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SIMILARITY OF SEPULCHRAL ARCHITECTURE.

481

When describing some of the peculiarities of the tombs that I discovered at Tyre, I mentioned the similarity that existed between the ground-plan of the Egyptian, the Phænician, the Grecian, and also the Irish, (as exhibited in the cromleigh or pyramid of New Grange,) in all of which the tomb consists of a stone chamber, having three recesses or tabernacles for bodies, i. e. one on each side, and one opposite the entrance. Now in these chambers that I have just described, the same character is preserved, showing a similarity of sepulchral architecture throughout these several countries, where the type is preserved, though the form is fferent. Sometimes we find the crypt of a round form, as at Alexandria, and in a few instances at Tyre.—See No. 1 in the annexed wood-cut. The eastern nations, who had made greater progress in the arts, carved their tombs out of the solid rock ; the western piled up great stones for a similar purpose, as may be seen in No. 2, which represents the ground-plan of the Irish-while at Jerusalem, in Asia Minor, and in other parts of Egypt and the East, it is square, as in No. 3.

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Many of the chambers in the royal caves are so filled

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Heraclius,) and a slave sings to him a song, in which the two following lines, as translated from the Oriental into the German, occur :

“ Heil Dschafne's Söhnen l die beschenkt mit hohen Gaben,

Den Grabort in der Näh' von Grab Maria's haben."

The tomb spoken of in this description, the great orientalist believed to refer to the Tombs of the Kings, or those of the Judges; but it is evident that it alludes to that known as the Sepulchre of the Virgin, in the Valley of Jehoshaphat.

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A CALL UPON THE BRITISH MUSEUM.

stones and rubbish that it is with great difficulty they can be entered. It is evident that the outer door was constructed for the purpose of concealing the entrance, and I have little doubt of the existence of a similar set of chambers on the other side. * Much remains to be done in clearing away the rubbish and carefully exploring these and all the other tombs in the environs of the city; and I am convinced that great light would be thrown upon the subject by such an examination.

How much would science be benefitted and how greatly would it redound to the honour of those travellers who go about from place to place, merely for the sake of saying that they have been here, or there, if, instead of scribbling their names upon whatever they can reach, disfiguring the roofs, and with a candle setting forth their address, they were to spend a little time and money in examining these places, which would amply repay them, and confer a benefit upon society. A few pounds would transport one of these splendid sarcophagi to England; and it is the duty of the British Museum, or some other of our institutions, to avail themselves of the facility given by the Básha at present, for conveying it to Beyrout; from whence

never

* It is very remarkable that Messrs. Banks, Irby and Mangles, Dr. Robinson, and myself, should have come to precisely the same conclusions, with respect to the continuation of these sepulchral chambers, and that, too, without being at all acquainted with each other's opinions; for until the late “ Colonial and Home Library” edition of Irby and Mangles, I had

seen the book. Dr. Robinson, who, I believe, had never seen the first edition of this “ Narrative,” says, " It was not until after these pages were written that I was able to get access at Berlin to the travels of Irby and Mangles." These industrious travellers, with Mr. Banks and their servants, did actually make some excavations, (in 1818,) but just as they had arrived at the place where they might expect to meet the entrance, they were discovered by the authorities at Jerusalem, and prevented proceeding farther. Dr. Robinson made some examination of the spot, and had much of the rubbish cleared away from the northern extremity, but ineffectually. “ Yet,” he adds, and in this I perfectly agree with him, “I would not aver that such an entrance may not, ter all, actually exist, having been perhaps purposely concealed."-Biblical Researches, vol. i. p. 533. It is certainly well worthy of the especial attention of future travellers.

THE TOMBS OF THE JUDGES.

483

it could be easily transported to England by one of our steamers.* The crime of plunder that has been so justly inveighed against in Greece and Italy, where a more enlightened and refined people exist, could not be justly chargeable in this case, for in removing any of these antiquities we would be but preserving them from destruction, for the Mohammadan takes especial delight in defacing and mutilating any object of antiquity existing in the country, and breaking down "the carved work thereof with axes and hammers."

