide valley through which trickled a little stream. Yet the view
towards that landmark was almost uninterrupted; we appeared, indeed,
to be crossing a gulf-like extension of the great plain from which
the mountain soars. As often as we became involved in the intricate
down country, while pursuing our easterly course to Tutakh, so, not
less often, we emerged upon similar openings, where the downs seemed
to tongue into the plain. The Kartevin Dagh was the only eminence
which in part screened the volcano; but it did not extend beyond a
portion of its westerly slopes.

A fierce sun had already browned the scanty herbage of the hillsides,
and at noon the thermometer registered 85° in the shade. We were
constrained to abandon our tent, and to seek the shelter of a stone
building, one of the few above-ground edifices in Tutakh. A spacious
room was placed at our disposal by the authorities, with thick walls
and a lofty ceiling, constructed of logs. A carpet of thick felt and
the gay trappings of the divan added an appearance of comfort to a
sense of coolness. But the carpet was overlying a layer of filthy hay,
and the divan was nothing better than a stage of mud and straw. The
place was indeed a hotbed for noxious insects; legions of fleas
continued and intensified the torments which had been interrupted
at the approach of night by swarms of flies. Our visitors in the
apartment--one might almost say our companions--were an officer
of police, a most intelligent individual, and the Colonel of the
Karapapakh Hamidiyeh. The former informed us among other matters that
the post to Erzerum is always carried by way of Karakilisa. Caravans
proceed in summer across the Kilich Gedik to Zeidikan, and so by Pasin
to Erzerum. Between Tutakh and Melazkert one has the choice of two
ways; one may follow either the left or the right bank. But the fords
lower down are said to be less reliable, and we were recommended to
proceed by the left bank. The colonel of Karapapakhs was attired in a
Circassian dress and spoke Russian fluently. He told me that his people
had emigrated from Zarishat (in the Kars-Kagyzman district) after the
last Russo-Turkish war. Their earlier seats had been in Daghestan. By
remote origin he asserted that they were pure Turks. They contribute
altogether three regiments to the Hamidiyeh, of which two are furnished
by Tutakh and by Karakilisa, and the third by the tribesmen of Sivas.

July 2. --The Murad opposite Tutakh had a width of a hundred yards;
but it was not deeper than two and a half feet. After crossing the ford
we proceeded along the left bank, sometimes winding over the westerly
slopes of the grassy eminences which screen the Ala Dagh, at others
following the alluvial flat in the bed of the river. Lavas, tuffs,
and dark volcanic sands were conspicuous on the heights and in the
valleys. Oswald observed the frequent introduction of a conglomerate,
consisting of well-rounded pebbles or blocks of lava, interbedded with
volcanic sands. It may denote that the lake, which filled the basin
of Melazkert, extended at one time to this region. A new landmark
rose in the north--the magnificent dome of the Kuseh Dagh; while,
among our old companions, Khamur could still be seen, and we were in
full view of Sipan and Bilejan. But neither the dreary downs on the
right bank of the river--our only prospect of any extent--nor the
bed of the river itself, with its pebble-strewn flats of alluvium,
afforded any refreshment to the eye. No restful groves cast shadows
across the sheen of the water, where, here and there, a flock was
browsing on the scanty herbage, or a herd of buffaloes wallowed in
the oozy mud. I was reminded of the bed of the Tigris below the town
of Diarbekr; and, indeed, the Murad flows through these plains of
Armenia with much the same appearance as that of its companion at
the head of the Mesopotamian plains. It is a slowly-flowing river;
[228] and it might, I suppose, be made navigable from Tutakh as far as
Karaogli. Locks would be required; but the lower region is so fertile
that, with better government, such works might prove remunerative.

We passed through several villages; but they are, for the most part,
mere hamlets. One of the largest was Gargalik. With the exception of
Baïndir, a Karapapakh settlement, they are inhabited by Sipkanli and
Hasananli Kurds. We did not meet a caravan; there were few wayfarers;
but from time to time an ill-miened Kurd, armed with a muzzle-loader,
rode by, taking stock of us as he passed. At Gargalik, where there is
a ford between two villages of this name, we were ushered into the
largest of the ant-hill tenements. A burly figure, richly dressed,
could just be discerned in the dim light, suffused over the cavernous
chamber from an aperture in the roof. The figure was seated on the
little daïs which, in such dwellings, divides the chamber from the
stable, and from which rise the wooden pillars that support the
roof. A strong odour from the horses and cattle, almost beside him,
vitiated the air. We waited for some little time while the devotee
bowed and muttered, or, with head upraised and lifted voice, uttered
the climax of his profession of faith. Then, after a brief silence,
he approached us, and received our hands, and welcomed us to his
abode. It was Ali Bey, son of the defunct Yusuf Pasha, and chief of
all Sipkanli Kurds. [229] It was evident that he had been apprised
of our approach, for he displayed three imperial decorations on
his breast. And he showed us a cigarette-case, of gold encrusted
with jewels, the gift of the Sultan, accompanied by an autograph
letter. As far as the Kartevin the inhabitants are Sipkanli; lower
down the villages are peopled by Hasananli Kurds.

A heavy shower--which was a rare occurrence--and the approach of
night decided us, when we were opposite the village of Hasuna, to
take shelter there and encamp. It is inhabited by Hasananli, who
described themselves as raya, or cultivators, and it is surrounded
by patches of cereals. Each head of a family owns his patch and his
animals. The men stand about and loiter in the grove of willows;
the women work incessantly from morn till night. On the following
day we mounted to one of the peaks of the Kartevin Dagh, which rises
immediately above the village. The purple vetch, and a shower of tiny
blossoms from the white gypsophila, varied the monotony of the arid
slopes with their boulders of lava. Flowering flax, the vivid green
of wheat, already in ear, softened the base of the ridge up which
we climbed. Nearing the summit, we came upon the yellow immortelles;
a little apple tree, bush-high, rose from the crevices in the crags
of the peak. This crest had an elevation of 7580 feet above the sea,
or of 2400 feet above the village. But the ridges on the north attain
a greater height, perhaps of several hundred feet. The Kartevin Dagh
appeared to us to be a radial mass, with a number of bold ridges and
deep valleys. It is entirely of eruptive volcanic origin.

The basin of Melazkert, with the plain at the foot of Sipan in the
direction of Patnotz, was unfolded, mile after mile, at our feet. From
the parapet upon which we stood a sharp ridge, with precipitous sides,
plunged at right angles into the level expanse. At its extremity
lies the village of Karakaya, on the right bank of a little river,
which loops along the plain, coming from Patnotz. We see it joining
the Murad; and we see the bend of the Murad, which, after receiving
this, the second of its considerable affluents below Tutakh, turns
westwards, and is soon lost to view. A dark speck, almost in the
foreground, at a little distance from the larger river, is recognised
as Melazkert. The plain of Patnotz is continuous with the plains of the
Murad, and both were covered by a single lake in no remote geological
period--a lake extending into the plain of Khinis. The appearance
of the expanse is not untrue to its origin; and it would seem as if
the waters had but recently receded from these gently-shelving and
boulder-strewn tracts. Around them rise the great volcanoes: Sipan,
seen from base to summit, and still robed in a mantle of snow;
Bilejan, the black mountain, with here and there a fleck of snow,
with the outline of the Nimrud crater emerging behind; Khamur, above
the region towards which the river is flowing; behind Khamur the
snow-field of Bingöl. We observe the low, white hills which join the
outlines of the two first-named masses, and which screen the lake of
Van. The marble peaks of the Akh Dagh rise with startling boldness;
and, further round, we follow the outline of the Mergemir. In that
direction the fields of lava with their yellow fennel are conspicuous
features in the scene. The circle is completed by the ridges of the Ala
Dagh, capped with shining snow. And, turning again towards the south,
we admire a small blue lake, reposing at the feet of Bilejan. The
snows of Taurus just emerge beyond Nimrud.

After regaining our encampment, we resumed our journey in the late
afternoon. Almost opposite the village, the heights on the right bank
recede, and describe a line of cliffs at right angles to their former
course. The country opens to the plain; but the site of Melazkert
was hidden by an escarpment on the left bank of the Patnotz river,
where a bed of lake-deposits falls away to the alluvial flats. The
track is seen winding over the crest of the bank, made conspicuous
by the white soil. The evening was far advanced as we approached
this high ground from the floor of fine sand, overgrown by bush and
clusters of iris, which fills the area between the two rivers. The
affluent, which we forded, was perhaps not wider than fifteen yards;
but the water was almost uniform in depth, and reached to our horses'
knees. Mounting the little ridge, we made our way over powdery soil,
and soon overlooked the dark mass of Melazkert. The light was failing
as we passed through the broken lines of ancient walls, near some
barracks alive with bugle-cries.

We were ushered into the principal room of a single-storeyed stone
building, through a dark passage, in which we groped our way. The
light of candles fell upon the cushions of a broad divan, and upon the
hale complexion of an old man with snow-white hair. He came towards
us with outstretched hands, while the chief of our escort introduced
us to the Kaimakam of Melazkert. His zaptiehs, to the number of six,
had already accompanied us for some distance; we had met them ranged in
line and presenting arms. Our host informed us that he was seventy-five
years of age, and that a new front tooth was coming in place of one
he had lost. He was a native of Bitlis. His sorrow was sincere that
he could not lodge us; the town did not possess a suitable house. He
therefore begged us to erect our tents in the ancient citadel, where
there was a fine site for a camp. We were soon proceeding thither,
over ground which sloped upwards to a ruinous cross-wall. The jet of
a fountain shone in the twilight from a recess beside the entrance,
whence we mounted to a spacious platform, backed by a tower and
encircled by walls. Tower and walls alike were massively built.

The moon rose above the tower, which screened the ghost-like Sipan,
from a richly mottled bed of cloud. It was a full moon, casting the
parapets into darkness, and whitening the roofs of the houses at our
feet. A little later, as we were preparing for sleep, the pale gold
surface of the orb displayed but a tiny crescent of light. It was
the shadow of our globe which was passing across the moon; but the
vision was rapidly lost in the bed of cloud.

It had scarcely become day when the deep voice of the venerable
Kaimakam was heard beside our tent. He had come to enquire after our
needs; and he promised to endeavour to obtain a turkey from one of
the Circassian villages in the plain. But when I asked whether he
were acquainted with some educated person, capable of indicating to
us the various objects of interest, and perhaps of connecting them
with the history of the town, his face became a blank, and he was
emphatic in declaring that, by Allah! no such individual existed in
Melazkert. But was there no school, no Armenian teacher? I pressed him,
but he spoke the truth when he answered in the negative. He added:
"All the people here are very little people, occupied by the pressing
needs of daily life. They have already forgotten what happened forty
years ago, and they will remember your visit for forty years. Beyond
these limits they have no knowledge whatever."

The Kaimakam was right; Melazkert is a heap of ruins, from which some
pygmies have collected the stones and built tenements. A squadron
of cavalry, quartered in the town, may lend a semblance of life;
but it is a deceptive semblance, for the place is dead.


We descended from the citadel at the eastern extremity of the town,
resolved to conduct a careful search. Let me enumerate in order,
proceeding from east to west, the ancient edifices that still
remain. All are built of the same black, basaltic lava which forms
the material of the towers and walls; but, as this lava is highly
scoriaceous in character, the stone cannot be properly dressed. The
architect has therefore had recourse to a more suitable agent for
the enrichments of his design; a calcareous rock has been brought
from a distance and inserted in the dark walls. In such calcareous
stone is carved the honeycomb ornament which fills the apex of the
arch in two niches on the southern front of a spacious but deserted
khan. It is a building in the fine old style, with a lofty and vaulted
roof; a square aperture in the centre of the roof admits light and
air. Adjoining the khan upon the west are placed the remains of the
most interesting monument, the church of Erek Khoran Astvatsatsin.

Its name, the three altars, is evidently derived from the three apses
which are a feature in the design. Yet most old Armenian churches
are built upon this pattern, if the name apse may be extended to the
lateral chapels. In the present case these chapels are almost as large
as the apse proper. The nave is separated from the broad aisles by two
rows of three pillars apiece; from the pillars spring pointed arches,
which appear to have supported a vaulted roof. But the roof has fallen
in; we could find no trace of a dome or tower; and the pillars on the
north side were strewn in pieces on the floor. The basal stones of
two of the columns are octagonal, and were probably taken from some
edifice of earlier date.

The interior has been faced with calcareous stone, admitting of fine
chiselling. A frieze of honeycomb pattern, and two niches with the
same ornament have been introduced into the apse. The floor of the apse
is, as usual, raised above the floor of the nave, and the face of the
daïs, so formed, is enriched with a relief of little arches, composed
of mouldings with geometrical designs. In the centre of each arched
space is the figure of a cross. Carved mouldings also adorn the font,
adjoining the more northerly of the two chapels. The exterior, which
displays the usual black lava, is without any interesting feature.

It was evident that the walls had once been covered with frescos;
traces of this form of decoration were found on the capitals, and a
few of the larger subjects might still be recognised. In the apse is
portrayed the figure of Christ receiving baptism from St. John. The
faces of the walls dividing the apse from the lateral chapels are
devoted to secular subjects. On the one we discovered the head, and
part of the figure of a king, wearing a gold crown. His left hand
rested on the richly-chased scabbard of his sword; his right supported
a sceptre with a globe. The fresco on the other face was almost
obliterated; but a crown and a portion of a head, probably that of a
queen, were conspicuous among the faded colours. Both heads rested on
golden halos. One can scarcely doubt that these portraits are those of
the founders of this church, which was evidently the royal chapel. I
copied with difficulty the following almost illegible inscription,
placed by the side of the king:--[Old Armenian Inscription]. Such is
all that remains of this pleasing piece of architecture; the interior
has an extreme length of sixty-five feet and a breadth of a little
over forty feet.

An almost similar edifice is that which is named Surb Sargis; it
may have been the general town church (length of interior, sixty-six
feet; breadth, thirty-nine feet). It is situated in the portion of the
fortress furthest removed from the citadel, and not far from the south
wall. It is still employed as a place of worship, but is maintained
in a filthy state. The two rows of three pillars are still standing;
and one of the pillars is composed of a slab-shaped monolith, engraved
with an elaborate Armenian cross. It is evident that it was imported
from some other place. The present roof is a rude structure of logs,
quite flat, and concealing the features of the former design. The
altar-piece in the apse appeared to us to be the old one; but its
effect was spoilt by daubs of staring colour. An altar of primitive
pattern, composed of a slab of stone, resting horizontally upon a stone
column, was standing in the southern side chapel. A little sacristy
adjoins the similar chapel on the north, projecting from the outer
wall of the church. Abutting on the western front of this sacristy,
and extending along the remainder of this outer wall, is placed a
small and independent chapel, which repeats the same design. It is
known under the name of Arab Kilisa, or church of the Arabs; by which
term I presume that the Nestorian Christians are denoted. It is now
a mere ruin.

A building of later date than these churches, but no doubt the
outcome of a period of comparative prosperity, is the mosque which
is placed just beneath the citadel, and which reminds one of similar
structures in Bitlis. A nave and two aisles, with two pillars apiece;
a low central dome, pointed arches and vaulted ceilings--such are
the features of a design which is evidently, to a large extent,
a copy by Mohammedans of the Christian architecture. The interior,
as well as the pointed arch over the entrance, is built of blocks of
pink and black volcanic stone; the outer walls are of faced lava. The
recess of the altar is inlaid with white marble. Adjoining the mosque
is a medresseh or college. The mosque is well kept up.


We spent nearly two whole days in Melazkert, visiting the remains
of the former splendour of the place and occupied by drawing out
the plan which accompanies this chapter. We estimated the length
of the city at 750 yards, and its breadth at 500 yards. The former
measurement was taken from the tower in the citadel to a tower in the
walls at the opposite extremity. Both the site, and the character and
disposition of the fortifications remind one strongly of Trebizond;
and it would be a matter of great interest to determine the nature
of the connection to which the similarity of design may have been
due. Melazkert is built upon a flow of lava, a feature of little
importance in the general configuration of the plain; but this lava
sheet descends to the alluvial flats about the Murad in much the same
manner as the site of Trebizond shelves to the sea. Like the city by
the Euxine, the Armenian fortress is flanked on two sides by ravines;
these ravines are indeed flatter than those of its counterpart;
but the platform which supports the citadel and palace is 100 feet
higher than the trough of the ravine on the north. There are similar
little streams trickling along in either hollow; and a similar double
line of walls, with towers at intervals, encircles the area of the
fortified town. Suburbs there may have been; but they have long since
disappeared; the cemeteries are placed outside the walls. The solid
octagonal tower at the extreme south-east end of the citadel may quite
probably have served as the model for the tower of John the Fourth,
at Trebizond. Indeed, could we see this site under the luxuriance of
the Kolchian foliage, the resemblance would at once appeal to the
eye. The only trees at Melazkert are a few willows; but springs of
cold, clear water well up from the ground.

So far as we could judge from a hasty examination, the Murad may at one
time have flowed quite near the walls; but the bridge of the mediæval
city is at least two miles west of the town. The road is taken over low
and marshy ground, and crosses a side torrent of considerable volume,
when quite near the bridge. This torrent is said to be derived from
springs in the plain; it eats its way through a lava stream. The
gorge is spanned by the single pointed arch of an ancient bridge--a
structure so massive that it has resisted destruction, and still rears
intact its elegant facing of pink and black volcanic stone. Worse
fortune has attended the noble structure which once joined the banks
of the Murad. Of its thirteen or more piers only four are standing;
some have rolled over and compose masses that defy the stream. On
those that remain you admire the exquisite masonry, and the skilful
variation of black with pink stone. The arches are much pointed,
and are close together; the bridge describes a curve down stream. On
the opposite margin we remarked the foundations of an ancient road,
underlying the grass on the hillside. At the present day a road does
not exist in the country, and the river is crossed by fords.

Indeed the city presents a strangely pathetic spectacle of fallen
greatness, of a culture which has disappeared--more touching by
the contrast with the blank of the present, by the sufficiency and
eloquence of the monuments that remain. We are by them enabled to
reconstruct the splendour of the citadel, which was perhaps the palace;
the stateliness of the double walls with their picturesque towers;
the frescos of the churches, the magnificent bridge, the broad, paved
road. An Armenian genius produced these works, and a Turk destroyed
them. Now only some forty Armenian families grovel among the ruins of
a past which they ignore. A few small shops, some kept by Armenians,
a few by Kurds, dispense Manchester cottons and some of the necessaries
of life. There is not a house that is not built out of the remains of
the old town. The little windows are screened with paper or bits of
calico. The Kaimakam cannot tell you the number of the inhabitants. His
clerk is ill, and he himself has no idea of the number; yet they are
not so very many to count. It is possible that he is dissembling; yet
he is very ignorant; he laughs at our notion of climbing Sipan. He
says that, years ago, during the course of an exceptional season,
when the summit had become almost free of snow, one man was said to
have reached the top. One can see that it is the snow which appeals
to their doubts and raises their fears. What life you see around you
is feeble and squalid--wicked, even, in a small way. And it seems as
if the storks, which lend sanctity to the decaying towers, were the
incarnation of the grave, sad thoughts that rise in the mind.

The history of Melazkert, such as we see the city in these ruins,
appears to be little better than unknown. We turn in vain to the
pages of Saint Martin or of Ritter even for a few cardinal facts. If
the story of the empire of the Grand Comneni, as unravelled by
the labours of Fallmerayer, still remains in the vivid language of
its illustrious exponent a phantom picture, lacking the reality of
life, then the mediæval kingdom of the Armenian kings who reigned
in Melazkert may be described as but the shadow of a shade. Their
capital occupied the site of one of the oldest of Armenian cities,
and derived its name from Manavaz, the son of the mythical Hayk. [230]
It was possessed by princes of this name during the Arsakid period,
tracing their descent to the progenitor of the Armenian race. [231]
Melazkert was known to the Byzantines as an independent city; but,
like Ani, it fell during the eleventh century to the arms of Alp
Arslan. The same century witnessed the defeat of the Byzantine Cæsar
by the Seljuk conqueror in the neighbourhood of its walls. The fate
of Ani appears to have been repeated on the banks of the Murad, for
the city can never have recovered under its Mohammedan rulers. At
the present day the Armenians, to whom it owed prosperity, have been
almost driven away from the neighbourhood. At Hasuna we observed one of
their deserted graveyards; and again another between that village and
the town. These and the crumbling towers and churches of the ancient
fortress are the melancholy landmarks of the progressive ruin of the
Armenian inhabitants. [232]



CHAPTER XV

FROM MELAZKERT TO AKHLAT


In one of the ancient towers of the wall on the west was residing a
Kurdish chief, surrounded by a posse of his followers. Perhaps he
was in some sense a hostage to the Government, or perhaps he was
acting in a representative capacity towards the five regiments of
Hamidiyeh, each with 500 men, which, he assured me, were furnished by
his tribe. His name is Riza Bey, and he is the brother of Fethulla Bey,
chief of all Hasananli. His brother resides in the village of Dignuk,
on the right bank of the Murad near Melazkert. Riza Bey came to visit
us in the citadel and I returned his visit in the tower. His window
commanded a fine prospect over the alluvial plain in the direction
of the Murad--all the detail, of crumbling cemetery, of willow-grown
hollow, of channelled flats, framed by the deep embrasure. My host
was seated on a divan, covered with a beautiful Kurdish kilim;
he was readily distinguished by his ferocious black moustache. He
gave evasive answers to my questions about the annual trainings; one
hears so very much, and one sees so very little of this formidable
Hamidiyeh! Melazkert is a kind of headquarters for the force; and
I feel sure that, if even one regiment were in actual existence,
it would have been paraded for our benefit.

Late in the afternoon of the 5th of July we forded the stream in the
southern ravine, and, after crossing an extensive and very ruinous
cemetery, made our way over the plain of lava which stretches without
interruption to the base of the still distant Sipan. Our course was
directed to a village on its southern confines, at the foot of those
heights which have already been mentioned as extending between Sipan
and Bilejan. You may canter the whole way, for the ground is fairly
even, although broken here and there by mounds of black boulders,
which may represent either minor outbreaks of volcanic matter,
or the sites of steam vents through the sheet of cooling lava. In
places there is a thin covering of marly deposits; and, where these
occur, the soil becomes fertile. But it is little cultivated--only in
patches, and in a very primitive fashion. The village proved to be
Circassian; its name was Kara Ali; a second Circassian settlement,
called Yaralmish, was its close neighbour upon the east. Our track
commenced to ascend, immediately beyond Kara Ali, up the face of the
opposite heights. The nature of these hills was at once apparent from
the character of their forms and from the change in vegetation. We rode
over the slopes of downs, resting the eye on fresh pastures, and with
the song of the lark in our ears. The purple vetch was resplendent on
the cliff-sides. Here and there a white patch disclosed the calcareous
nature of the underlying rock. The village of Demian (raya Hasananli,
alt. 6690 feet) is situated below the crest of the ridge, in full
view of the plain. There we decided to encamp for the night. [233]

July 6.--What a landscape to wake up to! The side of our tent towards
the plain had been left open during the night. We overlooked such an
immense expanse of earth--nude, or veiled in transparent mists, and
quite unconscious of the presence of man! Even we, who were already
accustomed to such visions, had never yet seen the like. Reach upon
reach, in large surroundings, we traced the course of the Murad,
flowing towards us from Tutakh; loop upon loop, we followed its waters
into the dimness of the west, flowing away through the plain. The
contrasts in the lighting were less impressive this morning; but
last evening the river was thrown into pronouncement, and lay like
a parti-coloured riband in the expanse. From vivid whites and tender
greys it became a sheen of gold under the red blaze of the setting sun.

The pass, or crest of the ridge (6870 feet), is close behind
Demian. Among our landmarks, besides Sipan, the Akh Dagh was most
conspicuous, and, although probably less lofty, because quite free from
snow, dwarfed the intermediate mass of Khamur. The dome of the Kuseh
Dagh was the bold feature of the scene in the north; while Kartevin
rose like an island in the plain at our feet. This pass is but the
edge of a deep block of hill country, interposed between the plain
and the lake of Van. The highest level which we attained, during our
passage across it, belonged to the ridge on the north of the village
of Khanik, and was a level of 7690 feet. That ridge was composed of
Eocene limestone, perhaps a travertine, while the ridge behind Demian
displayed the familiar fossils of the widely-distributed lacustrine
rocks. Coralline limestones of Eocene epoch, much altered and hardened,
perhaps by the action of hot springs, constitute the backbone of the
mass; while on its southern side the lacustrine series is represented
by the purplish-brown sandstones of the hills behind Akhlat. Sipan
has burst through the zone of limestone hills, probably about in the
central region; the volcano has been built up upon their debris, and
overtowers their almost uniform levels. Yet the stratified rocks are
little diversified by volcanic outpourings: and only once, namely just
upon our departure from the valley of Khanik, did we ride over such
material, a dark volcanic tuff. It is indeed surprising, the limited
extension of the flows of lava even from such a giant as Sipan. When
we looked across to the mountain from the lofty down behind Demian,
the block of hills appeared to compose an outer sheath to the volcano,
recessing inwards around its contours. And the plain or pedestal of
lava at the foot of Sipan was seen tonguing into the recess at our
feet. Through that valley was winding a little stream, which would
probably become lost in the plain. We descended into the valley, which
supports several Kurdish villages, and rose up the opposite side. From
this ridge to the guardhouse on the southern side of the block is the
wildest portion of this bleak zone. We passed only one village, the
Circassian settlement of Khanik, during our progress from the ridge to
Akhlat. The axis or strike of the limestones is in an east-north-east
direction; they are carved out into deep and irregular valleys.

Extraordinary precautions had been taken for our safety during the
passage of this region. Our escort from Melazkert consisted of eight
zaptiehs, and of the head man of the village of Akhviran, a notable
of high rank in the Hamidiyeh, who had been commissioned by Riza
Bey to accompany us. At Khanik we were met by no less than fifteen
zaptiehs; and this little force skirmished up the heights adjoining
our track, to protect us from an ambuscade. Arrived at the guardhouse
(7560 feet) we were saluted by a detachment of regular cavalry,
mounted on snow-white horses. As we rode down this line of troops,
an individual in civil dress stepped forward and took our hands. It
was the Kaimakam of Akhlat. His servants had prepared tea in the
solitary little building which rises like a beacon from the wilds.

Our further progress was a procession. We were sorry to lose the
cavalry, who were under orders to return to the guardhouse. They
manoeuvred in admirable fashion; and the motley zaptiehs, careering
in all directions, were a poor substitute to the eye. The Kaimakam
rode by our side. But this little touch of humanity was quickly
lost and soon forgotten in the emotions which were inspired by the
unfolding scene. The landscape of Lake Van, overtake it where you may,
can scarcely fail, with a traveller susceptible of such impressions,
to bring tears to the eyes. And there it lies, deep down below us,
streaming with sunlight, intensely blue and intensely pale. How
startling is the change from these rounded forms about us--from
the dome of Sipan, wreathed in cloud, from the unbroken circle of
the Nimrud crater, islands of mountain in an expanse of plain and
hill--to the jagged and snow-capped parapet of the Kurdish mountains,
reflected into the mirror of waters on the opposite shore! But this
evening we miss the gloom which is wont to envelop those mountains;
the clouds are suspended high above the outline of peaks; and the
face of the wall is tinted a delicate yellow, relieved by shadows of
a pale violet hue. The shadows mark the relief of the almost vertical
escarpments, and have the appearance of a long succession of pointed
spears. Among the landmarks along those shores we recognise Mount
Ardos, broad-shouldered above a headland in the east; a blue shadow
in the lake, slightly raised above its surface, may denote the isle
of Akhtamar. The long promontory of Zigag juts out from the Nimrud
crater towards the beautiful bay of Surb, on the opposite shore.

Almost at our feet we see the top of a leafy tree, then another,
and then a long grove. And immediately we enter the deep shade of
the gardens which fringe the southern margin of the sea (5637 feet).



CHAPTER XVI

AKHLAT


July 15.--We have spent eight days at Akhlat. They have been days
which we shall always remember with delight. Our surroundings, our
occupations, the little comforts of our daily life, have been all
that we could desire.

We are encamped in an orchard by the side of the lake. The water
plashes against rocks, at the foot of a well-defined bank, some twenty
yards from our tent. We look across a floor of green, dappled with
shade and sunshine, through the varied intervals of the grove of fruit
trees, beneath the perfect foliage, to a field of light, with changing
colour and ever-changing appearance, whence a freshness is wafted
towards us across the flowering grass. Such oases are not, indeed,
infrequent in Asia, where they derive enhancement not only from the
contrast which they offer to the general treelessness of the land,
but also from their special climate--the soil cooled by irrigation,
and the leaves developed to a perfection with which we are unfamiliar
in the West. Luscious clover, white and red, purple vetch with a
delicate perfume, the long, trailing stalks and pale mauve flowers
of chicory, luxuriate on the damp soil. The cherries were small and
yellow when we arrived; now they hang in bright red clusters before
our tent. An old walnut tree protrudes its gnarled branches and thick
foliage over the water on the margin of the grove; and two rollers,
which have built their nest in an inaccessible crevice of the trunk,
flit to and fro, in search of food for their young. The hues of
the lake are repeated on their breasts; while on their backs and in
their wings this azure blue is subdued and softened by rich browns,
resembling the branches where they repose. [234]

Our little horses are picketed in the deep trench which divides the
orchard from the sterile ground on the north and east. They forget
the road beneath the shade of flowering olives, of which the strong
scent reaches to our tent. The cook, who has so often mutinied and
repented, is now all alacrity and zeal. Our luxuries have been a
turkey, some French beans of exquisite flavour, and little cakes
of bread, in which our cook excels. The cherries are of the wild
species--for the people are too lazy to graft; but, when stewed, they
afford a delicious dish. No steamer disturbs our repose; no discordant
note is uttered from morn to eventide. We are self-sufficient, mobile,
always at home. The world is our house, and we move easily from room to
room. It never rains; the moisture is controlled by man, who directs
it whither it pleases him and for as long. The air is so dry that,
with very little care, all danger of malaria can be kept at bay.

But the old imam, who owns and appears to live in this garden, turned
the water one early morning into the channels. He must have known that
it would deluge our tent. He might have warned us to surround it with
a shallow trench. I took revenge by cutting a trench to the lake. The
wizened old thing did not display the smallest resentment. They say
he is mad. He sits in the garden all day long, smoking cigarettes
of his own manufacture, muttering to himself, his eyes fixed upon
the lake. When night arrives he goes to sleep in the grass. He has
never worked; but nobody works. The idea of work is not repugnant;
it is simply an idea which they do not possess.

Man is here a shadow--a mournful presence. And the women appear
conscious of some immense and inexpiable sin. The children are seldom
gay; you never hear laughter. Their poor little naked bodies are burnt
brown by the sun, and their stomachs are distended by indifferent food.

Each morning we bathe in the lake. The water is delicious to the
skin, bracing and at the same time soft. A certain soapiness in
its composition produces a cleansing effect; yet to the eye it is
transparent as crystal. Swimming out into deep water, the thermometer
registered 68°, or exactly the temperature of the shade at 6.30
A.M. The rocky shore shelves down with a measure of abruptness, so
that in breezy weather the waves do not break until they reach the
ledge. The bather is soon across this fringe of surf.

And the colouring of the water! Riding early to the ruins, or returning
towards sunset to our camp, it is always a new effect, or a fresh and
startling combination, differing from anything either of us have seen
elsewhere. When the surface of the expanse is ruffled, the restless,
sparkling water is at once intensely green and intensely blue; an
aquamarine so vivid that it must be overpowering, an ultramarine so
deep that it may not yield. Twilight lasts but a little time; yet
the brief space is many times multiplied by the number and variety
of dissolving tints. The landscape of sea and mountain is overtaken
by complete stillness. The lake becomes the colour of an iridescent
opal, green, blue, and pearly white. The mountains are lightly tinged
with delicate yellows and warm greys, faintly shaded in the recesses
of the chain of peaks.

The latest aspect of the scene is at once the richest and the most
mysterious. All blue has passed from the sky and from the face of
the sea, except here and there, under a lingering breath of wind. A
dull golden tint is spread over the waters, cloaking the underlying
green. In the distance, towards Van, great shadows of indigo lie
on the lake, and envelop Varag to half height. From these emerges
the crested ridge, a pink madder. Varag rests against a background
of vague clouds, purplish-blue, the only touch of redness in the
landscape.... Such effects are no doubt enhanced by the sublimity of
the surroundings--the wide sea, the Kurdish mountains, Sipan, Nimrud;
but they may derive a special quality from the character of the water
and from the great elevation of the lake (5600 feet). Its pallor,
combined with its blueness, is perhaps the particular characteristic
which becomes imprinted upon the mind.

Our only regular visitor is the Kaimakam--Mohammed Fuad Bey--a
Circassian of middle stature and in middle age. A frock coat,
of black cloth and European pattern, displays the litheness of his
figure. His face is remarkable for the brilliancy of the small eyes. He
is the hero of a recent adventure with the Kurds. The other day some
Hasananli carried off from an Armenian village a considerable body
of cattle. The Kaimakam despatched after them a contingent of regular
soldiers, with instructions to pursue a prescribed route. He himself
followed, accompanied by a single zaptieh. The soldiers appear to have
lost their way; and the Kaimakam was alone when he fell in with the
marauding band. He rode straight up to them, pointed to the cattle,
and ordered them in the name of the Government to give them up. He
added that his own honour was at stake. The Kurds of course refused,
seeing one unarmed man and a zaptieh opposed to their own numbers
and arms. Whereupon the Kaimakam proceeded to drive off the cattle,
calling to his attendant, who, however, was too much terrified to
be of use. The Kurds at once opened fire. One bullet entered the
open overcoat of the official, and came out through the opposite
flap. Another pierced the frock coat which he habitually wears. His
horse was shot in two places, but was not disabled. This occurred
before the Kaimakam could draw his pocket revolver, which he at once
aimed at the nearest Kurd. The man fell; his companions gathered
round him, and almost immediately made off, carrying the body with
them. They appear to have regarded the Kaimakam's as a charmed life,
and to have explained to themselves his courage in this way. The
cattle were quickly driven home and restored to the Armenians. This
exploit is the principal topic of conversation at Akhlat. The Kaimakam
has received neither thanks nor reward. The loss of his horse, which
died shortly after from its injuries, has not yet been repaired. The
Palace no doubt deplores the loss to the Empire of a Hamidiyeh brave.

I was anxious to visit Akhlat during the course of my first journey;
but the lateness of the season compelled me to push on. The project so
long deferred is at length realised. The conception of the place which
was present in my mind, before we commenced to investigate the ruins,
may be expressed in a few words. A number of beautiful mausolea,
illustrating the best traditions of Mohammedan art in a manner by
far surpassing the similar buildings we had seen elsewhere--a ruined
city with mosques and minarets standing on the margin of the lake,
and backed by the remains of a still older city, which perhaps dated
from the period of the caliphs--such was the idea, so full of promise,
which I had gathered from the oral accounts of travellers or formed
from conversation in the country. Not much more is to be gleaned from
books. [235] Writing now that we have completed our plan of the place,
examined the monuments, and copied the inscriptions, I propose, in
the first place, to submit a few general remarks, and then to resume
the experiences of our several excursions, blending them into one.

Akhlat is the name of a district, comprising a number of oases, on the
northern shore of the extensive bay which is bounded on its southern
side by the long promontory of Zigag. This district is divided for
administrative purposes into five distinct quarters. The first is
Erkizan, the seat of government for district and caza, where the
Kaimakam resides and where we are encamped. The second is Iki Kube,
or the two mausolea--so called from a pair of tombs which stand close
together in the desert, some distance west of Erkizan. This district
comprises the walled city on the shore, as well as the village of
Kulaxis, situated in a ravine, a good walk in a northerly direction
from the two tombs. The third quarter embraces the area of the older
city, and is called indifferently Kharaba and Takht-i-Suleyman. The
remaining two are outlying, Tunus, on the east of Erkizan, at an
interval of about half-a-mile; and Kirklar, in the opposite direction,
west of the quarter of Kharaba and the ravine in which the older
city lies. The population of the entire district cannot much exceed
6000 souls, of whom the majority inhabit the quarter of Kharaba or
the gardens of Erkizan. Of this number only 200 would appear to be
Armenians, residing about the ravine of the older city.

The block of limestone hills which we crossed from Melazkert extend
from Adeljivas along the shore. In the neighbourhood of Akhlat they
recess away towards Lake Nazik, leaving an extensive margin of fairly
level land. But the coast itself, between Erkizan and the delta of
the streams below the older city, has the character of rounded cliffs,
shelving to the lake. The soil is composed of purplish sandstones and
conglomerates, which, as you approach the older city, are overlaid with
lava and pumice. Both the sandstones and the pumice tend to arid, dusty
ground; while the yellow pumice reflects an overpowering glare. Yet
this ground, when thoroughly watered, becomes extremely fertile; and
it is characteristic of Akhlat that the oases are the most luxuriant,
and the intermediate spaces the most sterile of all these shores. Thus
Erkizan is a deep belt of shady orchards, while the walled city
is surrounded by powdery waste. Groves of aged walnut trees clothe
the ground on either side of the ravine of Takht-i-Suleyman; but,
if you ride from the walled city towards Kulaxis, the light streams,
and the dust rises in clouds. In such a waste the number of rivulets
is surprising; and they flow with a vigour which is not less strange.

It is probable that the more ancient city was surrounded by
suburbs. The mausolea are spread over a considerable area; and, even
in Erkizan, the houses are built up with the faced stones which are
characteristic of the ancient masonry. In this quarter we remark,
beside the base of a tomb, a capital, enriched with an Arab ornament,
and a large stone, elaborately chiselled. Both these objects are
observed at random, lying unheeded on the ground. The Government
house is a solid stone building; the graceful pointed arch which we
notice over a doorway would seem to indicate that the influence of
the monuments is still alive. Adjoining it is placed the prison. There
are two or three shops, with deep verandahs over the shop, the whole
surmounted by the roof. The dwellings are widely scattered; and,
if window glass were universal, they would present an appearance
both of solidity and of comfort. Little lanes intersect the gardens;
the murmur of water and the scent of the flowering olives fill the
air with sweetness and pleasant sounds.

Such are some of the notes one makes when on a day of midsummer we wend
our way on horseback through the straggling settlement of Erkizan with
the purpose of exploring the ancient sites. As we pass the prison,
an old Armenian protrudes his head from one of the windows, and begs
us to intercede on his behalf. On the outskirts of the oasis we are
met by the Kaimakam, mounted on a white mare, with black and yellow
trappings, and with a two-months-old foal at foot. In his company,
and in that of a green-turbaned khoja, whom he employs as writer,
we pass an old mulberry tree on the fringe of the fertile zone,
and enter the waste on a westerly course.

A ride of twenty minutes, walking our horses, brings us to the iki
kube, or two tombs (Fig. 181 and see the plan, Nos. 1 and 2). They
are separated by an interval of about ten yards. Let me describe,
once for all, the design of such edifices, known in the country by
the name of kumbet. A circular, or drum-shaped structure rests on
a deep pedestal, which slopes outwards to a square base. But the
four angles of the pedestal are cut away in the shape of a wedge,
the point of the wedge resting on the base. The whole is surmounted
by a conical roof. On the level of the ground, an arched aperture
gives access to a chamber, built in the hollow of the base. In this
chamber, or beneath its floor, was presumably placed a coffin; but
the catafalques, if such existed, have disappeared. The ground, too,
has buried the base in most cases, so that you can only just crawl
through the top of the arched aperture. On the other hand, the floor
of the circular structure, resting on the pedestal, is high above
the ground; and, in the absence of any stairs, you are obliged to
clamber up the face of the pedestal, making use of little crevices
in the stones. Four open doorways, placed at regular intervals in
the circumference, at once serve as entrances to the upper chamber,
and as windows, through which the landscape expands on every side.

It is supposed that the prospective occupant of the tomb, or the pious
visitors to this place of burial, would sit and rest within this cool,
circular chamber, beneath the lofty roof, enjoying the views of the
country around. They would, however, have needed a ladder to reach the
entrances. The interiors are quite plain; in one instance (No. 1) we
observed traces of plaster; but, as a rule, there is neither ornament
nor covering of the surface of the masonry, in which one admires
the even joints of the blocks of faced stone. The material of these
tombs is stone throughout--a pink volcanic stone. All the resources
of the decorative sculptor are lavished upon the exterior, especially
about the doorways, the four niches in the intervening spaces, and
the cornice beneath the roof. In some cases raised stone mouldings
enrich the surface of the roof. Sometimes a frieze is carried beneath
the cornice, the most effective being hewn out of white marble. [236]
They are inscribed with sentences from the Koran. The beautiful Arabic
letters vary the effect of the elaborate geometrical patterns in the
decorated spaces of the walls beneath. The personal inscriptions are
usually found over the doorways; and, in some instances, are engraved
upon white marble slabs. The two tombs which we are now visiting
both possess such inscriptions; the khoja copied them; they are in
Arabic prose. Those on the first tomb (No. 1) record that it is the
burial-place of a great Emir, by name Nughatay Agha, and of the lady,
wife to Nughatay. The date of his death is given as A.H. 678, or
A.D. 1279. The second tomb is described as that of Hasan Timur Agha,
son of this Nughatay, who died in A.H. 680 or A.D. 1281. [237]

Quite close to the iki kube, in a north-westerly direction, is
situated a third tomb, which is still erect (No. 3). It is less
richly decorated than the preceding, and is without any commemorative
inscription. Making westwards, we at once enter one of the shadiest
of the oases, passing a fourth mausoleum within its fringe (No. 4). A
much less tasteful structure than the others, it is also of different
design. Within the chamber are ordinary graves, with marble headstones;
the inscriptions on the headstones, and on a marble slab in the wall
outside, indicate that it was the burial-place of some Kurdish princes
of Modkan in the first quarter of the eighteenth century. Almost
opposite this tomb, which is without architectural merit, a most
curious edifice, quite ruinous, is observed upon some waste land
(No. 4b). Built into a pile of massive masonry are some slabs or blocks
of stone, of Cyclopean character. The largest has the appearance of a
lintel; it is twelve and a half feet long and three in thickness. The
recess behind the slabs, upon which it rests transversely, is blocked
up by a wall. A portion of a grinding stone is seen lying on the
ground, perhaps belonging to a linseed press.

The oasis belongs to the quarter of Iki Kube, and the gardens contain a
number of modern dwellings. It is remarkable for the size and leafiness
of the walnut trees. The remains of several ancient edifices rise from
among the foliage, or are strewn upon the grass. The most notable is
a square building of some size, with an octagonal and conical roof
(No. 5). The walls are featured by square windows; but the architecture
is plain and without ornament, and the appearance is stumpy and without
grace. Perhaps it was a tomb like the rest. A smaller mausoleum of
similar design is seen by the wayside (No. 6). It is almost buried
beneath the ground. Before we leave the oasis, to visit the walled
city on the shore, we are shown a subterraneous and vaulted chamber,
now used as a store for hay.

We now change direction and cross a zone of desert between the oasis
and the walled city. When close to the north-western tower, we pause
to admire the site, which commands the whole expanse of the lake. The
view is only bounded by the distant ridge of Varag, which rises behind
Van. The walls describe the figure of a parallelogram, of which the
two long sides have a length of about a quarter of a mile, and descend
in a south-easterly direction to the margin of the lake. The breadth
of the figure, along the shore, is about half its length. The slope,
although gradual, is not inconsiderable; the north-western tower is
130 feet higher than the level of the lake. The wall on the south
overlooks a shallow ravine, through which trickles a little stream.

