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 XX.
THE SOUTHERN BORDER OF PALESTINE.

The Approach to Palestine. Dátraiyeh. Ed Dhaharíyeh. Modern Horites. Hebron. Visit to Sheik Hamzeh. Jerusalem. We start again for the Desert. The Jehalán Arabs. Tell 'Arád. El Milh. Journey through the Heart of Jebel Rakhmeh and Jebel Magráh. Difficulties with the Arabs. Proclamation of War against us. El 'Abdeh.

THE next day we entered Palestine and left the desert region of the South Country, but there was little to remind us of the fact except that the brown mould beneath our feet was hard with the fibre of dried vegetation, that the hills and plains showed traces of the plough, and that in the wády-beds might be observed an occasional streak of refreshing green grass. We noticed a large flock of pigeons and a flight of cranes, as well as four gazelles browsing in the distance. Cattle and flocks there were none, for the drought that year had driven all the Arabs far from the pasture-lands of Beersheba.

The next morning we walked over the rolling country through which Wády el Khalíl runs, and passed upon our way many wells, cisterns, and other indications of former fertility and habitation, which even then, notwithstanding the drought, were sufficiently marked to present a striking contrast to the desert we had just left. At the end of the hour and a half, we came to some ancient ruins called Dátraiyeh, situated on one of the hills which form the entrance to Palestine proper. They consist of walls and houses of solid masonry, some of the stones employed in their construction being of immense size. The basements are for the most part built on arches, somewhat after the style of architecture prevalent at Sebaita. There are numerous wells about the city, most of them apparently connected with a large system of excavated reservoirs on the

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