« PoprzedniaDalej »
deep, six high, and four wide. A little lower, six feet above the water, I noticed a doorway in the rock. On reaching the surface of the water, by the vibrations of the rope before I could gain a footing, my light was extinguished, and I was lest in total darkness. I had previously remarked beneath the doorway a shelving shallow side of the well, which I reached before disengaging myself. My matches were yet dry, and I now lighted other candles, which I had brought.
"I first mounted to the doorway, which was small and led 10 an arched chamber excavated in the rock, about fifteen feet in length and ren in breadth. Its height was but three or four feet; and its floor was uneven and covered with loose fragments of rock. The ceiling or curvelinear arch, running lengthwise, was very regular and overlaid with glucco. As I turned to descend, I noticed that the excavation below, forming the water-basin, was more irregular than above. There were no steps leading down ; and the chamber did not seem to be constructed with any reference to the water.
“On the other side, directly opposite, was the passage or channel for the water. These were the only two openings from the well. I wished to ascertain their directions, and had brought a delicate pocket-compass, which was unfortunately injured in the descent, and I now found it to be useless. I regret this accident, as I could myself form no conjecture on the point; and I think that any data which the natives can have, must be very uncertain.
“I now descended into the water, the temperature of which was much milder than I expected to find it at this season. The bottom of the well was uneven and gravelly. The average depth of the water was four and a half feet, and it was about the same in the passage. The entrance of the passage was more than ten feet high. I had just passed into it, when I came to an irregular opening, twenty feet high, and perhaps as long and broad. It had once been covered, in the direction of the passage, with an arch of hewn stone ; the lower parts of which remained, though their base was higher than the top of the present water-channel. I climbed up on the right, and looked over the portion of the wall remaining there ; but saw here, as above, nothing but the natural rock, within which the wall had been laid. Beyond this opening, the passage, which was two or three feet wide, was covered with stones laid transversely, leaving it about five feet
high. It was not straight, though its general course was direct. The bottom was not flat, but terminated in a groove. The cutting was so uneven as to suggest the thought, that advantage might have been taken of a natural seam or fissure in the rock. The covering of the passage was laid without order, with occasional breaches running up three or four feet; and was evidently composed of the ruins of some other structure. There were ordinary hewn stones ; and then there was a section of polished marble shafts, half a foot in diameter, some of them square and fluted. In one place, the end of a granite column, a foot or more in diameter, had sunk obliquely into the passage ; and at that stage of the water could with difficulty be passed. I came at length to a well or basin in the passage, and could proceed no further.
“There had been all the way but a few inches from the surface of the water to the top of the passage, barely enough to keep my head and carry my light between them. I had taken an India-rubber life-preserver, which I found serviceable ; without it, indeed, especially as I was alone, I should hardly have ventured so far. The opposite wall of the basin, which was apparently square and of the same width as the passage, now shut down before me; and there was not here space enough above the water to allow me to reach and explore it thoroughly. Above, I could see only the face of the rock, and below, could only reach with my foot the rim of the basin, on a level with the bottom of the passage. One would naturally have inferred, that this was the fountain-head. If it be a mere descent to a lower gallery extending further, it can evidently be traversed only when the water is very low. I now measured with a rule the distance back to the well, and found it to be eighty feet. I may add, that this is the only actual measurement I took. I was prepared to make careful observations, but situated as I was, it was impossible.
“I had taken five or six candles with me, anticipating a longer exploration. Reserving one of thein, I now illuminated the passage with the others; and having taken my last view of it, leaving them burning there, I emerged into the well and prepared for the last stage, -to be hauled up eightyone feet by these Arabs. I gave the signal, and was started; and had just reached the recesses above mentioned, when my light was again extinguished. My descent had been uniform, but I was necessarily drawn up at intervals, which
caused a greater vibration. I spun around the dark vault, striking against one side and another, but so gently as to receive no injury. The excursion was soon finished ; and though I had not penetrated so far as I had hoped, yet a sense of safety more than counterbalanced my feeling of disappointment; and I was happy to find myself again above ground, beneath the open heaven.
“ The impression which I have brought from the visit is, that this excavation was not originally a well. What connexion with a mere well have artificial recesses and chambers in the rock ?* It has a more general resemblance to some of the spacious sepulchral excavations without the city. The wall, whose remains I noticed in the larger opening, I supposed at the time had been only a covering for the passage ; but I am now inclined to the belief, that here was formerly a chamber arched and stuccoed like the one opposite ; that its floor and doorway have been cut down to make a passage for the water, and perhaps a portion of its arch with its pillars used to form the present irregular covering of the channel ; and that the area between the chambers has been hollowed into a basin for the water. This thought did not occur to me during the examination ; and I do not submit the opinion with confidence. And if the passage extends further, it must be fully explored before any just conclusion can be come at.