The character of the walls may be described as a single rampart, with
hollow towers at intervals, some round, and others pentagonal. The
rampart has a thickness of about six feet, and consists of a pile
of stone, faced with hewn and jointed blocks after the manner of
the old Armenian masonry. But the greater part of this facing has
fallen away or been stripped off, displaying the raggedness of the
pile within. We could find no evidence of breaches having been made
in the enclosure; nor were there any visible traces of its having
undergone a siege. The wall along the shore has long since disappeared;
[238] and the lake has encroached upon its rocky bank. About halfway
down the more southerly wall is situated the inner walled enclosure
of the palace or citadel. This inner fortress comprises an area
which is roughly rectangular, and which is of no great extent. It
is flanked along the three inner sides by a rampart and towers, but
the city wall is at the same time the wall of the citadel along the
fourth or outer side. The site is signalised by a slight projection
of the fortification, and by the greater propinquity of the towers
to each other. From the tower at the north-eastern angle of the
citadel a cross wall is carried down to the sea. The upper portion
of the principal enclosure, as well as the space within the citadel,
is now completely bare. Nothing but the foundations of houses and
buildings can be discovered within that area. The few modern houses
are collected in the south-east corner, and have been built from the
material of the old fortress. Their inhabitants resemble phantoms
rather than human beings; but the orchards, which are confined to
this lower part of the enclosure, enhance the picturesqueness of the
old kala, sloping down the hillside to the blue water.

Three gateways, from which the gates have disappeared, give entrance to
the enceinte, two in the rampart on the north, and one in that upon the
south. The upper gate in the north rampart is in a ruinous condition,
the plinths having been broken away. The lower entrance is situated
about opposite to that in the south wall; a road extends between
the two through the cross wall. Both these gateways are surmounted by
inscribed slabs. The legend over the first is written in Persian verse,
and recounts that the fortress was built by order of Sultan Selim. The
date is given in a chronogram as A.H. 976 or A.D. 1568. The inscription
upon the second is in Turkish verse, but the chronogram is obscure. It
sets forth that the kala was built or restored by Sultan Suleyman the
Second (A.D. 1687-1691). The citadel is entered by a handsome gateway,
facing towards the sea. This entrance consists of a pretentious piece
of architecture, flanked on either side by a tower. The doorway
leads into a vaulted chamber, where the passage into the citadel
is placed at right angles to the outer door. The inscription above
this entrance is in Arabic prose, the characters being relieved by
a ground of enamel in various colours. It is to the effect that the
fortress was built by Sultan Suleyman, son of Sultan Selim. Suleyman
is styled, in the pompous language of the East, the Alexander of his
time. It would therefore appear that the citadel is due to Suleyman
the First, surnamed the Great, who came to the throne in A.D. 1520;
and that other portions of the fortifications were undertaken under
subsequent Sultans, notably Selim II. and Suleyman II.

The only buildings of any importance within the enceinte are two
mosques, which are rapidly falling into ruin. The largest (No. 18)
is placed just opposite the gateway of the citadel, and is of charming
proportions and design. The entrance is approached through a spacious
portico, which extends the whole length of the wall. The piers or
columns, which must have supported the roof of this structure, in the
form of a façade, are no longer in their place. But one still admires
the vaulted and groined ceilings, the vaulting being done in brick. And
through the openings in the side walls, with their ogee arches,
pleasant prospects are obtained. The face of the main wall, against
which the portico rests, is decorated in a simple and efficacious
manner by means of an alternation of bands of white marble with bands
made up with blocks of black and of pink lava. The main doorway, which
gives access through this wall into the mosque, is surmounted by a
pointed arch. A slab of white marble over the door is inscribed with
a legend in Persian verse. It relates that the mosque was erected by
Sikandar or Iskandar Pasha; a chronogram gives the date of A.H. 976
or A.D. 1568. On either side of the doorway, as well as above it,
openings with ogee arches admit light into the interior. In front of,
but contiguous with, the portico on its south-west side, a massive
circular minaret rises into the sky. It is seen, like a landmark,
from afar. It does not taper perceptibly; but the honeycomb cornice
which supports the balcony is surmounted by a second tower of smaller
diameter. The cupola has fallen from this uppermost shaft. A band of
white limestone, and two bands of black lava encircle the even masonry
of pink lava. A heart-shaped stone, high up, is engraved with Arabic
characters, setting forth the name of the founder, Sikandar Pasha,
and giving the date as A.H. 978 or A.D. 1570.

The interior of the mosque is of extremely pleasing design--a circle
described by eight pointed arches, springing from a square ground
plan. Four of these form recesses at the angles of the square; the
remainder rest against the walls. The members of the arches are built
of stone; but the walls are lined and the vaultings constructed
with narrow bricks. The dome rests on the points of the arches,
encompassing the interior with its beautiful curves. From the outside
it is octagonal in shape. In the south wall are three apertures
which serve as windows; two are of fair size. The dimensions are
a square of 42 feet 6 inches. The altar is built of white marble,
and the masonry throughout the building is carefully faced and joined.

The second mosque, situated just outside the cross wall, is smaller,
but of similar design. The portico is still perfect, the cups of
the three ceilings being supported by pointed arches, resting on two
columns with uncarved capitals. But this mosque is built throughout of
stone, marbles of various hues being introduced. A legend in Persian
verse above the doorway is to the effect that it was constructed by
the Kazi, Mahmud, in A.H. 996 or A.D. 1587.

Such is the kala or Ottoman fortress, and what it contains. The
architecture, although careful, and, in the case of the mosques,
pleasing, displays a distinct decline in the arts. The admirable
traceries in stone of the so-called Seljuk buildings are nowhere to
be found. Persian influences make themselves felt.

We proceed from the kala in a south-westerly direction, on a course
about parallel to the outline of the shore. The high ground, shelving
to the water, is barren and stony. At a distance of nearly a mile we
arrive at an isolated tomb, of which the site is a little headland
of the coast, commanding the inner curves of the bay of Akhlat. It
is the most beautiful of all the mausolea, in fact the only object
of excelling beauty at Akhlat (No. 7, Fig. 182). It stands as
a surpassing monument of Arab architecture, engrafted upon the
Armenian style. Its masonry is fresh as upon the day when it was
completed, six centuries ago. But the ruins of a companion building,
which stood not far behind it, and which collapsed, according to my
informant, about two years back, are ominous of a dissolution which
is perhaps nearer than we might expect. I have therefore reproduced
its features in a careful photograph, and have endeavoured to invest
them with the hues of reality. I do not know that I need add much
to the general description already given of similar edifices. But
in this tomb all the merits of the style are seen to culminate;--in
none do the proportions attain such exactitude, or the ornament such
a combination of extraordinary elaboration with the simplicity and
stateliness of the highest art. Tradition relates that these companion
tombs are the burial-places of two brothers, and the work of a single
architect. For the elder brother was designed the structure which has
now fallen, and which is said to have been greatly inferior to that
which stands. This individual lived to see the more finished monument
erected, and to brood over the invidious contrast between his own and
his brother's tomb. His anger was visited upon the daring architect,
who was condemned to lose his right hand. The story sounds plausible,
for there exists no personal inscription upon the beautiful tomb. We
ignore the name of the personage for whom it was built. On the other
hand the fallen structure possessed such an inscription, which our
khoja had fortunately copied before it succumbed. It commemorates the
great and noble Emir, Shadi Agha, son of the great Emir, Saughur Agha,
son of Khaghan Agha. The date is A.H. 672 or A.D. 1273. The language
is Arabic prose.

Although the appearance of the kumbet does not suggest size, the
dimensions are about the largest of all these tombs. The upper
and circular chamber has a diameter of 22 feet; and each side of
the square base which supports the structure is close upon 30 feet
long. Although the floor of the lower chamber is partially silted up,
it has a height of 16 feet. Beneath the deep cornice runs a frieze
of white marble, with an inscription from the Koran. The body of the
building is composed of the usual pink volcanic lava. The interior
displays no trace of plaster, nor is it ornamented in any way.

Between the isolated tomb and the ravine of the ancient city, the
ground is covered by the headstones of an extensive cemetery, a kind
of Kensal Green or Père Lachaise. But our European pattern of marble
slabs, with thin incisions, are pale and paltry when compared with
these. The fact that a majority of these headstones are still erect
attests their extraordinary solidity. In all, or almost all, cases they
have the form of a pilaster, surmounted by a honeycomb frieze. The
silhouettes of these friezes are extremely picturesque against the
lights of the sky. The stone has weathered brown and carries a little
lichen. The head of the dead man is placed towards Mecca, turned
upon his right shoulder. The headstone faces the feet and the rising
sun. The face bears the inscription in Arabic character; on the reverse
the ornament, which forms the subject of the accompanying illustration
(Fig. 183), is an almost universal feature. Some of these graves are of
the same date as the kumbets, or even earlier, while some are rather
later. They represent a comparatively high standard of civilisation,
in which the arts were cherished and extensively practised.

Continuing our course along the shore, but still high above the lake,
we come to the point where the headland breaks away to the alluvial
flats of an extensive delta. This delta constitutes the inner recess
of the bay, screening a lagoon of some size. It is formed by the
deposits of two streams, which meet close to us, and of which the more
easterly flows from the ravine of the ancient city. Yet a third stream
enters the shallows some distance further west. The strip of alluvium
in front of the lagoon extends from this headland to the opposite
curve of the bay. It is probable that the gradual rise in level of
the lake has caused these little streams to deposit a quantity of
sediment out of proportion to their volume. So narrow is the strip
of soil, that a peasant is digging a trench across it with nothing
but his hands. He is wanting to let out the surplus water from the
lagoon. Several tall willows are growing within the delta, to which
we immediately descend. From a bush at our side a young cormorant
takes wing, and falls clumsily into the lake below. Reversing our
direction, we ride up the principal valley, at first over the soft
sand. Again commence the orchards, and again the air is scented by
the flowering olive trees. The valley becomes a glen, and the bed of
powdery silt gives place to slabs of rock. The stream cascades beside
us, from one ledge to another, beneath the shade of walnuts, willows,
and poplars. Some little children are bathing in the deeply-shadowed
water; a tiny calf stands on the shore. And a little further, behind
the sparkle and effervescence of a waterfall, the site of the city
comes to view. Beyond the single pointed arch and little battlements
of a stone bridge, you see the sharp end of a wedge-shaped platform,
rising above the detail of the luxuriant valley like the prow of a
gigantic ship. It cleaves the valley into two (Fig. 184).

The situation of old Akhlat resembles that of Bitlis; but it is Bitlis
shorn of its castle, and without the lofty mountains towering above
it on every side. It is nothing more than a valley, cut by water
deep into the lava, with a long spit of columnar lava rising up from
the valley floor. The direction of this valley is roughly north and
south. Of its two branches, that on the east of the citadel is wider
but less deep; while that on the west is narrower but more profoundly
carved. These side ravines unite at both ends of the citadel; although
on the north the junction is less obvious. There is no stream in the
eastern ravine. The platform, which supported the citadel, is both
highest and most broad towards its northerly end. Its greatest width
is about 100 yards, and its length, from end to end, less than 500
yards. Its height above the stream is some 200 feet. The top of the
platform is flat; all buildings have been razed; the tread sinks in
the powdery soil. It is crossed by two depressions, which must have
always been a source of weakness. The almost demolished remains of
immensely thick walls still rise in some places from the upper sides.

The ascent to the platform is from the valley on the east; on our
way we pass a line of miserable shops and a cluster of houses, built
of stone. Caves in the side of the basaltic lava have probably been
utilised in the construction of these tenements. The inhabitants
have an emaciated and sickly appearance, being in fact extremely
poor. A track leads up the cliff to the head of the platform, whence
a fine view over the adjacent ravines is obtained. That on the east
is almost treeless, but the higher levels of the western ravine are
thickly clothed with trees. The verdure descends the clefts in that
opposite parapet, which towers above the citadel. Stone houses nestle
among the foliage. It is surprising how little remains of the ancient
city. On the slope of the eastern valley, which is, comparatively,
a low gradient, a portion of the wall of some considerable edifice is
still erect, and fairly well preserved. It is an extremely lofty wall,
being flanked by buttresses; the masonry is of jointed and faced
stone. Below it are observed some remnants of a vaulted edifice,
possibly a bath. Beyond the fragment of a wall, and on the surface
of the high ground, rises a ruinous round tower. In that direction
we notice traces of a rampart.

In the opposite quarter, beyond the western ravine, the standing
portion of a ruinous kumbet emerges from the trees on the summit of
the cliff, and forms a landmark from afar (No. 9). It is the tomb
of the "lord of Emirs"--so runs the inscription--Hasan Agha, son of
Mahmud. The date of his death is given as A.H. 672 or A.D. 1273. On
the same summit the bases of two large and similar buildings may be
discovered among the orchards.

Descending from the platform, we endeavour to trace the line of the
walls, which enclosed a considerable area on the east of the citadel,
and were brought down into the ravine. The result of our labours
is shown on the plan. The round tower, already mentioned, which has
an inside diameter of fifteen paces, evidently stood at one of the
angles of the line of walls.

Just outside, and on the east of this line of fortifications is
situated a little mosque, in pink volcanic stone, and by its side
a tomb (No. 8). This kumbet differs in style from all its fellows,
the circular structure, which is supported by the usual form of
pedestal, being open upon the side that faces away from the wall of
the mosque. On that side the conical roof rests on ten short columns,
with honeycomb capitals. These columns rise from the lower portion
of the drum, which is richly decorated. Above them, and below the
roof, runs a frieze with an inscription. In the side opposite the
wall of the mosque is an aperture or entrance, set within a recess
with honeycomb ornament. The interior of the tomb has a diameter of
fifteen and a half feet. [239] The inscription, which is the longest
of all these personal records, and, indeed, usurps the position which
in the remaining mausolea is reserved for verses from the Koran, may
be briefly summarised as follows. It is in Arabic prose. "This tomb
preserves the remains of the great and laudable king, honoured among
the sultans of the world for his valour in war, and for his zeal in the
propagation of the Faith--Mubariz-ud-Din, Bayindar Bey, son of the late
Rustem Bey. Under the auspices of his royal banner were vindicated the
rights of sovereignty and the ordering of government. During his life
he triumphed over his enemies with the aid of his victorious armies. He
died in A.H. 886 (A.D. 1481). Here also was buried Zen Mohammed, his
son, who died in A.H. 894." The inscription upon the mosque refers
to the same personage, as having erected it. But Bayindar is styled
"the ransomed emperor" and "the master of the sword and of the pen,
the author of the book Majmu-ul-Makarim."

Having visited these meagre relics on either cliff of the volcanic
valley, we descend to the western ravine. The stream is flowing
beneath the deep shade of trees, and prattling over ledges of
rock. This portion of the ravine is termed Takht-i-Suleyman, or
Solomon's throne, from the appearance of the lofty platform which it
skirts. Just north of the citadel the valley narrows, and becomes
a deep gorge. We make our way along the side of the cleft. It was
once spanned by the single arch of a stone bridge. A little distance
further, the stream from Kulaxis joins our stream, coming in on the
left bank through a ravine and by a cascade. Pursuing our course up
the glen, for the space of half-an-hour from the confluence, we reach
the Armenian village of Madavantz.

Madavantz is a semi-troglodyte village, which reminds one of Vardzia
(Vol. I. Fig. 18, p. 80). The dwellings are only partially built
out from caves in the face of the lava. The place seems as old as
the hills. The valley has become extremely narrow, and the cliffs
rise with considerable steepness on either bank of the little
stream. The village of caves overhangs the right bank. On the left
bank is a little church, of which the interior chapel and altar are
sunk into the rock. The main body is built out, and is supported on
stone columns. The priest informs us that the chapel was built by the
Apostle Thaddeus, who also preached at Madavantz. However this may be,
it evidently dates from a hoary antiquity, and it is by far the most
ancient building in the whole district. [240] It is dedicated to the
Mother of God--Astvatsatsin.


Let me review, for the sake of the reader who may not have leisure to
pursue the excursions which are embodied in the above description,
the results and impressions of our visit to these ruins. There are
two distinct sites of cities which once were prosperous, but which
now harbour a mere handful of miserable human beings. There is the
walled fortress on the shore, a work of the sixteenth century, built by
order of Ottoman Sultans. It is usually termed the kala, or fortress;
while the more ancient site in the ravine north-west of this kala
is generally alluded to as the kharab-shehr, or ruined city. In the
case of the Ottoman stronghold the walls and two mosques, one with
a fine minaret, are still erect. But it is rather the happy choice
of situation that impresses the traveller, than any special merit in
the architecture. If Akhlat should ever recover her former position,
let us hope that the new city will grow around this site. At the
present day, even the seat of administration for the district has
been removed from the kala to the suburb of Erkizan.

Of the older city in the ravine scarcely a remnant remains, although it
is still possible to trace the foundations of the walls. On the other
hand, several of the mausolea are still erect, and are distributed
over a considerable space of ground. These, and extensive graveyards,
are the monuments of that ancient city which have been spared by the
ravages of war and the lapse of time. Among the tombs, there is one of
particular excellence, reproduced in my illustration (Fig. 182). It
would do honour to any school of architecture. It is one of the fine
things in the world. A glance at the illustrations of the circular
chapels of Ani (Vol. I. Ch. XVIII. Figs. 85, 86, 88), and at some of
the elaborate stone traceries of the Armenian style (ibid. Figs. 73
and 77) will throw light upon the source of the inspiration which
produced it, or contributed thereto in the greatest degree. This and
the several similar tombs at Akhlat are all works of the latter portion
of the thirteenth century. A later and less pleasing development is
the tomb of Prince Bayindar, erected at an interval of two centuries.

But who was Bayindar, and who the persons with the cacophonous
names to whose memory these mausolea were built? The East, which
ever opposes the type to the individual, leaves so little for busy
History to explore. At a time when Dante was composing the Divine
Comedy, and when the Italian cities were commencing to throb with a
new life of which every impulse is reflected both in literature and
in art, architects, whose names soon perished, were erecting these
monuments to princes of whom the names alone remain. What little may
be gleaned from the sources at my disposal of the history of Akhlat,
may be summarised in the following short account.

The place is first known under the name of Khlath, and as an important
Armenian town. Literature thus confirms the surmise which is readily
suggested by the little chapel in the gorge at Madavantz. Indeed,
one feels that this village of caves is perhaps the oldest of these
ancient sites, like the crypt upon which in Europe has risen the
edifice of some Gothic cathedral, but which once served as a Druids'
shrine. The shrine still remains; but the churches and monasteries have
disappeared which, even as late as the end of the thirteenth century,
were flourishing at Akhlat. [241] But the city does not appear to
have again come into Armenian possession after its conquest by the
Arabs during the era of the caliphs. Its close vicinity to the Kurdish
mountains and to the passage of Bitlis explains the long sequence of
Mussulman rule.

The Byzantine Empire, however, was successful in wresting it from the
Mohammedans, but only for a short time. It paid tribute to Leo VI.,
a successor of the Cæsars (A.D. 886-911); [242] and it was annexed
to the Empire under Basil the Second (in 993). But it fell to the
Seljuk Turks in the eleventh century, from whose hands it passed
into those of the Merwanids, a line of Kurdish princes which had
arisen from the debris of the caliphate, and whom the Seljuks had
dispossessed of their seats about Diarbekr. [243] The rule of these
Kurds appears to have been so harsh that they were driven out by the
inhabitants; a warrior of Turkish descent, who had been the slave of
the Seljuk governor of Marand in Azerbaijan, was called in as their
Prince. This individual, by name Sokman, founded a so-called Seljuk
dynasty, which, under the pompous title of Shahs of Armenia, reigned
at Akhlat for upwards of a hundred years (1100-1207). [244] They
were succeeded by the Ayubids, descendants of the renowned Saladin,
and of Kurdish extraction. The great siege of Akhlat by the Sultan of
Kharizme (Khwarazm) falls within this period. The event still forms
the centre of the slight historical knowledge which is possessed by
the least uneducated of the present inhabitants. They attribute to
it the present condition of the walls. After two attempts which were
unsuccessful, the sultan made desperate efforts to reduce this strong
place. Twenty siege machines were brought against it from the side
of the sea; and, so complete was the investiture, that the besieged
were compelled to kill their dogs for food. It was at last taken
by storm (in A.D. 1229). But the triumph of Jelal-ud-Din was not of
long duration; his successes aroused the alarm of the Seljuk sultan
of Iconium; and the bloody battle of Akhlat at once decided the fate
of his prize and sounded the death-knell of the Kharizmian empire.

The overthrow of that empire by the Mongols afforded a passage to
these savage hordes towards the south. They became masters of the
city in 1245. We are informed that they made it over to a Georgian
princess, who had married a son of one of the Shahs of Armenia. [245]
To this period are due the mausolea which we still admire, and
some of which appear to have been erected to princes of Mongol
origin. My authorities throw no light upon the point. I am not aware
that Nughatay, or Hasan Agha, or the son of Saughur are known to
history. They preserve equal silence upon the period which produced
the tomb of Bayindar, master of the sword and of the pen. But we can
scarcely doubt that he was a chieftain of the Turkoman horde of the
White Sheep into whose possession the greater part of the country
had passed during the progress of the fifteenth century. [246] Akhlat
was incorporated in the Ottoman dominions under Sultan Suleyman the
First in A.D. 1533-1534. [247]

That the place continued to prosper after the catastrophe of the
great siege by the Sultan of Kharizme is attested not only by the
monuments which have been described, but also by the evidence of
books. It was known to Abulfeda at the end of the thirteenth century
as a flourishing town, which he compares to Damascus. A century
later, it is described by Bakoui as one of the principal cities of
Armenia. Its decline appears to date from the commencement of the
sixteenth century, though the district no doubt derived a certain
glamour from the erection of the fortress on the shore. [248]



CHAPTER XVII

OUR SOJOURN IN THE CRATER OF NIMRUD


July 16.--It was half-past two in the afternoon before our preparations
could be completed, the pack-horses having already started with
their loads. Our orchard looked untidy, in spite of the care which
had been taken to preserve its freshness from the usual litter of a
camp. Still the old imam was profuse of gratitude, his wizened face
relaxing into a smile which vexed his muscles to produce. Good-bye to
our delicious home, and to our two blue-breasted friends! Their loves
have already ripened, and their young will soon be fledged. Journeys
many, and various homes, and different fates await us--fragments
all of universal matter and soul. But when we sink at last upon the
lap of Nature, may her bosom reward the constancy of her own devoted
lover with the perfume of the memory of this home!

Our course was directed past the iki kube and across the ravine towards
Nimrud. Not a ripple awoke the vivid greens and azures of the lake upon
the pallor of the surface of pale turquoise. The light was already
mellowing as we approached the tomb upon the headland, throwing the
proportions into relief with delicate shadows, and enhancing the
natural tints of the pink volcanic stone against the background of
restful blue. Before us, upon the horizon, the grassy circle of the
gigantic crater filled the landscape of the west (Fig. 185, and plan).

Descending into the delta, we forded the two streams and rose up the
opposite cliff side. The more westerly of the pair approaches the
alluvial flat by a fine cascade over a ledge of lava. These lavas
are seen to have followed the course of the valley, as it expands
before you towards the north-west. A similar feature was observed in
the ravine of Madavantz. It proves that these valleys are older than
the lava, which must have poured down them in a very liquid condition.

From the high land, over which we were again making, and which is
here covered with pumice sand, we obtained a view of Bilejan. But our
attention was soon diverted by the picturesque situation of a large
village on our left hand. A rapid if only momentary change in our
surroundings had taken us by surprise. It is due to a bed of dark,
glassy lava, perhaps an ancient flow from Nimrud, or from a fissure
about its base. A deep stream, which is crossed by a bridge, eats its
way through the hard rock, and descends by several waterfalls to a
lagoon within the bay. The village is placed at some little distance
from the shore of the lake, upon a platform of lava on the right bank
of the stream. It possesses two small churches, which are evidently
very old. On the outskirts, which we crossed, was a small field,
planted with marrows, an unusual luxury in this neighbourhood. The
inhabitants are all, I believe, Armenians.

But Karmuch and its black valley, with the willows and the waterfalls,
were but an incident--and the last incident--in the scene. An almost
uniform plain, of very shallow gradient, stretched from all sides
towards the crater in the west. Covered at first by pumice, a brown
lava comes to the surface, and extends to the actual wall of the
circular mass. Dry watercourses seam the entire region, which, however,
is so even in its general character, that it would almost seem to have
once been covered, up to the base of the crater, by the waters of the
lake. At first the soil is barren, supporting only some burnt herbage;
in such surroundings we sank to the trough of an extensive depression,
in which is situated a deserted cemetery of some size. But when the
lava is reached the vegetation commences, and continues to the foot
of the higher seams. The spangled blossoms of atraphaxis, which I had
not seen since my first journey, were conspicuous, but only here and
there. The prevailing flower was a large forget-me-not, almost the
size of a little bush; and, later on, a wild pea, pink and white. The
higher we rose the more frequent became patches of standing corn,
though by whom planted it was difficult to conceive. Our people said
they belonged to a distant Armenian village at the foot of the crater,
called Seghurt or Teghurt. The soil, where exposed by the plough,
was a rich brown. Small blocks of obsidian, coal-black in hue, were
scattered over the grass. Now and again a tortoise waddled over the
sand. So we rode for a distance of many miles, until the wall of the
crater rose like a rampart above our heads. We had reached an elevation
of 6880 feet, or of over 1000 feet above the level of Lake Van.

After a short halt, we led our horses up the slope, which has a
gradient of 12°. It was covered with grass, and whole beds of wild
pea. These sides of the crater are seamed with deep gullies, which
display in section the lava-flows. The dark green obsidian of the
uppermost beds was glittering in the sun. A direct ascent of twenty
minutes brought us to the surface of a natural terrace, at a height
of 7900 feet. We were surprised to find a well-used track, making
use of this terrace to reach the summit of the circular wall. Less
astonishment was aroused by the presence there of a troop of cavalry;
they had come to meet us from their camp within the crater. For
more than a week, both cavalry and infantry had been patrolling this
strange place, in anticipation of our visit. It is indeed probable
that, without these extraordinary precautions, we should have found
it impossible to carry on our work. That we were able to go where we
pleased, whether in or around the crater, we owe to the kindness of the
local authorities, and, in particular, to the late Vali of Bitlis. Our
excellent friend, the Kaimakam of Akhlat, personally accompanied us,
and remained with us during our stay.

The view from this terrace over the landscape of the east is one of the
most inspiring that could be conceived. The western inlets of Lake Van,
with their long promontories and varied outline--with the precipitous
barrier of the Kurdish mountains rising along the one shore, and from
the other the fabric of Sipan--are perhaps the most beautiful portion
of the inland sea. They scarcely figure upon existing maps. Certainly
when you rise above them, and the expanse of the water is spread
beneath you, and Sipan emerges free of all lesser heights--while as
yet their essential detail has not been lost by distance, but the vast
prospects, which they lack, have been regained--these western inlets
are the pride of the scenery of Lake Van. The setting sun sheds a
mellow light upon the great volcano, robed in snow, upon the white
summits of the Kurdish range, upon the dim outline of Varag. Around
the field of pale water are shed a thousand delicate hues, over peak
and dome, and buried garden and arable. We can still see the lonely
tomb upon the headland. On the opposite coast we see Surb, fairest of
little bays; the steep cliffs behind Garzik; the arms of the Sheikh
Ora crater, almost encircling the lake admitted to its inmost core.

Such is the landscape--so full of light and most ethereal colour--that
has dazzled the eye during the ascent of the rampart. We ride on,
along the terrace, with the uppermost slope on our right hand. It has
a gradient of about 17°, and is largely covered up with white pumice
sand. The track worms its way to a fork in the outline, which we reach
in about ten minutes. It is just after six o'clock. The ground falls
away, and a scene expands before us which Mother Earth, repentant of
her orgies, has acted wisely in surrounding with a wall.

The whole circumference of the gigantic circle towers around us,
the vaulted slopes of the outer sides breaking down with precipitous
cliffs, which, in some places, attain a height of over 2000 feet above
the rubble at their base. The impression of height and steepness is
accentuated by the lighting--the sun setting behind the crater. The
same circumstance increases the weirdness of the vast spaces of the
interior, with their multitude of chaotic forms. Flatness is the
prevailing characteristic of the bottom of the basin--but the surface
has been blown out by subterranean explosions, or sunk into deep pits,
or flooded with viscous lavas, oozing up, and cooling into comb-shaped
crags. Here it is a shapeless hill covered with white volcanic dust;
there a lava stream, resembling rocks from which the tide has receded,
that compels a large circuit from point to point. The coarse herbage
has already been burnt by the sun, and its hues assimilated to the
volcanic sand. These ragged yellows intermingle with the sombre lavas;
and the only touch of beauty in this hell of Nature is a little piece
of blue at its furthest side. It is just a glimpse that we obtain of
the principal lake.

But what is the meaning of these many paths which seam the interior,
arguing a considerable traffic to and fro. Are there villages in
the crater? We have never heard of any; we are assured that none
exist. Not a fire, no light is anywhere visible; but the tracks are
broad, and have all the appearance of being regularly used. We feel
surprise and express it to the Kaimakam. He answers naïvely that
Kurds come here now and then.

After a short halt, the whole party defiles down the narrow
path--zaptiehs, cavalry, a detachment of infantry. Looking backwards,
it is a long, thin line from base to summit, the number of horses
making an imposing array. Arrived at the foot of the wall, we skirt
the cliff for some distance in a north-westerly direction. It is
our object to find some shade for our camp. But in this search we
become involved in some deep ravines, covered with groves of aspen
and birch. Juniper conceals the hollows in the rocky surface, and
adds to our difficulties in the failing light. None of the trees are
of sufficient height for our purpose; and the Kaimakam entreats us to
avoid these wooded ravines, which are, he says, the favourite haunt
of bears. They descend to the shore of the warm lake. At last we espy
a clearing, a kind of platform, free of brushwood, yet close to the
aspen groves. It overlooks, at a considerable elevation above it,
the mirror of a fresh-water lake. The peaceful water fills the whole
western segment of the crater. Great, black masses in the heights
about us intensify the darkness; they are composed of obsidian,
pure, and black as jet. On a tiny promontory of the opposite shore
a shepherd's fire starts from the shadows. Failing shade, it is just
the site for an encampment, and here we erect our tents (Fig. 186).

The morning breaks serene and clear; we have slept, as usual, with our
tent open upon one side. It has been chilly during the night; but the
temperature rises with great rapidity as the sun mounts above the rim
of the crater. A charming landscape is framed within the opening of
the green canvas, receiving the mellow light from behind. Beyond the
foreground of quivering aspens and white-stemmed, tremulous birches,
the eye rests upon the transparent surface of the lake. The opposite
segment of the circle of cliffs is mirrored in the water with all
the wealth of detail which they possess. Where these images cease,
the surface is blue, like any other lake in the recesses of the
mountains. We miss the changing effects and splendour of colour,
characteristic of the lake of Van.

We descend through the groves to the margin of the water, to take
our morning's bathe. The declivity is pretty steep, and there is a
difference of level of 300 feet between our camp and the lake. The
wood is still cool and fresh. Tall stalks of flowering yellow mullein
rise within it; and the prevailing greenness is relieved by patches of
pink from the rosebay willow-herb, or of pale salmon from clusters of
poppies. It seems quite a nursery for a variety of insects, this crater
of Nimrud. Last evening, as we arrived, the bushes were dotted with
sleeping butterflies, reminding us of the appearance of those shreds
of coloured cotton which are affixed by devout pilgrims to the shrubs
round their sacred place. This morning the air is all hum and bright
wings; we notice the swallow-tail in abundance, the marbled white, some
clouded yellows, a multitude of fritillaries, a few tortoiseshells.

The water is pure as crystal; but it feels cold, having a temperature
of 64° Fahrenheit. To the taste it scarcely differs from ordinary
water, although we thought it was at once more pleasant and more
bracing to the skin. It is evidently increasing in level. Many of
the trees along its margin are submerged. We saw no fish, only some
small leeches and fresh-water shrimps.

If only one had a boat, and could take soundings, and could cross to
the opposite shore! It is probably very deep. The walls of the crater
are so precipitous, that one cannot walk along their base. Nor is it
possible to reach their summit, except on the eastern side of the
great circle, in which we occupy a fairly central position. It is
therefore necessary to make a very long detour when we wish to visit
any point on the west of the crater.

From our platform we see the worn tracks in all directions. Yet not a
single Kurdish tent, no shepherd, no wayfarer can we descry in the wide
landscape of the volcanic basin. We observe paved holes in the ground,
where it is evident that bread has recently been baked. There are stone
enclosures for penning cattle. More and more clearly we realise that
the crater must be inhabited, and that this floating population have
decamped at the approach of the soldiers. They will return the moment
their backs are turned. Indeed the place has the worst reputation
as a harbour of lawlessness; and the Turkish Government might well
have disclaimed responsibility for our safety in a spot so remote
and wild. They deserve our gratitude for what they have done.

Have all quarry left the haunts of the great hunter, whose name is
attached to one of the most remarkable among the mountains of the
world? One of our party is prepared to swear that he saw two bears in
the dusk of evening; they trotted away at his approach. And indeed,
one night, I myself was awakened by something rummaging between the
outer and the inner roofs of our tent. There are no dogs here; was
it a bear? I rose, but could discover nothing--only the fact that
our sentries were in a dead sleep. At nightfall our escort light
extensive bonfires, and sing the wailing love-songs of the East. At
intervals the bugle sounds; then there rises a loud cheer. The bugle,
the cheers, the leaping flames, the tremulous chantings--even our
watchmen are not proof against the contrast with such excitement of
the heavy stillness of the midnight hours. And perhaps the bears have
joined the brigands in taking to flight.



For eight whole days we remained upon the mountain, busily employed in
examining the crater and its surroundings, and in making a careful
plan. We had been joined by Captain Elliot and Mr. Monahan, Her
Majesty's Consuls respectively at Van and Bitlis. Captain Elliot was
desirous of making use of this favourable occasion in order to study
Nimrud. He gave us most valuable assistance in measuring the crater;
and while he and Oswald were engaged with our telemeter within the
basin, I was reading with the prismatic compass from one point to
another along the summit of the cliffs. By the time their labours
were completed, I had prepared a drawing of the interior, as well as
of some of the features of the crater walls. [249]

In delicious air, under a warm sun, yet always tempered by a cool
breeze, my portion of the task was a pure pleasure. On the other hand,
my companions looked fatigued in the evening. When my turn came for
work inside the crater, I readily understood the cause. From noon to
three o'clock the conditions were most exhausting. The sun flamed above
our heads, and the rock reverberated under our feet. Refreshment came
when the wind rose, but it was in the nature of a strong draught. On
one occasion I let fall a lighted match by accident; it set fire to a
whole side of the central hill. Our people and the soldiers cut down
branches and made arbours; but, even so, they suffered during the heat
of the day. Our cook implored me to move camp, and not deprive his wife
and children of their sole support. If only the floating population
of the place would allow the little trees to grow into wood! But
they need firing more than shade. The shade temperature was never
excessive--some 80° to 85°. And the nights were cool, necessitating
a double blanket. When we arrived, there still remained a patch or
two of last winter's snow within the wide area of the interior.

The commanding position, the imposing dimensions, the remarkable
preservation of the Nimrud crater cannot fail to arouse the curiosity
of the traveller, as he sees it from afar or passes it by. In summer
it is a circle of grassy cliffs with a vaulted outline; during winter
and autumn, when the higher levels are early robed in snow, it is
a startling presence against the sky (see Fig. 145, p. 142). From
any point you command but a small portion of the vast circumference,
which, measured upon our plan, amounts to 14 1/2 miles. Of unequal
height, the edge of the basin is most elevated upon the north, where
at two points it attains an altitude of nearly 10,000 feet. It is
lowest upon the east and west; in either quarter the outline dips
to a level of 8100 feet. But the circle is nowhere broken; the rim
of the caldron remains intact, although worn down and, in places,
chipped. With two great depressions on either side, the lake of Van
(5600 feet) and the plain of Mush (4200 feet), such a presence fills
the landscape and engrosses the eye.

Nor is the imagination disappointed when the interior of the crater
is seen for the first time. I have already described the impression
which that view produced upon us, entering it from the east. The lake
fills almost the whole of the western half of its area, at a level
of 7656 feet. The remaining portion consists of older lava streams,
covered with pumice, and of some more recent, which bristle with
sharp crags. The eastern shore of the lake is deeply indented, and
the volcanic matter has cooled in the form of high banks. The figure
described by the walls of the crater is almost exactly circular, the
diameter being greatest along an east-north-east line, or between the
fork, where we first entered the basin, and the passage in on the west
(c and m on plan). The distance between these points is nearly 5 miles
(8500 yards). Nimrud is therefore one of the largest perfect craters
in the world. [250] The period during which it seethed with a lake
of molten matter, which overflowed into the lower levels on every
side, must date far beyond the limits of history. At the present day
not a wreath of smoke ascends from the volcano; though at times a
little landslip sends the fine sand into the air, with much the same
appearance as a cloud.

But the student of volcanic phenomena could not select a better example
of the successive stages of eruptive activity. In an earlier stage
we must suppose the walls of the crater somewhat higher, and the area
considerably narrower which they enclosed. The earliest lavas, in the
case of Nimrud, were of an acid and viscous description (rhyolitic
augite-andesites); and, as often as they rose above the lip of the
caldron, they did not flow very far. But the later basaltic lavas
had a larger extension; and to them is due, in no small measure,
the plateau on the east of Tadvan, which acts as a dam to the lake of
Van. The molten lava surged against the precipices which confined it,
and gradually wore them back. The work of enlargement was advanced
by violent explosions, which were principally directed against the
western and eastern sides of the volcanic basin. The uppermost and
steepest portions of the wall were, on these two sides, completely
blown away. This epoch in the life of the volcano, the storm and
stress of a tumultuous youth, was followed by the gradual subsidence
of its energies. The streams of lava were confined to the interior
of the crater, and the deeper portion came to be covered with a
lake. It was perhaps at this period that were produced the little
craters which figure on the outer slopes of the principal caldron,
roughly along meridional lines. Such minor points of emission were
also formed within that caldron, and from them proceeded some of the
older flows which cover its floor. Explosions again occurred; but
their effects were only local. They blew away portions of the little
craters, and sent up showers of dust, which, falling to the ground,
cloaked the surface of the lava streams. The latest and moribund stage
is represented by those bosses of lava which form such a conspicuous
feature. The viscous matter welled up along old lines of weakness,
and from the chimneys of the little craters. One of these bosses
divides a small warm lake from the main sheet of water; others form
little peninsulas in the principal lake (C, D, E). They have all the
appearance of being fairly recent, and they are not yet overgrown with
wood. Finally one may mention some extensive flows of cinder, about
the base of the little crater on the outside of the mountain, on the
north of the circle of cliffs. They might have issued a few months ago.

To these various manifestations of the expiring forces of the volcano
is due the present weird and troubled aspect of the interior, which
formed the basis of our first impression. The little wood is confined
to the neighbourhood of the lake; the remaining portion is barren
and rugged. A high hill, covered with pumice, and about in the centre
of this region, affords an admirable standpoint from which to survey
the whole (L on plan). The little lakes which figure on the plan are
due to the melting snows. I doubt whether you would find a spring
of good, fresh water; we all drank the water of the lake. The warm
lake is situated beneath the escarpment of the wall on the north,
and is almost contiguous with the principal sheet of water (A). Its
level is about the same. But it differs from the other lagoons in
respect of its colour, which, owing to the abundance of vegetation
in its vicinity, is a yellow-green, resembling an English village
pool. It is said to possess healing properties; but this I should be
inclined to doubt. Oswald, who waded about with unflagging curiosity,
hunted out the several emissions of bubbles. Their intermittent nature
reminded us of similar phenomena in the shallows of Lake Van. Perhaps
the gas is merely due to decaying vegetable matter upon the bottom,
and the temperature principally to the powerful effect of the sun's
rays. The water in this lake, as in the big one, is rising in level,
a fact which is probably due to the increased action of mineral
springs. It is flat and mawkish to the taste.

I should say that it might be possible to ride round the edge of the
crater within a space of seven or eight hours. But the outline is so
uneven, and the ground in places so difficult, that, at the best, it
would prove a very hard day's work. We devoted considerable portions
of several days to making the circuit, revisiting certain of the
most important points. The ride is so remarkable, that I propose to
follow it in some detail. The changing scenes which you overlook from
a moderate height, from choice positions, among immediate surroundings
of the grandest order, are nothing less than the geography of this
part of Asia, outspread before you beyond the skill of maps.

The large feature, the leading motive of the immense landscape is the
likeness, and yet the contrast, between the two great depressions on
the west and east of the lofty stage upon which you stand. Both are
bounded on the south by the long barrier of the Kurdish mountains;
both oppose to that deep belt of serried ridges expanses of perfectly
even surface. But, while the one dazzles the eye with its splendour of
outline and brilliance of colouring, the other is always dim, grey,
vague, and unseizable. Neither view is ever lost for very long. Even
while you are in possession of the long perspective of the plain
of Mush, stretching to the horizon with a wealth of subdued detail,
like the nave of some great cathedral in the West, between the crags
in the opposite quarter, through some fork in the outline, the blue
lake, the point of a promontory, a glimpse of Sipan may still be seen.


Let us start from the point at which we entered the crater, from
a level of 8150 feet (c on plan). It will be early in the morning,
when the sky is flaked with cloud--beds of vapour, grey and white,
scarcely concealing the field of blue, and unmoved by a breath
of wind. Proceeding northwards along the wall of the crater, we
rapidly ascend. Our horses' hoofs sink in the powdery pumice sand,
which is held together in places by bushes of flowering spiræa, and
by tufts of grass, among which a small species of campanula hangs its
pretty little violet bells. The pumice tells the story of the violent
explosions to which the present aspect of the crater is due. They
have enlarged the circumference of the walls of the basin; and their
effect is clearly visible from the interior as one looks to the side
of the wall up the edge of which we now ride. Whereas the beds of lava
on the north and south walls, which are the most lofty, are seen in
section as perfectly horizontal sheets, on this north-eastern wall,
as well as upon the face of the corresponding cliff on the west, they
have a downward slope. It is obvious that all the layers at the time
of emission must have been horizontal around the original crater rim;
and the pronounced obliquity of the beds on the western and eastern
sides is due to their being exposed by explosive agency at a point
where they had commenced to descend to the surrounding plains. The
underlying lava is of the usual description, a rhyolitic andesite with
a thin selvage, or upper surface, of obsidian, which shines like jet
in the sun. The basaltic lavas, with their cloak of pumice, ease the
gradient of the slope towards the plain in the direction of Akhlat;
but the explosion has produced a steepness up which the horses are
obliged to zigzag, in making north, along the edge of the cliff. A
turn outwards discloses the harmony of the landscape of Lake Van; a
turn inwards the mystery of the scene within the crater. The higher
we rise, the more abruptly the outer slope of the wall sinks to the
plains about its base. The pumice disappears; the lava gets the upper
hand. After a climb of some duration, we reach the summit of the wall
on the north, at a point which is almost immediately above the hot lake
(b). Our elevation is now 9750 feet; and this lofty level is continued,
with little intermission, for some distance towards the west.

The greatest eminence of the cliff stands back from the lip of the
crater, say at an interval of 80 yards from the point described. Here,
among huge blocks of reddish-brown rock, I take the boiling-point. The
mean of this reading with another, registered on a subsequent day,
gives a result of 9900 feet. We are therefore standing on the highest
pinnacle of the whole circumference. Pinnacle and slope are free of
snow; but snow would lie at this season were it not for the steepness
of the slope of lava. The lava does not appear to have extended
much beyond the foot of the immensely lofty crater wall. Beyond some
broad-shouldered bastions, we look down into the plain south of Lake
Nazik; we range the shores of that lonely lagoon. Not a tree can be
discerned in that wide landscape; no strip of verdure fringes the
margin of the blue water; scarcely a patch of cultivation features the
plain. The block of limestone hills between us and the dome of Sipan,
forming the coast of Lake Van, recess away behind Akhlat towards Lake
Nazik; and, from this height, one might suppose that the level of the
plain below us were continued to the borders of the inland sea. The
conspicuous mountain, besides Sipan, is the rugged mass of Bilejan,
rising to a sharp-edged ridge. The outlines in the north, Khamur and
Bingöl, remained misty during the whole of our stay. But the delicate
bedding of cloud, which may collect towards morning, soon gives way,
as the day advances, to a sky of the purest blue.

