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and refreshment, entered upon our examination of this interesting spot.
“ Here is a village with ruins, apparently of different agesruins worthy of the Roman name, and of a powerful city They consist of the remains of a fortress of immense strength, in the midst of an irregular rounded enclosure, encompassed by a very ancient and strong wall ... built of large square stones, uncemented. It has been mostly thrown down, but on the northern side it is still several feet in height ... Along this wall, on the inside, towards the west and north-west, is a row of ancient massive vaults, with fine round arches, apparently of the same age as the wall itself. These are now nearly covered by the accumulated rubbish, yet some of them still serve as dwellings for the inhabitants ... The character of this wall and of these vaults, leaves no doubt that they are of Roman origin. In the midst of this area stands an irregular castle, the lower parts of which seem to be as ancient as the exterior wall; but it has obviously been built up again in more modern times. Indeed, an inscription over the gateway shows that it was last repaired by the Turks (in A. D. 1551), nearly ten years after the present walls of Jerusalem were built ... The gate was now shut up; and the court within planted with tobacco, so far as there was room among the heaps of stones and rubbish. The walls are so far broken down, that we could clamber over them and enter without difficulty. The interior of the castle was full of arches and vaults; and the people told us of a church with pictures in the southern part, now shut up, and, indeed, buried beneath the ruins. Several small marble columns were strewed around. The area of the enclosure, outside of the castle, is occupied partly by the modern hovels of the village; partly by patches of tobacco and vegetables; while in the northern and eastern quarters it is confusedly covered with heaps of stones, the materials of ancient walls and structures.
“ The situation of this fortress was low, on a point between two wadys . . . Back of the village, the ground rises into hills, which must have overlooked the fortress. The ancient town appears to have extended for some distance along the open valley, towards the north-east. In this part are still remains of the former wall and dwellings. Just by the village on the west, in the other valley, is a large public well, around which cattle and flocks were collected for watering. “ Twenty minutes from the village
... are seen the ruins of an ancient church, hearing the name of Santa Hanneh,
(St. Anne) ... In following up the wady to this spot, we passed two other wells. One of them was quite large; flocks and herds were gathered around both; while men and women were drawing water, and filling for them the many drinking troughs, presenting an animated scene of Oriental pastoral life. Of the church, only the eastern end is standing, including the niche of the great altar, and that of a side chapel, built of large hewn stones of strong and beautiful masonry.
Such is Dr. Robinson's account of his first visit to Beit Jibrîn. At a subsequent one, the sheikh of the village, an intelligent man, showed him “ several antiquities in the vicinity, which we had omitted to see on our former visit.” Of these antiquities, an account is given in the next note.Robinson's Researches, vol. ii. pp. 355–358.
Account of some remarkable Caverns in the South of Judæa,
in the Neighbourhood of Deir Dubbâ'n,' and Beit Jibrîn.
“A few steps beyond ... Deir Dubbâ’n, we came to the cavern (so called) of which we were in search, just by our road on the left ... The place is certainly a great curiosity. In the soft limestone or chalky rock, which the soil here scarcely covers, are several irregular pits, some nearly square, and all about fifteen or twenty feet deep, with perpendicular sides. Whether these pits are natural or artificial, it might at first be difficult to say. In the sides are irregular doors, or low arched passages, much obstructed by rubbish, leading into large excavations in the adjacent rock, in the form of tall domes or bell-shaped apartments, varying in height from twenty to thirty feet, and in diameter from ten or twelve to twenty feet, or more. The top of the dome usually terminates in a small circular opening at the surface of the ground above, admitting light into the cavern. These apartments are mostly in clusters, three or four together, communicating with each other. Around one pit, towards the south-west, we found sixteen such apartments thus connected, forming a sort of labyrinth. They are all hewn very regularly, but many are partly broken down; and it is not impossible that the pits
(1) Deir Dublâ'n is a village nor:h of Beit Jibrîn.
themselves may have been caused by the falling in of similar domes. Some of the apartments are ornamented, either near the bottom or high up, or both, with rows of small holes or niches, like pigeon-holes, extending quite around the wall. In the largest cluster, in the innermost dome, a rough block of the limestone has been left standing on one side, ten or twelve feet higli, as if a rude pulpit or a pedestal for a statue. In the same apartment are several crosses cut in the wall; and in another of the saine suite, are several very old Cufic inscriptions, one of which is quite long. These we neglected to copy, much to our subsequent regret; although, from what we elsewhere saw, they probably would throw no light upon the
age and character of these singular excavations.
