The Desert of the Exodus: Journeys on Foot in the Wilderness of the Forty Years' Wanderings; Undertaken in Connection with the Ordnance Survey of Sinai and the Palestine Exploration Fund

By E. H. Palmer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X.
MUKATTEB AND MAGHÁRAH.

Journey down Wády Feirán. — Wády Mukatteb. — The Sinaitic Inscriptions; their Nature and Authorship. — Visit from Sheik Mansúr. — Alone in the Wilderness. — Wády Igné. — Egyptian Mines and hieroglyphic Tablets. — Anecdotes of the Arabs. — An Outlaw. — Major Macdonald's House. — An Egyptian Military Station. — Instruments employed by the Miners. — "Sinai Photographed." — The "Bat Cave."

ON the 25th of January Mr. Holland and I'left Feirán, and started for Wády Mukatteb, "the Valley of the Inscriptions." Passing through the pretty palm-grove of El Hesweh, below our camp, we came to Hesy el Khattátín (of which I have before spoken as the traditional rock struck by Moses), continued our walk down Wády Feirán for about twelve miles, and encamped some time after night-fall beneath a rock called Jum'at el Beidh. There was little to remark on our journey down until we reached Jebel Mukatteb on the following afternoon. Here the wády widens out almost into a plain, and low blocks of limestone and sandstone take the place of the rugged igneous rocks to which we had been so long accustomed. A narrow pass on the right led us into Wády Mukatteb itself, which, though a magnificent piece of scenery, was quite different from the ideal picture I had formed of it from previous descriptions. It is a broad open valley, with low sloping hills on one side and a few fine mountains on the other. Beneath the low hills are several isolated plateaux, from which a mass of broken rock has here and there slipped down, and it is on the smooth faces of these stones that the inscriptions occur. Like those which we had met with on the granite district, they are mere scratches on the rock, the work of idle loungers, consisting, for the most part, of mere names interspersed with rude

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