West of this position, the rim of the crater flattens, although its
immediate edge is much broken, apparently by earthquakes, the fissures
in the surface of rock necessitating detours outward, towards the lower
levels. We are approaching the little crater on the outside of Nimrud,
of which mention has already been made. The wall still maintains its
considerable altitude, the height of an eminence of huge boulders, by
which we pass, being again 9750 feet. The little crater is situated at
some distance north of the main basin, but before the ground falls away
to the plain. Indeed we are now in the neighbourhood of the extensive
flows of basaltic lava which are such a feature on the north-west
side of the great crater. Such is the insignificance of the object
for which we are making, that it might well pass unobserved from
the edge of the cliff. But the curiosity is aroused by a long, low
ridge, like a volcanic dike, which, commencing almost at that edge,
is produced at right angles, in the direction of the plain. Realising
the feature, one observes that the field of lava on the margin of the
cliff is raised up into a saddle along a meridional line. A little
further northwards, and at a lower level, pasty rhyolitic lavas have
oozed up from long, narrow fissures along the eastern base of the
ridge. At its extreme end there is a mass of the same lava; and at
that point the ground breaks away towards the lower region.

Slanting off from the edge of the cliff in a north-north-westerly
direction, we reach the eastern base of the low ridge. It is flanked
on this side by deep fissures in the surface of the ground--gloomy
chasms, partially filled with perpetual snow. Towards their upper or
southernmost end there is a small circular pit, from which protrudes
a boss of rhyolitic lava. A little lower down the several fissures
combine, and form a long trough. This trough has been partially filled
with a mass of lava, which stands up with rugged crags. From the base
of this lava an extensive flow of cinders blackens the ground for
a considerable distance towards north-east. The trough or principal
fissure again splits up into minor cracks, as it reaches the elevated
platform of the terminal crater.

In a manner exactly similar to the upwelling of lava within the
fissure, the little crater has been filled up with the same pasty
matter. This forms the mass at the extreme end of the meridional
ridge. The walls of the basin are beautifully modelled, the shape
being preserved by a pavement of basaltic lava. The pool of rhyolitic
lava is, of course, a much later feature. Like the same phenomena in
the interior of the great crater, which are all due to the expiring
forces of Nimrud, the appearance of the mass is that of a boss. One
cannot fail to be impressed with the contrast which is presented
between the smooth and rounded sides of this almost circular basin,
and the monstrous pile which has arisen in their midst.

We cross to the further or western side of the terminal crater,
observing that its walls are fractured by the lava on the north and
south. We descend to another flow of cinders. Hard by is a little
Kurdish yaila, at the foot of an extensive patch of snow. We enquire
whether they can tell us when these cinders were emitted; for they
might have issued a year ago. They answer that they have always
known them there. Leaving the hollows, we regain the neighbourhood
of the cliff, which is bordered, in this quarter, by a broad field
of basaltic lava.

We make our way over this field, in a south-south-westerly direction,
towards an eminence of the crater wall on its westerly side. A conical
hump rises from the lava at no great distance from the edge of the
caldron, and forms a conspicuous landmark, as well from the interior
as from the summit of the cliffs (o). The field is extremely even,
being composed of a pavement which suggests the appearance of a
military road, fallen into disuse. This characteristic is, of course,
due to the columnar lava. In places this even surface is overlaid
with cindery blocks. Patches of grass occur, from which the snow has
just melted; these will be browsed by a dark flock with their Kurdish
shepherd. At first the direction of flow which was followed by the lava
is towards the region we are leaving behind; but a little further on
it inclines towards the plain of Mush. In the neighbourhood of the
conical eminence we come across some blocks of obsidian, which are
probably due to the last violent explosion.

From the summit of our landmark all these features become clear; we
overlook these extensive fields of basalt. Judging from the manner in
which they have flowed, it would, at least, appear probable that at
one time in the history of the volcano the wall was extremely high
on the side of the plain of Mush. Indeed one is surprised at the
limited amount of matter which has been outpoured in the direction of
that great depression. The conclusion is suggested that the explosion
which produced the lake blew away the upper portion of the wall on the
west. This conical eminence marks an independent point of emission,
which vomited lava after the wall had been thus reduced. The flows
are seen to have branched out in all directions, even towards the
present edge of the crater.

This eminence is the second conspicuous pinnacle of the circle,
as seen from immense distances in the northerly regions. We can
see the two summits of the Bingöl rampart, while Bilejan is fully
exposed. The long perspective of the plain of Mush is outspread before
us, flanked on the south side by the base of the Kurdish mountains,
and, on the other, by a line of heights which recall the appearance
of the block of limestones between the plain of Melazkert and the
lake of Van. To that broad belt of heights the lavas descend with
precipitous escarpments, and also to the plain. The dim surface of
the level ground is seamed with rivulets, which, towards evening,
flash in the light. Sheets of light in the distance represent the
course of the Murad, after it has entered the plain. The head of the
depression is remarkable for a pronounced terrace along the foot of
the heights, perhaps denoting the level of a former lake. [251]

From this pinnacle, which has an altitude of 9676 feet, we arrive,
by a rapid descent, at the fork in the outline which corresponds
to the dip in the opposite wall on the east, whence we started on
our ride. The elevation of this fork is almost exactly the same,
8140 feet. We are here on the longest axis of the circular ellipse
(c-m). A path enters the crater from the direction of the plain of
Mush, and debouches on to a little promontory at the foot of the
cliffs, the only projection from their abrupt sides. The promontory,
which is covered with scrub, is probably due to a local flow of lava;
a few little islands are placed at its extremity. It would not be
possible to make use of this entrance to reach the high ground on the
east of the lake, owing to the steepness of the walls on either side
and the absence of any beach. The outline again rises on the south of
this passage, although the outward slope is fairly well rounded. But
after crossing some bold cliffs, over ground flooded with tuff, you
sink for the second time to a considerable hollow (i-k, alt. 8700
feet). This depression on the south-western side of the crater wall
is remarkable for a somewhat singular phenomenon. From the edge of
the crater you overlook a grassy terrace, some one hundred feet down
the cliff-side. The slope of this step-like prominence is inclined
upwards from the face of the cliff, so that the edge of the terrace
is not much lower than the edge of the crater. It is probable that
it represents a piece of the crater wall which has slipped down into
the lake. Along the middle of the terrace runs a ridge of lava, about
parallel to the cliff. We have already passed several of such dikes.

Rising gradually, we soon leave the terrace behind us, and our
attention is directed to the interesting features on the outside. Below
us, from the eastern margin of the plain of Mush, rises a volcanic
mass of imposing proportions, almost flat and slightly hollow at the
top. A number of little conical summits emerge from the platform, and
the mountain is thickly covered with brush. The slopes on all sides,
except towards Nimrud, appear extremely abrupt. It is separated by a
little upland plain from the sides of the crater; and it is clear that
the mass has acted like a dam to the flows of molten matter. It has
turned them in the direction of Tadvan, as well as towards the plain
of Mush. My people confirmed the name under which I have already made
it known (Ch. VII. Fig. 150). It is called the Kerkür Dagh.

I have also alluded in a former place (ibid.) to the little parasite
cone, high up on the outer wall of the crater on the south. Passing it
now from above, it looms much larger; and it is succeeded, lower down,
by quite a series of volcanic vents. These are all in the same line
with the more pronounced feature, and roughly in the same line with
the dike and crater on the north of Nimrud. Rising always higher,
we make our way with some caution along an edge which has become
knife-like in character. Indeed it is in places not more than 8 or 10
feet wide. On our left hand descend the vertical walls of the crater;
on our right a slope of about 30° seems scarcely less precipitous
to the eye. The lavas descend with bold bastions towards Tadvan. The
highest point on this side of the crater is on this edge; it has an
elevation of 9430 feet.

The view embraces the wild ridges of the Kurdish mountains on the
south, capped with snow on their topmost peaks. Trees in a hollow and
a winding road among the recesses of that barrier are recognised as
marking the site of Bitlis. Below us lies the wooded platform of the
Kerkür Dagh; the plateau of lava, between the plain of Mush and the
shores of the great lake, appears to shelve with gentle gradients
towards those waters. We discern the verdure about the village of
Tadvan. In the north we may descry both summits of the Bingöl ridge;
while the dome of the Kuseh Dagh is a bold, vague presence in the
sky. From this lofty portion of the crater wall the descent is rapid
and continuous to the beds of pumice which cloak it up on the east. We
again overlook the beautiful inlets of Lake Van. We avail ourselves
of a track which leads from Tadvan into the caldron (e), in order
to reach our camp. The outline of the circle of cliffs again rises
a little between this point and the track from Akhlat.


I have taken my reader a long ride, round the vast circumference of the
crater--an excursion which, when presented in the form of a narrative,
may be too tedious for his taste. Let me therefore endeavour to present
in a summary manner some of the conclusions which were engendered in
our minds. Faithful to the laws of eruptive volcanic agency, this
huge crater has arisen on the margin of a great depression of the
surface of the tableland. In spite of the considerable difference in
their present elevation, the lake of Van and the plain of Mush may be
regarded as parts of a single basin. Indeed it is mainly due to the
emissions of lava from Nimrud that the lake is now separated from the
plain. The region on the north of the crater is considerably higher,
though in closer connection with the lake than with the plain. Nature
has produced this manifestation of violence in the stress of her effort
to complete a harmonious design. The curving over of the great lines
of mountain-making has resulted in this explosion of forces, usually
under control. But as we make our way in silence beneath the stillness
of the night, threading the chaos of tumultuous forms on the floor of
the crater, we may yet reflect upon the relative insignificance of such
violent action, even in a country where it has operated on so great a
scale. The stratified rocks are seldom wholly absent in the landscapes,
as they are wanting to the savage landscape of the Nimrud caldron;
and, when you think you are admiring the long train of a volcano, a
closer inspection reveals slowly-built, sedimentary mountains, upon
which the volcano has been reared. Nature has preferred regularity
of achievement, a quality reflected by the moral sense of Man. [252]



CHAPTER XVIII

ROUND NIMRUD BY LAKE NAZIK


July 25.--A sharp ride of an hour and a half brought us down from the
crater to the village of Tadvan. The descent is more continuous than
on the side of Akhlat; the outer slopes of the mountain are seared
with deep gullies. Crossing the orchards of the straggling settlement,
we pitched our tents on the west of the village, upon the margin of
a field of late-sown wheat. A line of well-grown willows, fringing
the bank of a tiny stream, promised shade during the later hours of
the day, when the sun should be at our backs. That welcome shade was
indeed commencing to subdue the brilliance of the young corn while
the canvas was being stretched. We looked out over the green field
across the waters to the smiling landscape of the opposite shore. The
curve of the little harbour of Tadvan was turned towards us, backed
by a lofty boss of rock. Quite a number of picturesque craft were
lying within it; but only one, so far as I know, was laden. She was
carrying wood and charcoal from the Bitlis district. The rest were
doing nothing, many of the men having families here. All this time
I had seen but a single sail upon the lake, besides that of Captain
Elliot's boat. But sea-gulls there are, to give life to the waters,
with their beautiful white wings.

Tadvan was in a state of commotion, or what passes as such, in a
country where all spirit has been gradually extinguished among the
population of Armenian race. Although this village is Armenian, they
did not hesitate to betray to the authorities four of their countrymen,
who had taken refuge in their midst. These individuals appear to
have been under the ban of the law, and, indeed, were alluded to as
brigands. One never hears talk of Kurdish brigands; though I have
never met a Kurd who was not more or less a brigand, nor an Armenian
who either justified or deserved the name. The notorious Ali Bey,
police officer at Bitlis, hurried to the scene. He surrounded the
hut which harboured the men; fire was opened upon them, which they
returned, and a zaptieh was shot. A villager, who tried to mediate,
was killed. Then Ali Bey collected straw, and set light to it, and
literally burnt them out. I was told that all four succumbed. All
this happened a day or two ago. I informed the Kaimakam that I should
like to kick the official if he would be so obliging as to come my
way. When one is kindly treated by the authorities, one endeavours
to avoid getting very angry, except before their face.

We spent several days in the neighbourhood, making excursions, and
mapping in these unmapped shores of Lake Van. The Kaimakam was obliged
to leave us and return to Akhlat; we were sorry to part, having become
mutually attached. The Armenian villages of this district are evidently
very old, and have probably existed from the dawn of history. One of
the most flourishing is Kizvag, which occupies a situation of ideal
quality as a home of Man. It is placed on the southern horn of a
beautiful little bay, sheltered on the north by a bold promontory,
from which rises a knife-like ridge. This ridge is composed of a
lava which has welled up along a latitudinal fissure. One rides
there over layers of lava and pumice, some of which show traces of
having been deposited in water. The corn was already golden in the
fields, very tall in the stalk and heavy in the ear. We had never
seen finer crops. Vines flourish along the base of the promontory;
but a vineyard is a rare occurrence in these scenes. The air was always
radiant and invigorating, in spite of the heat of the sun. Kizvag is a
considerable place; but the houses are the usual ant-hills. The dress
of the people is gay. The women wear the embroidered aprons which
are such a striking feature of their national dress; but the designs
were finer than any we had seen. I endeavoured to purchase a few;
but all the new ones were vastly inferior; it was only the old ones,
now torn and faded, that showed any taste. It is the same in Persia,
and Central Asia--everywhere in the East. It is a fact for which one
may discover explanations; but none appear altogether adequate.

The lower slopes on the opposite shore of the lake are well wooded,
and this pleasing landscape circles round towards Tadvan. The wood is
due to the character of the rock, a mica-schist, yielding a fertile
soil. But higher up on the face of the range the hard marbles come
to view, and, while their surface is well adapted to take the hues of
the sky, it is inimical to all vegetation. About a hundred feet above
the water, you perceive a well-marked terrace, denoting a former level
of the lake. I have already remarked that the level is again rising;
and the same occurrence, which was presented in so striking a manner
at Arjish (Ch. III. p. 30), is already threatening the village of
Kizvag. The hill of Tadvan, at the promontory, is not volcanic, being
composed of marble and mica-schist. It is less lofty and extensive
than that of Kizvag; the summit is crowned by the substructures of
a ruined fort. This fort was erect and proud at the commencement of
the sixteenth century. [253] Nothing remains at the present day but a
deep pit, which was perhaps a reservoir for water. The inhabitants of
Tadvan are in a deplorable condition, the women in rags, the children
mostly naked. It was pitiable to see the women stretching out their
arms towards us, imploring us to give them food. We distributed a
little money.

From Tadvan we directed our course towards the head of Mush plain
across the volcanic plateau west of Lake Van. [254] Our track conducted
us past a projecting outwork of the opposite range, well wooded and
consisting of mica-schist. The extremity towards Nimrud is faced with
lava. You mount gradually above the fertile surroundings of the lake
to arid and, therefore, sterile ground. A few patches of burnt grass,
some beautiful hollyhocks, with very large white flowers, are about
the only vegetation which it supports. On the right hand rises the
Kerkür Dagh, covered with flourishing brushwood, and, behind Kerkür,
the immense mass of the Nimrud crater. In the opposite direction the
barrier of the Kurdish mountains is less bold and imposing than at
other points. This is partly, no doubt, due to the flooding against
them of volcanic matter. The plateau attains its highest level at
about a third of the whole distance from the point where we gained
its surface to the head of Mush plain. The altitude by boiling-point
was 6320 feet, or 680 feet above Lake Van.

We were impressed by the fact that in the immediate neighbourhood
of the Kerkür the ground slopes towards that upstanding mass. And
the broad valley, which we knew must contain the beginnings of the
Bitlis Chai, was screened by a somewhat higher level of the field
of lava. It may be that this is due to the lavas having swept round
Kerkür, leaving a slight depression at its southern foot. Oswald
rode off to investigate the material of the Kerkür, and found it to
consist of a mass of trachyte. The slopes are covered almost to the
summit with talus, and it is evidently a very old volcanic boss.

The plateau descends to the plain by two lower terraces, the descent
being fairly gradual in each case. The Kerkür is also screened by a
bastion-shaped terrace of talus which sinks into the plain. I have
already described this stage of our journey (Ch. VII. p. 162); and
I shall only pause to give some account of our visit to the pool of
Norshen, which I had omitted to examine during my first journey.

About fifty yards west of the tomb of Karanlai Agha lies an
almost circular pool. It is slightly embanked for the purposes of
irrigation, and, in places, on its margin there are distinct vestiges
of masonry. It is thirty-five yards in diameter; and, in the centre,
did not appear to be much more than five feet deep. But our guide
from the village believed it to be deeper, adding that it had recently
drowned a bullock, which had ventured too far in. There is no trace of
this pool having arisen in a crater, although the material, through
which the spring wells up, is a tuff. The water is crystal-clear,
and is furnished in abundance, giving rise to a little river. It
is extremely pleasant to the taste, like water which has come from
the chalk. It is cold too; for at 7 P.M., while the temperature
of the air was 80° Fahrenheit, that of the water was only 51°. The
villagers believe that it is derived from the lake on Nimrud. It is
much more likely to be in connection with the springs of the chain
on the south. The tomb exactly recalled those of the same period at
Akhlat; indeed it is of the same date. The upper portion has fallen
into ruin. In the adjacent cemetery there are the same headstones
with the honeycomb friezes which we admired about the site in the
ravine at Akhlat. A stork was standing on the topmost pinnacle of the
crumbling edifice, of which the outline was clearly defined on the
western sky. The great plain was veiled in haze, due to the intense
heat. Beyond the headlands and little promontories, the sun--a red
orb--sank behind delicate beds of perfectly settled cloud.

The situation of the pool of Norshen is well adapted to serve as
a standard of the elevation of the head of Mush plain. Tested by
boiling-point, the level is 4630 feet, which represents a decline of
1000 feet from that of Lake Van. This difference in level is mainly
responsible for a distinct change of climate; the plain of Mush is
quite a furnace in July. Norshen itself, although high-seated above
the floor of the depression, must be one of the hottest places in the
plain. It is screened by the volcanic plateau and by the outworks of
the great range, under the wall of which it lies. The level ground at
its foot has been flooded with lava; and the pavement, thus formed,
glows in the sun. There are a few shady trees on the outskirts of
the village, but we were obliged to erect our tents in the open,
for want of a suitable place among those groves. In the morning the
heat became unbearable under canvas. The inhabitants are a surly,
unmannerly set of people, all of Kurdish extraction. The news of
the death of the Vali of Bitlis had already reached them; and they
were evidently quite out of hand. Our zaptiehs--an abominable lot,
sent from Bitlis by the deceased Governor--came near to exciting
a serious affray. It did not promise well for the success of an
excursion into the wildest districts, that those blackguard Kurds
at Bitlis had poisoned the Vali, and that our escort seemed as much
pleased by the removal of the least vestige of discipline as the
unruly people through whose country we were about to pass.

July 30.--Starting at eleven o'clock, we made our way across the
plain towards the lofty block of heights by which it is confined upon
the north. We could already see our track, showing white among the
brushwood towards the summit of that long barrier. Even at its upper
end, the plain of Mush is of considerable breadth, the distance,
measured direct, between Norshen and the foot of that parapet being
about eight miles. Two gently vaulted hills, standing close together,
are conspicuous features in the plain. We reached the base of the
largest and most easterly of the two in about three-quarters of an
hour. Oswald rode off at the canter to examine its composition, while
we continued our course. He found it to consist of a cindery lava,
the flows radiating outwards, especially towards north-east. It has
therefore been an independent centre of emission. The ground which we
had been crossing is not cultivated, from want of streams, and the
slabby lava was aflame with sun. Pushing our horses, we distanced
the hill and were approaching the opposite confines of the plain,
when I called a halt in the hamlet of Göl Bashi, the first that we had
seen. It takes its name from a delightful spring that wells up in the
village, with a temperature of only 55°. Inasmuch as the stream was
dry which passes Morkh and Norshen, this pool is perhaps entitled to
be regarded as the source of the Kara Su, owing to the permanence of
the water which it supplies. Another such source is the pool beside
the tomb.

A little river collects below Göl Bashi, fed by this and by other
springs. The plain is perfectly flat in that direction, and was green
with cultivation. The adjacent farms belong to a bey in Bitlis, who
has built a good stone house for his steward in the hamlet. Proceeding
on our course, and when near the foot of the wall before us, we rose
gradually over the surface of a flow of lava. The flow skirts the
base of the opposite parapet for some distance towards the west. At
the same time it radiates into the plain. It is strewn with blocks
and small fragments of jet-black obsidian, which have come from the
cliffs above. High up on the terrace, thus formed, is a grove of
lofty oak-trees, by the side of water running down from the face
of the cliff. A small Kurdish hamlet nestles beneath them, and an
ancient cemetery, buried in foliage. Cattle and a flock of sheep were
resting in the shade, the sheep panting, and the bullocks lolling
their tongues. Black goats, alert and elastic with life, browsed the
lower shoots of the oaks. The ascent of the wall begins at this hamlet
of Karnirash, and took us over half-an-hour to complete.

The face of the parapet was seen to be the side of a stream or
streams of rhyolitic lava with the usual obsidian. They are overlaid,
towards the summit, with a pavement of basaltic lava. These lavas
have probably proceeded from Nimrud; but at a time when the crater
was in its infancy, and when its walls had not yet reached their
ultimate height. For those walls towered high and abruptly above us,
nor did we think that these lavas could have welled over from that
lofty rim. How far west the emissions may extend it was impossible to
determine exactly; but the appearance of the block in that direction,
when we reached the summit, seemed to disclose, at no great interval,
the stratified rocks. The upper slopes of the barrier are abundantly
wooded, though only with dwarf oak. We were astonished at the great
size and beauty of the hollyhock petals, large as clematis on our
English garden walls. The hollyhock is the flower of the surroundings
of Nimrud, as the yellow mullein is the flower of Bingöl. It flourishes
on the plateau of tuff to which this pass leads over, blossoming white
and, much more rarely, a purple pink. The pass has an elevation of
6950 feet or of 2300 feet above the plain.

We soon lost the little wood as we proceeded over the plain of tuff
in a north-north-easterly direction. Nothing but the bare pavement,
and here and there a patch of burnt herbage; and only those large white
flowers to refresh the eye. On our right hand the vast crater, steeply
contoured down towards us; before us Bilejan, again exposed. But
the stifling atmosphere of the trough behind us had given place to
pleasant breezes, and we rode along gaily over the even ground. All
of a sudden I hear shouts in the direction in which we are going;
and, coming up, observe a group of men in fierce altercation by
the side of a small drove of cattle. They prove to be one of our
escort and another zaptieh, unknown to me; the rest are peasants,
on foot. Our man is threatening a peasant, bending over on his horse;
his comrade has blood on his face. The fellow pays not the slightest
heed to my peremptory orders; so I send for the zabet or officer of
the company, in whom, however, owing to his fussiness and manifest
cowardice, I have not the slightest confidence. The zabet, with his
extravagant verbiage, does nothing better than inflame the matter;
and the wretched wayfarer is on the point of being murdered when I
seize his assailant and pull him off. The would-be murderer then faces
round, and, as we are both on horseback, extricates himself and turns
on me. In an instant he levels his rifle at my chest, and brings it
to the cock. Happily for me, my companions all ride up at the same
moment, and force his arm up from behind. None of us can learn the
cause of the dispute. I take the man on with the greatest reluctance,
fearing he may do worse harm if allowed to rove.

For some short time we had been skirting the immediate outworks of
the Nimrud mass; a new feature was introduced when these turned
off to the east-north-east, and gave us space in the direction
we were pursuing. Before us lay a wide depression of the surface,
the levels about us tonguing into that lower ground. The heights
on the further side were of no great relative elevation, but they
screened a considerable portion of the pile of Bilejan, and they
completely concealed Lake Nazik. We could see, at this distance,
our track winding across them; they were evidently of volcanic
origin. Sipan now came in view; and those heights stretched across
the horizon towards the heights on the west of Sipan. The depression
did not appear to have much westerly extension; but it was continued,
mile after mile, towards the east. I can scarcely doubt that the
drainage which collects within it finds its way into Lake Van.

We forded a nice stream of crystal-clear water, flowing into the
plain, along the base of Nimrud. At this point we passed an extensive
cemetery. Perhaps there was a village in the immediate neighbourhood;
but we saw no habitations as we rode across the plain. The trough
of the shallow basin is followed by the course of a rivulet, which,
at this season, had run dry. According to a single reading of the
aneroid, it has an elevation of 6460 feet. The ground consists of a
decomposed lava; nor did we observe lacustrine deposits, though one
cannot doubt that this plain was once the bottom of a shallow lake.

It was six o'clock before we reached the opposite heights, and
commenced to mount the side of a ridge covered with a pavement
of lava. But from the summit of this low vaulting we overlooked a
second ridge, with a grassy valley of some breadth at our feet. Not a
glimpse as yet of the lake. After fording the stream in this hollow,
which was flowing towards the plain, we rode through the Armenian
village of Mezik, situated at the base of the second and principal
ridge. A short ascent brought us to the slope on the further side,
whence, at last, the long-hidden waters came to view. We had struck
the lake close to its south-western extremity, towards which we
lost no time in directing our course. At this upper end there is a
marsh and a considerable stretch of alluvial soil, which, however,
does not extend to the east of the beginnings of the lake. It was
a tedious ride over stony slopes to the floor of these meadows; but
still no village was in sight. Mistrusting our escort, but without a
guide, I hesitated for a moment whether to follow them up the valley
towards the west. But one of them was so positive he knew well where
the village lay, that I resolved to try him for a certain time. He
proved to be in the right; but the light was already failing when we
entered the Kurdish settlement of Nazik.

It is situated out of view of the lake, on the right bank of a pleasant
stream, which feeds the marsh along which we had passed. The ridge,
against which it lies, is the same that we had crossed, and the same
that we had seen from afar. It had first attracted our attention as
we descended into the great depression, having a bold conical peak,
a little west of the village. The people received us with marked
coolness; and no sooner had we commenced to erect our tents by the
side of the stream than they offered objections, and bade us remove
to some other place. They said that our tent would face that of
a great bey on the opposite margin of the water. I answered that
I should place ours in such a way as to respect decency; but that,
if it were a question of either party moving, it would better become
the bey than us, who were his guests. This speech had a good effect;
but supplies were not forthcoming, and, as usual, I summoned the
mukhtar (head of the village). After much delay they bring me a lean
greybeard, with sunken cheeks, beak nose, long yellow teeth and a
cavernous voice. He laughs grimly when I address him as mukhtar. It
is evident that these people hate the Turks.

July 31.--In the early morning our entire escort appear before
the tent, headed by the zabet, whom I admit. He complains that the
villagers refuse, for love or money, to supply food for themselves
and horses. At the same time the five or six privates approach, and
make use of threatening language towards me. Realising how the matter
stands, I endeavour to persuade the officer to get out of the place
as quickly as possible with his men. He urges that we shall then be
at the mercy of these Kurds; I retort that I prefer it so than to be
at his. He answers with some reason that to desert us might cost him
his post; but I reply that he may regard himself as already cashiered
should he dare to disobey my deliberate orders. A compromise is at
length arrived at, under which he undertakes to dismiss his men,
provided I will allow him to remain. He also begs that he may send
the man who attempted my life back to the headquarters at Bitlis. But
this last proposal I refuse to entertain. After much palaver, they
are all induced to take themselves off, with instructions to await
us on the shore of the lake. The villagers, seeing them gone, and
ashamed to abuse our confidence, at once adopt a much more friendly
tone. The Bey of Nazik, a young man, brings his little brother with
him, and converses with us in our tent. On the opposite bank, beyond
the willows, lies the encampment of the older bey, who does not appear
to belong to the village. His two large tents, of black goat-hair,
are open on this side. The coarse canvas, with several supports
and considerable span, descends within a few feet of the ground. At
the bottom, a screen of reeds at once provides shade and a pleasant
draught of air. Similar screens divide the interior into compartments;
in the centre sits the bey, an oldish man, who never smiles, by the
side of a cradled baby which rarely remits its cries. A young woman,
who may be his wife, or one among them, is engaged in swinging to and
fro a large vessel of earthenware, which they use for making cheese.

It was eleven o'clock before we again reached the corner of the
lake. There we took the boiling-point. We found that the elevation
was 6406 feet, or about the same as that of the depression which
we had crossed on the previous day. The water tasted like very flat
lake water. Proceeding along the southern shore for some distance,
we kept the ridge, over which we had ridden last evening, close up
on our right hand. It had grown considerably lower and was dying
away. It consists of a stream of lava from the little peak which has
already been mentioned. Further eastwards, the line of low heights is
continued by what appears to be an independent, latitudinal volcanic
ridge. The lake widens rapidly from the little bay at its westerly
extremity, and describes, so far as we could judge from a hasty
survey, a triangular figure of which the base is on the south, and
the apex in an inlet of the northern coast. Its greatest length is
from west to east. The opposite shore appeared to consist of a block
of heights in connection with those west of Sipan, and of streams
of lava, descending from Bilejan. The wide stretch of sand along
the shore may perhaps be regarded as an indication of a somewhat
higher normal level during recent times. From a boss of dark lava,
forming a promontory, we obtained a far-reaching view. We could see
but a single village on the lake; and that settlement clustered on
the extreme point of a little cape, just east of the one upon which
we stood. It was Jezirok, partly Kurd and partly Armenian, the only
village, as we afterwards learnt, which is placed immediately upon
these shores. About half-a-mile away, we overlooked an islet, white
with the droppings of waterfowl. Indeed it is a nursery for many
varieties of this description, and was alive with wings and sharp
cries. Pelicans abound on Lake Nazik, swimming, singly, like swans,
over the mirror of waters, or sweeping above our heads with rapid,
shooting flight, in movements perfectly combined. There must be fish
in plenty beneath that blue surface, which lends a touch of beauty
to the dreary, yellow landscape, and derives enhancement from the
distant snows of Sipan.

We now left the lake, and gained the further slope of the low ridge on
the south, whence the view extends over the broad depression at the
foot of Nimrud. Here we remained for some considerable time. While I
was engaged in mapping, Oswald made one of his beautiful drawings of
the wondrous landscape before our eyes. The northern buttresses of the
great crater towered up from the opposite margin of the level ground
at our feet. We could plainly see the volcanic dike leaving the rim
of the caldron, and bursting the northern wall of the little terminal
crater. Turning towards the east, the heights on that side of the
lake displayed a number of conical forms. But the outline appeared
unbroken, as it extended towards Sipan. Between it and the Nimrud
outliers we obtained a distant glimpse of the waters of Lake Van.

Our course was directed towards that vista, over the bare surface of
the plain, which widens considerably; it is completely covered over
with brown lava. It might be made a granary; yet it is now but little
cultivated; and rarely were we deflected by a patch of standing corn
from a course almost as straight as a bee-line. Lake Nazik was never in
sight, although its waters find an outlet into the great lake. [255] We
saw only a single village, at some distance on our left hand. Low hills
confine the plain upon the east, but a dip in the outline disclosed
a deep ravine. The cleft, which was now dry, would give issue to the
water collecting in the depression, which we now left behind.

Soon after crossing these heights, we entered the barren highlands on
the north of Akhlat. The lava, which is thickly covered with pumice
sand, shelves away towards Lake Van. A little river which we forded,
coming from the direction of Lake Nazik, must be the same that cascades
into the delta below the site of the old city, and is perhaps derived
from the lake. Its water had exactly the same flat taste. On our
right, in the direction of Nimrud, we observed a broken-down crater,
which has sent its principal flows to Lake Van. A little further
on we descended into the ravine of Akhlat, and crossed the stream
within the hollow; and not long after we were again in our shady
orchard, and in the society of the Kaimakam. The old imam was there,
squatting among some beanstalks, taking foretastes of paradise. His
mad son was not long in coming, nor his scold of a daughter-in-law;
while in the morning the pretty little girls made their appearance,
slipping gracefully on their errands through the bush. But our home
was no longer there; we felt as emigrants feel when their voyage is
already prepared. I handed over my rascal zaptieh to the Kaimakam, who
consigned him to the prison. The rest of the crew, with their zabet,
I dismissed. After resting a single day, we set out for Adeljivas,
along the shore of Lake Van. The ride was shorter than we expected,
for the position of Akhlat is wrongly placed upon the best existing
maps. [256]



CHAPTER XIX

ASCENT OF SIPAN


August 2.--Walking our horses all the way, we reached Adeljivas
in four hours, excluding stoppages. The track follows the shore
of the lake the whole distance, and you never lose the expanse of
waters. In fact, it is the base of the block of limestones on the
west of Sipan that you are skirting throughout the ride; although at
first, and for some distance, the stratified rocks are superseded
by intrusive material of igneous origin. These sombre heights are
flanked by low foothills of purple conglomerate, which have been
thrown into a succession of shallow folds, with an axis parallel to
the shore. But as you approach Adeljivas the igneous rocks give way,
and the conglomerate thins out and disappears. The limestone meets
the waters, which it tinges with its own white hue. Hardened almost
to the state of marble, it is in places full of corals. The scene
becomes remarkable in the neighbourhood of the town, where cliffs
of this description and of great elevation descend abruptly into
the depths above which you ride. [257] Where these recede and leave
the shore, giving place to a wide alluvial strip at the foot of
Sipan, long concealed, is situated Adeljivas. The castle clings to
the cliff; the gardens clothe the alluvial soil. In other respects
our journey was not, perhaps, noteworthy. Besides Tunus, we passed
only a couple of hamlets the whole way. Such oases of verdure--for
the walnuts are especially fine--were much more rare than one would
expect. But the district is unsafe; and it was patrolled by soldiers
before we passed. This precaution was perhaps due to the presence by
our side of the Kaimakam of Akhlat. His colleague of Adeljivas came
out to meet us, near the border of his administrative district. The
promontories along this shore do not protrude far; but they are bold,
and with several prongs or bluffs. They offer no difficulties to the
road. Lagoons have been forming on a large scale within the bays,
due probably to the rise in level of the lake.

Passing through the enclosure of the ruinous walled city, which
recalled the Kala or Ottoman fortress at Akhlat, we encamped among the
gardens of the more modern quarter. [258] The trees are well grown,
and provided us with deep shade. At least one considerable stream
descends from the interior; the oasis is of some extent. Early next
day we made our way in the lightest of clothing from our tents in the
heart of the orchards to the margin of the shore. It was some little
distance, but the walk was all that we could wish. The morning is the
time to enjoy the picturesqueness of any Eastern town. There will be
shadows to give relief to the scene, and light sufficient to bring
out the colours. The deep white dust upon the lanes has not yet been
disturbed. Draughts of freshness from the groves and gardens keep the
air sweet and cool. Such a straggling lane or two, between low walls
of mud and stone, took us past an old mulberry tree studded with red
fruit, and a fountain gushing forth by the side of the way. So we
came to a little valley, opening out towards the lake, and harbouring
a swift and shallow rivulet, black with the shadows of an avenue of
willows. A mass of foliage, on either side of the adjacent meadows,
screened the pleasant place from fortress and suburb, except for a
glimpse of the citadel in the west.

We stripped on a narrow margin of pebble-strewn shore, regretting
our purple rocks at Akhlat. The water is shallow for some distance
out; but, in spite of the embouchures of the irrigation channels,
it was most intensely blue. We swam forth, enjoying the buoyancy
of the waves, with the distant barrier of the Kurdish mountains
before our eyes. Their bare escarpments towered up to their crown
of snow. In the reverse direction the landscape was already flooded
with light, and the foliage merged into the general brilliancy of
tone. A conspicuous object was the ruinous citadel, proudly placed
against the cliffs--the single witness in the scene to a period of
human masterfulness in direct contrast to the actual insignificance
of the human element in this fair and richly-gifted land.

When we returned there were two wooden couches with leather seats,
and a couple of chairs, of similar pattern and equal shabbiness,
arrayed upon the sward. These unusual objects had been unearthed
for our benefit. They were not long in finding occupants among
the personages of importance who were desirous of paying us the
honour of a visit. The Commandant of the garrison came, accompanied
by his aide-de-camp; they were followed by the burly mufti, and by
several notables; last of all came the two Kaimakams. It was a medley
of striped military trousers and gold lace, of flowing cloaks and
white turbans, of black frock-coats and the tasselled fez. Each had
a word to say upon the details of the expedition; each could help if
one would only give them time. My great regret was that time failed
me to receive their suggestions; there were indeed so many things
which must be done. First I had to feed and water my horses, for
the forage had not arrived in the early morning. When it came, the
several owners were at variance, one with another; and I was obliged
to seize it by force. Then there were my people, who would surely
go without their breakfast rather than take the trouble to procure
victuals. These I had provided with great difficulty overnight;
but the cook had experienced trouble with his fire. Such everyday
concerns were augmented on this occasion by several affairs of much
greater consequence. It was necessary to engage at least ten porters;
when these had been got together with infinite difficulty, there was no
possibility of arriving at terms and a price. By the time the Kaimakam
appeared, the orchard was alive with people, all intent on delaying the
conclusion of their several bargains for the mere love of talk. That
official was of great assistance, because he fixed the price himself,
and ordered each man to conclude his business on those terms.

But there was one matter which called for very delicate treatment,
and of which the ultimate issue was not so clear. It was most
important that our escort, during the journey through the wild
districts interposed between Sipan and Bingöl, should be composed
of men who might be trusted at least so far as not to involve us in
unnecessary brawls. They must obey my orders to the letter; but my
authority could only exist by delegation from a higher authority;
and it was essential that they should both respect and fear this
source. Now the Kaimakam of Akhlat alone inspired me with confidence
that his men would think twice before daring to play the fool. But
Adeljivas belonged to the vilayet of Van; and his colleague would
certainly insist in sending his own zaptiehs at least as far as the
borders of that of Bitlis. And at what point in that bleak region
could one hope to pick up the others? Fortune came to my aid in
arriving at a settlement. It so happened that the Vali of Van had
not been informed of our intention to enter his province. Indeed the
ascent of Sipan had not formed part of our original programme. Now
the Vali was alarmed at the prospect of a possible visit on our part
to his capital. Adeljivas was so very near; we should be across in no
time. And Van was in a state of unrest. His subordinate had telegraphed
overnight that we had arrived, and might return after our excursion to
Sipan. This it was in the interest of the Vali to prevent. A message
came that very morning, conveying greetings from his Excellency, but
enquiring whether we were furnished with a permission to travel, or
even with a tezkere, or travelling pass. Of course he well knew that
no such documents were in our possession, since the whole question
of the right of the Palace to prevent Englishmen from travelling had
been raised in connection with our persons. The incident brought the
very wind into our sails which we had been courting on every side. We
had not the least intention of going to Van. But the Kaimakam of
Adeljivas would now be anxious to be rid of us for good and all. When
therefore I placed before him the two alternatives, of returning and
perhaps proceeding to reason with his Excellency in the capital; or
of pushing on direct from Sipan and leaving his territory as fast as
possible--the latter course was at once and joyfully approved. And when
I made it a condition that the men of the Kaimakam of Akhlat should
be allowed to meet us at the base of the mountain upon our descent,
this proposal was also accepted without demur.

It was noon by the time these various matters had been decided--not
a bad piece of work under the circumstances. There only remained the
last and saddest of our duties--to say good-bye to the energetic and
admirable official who had accompanied us thus far on our road. What a
contrast between this Circassian, lithe of figure and nimble of mind,
and his heavy, thick-skulled colleague of Adeljivas! In the latter I
had recognised the former Kaimakam of Vostan--him whom I had met at
Akhavank. What memories arose of Khachatur and his famous dinner! I
learnt that he had already descended to his tomb.... Nothing could be
more pathetic than the spectacle of an honest man, endeavouring to
cope, not only with the inherent difficulties of his post, but also
with the tricks of such rascals in high places as you see on every
side. Such is the lot of the Kaimakam of Akhlat. It touched us to the
quick. It is quite as sad as the sufferings of the Armenians. In the
Turkish service there still remain a number of excellent officials--men
well capable of dealing with the Armenian question in a manner
conformable at once to humanity and to their country's good. But
they are flouted, and set aside. Some retire, others are constrained
to effect a shabby compromise; while the younger or less steadfast
become rapidly demoralised, and end as badly as they commenced well.

Two villages had been mentioned as both presenting a good base from
which to climb Sipan. One was Norshunjik, and the other Uran Gazi. The
first is situated on the south-western side of the mountain, and the
second rather more round towards the west. Uran Gazi--a Circassian
settlement--was, after some debate, selected, owing chiefly to
the reputation and resources of its head men. It may be reached in
about two hours from Adeljivas. Riding in a northerly direction,
we pursued a winding track which became involved in the recesses of
the hills. We must have been close to the break-off of the plateau
of limestone on the west of Sipan; but the view towards the east was
never open. The limestone was all about us, white and barren as usual,
in striking contrast to the verdant scene we had left behind. So
high did the escarpments tower, that although we continued to rise
at a considerable gradient for a space of about an hour, it was only
towards the latter portion of the ascent that we obtained a view of
the summit region of the great volcano. But the vista towards the
lake was of striking beauty, with the ruinous castle standing up
against the blue. Deep below us on our left hand we admired the site
of a walled monastery, high-seated in a broad valley. There was more
traffic along this track than one might have expected; we kept meeting
laden donkeys and a number of wayfarers. The adjacent slopes were,
in places, strewn with blocks of lava.

When we reached the pass, we were standing on the edge of an undulating
plateau, and were still within the zone of the limestones. A slight
descent from this point brought us almost immediately to a shallow
but very extensive depression. It had, in fact, the appearance of a
vast plain, somewhat of an oval, with an axis roughly from east to
west. In the latter direction we could see the plain tonguing into
the limestones, or, in other words, the almost latitudinal limestone
ridges sinking into the plain. But these were dwarfed in the east by
the flows of lava from Sipan, of which the huge frame was now fully
exposed. In particular a bold stream plunged down from the summit
region, ending in dark, precipitous sides. About in the centre of the
depression lay a little lake, fringed by marshes, and bordered by a
deep belt of what appeared to be a white efflorescence adhering to
its shores. It was the Jil Göl (lake of rushes), once of considerably
greater extent. A village, just a speck at the western extremity of
the bold ridge of lava, was identified as Uran Gazi. Behind us the
limestones stood up like a wall, screening the lake of Van.

Except for the marshes, there was not a trace of verdure in a landscape
devoid of trees or even of bush. Far and wide, the surface of the
plain was broken only by mounds or gullies--the mounds heaped up
with blocks of black lava, the gullies doubly darkened by the same
material. Indeed the whole depression has been covered with lava,
probably to some considerable depth. Its elevation above sea-level
is not much less than 7700 feet. [259] These lavas, which must have
been of a liquid nature, may have been, in part, emitted from the
volcano during its infancy, but have largely issued from fissures in
the plain. Flooding into the limestones, they compose such a lofty
pedestal that the volcano somewhat loses height. The climber is not
ungrateful for their help.

In another three-quarters of an hour we reached Uran Gazi, and were
received by two Circassian notables, resident in the village, Murad
Effendi and Shakir Effendi. I think I have already observed upon the
superiority of the Circassian villages to those of their neighbours,
Armenians or Kurds. The bread they make is eatable; fair cheese can
be obtained; the tenements are much more solidly built. Great stacks
of hay had already been collected against the winter. The Circassian
skirted coat and the Circassian cap are still worn; and, indeed, this
people cling to all the customs of their native country, from which
the Russians have compelled them to wander out. Of our two hosts, Murad
was in the prime of life; while Shakir, although advanced in years and
with snow-white hair, still retained his vigour and vivacity. It is
the vivacity of the Circassians which is so impressive in the moral
sphere, just as in the physical sphere it is the brilliance of their
eyes. Murad Effendi buckled to, with the result that in an hour and a
half all was prepared for the start. Tezek fuel for the fire, and hay
for the horses, and for ourselves a lamb and several chickens--such
were the burdens which were ready for the shoulders of the porters,
four of whom had already arrived.