We next bent our steps to the Tombs of the Judges, as tradition has been pleased to call them; and on our way passed through the level district of Scopus, where the camp of Titus was placed. These tombs are situated about two miles north of the city, the intervening tract of ground being rugged and mostly uncultivated. Fig-trees, olives, and sycamores, however, redeem it from the term barren ; and in some places we passed vineyards, in a few of which were erected towers and wine-presses, reminding us of the descriptions given of them in Scripture history. Indeed it was impossible to travel through this land of sacred associations, where every object in the landscape, every custom of the country, and each of the common usages of life, and the very forms of expression, both within and without the city, hourly exhibited to us some ancient rite, or scriptural reference, without feeling that we were placed amid the scenes from which were drawn the descriptions and the imagery of the prophetic writers, and which furnished materials for the striking parables of the Saviour.

This vast cemetery in which it is supposed the Judges of Israel were interred, occupies the front of a stratum of rock facing the south-west, and situated on the way-side leading to Samaria. Some of these tombs are detached, while others are found in clusters; altogether the space covered by them is rather more than a quarter of a mile in length. The front of each tomb consists of a plain, square, and unadorned aperture, cut in the rock somewhat similar to the portico of the royal sepulchres;

* Alas! since the above was written, England has deposed this friendly Basha. Let the travellers of the present day tell under whose rule they experienced most safety and facility.

484

TOMBS OF THE JUDGES.

in one instance only I observed a pediment with some rude floral ornaments that indicated its Jewish architecture. One of these outer halls was thirty feet long, but the generality of the tombs were twelve feet long by eight or nine high. It is remarkable ihat none of these sepulchral grottos look toward the city. From these outer halls a small low door, generally two feet high, by one foot ten inches wide, leads either into an ante-chamber, or directly into the crypt in which the body was placed. In some instances there were also doors in the side of the portico or outer hall ; and each of these doors was originally closed by a slab that fitted into a groove cut in the rock around the sides of the aperture. The floors of the chambers are about a foot or eighteen inches below the level of the outer doors. In order to give my readers some conception of the form of these tombs, and the appearance which they at present exhibit, I subjoin the following description of one of the largest of them which we carefully explored.

Having lighted our candles, we proceeded to examine the cavern under the direction of Elias, the baker belonging to the convent, who accompanied us as guide; and though a halfwitted creature, one of the most enthusiastic explorers of sepulchres that I have ever met. Internally, this tomb consisted of a series of chambers, entered by small doors leading from one to the other, some being below and others above the level of the outer ball.

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The accompanying wood-cut gives an accurate representation of the appearance which a portion of one of the chambers in the interior of this tomb at present exhibits.

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TOMBS OF THE JUDGES.

185

Each apartment formed a square, each of its sides being nine feet six inches in length and seven feet in height. Three of the sides were excavated with two rows of apertures or places for bodies, not unlike pigeon-holes, or the Columbariæ of the Romans, the tiers being separated by a projecting ledge. Each aperture was thirty inches high, seventeen wide, and six feet nine inches in depth, slightly arched at top, and having a square groove hewn in the rock round the entrance, in all probability for the purpose of receiving a door similar to that in the external opening.

The chamber I have taken this drawing from, contained thirteen such apertures, and the entire tomb no less than fiftyeight. But the most extraordinary and astonishing circumstance connected with these excavations, is the wonderful skill and architectural precision with which they have been all hewn out of the solid rock; the time, labour, and expense employed in constructing them must have been enormous. All the parts of these soroi are in due proportion, and their sides do not deviate an inch from the proper direction of each ; and this, as well as the manner in which they were excavated, is the more difficult to understand, for the workman, in constructing each of these apertures, had barely sufficient room for his own body. The labour was only equalled by the ingenuity shown in its performance.

Having contrived to squeeze myself into one of these holes, in order to examine its farthest extremity, and to find whether it emitted a hollow sound, my light went out, and I stuck fast in the place, the narrowness of which rendered it impossible for me to use my arms in order to extricate myself. Here I remained for some time, certainly not in the most enviable position, until my friend the baker returning to see what had caused my delay, and having enjoyed a longer laugh at my ridiculous position than I was by any means disposed to join in, pulled me out by the feet. The bodies must have been put into these holes without any

coffins. I do not think that these sepulchres belonged to any particular person ; for fifty-eight cryptæ are rather too many for any family mausoleum. Could conjecture as to the mode in which these chambers and vast excavations were formed be admitted, I would say that, from the appearance presented by the hewn surface, the rock was first roughly cut with an instrument in the form of a pick with a flattened point, and then smoothed by some finegrained tool, like a comb-pointed chisel. A similar appearance is

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