“I am sorry thus to increase doubt, where I had hoped to throw light. The principal thing that I conceive I have done, is to demonstrate the impossibility of a satisfactory examination, except when the water is at the lowest point, near the close of the dry season.”
Thus far Mr. Wolcott. It is indeed greatly to be regretted, that an enterprise so intrepidly undertaken, should not have been crowned with more success. The result is, unquestionably, to increase our doubt and perplexity. If the excavation were originally a well, how are we to account for the chambers and the later walls of masonry and the ceiling of columns,
* Yet the well of Job, far down in the valley below, has traces of ornamental arches in its masonry; and an Arabian writer describes it as having in its lower part a grotto or chamber walled up, from which the water strictly issues. See Bibl. Res. I. pp. 491,
which certainly could not have been laid when there was water in the passage? Or if it were not originally a well, whence comes the present copious volume of water? Future researches may perhaps decide the question, if made in the month of September or October.
The distance of the well from the adjacent entrance of the Haram, Mr. W. found, by measurement, to be 124 feet; instead of 135 feet, as given in the Researches, Vol. I. p. 509. This error was mine; and probably arose from the fact, that the distance was measured only by paces; which ought indeed to have been mentioned.
Aqueduct from Solomon's Pools. The account of this aqueduct, so far as we saw it, is given in the Bibl. Researches, Vol. I. pp. 514 sq. Unfortunately, under the pressure of such a multiplicity of objects, and not then being fully aware of its antiquity and former importance to the city, we neglected to inquire out its course after entering the city, or its point of termination in the Haram. When afterwards the subject came up, in preparing the work in Berlin, I keenly felt this deficiency; which, of course, could there be supplied only by the conjecture, that the aqueduct was carried along wiihin the city under the eastern side of Zion, and that it probably passed into the Haram over the mound which we noticed at the north-east corner of the same hill. It is gratisying to find this point rendered certain by the examination of Mr. Wolcott, writing under date of Jan. 25th.
“We were one day examining the remains of the arch in the western wall of the Haram, when we passed to the opposite side of the valley, near where the bridge may be supposed to have terminated. A few feet north of this spot, we observed a passage, eight or ten feet high at its entrance, though soon contracting, cut in the solid rock, which here forms the [perpendicular) western side of the Tyropoeon and the eastern brow of Zion. On approaching and entering it, we perceived occasional cavities in the bottom, broken through the earthern pipes of an ancient aqueduct, which we recognized as the one that connected the Pools in Bethlehem with the Temple. Supposing that a passage, thus opening into the valley, and visible to every passer by, was already well
* Bibl. Res. I. p. 514, comp. p. 393.
understood, we examined it no further at this time.* But on turning to the Researches, I perceived that the course of the aqueduct within the city was apparently unknown to any traveller; and found, on enquiry, that it was also unknown to the Frank residents. I observed, moreover, that in the published Plans of the city, the directions assigned to it were conjectural and mistaken. We then decided to explore it thoroughly; and first traced it without the walls. Its course is marked not only by the stones with which it is built, but also by occasional openings into the pipes. Both of these indicate the very spot where it passes under the city wall, about one hundred feet west of the point designated on Catherwood's Plan (which takes it into the valley), and perhaps three hundred feet east of that marked in the Plan which accompanies the Researches. It is directly south of the passage which we had seen cut in the rock; to which we traced it at intervals within the city. The section in the rock extends fifty feet or more, which I passed through; and the aqueduct is then supported for an equal distance by a wall of masonry fifteen feet high against the face of the rock, when it again passes into the hill and beneath the dwellings which cover it. A small passage is built with stones over the pipes; and its cobwebs had never been disturbed. I entered with a light one hundred feet; but chose not to proceed further alone. Mr. T. and myself together, afterwards penetrated forty feet beyond; and were then stopped by some modern masonry under which the pipes continue. The passage is very narrow, and some parts of it we crawled through with great difficulty. But it would have well repaid further toil, if we could have reached the ancient reservoirs of the temple. Our general course had been north-west, (?) and we had now traced the aqueduct four or five hundred feet within the city along the side of Zion, and bearing towards the ridge which crosses the Tyropoeon ; through which it evidently passes into the Haram, as suggested in the Researches. The street which leads down directly from the southern end of the Bazars to the Haram, terminating in its principal western entrance, is on the summit of this ridge, descending towards the Haram the whole distance."
*I have a distinct recollection of this opening; but we did not examine it further, probably for the same reason.-R.