The position of the village, at the extremity of the bold ridge of
lava (Fig. 187), may be taken as representing the furthest westerly
extension of the flows of lava from the volcano, as we see it now. The
ridge itself has an axis of about west-south-west. At four o'clock we
made our way along its southern margin, up the broad valley by which
it is separated from similar outliers on the south. The caterjis,
with the packs, followed this valley to its head; but our guides,
whether from knowledge of the ground or from mere impatience, were not
long before they led us right up the wall of the ridge. Dismounting,
we dragged our horses over the rocky surface, at considerable peril
to their legs. The summit was, however, almost perfectly flat; and,
although the upward slope and the craggy nature of the ground rendered
progress rather arduous and slow, the breadth of the ridge enabled
us to pick a way. In this manner we struggled on for about an hour,
when, at six o'clock, I called a halt. The caterjis were not in sight,
and, when last we had espied them, they were still in the trough
of the valley. There they would have remained, with our tents and
baggage, knowing well that we must come to them. I sent an officer with
instructions to bring them up by force; and, after waiting until night,
we were at length rejoiced by their arrival, and encamped on a stretch
of sward below a large patch of snow. Our elevation was 10,300 feet.

August 4.--The ascent of Sipan offers no difficulties whatever at this
season, and is, indeed, a delightful excursion. There is the joy of
awaking to a landscape so inspiring--such a wide segment of a circle,
almost without limits on the horizon, framed by the heights descending
upon either side. From the rocky island of the Kartevin to the western
slopes of the Nimrud crater, an immense region is outspread at our
feet. Flatness of outline is the almost universal characteristic; and
the marble peaks of the Akh Dagh, conspicuous even at this distance,
are at once an exception and a solecism. Further west, the view extends
to the even ridge of the Bingöl Dagh, flecked about the centre with
snow. Nearer masses of imposing aspect are Bilejan and Khamur; an
unknown mountain, which, later in our journey, we came to know as
Kolibaba, rising with lesser proportions between the two. But the
plains outdo the mountains, resembling a wide sea--although surely
no sea can be surrounded by such commanding objects. The treeless,
yellow surface commences deep below us, and stretches without a break
to the Kartevin. Low ridges come edging towards it from the block of
limestones, which, in the west, appears to encircle the lake of Nazik,
and to divide it from that of Gop. The outline of the block grows in
height towards Lake Van.

It was two o'clock in the afternoon before we were ready to start
upwards, turning our backs upon this scene, and on foot. The ten
porters carry our flying tent and our wraps, besides a little
tezek fuel for our camp fire, and four long poles for taking
measurements. They perform their work in an admirable manner, never
grumbling and never stopping to talk. Their features betray their
Armenian origin, although they are Mussulmans. The westerly eminence
of the summit region towers high above us; but there is no beach of
boulders to impede our progress, like upon Ararat, and no causeways
to circumvent. The tops of the streams of lava are always fairly
level, although they are rocky at the sides. They consist of a basic
augite-andesite, with conchoidal fractures, which grows more glassy as
you approach the higher region. Stretches of grass are not infrequent,
watered by the melted snow. Little runnels descend the slope with a
pleasant, gurgling sound, but cease to flow when the sun goes down. In
three-quarters of an hour we open out Lake Van, the ridges collecting
towards the summit circle. The gradient of the slope is now 33 1/2°,
the highest registered on this side of Sipan. We are above and
among large patches of snow. But the going is very easy, the ground
being covered with turf and flowers. It is quite a little garden of
forget-me-nots and pink daisies and buttercups and campanulas. These
raise their heads above an undergrowth of pearl-wort. There is no
juniper or yellow immortelle to be seen. Soon after four o'clock
this flowery slope gives way, and we enter the summit region, with
the westerly eminence on our left hand. Before us lies a deep and
irregular basin filled up with masses of snow.

Such perhaps is the most concise description of the strange scene
about us and at our feet (Fig. 188). My illustration was taken on the
following day from the top of the westerly eminence, or western summit
of Sipan. Our position now is on the slope of that lofty eminence,
on the upper margin of a field of snow, which is not visible in the
picture, but which descends to the little lake in the foreground. The
lake is known as Kirklar Göl, or lake of the forty Mussulman saints,
and is probably due to the dissolving of the snowy sheets which hem
it in on either shore. The slope on the opposite, or southern side of
the basin is very steep where it sinks to the pool; and it sometimes
happens that the snow falls headlong and in a mass into the blue
water. West of the lake, and especially beneath the western summit,
the edge of the basin is low; indeed we have entered into the summit
region by a natural passage or partial cleft.

Adhering to the skirts of this western summit, or taking refuge upon
the snow from the deep rubble on its uppermost slope, we proceed
in a north-north-easterly direction towards the northern side of
the basin. A new flower clings to the powdery surface above the
snow--sweet-scented arabis. The bold bluff of the peak above us joins
on to a pronounced ridge, corresponding to the ridge on the right of
the illustration, of which, indeed, it forms the counterpart on the
north. We now open out a most remarkable object--a round and very lofty
mass, built up, it would appear, of rubble, and of such dimensions that
not only does it fill the basin on its eastern side, but even destroys
and supersedes the peripheral figure. It looks as if it were flat upon
the summit, from which rise a number of little conical peaks, like
cairns. Its sides are so steep that they are nearly free of snow. We
exclaim, "There is Kerkür, piled upon Sipan!" The only feature which
we miss is the oak scrub. The mass is well shown in the photograph,
but not the second little lake which nestles in a lap of snow at its
foot. This pool is separated from the first by a low saddle in the
hollow of the basin, of which it collects the waters on the east.

The ridge upon which we stand narrows and becomes knife-like, as
it bends towards the northern extremity of the upstanding mass. It
provides the scantiest strip of bare but level rock between sheets of
snow on either side. On the north it is a cornice of snow above the
plains, thousands of feet down. In that direction there would appear to
be a tremendous abyss. Nor is the slope towards the basin of tolerable
gradient; it is so steep that it would be difficult to descend to the
second of the lakes without making a considerable circuit. Still this
ridge appears to offer a convenient site for our encampment, owing
to its central position. There are a few piles of rocks, nearly as
high as a man, which will prevent us being swept into the depths on
either side, in case a storm should arise. The only danger would be
a sudden drift of snow. I give orders to erect the tent against one
of these little screens; and, accompanied by a Circassian, Oswald
and I continue our march towards the lofty platform on the east.

Our slender parapet ends in its steep and talus-strewn side, which we
commence to scale. We step from block to block, the boulders consisting
of a light brown lava, which has broken up with sharp angles. There
can be no doubt that this mass is the latest result of eruptive action
upon the summit of Sipan. The whole or nearly the whole of the eastern
portion of the crater was blown away, and this cone raised upon its
ruins. It is almost circular in shape. The level parts of the platform,
upon which we emerge from the rocky slopes, are covered with snow and
ice; but the cairns, of which there are too many to count, protrude
from the white canopy with little beaches of brown rock. It is hard
to tell at a first glance which is the highest of these piles. Our
Circassian conducts us to one among them on the north of the mass,
which, indeed, is the most elevated of all. When we have clambered to
the summit, we are amazed to find a screen, rudely erected from the
boulders by a human hand. It provides us with just the shelter which
we shall require for our observations upon the following day. We have
reached an altitude of 13,700 feet. [260]

The sun is setting; so the tripod is rapidly erected, and the bearings
of the principal mountains registered with the utmost care. Happily
the sky is almost free of cloud. Ararat soars into space, a magnificent
object, both peaks of the greater mountain, although almost merged by
the perspective, being distinguishable by the naked eye. The bold snow
bastion on the west is seen to the fullest advantage. But the Little
Ararat is almost hidden by nearer outlines; and only the summit of that
graceful cone is exposed. If the mountain of the Ark be without equal,
or even rival, in a landscape which in all directions is sublime, it
possesses at least a neighbour with many attributes in common--the
Kuseh Dagh, beyond the plain of Alashkert. That giant overtops the
land forms, almost from the very base--a truly inspiring sight. It
is so essentially a great mountain, towering up to a symmetrical,
but deeply vaulted dome.

Night is falling as we descend to our little tent upon the ridge at
an elevation of 13,000 feet. But our poor porters and the several
zaptiehs who have, quite unnecessarily, scrambled up--how shall we
protect them against the rigour of the night? They prefer to remain
with us; so we wrap them up in the stout red cloth which we have by us
for our measuring poles. They cower over the smouldering fire against
the screen. But the temperature scarcely sinks as low as freezing-point
in the sheltered places, and at dawn the lake below us is free of ice.

August 5.--Neither my companion nor myself are able to sleep, although
we are quite fresh for our work next day. The same experience befell
our party upon Ararat; at these high altitudes one does not seem to
require sleep. We are up before the sun; but the light is already
sufficient to disclose the great world, silent at our feet. Not a
vestige of cloud is clinging to our mountain; and, as the sun rises,
all the outlines in the distance are well defined. To Oswald is
apportioned the task of taking measurements, and he starts off over
the snow-fields with his telemeter and his poles. I mount to the summit
of the platform on the east, which is reached at half-past six. There
I erect my instruments in the same cairn which we visited yesterday,
and which may be called the eastern summit. The pools on the way are
thinly crusted with ice.

With what joy I look out from the well upon the cairn, and am
greeted with the sight of Ararat in all his majesty, without a
particle of cloud! Every minute the outline grows in distinctness,
and each familiar feature becomes clear. How radiant the fabric
looks--such a bright presence in the sky, above the summits of the
Ala Dagh! Those mountains pass insensibly into the outlines on the
east--the horizontal heights of the Persian tableland. Westwards it
is a series of plains. The plain of Patnotz, deep below us, joins
the plain of Melazkert; that expanse is continued into the region
of Bulanik, threaded by the silver channel of the Murad. Kartevin
and Bilejan rise like islands from this sea-like surface, in which
are lapped the blue waters of Lakes Nazik and Gop. In the north the
undulations of the plateau country are continued up to the barrier of
the Mergemir--Kilich-Gedik; but that outline is so low that you almost
see the plain beyond it, supporting the base of the Kuseh Dagh. Further
west the plains are bounded by much bolder masses--Khamur with Bingöl
showing up behind. The peak of Palandöken is just perceived. But
the Nimrud crater is a conspicuous object--not the least remarkable
feature in the scene. How vast it all looks!--stray clouds throwing
liquid shadows, and earth reflecting the glow of morning in vague,
mysterious lights and hues.

In the opposite direction the contrast exceeds expectation--for one
is standing in the border region on the outskirts of the plateau,
and near the serried ranges which confine it on the south. Never
have I seen those ranges look so steep and savage, the seams rising
like spear-points from the water's edge. Nowhere is their outline
more broken into peaks, more exactly the opposite of the outlines
on the north. And the contrast is enhanced by the sea to which they
descend--the dream-like presence of the sweet sea of Van. Pleasant
verdure softens the landscape of the nearer shores, with their sinuous
inlets, already deepening to an intense blue.

I remain about three hours upon this summit, and then proceed to
the highest eminence on the eastern margin of the circular figure,
in order to overlook the eastern arm of Lake Van. On my way there a
strange incident occurs. My Circassian has told me that there exists a
ziaret, or place of pilgrimage, in the vicinity of this cairn. Curious,
and half doubtful, I ask him to show me the spot, which he says is
close by. What is my amazement when, opening out a slight hollow of
the snowy surface, we see before us a group of Mohammedan women,
standing upon the ice with bare feet and ankles, and prostrating
themselves before a pair of stag's horns! Indeed the antlers are so
thickly covered with little bits of rag that it is impossible to say
for certain to what species of animal they belonged. Stranger still
is the fact that a band of women--I count twelve--should have risked
their lives in this way. Tantum religio!... And yet the Kaimakam of
Melazkert is quite unshaken in his belief that only one man, and he
in exceptional circumstances, has ever trodden the sacred summit of
Sipan! [261]

After spending nearly another three hours upon the eastern eminence,
during which I draw in the portion of the lake which lies before me,
because I recognise several errors in the existing map, I return
to our camp upon the ridge. Oswald has just completed his arduous
work upon the snow; and the combination of our labours produces the
following results, which must be taken as approximate. The long axis
of the figure described by the summit region is but little inclined
from an east-west line. The centre of the circular mass, to which
the eastern summit belongs, is a little north of a line drawn from
the western summit in an easterly direction. The ultimate points
of this axis are, on the west, the western summit, and on the east,
the eminence upon which I last stood. The distance between the two is
one and a quarter miles. The breadth of the basin is just under a mile.

The Circassians and the porters dance with delight when the order
is given to take down the tent. They appear to have made up their
minds that we shall keep them shivering for another night. All give
utterance to devout and repeated Alhamdilallahs, thanks be to God! Our
last duty is to scale the western summit, and to become familiar with
the scene which it commands. We overlook the small circular lake of
the Aiger Göl, on the southern slopes of Sipan. It perhaps fills the
basin of a parasitic crater. The elevation of this peak is about the
same as that of the eastern summit, namely 13,700 feet. On our way
down we recognise the traces of a bear; and we reach our standing
camp without further incident at about five o'clock. It has been a
very full and delightful day. [262]



CHAPTER XX

BACK TO THE CENTRAL TABLELAND


We were received with the greatest kindness by Shakir Effendi upon our
return to Uran Gazi. The vigorous old man came to sit with us in our
tent, and gave us some account both of himself and of his people. It
appears that he has held the office of Kaimakam of Adeljivas, and that
he occupied that dignity for four years. He is the Reis or supreme
chief of all the Circassians in these districts; and he gave me a
list, which should prove of some interest, of their villages. [263]
He added that the population was increasing. The founders of the
settlement, of whom Shakir was one, came to these seats after the
last Russo-Turkish war. They were emigrants from the district of
Kars, a home which they had adopted after the Russians came into
possession of their native mountains. When the Russians captured Kars
they received notice to quit, or, as Shakir put it, they were told
to get out (Aideh!). They took ship, and landed upon the shores of
the Black Sea within Turkish territory. But no arrangements had been
made to settle them anew. They were starving and being decimated by
sickness, when the Queen of England came to their aid. Her Majesty
told the Turks that they must either find the land without delay or
she herself would provide land within her dominions. This speech
spurred the Turks on. In this way they became established in Uran
Gazi. This kind action on the part of our Queen would always live
in their memory. They are on good terms with the Turks, but they are
preparing to move on again. That inexorable Russian advance!

As for the Kurds, they regard them as scarcely human beings and do not
fear them at all. But they are held in great awe by the Kurds. Unlike
the wretched Armenians, they are allowed to carry arms, which they
know how to use with effect. And you hear the laughter of children
in their villages.

While I was engaged in writing, the indefatigable Oswald scoured
the plain in all directions. He found the limestones on its margin
highly marmorised, full of corals; they must belong to the Eocene
period. The efflorescence on the border of the Jil Göl is not in fact
an incrustation, but is due to a bleached felting of confervæ. Rushes
abound, but they had already been cut. The waters find an egress
through two funnel-shaped basins, near a large crack in a boss of
lava. They disappear beneath the ground in little whirlpools, and are
believed to come to the surface at Adeljivas. Shakir assured us that,
if anything, the lake is now on the increase; it has been increasing
since the earthquake which was so destructive at Adeljivas about five
years ago. This earthquake did little damage at Uran Gazi. Although
the village is now about a mile distant from the lake, good water may
be found at any point in the vicinity by digging a short distance down.

August 8.--Nimrud and Sipan having now yielded up their secrets, it was
our next object to explore Bingöl. But, on the way, we were anxious
to follow the course of the Murad, the reaches of that river between
Gop and Charbahur being practically unknown. We were also desirous
of climbing Khamur. Our first day's stage was to be the village
of Gop. [264] We therefore crossed the plain in a north-westerly
direction, the way being indicated by a Circassian guide. After
riding about three miles we reached the foot of some low hills,
confining the plain on that side. Against their first slopes lay a
Kurdish hamlet--Karaghun. Issuing into a valley, we rose above it
to the crest of the hills, which, as we expected, were down-like in
character. For some little distance our way led over these downs.

But I need not tire my reader by taking him over old ground; he will
readily recognise that our surroundings were much the same in character
as during our journey across this region from Melazkert. For the second
time we were crossing the block of stratified rocks on the west of
Sipan; but on this occasion we were already within their northerly
and less elevated zone, and we might, no doubt, have descended to
the plain, and followed along their base. We struck our former route
above the village of Demian, after passing through the same valley
to which we had then come down at Akhviran, and which we now entered
above the large Kurdish village of Shebu. It is an inlet of the great
plain at the foot of Sipan. But our guide preferred to take us along
the slope of the mass, all the way from Demian to the village of
Leter. For that is the direction which these heights pursue.

I have little doubt that these stratified rocks come up again on the
east of Sipan, and the view from the eastern summit disclosed in that
direction very similar block-like heights. They probably sink beneath
the volcanic system of the Ala Dagh. In this northern zone the downs
consist of lacustrine deposits, sandstone, and a limestone full of the
little shells known as mytilus. [265] The sandstone underlies this
mytilus limestone, indicating, as Oswald observed, that the great
lake, which once covered this region, grew deeper before the latest
earth-movements set in. Throughout the ride from Demian to Leter,
a distance of 5 3/4 miles, we overlooked the flat region which is
due to the action of those former waters, and through which the Murad
flows. But a gale of wind was in our face; the plain was shrouded in
haze--a treeless and little-inhabited district, which might, no doubt,
be made fertile and prosperous.

Leter, a large village, partly Kurd and in part Armenian, is situated
on the confines of the plain. It is built upon lava, black and slabby
in character, which has broken through the lacustrine deposits. Similar
bosses, resembling those near Uran Gazi, but larger, rise up from
the level expanse beyond. The direction in which the inhabitants
pointed towards the village of Gop was plainly not that of the lake
of the same name. We had already obtained a glimpse of its waters,
lying almost west of where we now stood. Anxious to visit the lake,
we shaped a course which we thought would find it beyond a screen of
low hills. The plain in that direction was very rudely cultivated,
white hollyhocks and a large mauve thistle crowding out the ragged
corn. At about 6 1/2 miles from Leter we passed through the first
village we had since seen, the large Armenian settlement of Kekeli. And
in another ten minutes we stood on the summit of the eminence which
had concealed the lake for so long.

It was nothing more than a low hill, an isolated mass of lava rising up
from the plain. It was crowned by a little chapel, put together with
stone and mud, and provided with a wicker door. Looking through, we
discovered a large stone, engraved with a cross, which was, no doubt,
the object or symbol of worship. Before it, three little lamps reposed
on a horizontal slab. From this standpoint we overlooked the extent
of the waters, of which the nearest shore was still some two miles
off. The lake is bordered by level ground upon the east and south,
and by considerable heights on the west and north. On the west it
is Bilejan, sending outwards radial buttresses with deep valleys
from a central, meridional ridge; lesser heights in connection with
the mountain, and of volcanic origin, descend to the waters along
the northern shore. A slight depression separates this series from
Bilejan, and they, in turn, sink somewhat steeply into the plain. At
that point, and at their foot, lies the large village of Sheikh Yakub,
beside which flows the stream giving issue to the lake.

In the opposite direction, beyond the plain on its southern confines,
it is overlooked by an extension of the heights on the west of Sipan,
which are continued up to the mass of Bilejan. It would appear that
volcanic action has been busy throughout this region; and we thought
we saw a grassy crater among those heights. Beyond the outline of
the barrier emerges a little conical peak, which we recognised as
the cone on the west of Nazik. Bilejan itself does not look as if
it ever could have possessed a crater, and it is probably due to
upwellings of lava along a meridional fissure. The highest points
along the central ridge may have an elevation of some 9000 feet.

A brisk breeze was blowing as we made our way to the brink of the
water, churning up its muddy depths. Indeed this lake is thickly
charged with dark sedimentary matter--a characteristic which has
given rise to a name under which some know it, Lake Bulama, or the
muddy lake. [266] Another and not more savoury feature is its odour,
which is fetid and nauseating. An abundance of fresh-water mussels
were strewn on the shore, and several pelicans were floating on the
waves. In shape the lake appeared to be almost circular. Its elevation,
as one would expect, is much less than that of Nazik, being only 5550
feet. In point of verdure its surroundings are quite as mournful as
those of its neighbour, while the lake itself does little to relieve
their monotony.

From the north-eastern extremity of this unattractive sheet of water
we followed the course of the foul stream by which it is drained. It
took us to the foot of the heights already mentioned, and through
the village of Sheikh Yakub. It is a very large Armenian village,
which has probably been prosperous, but which is now in a state of
extreme destitution. All the inhabitants were in rags. Boys up to
the age of puberty were quite naked, and girls to their fifth or
sixth year. The village was full of soldiers, who were standing on
the roofs. I summoned their officer, and enquired what their business
might be. He answered that Ibrahim Pasha, adjutant of Kurd Hamidiyeh,
was about to visit the place. In Gop I ascertained that the object
of his visit was to restore some property which had been carried off
by Kurds. Such at least was the explanation which I received. It was
certainly not a bad idea to quarter all these troops upon starving
people; they would think twice before claiming redress a second
time. But I suspect that it was a rather clumsy lie.

Gop is situated in the plain, some miles distant from the lake,
at the foot of the extreme slopes of the heights which border the
northerly shore (alt. 5150 feet). Although the place is the capital
of the caza of Bulanik, it is a large village rather than a town. The
Kaimakam informed me that there were 400 houses, all but 50 inhabited
by Armenians. The district of Bulanik comprises some of the most
fertile land in all Armenia, and is of considerable area. Towards
the east it includes a large portion of the plain of the Murad below
the town of Melazkert; while, on the west, it reaches across the
mass of Bilejan and its outliers to a second extensive stretch of
fairly level ground. That region slopes away from the northern border
heights of Mush plain to the Murad and the opposite heights of Khamur;
it sends a tributary to the left bank of the great river, and one of
its principal and central villages is that of Liz. The fecundity of
the soil is probably due to a happy combination of calcareous marls
with the detritus of eruptive rocks. The grain which it produces is of
excellent quality, in spite of the fact that the fields will be full of
thistles. The peasants are miserably poor. The Kaimakam explained that
their rags, and squalor were matter of custom (tabiat); and, in fact,
they had plenty of money, hoarded away. It is possible that such an
hypothesis may indeed govern some of his actions; but I doubt whether
he put it forward in good faith. The main cause of their destitution
is plainly the want of security, coupled with the impossibility of
exporting their crops. But usury is also a factor of considerable
importance, the husbandman having generally borrowed to buy his seed
at rates which rob him of most of the earnings of his toil.

From Gop we made a second excursion to the lake, riding to one of
the most conspicuous of the volcanic eminences which rise from its
northern margin. It is a distance of about four miles. The ascent
commences on the outskirts of the village; but it is at first very
gradual, the slope consisting of marly clays. These beds were full of
mytilus in perfect preservation, and were seen to have been overlaid
with tuffs. About halfway, we came to the walled monastery of Surb
Daniel, containing the relics of a saint of that name. The ancient
chapel has been restored. Over the altar was conspicuous a picture
of the Virgin and Child. The one or two resident priests were sunk
in abject ignorance, but they were in possession of some good farm
buildings within their enclosure. We remained for some time upon
the peak which we had selected, and from which we obtained a fine
view of the lake and its surroundings. While I was mapping, Oswald
sketched. We could see two villages on the level ground south of
the lake--Khashlu and Piran. In the plain towards the Murad several
settlements were visible upon a line between Leter and Gop.

August 10.--It was ten o'clock in the morning of a fine summer's
day when we resumed our journey, and set out in a north-westerly
direction across this spacious plain. Travelling at this season is
most agreeable in Armenia; it scarcely ever rains, yet one is never
overpowered by the heat of the brilliant sun. Pleasant breezes float
across the expanse. The harvest was being gathered in. Our landmarks
were in full view--Sipan, Khamur, Bilejan. A little river meanders
through the deep soil, on a course towards the Murad. It receives
the waters which irrigate the village of Gop, and, among them, those
of the stream from the lake. It has its origin some distance east of
Gop. It is called the Kör Su. At first our track took us about parallel
with its banks; then we crossed it at the large Armenian village
of Yungali. Anxious to visit the point of confluence of the Bingöl
Su with the Murad, we now diverged towards the north. The nature of
the ground compelled us to cross the latter river a little above the
junction. It was flowing in a very broad, alluvial bed. In width it
may have been about a hundred yards; nor in any place did the water
reach much above our horses' knees. Except for the great islands of
mountain about us, we might have been standing upon the Mesopotamian
plains. Our approach disturbed a group of large eagles, so heavy that
they were obliged to run before taking wing. The Bingöl Su came in
through a deep channel, which washed the girths of our horses. It did
not seem to be more than forty yards wide. But, although sluggish, it
must bring a very considerable volume of water; for its contribution
extended to about half the width of the joint river, being clearly
distinguished by the quantity of sediment which it sustained. From
this confluence we followed the course of the Murad, riding over the
plain on the right bank, with the stream. A flock of wild geese were
resting in the pebbly bed, nor did the shapely birds move as we passed
them by. One of our escort was successful in securing a fine specimen
with a bullet, which provided us with an excellent meal next day.

But the features of the landscape soon underwent a change; for the
river was approaching the foot of the Khamur heights. At first it was
low hills, consisting of lake deposits, which we skirted on our right
hand. But near the Armenian village of Karaogli a bold ridge comes
into prominence, and it extends all the way to Shakhberat. It is of
eruptive volcanic origin. It is an important member of the series of
heights of which Khamur forms the dominant mass. East of Khamur that
series rises to a considerable elevation before declining to the valley
of the Bingöl Su. The highest ridge, as seen from this district, lies
some distance towards the north, and is called the Zirnek Dagh. On
the other hand, this volcanic parapet comes right up to the river,
which follows along its base. At the same time hills started up from
the plain upon the left bank. It was evident that they were volcanic
and in connection with Bilejan, of which we were opening out the more
westerly and less deeply carved side.

These features transformed the scene with startling rapidity; the idle
river was no longer able to flow where it pleased. Some two miles
below Karaogli it enters a deep gorge, and throughout its course
to the plain of Mush it is, with little intermission, confined in
a narrow bed. Except during the passage of the block of heights on
the north of that plain, the Murad performs no considerable feat. It
follows the general trend of the lines of elevation, and one would
expect its course to be fairly tranquil through this region. But the
lavas tease the river; they have welled up along fissures, and have
converted the wide valley into as inhospitable a district as any
through which it passes on its long journey to the Persian Gulf.

Our mid-day halt was spent beneath the shade of a grove of willows,
on the margin of some fields of hemp and cabbage, which softened
the site of Karaogli. But, the village left behind, we soon entered
the narrows, the track being taken along the cliff-side, at some
considerable height above the hissing, silvery water. The Murad
pierces a mass of lava belonging to the ridge on its right bank. It
seemed a wayward thing to do; for the ground is lower just south of
the gorge, and appeared to invite the river. While still within the
cleft, it was spanned by a wooden bridge resting on several piers
of solid masonry. This is probably the first bridge over the Murad
below Tutakh. Issuing from the cliffs, the tortuous reaches opened out
into an easier country, and a wider prospect was unfolded on either
side. For the first time we obtained a view over the plain on the
west of Bilejan, bordered on the south by the still distant heights,
on this side of the depression of Mush. But the volcanic hills on the
left bank were not long without a successor; the outline was taken
up by a second block of similar origin; and the scene again became
restricted to the immediate surroundings of the river, which were
stony and bare and bleak. We passed only a single Kurdish hamlet
during our ride to the cirque or caldron of Shakhberat. There the
river makes an S-shaped bend through a fairly wide valley, enclosed
on all sides by volcanic heights. The ridge and peak of Kolibaba is
seen to full advantage, confining the valley on the west. Two little
Kurdish villages, Arenjik and Shakhberat, lie on the slopes and in
the lap of this spacious cirque.

August 11.--The level of the Murad at Shakhberat was tested by two
readings of the boiling-point apparatus on successive days. It was
found to be 4900 feet. The village commands a view of the summit of
Khamur, the highest point of the amphitheatre in which the hamlet
is placed. But that lofty ridge is in part screened by the slopes of
Kolibaba, and by the parapet which has skirted the right bank of the
river all the way from Karaogli. That parapet joins the mass about
opposite the summit; and it is only at the head of the valley between
Khamur and Kolibaba that the outline and slopes of the principal ridge
are fully exposed. The shortest way to the summit, but certainly the
steepest, would lead up that valley by a fairly direct course. But our
guide preferred to take us by a more easterly approach, up the face of
the parapet. He was a very pleasant fellow, a khoja or village priest;
and he looked well with his clean white cottons, astride upon his
mare. But the notion that we really intended to mount to the actual
peak was repugnant to his good sense. Climbing Khamur meant to him
proceeding to an adjacent eminence and thence contemplating the airy
heights above your head. Such a spot was provided under circumstances
of luxury by the site of a hamlet high up on the ridge. A rustling
stream flows through it, which has been dammed and made into a lake;
and round the pool trees have been planted to shade the flocks. It was
indeed a charming foreground to the immense landscape which already
extended to Nimrud. But the khoja's dallying was soon cut short;
the track ceased at this village, which bore the unworthy name of
Ganibuk. He was forced to lead us across a beach of large boulders,
and through some thickets of oak scrub. The ascent became pronounced,
and, when at length the flat top was reached, the main mass was still
distant, and looked very high.

The composition of the ridge, which we had now surmounted, is at once
interesting and typical of the whole region. It consists of a series
of deep beds of lake deposits, separated one from the other by bands
of lava. At first the lava was seen to be basaltic in character and
compact; but towards the summit it became scoriaceous. The fact would
seem to indicate that, while the earlier issues were submarine, the
latest flows were outpoured when the land had risen above the water,
and the present configuration was being attained. The platform upon
which we stood was composed of a sheet of lava, and so was the summit
of the opposite ridge of Khamur. But as we rode into the shallow
trough which separates the two eminences, the greyish-white marls
again came to view. We could see them on the escarpments of both
ridges, which, further east, became gradually separated by a deep
latitudinal valley. We could observe the soft material where it was
baked into a yellow porcelain by contact with the cap of lava on the
Khamur ridge. Far and wide, towards east and south, the landscape
wore the same hues and appearance; the same character appeared to
belong to the heights on the north of Mush plain. Descending into the
depression and rising again on its further side, we reached the actual
peak or highest part of the Khamur ridge after a zigzag climb up a
slope overgrown with fennel. We had attained an altitude of 9850 feet.

Although the outline of Khamur assumes a somewhat pointed shape
when seen from the south, as from the cirque of Shakhberat, yet the
summit is nothing more than a fairly flat and narrow platform, which
slopes away with some abruptness on the north and south. The lava
upon this platform is slabby in character and may be described as
an augite-andesite. There is no crater on the summit and one cannot
speak of Khamur as a volcano in the proper sense. In fact it is a
considerable block of elevated land, in the western portion of which
volcanic action has played a great part. The foundation of the block is
probably composed of Eocene limestone, which has been overlaid by later
lake deposits. This limestone comes to view in a remarkable manner as
you survey the eastern half of the mass. The ridge upon which you stand
extends for a mile or two in that direction, and presently sinks to
a somewhat narrow upland valley. This depression can be clearly seen
from the adjacent region, whence it has the appearance of a notch
in the outline of the mountain. Its eastern slope leads over into a
very broad block of mountain, of which the central region is hollow
and basin-like in shape, and the outer sides steep and high. They
are perhaps steepest and most lofty on the south. It is in fact one
grand synclinal, described by beds of hard limestone, which, from a
distance, groups with Khamur in a single mass. The axis of the mass
in that direction is about east-north-east.

The prospect towards the west is not of lesser interest, and is
certainly even more strange. Time was wanting to examine this
extraordinary region, which, indeed, it would require several days
to explore. The ridge of Khamur is joined on to the northern portion
of another great block of elevated land. The eastern wall of this
plateau projects some distance towards the south, almost up to
the right bank of the Murad. But the deep valley, which is formed
by this projection and by the ridge of Khamur, is filled up by the
lofty pile of Kolibaba--a peninsular mountain, only connected beyond
a considerable depression with the slopes of the main ridge. It is
plainly of eruptive volcanic origin, and it is somewhat circular in
form. Its sides are strewn with talus and clothed with oak scrub. Our
guide and the people of the district knew it under the name which I
have given, and which they averred to have been that of a holy man who
had been buried there. Though who this prophet might have been, or what
he wrought, or when he lived, not a soul among them knew. Throughout
this district, as far as Bingöl, the tops of mountains will be often
crowned by the rude enclosure of some sage's grave. Such a monument
was a conspicuous object on the very peak of Khamur; and with its
headstone, a huge slab grimly resembling a human bone, might have
been disposed to receive a giant's remains (Fig. 189).

But to return to the scene before us--this adjacent plateau on the
west extends all the way to Bingöl. Indeed it is connected with the
southern margin of the Bingöl pedestal by a bold saddle, due to a flow
of lava. This feature was, of course, scarcely visible from Khamur;
but the continuation of the Khamur ridge might be traced throughout
the region, being distinguished by a succession of bold bosses, rising
along its northern margin. These peaks are especially pronounced at
their inception, and appeared to rise almost immediately from the
northern shore of a large lake which was irregular in form. Near
its south-east corner lay a second, much smaller and circular
lake. Neither figure on any map which I have seen. They are evidently
rather deep, for their colour is an intense blue. Such are some of the
characteristics of this curious region, which may be included among
the Khamur heights. It rises above the Murad with cliff-like sides,
which scarcely decline at all to the elevated level of these lonely
azure lakes.

The view from the summit of Khamur may be divined by my reader; nor
need I attempt to describe it in any detail. It embraces Palandöken
and Bingöl on the north; Nimrud, Bilejan and Sipan on the south. On
one side lies the plain of Khinis, bordered by the peaks and ridges of
the Akh Dagh, which are seen to their fullest advantage. On another
it is the basin of the Murad, with Sipan rising in all his majesty
from an expanse of level and cultivated ground. In yet another you
overlook the plain and village of Liz and the course of a winding
river. From no standpoint does the character of the country, as a
succession of sea-like plains, become imprinted with greater clearness
on the mind. Nor is any district in the nearer Asia better adapted
to become the granary of a prosperous and highly civilised land. We
descended in failing light by the valley on the side of Kolibaba,
and reached our camp with some difficulty in three hours.

August 12.--On the following morning we set out to follow the Murad,
as far as its egress from this region through the heights which
border the depression of Mush. Much the same features were continued
throughout the stage. The cirque of Shakhberat is enclosed upon the
west by a stream of lava from Kolibaba. This emission has flowed in
an almost meridional direction, and has forced the river to bend
away to the south. After passing through the Armenian village of
Akrag, which is placed on a higher level of the basin-like area,
we breasted the bold ridge which has been formed by this lava, and
crossed it just south of a little parasitic cone, emerging from the
side of the mountain. Some low oaks flourish among the boulders; the
rock is a glassy augite-andesite. The ridge leads over into a little
plain, bordered upon the north by the wall of the Khamur plateau, and
with a high rim upon the side of the river, which cannot be seen. The
plain has evidently been covered by a lake in fairly recent times. A
crack in the rim of the basin displays the channel through which it
was drained. On the side of Kolibaba an old beach line was visible,
some fifty feet above the level of this plain. The soil consists of a
black clay which is not cultivated, but which must be very rich. It
took us nearly an hour to cross to the opposite side, where it is
confined by an outwork of the Khamur heights.

Our further journey, which occupied the better part of a whole long
day, need not be followed step by step. We had arrived at a spot
where the dominant lineaments of the landscape had already become
pronounced. These prevailed with little variety all the way. On the
right bank, at an interval of two to three miles or more, rose the
wall of the Khamur plateau. The further west we proceeded the more
irregular it became, the less distinguishable from the massive spurs
which it put out. These outworks descend into the river valley, which
is flooded and choked by the lavas. Both in the valley and on these
slopes the lavas have the upper hand; but the grey lacustrine marls are
seldom absent or for long. They provide favoured stretches, covered
with luscious herbage, where a little stream may trickle down from
the barren heights. Still the scene remains wild, bleak rather than of
impressive ruggedness; there is space along the margin of the river,
which flows in a deep cañon through the sombre eruptive rock. Some
stunted oak springs from the crevices among the boulders, but it
rather enhances than relieves the mournful aspect of the surroundings.

On the left bank a new feature came into prominence: a long and fairly
lofty ridge, with perfectly horizontal outline, many miles away on
the south. But the slope of this broad mass was continuous to the
brink of the river, where it was broken by the stream into cliffs. Its
gentle gradient and almost level surface somewhat softened the rigour
of the landscape. It was seen to consist of a sheet of lava, which
had covered up the marls, and which must have issued in a very liquid
condition. The heights upon which it is built are the northern border
heights of Mush plain; and this block of heights approaches closer
and closer to the Murad, as it eats its way through the district on
a westerly course. Such was the character of the country beyond the
winding, hissing river throughout the whole stage. Villages there were
none, and hamlets few. A single oasis of any importance was observed
high-seated upon the slope in the south, near the break in the outline
where the Murad pierces through the block. We should have been pleased
to spend the night in that extensive and leafy grove, which belongs
to a village called Ali Gedik. But we were assured that the river
was not passable, and we were obliged to push on to Charbahur. After
following a romantic gorge where the Murad has again been wayward,
and has preferred to saw a passage through a towering parapet of lava
rather than to follow easier ground upon the south, we rode for some
distance along a wide stretch of alluvial soil in which the river at
length reposes from its arduous labours. The Circassian village of
Charbahur is placed at some distance from the waters, on the northern
margin of the broad strip of willow-grown land. [267]

Charbahur is backed by a barren slope of the Khamur heights, and is
screened from all freshness on the side of the north. On the other
hand, it is exposed to the sultry southern breezes, which find their
way through the passage of the Murad, acting like a funnel to the
furnace of Mush plain. There were said to be some sixty houses in the
village; but I should say that there were more. Some of the tenements
are well built, resembling neat cottages; but unfortunately they
swarm with fleas. The standard of living is far higher than among
the Armenians; but one feels that there is little or nothing in the
race. Our impression of the Circassians did not improve upon longer
acquaintance; although they are by no means the worthless and predatory
people which they are sometimes represented to be. Their conspicuous
characteristic is an inordinate love of swagger; and their handsome
figures encourage the tendency of their disposition. One afternoon,
as we were busy at work, a bugle sounded; and immediately a band
of horsemen galloped into the village. One by one they passed our
tent at the utmost speed of their horses, jumping to the ground and
vaulting back into the saddle, while still at full pace. Those Cossack
manoeuvres heralded the approach of their chief, Suleyman Pasha, who,
it appeared, was riding over from the neighbouring capital of the
caza in order to honour us with a visit. When he arrived the place
became full of irregular troops, with whom were combined a small
detachment of regular cavalry. Dismounting from a well-bred horse,
he came towards us with hands outstretched, tall and supple, with a
rhythm of movement which at once revealed his Circassian blood. His
large and animated eyes, the thin, aquiline nose, the high forehead and
the black hair, waving on brow and chin, were set off by the contrast
of a very correct uniform--a deep-blue tunic with a pale crimson
collar. The voice suited the man; it was resonant and was meant to
be so, and his words were accompanied by a profusion of gestures. He
was followed by two valuable English pointers, which, however, he did
not treat with proper respect. To him the world was a gallery; yet
he lacked the mind of the actor; and, while his principal occupation
was the giving of orders, his directions were not less empty than his
words. But these defects were in the nature of inherited failings;
personally he was extremely kind, and, I believe, a staunch friend. He
spoke with gratitude, which was sincere, of the service which had been
rendered to his countrymen by England and England's Queen. It has sunk
deeply into the hearts of Circassians. At home we are too much imbued
with excellent business principles; and few of us realise the value in
politics of sentimental considerations, especially when we are dealing
with the untrained peoples whose destiny happens to link with ours.

The most interesting occupants of such a village are, no doubt, the
girls and young women. They retain their fair complexion even in this
climate, as well as their roundness of face and form. Several among
them would come to the margin of an adjacent stream, in order to wash
their grain. Their bare feet were as shapely as their hands. From
Charbahur we made an excursion to the passage of the Murad, riding
first to the confluence of the important stream which collects the
drainage of the southern slopes of the Bingöl plateau. A ridge from
the Khamur heights extends across the wide valley, choking it up
and checking the drainage of its considerable extension towards the
west. The stream cuts through this obstacle a little west of Charbahur,
issuing into the alluvial plain at the Circassian village of Charbahur
Tepe. It joins the Murad at the egress of the river from the valley. It
comes in beneath the shade of willows and silver poplars. It brings
a large addition to the waters of the Murad, and is by far its most
important tributary since it received the Bingöl Su. Unhappily this
affluent bears the same name as that river; but I need not fear that
my reader will confuse the two. This Bingöl Su had a width of about 30
yards; its depth was fairly uniform, and it reached above our horses'
knees. [268] The Murad now becomes a stately river, recalling, both
by its volume and the manner in which it flows, the course of the
Danube in Upper Austria. We forded it at a point some 3 miles down
the passage, where it was over 100 yards wide and reached above our
horses' girths. It had descended to a level of 4570 feet.

The cutting through the broad block of mountain which is interposed
between the plain of Mush and the long valley through which the river
has been flowing for so many miles--a valley which is continued as
far west as the little plain of Dodan--is perhaps too broad to be
described as a gorge. Yet the heights on either side descend to the
margin of the Murad, which has turned at right angles to its former
course. It pursues this southerly direction until it has gained the
floor of the Mush depression. From the ford we mounted the slopes on
the eastern side of the valley, and, after a sharp climb, reached
the summit of the block. Our position was a little south of that
pleasant grove which has been mentioned, belonging to the village
of Ali Gedik. We stood on a sheet of lava; but the limestone was
all about us, on the face of the cliff, in the bed of the river,
where it formed long ridges, fretting the current into rapids. It
was seen to contain fossils of the cretaceous period, and its strike
or axis of elevation was towards east-north-east. The heights on the
opposite bank appeared to be of similar nature. The view extended over
the plain of Mush. Mush itself was seen nestling in a recess of the
border range. We could see the village of Sikava, well in the plain,
and the almost imperceptible break in the wall of mountain where the
Murad issues from the plain. In the north, the line of cliffs belonging
to the Bingöl plateau dominated the scene. Bingöl itself was either
hidden behind their lofty edge, or could not be distinguished from
the mass. We returned to Charbahur not along the valley, but down
the gentle southern slope of these heights. Its even nature is due
to a flow of basaltic lava. We found the Murad above the junction
with the Bingöl Su to be flowing in two separate channels, which we
forded and so returned to our camp.

August 15.--To reach Gumgum and the westerly extension of the
long valley, it is necessary to cross the ridge from the Khamur
heights which I have mentioned; such was our purpose and our next
task. We found it to consist of grey lacustrine clays and marls with
interbedded lavas. A thick layer of tuff occurs high up on the ridge;
and the summit of the whole formation displays a cap of basaltic lava,
sloping northwards in the direction of Gumgum. The parapet lessens in
height as it stretches obliquely into the valley towards the block on
its southern verge; yet even at the lofty col, over which our track
lay, it was less elevated than the corresponding ridge which joins
the Khamur heights to the Bingöl plateau, and which is surmounted by
the road from Gumgum to Khinis. As we descended, a pleasant stretch
of fairly even ground lay beneath us, in the lap of which we could
see the capital of the caza. It was watered by several streams, which
issue from the slopes of the wide amphitheatre described by the Khamur
heights and the bold outline of the Bingöl cliffs. One river alone
was seen to proceed from the very heart of the Bingöl system, coming
into the plain through a tremendous chasm in the cliffs. Above that
abyss we obtained a glimpse of the western summit of Bingöl. Further
west the great valley was choked up with minor heights, rising up
from its floor. On the south it is bounded by the commanding block
of mountain which continues, across the passage of the Murad, the
long wall of the northern border of Mush plain. Limestones, buff
and white, could be seen high up on that flat-topped mass, with the
same axis of elevation as those further east. The scene was bleak,
without a tree and scarcely a bush.

