תמונות בעמוד
[blocks in formation]

being stained yellow by an ochery fluid which exudes out of the rocks above. Some of these tombs are carved with consummate art into the resemblance of the fronts of houses, having panelled doors, and bearing a striking similarity to those of Petra. They are found in groups or clusters, and were probably appropriated to particular families. Each has before it a square platform, approached by a flight of steps, and at the entrance to which originally stood a small gate. In some of those cut in the detached rocks upon the plain of the necropolis, there was an anteroom for the mourning visitors; and also in the top of the sepulchral chamber was an aperture through which to pour the libation. On the panels were inscriptions; and on one I found a tragic mask, probably indicating the occupation of the owner. Terraces led from one set of tombs to another.

Three of these mausolea so far exceed the rest in splendour, that I am led to believe they must have been thoče of the Telmessian kings; and for elaborate workmanship and beauty of effect, they are acknowledged by all who have seen them to be among the most extraordinary specimens of their kind. These are placed in the most inaccessible places on the face of the mountain, and are now entered with some difficulty. The front of each is a portico, consisting of two Ionic pillars and two pilasters twenty feet high, supporting a pediment. Behind this is carved a handsome door of the same height as the pillars, and composed of four panels, the stiles and cross-bars studded with large-headed bolts. The entrance was originally through the lower right-hand panel, which moved in a groove at the top and bottom; but the present entrance to most of these is by one of the other panels, which has been broken through long since. With such accuracy was this door fitted in, that you cannot distinguish in which compártment it was placed. The interior is a square apartment, with a raised bench running round three sides of it, measuring ten feet by eight in length, and six feet six in height, on which the bodies were placed. The fronts of these tombs were evidently made to resemble temples ; many of the simplest of the Grecian temples being fronted by similar porticoes, or what is termed in technical language “in antæ.” These temple-faced tombs bear a close analogy to the Indian, the Persepolitan, and the Syrian ; while those without porticoes partake more of the Egyptian and the Edomite character, of which the



type is found in the cave of Machpelah, although some of the mausolea in Idumea are temple-faced, as mentioned by Job, who was probably a contemporary of Abraham. A first view of some of the façades is curious ; the lower end of some of the pillars


have been broken off to supply a neighbouring lime-kiln, but the upper part, being an integral portion of the rock, hangs from the architrave like an enormous stalactite, as shown in the woodcut above.

[blocks in formation]


The light gray lime-stone, out of which all these excavations are formed, is similar to that in the bay of Symi ; and some portions of it being hard and others soft, the atmosphere and sea-air have acted on the latter, and given the whole a rough, and, if I may be allowed the expression, a pock-marked appearance. It is this action that has caused the obliteration of many of the carvings, inscriptions, and embellishments, of the many hundred sepulchres in this vast city of the dead, whose streets and squares are only tombs. I could not discover a single sepulchre which had not been broken into and rifled.

Clarke has drawn attention to a singular ruin, presenting externally the form of a solid cube, and standing on a sloping bank near to the shore. This my friends and I examined with great

In his (Clarke's) time, this quadrangular building, the stones of which are of immense size, was only entered by a narrow chasm produced by an earthquake. It has since, however, undergone considerable dilapidation, evidently from a similar cause, and now affords a better opportunity for examining its structure. From out to out, it is twenty-five feet four inches square ; the walls being four feet five inches in thickness. The stones of which it is composed are of great size, and bound together with cement. I state this, because Clarke supposes no such building material was used in its construction, and his mistake arose from the cement being washed out of the joinings ; but the increased dilapidation it has suffered since his day, has fully disclosed such to have been used. This fact should not, however, detract from the age of the building, as some of the oldest specimens of architecture in the world have mortar in their walls. On entering, we found circular arches occupying one half the thickness of the wall on three of the sides ; in the remaining side, which faces the mountains, the entrance is placed. This doorway extended to the roof, and its enormous lintel is still in situ. The roof of this building demands attention ; it was formed of stone, and when standing, must have been a very splendid piece of architecture, being domed with vast stones put together so as to represent a piece of mail-work in the interior. It was thus constructed :-at each corner was placed a large slab that rested on the angle of the side walls, and projected inward, the inner edge being a segment of a circle, with the convexity toward the centre, and this edge was also grooved. Four similar stones placed over



the arches, filled up the spaces between these corner ones. Eight slabs of a like form, but somewhat smaller, were placed over these, which they overlapped, their joinings meeting in the centre of the lower ones. Another course was placed above this, and so on till they approached at the top, when one stone closed the aperture. All these stones gradually decreased in size toward the centre. The four lower corner stones, besides resting on the walls, were supported underneath by a portion of the mason-work that projected inward, in the same manner as that found in the modern mosques, at the point from whence the dome springs. Although somewhat different in style and finish, I found a similar form of dome in the pyramid of Sackara, formed by one stone projecting within another; and it has a great similarity to the bee-hive dome of the tomb of Agamemnon at Mycenæ, * where the type is preserved, though it exhibits a different appearance, this being by far the most rich and elegant of that kind. Here we find it in connection with the arch, although it is said to have been of a different era. There were no means of admitting light to the interior of this building, which the learned antiquary from whom I have already quoted considers to have been a sepulchre. That it was such I will not deny; but I am inclined to think it had a religious use also, and was a temple of very ancient date; temple-tombs being now generally acknowledged to have been among the most ancient places of worship.

This extended inquiry into the character of tombs in general, and the description of those of Telmessus in particular, may, to many of my readers, appear a dry and uninteresting subject ; but have they never beguiled an hour in Westminster Abbey, or St. Paul's, or, alone and unobserved, stolen into the country ehurchyard at twilight's close, and sat amidst its grassy mounds and modest unpretending grave-stones? If they have not, let them read Gray and Hervey. The antiquary, the historian, the philosopher, and the naturalist, will find in tombs relics of the past

The similarity in the construction of a rude dome, formed upon the principle of that of Mycenæ, has been pointed out by my esteemed friend, Mr. Petrie, at New Grange, county Meath. Several such forms of domes and arches are also found in both the military and ecclesiastical architecture of this country.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« הקודםהמשך »