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Full text of "Journeys In Persia And Kurdistan ( Vol.Ii)."

154                     JOURNEYS IN PERSIA          LETTER xxm

is obliged to creep. The inner chamber is vaulted, and
floored with blue tiles, and having been recently restored
is in good order. Under the dome, which is lighted
with the smoky clay lamps used by the very poor, are
the two tombs, each covered with a carved wooden ark,
much defaced and evidently of great antiquity. There is
an entrance to the tombs below these arks, and each is
lighted by an ever-burning lamp. There is nothing in
the shrine but a Hebrew Old Testament and a quantity of
pieces of paper inscribed with Hebrew characters, which
are affixed by pilgrims to the woodwork. The tombs
and the tradition concerning them are of such great
antiquity that I gladly accept the verdict of those who
assign them to the beautiful and patriotic Queen and her
capable uncle.

On the dome is this inscription: " On Thursday the
15th of the month Adar in the year of tlie creation of
the world 4474 the building of this temple over the
tombs of Mordecai and Esther was finished by the hands
of the two benevolent brothers Elias and Samuel, sons of
Ismail Kachan."

The other object of interest, which has been carefully
described by Sir H. Eawlinson and Sir H. Layard, is
specially remarkable as having afforded the key to the
decipherment of the cuneiform character. It is in the
mountains above Hamadan, and consists of two tablets
six feet six inches by eight feet six inches (Layard) cut
in a red granite cliff which closes the end .of a corrie.
There are other tablets 'near them, carefully prepared,
but never used. The three inscriptions are in parallel
columns in the three langiiages spoken in the once vast
Persian Empire—Persian, Median, and Babylonian, and
contain invocations to Ormuzd, and the high-sounding
names and titles of Darius Hystaspes and his son Xerxes.
Amidst the meanness, not to say squalor, of modern