Gumgum had evidently blossomed since my last visit, for it possessed at
least two stone houses above ground, besides several little shops. We
found it in a state of extraordinary commotion, owing to the presence
of Suleyman Pasha. A troop of regular cavalry, mounted on white horses,
had met us on the road. They had been sent as a guard of honour to
escort us into the place. The scene before the Government building was
extremely picturesque; and what was our astonishment when we beheld,
among the medley of Circassian cavalry, a ragged band of horsemen
whom we at once identified as Kurds, and in whom we recognised the
much-talked-of Hamidiyeh! Here indeed was food for the note-book
and the camera! On the steps of the building stood the Kaimakam,
not my friend of the first journey; and beside him the Hakim in a
black robe. Behind these were gathered the notables, and among them
a giant who enhanced the imposing nature of the show. When we had
received and returned the greetings of this distinguished company,
we were ushered into the presence of the Pasha, seated in an inner
room. He overwhelmed us with every token of kindness; and, when the
Kaimakam read me a telegram relating to a supply of money, he waved
him aside with a gesture of magnificent contempt, and drew from his
pocket a reel of gold which he begged me accept. A little speech,
modelled on his own, seemed to allay the sting of my refusal; but he
insisted upon our taking with us to our camp on Bingöl a detachment
of cavalry. This offer was gratefully accepted. Orders were at once
given to prepare a repast. The servants left the presence with a deep
obeisance; but, alas! it transpired, after a considerable interval,
that there were no viands in the house and none to be found. All this
time the audience chamber was filled full of as strange a company as
it had ever been our privilege to see. Suleyman Pasha appeared to
hold a roving commission in connection with the Hamidiyeh. But the
men of his own race, settlers in the country, had come in from all
directions to do honour to a countryman in his high position, and to
a nobleman in whose veins their bluest blood flowed. The Circassians
furnish recruits to the regular army, differing in this respect
from the tribal Kurds. But, jealous of their ancestral customs,
they maintain the irregular cavalry, of which a strong contingent
was gathered together in Gumgum. The principal men, one by one,
were introduced into the apartment; each bowed low and kissed the
Pasha's hand. To each was assigned a seat on the divan. Most had
passed the middle age; their wizened and wrinkled faces harmonised
with the drab hues of the Cossack dress. The Pasha was resplendent in
his blue and crimson uniform; several swords, in richly engraved and
valuable scabbards, rested by his side. Near him sat a grave and gloomy
personage in European uniform. His cruel face displayed the true Tartar
lineaments and expression; yet he was a Kurd, and the colonel of one
of the four Hamidiyeh regiments recruited among the Jibranli tribe. The
Pasha treated him with great courtesy, if with a little condescension;
but, although he received the many orders which were addressed to him
with military obedience, his manner scarcely concealed the irritation
which they produced. There was mischief in the man's face. He is seen
on the left of my illustration (Fig. 190); his bugler, a young Kurd,
richly attired, is placed on his left hand. Behind him are some of
his horsemen, of which in all there were mustered a hundred, after
extraordinary exertions on the part of the Pasha. Yet the nominal
strength of the regiment is six hundred. The whole force--regulars
and irregulars, Kurds and Circassians--were drawn up in a half-circle
for our benefit. The regulars were, as usual, a fine body of men;
of the rest the very refuse were the Kurds.

We did not regret to leave a scene which was pathetic as well as
humorous, and to set forth on an expedition to one of the most
remarkable of those works of Nature with which Asia--past mistress
of violent contrasts--appears to mock the contemporary littleness of
her sons. We had experienced the greatest difficulties in obtaining
supplies; for the wretched shopmen, alarmed at the inundation of
undisciplined soldiery, had absconded after barring up their humble
booths. The promise of some cavalry had proved empty; none came or
intended coming. We had said good-bye to our excellent escort from
Akhlat, of whom the officer, a handsome man with charming manners,
had suffered in health owing to the hardships of the journey. But
we had been met by our tried and trusted zabet from Erzerum; and to
him was attached a fellow-officer from Gumgum with several men. We
might have proceeded on a fairly direct course to our mountain, which
indeed is situated almost north of the little town. But I was anxious
to retrace my former journey as far as Dodan, in order to complete my
rough survey of this interesting region, interrupted on that occasion
by failing light. Our course was therefore directed up the long valley,
with the outline of the stupendous Bingöl cliffs on the one side,
and, on the other, that of the border heights of Mush plain. At the
hamlet of Alagöz we forded the stream which comes down through the
great chasm, and which, perhaps, for want of a better name, we may
call the Gumgum Su. It unites at this point with the combined streams
which water the plain, and the joint river flows off through a gorge
in some minor heights to effect a confluence with the Bingöl Su. I
have already mentioned that the valley is choked up with insignificant
hills; on its southern margin flows the river last named. Eruptive
volcanic action has played a great part in its configuration; and the
axis of the masses of lava which rise up from its floor is about the
same as that of the plain of Mush. These eruptive hills are varied
by heights composed of limestone, or of marls and clays, interbedded
with lava and tuff. After a long ride through this wild scene we at
length emerged upon the plain of Dodan, level as the lake which it
must have supported in fairly recent times. Dodan lay beneath us;
but we pushed on to a further village, the picturesque and pleasant
settlement of Gundemir.



CHAPTER XXI

OUR SOJOURN ON BINGÖL


Gundemir is an Armenian village of considerable size, better built than
is usually the case (Fig. 191). It possesses an ancient church, and
the houses cluster round it, rising up the slope of a little eminence
from the plain. The place is evidently as old as the hills. Several
groves of lofty poplars spring from the surface of the level ground,
which extends in all directions except on the north. One will enclose
a field of cabbage, another fringes a tobacco plantation, with the
large and luscious leaves. Most of the male inhabitants were absent
in their yaila; the women were busy threshing this season's corn. The
head man was present, one Avedis Effendi; and he supplied all our
wants with the utmost zeal. We were glad to be back in an Armenian
village, after our experience of the Circassians at Charbahur.

From our encampment on the margin of such a grove of shady trees
we could study at leisure the features of the plain. I have
already noticed its appearance and extraordinary surroundings
(Ch. VIII. p. 182); and this second visit enabled me to answer some
of the questions which were suggested, but could not be resolved, on
the former occasion. While the ova is immediately bounded on the south
by the block of heights which we know as the northern border heights
of Mush plain, the northern boundary of the whole wide valley--the
towering Bingöl cliffs--are distant several miles from the confines
of this lake-like depression, in which that valley comes to an end
upon the west. The intermediate zone is filled up by hill ridges,
of which the axis is the same as that recorded in the last chapter,
when we were journeying along the valley from Gumgum. It is an
axis similar to that of the plain of Mush. It is evidently a line
of volcanic elevation, being almost at right angles to that of the
stratified rocks. Of these ridges--with their beaches of lava and
sprinkling of oak scrub--two descend and die out into the plain. The
more easterly leaves our village close upon the right hand, skirts
Dodan, and ends in a series of little cones, which push the river to
the very foot of the barrier on the south. Its neighbour on the west
composes the heights on the north of the plain. It comes down from the
uppermost slopes of the Bingöl plateau, and determines the drainage
of the Bingöl Su. It appears to be connected on the south-west with
the sheets of lava which have built up the westerly and plateau-like
boundary of the plain--a barrier which has been eaten into by a deep
cañon through which a stream descends into the plain. The name of
that affluent to the Bingöl Su we learnt to be the Sherefeddin Su;
it enters the ova at the village of Baskan. The Bingöl Su approaches
the plain on a meridional course, bounded on either side by the two
ridges above mentioned, and watering the orchards of Gundemir. It
has almost crossed the ova when it is joined by its affluent; it then
turns eastwards and settles down to a course towards the Murad.

August 16.--It was afternoon before we were ready to start on our
journey towards the still distant outline of the Bingöl cliffs. After
fording the river, we made our way up its right bank, along the
pebbly alluvial bed, which had a width of about a quarter-mile. In
half-an-hour we crossed an outlier from the ridge on the west,
leaving the river on our right to flow through a gorge between
this ridge and that upon the east. Emerging on the further side,
we stood in an extensive depression with nothing between us and
the base of the cliffs (Fig. 192). On our left hand, the ridge on
the west was seen extending in a north-westerly direction to the
very face of the opposite parapet; a conical eminence, consisting
of lava built up on lacustrine deposits, was a conspicuous feature
upon the mass. Its companion on the east had the appearance of being
more isolated; and the prospect in that direction was far-reaching
over the undulating basin of the Bingöl Su. At the Kurdish hamlet
of Chaghelik we again crossed the river, and struck a fairly direct
course for the cliffs. The belt of detritus and broken ground which
extends along their base is of considerable depth. All the way we were
riding over lava, tending to decompose into brown sand. Our track was
indicated on the face of the barrier by a very white appearance, due,
as we found, to the dust of a pink lava. Layers of lava and tuff were
seen in section along that face. The actual ascent occupied nearly
an hour; and it was growing dark as we opened out the surface of the
plateau. We had attained an elevation of some 8500 feet, or of 3500
feet above Gundemir. Let my reader picture to himself the cliffs of
Dover raised to seven times their present height.

The air was heavy with perfume; yellow mullein, ablaze with flower,
rose in profusion from the even sheet of lava. Far and wide it spread
before us, sometimes rising to a barren knoll, as often sinking to
a grassy hollow. In such a faint depression, by the side of a tiny
runnel, we fixed our encampment for the night. The shadows hung about
us; but the western sky was shot with fire above a sea of ridges,
billowing towards us, and buried in the depths of the landscape before
ever they could attain our airy platform. The phenomenon was new;
nor were we able to grasp its whole significance until we had become
familiar with the relations of this uniform tableland to that country
of ridge and trough in the west.

The solitude of the place, and its remoteness from any human settlement
disposed us to receive to the full the spirit of our surroundings;
nor was the mood disturbed throughout our stay on Bingöl. So plastic
is the nature of man that one must regret his confinement in cities,
and his exclusion--which is sometimes life-long--from communion with
the natural world. Such communion is at once a spiritual and a mental
exercise; and the greater grows our knowledge of the phenomena around
us, the more complete becomes the fusion of soul with soul. The Hebrews
copied from Asia her vastness and her essential harmony, and translated
them into their religion and laws; the inspiration has grown feeble
during its passage through the ages; but the source is still open from
which it sprang. One feels that its ultimate origin must be placed in
this country; and that the fables, which are woven around the infancy
of our race, resemble the mists which hang to the surface of some
stately river, but have been distilled from the solid waters which
they veil. The natural setting of those legends are a Bingöl and
an Ararat--the one the parent mountain of the fertilising streams,
the other the greatest and most imposing manifestation of natural
agencies working to a sublime end. And Europe, with her turmoil of
intellect and clash of religious opinions, has need of the parent
forces from which she drew her civilisation, and of which the spirit
speaks to the spirit of the humblest of her sons in the same accents
and with the same high purpose as of yore.

We debated on the following morning in which direction we should
proceed. Where should we find a yaila from which to draw our supplies
during our sojourn upon the mountain? We were as yet a long way west of
the so-called crater, and we were led to hope that we might find such
a Kurdish encampment just below and on the south of its main wall. We
therefore set out in a north-easterly direction over the undulating
surface of the plateau. The smoothness of the ground, over which we
rode for many miles, is characteristic of this extensive and remarkable
tableland, and is due to the slabby nature of the sheets of lava,
which must have issued in a very liquid state. [269] In this region
they are seen to have flowed towards south and west. They support
an abundance of yellow mullein which grows to a great height. The
flowers of this beautiful plant are as delicate as their perfume; and
we did not regret that on Bingöl they take the place of the monotonous
fennel. The mullein is the flower of the surroundings of Bingöl, just
as atraphaxis spangles the base of the Ararat fabric, and spiræa and
giant forget-me-not haunt Nimrud. But violets we had not yet seen;
and here they grew in plenty, on the margin of each patch of melting
snow. Their perfume was like that of our garden description; and, while
the upper petals were mauve, those below paled off into white. The
little hollows of the ground were moist and grassy, having collected a
little clay. Over such a scene without limits a few white clouds were
floating, borne by delicious breezes across the field of intense blue.

After riding for over an hour without any landmark we reached
the summit of a meridional vaulting of the table surface, due
perhaps to the emission of lavas from a fissure. From this point
we could see the western summit of the so-called crater bearing
about east-north-east. It looked a mere hill, like any other of the
irregular eminences. The trough below us, on the east, was seen by
Oswald to slope southwards, and to become trenched by the course
of a southward-flowing stream. This rivulet would therefore be the
head branch of the Bingöl Su. Beyond this valley we mounted a second
meridional ridge, coming towards us from the western summit. The view
now extended along the entire wall of the crater, seen on its southern
and rounded side. Its basin and steep cliffs have a frontage towards
the north, and were, therefore, hidden from sight. A bleak scene lay
before us in the hollow, framed on one side by the ridge upon which
we were standing, and on the other by the long perspective of the wall
on the north, stretching, like a huge rampart, towards the east. Into
that hollow we made our way in an east-south-easterly direction, in
search of the vaunted yaila. After riding over stony and difficult
ground for over an hour, I called a halt, deciding to abandon the
quest. We could see that we had reached a point about south of the
eastern summit, for the outline of the rampart was already preparing
to decline. To proceed further would be to occupy an unsuitable
position for the purpose of exploring the mountain. Our tents were
erected a little north of the head of the chasm through which flows
the Gumgum river. Two zaptiehs were at once despatched with orders to
carry on the search, and to bring back with them whatever food they
could find. They discovered the yaila at some distance in an easterly
direction, but still within reach of our camp. The Kurds supplied us
with milk and mutton; but for flour and corn we were obliged to send
to Gumgum, and for charcoal all the way to Khinis.

We remained in this camp for six days, finding it to be an excellent
situation. From early morning until evening we pursued our work
upon the mountain, visiting the basins on the further side of the
rampart, taking measurements and ascertaining altitudes (see the
two plans accompanying this chapter). It may be best to resume our
results in a single picture, embracing first the mountain, next the
immediate surroundings, and last the features of the landscape which
it overlooks. [270]

The Bingöl Dagh consists in the main of a narrow and almost latitudinal
ridge, with an axis which is inclined towards west-north-west and
east-south-east. The little relative elevation of this rampart above
the plateau, which supports it as a pedestal or base, is the cause
of the insignificant appearance of the mountain, which, in winter,
is almost concealed or merged into its surroundings by the continuous
sheet of snow (Fig. 161, p. 191, and Fig. 176, p. 247). The fact that
it is highest at its eastern and western extremities, and that from
those peaks horn-shaped eminences project towards the north, with
a curvature convex to the inner area, and with a rapidly decreasing
elevation--this fact, together with the abruptness of the face of the
ridge on the side of the north, give it the semblance of the standing
southern wall of a huge broken-down crater when seen from a distance
on that side. A nearer view from the same side destroys the unity of
this conception; the crateral area is broken into two. It is seen
to consist of a somewhat smaller basin upon the east, and of one
rather larger on the west. The two basins, which are both perfectly
open towards the north, are divided by a meridional ridge, which is
joined to the main rampart at a third eminence, intermediate between
the western and eastern summits, and resembling them in character,
although not so high. This medial ridge, like the two horns, dies
rapidly away into the plateau. From the extremity of the western horn,
which opens out in a north-westerly direction, to the recess of the
bay formed by its companion on the east is a distance of about 4 1/2
miles. While the western and eastern summits--the highest points on
the entire ridge--attain an altitude of 10,750 feet, the level ground
just north of the main slope of the detrital fan has an elevation of
9000 feet. On the other hand, the line of cliffs on the south of the
rampart by which the plateau breaks away to the valley of Gumgum are
over 9000 feet high along their edge. These measurements may serve to
define in figures some of the characteristics which I have endeavoured
to describe.

Before pursuing a more intimate and detailed study, it may be well to
fix in our mind some of the leading positions, and to assign to them
convenient names. Our predecessors have given three such names to the
principal eminences. The western summit is called by them Bingöl Kala
(the Bingöl castle), that on the east Demir or Timur Kala (the iron
castle or the castle of Timur), and the intermediate hump, which
is joined to the meridional ridge, Kara Kala (the black castle). I
took some pains to ascertain whether these names were known to the
Kurds, for none of my escort had ever heard of them. The yaila from
which we drew supplies was the most considerable in the district,
and belonged to one Mahmud Bey. This Kurdish chieftain was absent
from his encampment, scared by the presence of Suleyman Pasha,
with his demands for Hamidiyeh, in the close neighbourhood of his
lair. But his son came to our camp, and one of his near relations,
a middle-aged and unusually intelligent man. He said that they knew
the mountain under the name of Bingöl Koch, or, translated, the Bingöl
caldron. They had no particular designation of the highest parts. When
I mentioned the three castles he reflected a little, and then answered
that the western eminence was known in old times as Bingöl Kala;
but with the other names he was quite unfamiliar. I see no reason on
that account to reject these designations. Kara Kala is well adapted
to express the prevailing sombreness of that peak with its dark and
broken ridge. Demir Kala may serve to remind us of what is probably
a historical fact, that the Great Timur, or Cold Steel, marshalled
his armies among these congenial surroundings, and here celebrated
his victories with women and wine and song. The statement, however,
of one traveller that the eastern summit consists of several storeys of
walls, put together by a human hand, must be regarded as fabulous. He
vouches for the fact, and adds that, according to what he learnt, an
iron door had been removed from the castle and taken to Khinis some
forty years previous to his visit. [271] He supposes the fortress to
have been erected by Timur. The manner in which the lavas have cooled
upon the rampart suggests the appearance of such a human structure
at certain points. But the feature is most noticeable just west of
Kara Kala, where the outline assumes the shape of two round towers.

To these names I should like to add one other, for which I have no
authority. Just below the western summit a bold, talus-strewn ridge
extends from the face of the cliff in a northerly direction, rising
as it proceeds into a tumbling mass of lava, and ending in a conical
eminence of the same material. Indeed it constitutes an inner wall of
the western basin. It may not be inappropriate to call this rampart
Aghri Kala, the rough or rugged castle.

The only eminence along the main ridge of a pointed and peak-like
character is the western summit, or Bingöl Kala (10,757 feet). Its
effect is heightened by the rapid decline and termination of the
parapet just west of this position, as well as by the increasing
flatness of the ridge as it extends towards the east after a gentle
descent. At the time of our visit this summit was completely free
of snow. On the north it breaks away with great abruptness to the
basin; but on the south it slopes off into that vaulted meridional
ridge which has been already mentioned during our passage across it
to our camp. The western summit can be reached with great ease from
the south or south-east, or along the edge of the main rampart. The
average gradient will not be more than 15°. It is strewn with talus,
like all these slopes; the actual summit is fairly level, and is
partially covered with blocks of lava. Following the top of the
rampart eastwards from Bingöl Kala, its general character is the
first feature which seizes the eye. On the south it presents an
evenly-vaulted slope, which is continued in an east-south-easterly
direction, almost in a straight line. On the north it is hollowed out
in the form of a cirque, which, bounded on the west by Aghri Kala,
and by Kara Kala on the east, has the appearance of a crater with
three standing sides. The particular feature of the rampart in the
direction of Kara Kala and beyond that eminence is the breadth of
the platform which it presents. At no other part is it so easy to
ride along it, as well as to scale it from the south. The northerly
slope of the shallow vaulting is always covered by a sheet of snow,
which descends into the cirque. The passage from the south into the
western basin lies west of Kara Kala, and is not difficult for unloaded
animals. Indeed it is the only pass across the Bingöl rampart, which,
further east, increases in the steepness of its northern face.

Kara Kala projects from the parapet some little distance towards the
north, at the head of its meridional ridge. But this feature is not
observable from the southern side of the mountain, where the rampart
is seen to pursue its long, straight course. The gradient of the
southern slope increases as you approach Demir Kala, but does not
exceed 23°. The platform along the summit gradually narrows, until
in Demir Kala it becomes an upstanding mass of blocks of lava which
must be climbed, stepping from block to block. The lava, which east
of Kara Kala has shown traces of obsidian, is somewhat scoriaceous
and in places weathers a brick red. [272] The summit is flat and
fairly free of boulders, which, however, are piled in a beach further
east. The level at Demir Kala (10,770 feet) is fairly well maintained
for some distance, and produces the bold effect of the horn on the
east. But the cliff, after turning northwards, soon comes to an end,
being separated from the bank-like continuation of the horn by a
narrow but passable cleft. This long, meridional bank composes the
eastern wall of the eastern cirque, which is bounded on the west
by the medial ridge from Kara Kala. The character of the rampart
in this eastern basin is much the same as in the western cirque,
although more uniform in point of height. From the south it has the
appearance of a straight and gently vaulted bank; from the north,
that of a curved outline with steep cliffs.

Just as Bingöl Kala is joined on the south to a meridional ridge, so
is Demir Kala in connection with another such outside parapet, which
continues the main rampart in a south-easterly direction, far beyond
the limits of the cirque. This parapet is beautifully vaulted on the
south-west, where it determines the drainage of the Gumgum Su. But on
the north-east it breaks away to the grassy ground outside the basin
with piles of boulders which are somewhat difficult to cross. Indeed
it was always a most laborious matter to reach the eastern cirque from
our camp. If we took the pass between the western summit and Kara
Kala, there was the medial ridge, with its beach-like terraces, to
surmount. If, on the other hand, we made our way up the south-western
face of the outer parapet, we encountered the difficult descent on
the north-eastern side, and, when this feat had been accomplished,
we were obliged to ride a long way north before it became possible
to cross the bank which confines the basin on the east. For a man
on foot it is feasible to descend the cliffs of the main rampart at
several points, and a horse may scramble through the cleft formed
by the break-off on the north of the wall of the eastern cirque. But
such an attempt is not less dangerous than the endeavour to lead an
animal up the snow-slope in that cirque. It seems an easy matter; for
the snow extends from the floor of the basin to the edge of the cliff,
which at the time of our visit was free from snow. But it nearly cost
us the lives of a zaptieh and several horses. When the gradient was
at its steepest the snow gave way, and the manner in which one horse
by a series of plunges reached the summit was a remarkable example
of the power of nervous energy.

It is plain from this description that the conception of the mountain,
as seen from the north, is likely to be considerably enlarged and
modified by a visit to its southern side. Instead of a single ridge we
have a series of ramparts, which describe a figure somewhat resembling
an H. The transverse bar of the letter represents the main parapet
with the three summits, Bingöl Kala, Kara Kala and Demir Kala. The two
uprights will correspond with the horns of the basin on the north,
and with the connecting ramparts on the south. A medial projection
should be added to the transverse bar, in order to include the
meridional ridge from Kara Kala. Finally the upright corresponding
with the northern horn on the west should be split into two short
arms. Of these the inner arm will represent Aghri Kala.

At the risk of becoming tedious, I have thought it well to insist on
these features, in order that our statement may enable the practised
reader to judge for himself whether Bingöl ought to be regarded as
a volcanic crater in the strict sense of the word. Before adducing
additional facts, which may point to a negative conclusion, I should
like to mention the explanation which appeared to us on the whole more
probable of the phenomena with which we are dealing. It is evident
that the latest emissions of lava were much more acid and viscous
than those which produced the plateau surface of the surroundings
of Bingöl. If we assume that all these lavas issued from fissures
rather than from a crater, then the formation of such ramparts
in the final stages may be readily explained. The molten matter,
welling up from its original vents, became too viscous to flow
far. It massed in the form of vaulted ridges along the axis of the
parent fissures, or in their neighbourhood. I have already noticed the
rounded nature of these various ramparts when seen from the south, as
from the standpoint of our second camp. The transverse parapet with
the principal summits has the appearance of a long, straight bank,
flanked at its extremities by two similar banks, which project towards
the south like wings. Look where you will, the slopes are gentle,
and strewn with fragments of lava, which in some places have the
appearance of loose tiles. Within the figure, thus formed, rise the
head waters of the Gumgum Su, collecting, with a network of streams,
both from the west and from the east. They combine at the head of
the great chasm, to flow through its shadowed depths towards the plain.

It is true that this vaulted and bank-like appearance of the ramparts
is not characteristic of any of the slopes towards the north. Indeed
the exact contrary is the case. But at this stage of the enquiry
we are introduced to a feature which is perhaps the most remarkable
of all these phenomena, and which it is surprising that none of our
predecessors should have observed. When I descended for the first time
into the western cirque, Oswald, who had been engaged there in taking
measurements with the telemeter, pointed out to me evident traces of
the action of ice. Quite close to the cliff on the south the bosses
of lava within the basin have been worn by a glacier moving towards
the north. Smooth on top, and with an almost flat surface upon the
south, they are rough and precipitous on their northern sides. The
rock is very distinctly striated, the striæ pointing in a northerly
direction. The feature continues and gains in definition as you follow
down the cirque. Between the bosses the ground is covered with turf
and oozes with water, which collects in pools or little tarns. Blue
gentians are found in abundance within these peaty hollows, while the
violets scent the air in the neighbourhood of the snow. Some distance
further, when you are already outside the limits of the cirque,
and have reached a level of about 9000 feet, the moraines commence
to form. We visited this district from the west, and made our way in
an easterly direction across the moraines. They were seen to consist
of a medial and two lateral moraines, of which that in the centre
proceeds from the extremity of the meridional ridge from Kara Kala,
and must have separated two glaciers, issuing one from either cirque
(Fig. 193). The lateral moraine upon the west seemed about in a line
with Aghri Kala; but a branch of the glacier must have flowed towards
north-west, for the extremity of that ridge has been cut down by the
stream of ice. This moraine is so pronounced that it is difficult to
realise that there are now no longer glaciers on Bingöl. On both sides
it is bounded by a lofty embankment of blocks of rock, embedded in
soil. The summit, which is broad, bristles with upstanding boulders,
and in the hollows there are a number of lakes and pools. A stretch
of level and grassy ground is interposed between this rampart and
the medial moraine, which shows a similar embankment on its western
side. A little river, collecting the drainage of the western cirque,
flows in the trough of this grassy depression. The lateral moraine
upon the east is in fact that great fan-shaped bank, which extends
northwards from the horn of the eastern cirque. Again in this basin
a branch of the glacier has diverged, and broken its way through
the cleft in its eastern wall. The floor of the cirque is much more
grassy than that of its neighbour on the west, but the masses of rock
are striated in a similar manner.

The principal reservoir for the ice and snow has been the broad
platform between Kara Kala and the western summit. Thence have issued
towards the north extensive fields of moving ice, while the melted
snow has poured into the hollow on the south of the platform and has
carved down the great chasm. We could not trace the action of ice
upon the rocks in that direction. I do not know whether we should be
justified in dating the disappearance of these glaciers as far back
as the glacial epoch. Striking evidence of the existence of a glacial
period in these countries has been collected by a modern traveller
in the highlands with their marginal region on the side of the Black
Sea. [273]

We are therefore justified in assuming that the abruptness of the
ramparts on the north, as well as the carving out of the main ridge
into cirques, is largely due to the erosive action of ice. Leaving
this subject, I would ask my reader to follow us in an excursion
to the interesting region on the south of the mountain. For perhaps
the most remarkable characteristic about Bingöl is the great plateau
which it has contributed to form; and the features of that plateau
which engrave themselves most deeply into the memory are the towering
cliffs with the chasm on the south.

As we surveyed the scene from our encampment--in which there was
not a trace of snow--the eye was taken naturally to two particular
points. One was a graceful cone, just at the head of the great chasm;
the other consisted of a pile of lava on the eastern side of this
gorge, and some little distance from its margin. It appeared to
emerge from the plateau at about its highest level. It is indicated
by the letter x on the plan. To reach it we were obliged in the first
instance to cross the intricate ridges and troughs through which the
streams find their way into the chasm. But beyond this troublesome
zone stretched the undulating table surface, strewn with stones or
covered with coarse grass. When we arrived at our landmark we found
the pile to be loftier than we expected; indeed its summit is the
best standpoint from which to overlook the country on the south and
east of Bingöl. The blocks of which it is composed are derived from a
lava which may be described as a basalt. They are full of magnetite,
affecting the compass. This basalt is part of a stream of the same
lava, which is traceable to the upstanding crags of the pile x,
as a probable point of emission. Towards the west the flow does not
appear to have extended for a great distance; but in the direction
of south-east it has travelled further, and has produced important
results. It connects the Bingöl and Khamur plateaus, being traceable
as far as the foot of a conical eminence on the latter mass. The
lava from the south-east rampart of Bingöl has also flowed in that
direction, while towards the peak x it has described a curve of
exquisite symmetry.

The view embraces that strange plateau on the west of the Khamur ridge
and the blue lakes which it supports. The slope of its crinkled surface
is towards the plain of Khinis, at its south-western or upper end. So
far as we could judge, the mass consists in the main of limestone,
capped by lava in the south. Descending from this eyrie I rode to
the edge of the cliff, in order to ascertain its height. I stood at a
level of 9240 feet, while that of Gumgum, a speck in the plain which
stretched from the base of the cliff, is about 4800 feet. On either
side, towards the chasm or towards the floor of the plain, the ground
was falling away with stupendous precipices. In the trough of the
abyss lay the Gumgum river, resembling several fine threads of silver.

Our return journey led us past the yaila of Mahmud beneath the
wall of the south-east rampart. It occupied an ideal position, in a
spacious meadow, and on the banks of the principal branch of the Gumgum
river. The chief's tent faced towards us on the opposite margin, as we
rode along the left bank of the stream. The goat-hair canvas, spread
with many supports over a wide area, divided up into compartments by
screens of osier, had the appearance of a roof with many gables. In the
shadowed recesses one observed a medley of luxurious cushions and of
household utensils of every kind. Women, gaily dressed, and unveiled,
although very bashful, mingled with the group of men, collected to
see us pass. The chief's son, a mere youth who had just returned from
six years' residence in a school at Galata (Constantinople), was
pacing to and fro in a remote part of the meadow, a picture of the
out-of-place. Round the tent of the chief, in a wide and respectful
circle, were ranged the much ruder tenements of the tribesmen--mere
pens of boulders with a strip of canvas overhead. The older women
had the weird and witch-like expression which one sees in the faces
of the Highland women in the background of a novel by Walter Scott.

Underlying the lava, and at the head of the great chasm, is placed
a bed of tuff. It forms the bulk of the beautiful cone already
mentioned, which has been preserved and invested with its peculiar
symmetry by a capping of hard lava. In the hollows about its base
yellow mullein grows in profusion, and campanula with its bell-shaped
flowers. Making our way over the col which joins the cone to the
plateau of our encampment, we proceeded to lead our horses up the
slope. But nothing would induce our zaptieh to take his animal with
him; he declared that such an act would be impious on the part of a
believer, for we were treading sacred ground. Indeed, when we reached
the summit, we found an enclosure of stones, protecting a human
grave. It was evidently a place of pilgrimage for the district. Our
attendant prostrated himself on the ground outside the boundary and
took from within it a handful of dust, which he preserved. I asked
him to whom he might be paying so much honour. He replied that it
was the grave of Goshkar Baba, or father shoemaker. The holy man
had in fact been shoemaker to the Prophet, and had therefore been
buried here centuries ago. When I enquired whether he had ever done
anything great during his lifetime besides making shoes, he answered,
"Bashkar yok"--"No, he did nothing else." From this eminence we could
see the basalt on the face of the cliff below x, overlying streams
of lava which were relatively shallow, and were inclined some 6° to
south-south-west. The layers on the western side of the chasm are
also thin, and slope in the same direction, with a gradient which
slightly increases as they approach the edge of the cliff.

It remains to notice some of the features of the panorama which expands
from the summits of Bingöl. The view comprises Palandöken, the Akh
Dagh, the plain of Khinis; Khamur, with Kolibaba; Sipan, Bilejan,
Nimrud. The patience even of an assiduous reader would be exhausted
by the attempt to draw its full meaning from this varied scene. We
may confine ourselves with more advantage to a particular segment of
the circle, taking our standpoint on the western summit, Bingöl Kala
(Fig. 194). I may mention that one day, while we were making our way
in that direction from our camp on the south of the rampart, Oswald
discovered, just behind the actual peak, a large stone with a cuneiform
inscription. It was lying on the ground, only distinguishable by an eye
like his from the adjacent blocks of lava. Over the almost obliterated
characters had been incised the figure of a cross, with a circle
at its upper end. This stone may have served to define a boundary,
both in the times of the Vannic and of the Armenian Kings. [274]

The scene which forms the subject of my outline sketch extends from
east-north-east round to west. The foreground includes the westerly
horn of the main rampart, with Aghri Kala, seen in perspective,
projecting into the cirque, and, just beyond that ridge, a bank of
detritus, probably due to the action of the glacier. The little lakes
on the right of the picture belong to the western cirque, and are seen
to send streams which tend to meet in the distance, and which flow at
the bottom of cañons into the plain of Khinis. Both this series and
the pools in the eastern cirque drain into the eastern Bingöl Su. They
are in fact the highest sources of the Murad or Eastern Euphrates,
and their waters find their way to the Persian Gulf. Looking further
into the landscape, we see the back of that long line of cliffs on the
further side of which lies the village of Kherbesor (see p. 252). It is
an important barrier in a geographical sense, for it constitutes the
parting between the head-waters of the Murad and the streams which
find their way to the Araxes. The outline rising on the north of
these cliffs belongs to a group of limestone hills, which extend to
the north-western extremity of the plain of Khinis, and to the pass
of Akhviran (a, a). In the background the bold profile which looms
upon the horizon represents the extension of the Palandöken heights.

The peak of Palandöken is a well-defined feature; and equally prominent
is the break-off in a cliff-like form of the high ground west of
the village of Madrak. The outline of that high ground is continued
for a long distance westwards (b, b), until it declines behind the
ridges in the west. Between Bingöl and that outline, which we may
call the Madrak line of heights, the land forms are insignificant and
vague. It is that country of rolling downs at a great elevation over
which we journeyed from Madrak to Kherbesor. I would ask my reader
to observe how the ridges in the west die out into that extensive
block of water-worn plateau. Let him follow the outline (c) from a
somewhat pyramidal summit on the east of Sheikhjik; or let him notice,
both in this drawing and in the one which I shall presently offer,
the direction of the Sheikhjik ridge (a), and its tendency to extend
into the watershed of the Araxes. West of Sheikhjik he sees quite a
sea of ridges; but in the middle distance all the forms are flat and
the surface even--the surface of the Bingöl plateau.

Bingöl! the thousand tarns--one grasps the significance of that
poetical name at this season of the year. The feature is largely due
to the peaty soil which has been deposited by the action of glaciers
in ancient times. The lakes and pools which collect the meltings of
the deep canopy of snow would be almost impossible to count. In the
foreground, between Aghri Kala and the horn of the western cirque,
lies such a conspicuous flash of blue water. I am inclined to regard
this particular pool as the source of the Araxes; for although it
be possible that one or other of the streams which rise outside the
rampart may have a slightly longer course, this source is probably the
most elevated of all. But the most interesting of all the features
in the middle distance is the outline, as seen from behind, of the
plateau itself (e, e). Its equality of surface is due to the liquid
nature of the lava--a grey, basaltic augite-andesite--and not to
flows of tuff. In the west it must fall away to a river valley,
separating it from the sea of ridges in that quarter which we noticed
from our first encampment on Bingöl. The outline in that direction
is in some places the edge of a cliff; but at others it assumes a
vaulted form. I shall presently show that this latter shape is due to
rounded hills of serpentine, which have acted as a dam to the lavas. A
hill of the same form is seen much further east, quite close to the
western cirque. Although we did not examine this particular eminence,
it is probable that it consists of the same old rock, representing the
former configuration of the land. The Bingöl plateau merges insensibly
into the highlands of Tekman, and the collective figure may be known
for geographical purposes as the Central Tableland.

But that long break-off upon the west to a river valley--with the wild
ranges, a solecism in the landscape, towering up upon its further
side--is such a strange and fascinating characteristic that, even
apart from its great geographical significance, it merits careful
study upon the spot. Let me therefore take my reader a distance of
many miles and place him upon the summit of a lofty hill at the head
of that valley, just west of the village of Gugoghlan. The position
is clearly indicated in my sketch from Bingöl Kala, and forms the
standpoint of my second sketch (Fig. 195). The hill itself is built
up of limestone--probably Eocene--overlying serpentine, and capped
by recent lava. On the left of the picture you see in perspective the
Bingöl rampart, with Bingöl Kala rising boldly at its western end. You
observe the serpentine hills damming up the lavas in two separate
zones. The break-off of the Bingöl plateau is now exposed in face,
and a conspicuous feature are the cliffs which it forms (e). The head
waters of the Araxes are fanning towards us in pronounced cañons,
deflected at first by the one zone of serpentines, and a little
further by the second zone. But it is the general level of the plateau
surface which in fact determines their new direction, and prevents
them flowing into the basin of the Euphrates. And this level is due
to the massing of the lavas against the bases of the serpentine hills.

Deep down in the valley below you meanders the Merghuk Su, on its
way to the Murad. It soon winds away from its almost southern course,
to thread the ranges, which already commence to rise from its right
bank, with a direction which will probably average south-west. What
a contrast between these ridges and the plateau on the east! They
have the appearance of stepping up to its very margin, for their
axis is about west-south-west and east-north-east. Tier upon tier
they rise, one behind another, extending into the far horizon on
the south-west. Their eastern limit, as seen in the perspective of
the drawing, is the bold mass, like a sentinel, of Sheikhjik. But
north of that mountain you observe the gentler outlines (b and c)
which were so prominent in the last sketch. The abrupt ending of
the outline b--the Madrak line of heights--figures as boldly in this
landscape as in that from the summit of Bingöl. And the way in which
both outlines die away into the block of the tableland is not less
clearly and unmistakably defined.

I might write many pages were I to pursue this subject further; I
must content myself with a statement in a very summary form of the
conclusions at which I arrived. In the first place it is misleading,
and indeed it is incorrect, to speak of a meridional line of elevation
with orographical significance as connecting Palandöken with Bingöl. It
is strange that such a practised observer as the great Abich should
have fallen into such a grave error. [275] The lessons which may
be derived from the landscape of this important region may, in this
connection, be grouped under two heads.

In the first place the fundamental line of elevation is that almost
latitudinal line with which we are so familiar, and which may be
specified as a west-south-west--east-north-east line. The lie of the
country is determined in the principal degree by the strike of the
stratified rocks. Between Bingöl and Palandöken the ridges in the west
tend to die out into a single block of elevated land. Further east this
central tableland becomes split up, and gives rise to mountains rising
on the margin of lake-like plains. Such mountains are represented in
a striking manner by the Akh Dagh; and we have already observed the
commencement of this transition in the outline a, as seen from Bingöl
Kala. But the country on the east still maintains its essentially
plateau-like character; while the region on the west and south-west of
Sheikhjik and the hill of Gugoghlan is continued in all its wildness
between the two branches of the Euphrates, into the districts of Kighi
and Terjan. The great height of the ridges points to the conclusion
that, in addition to the activity of denuding agencies, they owe their
characteristics to a more pronounced or less impeded operation of the
forces which have determined the elevation of the country as a whole.

In the next place it appears plain that, although volcanic action
has no doubt been a factor of considerable importance in producing
the level surface of the districts on the north, south, and east, the
tendency to a strongly pronounced plateau country is independent of
such action. A striking example of this tendency on a very large scale
may be derived from the manner in which the outlines north of Gugoghlan
mass together and die out into the region of Tekman. Throughout this
country, as elsewhere in Armenia, the lava streams have played an
important part, and have done more than any actual lines of volcanic
mountain-making to determine the drainage of the land.

A little incident of our stay on Bingöl may deserve to be recorded,
if only because it furnished us with an opportunity of admiring the
vast extent and strange brilliance of the heaven above us during a
whole summer's night. On the last day of our visit we gave orders to
our people to move our encampment across the rampart into the western
cirque. Oswald and I, accompanied by two or three zaptiehs, proceeded
to the eastern extremity of the principal ridge, and remained there,
mapping and drawing, until near sunset. Before it commenced to grow
dark we descended into the eastern cirque; but the light had already
faded before we could surmount the ridge from Kara Kala, and we became
involved among its crags and stones. For nearly an hour we groped our
way, leading our horses, and coming near to breaking their legs. When
we obtained a view over the snow-sheet and the tumbled bosses in the
western cirque, we searched in vain for any sign of our camp-fire. By
the light of a crescent moon we proceeded to the margin of the snow
at the foot of the cliff on the north of the basin. Even from this
eminence we could not discover any sign. We then rode down the cirque,
towards the open country; still not a trace of our people. The zaptiehs
endeavoured to discharge their rifles; and one man accomplished
the feat after several misfires. We ourselves filled the air with
the reports of our revolvers; but no answering signal came. We were
surprised at the absence of any Kurdish encampment in the neighbourhood
of the mountain. There was not a glimmer of the lights of a yaila
near or far. Was the tale of the frequency of such summer-quarters
on Bingöl a fable, or had the Kurds been scared away by the dread of
Suleyman Pasha, who might require them to make some show for his paper
regiments? Or had we courted an attack by dividing our forces, and were
our servants and our papers and our baggage at the mercy of thieves?

It was clearly not to much purpose debating such questions; we
had no alternative but to pass the night where we stood. Both were
clothed in the thinnest of garments; but our zaptiehs lent us their
overcoats, of such material as they were. We established ourselves
within a circle of loose boulders, which had probably been reared by
shepherds as a pen. The wind came sighing down from the snowfield
in the cirque, and blew through the apertures of the low wall. Our
poor horses shivered and starved. Oswald and I attempted sleep under
the partial cover of a small camp table which we had with us for our
mapping. It was to no purpose, for our limbs became numb. Meanwhile
the moon had vanished; but the heaven was still alight; one could
scarcely see the stars to greater advantage than from the open flats
of such a lofty platform. These last nights we had been observing
the advances of Jupiter to Venus--a stately and not too intimate
intercourse, as becomes gods and stars. Venus, the most engrossing of
all the dwellers in the firmament, a true mother of the inhabitants
of heaven, had been receiving the somewhat distant approaches of
Jupiter, and the wooer had almost mingled with his bride. To-night
they had travelled apart--we reflected upon the mournful omen, with
something of the impertinence of the astrologers of old who presumed
to connect the operations of the celestial bodies with the puny fate
of a kingdom or a king. Pacing to and fro, we realised the paradox of
perfect discomfort and keen pleasure. One of our zaptiehs appeared
to encompass the same result by surrendering his senses to quite an
orgy of ecstatic prayer. When at last the suffused splendour of the
Milky Way became pale, and the first flush of dawn was thrown over the
dim land forms, we emerged from our flimsy harbour and rode towards
the west. A little later horsemen were seen, coming towards us at a
dangerous speed over the sheet of snow and the rocky ground in the
south. They proved to be our escort, wild with excitement, and quite
speechless when they arrived. It is strange that none of the natives
have the smallest conception of locality; they had encamped miles away
from the appointed place. They had been riding all night in quest of
their charge, and had by fortune, as a last chance, extended their
search to the scarcely ambiguous position of our prescribed tryst.



