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current 2^ knots per hour. It is at present rising. In the spring, when it is at its height, it probably runs a knot more, and when low, half a knot less. The number of boats of which the bridge at Hillah is composed, is thirty-two. When the river is low they diminish, when at its height they add to this number.
December 18fA.—Went to see the Governor, and afterwards rode out to the mounds of Amran Ibn Ali, to retouch my sketches, which I had not been able to do yesterday. I entered the little mosque, and found a court-yard, at one end of which was a dome. The" tomb of Amran, who was a son of Ali's, and killed in a battle near this place, is under the dome, but below the surface of the earth; you descend to it by a flight of twenty-two steps. The body is in a kind of niche, or rather chamber, in the wall, and is enclosed in a wooden chest, part of which is visible through the wooden grating that covers the door of the niche, which is not above two feet and a half high above the ground. To the balustrade are tied various small pieces of silk and cord. I inquired the meaning of this, and was informed that people are in the habit of coming to make requests of the Saint, upon which occasion they tie a piece of string to the balustrade of his tomb, and when they have succeeded according to their desire, they come and remove the string, bringing a small present to the keeper of the tomb. On the right hand, in the same chamber, is a large tomb of stones, under which are said to lie the bodies of seven of Amran's comrades, who were . all slain on the same occasion.
They believe that AH himself built this structure. The keeper told me that his father wished to make some alterations in the dome, but that Ali had appeared to him in a vision, and desired him not to meddle with what he had himself constructed. I rode to the highest part of this mound and completed my sketches.
Although I was pretty certain from the view which I had of the other bank of the river, that there could be no ruins on it, I was determined to inspect it more narrowly myself. I therefore returned home, and thence rode through the gardens on the west «ide of the Euphrates, and came to the Mesjid i Shems, which is situated among the gardens of the town, on the outside of the walls. I went into it, and found it supported by very thick and short pillars, about ten or twelve feet in girth, from which sprung arches exactly in the Gothic manner. I was exceedingly struck by the resemblance. I saw a tomb railed in with wood, which they told me was the tomb of Joshua!!! Quitting the Mesjid i Shems, we rode out along the banks of the river. The country is perfectly level, except where intersected by canals, which it is in a very surprising manner. These might very easily deceive the unpractised eye into the belief that they were vestiges of walls or buildings. Here and there the gardens extend along the banks of the river at intervals, into almost all of which we went in search of ruins. There were also several miserable-looking Arab villages. We examined the whole of this side of the river in the most minute and particular manner; and except nearly opposite the village of Jumjuma, or the Mosque of Amran, we could discern nothing that bore the most remote resemblance to remains of building. There was a mound or two of no height or extent, one of which ran nearly parallel to the mounds of Amran for about ninety or a hundred yards. Every other eminence on minute inspection turned out to be a canal. I took a drawing of the elevation of the mounds of Amran, comprehending the remarkable embankment of the river; and we afterwards returned back, being satisfied that there never could have been a town, or at least any remarkable buildings, on the west bank of the river* I found to-day that I had been mistaken in supposing the trees I had seen on this bank, from the opposite one, to be willows; there were none visible. This, however, proves nothing. There is a low spit of land left by the river Tigris, near my camp at Gherrara, in the neighbourhood of Bagdad, which last year was covered with willows, but this year there was not a vestige of them remaining.
December \Qth.—To day we made an excursion to see the Birs Nemroud. We went out of the town at
* The rise of the river to-day has been twelve feet.
the Mesjid Ali gate (Bab-ul Mesjid), on the inside of which the Pasha of Bagdad has begun building a new wall to the town, of bricks dug up from the Kasr; and it seems constructed on a much better plan than the old one.
The morning was at first stormy, and threatened rain, but it afterwards cleared up. On our right we had the village of Tahmasia, embosomed in a grove of date-trees. It is a small village, said to have been built by Shah Tahmas.
We arrived at the Birs about half-past eleven. There are vestiges of mounds all round it to a considerable extent, and the country is also traversed by canals in every direction. The soil round the Birs was sandy. To the north of it runs a canal called Hindia, dug for the use of Mesjid Ali, by order, and at the expense of, Shujah ud Doulah. Close to the Birs, or at about a hundred yards from it, and parallel to its southern front, is a high mound, almost equal in size to that of the Kasr. On the top of it are two koubbehs, or places of prayer. The one is called Ibrahim Khalil, where they show his burialplace, which is under ground, exactly in the style of Am ran Ibn Ali. The natives tell you that it was here that Abraham was thrown into the fire by Nimrod. This tomb has been lately repaired. Close to it is a ruin called Mekam Saheb Zeman, which appears to relate to Meh'hdy; but what particular or circumstance it was destined to celebrate, I was not able to learn. Under this, in the side of the mound, is an excavation which they call the Serdaub. It is not remarkable. I searched here for the inscriptions mentioned by Niebuhr, but found no traces of them. Saheb Zeman appears to have been that kind of pine-apple spire I have before alluded to; but only a piece or two of it now remains.
As we had very little time to spare, we divided our work. Mr. Lockett, with my Englishmen, fell to measuring, and I to take sketches.
The Birs is an enormous mound. At the north end it rises; and there is an immense brick wall, thirty-seven feet in height and twenty-eight in breadth, upon it. This wall is not on the centre of the north summit of the mound, but appears to have formed the southern face of it. The other parts of the summit are covered by huge fragments of brickwork, tumbled confusedly together; and what is most extraordinary, they are partly converted into a solid, vitrified mass. The layers are in many places perfectly distinguishable ; but the whole of these lumps seem to have undergone the action of fire. Several lumps of the same matter have rolled down, and remain partly on the side of the mound, and partly in the plain. The large wall on the southern face of the summit is built of burnt bricks, with writing on them, and so close together, that no cement is discoverable between the layers. Small square apertures are left, which go quite through the building, and are arranged in a kind of quincunx form. Down the face of the wall the bricks have