" What then could have been the object of these caverns? Cisterns they were not; and quarries they could hardly have been; as the stone is not hard enough for building, and there is no place in the vicinity erected with such stone. Or if quarries, why, then excavate in this peculiar and difficult form, when all is so near the surface? The form in itself resembles that of the subterranean magazines around many of the villages at the present day; and naturally suggests the idea, that these caverns, too, may have been intended for magazines of grain. But their great number, and especially the fact of their communicating with each other, is inconsistent with such an hypothesis. I am unable to solve the mystery; and the similar excavations which we afterwards saw, on our second visit to Beit Jibrîn, serve only to render the whole matter still more inexplicable."
Of the caverns at Beit Jibrîn, Dr. Robinson gives the following account: “ We went first to some caverns on the south-west side of the wady leading up to Santa Hanneh, near the path by which we had approached from Kubeibeh. These are artificial excavations, having partly the character of those we had seen near Deir Dubbâ’n, but of much more careful workmanship. Besides domes, there are here also long arched rooms, with the walls in general cut quite smooth, One of these was nearly a hundred feet in length; having along its sides, about ten feet above the level of the floor, a line of ornamental work like a sort of cornice. On one side, lower down. were two niches at some distance apart, which seemed once to have had images standing in them; but the stone was too much decayed to determine with certainty. These apartments are all lighted by openings from above. In one smaller room, not lighted, there was at one corner, what looked like a sar
cophagus, hollowed out of the same rock; but it was too much broken away to enable us to speak positively. The entrance to the whole range of caverns is by a broad arched passage of some elevation; and we were surprised at the taste and skill displayed in the workmanship.
“The Sheikh now took us across the same valley to other clusters of caverns in the northern hill; more extensive indeed than the former, occupying in part the bowels of the whole hill; but less important and far less carefully wrought. These consist chiefly of bell-shaped domes, lighted from above, like those at Deir Dubbâ’n, though some are merely high arched chambers, excavated in the face of the rock, and open to the day. The rock is here softer, and very many of the domes are broken down. The sheikh related, that one chamber, before unknown, having recently fallen in, he, thinking there might be treasure in it, sent down a man to explore it; but he found only a human skeleton. In one of these caverns was a small fountain; and near by were two short inscriptions, in very old Cufic, which my companion copied. They seem however to have been the work of casual visitors, and afford no explanation of the age or object of the excavations .. But the most remarkable spot of all remained yet to be visited. This was another series of immense excavations, on the southern end of the hill, on the south of the valley. Lighting several candles, we entered by a narrow and difficult passage from a pit overgrown with briers, and found ourselves in a dark labyrinth of galleries and apartments, all cut from the solid rock, and occupying the bowels of the hill.
Here were some dome-shaped chambers, as before; others were extensive rooms, with roofs supported by columns of the same rock left in excavating; and all were connected with each other by passages, apparently without order or plan. Several other apartments were still more singular. These were also in the form of tall domes, twenty feet or more in diameter, and from twenty to thirty feet high. They were entered by a door near the top, from which a stair-case, cut in the same rock, wound down around the wall to the bottom. We descended into several of these rooms; but found nothing at the bottom, and no appearance of any other door or passage. We could discover no trace of inscriptions; nor anything indeed which might afford the slightest clue for unravelling the mystery in which the history and object of these remarkable excavations are enveloped. Near by, were said to be other similar clusters, which our time did not permit us further
to explore."—Robinson's Researches, vol. ii. pp. 352—354, 395-398.
" It appears from history, that, during, or soon after, the Jewish exile, the Edomites spread themselves throughout the south of Judæa, which they continued to occupy, and which consequently is included under the name of Idumea, by Josephus and later writers . . . Jerome, also, in speaking of the Idumeans, calls them Horites, and makes them dwell within the borders of Eleutheropolis. Now we know that the original inhabitants of Idumea Proper were actually Horites, that is, Troglodytes, dwellers in caverns,' or under ground, who, although dispossessed by the Edomites, continued to live among the latter, and, apparently, became with them one people
. It is possible that the Edomites were called Horites, in Palestine, in the original acceptation of the word; for Jerome also asserts, that Idumea, or the whole southern region from Eleutheropolis to Petra and Ailah, was full of habitations in caves, the inhabitants using subterranean dwellings on account of the great heat. Does not this language suggest the idea, that Jerome is here alluding in part to the singular excavations which we discovered near Deir Dubbâ'n, and which were so particularly numerous around Beit Jibrîn, or Eleutheropolis ?" May we perhaps suppose, that the Idumeans brought with them their habits of life, and preferred to excavate for themselves here, dwellings under ground, in the soft limestone rock? It did not, indeed, occur to us at the time, that possibly this had been the object of these caverns; but it might well have been the case, for they were all dry, and, in general, well lighted ... I do not wish to be considered as here advancing an hypothesis, but merely as bringing forward a suggestion, which may deserve consideration.”- ROBINSON'S Researches, vol. ii. pp. 424–425.