CHAPTER XXII

HOME ACROSS THE BORDER RANGES


August 24.--We found our camp a long distance south of the western
summit, and, after a short sleep, resumed our journey. We simply
followed a compass course to the head of that river valley along which
the Bingöl plateau breaks off on the side of the west. The general flow
of the lava over which we rode was towards north-west. We crossed the
first zone of serpentine hills through a deep valley with heights on
either side. Beyond the passage we issued upon a lower plain of lava,
where the stream of molten matter had been diverted by the serpentines,
and had circled round them, flooding down into the plain. In the
section displayed by a river cliff within the limits of this region
we observed a bed of columnar lava some twenty feet in thickness,
overlying lavas to a depth of some eighty feet. Near this point we
reached the first village, the Kurdish settlement of Bastok. It is
placed upon one of the head streams of the Aras, which we forded,
and, not long after, arrived on the banks of the main channel at the
Kurdish hamlet of Shekan. The Aras had already become a little river,
and was known to the villagers under that name. We crossed it, leaving
it to flow off into an alluvial plain, along the marginal heights of
which we rode. This is the first plain in the proper sense of the word
through which the Araxes winds. It is situated at an altitude of about
7000 feet, and may be called, from a village on its northern confines,
the plain of Altun.

We discovered a Kurdish village at the eastern foot of the hill
which had been our landmark and point of course. It bears the name
of Gugoghlan. It fronts the plain of the Aras, which, on the north
of the hill, is only separated by a low lip of ground from the basin
of the Murad. Such is the habit of these water-partings. I remained
for two days in this village, drawing and mapping on the hill. Oswald
preceded me to Erzerum. Our journey thither led us across the central
tableland, a little west of the route pursued during our outward
march. I have already dealt with the general characteristics of the
region, and shall only add a short account of any fresh features.

Gugoghlan already belongs to the district of Shushar, while the
villages on the further side of the Sheikhjik mountain are included
in that of Kighi. The western and north-western sides of the Altun
plain have been flooded by a lava which appears to have issued
from the neighbourhood of Sheikhjik and also from the heights upon
its northern margin. Our way to Erzerum took us over this sheet of
lava. In a depression between two such flows we passed an extensive
yaila, belonging to Zireki Kurds--a tribe of which the main body live
about Diarbekr, and of whom these people are a colony. North of the
yaila we commenced the ascent of that latitudinal wall of mountain
which at once forms the limit of the plain of Altun, and sends the
Araxes off towards the east.

It consists of lava overlying lacustrine deposits, and the summit is
perfectly flat. You may ride in any direction until you are stopped
by a river valley, which will be deeply cut and bordered by commanding
heights. I had for guide an old and almost toothless Kurd, whom I had
instructed, with some misgivings as to his knowledge, to lead a course
as straight as possible to Erzerum. The usual route from Gugoghlan
would be by way of Madrak, keeping to lower levels but rather longer.

But at this season of the year when elevation is of no consequence,
the snow having long since disappeared, it is just as well to follow
the most direct line, and keep as high as possible and near the
water-parting. From one side of the flat vaulting the streams will
flow westwards, and from the other towards the east. We crossed
no less than six tributaries of the Araxes. Of these the first
three converged rather closely together, and they probably compose
the stream upon which is situated the village of Khedonun. Their
valley or valleys have lofty parapets which required to be turned. I
observed that the lavas upon the hillsides had in some places cooled
in a columnar fashion. The direction of the first and most imposing
of these valleys was towards south-south-east. North of the series
the country again became flat, and the views far-reaching; we were
in fact approaching the spine of the whole block of heights. Two new
branches were crossed, both flowing into a wide depression which we
overlooked in all its extent. They were separated by a considerable
stretch of very elevated land. Their situation points to the conclusion
that they take their waters to the stream which skirts the village of
Duzyurt. Making our way from one to the other, we rode at the foot of
outcrops of lava upon our left hand. Some were circular in form. Blue
gentians are found in the grassy places, and the more northerly of the
two streams is placed at a level of no less than 9400 feet. The highest
point along our route lay some little distance further north, and may
have been some 200 feet more elevated. It may be called the pass over
this plateau region. The block of heights is separated from those of
Palandöken by a depression, which is crossed by a saddle-shaped neck of
land. On one side of this vaulting water flows to the Euphrates, and
on the other to the Araxes. The affluent to the Araxes is one of the
branches of the Madrak river. We forded it near the head of the trough.

We did not pass a single village, not even a yaila, during our ride
from the encampment of Zireki Kurds to the Palandöken ridge. The
surface of the plateau consists of a slabby lava, which probably
overlies the limestone with no great depth. The lavas appear to have
issued from approximately east-west fissures at a time when the
country had been already carved out into the main features of its
present contour. Especially remarkable, as we neared the Palandöken
line of heights, was the whiteness of their face where the rock was
exposed. The limestone, which perhaps constitutes the bulk of that
block, is probably of Eocene age. We struck a course up the slope of
those heights a little west of the more westerly of the two forts;
and we issued into the so-called crater of Palandöken-Eyerli Dagh,
where we encamped by the margin of the first northward-flowing stream.

On the following morning I made the ascent of the peak of
Palandöken. The result of my test of boiling-point on this single
occasion gives it a height of 10,690 feet. It is therefore about at the
same level as the highest points on the Bingöl ramparts on the opposite
side of the whole wide basin. Like its close neighbour on the west,
the equally bold Eyerli Dagh, it is of eruptive volcanic origin. But
the cirque between the two has probably never been a crater; it seems
more likely that its peculiar form is mainly due to the erosive action
of snow and ice. We had not time to make any careful examination of
the wide area which the cirque covers. But this view was suggested
by all the phenomena which came under our notice. [276] The basin
has been cleared out by two gorges, and the matter is deposited on
the wide detrital fan which extends some distance into the plain of
Erzerum. A patch or two of snow were still visible in the hollows;
but the peak and steep, boulder-strewn sides of Palandöken were
completely free of snow.

From Erzerum to the coast we took a fairly direct route, travelling
by the pass of the Jejen Dagh (8600 feet) to Baiburt, and thence
by the passes of the Kitowa (8040 feet) and Kazikly (8290 feet)
Daghs to the monastery of Sumelas. [277] But the great height of
the passes and the general ruggedness of the country are against the
prospects of this route as a possible avenue of constant communication
between Trebizond and the Armenian fortress. A future railway will
probably follow the devious course of the existing chaussée by way of
Gümüshkhaneh, or will strike a direct course for the seaboard, issuing
at the port of Rizeh. [278] But to the traveller who is in search of
romantic scenery one may confidently recommend the summer road which
we adopted. The passage of the first barrier will afford him a near
view of the beautiful peak of the Jejen; while the later journey lies
among the summits of the Pontic alps and among some of their wildest
glens. The last stage will introduce him to one of the most remarkable
valleys in this or any other land. He should endeavour to arrange his
visit during his return homewards, when the features of the tableland,
with their majesty of form but bareness of surface, are freshly graven
upon the mind. The contrast to that landscape which he will find in
the Vale of Meiriman is at once sudden and complete. Vegetation of
bewildering beauty takes the place of grandeur of outline; and only
the impressive scale upon which Nature has moulded her work in Asia
remains constant to the end.



CHAPTER XXIII

GEOGRAPHICAL


My purpose in the present chapter is to collect the threads of that
part of the narrative which was occupied with the natural features,
and to endeavour to weave them together into a composite but single
fabric, capable of being appreciated as a whole. In the pursuit of
this object I shall postulate familiarity on the part of my reader
with the contents of the companion chapter dealing with the same
subject which belongs to my first volume; and it is not without
misgiving that I compare the scantiness of my present material with
the multitude of facts with which the researches of Hermann Abich
have enriched our knowledge of the Russian provinces. I am dependent
almost entirely upon the gleanings of my own journeys and of those
accomplished by my friends within quite recent years; and it has
been impossible to commence the writing of this chapter before the
completion of the map embodying these results. What it may, perhaps,
be hoped without excessive presumption is that the framework, at least,
of our subject, the geography of South-Western or Turkish Armenia, can
now be established with some degree of certainty; and that succeeding
travellers may be enabled to recognise at a glance the more imperfect
parts instead of losing themselves in the almost unknown or falsely
known. [279]

No better standpoint could be selected from which to commence a survey
of the geography than the spine of that range whence we descended
into Turkish territory during our journey southwards from Kagyzman
(Vol. I. Ch. XX. p. 409, and Ch. XXI. p. 436). It carries the present
frontier between the Russian and Turkish Empires, and in fact divides
the area of Armenia into two parts. In a political sense it forms
a boundary of considerable significance, shutting off Russia from
the waters which issue in the Persian Gulf. More than once have her
victorious armies flooded across this barrier, and not less often have
they been compelled by the provisions of the ensuing peace to withdraw
to its further side. The length of the range, its ruggedness and the
relative height of the passes, compared with the plains on either
flank, are features which must have operated throughout history to
invest it with an importance unrivalled by the other systems which
furrow the surface of the Armenian tableland. From the Kuseh Dagh
(11,262 feet) in the west to Little Ararat (12,840 feet) in the east is
a distance of nearly 100 miles; and throughout that space the chain
is made up of such lofty peaks as the Ashakh Dagh (10,723 feet),
Perli Dagh (10,647 feet), Sulakha Dagh (9644 feet) and Khama Dagh
(11,018 feet). The passes reach from 7000 to 8500 feet; while the
level of the plain of the Araxes does not exceed 3000 feet, nor that
of the plain of Alashkert 5500 feet. In appearance the barrier as a
whole resembles the mountains of the peripheral regions; there are
the same deep valleys, jagged outline, precipitous slopes. It seems
some daring invasion of those mountains into the plateau country; and
the semblance is accentuated by the beds of marl along its northerly
base into which the long transverse parapets plunge (Vol. I. Fig. 106,
p. 419). Highly crystalline rocks, such as diabase, and even syenite,
of which the spine of the more westerly portion is probably composed,
have played the principal part in its configuration, where recent
eruptive action has not built up a sequence of volcanic fabrics, such
as Kuseh Dagh, Perli Dagh, the peaks about Lake Balük, the Great and
the Little Ararat.

This range, to which collectively we may apply the name of Aghri
Dagh or Ararat system, constitutes the principal intermediate line of
elevation between the northern and the southern zones of peripheral
mountains. It has been subjected to intense folding pressure, and
during the process of bending over from an east-north-easterly to a
south-easterly direction a partial fracture of the arc it describes
has taken place. From the western shore of Lake Balük, an upland
sheet of water lying at a level of 7389 feet, we are, perhaps,
justified in tracing the extension of one branch of the system along
the water-parting between the Murad and the Araxes south-east to the
Tendurek Dagh, and through that volcano into the line of hills which
divides the basin of Lake Van from the streams which find their way
into the Araxes. Thence the elevation may be followed into the southern
peripheral region, forming, as it were, a splinter from the chain
of Zagros which has struggled upwards through the plateau country to
its very heart. The prevalence of crystalline rocks, which have been
classed by Loftus as granite, has been attested along the inner edge
of Zagros all the way from near Khorremabad in Persia past Hamadan
to the sources of the Great Zab; and they extend from the western
borders of Lake Urmi at least as far as the district of Bayazid. [280]
It seems probable that they are in connection with the granite rocks
of the Aghri Dagh, where they are found to the west of the Perli Dagh
along the axis of this northern intermediate system. [281]

The more northerly and principal branch in an orographical sense would
appear to consist almost exclusively of recent volcanic mountains,
stretching from Perli Dagh in an east-south-easterly direction to
the Pambukh Dagh, west of Great Ararat. In this neighbourhood the
line is taken up by the fabric of Ararat, raising the barrier by slow
stages to nearly 17,000 feet, and having an axis from north-west to
south-east. [282] The sequence comes to an end in the Little Ararat,
whose slopes descend on three sides to fairly level plains. An
interesting feature about the range in its more westerly portion are
the outbreaks of andesitic lava along its base upon the north. These
eruptions appear to have culminated in the peak of Takjaltu (8409
feet) near Kulpi, which forms a landmark to the districts on that
side. Thence the fissure which gave issue to the andesite may be
traced westwards, keeping parallel to the chain. The eruptions have
disturbed the sedimentary rocks, and their incidence can be certainly
attributed to the Miocene period. [283] Further east the upwellings
of lava along the slopes of the mountains have all the appearance of
having been discharged into a sheet of water spread over the surface
of the Ararat region. [284]

West of the Kuseh Dagh, the bell-shaped mountain, this intermediate
line of elevation may be plainly followed upon the map along the
southern confines of the plain of Pasin through the limestones which
the Araxes threads in a landscape of savage grandeur before its entry
upon the level expanse. From the left bank of the river the heights
are continued for many a mile, until they are distinguished by the
Palandöken-Eyerli Dagh volcanic system (10,694 feet) just south of
Erzerum. A slight inclination southwards through the Karakaya Dagh
into the volcanic Keupek Dagh, and further south into the Khach Dagh,
the southern boundary of the province of Terjan, takes the line with
clear definition through the Girdim Dagh and the Baghir Dagh into the
lofty and extensive barrier of the Merjan-Muzur Dagh (about 12,000
feet), facing the plains about Erzinjan. The progress of the elevation
across the Euphrates through Asia Minor to the Mediterranean appears
to be indicated on the map of Kiepert by the Sarichichek Dagh, west
of Egin, whence it is probably protracted between the Taurus and the
Anti-Taurus chains. The Anti-Taurus would appear to be represented in
Armenia by the system which enters the country in the Chardaklu Dagh
(long. 39, lat. 39.55), and extends in the form of an elevated block
of tableland through the Sipikor Dagh, Dadian Dagh (11,000 feet),
Kop Dagh into the Dümlü Dagh, north of Erzerum, and the Chorokh region.

The importance of the orographical system which we have now traced from
Ararat to Muzur Dagh, and from Lake Balük to the Zagros range, may be
appreciated in a geographical sense by one or two reflections. In
the first place it provides the natural frontier between the
country about Lake Van and the Persian province of Azerbaijan. This
frontier may probably be regarded as the natural eastern boundary
of Armenia during its course from behind Bayazid to the Avrin Dagh,
overlooking the valley of the river of Kotur. At the present day
it forms the Turko-Persian border; while the more northerly branch,
which effects a junction in the neighbourhood of Lake Balük, divides
the Russian and Turkish Empires. As the most pronounced constituent
of the Asiatic structural design within the limits of the tableland,
the system carries over the Tauric lines of elevation into those
which have determined the configuration of the Iranian highlands. It
encompasses this result in a most impressive manner, standing up
from the plateau region with precipitous slopes on either side and
suggesting to the mind the conception of a backbone to the country
as a whole. It is at this point that in the Shatin or Aghri Dagh it
effects the bend over into Persia, but not without partial fracture
and consequent dislocation. At the same time we should be mistaken
in attributing to the system functions analogous to those of the
mountains of the peripheral regions. Even the Aghri Dagh is deprived
of many of the qualities essential to a barrier by its narrowness
and by the extension of the open plains on either flank. The border
between the Lake Van basin and Azerbaijan consists of a line of hills
rather than of mountains in the proper sense. The extension of the
elevation along the southern confines of the plains of Pasin and of
Erzerum takes the form of the lofty rim of the central region of the
tableland, and not of a mountain range. That term might, perhaps,
be applied to the cretaceous heights of the Merjan-Muzur Dagh; but
these again are probably due to the resistance of the Dersim block,
the plateau-like country which they limit upon the north.

I have already traced the course of the mountains of the northern
peripheral region, the effective barrier between Armenia and the coast
of the Black Sea, throughout their prolongation upon the confines
of the tableland, and have drawn the natural frontier inwards in the
neighbourhood of Ispir across the valley of the Chorokh to the northern
border heights of the plain of Erzerum (Vol. I. Ch. XXI. p. 431). The
analogous zone upon the south is composed by the main chain of Taurus,
separating the highlands from the low-lying plains of Mesopotamia
and buttressing them up on that side. This chain appears to have
succeeded in accomplishing the curve into the Iranian direction
without undergoing fracture to any material extent. The symmetry of
the arc described as seen from the plains about Diarbekr has already
enlisted our admiration (ibid. p. 424). The spine of the range may be
followed along the southern shore of Lake Göljik to the Palu Dagh,
east of the town of Palu. Thence it is taken along the plain of
Chabakchur and the left bank of the Murad to the confines of the plain
of Mush. Conspicuous with sharp peaks which are seldom free from snow,
it stretches past the depression of Mush into the landscape of Lake
Van, where it recalls the sombreness of the Norwegian coast. Through
the Karkar Dagh (long. 42.47), and, further east, through the Bashit
Dagh, west of Bashkala, it makes steps southwards to the threshold
of the basin of the Great Zab; and the elevation may be traced on
the further side of the river in the peaks of the Jelu Dagh, said to
attain a height of between 13,000 and 14,000 feet. [285]

An impressive feature of this Taurus range, and one which ought not to
escape the attention whether of geographers or of political students,
is the manner in which it appears to have sunk down along its southern
edge between the 39th and 42nd degrees of longitude. In places
the girdle of mountains becomes so narrow that its effectiveness
as a barrier is much impaired. From the town of Arghana, which
must lie almost at the southern foot of the chain, it is a direct
distance of not more than 28 miles to the confines of the plains
about Kharput. These may be attained from Diarbekr on the lowlands
without encountering a greater altitude than less than 5000 feet. The
position of the town of Haini (2800 feet) appears to correspond to that
of Arghana; and thence the Murad may be reached in 22 miles direct
by a pass of only 4200 feet. In such a climate heights like these
are quite insignificant, and they would not offer at any season an
obstacle of much importance to an army operating from the lowlands in
the direction of the Armenian plains. This sinking-down of Taurus has
been accompanied, as indeed one might expect, by volcanic action on a
considerable scale. The Karaja Dagh, which lies to the south-west of
Diarbekr, is not a mountain of much relative height. You may ride at a
trot across its long-drawn undulations, admiring the sea-like expanse
of the plains around. Yet it represents an extensive outpouring of
lavas in recent geological times. It would appear to be in connection
with some of the greatest of Armenian volcanoes, and with a string
of depressions extending across the plateau. The line may be easily
recognised through Nimrud and Sipan to Tendurek and Ararat.

With the exception of the Dersim block, lying to the south of the
Merjan-Muzur Dagh, which has not yet been satisfactorily explored,
the remaining lines of elevation within the limits of the tableland
are probably for the most part derived from the Taurus system. In this
connection it is most interesting to take due note of the phenomenon
that, side by side with the results of the later earth movements which
have most largely determined the existing configuration of the land,
an older movement may be discerned with a wide extension in Turkish
Armenia, rearing mountains along a south-west--north-east line. We
ourselves remarked this phenomenon on an impressive scale in the Akh
Dagh, an elevation of highly marmorised limestone, which may well be
older even than the Cretaceous period. It rises up on the north of
the plain of Khinis (Ch. VIII. p. 186, Fig. 159), which it confines
in an east-south-easterly direction. Though we were unable to test the
strike of the stratification, the appearance of the ridges of which it
is composed almost demanded the conclusion that they were originally
members of a series of heights with a north-easterly course. Even as
far east as the region to the south-west of Lake Van, where the Taurus
is pursuing a general trend towards east-south-east, the strike of the
older rocks was ascertained to be north-east. A glance at the map will
show that the heights which confine the course of the Gunek Su pursue
a north-easterly direction. Those on the right bank, extending to the
basin of the Kighi or Peri Su, may be clearly traced into the Taurus
on the west of Palu, to be represented further south by the Chembek
Dagh and Mastikan Dagh, constituents of Taurus to the south-west
of Kharput. In the opposite direction the line may not unreasonably
be regarded as extending beneath the volcanic accumulations of the
Bingöl Dagh through the Akh Dagh into the hills confining the plain of
Alashkert upon the south, known as the Mergemir or Khalias Dagh. The
younger movements may find expression in the present trend of the two
last-named systems, and, further south, in the Köshmür Dagh, Shaitan
Dagh and Javresh Dagh, mountains through which the Kighi Su breaks in
a narrow defile after leaving the Khindris Ova or plain. These last
extend with impressive orographical distinction to the south-western
edge of the Bingöl plateau.

The Köshmür Dagh effects a junction with the mountains of the Dersim;
and it would almost seem as if that region had refused to submit to
the folding pressure, causing the earth waves to work round it and,
like the plateau of Azerbaijan, on the east of Armenia, favouring
fracture rather than subordination in any complete sense to the general
structural laws. [286] Yet I cannot doubt that the Dersim should be
included within the limits of the country which forms the subject of
the present enquiry. The name appears to be applied more strictly to
the mountainous region lying to the east of the upper reaches of the
Muzur Su, between that river and the town of Kighi Kasaba. But it may
be used to embrace also the country to the south of the Merjan-Muzur
Dagh, as far west as the great bend of the Western Euphrates and
up to the right bank of the Murad on the south. Separated from the
important Turkish military station at Erzinjan by a range of mountains
covered with snow during six months in the year, it slopes gradually
towards the river on its southern confines, well wooded in many parts,
abounding in minerals, but broken and rugged especially in the northern
and eastern districts. The original home of an Armenian population,
who probably entered their historical seats from the west, it is dotted
over with the ruins of Armenian churches, monasteries and villages,
and is mainly but sparsely inhabited by Kizilbash Kurds. [287] The
natural boundary between Armenia and Asia Minor is the course of
the Western Euphrates between the town of Kemakh, the burial-place
of the Armenian Arsakid kings, and its passage through Taurus below
Keban-Maden. North of the Euphrates the line may be drawn in a more
or less arbitrary manner from above Egin to the mountains of the
northern peripheral region.

The boundary of Taurus is clearly defined from one end of Armenia
to the other, describing a symmetrical curve along the threshold
of the Armenian highlands, and affording a number of standpoints
whence the contrast may be appreciated between the plateau country
and the peripheral mountains. A string of great plains extend on
its inner or northern side, but plains quite different in character
from the lowlands about Diarbekr, and framed in a landscape never
wanting in the long-drawn outlines of the loftier levels. The plain
of Kharput, with an altitude of something over 3000 feet, commences
the series on the west. It is reached from the west and the south
by a number of easy approaches, the Tauric barrier being readily
surmountable in this neighbourhood. The town is built upon a hill,
not far south of the Murad, on the northern confines of the plain;
and the old castle overlooks the expanse at a difference in level
of about 1000 feet. Various estimates assign a population of from
13,000 to 25,000 souls to this ancient Armenian borough; and, although
the Armenians are in great minority in the city, they have a large
preponderance among the inhabitants of the surrounding region. It
has been estimated that not less than from 130 to 150 villages are
situated in the vicinity. The vine flourishes and is cultivated at
this moderate elevation; and the dwellings are for the most part
constructed of mud and brick with two storeys, in striking contrast
to the unhealthy underground burrows in which the peasantry cheat the
rigour of an Armenian winter over the greater portion of the area
of the tableland. Pear and plum trees grace the outskirts of the
settlements, and the mulberry grows in such profusion that the silk
crop is often of considerable value. Kharput has become a centre of
American missionary effort--on the whole a salutary and civilising
influence in these lands. Their educational activities are represented
by a well-equipped institution founded in 1876 and bearing the name
of Armenia College. Thither flock the Armenian youth from all parts
of the country, to grow up beneath the example of the most progressive
of Western peoples. Within recent years the value of that example has
somewhat diminished in their eyes, owing to the impunity with which
the organisers of Palace policy in Constantinople have applied the
torch to the property of American citizens and the ban of the censor
to the loftiest creations of Western literature. These are little
misunderstandings which will disappear.

A fairly level country extends from the territory of Kharput eastwards
to the confines of Palu. The Murad wanders in many channels over the
expanse, approached at an interval which is always diminishing by
the Tauric barrier. The river is forded to the right bank before the
castled rock is reached, past which it flows in a single stream. It
washes on three sides the steep declivities of the platform upon which
the town is built. Palu is described to me as a thriving borough
with about 2000 houses, which gives a population of from 10,000 to
12,000 souls. Six hundred are said to belong to Armenian families
and the remainder to Kurdish people. A bridge with eight arches and a
length of 190 yards connects the place, just to the east of the loop
described by the river, with the opposite or left bank. On the north
extends a plain in connection with that of Kharput and productive
of abundant crops. Rock chambers and a cuneiform inscription of the
Vannic king, Menuas, recording his conquests and emblazoned with
the name of Khaldis, his supreme god, remind the traveller that he
is already approaching the centres of that old civilisation which
existed before the Armenians, and was perhaps the highest that these
lands have known. [288]

From Palu a fair track leads through Temran into the Khindris plain,
and thence to Erzerum. The passage of the Shaitan Dagh into the plain
may be effected at different points, but the pass to Lichig has an
elevation of over 8000 feet. The Government are proposing to carry
their new carriage-road between Kharput and Erzerum through the gorge
of the Kighi Su. Two routes are offered between Palu and the next
great plain at the foot of Taurus, comprised within the territory of
Chabakchur. The upper route proceeds through Khoshmat to Chevelik
in the valley of the Gunek Su, crossing a mountainous region and
attaining elevations of 6000 to 7000 feet above the sea. [289] The
lower follows the gorge of the Murad and is more in use during winter,
but it is described in no very favourable terms. The narrows commence
just east of Palu and extend to Chabakchur. A waterfall brings to
an end the navigation of the river, which is conducted with no small
difficulties by means of rafts. When at length the plain is reached
communications become better; and the valley of the Gunek Su affords
an easy approach to Erzerum, though one which would not be agreeable
during winter. Between Chabakchur and the plain of Mush the Murad is
again confined in a gorge, and its course is still requiring to be
explored. A mule track is forthcoming, which keeps close to the river,
passing through the district of Genj. I am informed that it would be
impossible to convert into a good road. The more usual route is by
Menaskut, entering the plain below Surb Karapet after traversing a
mountainous but well-wooded country.

One may say in general terms of the extensive region we are now
leaving that the pleasant plains along its southern margin are by no
means the dominant feature. The territory lying between the two great
rivers, the Western and the Eastern Euphrates, which is bounded on
the north by the Merjan-Muzur Dagh with its continuation eastwards in
the Baghir Dagh, Girdim Dagh and Khach Dagh; and on the east by the
westerly edge of the Bingöl plateau and the water-parting from Bingöl
to Palandöken, the mountain landmark just south of Erzerum--all this
area, measuring some 140 miles from west to east and on the average
50 miles from north to south, is intersected by a sea of mountains,
threaded, indeed, by considerable streams, but always difficult and
in winter almost impossible to cross. The constant acclivity towards
the north, the height of the barrier on its northern confines, and
the indifference of the approaches from the east combine to shut it
off from the stream of human movement, which is diverted into other
channels. We can scarcely understand the history of these countries
without appreciating this fact. Be the movement from east to west
or from north to south, the main current is sure to eddy along
the outskirts of this territory, either pursuing the broad avenue
of the valley of the Western Euphrates, or turning aside from the
plateau region and flooding across the peripheral mountains into the
lowlands of Mesopotamia. As might be expected under such conditions,
the country is for the most part under little control. Strange people
who are classed as Kurds, but speak a dialect called Zaza, and for the
most part profess a liberal religion which holds the scales between
Christianity and Islam, compose the bulk of the inhabitants in the
mountainous parts. The Government works from the upland plains, of
which there are many and of ample extent, and from such centres as
Kighi Kasaba and Pülümer. If my reader will turn to my sketch from
the hill of Gugoghlan (Fig. 195, p. 373), he may realise at a glance
the rugged nature of this region and the contrast which it offers to
the normal surface features. It comprises the ridges in the west and
south-west of the panorama; and the Merghuk Su, which meanders towards
them, is the name of the head waters of the Kighi Su, issuing in the
plains about Kharput. Travellers praise the woodlands which clothe
great parts of the country, though they were not visible from the
standpoint of my drawing.

The next great plain at the foot of Taurus derives its name from the
town of Mush, built against the wall of the range. It extends from
north-west to south-east for a distance of over 40 miles, crossed at
its lower end by the wandering stream of the Murad, to which it sends
a dull and almost stagnant tributary. How clean the line of Taurus
stands out on the southern margin of this flat and almost limitless
expanse! Under happier human conditions the plain would soon become
a garden and granary, favouring the vine and the luscious growth of
the tobacco plant as well as all kinds of cereals. At the present
day marshes extend over a great part of the area, and the Armenian
peasantry--one of the brawniest and most sturdy in the world--have
been reduced by the excesses of the Kurds to abject indigence. Mush
is in communication at all seasons of the year with the great
grain-growing districts of Bulanik and Khinis, and with the plains
of Pasin and Erzerum. It is little more than a step--indeed a step in
the literal sense--up to the fertile territories on the north of Lake
Van. Ready access is always forthcoming through the Bitlis passage to
the Mesopotamian lowlands. The Mush plain represents a considerable
subsidence of the plateau region, the average elevation being only
4200 feet. Thence you pass across the dam formed by lavas from Nimrud
to the much higher level of Lake Van (5637 feet). That inland sea,
with the gulf-like extension of the even area up the valley of the
Khoshab, the district of Hayotz-dzor, forms the appropriate termination
of the string of level spaces outspread at the base of the chain which
comes from the Mediterranean during its passage along Armenian soil.

In the companion chapter of the first volume I have endeavoured
to suggest the characteristics of the mountains of the northern
peripheral region. The corresponding zone upon the south which is
occupied by Taurus is distinguished by many similar features. There
are the same sharp peaks, precipitous slopes, narrow valleys and
swift streams and rivers, composing a landscape which, except for
the greater scale of the phenomena, is essentially and constantly
alpine in character. Unlike our Alps but like the barrier on the
side of the Black Sea, one valley is ever higher than the trough
which lies behind it, each crest more lofty than the last, as you
journey towards the edge of the tableland whether from the coast
of the northern waters or from the alluvial flats which extend to
the Persian Gulf. Of moisture there is less among these southern
mountains, and we miss the exuberance of the Pontic vegetation. But
forests of dwarf oak relieve the sternness of the scenery, and the
knots or whorls on the trunks of the numerous walnut trees sustain
an industry which attracts the most adventurous of native traders,
causes them to sojourn in these wild districts, and enables them to
supply the markets of Europe with excellent material for veneering
purposes. The summits attain their greatest elevation in the Jelu Dagh,
a group of peaks just east of the valley of the Great Zab which are
at least as high as 13,000 feet. But by the time the summer is well
advanced the landscape is almost free from snow. West of the Zab a
labyrinth of valleys feed the long course of the Bohtan Su across
the mountainous belt. The barrier has more than trebled in lateral
extension since confining the territories of Kharput and Palu. Even
the Tigris, which has been idly spreading over the vast alluvial
flats about Diarbekr, is compelled to become a mountain stream. Above
the primeval village of Hasan Keif it enters the narrow gorge which
pierces the foot of Taurus as he reaches out into the plains in the
hill range of Midyat. It is in that gorge that the Bohtan effects the
confluence; and well I remember the roar of the tributary and the
genuflexions of my companions as the swirling water eddied around
our raft. The Tigris is henceforward a noble river at all seasons,
and when Jezireh is soon passed its brief activity is over and it
luxuriates in open spaces till reaching the Gulf.

All this alpine country between the edge of the tableland and the
plains of Mesopotamia, which is watered by the numerous constituents
of the Tigris, is the original and natural home of the Kurdish people,
the true Kurdistan or Kurd-land. These shepherds love the mountains
as the Arabs affect the plains; but they need the warm plains during
the winter season when their fastnesses are covered with snow. They
descend to the foot of the chain with their numerous flocks and herds,
and camp on the lower course of some southward-flowing tributary
or even upon the banks of the great river. The winter climate of
the lowlands is temperate and delicious; the long Kurd with his
loose limbs, hollow cheeks and beak nose meets the neat and nimble
Arab. The coarse but perky little highland horse is watered from
the same flood to which the Arab leads the graceful creature prized
beyond all other possessions, of skin like satin, limbs like ivory,
and head which is the supreme embodiment of high courage, docility
and intelligence. The noiseless raft surprises a group of Kurdish
women bathing quite nude upon the margin of the sandy bed. A man is
watching over them, and they seem without concern. Two specks are
descried upon the bosom of the waters; the current brings them nearer;
they are swimmers from the opposite bank with the chest supported on
an inflated skin. Within a few yards of your calek they emerge upon
the bank, Arab maidens who would delight a sculptor with their slim
forms resembling deer, and who have never learnt the sin of human
nakedness. Slowly they free the air from the buoyant skins, unbind
the bundle on their heads containing their loose cotton garment,
and make their way to an invisible village or encampment.

When summer comes the annual migration to the recesses of the mountains
has taken place, and whatever Kurds are not detained in the lowland
villages, which are fairly numerous in spite of the aversion of
the tribal Kurd to a life within walls, have already ended their
brief sojourn in the country of the Arabs and are stretching their
goat-hair tents upon the upland pastures. Streams of cattle, sheep,
horses and goats obstruct the passes; the shepherds have doffed their
felt cloaks and clamber over the boulders, their women beside them,
mounted or on foot. The glades and gorges become bright with red and
blue cottons, and Kurdish girls with comely faces and white ankles are
seen on the mountain paths. Long-drawn shouts are carried far across
the hiss of the torrents, and wurra, wurra! or ho, ho! announce the
locality of the speaker or awake the attention of callous ears. The
Kurd is a picturesque and welcome presence among these solitudes,
and it is only when he has been severed from his natural surroundings
that he becomes odious and an enemy of the human race.

Of the principal communications across Taurus with the tableland
of Armenia I have already glanced at those connecting Diarbekr
with Kharput and Erzerum through Arghana, and with Erzerum through
Haini. The latter is a direct and, in spite of the great elevation
of the country which it traverses between the plain of Altun and the
northern capital, nevertheless a promising route. Mush plain may be
reached from Diarbekr by way of Kulp and the Gozme Gedik Pass (6645
feet). But between this approach and the Bitlis passage the country is
ill-controlled, nor am I aware of any favourable and beaten tracks. The
Bitlis passage represents the main avenue between the lowlands and the
country about Lake Van (Ch. VI. p. 148); from Diarbekr it is entered by
way of Zokh and from Mosul through Sert. I shall not stay to discuss
the various more or less direct routes across the mountains between
Sert and the city of Van; nor can I speak from personal knowledge or
even conjecture of those which conduct to Van from Jezireh-ibn-Omar,
or from Mosul by the valley of the Great Zab. [290] The entire region
to the south and south-east of the great lake--Khizan, Mukus, Shatakh,
Nurduz--has been scoured in recent years by various travellers whose
experiences have not to my knowledge as yet appeared in print. [291]
I should now propose to dismiss this part of my subject, dealing
with the zones of peripheral mountains and the intermediate lines of
elevation upon the surface of the tableland which they enclose; and
to bring under review some of the remaining features characteristic
of the Armenian highlands in their westerly extension from the spine
of the Ararat system to the confines of Asia Minor.

Hitherto our study of the orography of this Tauric Armenia has been
mainly occupied--it is interesting to recall the fact--with lines
of folding of the earth's crust. Indeed the country as a whole has
not been subjected to recent volcanic action in the same degree as
the plateau regions lying to the north of the spinal mountains--the
territories of Akhaltsykh, Ardahan, Akhalkalaki, Alexandropol and
Kars. At the same time it has not escaped the operation of these
agencies; nor have they worked upon a less impressive scale. Be
it lavas flooding over the sedimentary deposits and levelling the
inequalities of the ground--what more startling manifestation could
be offered of the process than the Bingöl plateau with its piled-up
layers of lava and tuff? Or if volcanoes in the strict sense be matched
against volcanoes, there are Nimrud and Sipan to enter the lists with
Alagöz and Ararat. Several mountains which are due to eruptive action
have been added to the map in the course of my own journeys. Such are
Bilejan and Kartevin. The roll will be increased as our knowledge is
carried further of the districts on the west of Bingöl and Palandöken.

A striking analogy in some respects to the Russian territories which I
have just specified is provided by the surface features of the Bingöl
plateau, with its continuation northwards in the shape of a deeply
eroded block of land to the confines of the plains of Erzerum and
Pasin. This extensive region lies about south-west of the corresponding
area of rectangular shape within the Russian frontier. It performs
the same function of a roof to the adjacent countries; and just as
the one stage gives birth to the Kur and the Arpa Chai, so the other
feeds with countless channels the earliest course of the Araxes and
contributes the largest proportion of the waters of the Murad. The
streams which decline from its north-westerly extremities swell the
volume of the Western Euphrates. Built up on the south with lavas
and tuffs to the extent of thousands of feet, it has throughout been
flooded with volcanic matter. Taken in relation with the general
structure of Tauric or Turkish Armenia, we may apply to this elevated
stage of the plateau country the designation of the Central Tableland.

My reader is already familiar with the characteristics of the
region--the basin-like appearance, the long parapets on the northern
and southern edges, in the one case culminating in the volcanic peaks
of Palandöken (10,694 feet) and Eyerli, in the other distinguished
by the eminences of Bingöl (nearly 10,800 feet). The limits of the
Bingöl plateau are clearly defined on three sides, and may readily
be recognised on our map. On the north it merges insensibly into the
Shushar and Tekman districts, though at some points, as, for example,
the cliffs just south of Kherbesor, lines of demarcation may be laid
down. How the waters of this plateau converge together in the shape
of two fans, as they are precipitated from the highest levels towards
the north and towards the east, burying themselves ever deeper into
the volcanic soil! The one group is collected in the plain of Khinis,
and the other by the course of the Araxes between the plain of Altun
and the narrows on the north of Kulli. There in the hollow of the
basin the levels are still lofty--the Altun plain with about 7000 feet
and Kulli with about 6000. Ascend to the table surface from the beds
of the rivers, and you register heights which range between 7000 and
at least 9000 feet above the sea. A country with down-like outlines,
composed of limestones with intrusive serpentines and Pliocene lake
deposits capped by sheets of the ubiquitous lava--an expanse sterile
and vast at all seasons, and in winter covered with snow--a softly
billowing surface dappled by the shadows of cumulus clouds and shot
with colour from a network of blue streams--such, I think, are the most
permanent impressions of our journeys across the Central Tableland.

Volcanic action is largely responsible for the configuration of this
tract of country, filling up hollows, preserving the sedimentary
deposits with overlying sheets of lava. The extent of the operation
may best be gauged on the south-western extremities of the Bingöl
plateau. There the ridges in the west are seen stepping up, one after
another, almost to the margin of the elevated platform where your
tents are spread. The setting sun invests them with an added glamour of
gold and purple; yet how futile this fretful array against the solid
land about you, dimly spread in horizontal spaces beyond sight! The
yellow mullein which scents the air springs from the ruin of all those
ridges, growing upon the tomb of their deeply-buried remains. But
further north, where the sway of the lavas has already become feeble,
the same phenomenon, a little modified, may be observed. Survey
the scene as it is unfolded northwards from the western summit of
Bingöl or from the hill of Gugoghlan (Ch. XXII. p. 373, Figs. 194 and
195). What a contrast between the landscape of the west and that of
the east! All those ridges in the west are dying by themselves into
the down-like spaces of the Central Tableland. Here the lavas have
been a contributing but not the principal cause.

The truth is that we should here be standing quite near the point of
greatest constriction between the inner and outer arcs. In other words,
it is just west of this region that the greatest compression of the
Armenian highlands by earth movements may be supposed to have taken
place. A natural consequence of the process would be the ridging
up within a narrow space of the normal surface elevations. East
of an imaginary line between Bingöl and Palandöken the area becomes
enlarged. Room is given for the ridges to spread; they flatten out and
almost disappear. At the same time the change from the Tauric into
the Iranian direction soon commences to make itself felt. Mountain
and gentle hill, the rocks on the heights and those in the hollows are
all imprinted with the stamp of a new-born force. In the most central
districts we recorded this change in what geologists call the strike
between the villages of Kanjean and Alkhes in the region called Elmali
Dere or Vale of Apples. There the stratified rocks have been flooded
with sheets of lava, which have presumably welled up from fissures. A
glance at the map will show that all the outlines are bending over,
those on the north-east and those to the south-west of this point. And
a little looking brings home the fact that most of the great Armenian
volcanoes are situated at or near the bend.

The tendency to a strong-pronounced plateau country is in Armenia,
and especially in the south-western territories, independent of
volcanic action. Hermann Abich aptly describes the effect of this
tendency upon the mountain masses when he speaks of their constant,
nearly horizontal summit line. [292] Yet the heights which elicited
this appreciation belong to the system west of Bingöl, and are
mainly composed of stratified rocks. Horizontality is the prevailing
characteristic of the outlines on the north of the series of plains
from Pasin in the east to Erzinjan in the west. Those outlines belong
to a block of elevated land from over 9000 to about 8000 feet above
the sea. Lavas have accentuated the feature in the case of the border
heights of Pasin (Ch. VIII. p. 193, Fig. 163); but when, further west,
the barrier consists of limestones and old igneous rocks, the same
appearance of a flat-topped mass, representing a higher stage of the
plateau region, is only varied by some beautiful shapes emerging upon
the sky-line, such as the Cretaceous peaks of Akhbaba and Jejen. If
you draw a section between the western extremity of the plain of
Mush against Taurus and the maze of valleys which feed the Chorokh
on the north of Erzerum, the true character of the land will be
exhibited in a striking manner. You will commence with a level plain
of immense extent from west to east and with an average elevation of
4200 feet. Proceeding northwards, you scale a wall of 8000 feet, only
to find yourself upon a platform almost as flat as a billiard-table,
over which the track leads without much change in level for a distance
of many miles. This stage breaks off upon the north to a little plain
even as water, lying in the lap of an extensive depression of not
more than 5000 feet. You cross the depression with a parapet of 8400
to over 9000 feet closing the landscape with gigantic cliffs before
your eyes. It is the edge of the Central Tableland. The journey is
long from this, its southern margin, to the corresponding rim upon
the north--water-worn downs with an average altitude of over 7000
feet. After registering heights, always on the level, of about 9000
feet, a descent is made to the vast expanse of the Erzerum plain (5700
feet). The mass which rises on the north of that plain contains the
sources of the Western Euphrates and leads over to the deep valleys
which sustain the Chorokh. It is flat-topped, and attains a level of
about 9000 feet.

The most fertile and agricultural districts lie to the east of this
section; they are generally separated one from another by mountains
of recent volcanic origin, upon which, however, with the possible
exception of the Tendurek Dagh, a wreath of smoke is never seen. The
plain of Khinis (5500 feet) is screened by Khamur from the plains of
Bulanik and Melazkert (5000 feet), where some of the finest grain in
the world is grown. Bulanik is divided into a western and an eastern
territory by the radial volcanic mass of Bilejan. The line of heights
which are interposed between Western Bulanik and Mush plain are
probably partly due to lavas which have welled up from fissures, and
are easily crossed almost at any point. The plain of Mush (4200 feet)
and the level country of almost endless extent between Sipan and the
Murad are shut off from the cornfields and orchards of the basin of
Lake Van (5637 feet) by the immense circumference of the Nimrud crater
and by the block of limestones and lake deposits upon which Sipan is
built up. The region between Lake Van and the hills of the Persian
border is parcelled out into a number of districts by such volcanic
eminences as Varag Dagh, Pir Reshid Dagh, [293] and Tendurek Dagh,
which last-named mountain has sent its lavas a great distance south
into the Abagha Plain. [294] All the way from Tendurek to the plain of
Khinis eruptive agencies have fastened upon the land on a considerable
scale. A large area is occupied by the radial volcanic system known as
the Ala Dagh, but very scantily explored. It is succeeded further west
by the Kartevin Dagh. The extensive territories between Kartevin on
the south, the plain of Khinis on the west, and the Sharian-Mergemir
Dagh barrier on the north, are for the most part covered with sheets
of lava. But the plains of Alashkert (5500 feet) and Pasin (over 5000
feet) are worthy to rank with the most favoured regions; and this
sequence is continued westwards by the plains of the Western Euphrates,
commencing with that of Erzerum (from 5750 to about 3800 feet). North
again of this series one may specially instance the plain of Baiburt
(5000 feet), which is a typical Armenian plain.

As you travel from plain to plain, from one basin to another, the
horizon is most often filled by some shapely volcanic outline, slowly
rising from the floor of the expanse. Yet the stratified rocks are
seldom absent, emerging from the volcanic layers or only capped by a
thin sheet of lava. Dominant among them are the limestones of various
geological periods, from the Cretaceous and probably earlier, to the
Pliocene deposits, when the greater part of the country must have been
covered by a lake of fresh or brackish water. Intrusive in the earlier
limestones are found a variety of old igneous rocks, such as diabase,
gabbro and serpentine. The serpentines combine with the limestones to
form rounded hills or downs with soft outlines. Sometimes a cap of
lava has preserved a particular piece of limestone, and the result
has been a summit with a point like that of a needle overtopping
adjacent and undulating forms. Where the old igneous rock occurs in
a zone, a sombre landscape is forthcoming, as for instance above the
northern shore of Lake Van between Akhlat and Adeljivas. Or when
the highly marmorised older limestones have the upper hand, there
ensue sterility and glaring light. These latter rocks have a fairly
wide extension and compose prominent lines of mountain. For example,
they have bestowed upon the plain of Khinis its northern boundary;
and nowhere are they seen to greater advantage than in that shining
and richly modelled barrier appropriately named the Akh Dagh or
White Mountain. During the journey from Gopal to Tutakh on the Upper
Murad they were constantly emerging from the sheets of lava; and in
the south we found them in the vicinity of the southern peripheral
mountains. They alternate with mica-schist in the Elmali Dere and
Güzel Dere, districts at the south-western extremity of Lake Van. And
they stretch across the water to form the promontory of Tadvan.

A rather later series of limestones would appear to be represented by
the slopes over which we climbed to the Vavuk Pass between Gümüshkhaneh
and Baiburt. There they are placed on the very threshold of the
Armenian tableland; and they are distributed in a wide zone over
the northern districts of Armenia, extending all the way from the
Merjan-Muzur Dagh in the west to be represented by many a summit
of the deeply eroded Chorokh region. The block of heights on the
north of the Western Euphrates is composed to a great extent of such
limestones; and both in the neighbourhood of the Kop Pass, and during
the descent northwards from the pass of Khoshab Punar, we have been
able to identify them by the evidence of fossils as belonging to the
Cretaceous period. The several startling eminences from the surface of
this elevated stage--a surface which is characterised by prevailing
flatness and horizontality of the summit-line--are mostly due to
upstanding masses of limestone, such as Akhbaba and Jejen. In the
south we recognised the fossils of this same series of rocks upon
the line of hills which border upon the north the great depression
of the plain of Mush, where these give passage to the Murad.

Later still in date, and of almost constant prominence in the
landscapes both of the plateau region and of the peripheral mountains,
are the limestones of Eocene age. They are, perhaps, more usually
associated with softer features, especially when they are interbedded
with shales. Writing from memory, one may best recall the incidence
of their impressive features at such widely distant points as the
Palandöken line of heights, on the south of Erzerum and Pasin,
and where they whiten the waters of Lake Van in the neighbourhood
of Adeljivas. This pretty town with sweet-sounding name lies at
the foot of a lofty cliff composed exclusively of white chalk. As
you lunch in one of the caves along the road from Akhlat, numerous
corals are observed imbedded in the rock. Even where volcanic action
has fastened upon such heights with greatest persistency, the white
face of this rock or of the softer Pliocene deposit is seldom absent
from the scene. Eocene limestones and Pliocene deposits are prominent
over the area of the Central Tableland; and the limestone emerges
on the further side of the plain of Khinis to compose the Zirnek
Dagh, continuing the outline of Khamur. The almost limitless expanse
through which the Murad winds between Tutakh and Melazkert reveals
most clearly its essential character as a country of rolling chalk
downs beneath the covering of a cloak of lava. The southern limit
of that expanse would seem to the eye to be volcanic, misled by the
precedent of the immense extension of the train of Ararat. But when
the barrier is at length reached it is found to consist of Eocene
and Pliocene limestones, forming a pedestal for the fabric of Sipan.

Scarcely a less prominent surface feature are the Pliocene lacustrine
deposits, [295] crumbling in the hand with masses of freshwater
shells. There can be no doubt that at an epoch contemporaneous with
the outpouring of lavas a lake or lakes extended from Erzinjan, Erzerum
and Pasin across the region now occupied by the Central Tableland, and
through Khinis to the plains of the Murad and Sipan. The interior of
Asia Minor and the tableland of Persia were covered with lakes at the
same date; but that these were salt in the case of Persia is proved by
the melancholy saline deserts which disfigure immense tracts of the
soil of Iran. In Armenia they have been productive of the greatest
fertility, their wholesome sediments having mingled with volcanic
matter and become constituent of rich brown loams. It seems likely
that the purple sandstones and conglomerates along the northern shore
of Lake Van are the representatives of similar conditions within that
basin. One is justified in supposing that the waters became gradually
more shallow, until they remained only on the surface of the numerous
greater and smaller depressions, which still bear their imprint to a
degree which must be convincing even to an unpractised eye. A chain
of separate lakes was formed, spread broadcast over the land, and
washing the promontories of the heights. Such lakes appear to have
existed at Alexandropol and in the plain of Erivan; over Pasin, the
plain of Erzerum, and that of Erzinjan; in the districts of Khinis,
Alashkert, Bulanik and probably Mush, to say nothing of the smaller
sheets of water. They were drained away as a result of the increasing
elevation of the land as a whole; and, probably, in some cases the
process was accelerated by uptilt, causing erosion of the adjacent
barriers to be accelerated. The lakes which exist at the present day
are almost exclusively due to lavas filling up the mouths of valleys
and forming dams on an immense scale.

The relation of geology to geography must always be intimate; and in
such a country as Armenia it is scarcely possible to travel without
becoming absorbed in the open book of that fascinating study, as day
by day the eye is greeted by a new page. The architectural quality of
the structural features is perhaps the main incentive, stimulating
the curiosity to comprehend the underlying design. But the absence
of wood and the sparseness even of vegetation permit and invite the
interest to centre in the forms and hues and texture of the material
which has been the vehicle of the large idea. Nature is revealed in
her sculpturesque rather than picturesque beauties; nor will her
admirer regret the nakedness of his love. But the climate suffers
from the prevailing treelessness of the landscapes, being deficient
in moisture for the most favourable development of the human race. One
feels the skin growing contracted as in most Eastern countries, and the
native sappiness of the flesh becoming impaired. There is no reason
why this country should not be strewn with woodlands, and her plains
verdant with a kinder rainfall and extended irrigation. Patches of
forest, but thin and miserable, still struggle towards the interior
from the luscious zone in the north. They are seen on the sides of
the passes at a distance from the villages. But with the exception
of the very thinly populated districts of Kighi and the Dersim,
and the slopes of the Soghanlu mountains south-west of Kars, the
land has been denuded of any covering as a result of progressive
economical decline. Centuries of unchecked licence on the part of
tribal shepherds--Tartars, Turkomans, Kurds--have brought about the
destruction of a source of salubriousness and wealth which under any
circumstances would require careful husbanding.

So the clouds are little tempted to descend upon the earth, and the sky
lowers without bringing rain. The country streams with light, and the
pavements of ubiquitous lava burn like an oven beneath the untempered
rays of the sun. In winter the glare is blinding; for the ground is
covered with snow, though not generally to any great depth. These
are disadvantages which are not entirely without remedy; and there is
nothing needed but less perversity on the part of the human animal to
convert Armenia into an almost ideal nursery of his race. The strong
highland air, the rigorous but bracing winters, and the summers when
the nights are always cool; a southern sun, great rivers, immense
tracts of agricultural soil, an abundance of minerals--such blessings
and subtle properties are calculated to develop the fibre in man,
foster with material sufficiency the growth of his winged mind and
cause it to expand like a flower in a generous light. One feels that
for various reasons quite outside inherent qualities this land has
never enjoyed at any period of history the fulness of opportunity. And
one awaits her future with an expectant interest.

Both branches of the Euphrates wind their way by immense stages
at the foot of these mountains, in the lap of these plains. The
eastern branch, called Murad, contains the greater volume, rising
in the neighbourhood of Diadin near the base of the Ararat system
and traversing Armenia almost from one extremity to the other. The
principal affluents are the Bingöl Su, bringing the drainage of the
plain of Khinis; the Gunek Su, and the combined waters of the Kighi and
Muzur rivers. The more westerly channel is composed in its infancy by
two streams of almost equal size, one descending from the Dümlü Dagh
and flowing sluggishly through the plain of Erzerum; the other, and
perhaps the greater, springing in the neighbourhood of the sources of
the Chorokh in the elevated district of Ovajik. The Kelkid and Chorokh
are both in their upper courses typical Armenian rivers. The Araxes
takes its birth upon the Central Tableland, and its true source is
probably represented by the little lake which appears in my drawing
from the western summit of Bingöl (Ch. XXII. Fig. 194, p. 373). What
a contrast between this wealth of waters, many of which might be
rendered navigable, and the hopeless sterility of great parts of the
interior of Persia, from which no river finds its way to the ocean!

All these rivers wind slowly and silently over the surface of the
tableland, threading landscapes which most often expand beyond
the range of sight. They find a tardy issue through the zones of
peripheral mountains, where they meet the hiss of torrents and
the spray of waterfalls. When one reflects with closed eyes upon
the experiences of travel it is not the dividing heights that fill
the mind. What are these for the most part but the higher stages of
the plateau country? It is the plains, great and small, with their
lake-like or sea-like surfaces; and it is the ever-present feature of
the volcanic outlines, spaced at large intervals. The streams part on
their course to widely distant oceans from a scarcely perceptible rise
in the ground. Earth is spread about you, nude and quite unconscious of
the restless presence of man. A variety of delicate and transparent
tints are shed over the modelling, due to the atmosphere and the
volcanic nature of the soil. The hues deepen in the blue ribands
of the flowing waters, in the gem-like appearance of those that are
still. And when the vision has nearly faded there remain the shapes
of Ararat and Sipan, the campagna of Erivan, the ineffable beauty of
the lake of Van.... The area of the country which has been delimited
within the Turkish frontier measures 35,599 square miles. If we add
this figure to the Russian territory (Vol. I. p. 445) we may conceive
a geographical unity nearly equal in extent to England and Wales.



CHAPTER XXIV

STATISTICAL AND POLITICAL


When after the close of the last war between Russia and Turkey the
leading statesmen of the European Powers assembled in congress at
Berlin in the year 1878, they were approached by delegates from the
Armenian people, one of whom was no less a personage than the present
Katholikos, or High Priest of the nation, His Holiness Mekertich
Khrimean. In answer to the enquiries of the Plenipotentiaries upon what
portions of the Ottoman Empire the Armenians--of whom they had heard
during their studies of the classics at school and college--still
bestowed the glamour of an historical name, the delegates addressed
themselves to the excellent map of the late Professor Kiepert and
endeavoured to trace upon it the approximate limits of their country,
embracing its area by a coloured line. Kiepert's map, displaying on its
face this interesting addition, is now slumbering in the archives of
the Berlin Foreign Office, and I have been permitted, by the courtesy
of the German Government, to hold it in my hands. So far as I remember,
the area comprised within the coloured line corresponds approximately
to that which is indicated in a document presented to Congress by the
delegates, under the title of a project for an Organic Regulation
to be applied to the new Armenian province which they desired to
see established. The delegates asked that this province should be
administered by Armenian officials; and when they were requested to
state what proportion its Armenian inhabitants would bear to the
Mussulmans, they furnished figures for the vilayets of Erzerum,
Van and Bitlis (excluding Sert) which placed the numbers of the
Mohammedans at 528,000 and the non-Mohammedans at 1,172,000. [296]
All the country between the Russian and Persian frontiers on the east,
and a line drawn between Tireboli on the coast of the Black Sea and the
confluence of the Kizil Chibuk Chai with the Euphrates on the west,
was to be included in the new Government. The northern boundary was
the coast line of the Black Sea; while that on the south extended
from the Euphrates to the river of Bitlis, and so through the wild
districts south of Lake Van back to the Persian frontier. At a congress
of Oriental diplomatists both their demands and their statements would
have been perfectly understood. One-half of the former might possibly
be conceded, and the smallest fraction of the latter accepted. The
collective wisdom of Europe assembled in the Prussian capital may
perhaps have received a hint in this sense. The delimitation on the
map of Kiepert was a far greater puzzle; how many members of Congress
had even heard of the publication of the learned and laborious German
Professor? But it was evident that there must be districts somewhere
containing an Armenian population; so a clause was inserted in the
Treaty to the effect that the Porte was pledged to carry out reforms
in the provinces inhabited by Armenians. [297]

The Plenipotentiaries returned to their respective countries immensely
pleased with themselves and with their work. Europe forgot all about
the Armenians, nor have the Powers collectively displayed up to the
present day the smallest interest in the Armenian Question. Only
England has taken the matter in the least seriously; and the
reaction which marred the results of the far-seeing policy of Lord
Beaconsfield--and which was perhaps induced by the theatrical character
of that eminent man--prevented us from striking while the iron was
still hot. The important position which we had attained in the councils
of the Ottoman Empire by the provisions of the Cyprus Convention was
early and perhaps irrevocably lost. When Mr. Gladstone's Government
came to deal with the complexities of the Armenian Question, they could
scarcely expect to enjoy the goodwill of the Turkish Government, which,
out of office, they had done their utmost to disparage and humiliate.

An attempt was made by Mr. Goschen, Ambassador at Constantinople
under the Gladstone régime, to grapple with the inherent difficulties
of the case. Immediately after the Berlin Treaty a number of able
consular officers had been despatched by England over the whole of
Asia Minor with instructions to report upon the general condition
of the country, and upon the measures of reform, extending over the
whole field of Turkish administration, which it would be necessary
to recommend. Their reports are an interesting contribution to the
literature of Blue-books; but in respect of the Armenian Question
our Ambassador cannot have been enabled to extract from them the
information which was necessary to provide him with that sure
ground upon which to build that he was seeking to acquire. The
Armenians themselves, for whom he was working, supplied him with
misleading statistics, and seem never to have inspired him with
any real confidence as to the soundness of their cause. [298] As a
consequence, no definite plan was placed before the Porte, and, what
is more important, no definite policy seems ever to have been brought
to the mind of our Ambassador or of his colleagues representing the
signatory Powers. The teasing activity of England in Asia Minor, and
the reports of misgovernment in every direction which she showered
upon the Porte, seem not only to have alarmed Turkey but the European
Powers as well; and it only required a word from Prince Bismarck to
dismiss the whole question of Armenian reforms. [299]

What was the problem? The Berlin Treaty spoke of the provinces
inhabited by the Armenians. But the Armenians have become scattered
in considerable numbers over the whole extent of Asia Minor. This
dispersal is the consequence of comparatively remote historical
events. To require the Porte to introduce reforms in the provinces
inhabited by the Armenians, and to supervise the carrying out of
the new measures, would amount to little less on the part of Europe
than to take the whole of Turkey under tutelage. But there might be
certain districts in which the Armenians were in a majority, and where
they might be able to provide the necessary machinery of government,
enjoying a certain measure of local autonomy while remaining subjects
of the Sultan. Neither the Armenians themselves nor the British
Consuls appear to have furnished satisfactory evidence towards such a
solution. What is needed by statesmen who have to deal with Asiatic
problems is an intimate knowledge of Asiatic geography. During all
the long series of our investigations into the Armenian Question
this side of the subject was almost ignored. The Armenian Project
of which I have spoken embraced within the area of the proposed
province outlying regions which present such dissimilar economical
and political problems, that it would have been an act of political
madness to endeavour to weld them together under the rule of a mere
Governor-General. Our own Consuls, partly, no doubt, owing to the
vague character of their instructions, fell into the same error. For
instance, in estimating the population of the Armenian provinces,
vast outlying districts were included, such as the sanjak of Hakkiari
belonging to the vilayet of Van, where the Armenian inhabitants
are few and far between, and where the character of the country and
people is so wild and intractable that they could with difficulty be
controlled from an Armenian centre. The problems that are presented
to a Governor on the tableland of Armenia are quite sufficient to
absorb his attention and exercise his resources without the addition
to his jurisdiction of the mountains of Kurdistan, which, if Russia
were mistress of the country, would be constituted into a military
Government and subjected to military law.

It must be my endeavour, in proceeding to the statistical aspect
of my subject, to avoid, as far as possible with the existing
Governmental areas, this lamentable mistake. As in the case of the
Russian provinces, I shall adhere as closely as may be feasible to
the natural boundaries of the tableland of Armenia, such as they have
been determined in the preceding chapter and delineated on the little
map which accompanies the political chapter of my first volume. Just
as it was necessary in some instances, when dealing with the Russian
territory, to overstep the limits of the natural frontier, so I am
now compelled by the statistical units at my disposal to diverge at
certain points from that established line. Reference to the map of
which I have spoken (Vol. I. p. 452) will enable my reader to compare
the geographical with the statistical area. The latter is made up of
the Governments or divisions of Governments indicated in the following
table. Since this statement was compiled the numbers of the Armenians
have been reduced by the massacres of 1895. In the vilayet of Erzerum
between 2500 and 3000 people were butchered; in the town of Bitlis
not less than 800, in that of Kharput 500, and as many as 2800 in
Arabkir. Reliable figures are wanting for the losses in human life
throughout the country districts of the vilayets of Van, Bitlis and
Kharput. But they must have been considerable, and whole villages
were wiped out. About 50,000 to 60,000 Armenians fled into Russia
from the eastern vilayets. But many of these have already returned,
and a few years of settled government would enable this prolific
people to make good the deficiencies in their ranks. Later estimates,
affected by such special circumstances, would be more misleading than
those which I now present.


TABLE III.--Population of the Armenian Tableland in Turkey (about
the year 1890)

=============================+==========+==========+=======+============+===========
                             |          |    Christians.   |            |
                             | Moslems. +----------+-------+  Others.   |   Total.
                             |          |Armenians.|Greeks.|            |
=============================+==========+==========+=======+============+===========
VILAYET VAN[300]             |          |          |       |            |
  Town of Van                |  10,000  |   20,000 |       |            |  30,000
  Merkez-Caza of Van         |   7,000  |   27,000 |       |            |  34,000
  Other Cazas of Van Sanjak  |  35,229  |   28,644 |       |            |  63,873
                             +----------+----------+       |            +-----------
        Total                |  52,229  |   75,644 |       |            | 127,873
                             |          |          |       |            |
VILAYET BITLIS[301]          |          |          |       |            |
Town of Bitlis and Merkez-   |  27,673  |  16,094  |       |    342     |    44,109
  Caza                       |          |          |       |  (Syrian   |
                             |          |          |       |Christians).|
Other Cazas Bitlis Sanjak    |  18,593  |  14,306  |  ...  |    ...     |    32,899
      Total Sanjak Bitlis    |  46,266  |  30,400  |  ...  |    342     |    77,008
Sanjak Mush--                |          |          |       |            |
  Town and Caza of Mush      |  21,246  |  35,328  |       |            |    56,574
  Other Cazas                |  42,572  |  25,873  |       |            |    68,445
      Total Sanjak Mush      |  63,818  |  61,201  |       |            |   125,019
Sanjak Genj--                |          |          |       |            |
  Town and Cazas             |  35,370  |   5,583  |       |    ...     |    40,953
                             +----------+----------+       +------------+-----------
      Total of the three     | 145,454  |  97,184  |       |    342     |   242,980
         Sanjaks             |          |          |       |            |
                             |          |          |       |            |
VILAYET KHARPUT[302]         |          |          |       |            |
  Sanjak Kharput             | 120,000  |  85,000  |  1334 |    422     |   206,756
  Sanjak Dersim              |  62,000  |   8,000  |  ...  |    ...     |    70,000
                             +----------+----------+-------+------------+-----------
      Total                  | 182,000  |  93,000  |  1334 |    422     |   276,756
                             |          |          |       |            |
VILAYET DIARBEKR[303]        |          |          |       |            |
  Caza Palu                  |  45,580  |  15,150  |       |            |    60,730
                             |          |          |       |            |
VILAYET ERZERUM[304]         |          |          |       |            |
  Sanjak Erzerum--           |          |          |       |            |
    Town of Erzerum          |  26,554  |  10,434  |   484 |   1422     |    38,894
    Other Cazas              | 207,261  |  57,358  |   330 |   1797     |   266,746
      Total Sanjak           | 233,815  |  67,792  |   814 |   3219     |   305,640
  Sanjak Erzinjan            | 155,879  |  31,091  |  2456 |   2182     |   191,608
  Sanjak Bayazid             |  38,801  |   7,885  |  ...  |    568     |    47,254
                             +----------+----------+-------+------------+-----------
      Total                  | 428,495  | 106,768  |  3270 |   5969     |   544,502
                             +----------+----------+-------+------------+-----------
      Grand Total            | 853,758  | 387,746  |  4604 |   6733     | 1,252,841
=============================+==========+==========+=======+============+===========


The Moslem population may be divided into Turks and Kurds as follows:--


            Turks (Sunni Mohammedan)                 442,946
            Kurds (Sunni Mohammedan and Kizilbash)   410,812
                                                     -------
                Total                                853,758


It may be interesting to add these figures to those which I have given
for the Russian provinces. The population of the country as a whole
for the statistical area delimited on the map will be represented by
the following figures:--


                         Armenians     906,984
                         Turks         489,931
                         Kurds         479,676
                         Tartars       306,310
                         Greeks         52,367
                         Russians       28,844
                         Others         84,439
                                     ---------
                             Total   2,348,551


In the case of the Turkish provinces I have found it a task of
the greatest difficulty to arrive at a statistical estimate of the
population upon which it might be possible to rely. The results resumed
in Table III. are the outcome of a long and laborious investigation
pursued in the country itself, in which I was sometimes aided, but more
often bewildered, by the lists which I had in my possession, and which
have either already been published, or were furnished to me by private
friends. In the absence of a census conducted on scientific principles,
any figures can only be approximately correct. Two possible sources
of information exist which, in the first instance, it is natural
to consult. The first are the official lists which are published
in the almanacs of each Government, and which profess to give the
numbers both of Mohammedans and of Christians inhabiting each caza or
administrative sub-division. The second are the books of the diocesan
authorities who, under the 14th and 96th Articles of the so-called
Armenian constitution (of which I shall speak later on), are enjoined
to maintain complete records of all births and deaths among Armenians
in the diocese, and to provide copies to the Central Bureau of the
Patriarchate in Constantinople. But the diocesan authorities are chary
of recording information which conflicts with the number of Armenians
who are placed for purposes of taxation upon the Government lists,
and these lists themselves are founded upon a system of which it is
the tendency to underrate the number of the population, Mohammedan
and Christian alike. Owing to the seclusion of women in the East,
no serious attempt is made to count the female population; while in
the case of males the figures in the official statistics are derived
from the military census, which is at best a very imperfect record,
and which each man strives his utmost to evade. All Mohammedan males
are liable to be enrolled in the army, while the Christians are obliged
to pay an annual tax which exempts them from military service, and
which is incident at birth. In the case of the sedentary population it
is probable that the Christians evade this census to a greater extent
than their Mohammedan neighbours; for the budget of a Christian family
is immediately menaced by the birth of a male child. On the other hand,
there are extensive districts on the southern portion of the tableland
in which the Kurdish tribes inhabiting them are in a state approaching
independence, and have never been counted at all. The official lists
must for these reasons be used with much discrimination and care. In
one Government they will be compiled with some measure of completeness;
in another they will be defective as regards the Armenians; in yet
another as regards the Kurds. In addition to this source of information
there are the estimates which have been made in particular districts
by private people engaged in business, and who know their own district
well. The figures which emanate from the Armenian Patriarchate, and
which have found their way into the Blue-books, have evidently been
designed to subserve a political purpose, and may be dismissed under
a sense of disappointment and disgust.

Two further points are suggested to me as calling for special
remark. In the first place, I am satisfied that the total population
of the Turkish provinces is in excess of the figure which I give. That
figure only shows a percentage of population to the square mile of
less than thirty [305]; in the Russian provinces, which can scarcely
be called populous by comparison, although they probably contain less
waste land, the percentage is over forty-nine. Secondly, while the
greatest care has been taken to get the totals of the different peoples
at least correct in the proportion which they bear to one another, it
is probable in the cases of the Armenians and of the Kurds that even
for this purpose the figures are a little too low. I have preferred
to content myself with reproducing the statistical materials which,
however imperfect, I consider the best, and only to mention in this
connection the general impression which I have received. [306]

Among the inhabitants of the Turkish provinces who are classed as
Mussulmans there exist considerable differences both of race and of
religion; but for our present purpose it is most useful to distinguish
them according as they are Turkish or Kurd. Under the former name
I have counted the Mussulman population of the northern portion of
the Government of Erzerum, or, to use more specific language, of
the entire Government of Erzerum, with the exception of the sanjak
of Bayazid and the cazas of Khinis, Kighi and Terjan. I have also
included as Turkish one-half of the Mussulman inhabitants of the caza
of Pasin. In the Governments of Van and of Bitlis the only portion
of the population which I have thought it safe to number as Turkish
are the Mussulmans in the towns of Van, Bitlis and Mush; as citizens
in Governmental centres they are attached, if not by a common origin,
at least by a common character and common sympathies to the interests
of the ruling race. In the cases of the Government of Kharput and
of the Governmental division of Palu, I have been unable to verify
by personal acquaintance the estimates which I have adopted as the
best; these estimates make the Turkish about as strong as the Kurdish
element in the sanjak of Kharput, and a little less numerous in the
caza of Palu. That part of the Mussulman population of the sanjak of
Dersim who are counted as adherents of Government may most usefully
be classed as Turkish and have been included in the roll of Turks. In
the several Governments the remainder of the Mussulman inhabitants
compose the total which has been given for the Kurds.

To express these results in general language, we may say that the
seat of the Turkish population is the country on the north of Erzerum,
while the Kurds inhabit the more southerly districts of the tableland,
extending to the southern peripheral mountains. But what is the meaning
of the name Turkish which has been used to distinguish the one from
the other element? We must certainly guard ourselves from the danger
of attributing to a convenient political designation an ethnological
sense. We are justified in declaring that the Mussulman inhabitants
of the northern districts of the Government of Erzerum are not of
Kurdish origin; on the other hand, the ground is less tenable if we
suppose that they belong to the Turkish race. How large an admixture
of Turkish blood may flow within their veins, is a question which it is
impossible to determine; it was rather the fertile country on the west
of the Euphrates that presented the most attractive settling ground to
the invading hordes of Turks. I am given to believe that a considerable
number derive from the widely spread Georgian family; but that family
has here mixed with other race elements, of which the Turkish is
one. In what pertains to national solidarity, in the possession of
common interests and common sentiments, these Mussulman inhabitants
of the northern districts may justly be classed as Turks. But even
this statement is subject to exception and cannot be universally
applied. Just as in the northern zone of peripheral mountains there
still exist whole districts of which the inhabitants have adopted
the Mohammedan religion, but retain their essential affinity to the
Greek race to which they belong, so within the statistical area of the
tableland among the ranks of the Mussulmans may be found considerable
aggregates of people who, although of Armenian origin, profess the
dominant creed. In the northern province an important instance of
this change in religion rather than in nationality is found in the
district of Tortum between Erzerum and the town of Olti; the Mussulman
inhabitants of that district are said to be the descendants of the
ancient Armenian families who are known to have lived there within
historical times.

While the Turkish inhabitants are engaged in agriculture and in those
pursuits of urban life which attach to the service of Government or
of individuals, or to the less ambitious among the requirements of
industry and commerce, the Kurdish population, on the other hand,
present a variety of social development which includes both the
sedentary and the nomadic state, the organisation of the commune and
that of the tribe. A people who were known to a remote antiquity
and whose character is already sufficiently familiar in Europe,
the Kurds who inhabit the tableland are not only distinguished from
one another according to the plane of social life to which they have
attained, but are divided by essential differences of language and
of creed. From the neighbourhood of the town of Sivas in Asia Minor
to beyond Malatia on the south, and between the two branches of the
Euphrates to the vicinity of Mush, the Kurds, although classed in the
official lists as Mussulmans, neither practise the orthodox religion
nor speak the same dialect as their neighbours of presumably kindred
race. Branded throughout the Nearer East under the opprobrious name
of Kizilbash, they harbour a sullen hatred of the Turkish Government,
whose attempts to convert them to orthodoxy they resent; while towards
the Christians they are drawn by the impulse of a common antagonism
to the existing order, and by the respect in which they hold the
Christian religion, in the person of whose Founder they recognise an
incarnation of God. Their religion, so far as we know it, bears the
impress of the Aryan mind, which seeks for a human embodiment of the
Deity; they invest with divine attributes Moses and Jesus, Mohammed
and Ali. Their language, although a branch of the Kurdish, contains an
admixture both of Persian and Armenian words, and is said to differ so
greatly from the prevailing dialect of the Kurdish tongue that those
who are familiar with the one are unable to understand the other. While
they practise the rite of circumcision and have adopted certain of the
observances of Islam, the contempt in which their religion is held by
their Mussulman neighbours of the Sunni sect disposes them against the
dominant creed, which they regard as a dangerous enemy of their own
peculiar faith. In brief, they constitute a separate element in the
Kurdish population of the tableland, and the numerical value of this
element may be placed at about a third of the total figure which I
have given for the Kurds in the Turkish provinces. Their geographical
position between and about the two branches of the Euphrates invests
them with some contemporary importance from a military point of view;
and they hold the wild and mountainous country on the south of the
headquarters of the Turkish Army Corps at the town of Erzinjan. In
this district, which is known under the name of the Dersim, they have
long resisted and continue to resist the imposition of the Turkish
yoke. They are here in the tribal and pastoral state; but they have
been obliged by the rigour of the climate to dwell in houses, and they
cultivate small strips of land. In the country on the west and east
of the Dersim the Kizilbashes are peaceful and industrious peasants,
of whom most travellers have spoken with respect.

If we draw on the map an imaginary line from Mush through Erzerum
towards the sea, the Mussulman population of the Turkish provinces are
distributed in the following manner over the area of the tableland. On
the north of Erzerum and on either side of this line the Turkish
population extend from the Russian border on the east along the banks
of the Western Euphrates to its junction with the eastern branch. The
country south of Erzerum and on the west of the line is the seat of
the Kizilbash Kurds; while on the east are situated the Kurds who
profess the orthodox religion and speak the prevailing dialect of
Kurdistan. The territorial extension of the Kurdish people varies
according as the forces of order are strengthened or decline, but
their original home and natural habitation are the mountains which
contain the sources of the Tigris. From the Euphrates on the west to
the Persian Gulf upon the south the zone of buttress ranges which
support the tablelands of Armenia and Persia, and which we know at
first under the name of Taurus and then under that of Zagros, is
inhabited by tribes of Aryan origin--the Kurds and further south the
Lurs--who are distinguished by considerable variations in dialect
and in religion, but who present the common characteristic of an
inveterate aversion to settled life and to the imposition of the
yoke of law. Their manner of living is directly determined by their
geographical position and pastoral pursuits. As spring develops into
summer and the yellow drought creeps higher and higher up the slopes
of the mountain-sides, they ascend from one to another step, from a
lower to a higher chain, and arrive, perhaps at the approach of autumn,
on the fringe of the tableland. When at length the season is verging
upon winter the migration southwards begins. A continuous throng of
sheep and goats and horses and weather-worn people of either sex and
every age flows slowly down the blighted country, filing by tortuous
tracks between the boulders or pausing about the noonday hour by the
bed of a shaded stream. At the foot of the range, on the verge of
the vast alluvial plains through which the Tigris winds, is placed
their winter encampment; their tents are sufficient shelter against
the climate of the low country, which even through the colder months
is temperate and mild. These yearly migrations of the Kurdish tribes
are not conducted without great suffering on the part of the settled
population; their granaries are plundered by the shepherd army, and
the land which they might have cultivated is occupied by the nomads
during winter as pasture for their flocks. But this is a problem
which belongs to the southern peripheral region and to the lowlands,
rather than to the tableland. The Kurds of the tableland--with the
possible exception of the Kizilbashes--are an alien element of the
population. The great distance of their pastures from the plains of the
Tigris makes it difficult for them, if not impossible, to pursue their
instinctive migration; the rigorous winter obliges them to discard
their tents and inhabit villages--in a word, to take the first step
towards a more settled order, of which the further development is
viewed by some of them with just alarm, as incompatible with their
tribal organisation and independent life.

We may place at the kernel of the Armenian Question in Turkey the
difficulties which arise from the presence of this Kurdish population
upon the Armenian plateau. It is true that a considerable number among
them have become industrious cultivators and subsist on the fruits
of their own toil. According as the period which separates them from
their former life is long or short, or the name of their more lawless
kinsmen is despised or respected, these peasants will answer the
traveller who inquires to what people they belong either by replying
that they are Osmanli or by owning to their being Kurds. In the first
case they rank themselves with the settled Turkish population; in the
second they acknowledge the bond which attaches them to the free life
of the tribe. But the weight of this agricultural element lies in the
scale of peace; it is otherwise with those Kurds who retain to the full
their tribal organisation and who pasture their flocks on the lofty
highlands which extend to the plain of Erzerum. It is possible that
from a remote period the nomads of Kurdistan proper may have advanced
the limit of their summer journey beyond the plain of Mush, to return
at the approach of winter to the neighbourhood of Diarbekr. How far
their migration should be extended would be determined by the distance
which separated them from their winter quarters on the lowlands, and
by the degree of resistance which the settled peoples might be able to
offer to their unwelcome approach. The fall of the feudal system in
Turkey and the decline of the power of the Turkish beys may no doubt
have contributed in a sensible manner to open breaches to the Kurds;
but it appears that a powerful colony of this people were brought to
their present seats in Armenia through a definite act of public policy
on the part of the Turkish Power. After the defeat of the Persians
in the plain of Chaldiran in 1514 it became necessary to arrive at
a permanent settlement of the Kurdish provinces; and it formed part
of the plan pursued by Edrisi, the distinguished Minister of Selim
the First, and himself a Kurd of Bitlis, to remove a portion of this
turbulent people from the country of their home and to settle them
along the new frontier of Turkey in the districts bordering upon Persia
and Georgia which had been acquired from the Shah. It is said that
they were granted a perpetual immunity from taxation on the condition
that they would act as a permanent militia upon the border which had
been given them to guard. [307] Neither the evidence of subsequent
history nor the contemporary political situation upon the tableland
can be taken to have established the wisdom of a policy which appears
to have overrated the capacity of the Kurds whether for benefit or
for harm. On the one hand, by adding to the area inhabited by them,
the Turkish Government seems rather to have increased the difficulties
which have always beset their efforts to hold this people in check;
and, on the other, their experience of the value of this militia can
scarcely be so pleasant a memory as their persistent continuance in
a worn-out ideal might lead us to expect. During the two campaigns
against Russia of 1829 and 1854 the Kurdish chiefs played off one
Power against another, and are even said to have assisted the invading
armies by affording a passage through their adopted country and by
providing them with supplies. In the campaign of 1877 the Kurds were
the most dangerous element in the Turkish army, and are described by
an eye-witness of the several actions in Asia as a grotesque corps of
irregular cavalry breaking into groups when resisted and altogether
unfitted for the serious operations of war. Their atrocious cruelty
towards the wounded and their mutilation of the dead was visited upon
the heads of their afflicted protectors in a general execration of
the Turkish name. Yet even the bitterness of this disappointment and
the scarcely doubtful lesson of several minor wars, which within the
course of the past century they have been obliged to conduct against
the Kurds, seem not to have convinced the Turkish Government of the
folly of endeavouring to humour a people who will never be of any
assistance to Government until they shall have lost for ever the
power of resistance and ranged themselves on the side of law. The
reigning Sultan in his dealings with the Kurds has inclined to the
old policy; he has sought at once to civilise them and to render
them more efficient from a military point of view. In the wild and
seldom-visited country between the plain of Alashkert and the lake
of Van I was able to gain a practical acquaintance with the methods
that are being pursued. In the village of Patnotz, the principal
seat of the notorious tribe of Haideranli, a solid stone structure,
which has been built by order of Government to serve the several
purposes of a mosque, a school, and a residence for the chief,
stands out from the usual cluster of mud hovels--a palace among
ant-hills. In every larger Kurdish village I found a petty officer
of the Turkish army bewailing the sad fate which had brought him to
this exile, and his own impotence to control the slippery people and
constrain them to attend his drills. A new name, that of Hamidiyeh,
has been given to this irregular cavalry, and they have been liberally
supplied with uniforms from the Turkish magazines. The headquarters
of the corps are at Melazkert on the Eastern Euphrates or Murad Su,
and over thirty regiments have already been registered over the area
of the tableland. Each regiment has a nominal strength of about 600
men. But they have never yet manoeuvred together, and when in 1892 a
detachment from each regiment paraded at Erzerum, I am informed that
the whole number did not amount to 2000, and that the sorry spectacle
was presented to the Turkish general of a motley company of aged men
and half-grown youths, mounted on horses which wanted muscle and had
perhaps never tasted corn. It is pleasant to acknowledge the good
intentions of the Sultan in endeavouring to educate the Kurds and to
organise them in a more efficient manner for the purposes of serious
war; the ideal which has no doubt been present to the mind of his
military advisers is the example of the Russian corps of Cossacks. But
the mild measures at present in favour will never attain this result;
it is not under such a policy that the Kurds will be subjected to
the regular discipline of a camp. Either the young men must be taken
from their native or adopted provinces and trained in the armies of
the Empire at a distance from their homes, or the entire people must
be made to bend to the yoke of an equal civil law, of which they at
present evade the provisions and defy the ministers.

While the Turkish Government have little reason to be satisfied with
the results of their experiments with the Kurds, the effects which
derive from their presence on the tableland are disastrous in the
extreme. Yet it is not the Mussulmans so much as the Armenians who are
afflicted by this scourge. Let us pursue a little further our original
analysis. Transplanted from their natural camping-grounds, and obliged
through the long months of an arctic winter to provide themselves and
their animals with shelter and with food, this pastoral people were
quartered on the Armenian villages, but were required by Government to
pay an annual tax in return for the accommodation which during winter
they received. [308] But an arrangement which was based on the just
principle of ensuring to the Armenian a fair remuneration for the
lodging which he furnished and the fodder which he supplied, was put
into practice by the local authorities in a characteristic manner: the
proceeds of the tax were committed to their own coffers. In 1842, after
the promulgation of the celebrated charter of reforms which is known
under the name of the Hatti-Sherif of Gulkhaneh, a beginning was made
towards the abolition of the system; the Kurds in the neighbourhood
of Mush were allotted certain villages which had been vacated by the
Armenian emigrants, and the Armenians of the district were relieved of
the heavy burden which they had previously been obliged to bear. At
the present day the pastoral Kurds of the plateau have all their own
villages, and the old system, except in isolated instances, may be said
to have disappeared. Yet even now the Kurds justify their raids upon
the Armenians on the ingenious plea of the ancient right of quarter
which they consider they are entitled to enforce. Policy also dictates
a procedure which their tender conscience has approved. The Armenians
are at once the most immediate and the least redoubtable among their
neighbours. The courageous Kurd equips himself for the foray with a
rifle of modern Russian pattern and belts bristling with cartridges;
his victims, by a cruel and cynical provision, have been deprived
by Government of all arms. Should the Kurd be caught red-handed and
arraigned before the civil authority, he will scornfully defy the
civil jurisdiction and claim to be tried by his military superiors
as a trooper in the Hamidiyeh Corps. When the civil branch has been
successfully thwarted, the military authorities are cajoled, while
the injured party is rewarded by the visitation of a fresh injury,
which he endures without complaint. I can understand that in Kurdistan
proper with the lowlands about the course of the Tigris the shepherd
problem presents some difficulty; it must always be a task of some
magnitude to control a people whose migrations extend over so wide
an area and whose country conceals within its countless recesses such
inaccessible retreats. On the tableland the case is quite elementary:
the pastoral Kurd belongs to a village, and that village is situated
in the neighbourhood of the pastures from which he is driven by the
winter snows. It cannot be a matter of great difficulty to follow
up the robbers to their homes. It is well within the capacity of the
existing authorities to enforce against them the necessary measures of
police. But the tribal chiefs are well aware of the consequences which
would flow from such a change in Turkish policy towards them, and they
exert all the means at their disposal to avert it. Upon the tableland
they enjoy a parasitical prosperity. Once prevented from levying their
supplies of grain and fodder upon the Armenians, and restricted to the
legitimate operations of barter with the peasantry or reciprocal trade,
their tribes would gradually melt away, and, while a large number would
join the ranks of the agricultural population, a remnant only would
remain to continue in Armenia the shepherd calling and the tribal life.

The Armenians are distributed in the following manner over the
statistical area of the Turkish provinces. Compared with the number
of the Mussulman inhabitants, they are in greater strength in the
Government of Van than in any other Government. Taking that Government
as a whole, but of course excluding the Hakkiari, they exceed by about
one-third the total of the Mussulman population. In the town of Van
the proportion of Armenians to Mussulmans is about as two to one. In
the Government of Bitlis they are in a majority in the neighbourhood
of Mush, and in the fertile district of Bulanik, north-west of the
lake of Van. On the other hand, they are outnumbered by the Mussulmans
in the populous sanjak of Kharput, and in the caza or Governmental
sub-division of Palu. In the Government of Erzerum there is scarcely
a district in which they are not less numerous than their Mussulman
neighbours. Yet, when estimating the relative strength of the Armenian
element, we deceive ourselves if we dwell with complacent insistence
on the fact of its numerical inferiority. Several factors essential
to such an analysis deserve and require attention. In the first place,
the most fertile portion of the country is held by the Armenians. The
beautiful region about Lake Van, the vast plains of Bulanik, of Mush,
and of Kharput are the principal seats of the Armenian peasantry--a
peasantry as sturdy as the Mussulman settlers and far more industrious
and progressive than they. Another advantage possessed by the Armenians
is their favourable geographical situation in relation to the Turks
and the Kurds. The Armenian population compose a mass of varying
compactness which extends across the tableland from east to west,
and may be said in a general manner to divide as with a wedge the two
branches of the Mussulman inhabitants. Or the Armenian may be compared
to the middle bedfellow of three. Again, the solidarity of the Armenian
element, both from a political and a social point of view, is a fact
which must not be ignored. Nowhere in a more conspicuous manner than
upon the tableland has the Gregorian Church resisted the advances of
Rome. According to the statistics supplied by the Catholic patriarch
to Mr. Goschen, the number of the Catholics within the limits of
our statistical area cannot amount to 20,000 souls. Of these, the
great majority inhabit the northern districts of the Government of
Erzerum, while in the country of Van and Mush, which is essentially
Armenian, there are scarcely any adherents of Rome. It is true that
the Protestant community is growing; if we include the Mission of
Mardin lying outside our area, they are over 16,000 strong. But the
paramount object which is present to the Protestant missionaries
is not to subvert the national Church or to attach it to their own
denomination, but rather to raise the standard of the national religion
and to improve the social condition of the people among whom they
have come to live. Finally, we must not overlook the high place which
the Armenians already occupy in the economical order of the country,
and the fact that the Armenian population is capable of very rapid
expansion under kinder circumstances. I have already had occasion
to speak in praise of the Armenian peasantry; yet, while agriculture
suffers from the disappearance of the Armenian from the soil, the place
which he occupies in the less rudimentary grades of civilised life can
never be supplied. The worn and crippled machine of industry functions
through him alone. His advancement means the progress of the country;
his removal is the cause of its decay. Yet the stream of emigration
continues, and is gathering fresh volume every year. The general exodus
of the Armenian population which ensued upon the retirement into
Russian territory of General Paskevich in 1839 has been followed by
a gradual process of depletion, which varies in intensity according
as harvests are good or disastrous and the Kurds are encouraged or
restrained. During my stay in the country the Armenian peasantry of
considerable districts were exerting themselves to pay off their debts,
and to obtain permission to leave. Many were flying to the Russian
frontier to seek an asylum from the Kurds. A change in policy is alone
needed to transform a country which is rapidly becoming a desert into
a prosperous and progressive province. Behind the Armenian population
of the tableland stand their kinsmen who inhabit the less distracted
districts of Asia Minor. At the first approach of a better era many of
these would seek with eagerness the ancient home of their race. Many
of the emigrants into Russia would return to their old seats. The
tide now setting to America, whence the Armenians, like the Irish,
transmit large sums of money to their less prosperous relations at
home, would slacken if it did not cease. A country which even in its
wildest regions still retains the traditions of Armenian civilisation,
and is adorned with the remains of Armenian architecture, would resume
the old order in a spirit essentially new.

Have I wearied my reader with this long and almost exhaustive
analysis, at which I can scarcely myself suppress a yawn? At least
we may console ourselves with the virtuous reflection that we have
been disentangling a difficult subject of which we shall all hear
more as the years go by. Most of us--for we are all rulers, and our
voices reach far--will some day be expected to pronounce our opinion
upon it; I have therefore endeavoured to present the facts in an
uncoloured narrative. But it may be asked: why has so little been
heard of the Armenians still residing in their native seats? Are
they not a handful among the numbers of their countrymen dispersed
over the Ottoman Empire, and inhabiting the capital or the great
towns of Asia Minor? Sasun, where the massacres commenced in 1894,
is surely a district which lies outside the proper limits of Armenia;
while Sivas and Trebizond, Diarbekr, Marash and Aintab--cities of
which the names are engraved in red upon our memories--are situated
at great distances from the Armenian centres. Such reasoning is in
a great measure true; it is the Berlin difficulty.

In the absence of reliable statistics I shall refrain from any
attempt to trace the distribution of the Armenians over the whole
extent of the Ottoman Empire. The total number of Armenians in Turkey
was given by the delegates to the Berlin Congress as amounting to
3,000,000 souls. This figure is certainly too high. An Armenian
clerical writer, who appears not to err on the side of exaggeration,
has placed the entire Gregorian population, that is the great bulk of
his countrymen in Turkey, at 1,263,900 souls. [309] It is reasonable
to suppose that the Armenian subjects of the Sultan number upwards of
one and a half millions, of whom some half million may be taken to
inhabit the statistical area with which we have been dealing, after
considerable additions have been made to supply the deficiencies in
the lists. The remainder are spread over the Empire, forming fairly
compact communities in the more populous towns. Previous to the
massacres of 1895, the Armenians of Constantinople were estimated at
180,000 souls, of whom some 80,000 might be reckoned as immigrants
for a certain period from such Armenian centres as Van and Arabkir,
and the remainder were permanently established. Other considerable
aggregates are forthcoming in Northern Syria and Cilicia, where,
besides the towns, the mountainous district of Zeitun is inhabited by
a vigorous and brave Armenian peasantry. The towns on the highlands
of Asia Minor from the Euphrates to Brusa and Smyrna number large
bodies of Armenians among their citizens. The same may be said of
those on the lowlands from the Persian Gulf to Diarbekr. Trebizond
contains a populous and flourishing settlement, as do most of the
rising towns along the coast of the Black Sea. Indeed the Armenian is
ubiquitous in the Nearer Asia, from the northern province of Persia
to the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. Yet this people as a whole
can scarcely amount to more than 3,000,000 souls, a round figure of
which the principal components are as follows:--


  The Armenian tableland (Russian and Turkish provinces)      906,984
  Caucasus and remainder of Russian Transcaucasia             450,000
  Astrakan and Bessarabia                                      75,600
  Remainder of Asiatic Turkey                                 751,500
  Turkey in Europe                                            186,000
  Azerbaijan province of Persia [310]                          28,890
  Colony of Julfa (Ispahan) and remainder of Persia [311]      14,110
  Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia                                  5,010
  Rumania                                                       8,070
  Austria                                                       1,230
                                                            ---------
                                                            2,427,394


Two sets of causes are responsible for the recent outbreaks of Armenian
sentiment in regions where this people are an insignificant minority,
separated from the natural and historical seats of their race. There
is in the first place the political and social inequality between the
Christians and the Mohammedans. Just as beside some stagnant pool among
the recesses of the rocks the returning tide awakens the folded life
of plant and shell, so our Western civilisation, recoiling upon Asia,
arouses the hopes which have slept for centuries in the breasts of
the Christians of the East. It is not that they are denied religious
freedom, as some of their partisans are bold enough to assert. The
tolerance of the reigning Sultan is active throughout his empire. The
traveller marvels at the liberty, almost amounting to license, which
is allowed to the votaries of the several creeds. Take the capital:
there are the Greeks with their noisy carnivals, so repugnant to
Mussulman austerity. Or the Moslem wayfarer is hustled from the street
by some funeral procession with its bevy of priests, conducting an
open coffin where the lineaments of the deceased are exposed to a
curious and respectful crowd. What invisible force controls all this
fermenting human material?... Nor will the favourable impression
be diminished by the wider experience of a provincial tour. In the
country the sound of Christian bells falls upon the landscape from
some cloister nestling in the lap of the hills. In the towns the
observance of Sunday effects a change in urban life which is almost
as marked as in a Christian state. Trades are suspended, shops are
closed, chimes ring from the churches.

What is denied to the Christians is political equality. They are
tolerated and they are taxed; but they remain the unbelievers, the
victims of a prejudice stronger than any law. In the case of the
Armenians they are rigorously prohibited from possessing firearms,
and they do not serve in the army. They are excluded from the highest
administrative posts. Their share in the provincial government is
almost as nothing. The edicts which have pronounced in favour of
equality have been inoperative and are in abeyance. At the same time
the voice of the West is heard louder and nearer; and the rebellious
spirits appeal to the example of Eastern Europe, freed for ever from
a Mussulman yoke.

But why did the movement fasten upon these scattered
communities--hostages, as it would seem, to the Mussulman power? I
think the reason is not very far to seek. Because of the severity
with which the outbreaks in Armenia were quelled during 1890 and the
preceding years. It was evident to the revolutionary party that the
spirit of their countrymen had become cowed in the land where they
are native. However real their wrongs--and I think I have testified
to their reality--they had learnt by recent experience to endure
them in silence without attempting to obtain redress. The movement,
suppressed in its place of origin, broke out on new ground.

Sasun, a mountainous region belonging to the southern peripheral
zone on the outer margin of the Armenian tableland, was the scene
of the first events in the latest recrudescence of the old malady,
smothered but not cured. The district extends from the southern slopes
of the mountains overlooking the plain and town of Mush, situated upon
their northern verge, to the neighbourhood of the town of Hazo. It
formed a canton of the old Armenian province of Aghdznik, which is
sometimes joined by Armenian writers with that of Korduk, the modern
Kurdistan. The name of the canton, Sasun, is said to be derived from
Sanasar, one of the two sons of the Assyrian monarch Sennacherib, who,
after slaying their father, fled into Armenia. [312] His descendants
appear to have been known as the Sanasuns or Sasuns [313]; they were
princes of Aghdznik, and occupied the very highest rank at the court
of the Armenian Arsakid king. [314] Their territories were no doubt
occupied by an Armenian population; and the memories of that distant
period still linger among the peasantry who are scattered over the wild
but in places fertile land. [315] But the vicinity of the region to
the towns of the lowlands must have rendered wellnigh impossible the
maintenance by its inhabitants of their Christian religion during the
period of Mussulman expansion. We know from history that its Armenian
ruler at the close of the ninth century had adopted a Mussulman name
and outwardly professed the Mohammedan religion. [316] At the present
day some handfuls of Armenian Christians preserve with obstinacy
the habits of their race and the practice of their religion among
remote fastnesses. The bulk of the population have adopted Islam,
are classed as Kurds, and can with difficulty be distinguished from
the Kurdish people.

Strange indeed are the anomalies which are presented in these
little-known districts of Turkish Kurdistan. On the southern fringe
of Sasun live a tribe called the Baliki or Beleke, speaking a mixed
language of Arabic, Kurdish and Armenian. Their religion cannot be
classed either as Christian or Mohammedan, nor even as that professed
by the Kizilbashes. When they make oath it is in the name of a church
or monastery. But they possess neither churches nor mosques. Marriage
is a rite which they ignore. Their women go about in perfect freedom
and unveiled, wearing white trousers like the Yezidis or so-called
devil-worshippers. Wives are bought or exchanged--a woman of forty
for one of twenty, the owner of the latter being compensated by a
few silver pieces. A girl may be purchased from them by a stranger,
provided always that you take her away. These Baliki are probably a
particular remnant of the old inhabitants, with whom the Armenians,
dispersed among them as traders, would scarcely recognise any racial
link.

Serfdom is an institution which is not unknown in the country,
though its existence is softened over by the Turkish authorities,
who shrink from dispensing a purely nominal sovereignty. The serfs,
who are Armenians, are known as zer kurri, signifying bought with
gold. In fact they are bought and sold in much the same manner as
sheep and cattle by the Kurdish beys and aghas. The only difference
is that they cannot be disposed of individually; they are transferred
with the lands which they cultivate. The chief appropriates as much as
he wishes from their yearly earnings, capital or goods; and in return
he provides them with protection against other Kurdish tribes. Many
stories are told to illustrate the nature of the relation. A serf
was shot by the servant of a Kurdish agha who possessed lands in
the neighbourhood. The owner of the serf did not trouble to avenge
his death on the person of the murderer, still less upon that of the
agha, his neighbour. He rode over to the agha's lands, and put bullets
through two of his serfs, the first that he happened to meet.... The
serf of a chieftain residing a few hours' distance from the town of
Hazo had settled in Hazo, where he had become treasurer to the Turkish
Government. One night his house was attacked by another Kurdish chief,
his money carried off and he and his cousin murdered. In this case the
owner was not so easily propitiated. He gathered his people together,
bearded his fellow-brigand in his lair, killed him, burnt down his
house, and put to death every living thing. Both these incidents
occurred during the lifetime of people who are still living; the one
is related by no less an authority than a British Consul, and the
other by an individual in a responsible position, whose sympathies
are on the side of the Turkish Government.

On the tableland of Armenia such relations between the Kurds and
the Armenians are altogether unknown. Their existence in one form or
another among the inaccessible retreats of Kurdistan provided material
for the revolutionary propaganda of the agitator, Damadean, whose early
doings in the Sasun region I have chronicled in my chapter on Bitlis,
and who presents a striking and almost legendary figure even in the
sober narrative of the Blue-books. [317] This man and his successor
Boyajean knew full well that there in Sasun they were breaking virgin
ground. They were further encouraged by the fact that the Armenian
peasantry of that region were in possession of arms and knew how to
use them. The result of their efforts and of the ill-advised action of
the local authorities was the Sasun massacre of 1894. It was followed
by the massacres of 1895, which devastated the country districts and
most of the great towns of the Armenian tableland, but of which the
principal and new feature was the occurrence of such tragedies among
the Armenian communities spread over the face of the Ottoman Empire.

I have not been able to learn that the condition of these scattered
communities presents any special cause for disaffection; and I do not
believe that the revolutionary movement, in which they all participated
in some degree, was either spontaneous in its nature or indigenous
in its growth. Few if any of them are engaged in a struggle for life
and death with hordes of Kurds, let loose on territory which is not
Kurdish and which is far from being suited to that race of lawless
shepherds. Most of them are fairly prosperous citizens in the towns;
and whatever grievances they may possess are shared in a greater or a
lesser degree by all the Christian subjects of the Sultan. The Armenian
cause, as a cause with a justifiable and reasonable aim, is not founded
upon any such grievances. For all practical and constructive purposes
it is simply a question of the proper government of the provinces of
Armenia which are inhabited by Mussulmans as well as by Armenians,
but which are raided and drained of their resources by tribal Kurds.

One other aspect of this part of the subject remains to be
considered. The massacres of 1895 were certainly not the outcome of a
spontaneous rising of the Mussulmans against the Christians. All or
nearly all were organised from without. I well remember how, while
taking coffee with an official high in the Turkish service in the
neighbourhood of a great provincial centre, my host, pointing to the
road which we overlooked from the open windows, said: "I can never
look upon that road without remembering the occasion when I sat in
this very room and saw strange people passing along it--immigrants,
so they seemed, from the mountains in the north. Our massacre followed
at no long interval." The Mussulmans of the Armenian provinces are
perfectly well aware that their own turn will closely follow upon the
disappearance of the Armenians. They will not, indeed, be butchered
by imported bands of ruffians; but they will be swallowed by the
Kurds. Some of their villages have already been raided by this people,
who are less to blame for such natural exercise of their appetites
than those who have transplanted or enticed them from their native
seats.... I must now pass without any preamble to the larger bearings
of the Armenian Question: does it offer any scope for a practical and
special solution which need not embrace the reform and rejuvenescence
of the Ottoman Empire as a whole? And what are the interests of the
progressive states of Europe, and of Great Britain in particular,
in the settlement and disposal of the Question?

I. I must repeat with tedious persistency that what is most required is
a knowledge and appreciation of the geographical conditions. These I
have endeavoured in a lengthy analysis to elucidate. Collective Notes
and schemes of reform are of very little value, if it be attempted to
apply their provisions indifferently to regions presenting features so
distinct and dissimilar as the tableland of Armenia and the mountains
of Kurdistan. No solution of the Armenian Question in Turkey would
be calculated to contain the elements of permanence which should
not be concerned in the first instance with delimitation, and with
redistribution of the existing Governmental areas.

The principles upon which such redistribution should proceed are
the common-sense principles of grouping together districts which
naturally belong together, and of rendering the Governments as far as
possible homogeneous. I think it would be found that obedience to these
principles would at the same time assist a practical solution of the
Kurdish Question. They would point to the formation of three great
Governments. One would be constituted by the mountainous districts
between the tableland of Armenia and the Black Sea, and might be
called the Black Sea Government. It would coincide to some extent
with the existing area of the vilayet of Trebizond; but it might seem
advisable to include within it regions at present belonging to the
vilayet of Erzerum, such as Tortum and the districts on the side of
Olti. The second Government would embrace the tableland itself, and
its demarcation should be conducted as far as possible in consonance
with the natural frontiers, such as they have been determined in
the present work. The third Government would be the Government of
Kurdistan. It would comprehend a considerable area, from Kirkuk and
Sulimanieh on the south-east to Diarbekr and the confines of Kharput
on the north-west. Mosul, Jezireh and Diarbekr would be the bases of
the administration, these cities on the lowlands being situated in
convenient positions to serve as centres from which to control the
necessary winter migrations of the Kurdish tribes from their mountains
to the agricultural regions bordering on the left or eastern bank
of the Tigris. Strong military posts might be established within the
mountainous area in the principal towns of Kurdistan.

Of these three Governments that of the tableland should be administered
from a suitable centre, which centre would be neither Erzerum nor
Van. Akhlat, Melazkert or Khinis would seem to be naturally designated
to fulfil the requirements of the case. None of these towns are
very far removed from the frontier line of the Kurdish mountains,
on which side alone would the new Government be exposed to incursions
of the lawless Kurdish element. All of them are favourably placed for
intercommunication with the principal Armenian districts. Passage of
the tribes from Kurdistan proper into the Governmental area should be
rigorously interdicted. It could be prevented by no more formidable
measures than the enrolment of a corps of gendarmerie. Such a corps
would also suffice to police the districts on the tableland at present
inhabited by tribal Kurds.

Reforms or changes of this nature are well within the capacity of the
Government at Constantinople. They would not, I think, prejudice
their general military administration; it might even be found
that they would be in harmony with purely military interests. But
the Turks should never forget that they are much more likely to
succumb as an empire owing to defects in the civil rather than in
the military arm. Europe, with all her want of squeamishness, cannot
permanently tolerate civil misgovernment on so great a scale. One
after another the friends or allies of the Ottoman Empire in Europe
will be compelled to stand aside. Sooner or later the young German
Empire will be forced by circumstances to adopt the same attitude
as her elder sister of Great Britain. Meanwhile there is growing
up with alarming rapidity a situation in the provinces immediately
adjoining Russian territory which already invites and may soon
require Russian intervention. Russian statesmen are only awaiting
the favourable moment in the world movements of the time. Russian
troops are already placed within striking distance of the fortress
of Erzerum, immediately commanding the roads to the interior of
Asia Minor and to the capital. It does not require a long memory to
recall the pretexts--nay, the causes--upon which Russia justified her
previous aggressions upon Turkish territory. Who shall assert that
the present situation on the tableland of Armenia is less aggravated
than that which prevailed in the European provinces when the Russian
armies crossed the Pruth in 1877?

Administrative changes of the nature I have indicated are, of course,
only feasible as a whole through spontaneous action on the part of the
Government at Constantinople. Their professed friends but real enemies
may try to play upon their suspicions; and will, no doubt, urge that
they are being offered in a thinly veiled form the substance of an
independent Armenia. But such a consummation, were it even possible in
a remote future, need not alarm the well-known solicitude of Oriental
rulers for the interests of posterity. If the millions of Mussulmans
attached by religion and common interests to the rule of the Sultans
were ever insufficient to keep within bounds Armenian ambitions, the
presence of such a strong nation upon the high road of the Russian
advance would surely be a blessing in disguise. It can scarcely be
doubted that in that case the weight of Armenian sympathies would be
on the side of the weak Ottoman Empire. But this talk about a revival
of the Armenian kingdom is windy and frivolous in the extreme. The
Armenians have neither leaders nor a class of leaders; and how long
would it take to develop such a class? In the ninth century, when
they broke loose from the expiring body of the caliphate, they had
their princes and nobles of greater and lesser degree. These families
have disappeared without leaving a trace. And is it certain or even
probable that, if the old ideal could be again realised, the Armenians
in the twentieth century would be prepared to revive a polity which
would narrow their activities from the whole wide area of an empire
to the confined stage of a petty state?

The example of Bulgaria, sometimes quoted with a shiver of fear in
this connection, is not an example in point. There the Christians
composed the bulk of the population; and they had no links, such
as are present in the case of the Armenians, with the rest of the
Ottoman Empire. But, even if the apprehensions of the most nervous
could be justified by solid arguments, what is the alternative which
they are able to suggest? If they settle the Kurdish Question they
are in so far assisting the Armenians; while, if they allow it to
settle itself, they are face to face with the ruin of these provinces,
which Russia, in the interests of the security of her own frontier,
will be constrained and will be invited by Europe to occupy.

But the regulation of Turkish Armenia is not a matter which alone
concerns the rulers on the Bosphorus. Europe has always recognised
her intimate interest in the affairs of Turkey, and she is specially
pledged to secure good government for the Armenians. But her
intervention, should it be necessary, would, I hope, be based on the
broadest grounds, not in favour of the Armenians alone, but also of the
Mussulmans. The constitution of a single new province on the tableland
would not be tantamount to controlling the administration of Asiatic
Turkey; it is a measure which can be reasonably demanded and readily
executed. Moreover, if Europe were again to take up the question, she
would be well advised not to recognise any limitations in respect of
the qualifications of the new Governor-General. He would, of course,
not be an Armenian, and he might very well be a Mussulman and a subject
of the Sultan. Or a European might be appointed to the post. In a
financial and administrative sense the province would be dissevered
from the Central Government; and, in the present state of the country,
a loan to the provincial treasury would be necessary to supply the
funds for the organisation of the gendarmerie. The new Governor would
rule over a somewhat heterogeneous Mussulman majority and a compact
Armenian minority, very much their inferior in numbers. But his efforts
would be assisted by the homogeneous nature of the provincial area;
and his jurisdiction would embrace, not a tract of difficult mountain
country, but some of the finest agricultural districts in the world.

The needs of the Armenians living in the capital and in the towns
of Asiatic Turkey could be met by the revival of the so-called
constitution granted to their nation by Sultan Abd-al-Aziz in
1863. I have thought it worth while to include a translation of this
lengthy document, and it will be found in my first appendix. It has
the nature of a regulating statute, like the Polojenye in Russia,
rather than of what we should understand by a constitution. But,
unlike the Polojenye, it is mainly addressed to the development
among the Armenians of systematic management of the affairs of their
communities. Those communities have always enjoyed the privilege of
administering their own institutions, such as monasteries, churches,
hospitals and schools. The statute of 1863 provides a complete and
democratic machinery for the better organisation and control of
such institutions. It wisely avoids, except in the last resort, any
interference by Government in these purely internal affairs. I cannot
conceive any better training for the Armenian people than that which
they would receive by the application of their great intelligence to
such practical and concrete ideals. The pitfall which they should
avoid, were the statute ever revived, is the attempt to convert it
into a political weapon.

II. Europe as a whole is concerned with the future of these Asiatic
provinces on the score of her great and growing trade. The particular
Powers are also interested on political grounds--to preserve the
balance of power. The territory of Turkish Armenia is of first-rate
importance whether from the one or the other point of view. As regards
trade, it is not only the trade with Armenia that is at stake, but
that with the whole of Northern Persia. The great highway of commerce
between the ports on the Black Sea and the interior of Persia passes
along the avenue of the Armenian plains. The possession of Erzerum
by a protectionist Power would effectually stifle this important
trade-route, and would cut off Persia from the Black Sea.

Not less far-reaching would be the results in a political sense of
such an occupation. The strategical value of the country is difficult
to overrate. Turkish Armenia is the sign-post of the Nearer Asia,
commanding the roads west, south and east. These issue upon the one
side at the Mediterranean seaboards, and, on the other, at the Persian
Gulf. The contemporary littleness of the land has served in no small
measure to blind our eyes to these facts.

Europe may elect to keep herself blind to such considerations, whether
of a commercial or political nature. The question then arises, what
are the interests of Great Britain, and upon what lines should her
policy be shaped?

In the discussion of all such questions it is a principle of no small
value to ascertain not the opinions of statesmen and diplomatists, but
those of the proverbial man in the street. Of the former, few, indeed,
are at the present day possessed even of an elementary knowledge of
such-like Asiatic problems. Layard and Rawlinson have both been long
removed from the stage of politics; and these eminent men and stately
figures with their Western culture and Eastern sympathies have both
already passed from our midst. We can none of us be specialists on
each and every question; and it is with a feeling of deep respect that
those among us who have, perhaps, acquired some small knowledge of
a particular problem, should endeavour to select among their friends
those possessed of the divine average, and use them as foolometers--the
gauge of common sentiment.

Several different kinds of opinion will be registered. "It is
very sad, those poor Armenians; but we are not knight-errants, and
there are hard blows going about."... "Why can't we leave the Turks
alone--they are in possession. Turkey belongs to the Turks and China
to the Chinese."... "So we are to hark back to the miserable policy of
bolstering up the Turks! Let them go bag and baggage to the quickest
possible perdition; and, if Russia will do the work and remove the
nuisance, so much the better for us and the whole world."... "We
can't expect to have a finger in everybody's pie. We have already
more than we can manage on our hands." The one conclusion which you
may draw from these conflicting utterances is that the balance of
common sentiment is, perhaps, in favour of standing aside.

In England the actions of Governments are based on common
sentiment. There is no Government in the sense of an enlightened
administration, with a reasoned foreign policy and what the French
would call a politique de longue vue et de longue haleine. Even our
great Indian Empire is ruled on principles which, so far as they relate
to external affairs, are little better than the proverbial methods
of the ostrich. What Indian Foreign Secretary is even conversant with
the affairs of Persia, his next-door neighbour, as one might say? The
Indian Government are at the present day sensible of great constriction
in their finances, and what are the methods which they pursue? In
every direction they draw in their horns, saving a few pounds here
and a few there, and pointing with pride to the forcible retirement
of a pair or two of distinguished teachers in a great educational
establishment. What vigilance and strict economy! But business, at
least in the City, is not as a rule conducted by the clerks. There
our suspicions are excited by such pettifogging manoeuvres, and we
keep our eyes open in expectation of the inevitable failure, not less
certain than in the case of inflation and extravagance.

At home widespread prosperity, a long start in the industrial race
and the complexity of our world-wide transactions have grown like
weeds and flowers around the margin of a salubrious well, screening
the view and almost the sound of the life-giving waters. We forget
the commercial basis of all our wealth and power; and few among
us are sensible of a thrill if some vast province of the Chinese
Empire be walled round against our trade. Yet foreign commerce is the
most delicate of national activities, slow, shy, easily disturbed
and swiftly killed. The essential peacefulness of its methods, and
the fact that few of the homes it helps to support are even aware
of the destination of the goods they contribute to produce--such
characteristics are little calculated to compete with the clamour
of other interests, such as gold-mines, colonies, pan-Germandom or
pan-Saxondom, or any other of the popular cries of the day.

The spirit of adventure lying at the foundation of the British
character has been enlisted into African enterprise. One cannot
help admiring the undoubted ability with which the organisers of
the movement towards South Africa have at once appealed to the
imagination of the British people, and won over to their side by
careful preparation both the elements in the body politic capable of
exercising quiet pressure and the recognised mouthpieces of public
opinion. The prettiest women, the most ancient titles have all their
share in the movement; and a Press, which cannot be bought, has been
successfully persuaded of the excellence of the cause which in full
chorus they uphold and applaud. On the Continent similar methods have
been pursued by our Boer adversaries; and the result has been a war
in print and a war in feeling with our neighbours in Europe of far
greater moment than the African battles we have won or lost. For such
outbursts, produced by a clever imitation of South African methods,
or, perhaps, by spontaneous appreciation on the part of the Boers of
the new-born forces of advertisement on a huge scale, the organisers
in England can scarcely be held responsible. They have done their work
well, however we may judge its effect on character; and we cannot blame
them if, absorbed in their own particular problem, they have at the
same time thrown cold water on all questions concerning Asia. The
prudence of our people, once committed to an important struggle,
has also been a factor on their side.

But Africa, this Syracuse of modern Europe, will not always, let us
hope, be at our doors. The moment our hands are free I trust they
may be directed to the disentangling of some Asiatic knots. Now the
interests of Great Britain, under which we may include those of British
India, are, I think there can be no doubt, most intimately bound
up with the Asiatic provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Starting from
the base of the Persian Gulf we have built up by laborious methods,
extending over a period of getting on for a century, a commercial
system which reaches far into the interior of Mesopotamia and embraces
the whole of Southern Persia. At the same time we have erected that
northern trade-route of which I have spoken, giving access to our goods
from the coast of the Black Sea to the markets of Northern Persia.

What a long and patient struggle in face of almost overwhelming
difficulties has been successfully conducted and inch by inch pursued
by these various enterprises! With them are associated the names
of Brant in the north and of Chesney and Lynch in the south. The
correspondence of Consul Brant with his distinguished chief, Stratford
Canning, will, I trust, be some day given to the world. [318] It
displays on its face a union of ideas with the much rarer capacity
of translating them into practice by unwearying attention to the
minutest details, which, whether the quality may have been inspired
by the ambassador or his able subordinate, reflects lustre upon both
names. It serves to remind us that the Russian policy of building walls
round their possessions is not a policy of recent date. We may regard
with legitimate pride the readiness of our ancestors to take advantage
of the throwing open of the Black Sea and of the facilities offered
by the introduction of steam power; the old land-routes through Asia
Minor were rapidly superseded, and a new commercial avenue between
Trebizond and the interior of Persia was gradually opened up by a
series of patient efforts which would have done credit to the Genoese.

In the south the expeditions of Chesney (1835-37) [319] and of Lynch
(1837 and following years) were directed to the survey of the rivers
Euphrates and Tigris and of the countries through which they flow. The
former took his vessels in pieces from the coast of Syria to the
Euphrates, while those of the latter--the Nitocris, Assyria and
Nimrod--were conveyed by sea to the estuary of the Shat-el-Arab. The
labours of these pioneers were thrown away by the British Government,
and the project of an overland route from the Mediterranean to India
somewhat suffered from the undertaking of the Suez Canal (1860
and following years). It is certain to be revived. On the purely
commercial side something was saved by individuals; and, starting from
the knowledge acquired by the two eminent explorers, a trade with an
annual value at the present day of about a million sterling has little
by little been built up. It is carried by river steamers, which also
convey the British mails, from the Persian Gulf to Baghdad. These
steamers have to contend with a variety of disabilities imposed by
the Turkish Government. Their voyages are confined to the Tigris;
the Euphrates is kept closed, and they are not suffered to proceed a
mile above Baghdad. But the magnificent country through which they
pass is growing in wealth through the facilities they provide; and
the force of circumstances will sooner or later open wide the doors.

Of even earlier date are our trade-routes from the Gulf seaboard to the
tableland of Persia. Indeed it may be said without exaggeration that
from Kirmanshah on the north to Beluchistan upon the south the zone
of mountains which support that tableland are threaded by a number
of arteries, diffusing over the vast body of the Iranian highlands
the life-blood of reciprocal commerce. Such facts have not escaped
the notice and solicitude of competent observers; but it seems to
me that their logical bearing upon the problems of the Nearer Asia
has not been examined with sufficient thoroughness. There can be
little doubt that the acquisition by Russia of a port on the Persian
Gulf would not be tolerated by any British Government. [320] Apart
from all considerations of a commercial nature, it would imply the
necessity of maintaining a powerful fleet in the Gulf, with additional
strain on the finances of India. But what if the northern Power were
to occupy Turkish Armenia? Would it merely entail the loss of our
northern trade-route? I should like to examine in a temperate spirit
the possibilities of such a hypothesis, not fearing to look them in
the face, but endeavouring to divest my remarks of any alarmist or
sensational character.

My reader who may have mastered the facts of the geography will call
to mind the intimate connection of the system of tablelands with one
another from the borders of India to the Mediterranean. The capital of
Persia and her greatest cities are situated upon the tableland; and I
cannot conceive that the empire of the Shahs could long maintain its
independence after Russia had become possessed of Turkish Armenia. Not
less certain would be the fate of Asia Minor, west of the Euphrates;
and, indeed, in the contingency which we are discussing, the German
Empire might be well advised to bargain away the important railways
which she has recently constructed in that country in return for
substantial advantages elsewhere. As regards England, I cannot admit,
after careful consideration, that the loss to her trade of Turkish
Armenia and the presence of Russia on the tableland of Persia would
necessarily endanger India. Such a consummation--regrettable as it
must be, and avoidable as I believe it is--would deal a hard blow at
her trade in the south. But one has to face that common sentiment of
which I have spoken, and the corresponding lukewarmness of our rulers
in the domain of Asiatic affairs.

It would be a very different thing if we were to suffer any
encroachment on the part of Russia upon the zone of mountains
supporting on the south the tablelands of Armenia and Persia, and
drawn like a long succession of chevaux de frise around the lowlands of
Mesopotamia. Her occupation of any part of that zone of mountains would
necessarily entail sooner or later the occupation of the whole. The
lowlands themselves, the field of our trade, and appointed by Nature as
a granary for India with her teeming millions and uncertain harvests,
would be at her mercy without striking a blow. Distance is a factor
of little importance on the lowlands; they are flat as the sea, and
traversed from one end to the other by two magnificent navigable
rivers. A Power stationed at Diarbekr is already stationed on the
Persian Gulf, with a country of immense potential wealth at her
back. For these reasons it would be well that we should recognise
as soon as possible that the bedrock of British policy in the Nearer
Asia should be the preservation of the integrity of the lowlands with
their frame of mountains from Syria to the borders of India.

The conclusion at which I arrive is that the possession by Russia
of Turkish Armenia would be attended by consequences which have
scarcely been appreciated at all by the majority of my countrymen. I
would fain hope that, if this event be indeed inevitable, it may not
take us by surprise. Our own path is clearly indicated by the finger
of Nature; and the Russian Empire, established in Armenia, would be
quite as accessible to attack from the lowlands as our Indian Empire
to hostile approach on the side of Asiatic Russia. But in order to
safeguard our interests and provide for future contingencies we must
accustom ourselves to think a little ahead. It will not be sufficient
to beat time, and endeavour to entice Germany into our own particular
domain. As a natural commercial ally in her own field of Asia Minor,
that Power may render assistance to the common cause. As a competitor
in our sphere she would be very much more likely to make her own
terms with the northern Empire. Finally--for after all it is as much
a question of men as of measures--I should like to contribute my vote
as a traveller--whatever it may be worth--in favour of a proposal
recently made by a well-informed writer. And the only amendment
which one might desire to the proposition he has well expressed is
that it should be accompanied by a recognition of what our Foreign
Office has already accomplished with the imperfect system which it
at present dispenses:--"The machinery of the Foreign Office is not
adjusted to perform the new and strange duties which belong to Oriental
diplomacy. The ministers and secretaries who are competent officials
in Vienna or Rome are lost among the tortuous political pathways of
Bangkok, Teheran and Pekin. Never shall we hold our own in Asia until
an Asiatic Department is formed, under the charge of an experienced
minister of Cabinet rank, with an independent diplomatic staff, trained
in the methods, and speaking fluently the languages of the East." [321]



APPENDIX I

NATIONAL CONSTITUTION OF THE ARMENIANS IN THE TURKISH EMPIRE


PRELIMINARIES


The Sublime Porte,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
No. 191.

To the Prudent Representative of the Patriarch
(Locum tenens)


Prudent and dear Sir--The Imperial Firman concerning reforms requires
that each community shall take into consideration within a given
time the privileges and prerogatives which it enjoys, and, after due
counsel, shall decide upon the reforms which are in accordance with
the circumstances, the civilisation and the learning of the present
time. It shall present a list of such reforms to the Sublime Porte in
order that the authority and rights granted to the spiritual heads
of each community may be placed in harmony with the position and
new conditions secured to each community. In accordance with these
behests, the outlines of a Constitution for the Armenian nation
have been prepared by a Committee composed of certain honourable
persons. But at the same time it has been considered appropriate
that the ecclesiastical members of the General Assembly and the
delegates of the different Quarters should select by a majority of
votes a Committee of seven, to whose consideration the above-mentioned
project should be submitted. We therefore beg you to despatch within
a few days the summons to hold the election of that Committee, and
to direct that the Committee shall meet at the Sublime Porte the
Committee and functionary appointed specially for this purpose. We
beg you also to send us the names of the seven persons thus elected.


(Signature)
Ali.

1862, Feb. 14 (Old style).



DOCUMENT PRESENTED TO THE SUBLIME PORTE BY THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE
AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE GOVERNMENT


To the Sublime Porte,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


The Imperial Government has from ancient times granted to the different
nations under its righteous protection privileges and prerogatives
for their religious liberty and the special administration of their
internal affairs.

These prerogatives are in their principles uniform for all nations,
but they are at the same time adapted to the particular religious
regulations and customs of each nationality. And each nationality has
used and enjoyed them according to its peculiar manners and customs.

The Armenian nation, like other nations, has had to this day
a Patriarch, who has been acknowledged by the Government as the
President of the Patriarchal Administration, the representative
of the nation, and the medium of the execution of Imperial Orders,
and who from ancient times has been elected from the ecclesiastical
body by a General Assembly, composed of individuals representing the
different classes of the nation.

The Patriarch in his office, which is to preside over the nation and
to watch over its interests, has never been exempt from the influence
and supervision of the nation, exerted over him through the General
Assembly. The proof of this is that the Patriarch has always invited
and convoked the General Assembly, and has applied to that Assembly
for a decision when a question has been raised by orders of the
Sublime Porte.

The Armenian nation about two years ago begged of the Imperial
Government to have two Assemblies established in the Patriarchate under
the presidency of the Patriarch, one religious, the other political,
that they might be participators in and auxiliaries of the office of
the Patriarch, and that any deviation on the part of the nation from
its ancient regulations and customs, both religious and political,
might be prevented.

When these assemblies were established it became necessary to organise
other Councils for the administration of the minor affairs of the
nation.

But as the authority and duties of each national officer were
not definitely defined, it was evident that these efforts to
improve the state of affairs in the nation would be the occasion
of continual misunderstanding in the different branches of the
National Administration, as well as between that administration and
the nation. This naturally would be the cause of many irregularities
in the execution of justice for all concerned, and of confusion and
disputes in the National Administration.

With the object of doing away with the causes of such confusion and
dissension, and with the nuisance of the undue claims of different
parties, the Imperial Government, with its paternal solicitude for
all its subjects, deems it necessary to organise a National Mixed
Committee in order to prepare a Constitution in accordance with the
peculiar religious and political customs and long-established manners.

Now that Mixed Committee considers it proper according to the outline
of the Constitution presented for confirmation to the Sublime Porte,

I. That the office of the Patriarch as the medium between the nation
and the Sublime Porte should remain as it was in the old system,

II. That the organisation of the General Assembly should be
reformed. The national delegates, instead of being elected by the
Esnafs (Artisans)--since the condition of the Esnafs is no longer
what it used to be--should be elected by the Committees of churches,
that is, by different quarters, in a way that perhaps will be more
regular and lawful than the one adopted by the Greeks.

And as Armenians living in the interior of the country rightly complain
that they are altogether deprived of participation in the deliberations
and decisions of the Patriarchate, a number of the delegates should be
elected by the provinces to be added to the number of the delegates of
the quarters or sections of Constantinople. The ecclesiastical members,
twenty of them, should be elected by the clergy in Constantinople, so
that the total number of the members of the General Assembly be 140;
their term of office should last ten years, and once in every two
years the tenth part should be changed, and new elections take place.

The General Assembly should nominate both the Patriarch and the members
of the two Assemblies working under his presidency and should have
the supervision of their acts,

III. The administration of religious affairs should belong to the
Religious Assembly, the administration of Political affairs to the
Political Assembly, and that of mixed affairs to the Mixed Assembly,
which shall consist of the other two Assemblies together,

IV. The Religious and Political Assemblies should manage through
the Sectional and other Councils all national affairs of the church
communities (that is to say, the people of different sections or
quarters) under their jurisdiction, and the affairs of the churches,
schools, hospitals, monasteries, and other similar national
institutions,

V. The centre of the administration should be the National
Patriarchate. The Patriarch, as the Official Head of the Patriarchate,
should preside both over the General Assembly and over the two National
Assemblies, and he should under the inspection of the General Assembly
manage all the affairs concerning the nation directly or indirectly,

VI. The administration of provincial communities should be connected
with the Central Administration. The Metropolitans should preside
over local assemblies which should be organised in the same way as
those in Constantinople, and they should be the managers of those
local assemblies,

VII. The Provincial Assemblies should be responsible to the Central
Administration. Each one of the Councils of this Central Administration
should be responsible to the Assembly to which it belongs. The
National Assemblies should be responsible to the General Assemblies,
the Patriarch responsible on the one hand to the Imperial Government
and on the other to the nation (through the General Assembly),

VIII. And, inasmuch as the Imperial Government considers the Patriarch
as the natural medium of the execution of the orders given by it
to the nation, and at the same time considers him as the head of
the National Administration, and it is to him that it addresses its
question, if the Government should command the Patriarch to give his
opinion on the question asked, the Patriarch should act according to
the decision of the Assemblies under his presidency; but, if he be
ordered to communicate to the Government the opinion of the nation,
then he should convoke the General Assembly and communicate to the
Government the final decision of that Assembly,

IX. The National Administration has three kinds of obligations. First
towards the Imperial Government, that is to preserve the nation in
perfectly loyal subjection and to secure to the nation in general
and to individuals in particular the preservation of their rights
and privileges on the part of the Government. The second obligation
is to the nation, to treat it in true compassion and in a paternal
way. The third is to the see of Edgmiatsin, to act in accordance with
the religious regulations and laws of the Armenian Church.

These are the features in the Constitution which the Mixed Committee
considers desirable. These features are approved by the other Committee
which was organised according to the orders of your Excellency, in
order to present to the Sublime Porte on behalf of the nation their
observations on the Constitution.

Constantinople, 1862.

Signatures of the members of the Committee of the Sublime
Porte--Stephanos, Archbishop of Nicomedia, Representative of the
Patriarch Elect of Constantinople, three Armenian ecclesiastics,
and eight notables.

Signatures of the members of the National Committee, seven notables.



ORDINANCE OF THE SUBLIME PORTE


To the Prudent Representative of the
Patriarch Elect of Constantinople.


The Constitution drawn up by the Committee formed at the Sublime Porte
for the reforms of the condition and administration of the Armenian
Patriarchate, after having undergone certain modifications concerning
secular affairs only, was presented to His Imperial Majesty, and,
having been approved by His Imperial Majesty, the Imperial Decree,
making a law of the features contained in it, was issued to be handed
to your Beatitude.

In enclosing to you the above-mentioned Constitution, we commission
you to superintend the perfect execution of those features according
to the high will of the August Emperor.


1863, March 17.



INTRODUCTION

The privileges granted by the Ottoman Empire to its non-Mohammedan
subjects are in their principles equal for all, but the mode of their
execution varies according to the requirements of the particular
customs of each nationality.

The Armenian Patriarch is the head of his nation, and in particular
circumstances the medium of the execution of the orders of the
Government. There is, however, in the Patriarchate a Religious
Assembly for religious affairs and a Political Assembly for political
affairs. In case of necessity these two Assemblies unite and form
the Mixed Assembly. Both the Patriarch and the members of these
Assemblies are elected in a General Assembly composed of honourable
men of the nation.

As the office and duties of the above Assemblies and the mode of their
formation are not defined by sufficient rules, and for this reason
different inconveniences and special difficulties in the formation
of the General Assembly have been noticed,

As each community is bound according to the new Imperial Edict (Hatti
Humayun, 6/18 Feb. 1856) to examine within a given time its rights
and privileges, and after due deliberation to present to the Sublime
Porte the reforms required by the present state of things and the
progress of civilisation of our times,

As it is necessary to harmonise the authority and power granted to
the religious chief of each nationality with the new condition and
system secured to each community,

A Committee of some honourable persons of the nation was organised,
which Committee prepared for the nation the following Constitution.



ARMENIAN NATIONAL CONSTITUTION


Fundamental Principles

1. Each individual has obligations towards the nation. The nation,
in its turn, has obligations towards each individual. Again, each
individual and the nation have their respective rights over one
another.

Hence the nation and its constituents are bound together by mutual
duties, so that the duty of the one is the right of the other.

2. It is the duty of each member of the nation to share according
to his means in the expenses of the nation, willingly to accept any
services asked of him by the nation, and to submit to its decision.

These duties of the individual are the rights of the nation.

3. The duties of the nation are to care for the moral, intellectual,
and material wants of its members, to preserve intact the creed and
traditions of the Armenian Church, to diffuse equally the knowledge
necessary to all men among the children of both sexes and of all
classes, to watch over the prosperity of national institutions, to
increase the national income in any possible lawful way and wisely to
administer the national expenses, to improve the condition of those
who have devoted themselves for life to the service of the nation and
to secure their future, to provide for the needy, peaceably to adjust
the disputes that may arise among the members of the nation--in a word,
to labour with self-denial for the progress of the nation.

These obligations on the part of the nation are the rights of its
members.

4. The authority which is appointed to represent the nation and to
supervise and administer the regular performance of these mutual
obligations is called the National Administration. To this body is
committed, by especial permission of the Ottoman Government and by
virtue of the Constitution, the care of the internal affairs of the
Armenians of Turkey.

5. In order that the Administration may be national it should be
representative.

6. The foundation of this Representative Administration is the
principle of rights and duties, which is the principle of justice. Its
strength is to be found in the plurality of voices, which is the
principle of legality.



CHAPTER I

THE CENTRAL NATIONAL ADMINISTRATION


I. The Patriarch of Constantinople

His Election and Resignation

Article 1.--The Patriarch of Constantinople is the President of all
the National Assemblies and the representative of their executive
authority, and in particular circumstances he is the medium of the
execution of the orders of the Ottoman Government.

Hence the person to be elected as Patriarch should be a man worthy of
the confidence and respect of the whole nation, and he should possess
all the qualifications and dignity required by his position. He should
belong to that class of bishops who have always been considered as
candidates for the office. At the same time he should be worthy of
the perfect confidence of the Government, an Ottoman subject beginning
at least with his father and above thirty-five yea